Global Corporation tries to rebuild an ancient viking city with haunting consequences
| Now alongside the wooden pier which had been reinforced with stone and chain, the Wyvren was moored and the engines were shut down and cooling. With the propellers no longer turning and the ship securely moored, all was calm, at least inside the harbor. The view from the dock, even though the water's surface was still shrouded with fog was, to say the least, spectacular. Circling the entire bay, stretching out into the gray fog from both ends of the wooden pier, was a stone bulwark at least one story tall standing above the water. Along the top of the entire barrier was a walkway with, from Douglas' best assumption, what were weapon and ammunition houses, evenly spaced, to supply a great many archers in the case of a naval attack from either the Vikings from the north or other armies attacking by sea. It extending around the harbor to apparently meet at the two great towers of stone which the Wyvren had passed through just an hour ago but as of now, the far side of the bay was now invisible through the mist.
“I hope those walls hold up.” said Winton looking out at the barriers which, at present, were holding back the greatest part of the storm. Douglas gave an evil grin.
“The legend goes that the entire city was sunk under the waves by a terrible storm. What the sea wants, it shall have.” Although Winton knew how to take Douglas, he also knew Douglas' moods which could be as stormy as the sea.
“Maybe we could throw you in. Laura, do you think Neptune would give us a break if we gave him Douglas?” Laura and Richard both laughed. Laura decided to play along.
“Actually, it worked for Jonah. Are you running from anything we should know about, Douglas?”
Douglas grinned but seriously thought about this for a second. Maybe it was something about the way Laura had asked it or maybe it was just her presence. “Actually, when the Tell Corporation decided to tear up my church, I decided to follow it an make sure it was going to go back together the same way that it came apart. I think I'm going the right direction so far.”
Everyone who had been aboard the Wyvren was now under the stone cover of the boatswains' house. Although the sky was gray and drizzling, after the past twelve hours in the midst of the sea's fury, the weather couldn't touch any of their joy to be back on solid ground.
“From what I've just been told, they will be sending down transport, from the castle to here, within the hour. Until then, I suggest that you all do your best to make yourselves comfortable and stay dry.” Most everyone was already circled around the refreshment table or thanking Captain Smythe and Marlowe for the fantastic job they had done navigating the waves, that is with the exception of Douglas and Richard.
Standing outside of the boatswain's house, Douglas once again had a hot cup of coffee and a cigarette in his hands and Richard, who was beside him could tell he was happy to be back on terra firma. “So, is the foot because you are glad to be off that boat or because you're nervous about what comes next?”
Douglas actually hadn't noticed his own tapping and looked down with a smile.
“Look at that.” He said, pointing with cigarette in hand. What he was pointing at was impressive to say the least. The castle of Vineta was perched up on the highest peak of the cliffs looking down over the harbor. From where they were standing, it's towers and most of it's high walls were obscured by the thickness of the clouds which were covering nearly everything. “So that's home?” Asked Douglas taking another sip of his coffee.
Richard took a deep breath. “Not from what I've heard. Tonight that's where we will be staying, but they still haven't furnished it yet, so even when we do get there, we will have no place to sleep. I think they just want to find us a place where we can keep dry and show us some of their handy work so far.” Douglas looked at him with a question on his face. “Remember why we are here. The Temple is not in the castle. It's in the center of town.” Richard pointed out in the direction opposite the castle. There was the town which Douglas hadn't honestly noticed yet, but once he did focus, he saw the temple which Richard was referring to. It was the tallest building in Vineta proper and, from what he could tell, the only one made of cut stone. The rest of the houses and smaller buildings all seemed to be made of white washes mud brick and loose stone, topped with thatch roofs. He smiled as he noticed a few of the chimneys with wisps of white smoke rising up into the rainy air.
“Well, at least the locals are warm.” Richard smiled.
“And between the two,” said Richard moving his finger a few degrees back toward the castle, “is where we will be staying.” Douglas had to squint to see what exactly he was pointing out. There, in the lowland between the two, were rows of tents lined up to look like a military encampment. Douglas' face dropped.
“You must be joking.” Again Richard smiled.
“Come on. You used to be a military engineer. You should feel right at home.”
When the transport did arrive, everyone was surprised. Three long, horse drawn, covered wagons rolled up to the Boatswain's house with a clatter of hooves on the wooden dock. Douglas looked over to Richard with an eyebrow raised in sarcasm. “Oh no. This will take hours. What are we gypsies?” he said with a snicker. Richard's face winced visibly. Now, Douglas had known Richard for more than two decades and he knew his friend well enough to read him like a book.
“Laura's behind me, isn't she?” Richard, still wincing, nodded. “That was probably the most oafish thing I could have said right then, wasn't it?” Again, the nod. “All right, Richard. I'm going to turn around and pretend like I didn't make a fool of myself and, if you are really my friend, you will back me up on this, okay?” A third nod.
Douglas swiveled around with as much panache as he could muster. “Well, isn't that the most romantic thing you've ever seen. These people didn't cut any corners when they built this place, did they?” Laura looked at him like he should be wearing a dunce cap. “No, no, really. Richard and I were just saying how...” But when Douglas turned back around to look for his old friend, he was nowhere to be found. Douglas just caught sight of him quickly skirting through the crowd in the direction of Winton and the refreshment table. “Judas.” he whispered under his breath. He saw Laura crack a smile, but she still had her arms crossed in the universal sign of “So, how are you going to get out of this one?”
Without missing a beat, Douglas took a step back and bowed as low as he could, swinging his arm around in front of himself. “My queen. Your coach awaits.” Putting on her most regal smile, she simply took his free hand and waited for him to escort her up into the the rear of the wagon. Once she was comfortably in, he stepped up onto the wooden stair, but before he could raise himself up the last step, he noticed both Winton and Richard whispering and laughing to each other like to mischievous schoolboys.
The fellow took the leather clad folder which Richard had slid across the desk to him and opened it. He was surprised at what he found inside, an ancient document, hand written and yellowing with age. He reached into his breast pocket to retrieve his reading glasses.
On the other side of the desk, Richard and Winton were both surprised when they realized what Mr. Diego was doing. “You don't look old enough to need reading glasses.” Mr. Diego was so caught up with the paper he had been given, it took him a second to realize just what had been said to him.
“Hmm? Oh, well. It's rare that I use them at all. It’s been…” doing a quick mental calculation, “fifteen months since I’ve had to deal with an actual piece of paper. Everything is done via computers.” Quickly, he returned his full attention to the receipt. Richard accepted this answer with a nod. Then, with a thoughtful look upon his face, “I don’t know,” he said, adjusting his spectacles to look at them, “it’s sort of old fashion romanticism. I think I look rather good in them.”
Winton grinned at Richard. “Remind you of anyone?”
Richard smiled catching the reference to Douglas. “Old fashion romance.” He snickered under his breath. “Well, I can’t think of anyone else who still uses a wind up alarm clock.” With this, Winton chuckled.
After entering a few numbers from the parchment, Mr. Diego following the scrolling lines of text on the computer screen with his finger. He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Yes, here it is. Number forty four eight sixty one.” Then Mr. Diego emitted a low whistle which made both Richard and Winton curious.
“May I ask?”
Although Richard might have let it pass, Winton was not not one to not speak what was on his mind. Mr. Diego looked at the two of them with raised eyebrows. “I was just doing the math. It seems that since we have had the window in our care, an anonymous account in Switzerland has been paying for, not only the storage, but insurance for it's safety as well, at the highest end of our coverage spectrum.”
“And?” Winton went on.
“Well, over the past two hundred and sixty seven years, since it was delivered to my great, great grandfather, we have been paid one hundred and fourteen million dollars just to keep it in our possession.”
This is when both Richard and Winton echoed Mr. Diego with their own low whistles. “I’m not sure, but I think we could keep this company in operation with just that one window.”
“My next question is” Winton went on, his eyebrows still higher than they were before, “is it safe.” Mr. Diego looked at the screen again.
“All records show that it is in the exact same condition as it was two hundred and sixty seven years ago. In that whole time, it has only been moved twice and the last time was a hundred and twenty years ago.”
Richard once again picked up the leather clad folder from Mr. Diego’s desk and opened it. Looking inside, he double checked all of the information.
“Well,” he said with a sigh that almost sounded guilty, “our orders are clear. We are here to have the window delivered, by rail, to Zürich, Switzerland and we need this all done by the end of the week. From there, it travels north. I’m sorry you will be losing such a large asset.”
Mr. Diego was surprised by Richard’s tone of voice. “Sir. It’s no problem at all. We are a holding company. It’s what we do. I just hope you don’t mind if I call my grandfather to assist in the work. He is the head of operations and I think he would like to meet you personally, if only to thank you.”
This time the two men smiled sheepishly, of course realizing the importance which San Diego Holding of Madrid placed on the business of the Tell Corporation.
“Certainly.” said Richard, extending a hand. Mr. Diego extended his as well and the two shook in a professional agreement. “All I can ask is that you get in touch with us either before the end of the day or at latest by tomorrow morning at, say, eight, to make sure things are going smoothly. Is that at all possible?”
Seeing as it was still early in the day, Mr. Diego put in a confident smile. “Looking at the value of your past business, we should be in touch with you by one this afternoon.”
“That would be fine.” Said Richard and turning to Winton, they nodded to each other satisfied and began for the exit.
“That's the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard.” said Douglas looking across the table at Winton.
“Ridiculous or no, it's in there.”
“I'm going to have to see that to believe it.” Winton grinned. Although he was not one to hold a grudge, when he got a chance to make up points, he did not miss the opportunity. Reaching down besides his chair, he had his lap top handy.
“You know that they have given me access to quite a few information caches since I began working on this project. You are not the only one who has had a chance to see history in the making.”
Douglas chimed in. “I know what you mean. There is more than one side to this project and over a thousand years worth of history involved. You have been doing the acquisition work while I have been meeting the engineers face to face.”
Winton looked up from the screen he was working on. “It's odd. Even though I haven't spent as much time as you have in the actual town, you are one of the main reasons I have been spending so much time with these records. With all of this history and legend floating around, sometimes it seems like the easiest way to figure out where my mind goes when I sleep.”
“One of the reasons?” Douglas asked. “Are there others?”
Winton laughed quietly to himself. “Well, do you know Christen Sullivan?”
“Yeah.” said Douglas recognizing the name and trying to attach a face to it. “I think so. Doesn't see work out of Switzerland, one of the records keepers for the Vineta project?”
Winton said nothing and Douglas squinted his eyes at Winton realizing the implication he was making. Winton just kept looking at his computer screen but the boyish grin that crossed his face told volumes. Being tactful, Douglas said nothing but couldn't help but whistle a inane tune as if he was trying to act ignorant. Winton laughed again to himself. Then, “Here it is.”
Turning the desktop computer to face Douglas, he looked at the translation on the screen. It was all right there. The Keeper of the Temple must he sixteen hands from sole of foot to the the center of eye. This distance was to be measured by the Staff of Thor. “I don't believe it. They had a hight limit?”
“More than that.” said Winton, “There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. If they couldn't find someone both that exact height and wise enough to keep the secrets of the temple, then there were to be no calender calculations made until a proper keeper could be found.” Douglas was speechless. He couldn't fathom why such a rule would be made, not that it mattered a thousand years after it had been ordained, but on top of this, he was wondering how many other little tidbits of information he did not know about.
“You don't remember that discussion we had in Maine about four months ago, do you?” Douglas snapped out of his thought and looked up at Winton who was now wearing his devil's advocate face.
“Which one?” Douglas asked suspiciously, trying to keep serious but having difficulty. Winton's expression was not helping. “It was something about the Church of Statesmorrow not having been altered architecturally since before World War two.”
Douglas thought back. In fact, he did remember. “Yes....” he said slowly, “I remember something about that. As I recall, you might have been a little rough on me back then but Richard got a kick out of it.” Winton's expression remained in his smug half grin as he went on.
“Yes. Well, I would just like you to know that as of now, I may have a few more facts on Vineta's details than you. I would just like to make two points here. First,” Douglas listened with ears open. “if there is anything that I can look up for you, they have given me access to pretty much everything, minus a few passwords for the important work, but all the plans are at my disposal.”
Douglas nodded with a smile. “Thank you Winton. I will definitely keep that in mind. What was the second point?” Now, although Winton was seventy years old, he was still as sharp as he had ever been.
“Don't ever question me on the details.”
Although Winton had said this with a tactful grin, Douglas realized exactly why he had been invited to come on this project.
“Don't worry, Winton. I won't.”
Douglas sat in his tent, burning the midnight oil, as they say. Richard, who had been helping him solve the mystery had long ago retired to his own tent, but Douglas was not willing to give up. This was why he had been included in the project and time was growing tight. The floor would have to be installed in the Temple of Vineta within the week, if the window and the other artifacts were to be refurbished. The only problem was that Douglas still couldn't make a square fit into a circle.
He looked at his desk once again. There was a two foot by three foot copy of the painting of “The Temple of Vineta” showing exactly what the execs wanted, but the fact that this was not the floor that he had to deal with was driving him mad. The pattern wasn't even the same.
The wooden blocks he had created for himself were an exact scale reproduction of the pieces of marble which they had sailed with. If not only William Devonshire, but the other men in blue, hadn't proved to him beyond a doubt that this was the original Vineta temple floor, he wouldn't be able believe it and even after the fact, he was having troubles.
He double checked the grain patterns of the marble in the image and tried to recreate it using the blocks. All right, so he had gotten as far as making the shape that they needed, but the colors and patterns did not watch. Again, he rearranged the pieces but again, the shape disappeared and he was at a loss. It just wasn't there.
If only he could smooth out the other side of the blocks then, at least he would have two sides to work with, but that just wasn't the case. The notches, grooves and imperfections in Douglas' toy blocks were only there because they were there on the actual marble slabs. Lighting another cigarette, Douglas had to laugh at the simplicity of these thousand year old architects. The idea of leaving divots and grooves in the finest pieces of marble ever quarries, simply so they could remember how it went together was insane. Couldn't they....
Douglas paused. It couldn't be that simple.
“We can't put it in like that.” Said the hard hat which Douglas was trying to explain his findings to. “I mean, the way you want it put in, it's like someone went digging holes and trenches in the thing.” Douglas nodded at the fellow with the expression on his face of “Duh.” What this expression didn't convey is that Douglas had been trying to deal with the same paradigm for the past three nights.
“And exactly how difficult do you think it would be to cut those holes and trenches into a piece of level seven granite?” Mike, the chief construction worker had some understanding of mineral density and understood what he was implying.
Laughing, he said, “Well, you wouldn't do it with your basic hammer and chisel. You would have to use...” Douglas saw the expression on Micheal's face change as the pieces fell into place.
“Exactly. They're there for a reason. I still don't know what it is yet, but I'll bet you a cup of coffee that it will fit into that temple like it was cut to fit there.” Mike squinted at him.
“It was cut to fit there.”
“I know,” said Douglas, beginning to grow exasperated with trying to explain his findings to this fellow, “a thousand years ago. We had a little trouble asking them if it was upside down or right side up, you understand?”
Mike, turning away, shook his head. Douglas heard the chief of construction mutter to himself, “Upside down, just like everything else around here.” Then, in a call to his crew, “Okay, men. You ain't gonna believe this, but we gotta flip it over, screwed up side up.”
“So what is all this?”
“It's a puzzle of some sort. Now that this window has shown up, there's no room for error.” The window was still in it's original wooden crate and Zachery Knox led Douglas over to it. “Now please be careful. I don't have to tell you how old or valuable this is.” Each of them grabbed hold of either end of the wooden lid, which nested perfectly on top of the foot deep box the window was resting in. Lifting it slowly, they set it on the grass next to the bottom half of the case.
This was the first time that Douglas had actually seen the window, but none of the grand compliments which Richard had given it were overrated.
It was gorgeous, and from Douglas' knowledge of history, he wasn't sure if what he was looking at could have actually been made in the eleventh century, and this date may have been an overestimate as well. The only information that either Douglas or Zachery had seen was the date which it had been removed from the church, not it's date of origin.
The cast iron frame wove in and out to create the image of the god Thor, who was apparently heaving something into the night sky. The stars above this muscular figure were so perfectly rendered that it could easily have been mistaken for an astronomical map created by dropping molten silver across the surface of a multicolored mirror and silver may have very well have been exactly what the stars were if they had not been so smooth and even with the glass pane.
At the same time Douglas was awe struck by the beauty of the window, he was having his doubts about it's authenticity. “This work can't be from the eleventh century. It's too...” Zachery was quick to complete Douglas' thought.
“Perfect? I don't know how they did it either but the Tell execs have written documentation which traces it back from owner to owner all the way back from the Danes who sacked the city in eleven sixty nine. Most of the owners are more secretive than can be easily explained but my “go to man” has seen the proof.”
“Go to man?” Douglas asked but was quick to check himself. “I mean, I have no doubts about where it came from. If Henri said it was the real deal,” Douglas gave a short laugh, “I can't afford to disagree. Literally.”
Zachery laughed in agreement with Douglas but still seemed leery somehow. “But that's not the stumper. What I can't figure out are these.” Zachery pointed to two specific, hollow points within the window's design. They were located within the stars over Thor's head and might not have been noticed at first glance, but once Zachery had pointed them out to Douglas, he became very curious. There may have been a reason for them, but what it was was a mystery indeed. Were they stars? Possibly, except that they were a pair and these anomalies were located right next to each other in the night sky. The two specific spots which Zachery had pointed out contained no glass but instead were just holes in the design, each being about two centimeters in diameter.
“What are they?” asked Douglas as he looked a little closer and ran his hand over the image, which was made all the more iconic by his three fingered hand.
Zachery glanced at Douglas out of the corner of his eye. The two of them had not met more than two days ago and this was the first time that they were actually working in unison. It was either stemming from something within Douglas or something within Zachery but Douglas was rubbing him the wrong way. Although Zachery could not explain it, he was beginning to feel riled. Zachery repeated himself, this time in a more blatant tone. “We don't know what they are. That's what we need to figure out.”
This is when Douglas realized how foolish he must have sounded. Turning his attention away from the window and back toward Zachery, “I'm sorry.” he said. “I was just still wrapped up in the design. I realize you have more credentials in the arts of the dark ages than...” Douglas did a quick mental calculation, “well, knowing the Tell Corporation, probably anyone in the western world.”
“Probably.” said Zachery smugly.
Not wanting to go on with the conversation, Douglas again returned his attention to the window. Realizing what was happening, Zachery began to feel the pangs of shame.
“Um...” he finally spoke up. “Yes. I have studied. And you? You're a doctor of architecture?” Douglas smiled at him realizing his attempt at making amends.
“I don't have my doctorate, no. I have my masters. I'm not saying that I couldn't get my doctorate but I've been too busy teaching. Most of my assets lie with my experience and my friends. Have you met Richard Crenlish or Winton Blackmore?”
Zachery recognized the names. “No, but they are the fellows the Tell Corporation sent to pick up the window from Madrid if I'm not mistaken.” Douglas nodded with a smile.
“That's them. I'm the third side of the triangle.”
“Hmm. Well, if the Tell Corporation trusted them with something as valuable as this, I guess I aught to follow their lead, eh? So you don't have your doctorate, did you say?” Douglas could tell that Zachery was still not completely at ease about working with him. It could also simply be an iota of Zachery's infamous arrogance shining through. He was not one to trust his work to anyone.
It was rare anymore to find a doctoral thesis with only one author and Douglas had read bits and pieces of all three of Zachery's and none of them were group ventures. “The Fiction of the Canterbury Zodiac” Author Zachery Knox, “The Templar Art and Architecture: From the Holy Land to the Northern Wastes” Author Zachery Knox, “The Survival of Roman Design through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissances” Author Zachery Knox. What could Douglas do except play along with this arrogant fellow for now and possibly learn something from him? Even if Zachery was not used to playing well with others, he was still well written and respected by the Tell Corporation and that was nothing to sneeze at.
“So minus the craftsmanship, which I am not taking lightly,” Douglas made sure that Zachery understood he was not taking the artistry for granted but did very good to hide the fact that he was buttering up Zachery to try to lubricate the gears, “it's just these holes which we don't understand.”
Zachery squinted at him as he took in Douglas' words. “Yes. That's correct. My best guess it that they may have something to do with the legend the window is relating. Thor and Aurvandill's frostbitten toes, but I can't see how that would justify leaving holes in the window.”
This struck a chord with Douglas. Either something he had heard or read somewhere.... “Wait a minute.” said Douglas with a pause. “Winton sent me something concerning the mythology of Thor. The toe that was frostbitten, Aurvel...” Zachery was quick to correct him
“Yeah, him. Thor broke off the toe and threw it into the stars. The vikings actually called the star Aurvandill's toe, but today it is Rigel. It's a blue star, the right foot of the hunter Orion.” Zachery and Douglas both looked at each other in realization and then quickly returned their attention to the window.
There it was. The two holes which made up the pair were located directly at the right foot of the hourglass shaped constellation of Orion the hunter. “It's perfect.” said Douglas, amazed. “It's some sort of star reference.” Zachery was equally amazed but was quick to make the obvious observation.
“It may be perfect, but why are there two holes. One I could understand, but two?”
“I don't know. Maybe it's something to do with time. Two different times during the night when the light of the star would shine through the hole.”
“That's all fine and well,” said Zachery, once again putting on his air of smugness. “but to see a difference that minute, your eyes would have to be in such a specific location that....” Zachery actually took pause as he saw Douglas' eyes widen and his face go completely blank. “What? Was it something I said?”
The shaking of Douglas' head was almost too small to notice but it was there none the less. Still, he said nothing. “Well, don't leave me hanging. What is it?”
“The staff of Thor.” He said in a whisper. Zachery didn't understand.
“No, Thor had a hammer. It's right here in the window.” Douglas was still shaking his head. “The staff of Thor. I have to go.”
It was a week before the crate arrived and by this time, not only had the floor been installed, but the window as well. The box was the exact dimensions that Douglas had expected it to be. It was about six foot long and not a foot in breath or height. When Winton said that the Staff of Thor was still in the possession of the Tell Corporation, he was not surprised. It would seem like the Tell Corporation had every piece of Vineta from a thousand years ago perfectly preserved and packed away an little boxes, hidden somewhere around Europe. It would seem like they were the ones who had either laid siege to the town a thousand years ago themselves or else they had agents who bought everything the town had to offer once the siege had come.
“Laura?” Douglas stepped into the Safe Tent to find Laura in he field outfit, serving breakfast to those who were having trouble with either dreams of the past or just getting a good nights sleep. She simply smiled a kind smile to him as she went about her business. Douglas realized that she was busy so he went over the the kitchenette counter and poured himself a cup of coffee and found himself an empty chain. It wasn't long, maybe ten minutes, before Laura came over to him and sat down.
“Good morning, Douglas. So, how are you doing?” Douglas showed the mixed thoughts on his face.
“Good, actually, but I guess I just haven't been sleeping well with all this trouble with the floor and the window. And you?”
“Actually quite well. What do you think about the “safe tent”. The Tell Corporation said that they wanted a field hospital as well as a psych ward. I think it turned out pretty well.”
“Speaking off crazy ideas...” Laura just looked at him expressing that the word “crazy” was not one that she liked, but Douglas just grinned. “There are things about Vineta that Winton is filling me in on every day. I just received a relic which is part of the Vineta temple reconstruction. It's called the Staff of Thor,” Before Douglas could bring up any of the other details, Laura twitched. Twitched noticeably.
“What?” Douglas asked almost nervously.
“The staff.” She said, still seeming at a distance and stiff as a board. “The Staff of Thor. It's yours. You need it.”
Douglas was visibly taken back by Laura's reaction to the news of this new turn of events, to say nothing of Laura being... Douglas didn't know how to describe it... hypnotized. “Are you all right?” he asked her. Laura just sat there stiffly, eyes glazed over and with an emotionless countenance. She sat silently for a minute and Douglas began to grow worried. “Laura? Laura?” After another few seconds, “I'm going to go get help.”
“No. I'm all right.” She said this in a voice less than a whisper, but Douglas heard her. She did not sound shaken, just distant.
“Can I get you anything? A cup of tea?”
“Water.” she said quietly.
Douglas was up in a flash to the kitchenette counter and grabbed a bottle of spring water for her. It was uncapped and in front of her in seconds. Douglas glanced around the “safe tent” as Laura slowly sipped the water. It did not seem like anyone else had noticed this incident, which was probably for the best.
“Douglas,” she said, and this time sounded much more clear and like herself, although Douglas could see from her eyes that she was still in whatever kind of trance it was that had gripped her. “If we understand that staff, we understand Vineta. Everything.”
Douglas was at a loss. “What do you mean?”
Laura was quickly regaining her wits and Douglas was breathing a sigh of relief. “I don't know why, but that is the key. It holds not only the motives of the Tell Corporation but also the motives of those from a thousand years ago. What is the st...” Laura stopped before she said the words. Douglas chimed in. “The sta...” But Laura's raised hand stopped him short.
“I don't know if I can deal with it's power, at least not yet. I said it was for you, didn't I?” She said this, not in spite, but more as if she didn't clearly remember. Douglas just nodded blankly.
“Yes, that was the first thing you said when I mentioned it.” Laura just put on the look of concentration.
“Well, then that is what has to happen. You have to figure out it's true purpose and I can not help you.” Douglas just sat back in his chair, mulling through the cross between confusion, loneliness and fear. Now, Laura realized what she had said. Although she knew it to be true, she regretted having had to do it to Douglas. “Can I say I'm sorry?” she asked quietly. Douglas just looked at her for a second. “Sure.” he said with a shrug.
“I hope it helps.” Laura just gave him a half hearted smile of stoicism. “Good luck.”