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February 19, 2024

Night Time 19

By Lydia Manx

I quickly pulled out fresh clothing from my luggage and began to rapidly dress while I said loudly, "Just a minute."

Nobody replied but I could feel there was someone still waiting outside. I didn't think it was either Erika or Cinda since both of them were not the patient sort. They would have continued to pound until I opened the door. Once I had my clothing on and tucked in properly I combed my fingers rapidly through my hair and shrugged at my reflection. I was not happy with my appearance but presentable enough.

The door was solid without a peek hole so I didn't have the chance to find out who was waiting but pulled the door open to find that Harry was at the threshold. He was patiently waiting with his hands casually clasped in front of himself and smiled when I met his eyes.

"Oh, good you are awake. You were sleeping weren't you?" Harry's eyes flickered over me quickly and catalogued all my faults in mere seconds. I felt awkward but then noticed his eyes weren't judgmental but simply analytical and precise. Damn FBI man was good and I still felt a bit odd.

"Yes, I mean no, I am awake now. I don't think I can sleep anymore tonight." I glanced to the end of the hallway where a large window showed that night had descended while I had been tormented in my sleep. I tried to suppress the chills running up and down my spine. For some reason the night was haunting to me and yet at the same time I felt called to run outside and scream my pain. Every bruise on my body ached but not in true pain but like echoes of love bites or something pleasing that made me ache. That feeling disturbed me even more than the desire to run outside.

"Why don't you grab your jacket and we can take a walk?" I liked that he formed the demand into a question but knew I didn't have much of a choice. Besides there was something compelling about Harry that made me want to go wherever he suggested without questions. I never was much of a follower but could see why the girls were so attracted to this mysterious handsome stranger. He had a quality to him that was very striking.

I skipped bringing my purse and just pocketed my room key and wallet. I really had no desire for a cigarette, which I found somewhat odd, but shrugged and grabbed a jacket like Harry had requested. Locking the door I noticed that my Do Not Disturb sign was still on the knob. Obviously such signs meant nothing to the FBI. Tapping it straighter on the handle I looked up at Harry to see him smirking as if he had heard my thoughts. I shook off that thought and followed him down the hall. Cinda must have had her ear to her door because she launched herself out once we had passed saying, "Harry! There you are!" She had spoken in exclamation points I thought. I noticed she was also dressed nicely and actually had full evening make up on and her hair styled differently than that horror earlier her mom had foisted on her. Instead of jeans and a t-shirt she actually had on a skirt and blouse. She looked extremely nice and way overdressed for just being in her room.

Harry shuddered quietly and turned saying, "Oh, hello, Cinda. Did you hear from your mom yet?"

"No," she looked momentarily crestfallen then perked up with, "But that's okay. She knows where I am. So where you guys going?"

Her face was bright and eager. Harry sighed very softly and said, "Just for a walk."

"Okay, I can go!" She pulled her door shut and held up her key for us to see she had been ready to fly. It was then I noticed over her shoulder she had her purse with a jacket folded over the top. She really had been waiting for someone to walk past her room. I half-heartedly wondered what she had been up to all day while I slept. I must have slept a good eight or nine hours at least. I still was exhausted.

Reluctantly Harry nodded to Cinda, but it was not like she was waiting for him to invite her, and we went outside. The air had turned to winter overnight. The frost-laden air made me shiver and I noticed Cinda quickly put her jacket on once the chilled night air hit her. My jacket was already on so I avoided the awkward struggling with a purse and coat that Cinda was faced with, I didn't bother helping since she pretty much had invited herself. I still wanted to know why Harry was so fascinated by me and kept trying to talk with me alone. He hadn't had many chances and I felt like there was something he wanted to tell me without an audience. I guess I wasn't going to get much of a chance now but reluctantly let Cinda take over the conversation. I still wasn't sure if she was even sane much less possessed or whatever Misty was. I sighed and followed them. Harry looked back as I trailed behind them.

"Gwendolyn, why don't you come up here and join us?" Harry called over his shoulder. I was saved answering him as a voice behind us hailed out a greeting.

"Hey, wait up!" Erika must have been watching for us. She was not more than ten feet behind us also struggling with her coat. She was wearing a new wool suit I hadn't seen her wearing before that in and of itself was pretty impressive considering it was probably after nine or ten. I hadn't looked at the clock but figured it was roughly that late. We all were such nocturnal creatures.

Harry sighed rather frustrated I thought as now he was walking with three women instead of just one. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Harry seemed to have something on his mind. Erika edged Cinda back and took her place by Harry's side talking in soft tones we couldn't hear from a mere three feet away. She kept putting her hand on his arm and he shook it off. Cinda hissed at me, "Did you see that?"

I looked over at her and saw that her face was knotted in anger. Her mossy eye glowed but I didn't think Misty was visiting. The rapid fired questions were definitely Cinda, "Lynn, what did Harry come to get you? Where do you think he was going to take you? Are we still going there? Have you ever seen such a brazen female as that agent? Do you think those guys are still after you?"

She paused to breathe. I waited to see if she really expected an answer from me or was just catching some oxygen. Usually I waited and she would continue, not really expecting answers from me. It was an effective way of dealing with Cinda -- I had developed the technique in self-defense many years ago. This time she waited also. Some of the conversation drifted back to us.

Harry was saying, "Erika, you need to stop this. Granted there are some similarities but trust me this is a different situation." Harry sounded like he had more information than he was telling Erika. Erika noticed we had got quiet and lowered her voice. Still we heard the hissing whisper, "Harry, you stop this. Why are you still bothering with them? We don't have time to find everything. There are too many variants and we have to get out of here before it's too late."

Cinda gasped loud enough for Erika to hear.

Harry yanked his arm from Erika's grasp again and slowed turning to us saying, "Never mind Erika she worries too much." He really didn't say anything useful I noticed but Cinda was reassured.

"Thanks, Harry. I know you will keep us safe." Cinda simpered. I tried not to vomit. Cinda was a spineless fool around Harry. It made me uncomfortable at least. Erika shot a look of hatred at Cinda. Harry caught my eyes with his and said, "I will do the best I can."

I wasn't as sure but I nodded without saying much. I was not pleased by the attention I got from both Cinda and Erika. They turned the looks on me they had been spiking at each other. Trying to ignore them I said, "Okay." Not very wordy but it was all I felt like saying.

Chilled we all shuffled down the main drag of our town not talking. The diner was in the distance but after earlier in the day making ourselves the floor show I had little desire to go back in there. Cinda must have felt the same because she moaned softly when Erika said, "Hey, let's go get dinner."

Harry said, "I ate already. Why don't you and Cinda grab a bite? I need to ask Gwendolyn some things about her mom. I will fill you in later ok?" He again used that authority FBI kind of voice of his and I watched Cinda and Erika walk away reluctantly. I felt odd watching them go. They both wanted to stay and be near Harry but his suggestion of dinner was more along the lines of a command rather than an option. Come to think of it that was sort of how I had ended upon the little group walk to begin with -- that compulsion to do what Harry requested was pretty strong. I rarely liked to do what I was told but Harry made it seem quite reasonable.

Quietly we watched them both walk into the diner and I could see Cinda try to turn back towards us only to have Erika briskly tug her inside. The door shut and like that Harry was finally alone with me. An odd feeling ran just under the surface of my skin like someone was running feathers over my body. I suppressed a shudder and began to walk down the path leading to the road out of town. I somehow figured Harry was not looking to have an audience. We neared the Hunters' home. We were shadowing the walk we made earlier in the week nearly to the step. The feeling of deja vu was near paralyzing me -- I expected to see the family on the front steps arguing and talking as we got closer. To my relief there was no sign of life at the mayor's home. We kept walking and not talking. If Harry thought I was going to fill the silence he was seriously mistaken.

Normally by this time I would have a cigarette in my hand if nothing else. To my amazement it had been hours since I last smoked. I had absolutely no desire. A twinge of one of those unexplained marks on my body continued to make me feel uneasy and as if something was happening beyond my control. Besides the obvious deaths -- I was still stunned. Harry stopped suddenly saying, "Is that where the Winters live?" I glanced up to see the large house he was indicating.

"No, that is where Frances and Evan Gregg live." I didn't add in the Cinda information I knew about the couple but it floated unasked in my brain. "Evan Gregg, he's in charge of the bank." I volunteered as the rest of their story ran through my head.

Cinda had told me that the older woman Frances had brought some property with her to their late-in-life marriage a dozen or so years ago and seemed to think that because she's descended from Dutch almond ranchers, God granted her special dispensations to have her nose in the air. Margie constantly bemoaned her arrival into the beauty salon because the woman markedly resembled the actor named John Cleese who was in a group called Monty Python. I was told that the English comedy troupe was hysterically funny and often doing the most ridiculous bits mocking the British society and airs the nobility had in England. I found that ironic given how snobby that woman was. The Greggs did dine with Leo and Maria Winters on occasion. And sadly the woman did have a mannish figure and features. I tried to keep my face unmarred by the momentarily bad thoughts coasting through my mind.

"Funny I could have sworn in my reports that I saw that the property was owned by the Winters Family Trust." Harry looked a bit disturbed by the news. I didn't know who owned the house just who lived in it and shrugged my ignorance.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-12-19
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