This is Chapter 27 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK
Wednesday Morning, July 22, 2020, Seattle
Mary was on the phone with one of her old ADR
crew, a group of misfit hackers who were now doing business as Seattle Data Work Cooperative,
“OK Lenny, what do you have for me?”
“So Barbara Merrit has been teasing pictures of you and Sean and Jo on her twitter feed,” said Lenny, “She also has a few shots of a mystery woman, someone with you and Sean, a woman who looks like Sean’s grandmother. Not a bad looker for someone who would be over 110 years old.”
“I’ve seen some of those pictures, I think we'll have to draw a line for Ms Merrit’s conjectures. As it stands now, the cranks she appeals to are going to run wild this stuff,” said Mary, “We’ll have to dilute their impact with a TOI.”
“A torrent of information?” said Lenny, “Sounds like fun. What kinds and how big do you want to go?”
“How many photo-hackers can you get?” said Mary, “I want dozens, if not hundreds, doctored versions of the most interesting pictures she released. Put them on Twitter feeds, blogs, sketchy news sites, the trashier the better. Add people, make new backgrounds, start memes… everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.”
“What about the mystery woman? If you don’t mind me asking, who is she?”
“We’re going to let it be known that she was an actress we hired, looking to see if she would be suitable for reenactments for a documentary about Sean’s grandmother.”
“Do you think that will fly?”
“We've already hired someone who will fill the bill. We’ll allow ourselves to be seen and photographed with her. By this time next week all of this will be old news.”
“It’s great to be working with you guys again, Mary. Say hi to Sean.”
“Just like old times… ”
Agent Marchal had been assigned to see if there were any Seattle links to the death of Andrew Stevenson, the store-front YouTube evangelist who had been attacking Sean and Mary and Jo in his sermons. He had been found dead in his car a few days previously. Because the case may have crossed state lines, the FBI was called in. Marchal had just called Sean.
“Hello again, Sean,” said Marchal, “You must be tired of hearing from me.”
“No problem, this call is about the ‘witch riot’?”
“Sort of related. It’s more about that preacher in Arizona who was found dead,” continued Marchal, “You’ve heard about it?”
“The guy who was on our case about Mary and Jo and me?”
“That’s right, is there any thing you know about it that I should know?”
“I’ve got no proof, but I have heard that a local independent reporter, one Barbara Merrit, has been asking around about Mary and Jo and me,” Sean paused, “She’s evidently writing a book, an exposé. She thinks that between the three of us we’ve killed a bunch of people. Her brother was a reporter for techcreeper
who was trying to dig up dirt on us. He died in a car crash during the earthquake of 2012 and I think she’s thinks that we are somehow responsible. She’s trying to avenge his death somehow.”
“Forgive me for asking, and this is just to establish a timeline, but do you remember where you three were when her brother died?”
“Not a problem, I remember it well,” said Sean, “Mary was in labor. Jo had been a midwife’s assistant, and we both helped with the birth of Mareka.”
“So… I gather that none of you have ever killed anyone, with the exception of Jo and the intruder.”
“Jo did kill that creep,” said Sean, “It was suspected that he was a Russian agent, hired to kill her. Weren’t you were involved with that case?”
An extended period of silence ensued.
“Not for me to tell you how to do your job, but you might want to examine that preacher’s car in Arizona very carefully,” said Sean, “From what I’ve heard about Stevenson’s death I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of poisonous gas introduced into the car’s ventilation system. Compare his autopsy results with Sally O’Donnell’s. If you do find something in the car check it against the canister that Jo’s intruder had.”
Jo and Mareka were in Jo’s ‘in-law apartment’, a cottage in the backyard of Mary and Sean’s house. They each had an artist’s sketch pad and were sharing a box of oil pastels.
“What is that?” asked Jo, pointing to Mareka’s drawing of an abstract landscape in multi-colored swaths.
“That’s where great-grandma Emily is, in space.”
“No, the inside space, you know, the portal space.”
“Did you see Emily when you were in the portal the other day?”
“No, but I know she’s around me, watching me,” said the child, without looking up, “I see her in my dreams sometimes. Ever since I put her painting up over my bed. She’s nice to me.”
“What are those strong colored lines going across the drawing?”
“That’s the line, ” said Mareka, “Above it the world, below it is the portal space.”
Jo watched Mareka draw a small, black, blob.
“What is that black blob?”
“That’s a very bad man. He wants to hurt you,” said Mareka, “But I won’t let him hurt you,” said the child, “I have powers.”
Next Chapter: Mountain Greenery