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ROUND ROBIN

SINS OF THE FATHERS

CHAPTER 2

by PearlAnn SnowStar

It had been a long day at work.

Jenny had called her, and Catherine had told her that she was being “watched” and that was all she could say. Bennie then came by with a sandwich and winked. She had opened up the sandwich on her lap and got out a piece of paper, hiding it inside her sleeve. Then Joe had come by and pointed to a camera in the corner of the ceiling with a good view of her desk. That was new. It was then she placed the opened sandwich on her desk. Boy, had she wanted to stick her tongue out at that camera.

She went to the ladies’ washroom later to “freshen up,” and there in the stall, she read the brief note, which said, Peter will call. After tearing it up, she flushed it down the toilet.

Home now, Catherine heard the phone and tensed up. That must be Peter. She picked up the phone. But when the voice came over the line, she knew it wasn’t Peter.

“What was in that note?”

Her heart pounded. It was Agent Owens. Calming herself down, she asked, “What note?”

“In the sandwich.”

How…? Darn, is there a camera behind the desk? “What are you talking about?”

“It looked like you were taking that sandwich apart very carefully, on your lap. Most people do that on the desk. Therefore, a note.”

“I sometimes open my sandwich up on my lap. That’s not a crime, is it?”

He paused. “OK, no note. Just checking.”

“Look, if I had a note, wouldn’t I have gotten up and quickly gone someplace else to read it? I bet you even checked my trash.”

“We did.”

“And?”

“You wouldn’t have tossed a secret note in the trash. I don’t consider you a careless lady. Not with what we have on you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Elliot Burch, Subway Slasher, strange deaths, should I go on?”

Now she was truly afraid but, keeping her voice calm, she replied, “Those were unsolved cases, and Elliot Burch is past history. You are getting too personal.”

“I said we will investigate everything. Glad to see that you aren’t taking strange late-night walks in Central Park anymore.”

“Agent Owens, I have had a long, stressful day. Is there anything else you want to talk about?”

“No. Have a good night.”

She hung up the phone and took a deep breath. The phone rang again.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Cathy, this is Dr Peter Alcott, a friend, and doctor who is concerned about you.”

“Peter, we really…”

“I know, I know, the phone may be tapped. But, so, what is dangerous about me being concerned about your concern? You know, the one you talked to me about a few weeks ago. You said you wanted my professional opinion.”

What was he talking about?Oh, she got it now.

“I had completely forgotten about it. Look, you’re right, it’s a feminine problem, and I don’t wish for anyone to hear about that.”

“Right, so can you come into my office tomorrow? Or call me to let me know when you can come in.”

“Is something wrong?”

“Just a consultation and advice to make sure we keep you healthy. It is something to discuss.”

“You mean like, if we don’t take care of it now, it could be problematic?”

“Yes.”

“Let me check with Joe. I’ll see if I can take some time off on Wednesday this week.”

“Excellent. I would like to see you soon.”

“Now you are making me worried.”

“It’s not serious.”

“Not cancer or anything like that?”

“Right, but it could be an issue for you later on.”

“OK, I will let you know.”

“Thanks, Cathy, I’ll let you get some sleep. Stress is a killer, you know.”

She smiled. “Thanks, Peter, I will. Good night.”

“Sleep tight. ‘Night.”

Her smile deepened. Somehow, Vincent and the others had found a way to keep in touch. She only hoped it would not put Peter in danger, or anyone else.

* * *

“Thomas Anderson, you are not going to take any more of this shit.” He tossed the medicine bottles into the trash. “All they do is affect your memory and cause you to lose your balance. And if you fall?”

He got dressed and went to his shop. He was so grateful to see that Robin, his Shop Manager, was there. She was smiling and waved to him. He walked back into the back office and stopped.

What am I doing here?

Robin walked into the office. “Thomas, what is wrong?”

Thomas didn’t reply. He wanted to, but he couldn’t.

She grabbed his arm. “Thomas?” She looked concerned.

Finally, he got some words out. “Sleeping in tunnels.”

“What?”

He snapped out of it. “Sorry, my mind…” He patted her hand, which was firmly grasping his arm. “Don’t worry, I tossed those damn meds out today. The ones the doc gave me a few months ago.”

“You shouldn’t do that. Going cold turkey…”

“They made things worse. High blood pressure, cholesterol, bah! I can’t think, pee too much, and can’t sleep. It’s making them money, that’s all.”

“OK, maybe you should go back to the doctor and tell her that.”

He shook his head. “No way. She’s so young and treats me like a baby. Keeps saying I should go to a nursing home and stuff. That’ll only get worse. Asks if I have a family. As if I do.”

Well, I do, but none that would be acceptable to those quacks. 

She shifted from one foot to the other. “Maybe you should move to an assisted living place. At least, until your body gets used to the medication. Or maybe…”

“Nursing homes are prison camps for the elderly. They keep medicating you until you fall, can’t think, shit in your pants, and make you linger until you die. And you are taking over 20 meds a day and drooling in a wheelchair like a baby.”

“OK, OK, calm down.”

She looked so worried.

“Look, I have the supplies coming in by tomorrow. And our business is doing so-so, but nothing to worry about. So maybe…?”

A man walked into the office. They turned to face him.

“Agent Owens.”

Thomas sighed. “If this is about Anthony Miller, I told…I told…” What was her name?

“I’m just following up for Assistant District Attorney Catherine Chandler.”

Robin placed herself in front of Thomas. “I need ID.”

Agent Owens showed her his ID.

“FBI?” Robin looked at Thomas.

Thomas moaned, “What now?”

* * *

Agent Owens looked around the library’s Archive Room. He rubbed his eyes. So dusty here, dust that bothered him.

He looked at the piles of film and big books of records. He shook his head.

Catherine Chandler, you have secrets, lots of them. Who…what…are you protecting? 

He picked up a few newspapers that were next to him. He chose one of those sensational newspapers, placing the others on the desk. It was the kind that published the weird stuff.

“If only they knew that one percent of this was true, in some way. And that we have to hide it. People panic so easily, like sheep.” He whispered to himself, “Now where was…” He started to glance at the pages, then back to the front of the paper. “Grandma Sees Monster Captured. So, Miss Chandler, why did you contact Trask and this Anna Lausch?”

He started to look at the other newspapers, placing this one back on the desk. He noticed the Columbia University newsletter and picked that one up. He grinned as he read the short memorial for Professor Hughes and Jonathan Gould. He placed the newsletter back on the desk and took out his notebook.

“Let’s see, according to the police report, they pieced together that this Jonathan Gould attacked the professor and the professor fought back and killed him. Plus, there was an empty cage in the room.”

Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. A thought that maybe, maybe, Catherine Chandler knew what was in the cage. What “It” was.

After placing his notebook on the desk, he went through one of the big books and sneezed at the dust it scattered when he opened it. There it was, the article about the Seaman’s Safe Haven.

He picked up his notebook and looked through his notes. Earlier today, he had gone to see Thomas Anderson. He had made a notation that Thomas Anderson talked about people in tunnels below. Was that a slip of the tongue?

Maybe Catherine Chandler knew that Samuel Alonzo had a hidden place. And maybe so did Anthony Miller? Maybe it could be why they could easily go from crime scene to crime scene and not show up on cameras? Because they went below, through tunnels? And maybe Catherine Chandler was protecting them? That she was on the take?

Or maybe this had nothing to do with those criminals. Maybe she didn’t want people sniffing around because of something much worse.

That was it. Something much darker, worse than anything anyone could imagine. Something even worse than Samuel Alonzo and the criminal elements in New York City. A secret that killed people who didn’t keep it quiet.

Catherine Chandler knew the law. Yet, whoever this was, she didn’t put this being in jail for killing people, hurting people.

She was harboring something very violent. That’s why Catherine Chandler was evasive.

People get upset at all the poking into their private lives and actions. He got that. He would hate being watched all the time. But it wasn’t that at all.

There was something below New York City and it wasn’t just the bugs, spiders, and rats, plus the occasional homeless people. It wasn’t even the alligator in the sewers or the lizard people, or whatever. She was protecting something inhuman. Why? Who knows? But it was something that the government and researchers would love to put in a lab and study. Something that could make him famous and advance his career. Could even show that he was better than those nerds in the CIA.

Yes, it was something that probably connected to this case. Or maybe not. But it required further investigation. He was on the trail of finding something that maybe was not of this Earth. A powerful being. An intelligent super beast living in the tunnels under New York City.

 

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WATER FUN

by AM

“Local temperature is 89 degrees with a heat index of 102. Stay inside if you can. Drink plenty of water and remember, don’t overdo it. It’s a scorcher out there today, folks”.

Catherine cursed the weatherman as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.  “Great. What a perfect time for the air to go out.”

The thought of going outside made her cringe. It was Sunday, so her office would be locked.

“I need to get out of this heat. I’ve got it!” Catherine giggled as she had a wonderful idea.

She went through recycling looking for something she could use.

“Nothing,” she said, frustrated.

She hurriedly changed into a comfortable t-shirt and jeans and hurried to the nearest store. She would’ve run if it hadn’t been so hot.

She sighed with relief when she stepped foot into the cool store.

She picked up some water guns.

No, too violent, and would be frowned upon, she thought as she put the guns down.

She went searching for safer things.

Balloons? No, leaves a mess to clean up.

Her eyes lit up when she saw them. “Spray bottles!!! Perfect!! Hmmm. There’s 50. That should be plenty.”

She grabbed up all the bottles and headed to pay.

It seemed like forever before she headed back to her apartment with her treasures. Instead of going directly to her apartment, she headed to the tunnels. It wasn’t long before she ran into Eric.

“What’s in the bags?” he asked

“It’s a surprise, and I need you to do me a favor. Could you gather all the kids and bring them here?”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and Eric?”

Eric turned to look at her.

“Bring as many buckets of water as you can.” She winked at him.

He returned in record time with all the tunnel kids, each carrying two buckets full of water. Catherine passed out the spray bottles and helped fill them up. Once all the bottles were filled, boundary lines were drawn, and safe places declared, they were ready.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” Catherine yelled.

The fight began in full force. Laughter, shrieks, and happy screams echoed through the tunnels as the children chased and sprayed each other. Catherine found herself in the crossfire several times, but laughed as hard as the children. When bottles emptied they were quickly refilled, and the fun continued. Soon adults came to find out where the happy noises were coming from. Some smiled, shook their heads and went back to their previous activity. Some helped by refilling empty buckets. Others just couldn’t help joining in the fun. Catherine noticed Vincent walking towards them.

“I need to borrow that,” she said to Kipper.

He smiled and handed her his full bottle. She placed the bottle behind her back, walked calmly up to Vincent, and sprayed him in the face.

His look of shock made Catherine laugh. Vincent calmly watched the children play for a few minutes before casually picking up a bucket that was a quarter full. He turned to Catherine.

“Vincent, you wouldn’t dare.”

“Perhaps, but then how would I return the favor?”

With that, he dumped the bucket over her head. The children erupted with laughter to see Catherine soaked.

A tapping on the pipes made them all stop. Dinner.

Groans quickly spread among the children. They reluctantly started handing the bottles to Catherine.

“Vincent, why don’t you keep them for the next time?”

The children’s eyes danced with glee. Vincent put the bottles in the buckets and handed them to the children to carry.

“Would you join us, Catherine?” Vincent asked.

“I would love to.”

Vincent took her hand and they followed the children to dinner.