Randall’s ears protested. The Thunderbird Turquoise fire door clanked, yielded. It opened into a five sided chamber, plus ceiling, and floor. Seven intersecting planes. The semicircle stairway formerly leading down to Level Zero was missing.
“Angelique: Two turquoise doors leading to Level Zero? Any other turquoise doors?”
“Two Randall, only two. No other turquoise doors. Non-contiguous. This is wrong.”
“Angelique, it reminds me of a Kaleidoscope… Minus the symmetry… This interior is shaped kind of like the ‘object chamber’ inside a big kaleidoscope. Normally it’s small, and there are loose items inside, colored glass, pebbles, little bits of shiny things that spin and reflect, creating geometric fractal designs; a church-glass star, or a colorful snowflake…
“An architectural duplication is happening, some form of uneven symmetry of prime numbers, fives and sevens. A multiplication, rearrangement of existing features. Now there’s five blue doors except none of them lead to familiar rooms. Additional chambers, hallways, and furnishings… Those marble stone hallways, exotic wool rugs, brass lamps, mural artworks, high-end ancient silk furniture…
“Like photographs in an art exhibition. Except features are copied, cloned, mindlessly shuffled with no concept of function or beauty. It’s an Architectural Cancer.
“Arielle Facility has become a giant twisted kaleidoscopic image of itself. Like a carnival fun house of mirrors. Or a maze. We are in a maze. Something wants to keep us from finding the two Platinum Coins those strangers left with your Edward. Kathleen’s Edward is missing. Platinum is a catalyst, a chemical catalyst. You know? ‘catalytic converters?’ It makes sense!”
“Randall, it makes sense?” “Forget that part, Angelique…”
“Then why’s the Arielle Facility sprouting rooms? What good is that?”
Randall thought about the Morrison Machine with five paranormal computer cores. It was capable of transforming pictures of oil paintings into photographs of non-existing items, scenes, and events. It altered physical matter, shunned dust and zapped oily fingerprints. Telekinesis. Edward James had two, likely more, of those little mutant Ultrabook Laptop Machines with the hybrid sentient processors.
“What if Kathleen’s Edward went missing on purpose? What if Kathleen is right about his customized Hot Rod Car, Joule: in addition to managing 600 Horsepower, it’s using the seven Morrison Cores for more than navigation, telephone, and WiFi… Seven Cores…”
“Seven-pointed star coins? Randall? What if Edward James is possessed? Or obsessed?”
“Angelique, and he’s a Techie. At least he used to be when we still had industry. Then he was abandoned, turned loose. Into what? A collective consciousness of hopelessness? It’s all of us that’s crazy.”
Julian Baines examined what was left of Aleister Parker. At the river edge, dead drowned Parker was pale and past peak freshness. Nevertheless Baines suspiciously eyed the waterlogged body. This was not the first time the appointed Town Barrister, and conscripted Peace Officer, was tasked with identifying a corpse.
Julian Baines once was a Seaman, a Fisherman from the Shoal Isles off the Atlantic next to Harbor Bathine. Still, it disturbed him to flip empty shells of human beings facing towards the silk-white Mare’s Tail Clouds high in a springtime azure afternoon.
Would the dead one gaze out of blank eye-sockets and cry aloud, finally acknowledging his fate, his time on earth was done?
Worse yet, often the bodies fell apart in strips like overcooked dunfish. However, Baines must search for papers, currency, crafted tools or personalized jewelry… Anything which would help him track down remaining loved ones waiting for news.
How much that small framed male with golden hair and lovely teeth weighed!
Actually, the flesh was firm, healthy for someone so dead. His shirt, in good repair, had ridden up, revealing scorched black flesh along his now protruding spinal vertebrae. Had he been piloting a small craft toward shore, then struck by lightning?
The last thing Julian Baines saw before blacking out was the delicate pearly teeth. They seemed to be glowing, from the inside. Was the sunlight, an illusion. Boundaries of experience dissolved and shifted. Julian Baines began dreaming dying dreams…
Morningtime three years back. Julian Baines opened his eyes after an evening of lightning, booming, and vicious winds. Groggy. Inside their tiny cabin, a mere fly speck atop a small rocky earth patch within sight but not reach of Parrot Cove in the sharp Nor’easter.
They’d heard a shutter unshuttering violently. The drink had worn off of Baines earlier than usual, awareness returning, unlike the spectre of his devastated industry. Killed by war-taxes, local regulation, federal men, and declining fishing stock. Julian Baines was coming up on the his return to dreadful panic; decension into the spins and flutters.
“Jules, I’ll get it,” comforted sweet Emily. She dashed into the darkness for her husband. She knew the drinking would stop and they would find a new way. Everything would be alright again. Jules was her man, kind and gentle. A brilliant yet flawed crazy diamond.
Julian Baines heard Emily say something, and then Julian had faded to black.
Julian Baines found Emily Baines’s lifeless body hours too late.
That splendid springtime morning.
Steaming in the sunshine.