Back at the house, my head was spinning. Morgan had laid out a map of the islands in front of me, with six spots marked on it: The one we had just left near Kahakuloa, one on the Southeast coastline of Kaho`olawe, one on the Western tip of Molokai, one near Princeville on Kauai, and one at the Southernmost tip of the chain on Hawai`i.
"You've covered more ground than I expected," I said to her as I glanced nervously at the armed guard positioned outside the living room window. "Did you guys track these all down by yourselves?"
"No, just a couple of them," she said. "We got curious after we found the ones near here, so Karl made some calls to people he knew on other islands to see if they'd come across the same thing."
"It is one of many mysteries we have come no closer to understanding," said Diessen as he walked in from the kitchen. "Like many things we dig up, we find ourselves with few answers and many more questions." He glanced at Jason before looking directly at me. "How are you gentlemen doing after your adventure?"
"That's certainly a word for it," replied Jason. " I mean, I'm certainly glad those guys weren't trying to rub us out for good, but why are we being tracked at all? When did Joe become Indiana Jones? This is making less and less sense the longer we're here."
I nodded. "I'm not enjoying this sensation of being dragged down the rabbit hole. Even my storyteller imagination can't make sense of this. We have gods to explain the universe in ways we can understand. They aren't supposed to actually exist."
Morgan chuckled. "Are you thinking of any particular gods with this observation?" She walked over by the front door and pulled a notebook from her backpack. "I've had a few dates with weirdness myself around here. Mostly feelings, mind you. And strange dreams. I haven't seen any flying objects or ghosts, or burning bushes and the like."
She sat down on my right with her notebook resting on her lap. I looked at her. "I need to ask you something."
"What's strange about the dreams?"
She paused before speaking. "Usually I'm in an unfamiliar place. A cave of sorts, and I'm dressed... Well, I suppose you could say I'm nearly undressed in a very primitive getup that feels almost aboriginal. I'm surrounded by fire, but it doesn't scare me. In fact, I feel very safe. But I can tell that beyond the fire is something downright evil."
"Is there anything on the ground?"
She nodded. "A pool of the bluest water I've ever seen. It looks deep. So deep it's either a way out, or..."
"Or a trap." She hands me the notebook. "Here. It's my dream journal. Most of it is boring or filthy, but I've dog-eared the pages where I have this dream."
I glanced at the number of pages she'd marked. She'd been having this dream often. "I'm meeting my grandfather tomorrow. I need to ask him some questions about my family here."
Karl stared at me. "You have family here? How did we not know this? How long have they been on Maui?"
"That's the thing, I replied. I'm not sure. I know my grandmother grew up here, but I want to find out just how far back our ties to Maui go. Something tells me it's important."
"I'll say it is," he replied. "Joe, have him come here. If you are amenable, I would very much like to join you two in conversation."
Morgan looked over at Jason, who was becoming visibly tense. "You look like you could use some proper vacation time. Why don't we visit some island gardens while these boys have their chat tomorrow? I figure you and I are safe from prying eyes as long as we leave your man at home. Not that that makes you feel any better, I know. "
Jason nodded. "That sounds nice." He looked at me. "Are you okay?"
I had to think about my answer. I wanted to say that no, but that would only make him worry even more. Instead I just said, "I don't know." That was honest.
Karl looked around the room at us and stood up. Well, I think this settles things nicely. Now, on to important business: Who's hungry?"
Jason shook his head. "I want to be hungry, but right now my stomach feels like it has an angry alien in it."
"I have just the thing for that," said Morgan and she jumped up and strode off into the kitchen.
"Morgan has the most impressive collection of teas that I have ever seen," Karl said as she left the room. "And she never leaves home without them. I daresay she'll have you feeling more like your usual self before you even finish what she's brewed in the cup." He went into the kitchen and left us sitting in the living room, staring awkwardly at the map on the table.
"I don't like this, Joe."
I scooted closer to Jason on the couch and put my arm around him. "Me either. But what really bothers me is this feeling that I don't have any choice but to help them. I'm scared that running back home will be more dangerous than staying here. I sure hope they know what they're doing."
Jason rested his head on my shoulder. "I just hope they know how to keep us from getting dragged off in the middle of the night."
I sighed. "Me too, Jason. It's one thing to write a creepy story and sell it. It's quite another to find yourself the protagonist."
"You should call Marisa. She's got to be at least half as worried about this whole mess as I am."
I nodded. "Did I tell you she's been basically hiding out in her apartment with a case of Haagen Daaz ever since our meeting at that restaurant downtown? That can't be good for her psyche. I need to let her know the heat has moved on."
"Yeah. Now it's squarely on us."
"The heat's on me," I corrected him. "In my pants."
"Shut up," he said giving me a playful shove. "This is serious. I mean, yeah it's great that they didn't want to kill us... Jeebus, I can't believe I'm even saying those words. We almost got tranqued by some mysterious shadow organization on the side of a backcountry road. Why the fuck are our lives suddenly the plot of a bad Nicholas Cage movie? And what are these people going to do to you if they do get their hands on you? "
"I have to figure that out, and fast. It's the only way to know what in gods' names any of this means."
"How will talking to your grandfather help? I mean, it sounds like grandma is the one you really need to talk to and she's not exactly making the social rounds anymore thanks to the whole being dead thing."
"It's the only starting point I can think of right now. And even if he doesn't know anything, he's still connected here. He might know somebody who can help."
"I sure hope so, Joe." Jason broke eye contact as Morgan came back into the room with a tray and three cups.
"I put something extra in yours," she said to me as she placed a cup on the table. "And for Jason, nothing but calming herbs and some honey."
"Please say one of them is marijuana," he deadpanned.
"That can be arranged!" Karl called out from the kitchen. "But we'll have to wait until I get dinner started because I wouldn't mind a jazz cigarette myself."
Jason raised an eyebrow. "The professor smokes?"
"After a day like this one, wouldn't you?" Morgan said as she sat back down on the couch with us. "Now lets plan out our day tomorrow. Tropical Gardens of Maui or the Enchanting Floral Gardens? The latter is run by a nice old lady who sounds just like Gozer. She'll do everything she can to get you to buy a bottle of bug repellent."
"That sounds like heaven," Jason replied.
As the two of them started plotting which tourist traps to get caught in, I let my attention drift back to the map laid out in front of us. If there was a pattern and a purpose to those stones, I needed to find out what it was. The sooner I did, the sooner we could get back to a normal life. Something about their layout felt incomplete. If these stones were meant to connect to each other, why didn't these links extend to all of the islands? Oahu and Ni`ihau were totally blank. This made no sense at all. There had to be more of them out there, but I had no idea how to find them.
"Hey Morgan," I said. "Have you played connect the dots at all with these locations to see if there might be a pattern?"
"Sure, but we haven't come up with anything meaningful. We even tried overlaying known icons and markings but nothing matches up."
"Have you taken into account that some of the stones haven't been found yet?"
Posted by socalgecko at 1:48 PM