Tim is told that he will learn how to shoot, Andy goes Swimming and the Philly sharks come to a bad end.
Friday 1/1, 1932.
We watched as the Director left and waited as he got in his cab and then Tim started to laugh. “He doesn’t pay attention, does he? Everything going on around him involved what he was doing and he never seemed to pick up the fact that Sal Dom and Josh were talking about New Jersey, Noro, Tom and Lou were talking about the Olympics, the admiral and Steve were setting up the sharks and you ladies were talking about the party that his werewolf poked his nose into. He even wanted to pay Theresa to look into the New Jersey thing. While Sal was sitting right there with his car right outside. The most famous car in the city!”
“He’s always been like that,” Theresa said. “This was probably the most extreme case though. I don’t think he picked up on the fact that he was surrounded by all his enemies even after I told him that Bennies was a favorite for his enemies. The interesting thing is that he wants to know things about Tom, yet has no clue what he looks like. Noro and Lou probably threw him off, but they shouldn’t have as he should know by this point who Noro is and by extension, who Lou is.”
“Do you think that you could pass off the report I sent to the bureau or do you want to go through the motions?” Sal asked.
“Give us the report,” Theresa replied and giggled a bit. “We’ll have Sarah rewrite it and Eli will do some driving around and talk to the lady on Sandy Hook. We’ll talk to some of the compelled too.”
“So do you think that he bought it all?” I asked. “That story didn’t seem that solid.” “Oh, he bought in,” Theresa said. “The idea that he’s getting something from you because you pissed off Hilda and Athena will be irresistible. The fact that he will be getting information from someplace that he has no access to will only be icing on the cake. Chrissie, could you make up some copies of your farm pictures, the ones that don’t have Tom in them for me? I think that we should include them in the packet to verisimilitude.” “I’ll do that, Theresa. How about pictures of the stuff being transferred and the fireproof boxes?”
“Perfect. When you go back up, take some pictures of the bonfire with the boxes and send that down too.”
“How come he doesn’t have pictures of me already,” I asked. “It’s not as if I could mess up a camera then and he’d been sending things after me for years. The Manager had a set of my shark pictures that Boris gave him, but we have those back.”
“He’s never tried to seek out information very much,” Theresa said, “He’s bought what we offered and hired us to track down things that went wrong, but never hired us to do the sort of things we do for Lou and Noro. Lou sent us up to look into something before anything had happened with no guarantee that we would find anything. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for Edward, we wouldn’t have. Still, a negative result is a result and Eli is talking with some of our other clients and telling them that while Noro is doing some expediting at the Olympics, he’s not actively looking at any investments or business ventures. He’s also telling them rather bluntly that Josh is still the proxy holder, which may not make them very happy. He’s also going to tell those clients that once this report is done that we will no longer be able to research anything regarding White’s or the Cape because of conflict of interest concerns.”
“Theresa, we were not going to involve you in the family businesses unless you want to be,” Noro said. “Involvement is voluntary and while most of my family is involved one way or another, some are not. Nera, for instance is somewhat independent.”
“Not as much as you might think, father. She has some money in the company from back in the day and has bits and pieces of businesses and property in Boston that were consolidated with the rest of the family businesses when the income tax was passed. I didn’t know about her dancing shows with Ray because Millie kept them as a separate set of books and handled that for Nera. Altris has a better handle on Nera’s business because he manages her side of things. She may want to take a more direct hand now that she is spending time up top. Millie hasn’t told me if Mike and Nera are planning to file jointly or individually next year. Millie said that she talked to Mary about Mike’s taxes and that the farm rental was most of it. So far, Mike hasn’t paid much attention to the business side. Theresa, I don’t think that you would be able to avoid a conflict of interest and thank you for making that clear to your clients. For that matter, it’s likely that Stacey and Bill would want you as a connection for freelance work at the newsletter and if you weren’t already on the list, you are now.”
“Is that a Christmas present from our son, Josh? We weren’t and have never quite had the connections to be able to ask. We were going to take advantage of Tim being on the list, but now we won’t have to.” “You can consider it a Christmas present. From Stacey more than me.”
“It is truly appreciated. I expect that there will be more surprises.”
“That I can’t say. Otherwise I will be in trouble with my wife.”
Bob and Scott came in. Scott said, “Why do all the fae businesses have to be sleazy joints?”
“Did you find constructs?” I asked.
“We did and it isn’t the same supplier, we think. This one uses perfume bottles. We cleaned him out. Twenty jars. He wanted twenty bucks a jar, but we negotiated down to ten, which is twice what we pay Ronny or that other guy. Considering how dusty the place was and the fact that it was in a cellar, that two hundred bucks is probably all the money he will see for the next month. We asked about his supplier and he wouldn’t tell us. I think he was rather shocked that two kids would walk in dressed like we were off the farm and have that kind of cash. We didn’t tell him that we could have paid the twenty if we had to.”
“We could put some eyes on the place,” Sal said. Where is it?”
“In a basement on 45th St. The place has a cover as a hokum magic shop like that place in Plattsburg. It’s run by a guy named Alan and a bunch of cats. The cats seem to be the smart ones there. There are aversions on the merchandise that isn’t hokum. With the exception of the construct jars, most of the stuff was just stupid. Low power crystal amplifiers and thinking aids. Some shield headbands. A projector that only has one image that doesn’t move. Stuff like that. Uncle Tom, the stuff you come up with even without using abilities blows that garbage away and if you have abilities you don’t really need that stuff. At least you shouldn’t. As for eyes, we already talked to Vinnie and made some arrangements with the paper boy on the corner to keep an eye on the place.”
Joe came in. “Steve, I have Tom’s boat outside. The other two are already on their way to New Jersey with your people. Do you have the stuff?” “Art has it in the truck. Why don’t we get it loaded and on our way. Admiral, I think that I’m all set.” “Yes you are, dismissed.”
Steve saluted and turned to me. “Tom, We will see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there. I would go out with you, but Chrissie talked to my publisher and snuck in a bookstore visit on Saturday morning. Actually, the kids at the wedding, including Tochi’s talked to Chrissie and set up a shopping trip in the toy store. Chrissie talked to Tim and Stacey as well and before I knew it, I was committed. We were going to meet up at the bookstore on Fourth Avenue at ten o clock.”
“Well you are a busy man, with a lot going on right now. So you are allowed to be out of the rain and the wet tonight. We won’t let your boat sink. We like it too much, don’t we, Joe.”
“Steve, I don’t think that Tom appreciates the fun we are going to have with his boat this year.”
They left for the boat. The rest of us headed back to Sal’s. Noro, Josh and I went over the plans for the Olympics until Mera and Chrissie rolled in and grabbed Josh and I to drag us under. As we Swam out into the Sound, Mera said, “You two can deal with that on Sunday on our way back. This still our vacation and you, Josh need it. As for Tom, you are going to be busy all day tomorrow, so you need to enjoy today.” As we Swam out from Sal’s, Tim and Suzy joined us and Tim said, “keep your eye open for a surprise.” “Trillia dragged Andy under, didn’t she?” I frowned a bit. “Not that it was that much of a surprise. I was hoping to have a chance to teach Andy to swim, but she beat me to it. Does Hilda know?”
“Trillia went to her first. Hilda and Telia were talking about it when Suzy and I came in from the range.”
“What did she say?”
“That considering what happened at the farm when you were there, that drownproffing Andy was a good thing. Since Andy and Trillia are going to be together all the time anyway and that means being near the water she was happy that taking the risk away wouldn’t be a bad thing. She was also happy that if the next bunch that took Andy hostage put him near the water, he could just Swim away.”
Mike and Nera caught up with us and Nera asked, “have you run into Andy yet? We were shopping at the bower for our new place and Trillia was showing him around.”
“Showing him off too, I suspect,” Chrissie said.
“That too. He looked a bit tired and Swum out, which isn’t that much of a surprise, so I doubt that they will go too far.”
We all Swam out together around the islands with some fun and games along the way and on the way back there they were, heading back to the school. Andy looked tired and Trillia was Swimming slowly along with him showing him various things. Chrissie called out, “hi Andy! Fancy meeting you here.”
“Trillia said that if I didn’t jump in, she was going to arrange for the rest of the kids to drop me in. Since I didn’t want to lose all my clothes, I did what she wanted.”
“Well welcome to our world. It will get better.”
“That’s good. It’s been fun, but tiring.”
“I’m going to train him up,” Trillia said. “From now on, we Swim every day. I want him dancing for Tim’s wedding in June and ready to sneak into some other weddings coming up.” “I don’t think that you have to really sneak very much,” I said. “From what I’ve heard, all the people around here know you already.” “Well yes. But they don’t know Andy. And I want to take the opportunity to spring some surprises. That’s going to be harder now that you published that book.”
‘I’m sure that you and Andy can come up with new ones. At least I hope you can. I need all the help I can get.”
“With that Jacob character? I’ll know if he comes near the water. Sal is keeping an eye out too, in self defense.” “Well him and some other people.”
“Mr. Martin is bad enough,” Andy said. “He drives grandmother crazy sometimes, Uncle Tom. You were away, but there were times when the boys from over there would come over to cause trouble and Mr. Martin wouldn’t do anything about them when Uncle Boris sent them back. That’s how Bob and Scott got started. The Martin boys would come over and play around, Uncle Boris’s people would catch them and send them back and they would be right back doing something worse. So Bob and Scott, along with their friends, kept a watch out for the Martin boys and chased them away. Of course they are better at trouble and not getting caught than the Martins.” “So George wasn’t the first time,” Chrissie said. “Greta and Eric never said anything about that.” “They didn’t want to bother you and Uncle Tom with that stuff. You weren’t going to be living at the farm and were visitors. It wasn’t until the parade that you were involved.”
“Think of all the opportunities you missed, Tom. But then you are a bit of a thickhead.” “I think that I was better off staying out of it. Father never mentioned anything about Jacob when I was up there after Pratt either. But then I was keeping my head down anyway. Maybe more than a bit too much. Then Al convinced me to go down to the Cape.”
“Grandmother didn’t want you involved in the messes that we had with the Martins, Uncle Tom. She was afraid that they might try the things that they tried this week and that you wouldn’t be able to defend yourself or that you might shoot some Martins in self defense because you didn’t have touch with your abilities. They stayed away from you anyway.”
“I think that they were a bit afraid of me. Back before I left, Stephie had those friends from over there and none of their brothers could keep up with me. I think that they may have tried to compel me and it didn’t work. In fact I didn’t even notice very much. That may be why I still can’t even feel a compulsion. Then there’s the fact that my friends and I were tougher than they were and could outshoot them in competition. The two clowns that came after me should have talked to their uncles about me and shooting before trying to drop a cliff on me.
Of course I have some friends in their neighborhood too and there were a couple of times that I played the same kinds of fun and games with the Martin boys that I did with my sister. So they don’t mess with me very much. When I go up, I’m going to have some quiet get togethers with some of my old friends and see what we can come up with.”
“So what are you going to do to that Jacob character” Trillia asked.
“Andy has told you about Tony, hasn’t he? Well think of a lot of horses getting loose while Jacob is trying to make a big impression on important people. I’ve done some talking to some people and things are already starting to roll. I’m also going to talk to some of my old friends about some other things.”
“I’m sorry that I’m going to miss it. Andy, tell Bob, Scott and Lizzie to get pictures. Tom I hope that you play with the Director where we can see, so that I can watch that.” “Trillia, I don’t know yet how I’m going to handle the Director. That is if Mike doesn’t get to him first. I’m going to be tied up though February and the Director is going to be short a bunch of things since we hit New Jersey. He really wasn’t much fun today.”
“He wasn’t, was he,” Tim said, grinning. “We went to the effort to fill Bennies with all sorts of things that he should have been paying attention to and he never even noticed.” “Well he’s going to notice tomorrow,” Mike said. “Taking the sharks away is a beig deal and if we play our cards right, we will get the whole Philly operation with it. That won’t leave much.” “Well I need to take Andy back to the school before he gets tired,” Trillia said.
They Swam off toward the school and as they left Chrissie said, “I’m glad that Trillia didn’t waste any time. The bower here needed somebody that is better connected up top and Andy can grow into the role. Tom, you will have to help him with that. Help Tim too.” “Why me? Why not your grandfather?”
“Because grandfather has been in the role for a very long time. You are just coming into yourself. Grandfather is helping already, but he can slip sometimes. So all of you need to work together. You, Sal, Tim, Scott, Bob and Andy need to work on making sure that the dark doesn’t win.” “I think that we can do that.”
Tim said, “I think that we all need to get in the habit of working together. This week was proof that if we don’t, the other side will take people and destroy lives. Look at what happened to those people in New Jersey. We didn’t even know that they existed and they were almost destroyed.”
Chrissie went on, “Tom, I know these things are new to you. I also know that dad and grandfather have been sticking you in the deep end. But you have met the challenges that they have given you and perhaps more to the point, you have been deeper into the war against the dark than most of us. You need to help us and we need to bring you into the light again. All of us together. People, I need to take my husband and find a nice spot. I think that he’s getting depressed again. Come along, Tom. ”
She grabbed me and we found a nice spot where she grabbed me even harder.
Friday, 1/01, 1932
After Sal’s wedding, Noro and his family, along with both Mikes, Al, Helmut, Mary, Stella, Hilda and her friend Bill read me the riot act, with Suzy right there. Noro handed me a box and leather shoulder holster. “Tim we want you to carry this just about all the time.”
“That could cause trouble with the cops.”
Mary smiled. “We can deal with busybodies. We will get you a permit for that. If necessary we will get you a badge to go with it, but that might cause you more trouble than it’s worth. But you are deep into this and when you take risks at this point you are risking other people as well as yourself. You have been out front in this battle. The other side doesn’t care about the reasons why they should not try to kill you once they decide that you should be killed. They just try to kill, regardless of the consequences. Frankly, Tim, you have had too many close calls already.”
“Tim, if you insist on being a snoop, you need to be a safe snoop.” Suzy look at me seriously, here belying the humerous tone she was taking. “You were courageous with Joe and Dori, but because you didn’t have a gun, the sharks could take you. I can’t let you do that to yourself and take that kind of risk.”
Al said, “Tim, we have a range set up at the school now, so why don’t we go over and get started.”
Al took me over to the school. On the way over he said, “Another thing we have to get you started on, driving.”
“Why? I don’t even own a car.”
“Because you might have to drive someday without somebody else being there, or the somebody you are with might not be able to drive themselves, like Suzy.” “I do fine on the trolley and subway.”
“Here in the city you do, but you won’t be in the city all the time. I’ll talk to Mike about starting you on driving. I would do it, but I’m transferring up to the Boston office next week.”
“How did that happen?”
“My boss looked at the spot inspections and they were all too good. He thinks that the various offices weren’t pushing things for our customers and wanted to shake things up. There’s also the fact of my new family connections and a bunch of people wanted Eltra right were she is for the time being because of her brother in law. So it was easier to transfer me since I already had a place up there anyway. So anyway, I’ll hand my apartment to Bill when he comes down from Boston and close the shop up.”
“What will you do with the tools?”
“I’m not sure. They won’t bring in a lot of money. Maybe the school can use them.”
“That sounds like it might actually work, because that way sea people could have an up top place to make things. It sounds like things are working out for you.”
“Eltra and I were going to work something out, regardless. We had planned for her to move down here to the city and Mary was making arrangements. On the other hand, I was raised on the Cape and grew up there. I haven’t spent a lot of time recently at home and it’s about time that I did. I separated myself from my friends and family that I didn’t know were family and missed the best thing in my life. So this is a good thing. I actually have some undersea relatives that had wondered what had happened to me when my parents were killed. Then there was Eltra, who I should never have let just drop out of my life like that.
The boss is right too. We were getting stale and bored. An inspection shouldn’t be something that just happens and we all sign off on. I expect that I will find things that I missed during those inspections and come up with new ways to do my job.” We arrived at the school and Al handed me off to the young range tyrant for safety training. It was obvious that Andy had done this before and I learned a lot about using a gun safely. Then Andy started me shooting with a .22 that almost seemed like a toy. I spent all morning with the .22, which was just plain fun until Suzy showed up, got me to compete with her and shot my pants off. “Suzy, it’s not fair, your dad was in the navy.” “But I was out of practice. You’ll get better. Let’s go inside. Bill wants to talk to us about shooting things that are harder to kill than paper targets.”
Bill actually had a bunch of people lined up from the bureau and the FBI office as well as Suzy and I. His talk was fairly brutal. One of the FBI types asked, “what if you want them alive?”
“Then you will probably die. A typical enhanced won’t be slowed down by shots that wound or shock. If you try to restrain them they will be stronger and faster than you are and physical contact is likely to be lethal for you. In any case, a construct has never been alive and a zombie is already dead. The Twisted, like a vampire or ghoul can regenerate very quickly. Remember that these things are trying to kill you and then go on to feed off of you or kill others. I know that the people here that deal with these things understand that, but you all have to. I know that this can be difficult. These things may look human frequently, but they no longer are. The best thing to do is take them out as fast as possible.” “How will we know what they are?”
“By what they are surrounded with. The typical Twisted will carry a miasma around them that won’t feel right even if you are not fae. They will leave traces of what they do and what they are. As for constructs and zombies, you will know, trust me. As for a Changed adversary, it will be obvious. Unless they are being discreet, which leads me to my next topic.” Bill gave a long talk about being aware of your surroundings and the fact that even if something was invisible, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find it or use the environment to help you. He talked about watching for footprints and movements in the dust or water. He also talked about using the local environment to help you. Once he was done, he took us all over to Roger’s place and he showed us how to use various things to find discreet and hiding adversaries with Hilda being the adversary. Which was scary as she did a lot of it in Change.
When the talk was over and we were back at the school Suzy said, “Lets get wet. I’m starting to itch and you need to have more time under while you can. Let’s Swim back to Sal’s”
On the way over we ran into Trillia heading the other direction looking as if she had plans. Sillia called out, “meeting with Andy!?”
“With his mom, first. I want to make sure that something is okay before surprising Andy.” “You’re going to drag him under,” I said.
“Only if his mom says I can. Do you think that she will?”
“I think that she will be fine with it,” Suzy said. Áfter all, it will be harder for people to get at him if he’s underwater.”
“I wasn’t sure. But I want to make sure that he can Swim if he needs to.”
She Swam on. “That’s going to be interesting,” I said. “On the other hand her dad did the the same sort of thing.” When we arrived back at Sal’s, Sal had us go down to Bennies for lunch with the Director. We all sat and talked about various things related to what the Director was doing, but he never seemed to pick up on the fact that everything going on was related to him. I was tempted to take his picture, but I figured that I could pick it up later when he wasn’t near one of our usual hangouts. After he left we all had a laugh. Then Sal took Suzy and I back to the school and more practice. I was getting better and I actually won a couple of rounds before Al showed up to see how I was doing. Since by then it was getting dark, we all went inside with my targets. When we went into the parlor Telia was there, talking to Hilda. Hilda saw us come in and said, “Trillia wanted to take Andy under and I’m talking to Telia about that. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I want to make sure that Trillia understands the responsibilities involved. I also want to be sure that Andy understands where things are going to end up. He’s had a fairly unconstrained life because up at the farm there are a lot of family to handle responsibilities. Here at the Sound bower there are no people to handle responsibilies and he might get in over his head.” “Well at least he knows that the responsibilities will be coming,” I grimaced a bit. “I just had them dumped on me. On the other hand, there are Albert and Mary, along with Tony and Robert to help. Along with Sal right next door and the rest of it. We can talk to my dad and Bennie too.” “Tono and I already have,” Telia said. “The fact is that the bower needs a public face and heir and the keystone chose Andy. I think that the choice may be a bit premature, but that will give Andy time to grow.”
Hilda grinned. “There’s also the fact that Andy being able to Change will be a surprise for the next bunch that try to take him hostage. Especially if they are near the water.” “I don’t think that there are very many people around crazy enough to take Andy hostage.” Suzy laughed as she said that. “He was rather indiscreet about what he did to the last bunch of people that took him hostage and by now everybody knows that doing that will only bring you a world of pain.”
“The person who will be rather disappointed by this turn of events will be Tom,” Hilda said. “He was looking forward to teaching Andy to swim next summer and now he won’t be able to.”
“He knew about Andy’s present, didn’t he?” Al asked. “It went up with us on the boat. He had to know that Trillia would want Andy to try it out as soon as Andy came back down.”
“True, but that won’t change the fact that he wanted to teach Andy to swim. I think he feels that Andy is the redemption for shooting Brad. On the other hand he can teach Andy other things and has already. It won’t hurt for Tom to have his bubble popped a bit anyway.”
“Won’t that clown upstate do that?” Suzy giggled a bit. “Then there’s always Suki.”
“Suki has popped Tom’s bubbles for a long time now, I think that the effect has worn off, On the other hand she and Tochi were away for a long time. Mother was very pleased to meet them too.”
“Where is Andy now?” I asked even though I suspected that he was under water already.
“Trillia has taken hold of him and is teaching him to Swim,” Hilda answered. “Once I gave the Ok, she didn’t waste any time. She wanted him drownproofed so that he wouldn’t be risking himself on the the water to be with her anymore. Considering what happened up at the farm, I don’t have a problem with that.”
“What happened at the farm?” Telia asked. “Other than Andy being kidnapped.” “This was just before that happened when Tom and Chrissie went up to meet our parents and I and Andy were supposed to stay away from Tom. Well at least I was. Andy didn’t waste any time hooking up with his new aunt and was talking to her after about the second day when she was practicing with a rifle that Larry had fixed up for her. She had just started to learn to shoot and Andy wanted to help her.
Andy was helping Chrissie learn to shoot and was going across this old bridge that we have across the spillway on the dam. I think there are picures over at Sal’s. Any way the bridge finally collapsed, something that it had been threatening to do for years and Andy fell into the water. I saw him fall and Changed to get to him. Tom was tuning a shotgun and saw me, started to react and then handed the shotgun to father and Changed to get Andy.” “Why didn’t Chrissie get Andy?”
“She was making sure that Tom didn’t shoot me by covering me with herself. Not that Tom would have once he realized that I was not a werewolf, but Chrissie wanted to be certain. Tom was rather annoyed at father for not telling him about me for obvious reasons. At least I can be certain that I can trust Tom and Chrissie with my life and Andy’s.
Still, we should have taught Andy to swim. That was a lapse on Bill’s and my part, but Andy never seemed to be too interested in swimming and was always going straight out into the woods with Jimmy and his other friends.”
“Well he’s learning now,” Suzy said. “Tim, Why don’t we see if we can find them. I want to get wet anyway.”
“They may be at the bower,” Telia said. It’s not that far away and Trillia probably wants to show Andy off to the friends that won’t come up top. She wants to to encourage more of her friends to broaden their horizons. That’s a good thing.”
When we Swam out toward the bower, we ran into Tom and Chrissie, Suzy told them to look out for a surprise. Shortly after, we ran into Mike and Nera, who had been shopping for their new place and after we swam around the islands we ran into Andy and Trillia, swimming back toward the school. Trillia pushed Tom a bit until Chrissie dragged him off. Trillia asked Mike, “does Tom get depressed?”
“He’s been carrying a heavy load for a long time. The burden his brother dropped on him has turned out to be larger than we knew. The good thing is that Chrissie won’t let him bury himself in that burden again and will keep him focused. He’s also able to reach into his Change. We all went through a very dark time.”
Nera grabbed Mike with the obvious intention to do the same thing that Chrissie had done to Tom and they Swam off. Andy said, “Well that’s a good thing. Mike needed somebody. Grandmother said so, and he is so much better now.”
“Nera is a lot of fun and a good teacher even if she does make us work. You’ll find out all about that, Andy,” Trillia said.
“Yes he will,” Suzy said. “So will Tim here. Now that Nera is going to be living down here, I don’t think that she will let us off easy. I also don’t think that it will stop with dancing. Which means, Tim that we need to get you in shape. So chase me until dinner time”
She Swam off and that’s what we did. Of course she let me catch her at the end.
Friday 1/1, – Saturday 1/2, 1932.
Friday afternoon we had good news! Some prey from the Amboy bower were going to the coast to join. Four pairs apparently could not wait any longer and were going down to the shore and using a hotel on the beach. The Amboy bower had not had any joinings in some time and they had perhaps started to recover from the attacks that we had performed shortly before we moved to the Delaware bower. The Director hadn’t mentioned any changes and I was fairly sure that the collapse of the bower was imminent. Perhaps that had changed. I would check it out and do a little scouting before the boat arrived. In any case I took the news to our queen. “Astrid, we have good news. There is prey to the north.” “That is good news. You dissembled with the director and Johan has joined with the sea this morning.”
That was three, all of them from my original pod. They could not face the hunger anymore and the shark had taken over. I felt the hunger as well and fought it down. I hadn’t wanted to tell the Director that things were dire already. I found Scout and took the car from the house we maintained for appearances. Astrid would be following along with the boat and the compelled who ran it for us and the rest of the pod. With four couples joining there should be ample prey for the whole pod. Scout and I were dressed as salesmen and stayed at a business hotel well away from the water in Eatontown.
The next morning we checked in with the indentured at Sandy Hook. “Della, you had word for us?”
“Yes, Jaw. You wanted to know if any seafolk are bonding and four couples decided to close the deal on the beach at Monmouth. It’s been six months and there haven’t been any recent shark attacks here and the sharks over at Rockaway were killed.” “I know. They went up to the Cape and the prey destroyed most of them. This is good news. Remember not to warn the prey or we will feed on your son. Make sure that you keep in contact. Otherwise something might happen.”
We left and returned to the car. There were some seafolk around, but like the sharks we were, we paid them no heed.
Driving down the shore, we looked at the beach hotels in Monmouth until we saw one that seemed to be open. When we found one, we drove on past. Once we were several miles down the beach I stopped the car and said to Scout, “keep an eye out, but don’t close in and scare the prey up top again.”
He smiled as I started down to Atlantic City to rendezvous with the boat. We had found our target and now all that remained was to put things together. When I arrived at the pier and parked the car, Jacques was waiting with the boat when I was walking down the pier. I jumped on board and entered the wheelhouse as the boat backed off and turned around. Jacques looked at me and said, “How did it look?”
“Well the lady confirmed the joinings and the hotel was open. Scout is keeping an eye on things.”
“Well good. We are all getting very hungry.”
I was too, but there was something about this that concerned me. The prey was responding to us in new ways. That was not good. Astrid came into the wheelhouse and I said, “Regardless of what happens tonight I think that we must go South. The prey here knows about us and has responded. We will not survive for long on lucky chances like this and any of them could be a trap.”
“You are right and recruitment has been nearly impossible as well. We need to be away from this feeding ground and find a new one. Otherwise things will end like they did with your sister.” “The Tooths were idiots. Limiting themselves to one feeding ground for recruitment was a recipe for destruction. Their near destruction at the hands of that young man was bad luck compounded by bad thinking, but what happened afterwords was almost inevitable. Trying to recruit while being under observation was a recipe for disaster. The Manager should have stopped the recruitment or at least denied them the car that he was using. Of course using the same car over and over made it easier to find them.”
As the twilight approached, we were getting close to where the prey would be mating. I turned to Astrid and said, “I think that it is time.”
I turned to the compelled crew and said, “circle here as as it you are preparing to trawl. We weren’t the only boat out here as there was another trawler about the same size as ours and another smaller boat with nets. There were two more boats further away. Too far away to be concerned with.
She started to undress as I went and gathered the other fourteen members of the pod. We all undressed, Changed and entered the water. Scout came up to report. “I didn’ t close in, but they entered the water about an hour ago, at least from the scent. The scent is all over the place.” He was right, and it was delicious. There were at least four couples in the water and I formed the pod for the attack with Astrid and I following behind. As we closed in, there were some noises behind me but the scent was overwhelming me and I paid them no heed. We were close and I signaled the attack. Suddenly there was a noise like an explosion and blood in the water. The pod went into frenzy looking for the prey, but the only thing we could find was ourselves. Some of the pod were biting each other already and I heard boats rapidly approaching. It had been a trap all along. I grabbed Astrid and pushed her toward the beach. If we could get ashore, we could steal a car and escape. We reached the beach and there were some men with guns waiting for us. I turned around but they shot Astrid as I managed to reach the water. Astrid fell and forced a Change as I entered the water. It was over and I only had one more task before the sea took me. I swam along the shore in an attempt to evade the merfolk that we had passed over without even sensing them in our eagerness to get to the prey. The rest of the pod was dying in blood, grenades and gunfire from the surface. The two that I saw turn around and head to the sea were both speared and gutted by merfolk and left to die.
I managed to get around the merfolk and rushed to the boat. I was in such a hurry that I never noticed the other boat tied alongside until I entered the wheelhouse and rushed across to the switch that would destroy the boat and take me as well. “That won’t work.”
I turned and in the captain’s chair there was a merman holding a shotgun. He held up the explosive charge that should have started the boat on it’s path to the bottom “We disabled the self destruct. We didn’t want your pictures and other things to go up in flames or get scattered all over the bottom. Do you want to talk?”
I turned to run and he fired the shotgun, taking a chunk out of my leg. “I guess not.” I limped in pain to the bridge wing and fell over into the water, Changing as I went deeper. Not that it mattered as the blood attracted other sharks and bleeding as I was, I could sense them approach, circling around. In the pain and fuzziness I never even felt the first bite.
Saturday 1/2, 1932.
I went in to the city early Saturday and stopped at the office again to work on some numbers for the tank beds, some details for the games and getting some requests for quotes sent out for those details. I was looking for speed rather than cost, because at this point, with just over a month to the games it was going to have to be fast and good and we would have to pay the nickel.
When Roger heard about the shopping trip, he and Tim arranged with Chrissie to replace the interview with the shopping trip and Tom and the paper’s book editor would be joining the trip. Chrissie had insisted that I wear my good suit and when got out of the cab at the bookstore I found out that I had been trapped.
There at the bookstore were Tochi, Suki, Stacey, Chrissie, Tim, the paper’s book guy, the publisher’s people and and about a hundred kids with books and things that they had made. That included most of the kids from the wedding with Tochi’s leading the mob. The bookstore had set up a table and a stack of my books and there I was stuck signing books, looking at the things the kids had made and shaking the hands of happy parents while Tim and the publisher’s photographer got pictures. Then the whole crowd of us headed South through my usual haunts at the machinery places, the material shops and finally radio row.
By the time it was over, I was exhausted and glad it was over and we could pull away to Bennies for a delayed lunch. Tochi had an event that he and Suki had to attend and were taking his kids back to the Waldorf so he dragged a complaining Suki and his rather disappointed kids back to his car. I suspected that Bennies was on the short list to visit when we all came back next Friday.
It was a good thing that Stacey had arranged for a company car or the happy mob would have followed me down to lunch and been disappointed because Bennies would not have been big enough for everybody. Once the car was moving, I turned to Chrissie and her sister and said, “You two set me up.” Chrissie grinned that little grin she got when she pulled something off on somebody. “We just suggested to the kids that you set up that shopping trip and your publisher wanted the bookstore visit. This was a good thing and just demonstrates just how popular you are.”
Stacey was also smiling. “Tom, you just need to learn to live with things like this. Right now we need you to be the company and the family’s public face for things. If dad does it, they get dad, who they know. You are a new face. Which is a good thing. Also dad is pretty worn out. I should have kept a closer eye on him. He’s been carrying a lot of the load for the past ten years and the last two have been fairly bad. With Chrissie under sea, mom didn’t have as much reason to come up top and dad couldn’t find the time he wanted to get out on the boat. At least until you showed up and he spent too much time on the boat. This year you are going to have to share part of that. I’m going to have to pull George off the boat too and that’s going to be harder than it will be with you. But George doesn’t have your experience and connections.”
“Tom, you enjoyed yourself,” Chrissie said. “You get to share things and see what others are doing. You were also getting ideas, I could tell.”
“Yes I was. I did enjoy myself. But it was exhausting.”
“Well you have a nice lunch coming and then we get rid of the sharks.”
“We will do that. Both lunch and the sharks.”
We met up with Sal and a bunch of the bureau’s people, along with Tim, Suzy and Sillia, Josh and Noro, Mera and Mary for lunch. After lunch we all headed in various cars first to the Amboy bower and then to the hotel. Josh had brought down the harness that Diana had made for me so that I could carry a shotgun and some tools in Change. Seaman Lisowski and I were going to Swim aboard the sharks boat and make sure that the crew didn’t suicide by blowing up the boat when Angelo and Mike came alongside in Angelo’s boat. So when we reached the hotel, I Changed, Josh handed me the harness, and I slipped into the water. Sal and Steve Changed and started dropping towels in the water. Then they left the water.
Once I was deep, I joined with Seaman Lisowski and waited on the bottom well away from the beach and the towels. Around about four o, clock a trawler appeared and started to circle slowly around. We stayed hidden and shielded as we sensed the sharks pass overhead and then Swam up to the boat and phased inside. We Changed, searched the engine room and quickly found the small explosive charges throughout the hull. We disabled the charges and then poked up through the empty foc’sle and on to the deck. I crept up to the wheelhouse and there were three men who were obviously compelled inside. They saw me and one of them pressed what was obviously a suicide switch. Nothing happened and I pulled all three of their compulsions as Angelo’s trawler approached. Lisowski shut the engines down as all three of the compelled collapsed.
As Angelo’s trawler came up alongside, Mike called out, “How many!”
I pointed toward the wheelhouse, “Three, in the wheelhouse! They are all unconscious!”
Some of Angelo’s crew and navy corpsmen hauled stretchers up to the wheelhouse as Lisowski and I caught lines from Angelo’s trawler and tied the two boats together. In the distance I could see my boat and the other two boats charge in as Steve’s people started to throw grenades off and as sharks came to the surface shot them with shotguns.
As navy people, Amboy bower people and Bureau people swarmed aboard the boat, I picked up one of the explosive charges that I had brought up from below prevously and returned to the wheelhouse to wait. After a while a naked man appeared and I watched as he pressed the button on the self destruct. I called out, “that won’t work!” and lifted the explosive charge in my hand. “We disabled the self destruct. We didn’t want your pictures and other things to go up in flames or get scattered all over the bottom. Do you want to talk?”
He turned to run and I said, “apparently not” and shot him in the thigh with the shotgun. He made it to the water and I could see the blood trail as he Swam away. I could also see the approaching sharks. One way or another, it was over.
Angelo’s son Vinnie came over and took over the boat with some of Steve’s people. We made quite a little fleet of fishing boats that were more than a little suspicious and it was a good thing that Sal and Mike were there at the Coast Guard Station near the Amboy bower’s diner when we tied up. That was a good thing, especially since they had the clothes for Lisowski and I. Chrissie and the rest were waiting at the diner for dinner with the Amboy bower’s people and some people from the outfit and we had a small party to celebrate the end of the sharks. Then Chrissie, Sal, Sillia, Josh and Mera, Tim, Suzy and I went back to Sal’s place and a cozy nook underwater.