Friday, January 24, 2020

The Wall

This is chapter 5 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Wednesday evening, July 8, 2020, Decorah, Iowa

“I was talking to Villí’s Uncle Hilmar, in Iceland,” said Mary to her daughter, “Are you feeling better?”

“I’m fine. What is going on?” said Mareka, “What’s the matter with Villí?”

“He had a bit of a scare, like you did this afternoon,” said Sean, “He’s all right now. You know how you and Villí think alike sometimes? It was like that. He spoke about the stones and how cold they were.”

“Were are you afraid of the Ice Cave Moh-mah?”

“Not anymore,” said Mary as she smiled at Mareka, “It was a little scary though, don’t you think?”

“Oh, a little bit scary, but it was wonderful. The stones have spoken to me before, too. I like the stones. Could you hear them?”

“Not today, but I have heard the stones speak before, in the Ice Cave, too.”

“Have you heard them, Pops?”

“No, I haven’t,” said Sean, “That is something that most people can’t do. It is one of your ‘powers’, your mother knows all about those.”

“And great-grandma Emily, she knew too? How could she teach you, mother? Didn’t she disappear before you were born?”

There was a long silence before Mary spoke.

“She left some notes, and books, and a map, a map that showed places where I could hear the stones speak, where I could learn about my powers.”

Another long silence. This time Mareka spoke.

“Can I see the book and the map?”

“They are in Seattle, in a safe place, with the rest of Emily’s things,” said Sean, “The book is in code, the map is very fragile.”

“Someday, someday soon, you can see them, I will teach you the codes, and we can look at the maps,” said Mary. “But there is one place, a place that is very near here, that we can go to now if you feel up to it, if you’d like to. It isn’t scary like the Ice Cave.”

“I would! I would!” said Mareka, hopping about excitedly.

“O.K. then!” said Mary, with a little clap. “We will talk to the stones. Give us a couple of minutes to get ready.”

In an office in the Church of the Righteous Word in Phoenix, Arizona, Pastor Andrew Stevenson was surfing the net, doing research for his next sermon on his weekly television show. He had had some good response with an earlier diatribe about the evilness and immorality of modern women. He thought that if he could make an example of someone there could be an even greater response, but it had to be the right woman: exotic, wealthy, feminist and blatantly sinful. Someone notable, but not super-famous with armies of lawyers at her command. He clicked on an article about an ‘New Cult’s High Priestess.’ The article, in a British tabloid, opened with the picture of a black woman under the headline. The caption read ‘Mary Robinson, Head Witch of Icelandic pagan cult.’ Stevens rubbed his hands together and murmured under his breath, “Perfect, tonight’s sermon will write itself.”

The early evening sun was still powerful but its ferocity has diminished considerably by the time Sean, Mary and Mareka left the Winneshiek Hotel in downtown Decorah. It was about a ten minute walk to their destination, The Porter House, where one of the ‘power centers’ that Emily had drawn on her map was located.

“What was Emily like?” said Mareka as they walked down Washington Street. Her curiosity had been piqued by her mother’s mention of the coded book and maps that Sean’s grandmother had left behind in her attic studio.

“There are a few stories about her that were written by her artist friends in New York City. They say that she was a talented artist who liked to dance and go to parties. She knew many interesting characters, some of whom were considered very mysterious,” said Sean. “That may be where she learned how to use the ‘powers.’”

“Where did Emily get her powers in the first place?”

“They have been in the Carroll family for generations—her mother, your great-great-grandmother—had them as well.”

“What happened to her?“

“People were afraid of her and her powers so they put her in an asylum hospital, a place where she could be controlled. It was a different time then. She ultimately died there.”

“Would they put me in a hospital?”

“No, not if you don’t tell them about it,” said Mary, “That is why we have told you not to talk to people about the way the stones speak to you.”

Mareka thought about this for a few seconds. “I know.”

They had arrived at their destination, the Porter House. It was an Italianate-style mansion from the 1860s. It was well-preserved and held a museum of the family artifacts. It was surrounded by a fanciful wall constructed of numerous exotic minerals and sea shells. Mary led Mareka and Sean to a corner of the wall next to a driveway. With an anxious look on her face, Mareka began to tremble as she approached it.

“Can you feel it, Mareka?” asked Mary. “Tell me what you feel.”

“Oh! Oh! Oh! The stones are happy!”

“Mareka, do you see that stone, the one that looks like a broken egg filled with crystals?” Mareka nodded. “Go closer and touch the big crystal on top.”

Mareka stepped up to the wall and touched the geode. Her trembling stopped and she became very still. Her expression changed; from a nervous grimace to a serene smile. After a minute her hand dropped to her side and she turned to her parents.

“I understand the stones now,” she said, “And I am ready to begin my learning. Teach me what you know, mother.”

Next chapter: Will and Grace

By Professor Batty

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