Wayne pulled up in front of Harlan’s building. For a moment, the blonde man seemed totally involved in thought. After a moment, he said, "So, we’re decided. We’re going."
"Absolutely," Wayne answered.
"You do realize that Seana isn’t going to give us any of our stuff back," Harlan looked at his companion with a comical expression.
"I got more."
"That’s all I wanted to hear." Harlan opened the door. Suddenly he looked as if lightning had just struck him. "Look, don’t do anything until I get to the Raven’s Nest tonight."
"Okay," Wayne knew better than to ask any questions. He probably wouldn’t like the answers. "Raven’s Nest tonight around eight."
"Perfect," Harlan answered as he shut the door. "Later."
The Firehawk screeched away from the curb and Wayne took out his cell phone and hit the speed dial. To his surprise, Andre answered the phone.
"Thought you were still at work, Doc," Wayne said flatly.
"I got a patient, Cowboy," she answered sweetly, "first priority."
"How she doin’?" He turned the corner onto his driveway roughly.
"Better," she anticipated his next question, "she’ll probably be up for visitors in a day or two. She was well enough to ask for a bottle this morning."
"Keep me informed if she changes," he responded and flipped his phone shut. It would be a long time until eight.
"Hold everything," Harlan exclaimed as he pushed the double doors to Raven’s Nest open. Wayne looked up from his corner table. He shrugged and looked back down at the newspaper he was reading.
"Are you ready?" Wayne asked his partner as Harlan sat down.
"Yeah, I’m ready," he smiled. "But we’re not going back there yet."
"Yeah, you see, the problem might be in Virginia. But it’s also in Sarah’s head. We were planning on going back there to fix the problem, thinking that would fix here. But what if it didn’t? What if we need to fix her before we can stop them?" Harlan stopped suddenly and waited for a response.
"What are you getting at? We go back to Gravesville. We kill those bastards. We tell Sarah. She has nothing to fear anymore." To Wayne this seemed a case of simple logic.
"Yeah, ok, but what if it doesn’t? What if she’s one of those people who has to face her fears to overcome them?" Harlan reasoned, quickly adding, "and what makes us think we can take these guys out. She’s the only person ever to come back out of there. We need her on this job."
Wayne lowered his paper and considered the rationale carefully. Finally he said, "Ok, so, what do you have planned?"
"I’m going out of town for a few days. Just don’t do anything until I get back." Harlan flipped open his phone and pressed a few buttons. Instantly his plan was set into motion.
"Seana, do you have any idea why Harlan would FedEx a crate to Tibet?" Damian asked his partner from his huge oak desk covered with invoices.
"He had to take a trip," Seana called from the kitchen. "He said it was to help Sarah, so I told him to spare no expense."
"Well, I hope he knows what he’s doing," Damian grumbled. "Tibet is a much different place than Hudson City."
"OK, let’s try this again," the oddly dressed American said in Mandarin. "Which way to the vampire monks?"
The pedal-cab driver just looked at him with a blank expression, pointed to the nearest McDonald’s, and held his hand out for a tip. Harlan dropped a few coins in his hand and thought out loud, "This is going to take a while."
Wayne hadn’t seen or heard from Harlan in over a week. Normally, he wouldn’t mind the absence. He appreciated peace and quiet. However, they had a special job to do, and he promised not to move on it until Harlan returned. Wayne always kept his word, but he was worried about Sarah. The only way he knew to help his friend was to remove the source of the pain and fear she was experiencing. His ruminations were interrupted when Harlan slammed open the door to the Coyote Saloon. Wayne passed a quizzical glance toward Garrett, who was tending bar while Sarah was indisposed. The large Jamaican-Swede just shrugged his shoulders. The reason for their confusion was immediately evident. Following close behind Harlan was a short bald man in an orange robe.
"So there I was, standing outside a McDonald’s in Tibet," Harlan related his tale over the first cup of palatable coffee he’d had in over a week. "I was reduced to screaming like Charlie Brown, ‘Doesn’t anybody know how to speak Chinese around here?’ Then I felt a tap on my shoulder, and a guy dressed like this," he points to his companion politely drinking a glass of water, "says, ‘No, but I do speak English.’ Can you believe it? I was speechless."
"Bet that didn’t last long," Garrett interrupted from behind the bar.
"Nope, not long at all," Harlan continued without missing a beat. "Actually, the first thing I said was, ‘Whaddya know? The cabbie was right.’ And then Tiny says to me, ‘We have been expecting you. Sarah needs our help. Come with me.’ And then we went back to his monastery, really cool place, and I met this guy. I told him what was going on and he insisted on coming back here to see his old friend."
"Old friend?" Wayne asked.
Harlan gestured wildly. "Can you believe it? This is the monk that helped Sarah in the first place. Remember, Raven’s story?"
Wayne nodded and turned to the monk. He bowed low and said, in perfect Tibetanese, "We are grateful for your kind help."
Harlan’s jaw dropped to the floor. "Why didn’t you tell me you could speak Tibetanese. You’d have saved me a lot of trouble, you know."
"You didn’t tell me what you were up to," Wayne answered, "you just said, ‘wait here!’"
Harlan narrowed his eyes at Wayne. "Never mind."
"Shall we go to the Blue Dragon, now?" The monk politely asked.
Wayne stood up and said, "This way."
All three piled into Wayne’s Firehawk and headed to Seana’s.
Damian could not have been more surprised if a large golden Buddha was sitting outside the door. He, however, did not forget his manners. He bowed low to the monk and bade him to enter.
Harlan quickly began to explain when Seana walked into the room. She smiled at the sight of her old friend and greeted him accordingly.
"Master Fong," she took his hands gently. "I am so very pleased to see you."
"Likewise Lady Murdock," he responded. "It has been far too long."
Damian quickly introduced and excused himself with the excuse of "scads of paperwork, you know."
Fong turned to Seana. "The Blue Dragon?"
"Upstairs." Seana began to climb the stairs. He laid a patient but firm hand on her shoulder.
"I should go alone," he said, "I know she is yours and that is why I should see her alone."
She bowed respectfully and said, "End of the hall on the left. You can’t miss it. There are scratches on the door."
He smiled and glided up the stairs. Seana walked over to the two men and said, "I don’t suppose I can persuade you of the foolishness of this decision."
"We just wanted to help," Harlan stated innocently.
Seana didn’t buy it. She just gave him an irritated look. Finally Wayne said, "No good, we’re caught. Yes we’re going to go through with it."
"At least wait for Sarah," Seana instructed.
"Why the Hell did you think I went to Tibet?" The sarcastic remark escape Harlan’s lips before he had a chance to think it through.
She regarded him coolly. He waited for her wrath to descend on him but all she said was "You know better."
She went into her office and shut the door. Harlan and Wayne retreated into the living room and waited.
After a day and a night and still another day, the monk finally came down. He smiled at Harlan and very politely asked where the kitchen was. For a moment Harlan and Wayne thought he hadn’t changed anything.
Then Sarah came down the stairs. She was transformed. Indeed, neither man had ever seen her like this before. A peace emanated from her like the silvery glow of a rising moon. She smiled at her friends and embraced each as they rose to greet her.
"I am sorry I caused you so much worry." She spoke softly and calmly. She walked to the study and knocked on the door. Seana opened it and was, momentarily stunned. Sarah embraced her, then said, "I need the keys to the impound warehouse and the book of rituals you have."
Seana looked at her skeptically. "I can understand why you want the destructive stuff I’ve confiscated, but you don’t know how to use magic."
"I don’t," Sarah agreed, "but Master Fong does. We each need a talisman to ward off the effects of the mind control."
"So you intend to go through with this?" Seana asked.
"Yes, but not for the reason you think," Sarah responded and kissed her mentor on the cheek. "I love you dearer than my own blood, but I will not go without your blessing."
"Is she acting a little strange to you?" Harlan leaned over to Wayne.
"She is at peace," Fong’s voice answered from behind them. "When one truly comes to terms with one’s demons, the effect is very calming."
"Right," Harlan answered politely as he took a step away from the old monk. "Just don’t put the whammy on me, ‘kay?"
"Yours is not an inner demon," Fong responded knowingly and walked passed them into the study. Seana led him to the library while Sarah joined her friends.
"Come," she said as she headed out the door, "we must prepare for battle."
"I never realized it before," Sarah said as she checked the list of necessary equipment against what they had laid out on the dining room table, "but they were extremely pale, don’t you think?"
"Yeah," Harlan answered as he tenderly stroked his homemade detonation box. He hadn’t seen it in over four years. "Who?"
She looked at him, slightly irritated. "The dark creatures of the Virginia mountains."
"Appalachian," Harlan corrected effortlessly as he stuck the box in his pocket. Sarah could have sworn that for a moment he was muttering "My Precious" over the box. She shook her head and looked at the talismans.
In the end, after much arguing between Harlan and Wayne, it was decided each talisman should be something special to the individual. Sarah’s talisman was her old rosary, a gift given to her years ago from her grandfather. Wayne’s was an old marksmanship ribbon he had from when he first entered the service, and Harlan, who was the hardest to please, finally decided on the pen he used to sign his divorce papers.
She hoped they had each chosen wisely. At least none of the objects threw off the spell, though Harlan’s did fall to the floor right after the ritual. The monk assured him that the talisman was okay, but he was still skeptical.
As he chose to put it, "The universe has it in for me, I can feel it."
They heard Wayne pull up outside. As he entered her house, he heard Sarah asked, "Did he fight too much?"
"No," he answered. "Seana went ahead and popped for a first class seat."
"I hope you remember to cancel the Fedex shipping order," Harlan added.
"No," Wayne began putting the equipment into one of four large bags. "Seana said she had plans for it."
Once the bags were pack and all three left their letters of final wishes on the table, they walked outside. Sarah looked at her dog and told him to wait there. She took one final look around then got into the back seat of the Hummer. Each of them placed their talismans close to their hearts and headed out.
(Copyright 2002 Gina M. Wood - Random Quote Productions)
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