Edwin’s hands were cool to the touch, with just a hint of a tremor. Mary looked into his eyes, letting her gaze linger, smiling. The old man’s countenance brightened, and he returned her stare for a moment until he turned away, letting go of her hands. Mary thought she could see a hint of a blush in his cheeks.
“Sean and I are getting married Thursday morning. Would you be a witness?” Mary said, surprising herself by her impulsiveness, “At the courthouse. Tina will be there.”
Edwin’s smile faded.
“You’d better ask Tina about that,” he said. There was a pause in the conversation, but Edwin began to smile again, “Of course, I will. But talk to Tina. I’ll be here, just stop by, I’ll be ready.”
“I’ll do that, Mr. Dubble,” said Mary, “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go. See you on Thursday.”
Mary left the strange shop and walked south, past the courthouse, then west on Broadway Street. She was still processing her encounter with Edwin and making mental notes to ask Tina about him and his relationship with Emily. Mary was surprised at how quickly she was getting used to Emily inhabiting her body, although she still felt a lingering mental haziness, “A brisk walk in the sunshine might help to dispel the cobwebs,” she thought.
She had only walked a couple of blocks before she came across a grand house: Victorian, clad in brick, with sweeping porches and a most curious wall set about the perimeter of the yard. This enclosure was composed of stones of various kinds, as well as fine specimens of coral, numerous geodes and other attractive minerals. As she looked at the house and wall she realized that it had been depicted in one of Emily’s drawings. That drawing had a mark on the obverse side, right on one of the posts flanking the driveway. As Mary walked closer to the post she began to feel a tingling in her fingers. She slowly moved her hands over the post until she found the area where the tingling was the most intense, directly above a quartz crystal in one of the geodes. It felt warm to the touch and it was vibrating in unison with the tingling in her fingertips. She could hear a small ‘ping’ whenever she touched it. At that precise moment, Mary’s mind cleared. She suddenly had a sharp mental image of lines of force surrounding all the crystals embedded in the wall. She then looked around; everything in her field of view seemed to possess an aura. Mary continued her walk, accepting these manifestations was part of her change—a change from the human she once was, she thought, into some new and different consciousness. “It’s like doing mushrooms but without their sillyness,” she thought. After walking a few more blocks, the Whippy Dip came into her field of view.
Sean's email inbox was full. Mostly requests from reporters and others interested in the Billygate affair. This time, however, there was a smattering of requests for money: “The TechCreeper article about my payoff at ADR must have triggered those,” he thought. He deleted them all, except for one. It was from Þora, in Iceland:
Mr. Sean Carroll:
Please pardon my English. I am Þora, the woman you met in Iceland a year ago. I am writing you because I have been getting suggestive and unwanted communications from a law firm in Virgina. They have insinuated that you are the father of my child, and that you should be made to pay support. (I received your email address from them.) I don't want my child or me to be involved in any legal activities with these people. I have nothing against you or what we did, some things just happen due to circumstance. The child may not even be yours. Being the primary caregiver, I am unable to leave Iceland to discuss this with you or your lawyers. I am writing to let you know what is happening. If you have any thoughts on this matter and how to stop it, I would be most grateful. I don't have any ill-will towards you. I know that you have suffered real pain and loss in this affair.
Sean thought about this for several minutes before replying:
Thank you for your email. I have been reluctant to contact you for I am still under a legal cloud and there are people here in the U.S. who are hostile to me and have been engaged in tactics of intimidation. I am truly sorry for my role in the affair which involved you, I will do what I can to keep you and your child from any unwanted interference. I will let you know if anything comes up. I don't mean to be forward, but have you had a paternity test done? It would, at least, minimize some of the confusion.
As he hit send, Sean immediately regretted not forwarding the email to his lawyers. “I’ll consult with them if it goes any further,” he rationalized to himself, “At least Þora knows that I’m personally dealing with the issue.” He shut down the laptop and closed the lid just as Mary walked back into the coffee shop. Mary looked different to Sean, her visage seemed to be a little wilder although she seemed to be very much in control. There was, however, an incongruous white spot on her upper lip.
“Mary, just a second… ” said Sean, as he dabbed her lip with a napkin. “That’s better.”
“Busted. The Whippy Dip. I was hungry,” she said tersely, “Things are happening, Sean, I’m changing rapidly, let’s get back to the house, I need to talk with Tina.”
“Sure. I’ve got some news as well.”
“I’m going to use the lav—that’s something that’s changing too. It seems as if I have to pee every fifteen minutes now,” Mary said, “And I’ll be needing some new clothes soon.”
“Yes,” said Sean, “Everything is changing.”
In the intensive cardiac care unit at Virginia Hospital Center, Roger Ramsen was struggling. His daughter Nora was sitting beside him, her mouth set in a frown. The staff had been unable to stabilize his heartbeat and the arrhythmia of the monitor’s beep was starting to bother her. As she sat, she thought it was getting worse. She was just about to call a nurse when Ramsen’s heartbeat began to race: an alarm went off and in what was only a couple of seconds a team of health workers came over to the bay where Roger was being monitored. As one of the women prepared a syringe, Roger’s heartbeat stopped. The team quickly applied a defibrillator and began their resuscitation efforts.
But Roger was gone.