716 Teldile Street, Chapel River, Connecticut
“What do you mean, you’re going away?” Lily asked Harte, as soon as the door closed behind the housekeeper. “Don’t tell me you’re thinking of running out on all of this.” She grimaced inwardly, thinking she had been a day late with her resignation. It would be just her luck to be the last person left behind to clean up the mess. With the FBI involved, no less.
Harte winced. “No, no, not at all. I should have said, we are going to be going away, you and I, but Nina would have misconstrued the nature of the trip in question.”
Lily frowned. “I’m not sure that I’m not doing some misconstruing myself. What are you thinking?”
“It has become clear that we cannot simply sit and wait for this matter to resolve itself. If Mr. Larkin has become dangerous, then he is a danger that we...I...have created. So we must take action.” He reached into his pocket and took out a large glass vial of purple liquid.
“You ordered us to destroy the Visulex supply,” Lily said. “I flushed it myself.”
“Apparently, you missed some. Not enough to disturb the University about, I think.” Harte’s tone betrayed no subterfuge, but Lily knew that his use of the word “apparently” was deliberate.
“So, what’s your plan?” she asked.
“With the data we gathered from Mr. Larkin before he disappeared, I believe I’ve been able to refine the dosage of Visulex necessary to allow a person to at least view and interact with aleph-two, the perceptual environment in which Mr. Larkin now exists, while retaining a physical presence in this environment, that is, aleph-one. I’ll take the Visulex and see if I can find him, while you monitor my condition.”
There were so many problems with that plan that Lily didn’t know where to start. “How can you be sure you’ve got it balanced correctly? We’re not even sure what it really does, let alone how to manipulate the dosage. And why leave town? We need the lab’s resources to do this properly.”
Harte shook his head. “We can’t do anything more here; the University is keeping too close a watch on me. I need you to come with me up to Great Barrington. I have a small office there; I do consulting in conjunction with a school for troubled adolescents in the area. The facilities should be sufficient.”
She shook her head. “You haven’t answered my question about why you think you can prevent a repeat of what happened to Matthew.”
“Does it matter? Whether we know what it really does or not, it’s the only method we have of trying to find and to retrieve Mr. Larkin. And yes, I will admit to a large amount of guesswork, but I will take that risk.”
Lily sighed. This was beyond anything she had signed up for. She hadn’t come up with any other options herself, though, and his idea made as much sense as anything else. And she couldn’t just walk away. Matthew's portrait of her would haunt her forever.
“Look, I need to pack a bag. Pick me up at the lab in, oh, an hour.” She opened the study door, then looked back. “Meanwhile, if you know what’s good for you, I’d eat whatever it is Nina left for you in the kitchen.”
* * *
Harte handed Lily a newspaper clipping from the Nantucket Beacon when she clambered into his aging station wagon for the drive up to Massachusetts. Lily scanned it as they left Harkness.
Seaside resort has ghostly guest
by Jessica Green
by Jessica Green
It is still two months to Halloween, but the spirits have already come to visit the tony beach resorts of Nantucket, according to guests and staff at the Cliffwalk Hotel.
“We’ve caught glimpses of him several times now,” said owner Mary Homans. “Usually in the kitchen. We can tell when he’s been there overnight; he likes to hide knives and other sharp implements in the high cupboards.”
Reaction to the ghost, who reportedly appears as a young man, has been mixed among the Cliffwalk’s more tangible guests.
“It wasn’t exactly the atmosphere we were expecting,” said Stephen Lawner of Dix Hills, New York. Lawner and his wife claim to have encountered the ghost in their hotel room, where, they say, he silently indicated that they should leave the room through the window. “He seemed very frightened of something. When we didn’t move, he just vanished.” The Lawners terminated their stay early.
Despite multiple alleged sightings of the spirit, there is no photograph or other tangible evidence of his presence. Homans claims that she tried to take a picture of the ghost, but says he disappeared in a burst of light when the flash went off. The ghost was apparently upset, as Homans says all of the carving knives in the kitchen disappeared at the moment of the flash.
Local stage magician and self-avowed skeptic Bernard Kalman says that the lack of evidence proves that this is nothing more than a hoax. “Without concrete evidence of the supernatural, we must assume that this is just another trick, either by the owners of the Cliffwalk, or upon them.”
Homans disagrees. “He’s here, all right. We just hope he returns our cutlery.”
At least she wasn’t the only one seeing Matthew, she thought. The article was describing something more like Matthew’s full dream appearances rather than the fleeting glimpses she had been experiencing, but it was still reassuring. She wondered what his manifestations meant; there was so much that had still been hidden away in his mind when he disappeared, dark spaces she hadn’t been able to reach in their sessions.
There was a sticky note on the back of the article in Harte’s handwriting: “Called 9/6. No sighting since 8/31.” Presumably Harte felt the trail had gone cold, or else they’d be off for the island.
Lily had been so certain that the Visulex program would be effective to discover what was troubling him, to cure him. Damn Harte, she thought, advancing the program to Stage Two before the Stage One results had been fully analyzed. Still, Lily herself had been convinced that Matthew would be the one to make the transition successfully, and had found nothing in her after-the-fact review of the Stage One data that would have stopped them.
She hadn’t told Harte about her own visions, yet. Lily wondered again if those had been guilt, or something else. She found herself thinking that Matthew wasn’t that much younger than she was. Just a few months. And he was cute, in that vulnerable sort of way...she thought about his easy humor while they had been discussing the images he had drawn from his unconscious mind, even while the effects of sleep deprivation were taking their toll on him. And the portrait he had done...
An idea came to her suddenly. It plagued her for the remainder of the ride.
* * *
[Go to Chapter 7.4]