Monday, October 31, 2011

Chapter 19

19: The Defectors were slowly coming around to Mar's style of leadership.  He was not as brutal and sadistic as Richard Finestra, but he did have rules.  The first rule was that no one was to leave the school alone.  The second rule was that people listen to what Mar says because he would never do anything to harm them.  The third and final rule was that there were no lights allowed at night.  Mar knew that the Untaken were the enemy, not anyone of the Defectors.
  Under Rend, they had lived in fear of drowning.  Under Richard, they had lived in fear of any number of unspeakably horrible tortures and deaths.  Under Mar, they would learn to work together to defeat a common enemy. 
  Mar believed that the Collective and anyone who listened to their wishy washy Hierarchy were weak and pathetic.  They believed that the less solid something was, the more powerful it was.  The Nocent had the right idea.  They know the power of solidity.  That is why the humans fascinated them so.  An entire 70% of their bodies was composed of water, but it was the other 30% from which they derived their strength.  The brain in particular was a wonder and a mystery.  Muscles were endlessly intriguing.  Skin, hair, organs.  Everything about the human body spoke of power and ability.
  With so many human beings at the hotel, Mar knew that his small, ragtag group of people had no hope of success in a frontal assault.  No, their attack had to be more subtle.  Mar questioned the members of his group as to the make up of the amusement park.  They were more than happy to tell him everything they knew about it.  Now they were getting somewhere.  This was exactly how they were going to work together and bring those bastards down.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter 18

18: The world goes on without me, but I'm still here.  From here I can see my own body.  Only, it doesn't look like me.  Why are my fingers bent that way?  And where's my other hand?  I used to cut myself.  I usually liked to cut my hands.  I knew that it would always heal, but it won't now.  Even the smallest scratch on a severed hand will never heal.  That's the story of my life.  Disconnected from the rest of humanity.  Nothing's different now.  All my cuts still bleed and I suppose they always will.  Without scars we would just keep bleeding and never heal.  I would rather be scarred for life than bleed to death.  Healing feels better than never hurting.  I cut myself because I wanted to feel something.  Now I can't feel anything.  What's changed?
  Why is there blood all over my clothes?  These wounds are much too massive to sustain.  I cannot deny the truth.  I have died.  If that is the case then why do I still remain on this earth?  I guess what hurts the most isn't that I'm dead, but that I realize I was never really alive.  Try that on for size.  I have a post-mortem depression.  All I can do now is watch people.  I never took the time to just stand back and observe my surroundings before.  Well, let's see what we can see.
  I watch in horror as some of the living leave their elderly, the sick and the injured to die.  They would only slow them down.  They've been reduced to a liability.  Those of us who have died are men, women and children. We are old, young, sick, and healthy.  Some have arms or legs missing, but we all work together as one for a common purpose.  Age, gender, race and economic status have been taken out of the equation.  Death is the great equalizer, but why wait?  I used to hate everyone equally, now I indiscriminately eat them.  Me, Viveca Jones, a goddamn cannibal!
  Ironically, in life I was bulimic.  I died of starvation and I woke up ravenous.  Looking at me from the outside, I can't believe I ever thought I was fat.  Controlling my body was the only way I felt that I had any power over my life.  My mother's entire life was dedicated to feeding me, which only led to my inevitable purge.  She thought she was helping me, but she only enabled my sickness.  Now I have a new disease.  I'm no stranger to my huge appetite, but must I now eat the living?  I can only watch in horror as my body commits such atrocities.  It is not in my control any more or any less than it was before.  My poor mother cowers before me as I rip her to pieces.  She will feed me one last time, but this time I will not purge.
  My mother didn't deserve to die like that.  When she had nothing more to give, she gave me the only thing she had left, which was her life.  I know she loved me.  She did the best she could and that's all anyone can do.  More than I ever did.  Now that my mother's spirit has left its body, I see her walking toward me.  We look upon the husks of our former selves a final time, then embrace each other.  Tears, but just a few.  There is a light up ahead.  We know it's time to go home.  This is the first thing we'll truly do together.  Hand in hand we walk toward the light to cross over to the Other Side.  Perhaps in my next life, I will appreciate my mother more and maybe even love myself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chapter 17

17: At Marble Cliff's Lake, Zemostra instructed Damion on the possible entry points into the Riven.  Kenn and Mina wished him good luck and hoped he'd stay safe.  With that, Damion plunged into the water.  He swam down to the Riven and examined the hull.  The entry points were exactly where Zemostra had described and Damion chose one to get into the space craft.  Having a body made of water made it easy for him to gain entry.
  Once inside, he found that there was still some air trapped inside the interior, but the water level was steadily rising.  He quickly made his way to the room in which the suspended animation chamber was.  The glass front had been shattered.  From the looks of it, it had been broken from the inside.  That told Damion that Kaziah had gotten out and was either hiding somewhere or dead from starvation.  It depended on how long ago she had left the life support behind.  He hoped it hadn't been long.  The evidence did not give that information.
  Noticing again the rising water level, Damion knew that even if she was alive, she would drown if he didn't find her in time.  He called out her name several times.  A thorough search might take too much time, but he didn't have a choice.  He went from room to room looking anywhere a human being could fit.  The strange machinery was literally alien to him, but he kept up a diligent search of all the quarters.  So far he hadn't heard a peep.
  Around a corner he thought he caught something out of the corner of his eye.  In the dimness he couldn't be sure, but he would investigate.  Yes, there was a figure lying behind a table.  She had wisely chosen to stay in the highest point of the ship, but even here, the water level was dangerously high.  Damion had come just in time. He rushed over to her and put his hand on her shoulder.  She was unconscious.  She was probably weak from a lack of sustenance.  He gave her mouth to mouth in an attempt to resuscitate her.
  Her eyelids fluttered almost imperceptibly.  Damion breathed a sigh of relief.  "Kaziah, I'm here to rescue you. The water is rising and we need to get out now."
  Kaziah opened her eyes and they slowly gained focus.  She looked at Damion, but there was no sense of awareness in her stare.  A moan escaped her lips, but she was obviously still quite dazed from hunger.  By this time, there were less than two feet between the surface of the water and the highest point in the room.  All of the exits were now under water.
  Damion tried to think quickly.  He closed his eyes and thought back to what Temeron had said about the Hierarchy of Sypraxus.  He said that the third stage of matter was gas.  Unfortunately, he had never seen anyone with enough love or faith to reach the third stage.  Even with his eyes closed, he could feel the water level reach his chest.
  He thought back to his many nights in Mina's arms.  A warmth filled him.  This was the mother of the woman he loved.  Kaziah somehow mustered the strength to make a panicked sound somewhat akin to a whimper.  Damion thought back to the night he himself had died.  He had very clear memories of the horrible grief that Kenn went through in the wake of his murder.  Damion did not want Mina to have to never have a chance of even meeting her real mother.
  There were mere inches of water left in the room.  Kaziah was practically kissing the ceiling.  She took one last deep breath and was plunged into murky darkness.  Damion cried out in desperate agony at the hopelessness of the situation.  The warmth that was inside him suddenly spread out.  It spread out so wide that it was no longer contained in a human shape.  To Damion's amazement, the entire room was once again filled with air.
  It occurred to him that he was the air.  Oxygen is a gas and he had become that to save the life of this poor woman who would never have had a chance to escape without enough air.  His love for Mina and now Kaziah had brought him to the third stage of enlightenment.  His consciousness was still aware of everything in the room, but he was not in bodily form any more.  He wasn't seeing with his eyes, he was seeing with his heart.
  He found that he could also move around.  The pocket of air that he provided was mobile.  Adrenalin had given Kaziah stamina enough to stand on her own.  She took a hesitant step toward the door.  Her legs were a little wobbly, but she did not fall.  This encouraged her to take further steps.  She wasn't completely out of danger yet.  The air bubble moved toward the passageway outside the door and she followed it.  Since Damion knew the way out, she let him lead.
  When they came to a hatch which led to the outside world, he used his strength to shred a hole through solid metal.  Water would have started pouring in, but he held it at bay.  She would now have to tread water on her way up as he provided a safe atmosphere for her.  She was fearful, but she trusted him.
  When they reached the surface of the lake, he became a hard surface for her to float on.  He propelled himself toward the shore where they were met by a grateful group.  Kenn ran to Damion while Mina ran to Kaziah.  Zemostra helped Mina support Kaziah as she hobbled her way to Kenn's car.  Kenn then drove the five of them back to the hotel where an even larger group of people was waiting to greet them.  It was a hero's welcome for Damion.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chapter 16

16: Alex and Lowe were in the gift shop looking at the magazines.  Lowe put down his soda and looked over at what Alex was reading.  "Dude, that's a French fashion magazine.  You can't read fuckin' French!  Are you retarded?"
  "No, you ho!"  Alex smiled.  "As long as the pictures are in French I'm OK.  Besides, look at what you're reading.  That's an African-American publication."
  "Now I know you're retarded.  You think just because there's a black guy on the cover, it's a black magazine?"
  "Well, it's predominantly black."
  Lowe had been taking a sip of his soda, but now he almost choked on it.  Carbonated liquid dribbled down his chin.  "Predominantly black?  Are you trying to sound smart by using multi syllabic words?"
  "Ooh, does it make you feel smart to use big words?"
  "No.  Does it make you feel stupid to use small words?"
  "No."  Alex's eyes shifted to the right.  "I guess I never thought of it that way."
  Lowe wiped his chin with his hand.  "Good, now can you please hand me a predominantly white napkin?"
  "Oh, you're so very clever.  Here you go.  Wipe yourself off, asshole.  You think you're so smart just because you were number 1 in your graduating class in high school."
  Lowe looked at Alex for as moment before responding.  "It's hard being number 1 in the class."
  Alex slammed his magazine down.  "You try being number 78 out of a class of 121, then tell me what hard is.  In high school I wasn't doing well no matter how hard I studied.  I had what I called RETARD: RETention And Recall Deficit.  Then I joined the yearbook staff and the poetry club.  Being part of something and having friends helped me to start to feel better about myself.  I found that when I felt better about myself, I thought better.  I finally started making Cs and Ds.  You have no idea how proud I was."  Alex's eyes were watery.
  Lowe could see that he had hit a raw nerve.  "I'm sorry I called you retarded.  I just didn't like the way you talked about the magazine being a black magazine.  I guess in the same way your IQ is a sore subject for you, my race is a sore subject for me. I'm not saying that I'm ashamed of being Chinese, but it's difficult in this country to not be a heterosexual white man.  And no, I'm not saying that I'm gay, but some people who are very close to my heart are homosexual.  You can tell that the ones in power in America are heterosexual white men.  Anywhere you look there are things to remind you of that.
  "Take for instance, the difference between porn and gay porn.  One guy and one girl is porn.  One guy and two girls or two guys and one girl.  One guy with fifty girls.  Fifty girls and no guy.  Some of those movies have dozens of guys and only one girl and it's still considered heterosexual pornography.  But it's all just called porn.  Now you take two guys with no girl and all of a sudden you have to call it gay porn.  Why's that?
  "Or how about 2nd class or 3rd world?  Do you think it was a second class citizen who made up that term?  Was it a 3rd world country that decided it was a good idea to put themselves down?
  "How 'bout this?  A bunch of guys dribbling a ball and throwing it into a hoop.  It's called basketball, right? So why is it when it's a bunch of women doing the exact same thing, you have to call it women's basketball?"
  Alex put his hand on Lowe's shoulder.  "Boy, you have too much time on your hands.  I'm just joking.  It's me who should apologize.  I can see that you feel very deeply about this subject.  I was acting retarded when I said that was a black magazine."
  Lowe shook his head.  "Nah, you're not retarded.  The fact that you felt bad enough to apologize makes you pretty smart in my book."
  "Aw shucks.  I think I'm blushing.  Stop the press!  Someone thinks I'm smart!"
  A team of rescuers returned to the hotel.  It was Sauro, Ben, Mickey and Randy.  They had found only three people, but that was better than nothing.  Samuel Wine was the first.  They had also found Alex's parents, Philippe Manchot and Maria Rivas-Manchot.
  Alex left the magazine rack behind to see his parents, but it was a bittersweet moment.  He didn't have the best relationship with them, but he was glad they were alright.  The three of them went to Alex's room to talk.
  Sam was pleasantly surprised to see Barney Abbot.  The two of them had much catching up to do.  They would do so over shots of Cisler's Cheap Scotch.
  Not too long later, Damion returned.  He had been briefed about the situation at the lake.  Very quickly, Kenn, Damion, Mina and Zemostra set out on their way to Marble Cliff's Lake.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chapter 15

15: Azaroth, the Collective scientist was suddenly struck with a horrifying thought.  He went to Temeron, the elder and voiced his concern.  "Temeron, back on Sypraxia we had our friend, Wondimyn put into suspended animation on board the Riven.  Who knows if the electronics of her sleep chamber survived the crash into the lake?"
  Zemostra came and put his hand on Azaroth's shoulder.  "I designed the suspended animation chamber to withstand almost any calamity.  It is right up against the Core Zone, which is the heart of the ship.  Remember, the computer is an artificial intelligence.  It will use every ounce of energy on board to keep life support going for our dear, sweet friend."
  Temeron turned to Azaroth.  "We can't keep this from Mina any longer.  We must tell her."
  Azaroth nodded his head thoughtfully.  "I'll send someone to find Damion.  He may be able to help rescue Wondimyn.  We don't know how much time we have so we must treat this with the utmost of urgency."
  Together the three of them went to find Mina.  She was in the gift store thumbing through a magazine.  Temeron approached her and asked if she would come sit with them in one of the conference rooms.  She agreed and they went.  Once they were all seated, she looked a bit unnerved.  Temeron faced her.  "We have something to tell you. It won't be easy for you to hear, but you must know."
  Now Mina was much more anxious.  She looked at each of the three Collective in turn.  "I can't imagine what it is that you might have to say to me, but I get the feeling I won't like it."
  Temeron had a look of calm resolve.  "We know where your mother is."
  Mina looked around as if she had lost something.  "Uh, my mother lives in Tucson.  Is she in any danger?"
  "The people who raised you were not your biological parents."
  "Well, yeah, I know.  They were my foster parents."
  "We know who your real mother is."
  Mina became absolutely still.  She didn't quite know how to process this information.  "Why would you know who my real mother is?"
  "She is a dear friend of ours who has lived with us on Sypraxia for all of your life."
  Mina had still not moved a single muscle.  Her eyes darted to the right.  "My mother is an alien?"
  "No, your mother is very much human.  Would you like to hear her story?"
  "Sure.  I don't think anything you say at this point would come as a surprise to me."
  Zemostra brought Repotox, the story teller, into the conference room.  He sat in a chair directly across from Mina.  "Your mother is a very special woman.  Our name for her is Wondimyn, which means one who spreads love.  We Collective have been coming to Earth for millenia.  In our many travels, we've tried to keep discovery of our existence from happening.
  "One fateful night, we landed in a forest clearing that we thought was devoid of people.  We were wrong.  There was a young lady there who had been praying.  She seemed in no way to be afraid of us.  She told us her name was Kaziah Soulever."
  Mina interrupted.  "So that's my real last name?  Soulever?  It's beautiful."
  Repotox smiled and continued.  "We told her where we were from and what we were doing here.  We were students of the human race.  We wanted to know all about humans.  She wanted to know all about us.  She promised to tell us everything she knew about humanity if we would take her to our home planet.  After much discussion among ourselves, we agreed and she boarded our craft.  We brought her to Sypraxia."
  Tears came to Mina's eyes.  "That is so amazing!"
  The story went into more detail.  "She taught us about your culture, history and God.  When she had told us everything she could about humanity, it was our turn to teach her about the Collective.  You see, we don't always communicate orally.  When we are together as a lake, we share our thoughts directly from mind to mind.  We invited Kaziah to swim in the lake.  She waded in and floated on her back.  All of our collected thoughts, joys, fears, loves, hopes, sorrows and stories flowed through her spirit like a river.
  "As the weeks passed, it was discovered that she had somehow become impregnated by her swim in our lake.  It was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to us.  She would give birth to offspring that were part human and part Collective.  About nine months later, you were born."
  "You mean.  You're saying.  You mean I'm half Collective?"  Mina looked stunned.
  "That is why you have the green aura of the Collective.  As you know, the Nocent have a red aura.  You are the only one of your kind in existence.  That is why you are a sensor.  It is also why Rend wanted you.  I'm glad we have been able to keep you safe.  Our name for you is Valodyn, which means one who brings together."
  "I can't believe I thought you had bad news for me."
  "Well, here comes the difficult part."  Temeron took over.  "When we were going to embark on our journey here to Earth, we took her on board our craft in a suspended animation chamber.  Our craft is now at the bottom of the lake by the copper mill.  Now, before you panic, Zemostra assures me that the computer is keeping her life support going for as long as possible.  Damion is on his way back here now to help us rescue her.  We will leave as soon as he arrives.  Don't worry, we will save your mother."
  Mina wasn't completely reassured, but she was resolved to keep an optimistic attitude.  Perhaps only faith could keep her mother safe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chapter 14

14: Calliope Baxter was a middle-aged woman with sad eyes.  She had been troubled for quite some time now, but didn't know who to talk to.  Finally, she decided that she couldn't hold it in anymore.  She approached Barney Abbot at the table where he was having lunch.  He invited her to have a seat and join him.
  "It's good to finally speak with you, Barney.  My name is Calliope."
  "Well, it's certainly nice to meet you, Calliope.  Would you like any of these curly fries?  They're excellent."
  "No, thanks.  I'm not very hungry.  You see, actually I have something that's been bothering me since I heard it when we first came to this hotel."
  "Oh, I'm glad you came to me.  What's on your mind?"
  "It's about your son."
  Barney put his curly fry down, picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth.  He re-oriented his body to focus his entire attention on Calliope.  "Did you know Daniel?"
  "No.  But I need to know.  Kenn had said he was the Good Friday Killer."  She looked him squarely in the eyes. "Is that true?  Was he?"
  Barney inhaled deeply and let his breath out through his nose.  He never broke eye contact with her, but his countenance now reflected deep regret and emotional pain.  "Yes, he was."  His eyes welled up with an unexpected tumult of memories.  He took a sip of his soda to wet his suddenly dry throat.
  Calliope's eyes now focused on an imaginary point somewhere behind Barney's head.  A flurry of conflicting emotions contorted her face several times before she could speak again.  When she finally found her voice again, her cheeks weren't dry.  "Three years ago, my husband, Maxwell Baxter was on his way home from work.  He never made it home.  I spent that entire night calling every police station, hospital and friend in Marble Cliffs.  The next day, his car was found at the bottom of a wash.  His body was found several feet from the car behind a creosote bush.  A cross was carved into his chest and his body was completely drained of blood.  Everyone said it had to have been the Good Friday Killer.  My husband's killer was never found."
  "Yes, that was his M.O.  I'm sorry for your loss."  Barney knew the words were nothing compared to what this poor woman had been through.  "I tracked my son for years.  I took the job as senior editor of the newspaper so that I could use all the resources available to expose his terrible acts and hopefully bring him to justice.  He was always way ahead of me.  Seeing him here was the first contact I'd had with him for years.  I didn't know if I should kill him or hug him or both.  I was well aware of the atrocities he had committed.  It only hurt more that he was my son.  When I found out that he was filled with the spirits of the Collective, I didn't know if I could trust him, but I decided to give him a chance.  His sacrifice very well might have saved us all.  It doesn't erase anything he had done in his past, but that was his cross to bear."  Barney and Calliope sat silently for quite some time, each in their own world.
  In the ball room, Mendoron, the Collective military specialist, was training a group of people with some combat techniques.  Knowledge in hand to hand combat was going to be a matter of life or death in these grim days.  The Collective had an understandably fluid style of fighting.  For some it was difficult to learn, but Mendoron had an almost uncanny patience.  Through diligence and practice, all who wanted to learn became better with each little step along the path to mastery.
  In room 742, the Maine Eleven Company was setting up its equipment.  Jeffrey turned to Lowe.  "What up, chiznickel?  Hey, what did you say your uncle's address was again?"
  Lowe wasn't expecting the question so he took a second to respond.  "Um, lot 1408 at Casanova Mobile Homes."
  Jeffrey grabbed a nearby napkin and scribbled on it hurriedly with a hotel pen.  He started a sentence mid-thought.  "And you're staying in room 742, right?"
  Lowe looked at Jeffrey.  "Yeah, so?"
  Jeffrey continued.  "Well, if you subtract 742 from 1408 you're left with. . .666.  Spooky, huh?"
  Lowe punched Jeffrey on the shoulder.  "More like kooky, dumbass."  Just then a knock came at the door.  It was Lume, the Collective musician.  Jeffrey couldn't take his eyes off her.
  "Welcome to a Maine Eleven Company jam session.  Won't you please join us?"  Jeffrey bowed.
  Lowe shook his head.  "Jeffrey, you old smoothly."
  Jeffrey blushed and punched Lowe in the shoulder.  "Is everyone ready?"  Carrie nodded.  Alex gave a thumbs up. Lowe hefted his bass and slung it onto his shoulder.  Jeffrey tested his microphone once or twice.  Lume stood in a corner by the entertainment center.
  Carrie got a mid-tempo beat going.  Lowe started in with a smooth groove.  Alex strummed a chord progression to fit the bass line.  Lume closed her eyes.  She put her hands up and added an orchestral flourish to the musical endeavor.  Jeffrey let the beat permeate his senses.  As images filled his mind, he gave voice to them.  This spontaneous rapture of harmonic melodies continued well into the night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chapter 13

13: The five men were seated comfortably in Samuel Wine's living room.  Sam had a trick he wanted to show his guests.  "I found this out one day totally by accident.  I was on the phone with a friend and I was walking around my apartment while I was talking.  When I passed by a certain area in my living room, I heard a voice on the line other than the person I was talking to.  I asked if my friend if he heard it too.  Hell yeah he did and no, it wasn't coming from his side of the line.  It sure as hell wasn't coming from my end.
  "It was an EVP, an electronic voice phenomenon.  It was actually two distinct voices.  One voice was crying and kept saying the word no over and over again.  The other voice kept yelling at the first voice to shut up!  My friend and I were freaking out.  Never in my 45 years of living had I encountered such a thing.  The next day I decided to see if it was still there.  I called my friend again and he agreed to try to find the spot again.  I moved around the living room until, sure enough, there it was.  The crying and everything.
  Sauro looked disturbed and tried to shake off the creepy feeling.  Once he had sufficiently composed himself, he asked the question that he believed was on everyone's mind.  "Do you think those voices are connected to the hauntings in this place?"
  "No.  Those voices are what are called an imprint.  Sometimes, when there is an experience that brings about strong emotions such as fear, sadness or trauma, it can leave its mark at the spot in which it occurred.  For all we know, the people I heard on the phone are still alive.  A haunting, however, does involve the spirits of the dead who have not passed over into the light for some reason."
  Mickey shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.  "Okay.  Whatever.  But then what is going on here?  This place is haunted, but by whom or by what?"
  "I was getting to that.  I've only been able to get so much from down here.  If I went to the apartment on the fifth floor, I would be able to get more from touching the walls.  I also should try to communicate with the spirits that are stuck there.  I haven't done any of this yet because it wouldn't have been safe to do it alone.  It's only because of my spiritual awareness and knowledge that I've survived this haunting."
  Randy looked uneasy about the prospect of going back up there.  "Do we have to go there for your mojo to work?"
  Sam put his hands up.  "Don't worry.  We don't all have to go.  Perhaps if you and Ben want to stay down here, Mickey, Sauro and I can go up there.  But first, let me tell you what I've figured out so far.  I've been able to distinctly identify six different entities up there.  There is a young man, a young woman, an old lady, a little boy, a dog and a dark entity."
  Randy raised his hand.  "I've seen the old lady.  Her name is Ruth Verdi.  I also saw the dog and the dark one."
  Sam grabbed a notebook and a pen.  "Ruth Verdi, you say?"  Randy nodded.  Sam spelled the name out phonetically for future reference.  "Now, my story starts about three months ago.  I had changed from a daytime schedule at my job to an afternoon schedule.  My alarm clock used to wake me up every morning at 8 sharp.  Of course, when I switched schedules, I wanted to sleep in a little.  I figured I could wake up at noon, have lunch and still have plenty of time to get to work at 3pm.
  "Now here comes the weird part.  No matter how much I wanted to sleep in, I kept waking up just around 8 anyway. The first few days, I figured it was because I was so used to getting up at 8.  I thought perhaps that my body just needed to adjust to the new schedule.  But day after day I woke up around 8 o' clock.  I started noticing that it wasn't just 8-ish like I had thought.  It was consistently 8:14 I would wake up.  I tested it.  I'd wake up and immediately look at my clock.  8:14 every time.  I didn't understand what was going on until the spiritual disturbances began.  Then it clicked.  A significant event must have occurred at 8:14 in the morning.
  "I still have no idea what that event was, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that it's important.  It may even be the spirits trying to communicate with me.  That's about all I have so far.  Now, we must get up there for me to get more clues and piece this story together."
  Sam, Mickey and Sauro opened the door which led to the hallway, went out and closed the door behind them.  Ben and Randy stayed at Sam's apartment and tried not to worry.
  Meanwhile, at the hotel, a rescue group arrived with Lowe's uncle, Singh Ho Ping and his boyfriend, Bolly Wotso. Bolly was a half Samoan, half Ethiopian midget of medium build.  When Singh saw his nephew, Yong Lowe, his eyes lit up.  "Well, potato I have!  It's my favorite nephew!"  He reached up for a hug.
  Lowe stooped down to hug his uncle.  "Uncle Singh and Aunt Bolly!  I'm so glad you're safe!  I was so worried.  How are you, my avuncular compadre?"
  "I'm doing alright.  It's good to see you're OK.  How are your mother and father?"
  Lowe's head drooped.  With a trembling voice, he said, "They got into a car accident and they were both killed."
  Singh's eyes watered up.  "Oh, my dear, sweet, beautiful Ling!  My heart is ripping!"  Lowe embraced his uncle in a huge bear hug.  They both cried together for a while.  When Singh could breathe evenly enough to speak again, he realized he should also help his nephew mourn for his father.  "Your father, Tom, was a wonderful husband to my sister and a good father to you. I will miss him greatly."
  Lowe remained silent for a little while longer, but finally spoke.  "You're the only family I have left."  They held each other for comfort and then went to Lowe's room to rest.  It had been a long day.