Part 15

by CM Towns

   “Hey,” Pearl said to Sally.
   “Hello,” Sally replied. She took a look at the table Pearl was seated at, outside a local coffee shop in East Ridge, Tennessee. East Ridge bordered the much larger city of Chattanooga as well as bordering on the state line of Georgia.
   Pearl motioned to the coffee, “Black right?”
   Sally took the seat across from her and nodded, “Yes, thank you.”
   “You flew from LA?”
   “No, I went to the base early in the morning. I got a ride into the town and flew out from there.”
   “How’d you get a ride?”
   “The cars-well, the SUV, has remote control. Took into the county, hopped onto a taxi,” Sally explained.
   “So the flight was okay?” inquired Pearl.
   “It was. Why did you want to meet here?” Sally asked.
   “I thought… Actually I didn’t.”
   Sally took a sip of her drink and then said, “You’ve been operating in Blount for a year now. Mostly gangs and dealers. Why move up to bigger bad guys?”

   “I actually started in Oklahoma. Did not have a name yet, just a black outfit and weak tools,” Pearl said.
   “Why move here?”
   “Mom moved.”
   “You have nothing to be sorry about. My parents had problems, they ended it,” Pearl stated.
   “So you are Cherokee?” Sally asked.
   “I’m a lot of things but yes, I identify as Cherokee,” explained Pearl and she gave a big smile.
   Sally looked at her coffee, diverting her eyes. Pearl decided to switch topics to the job.
   “How is the team doing on their mission?” asked Pearl.
   “They believe they have an idea of where they are or will be. Currently in surveillance mode and hope to have this situation taken care of by tonight,” Sally answered.
   “What do you think about this guys?”
   “Their tactics are deplorable. Innocents have been hurt and lives been disrupted. While the message is important the execution is troubling,” answered Sally and Pearl nodded through out.
   “Do you wish you were out there with them?” then asked Pearl.
   “Honestly I would rather assist the team from an intelligence stand point.”
   “Really? But you’re so damn lethal.”
   “My desire to be better as a fighter and red mage has made me a good field operative. I know it makes me invaluable in the field. yet I prefer research and assistance,” admitted Sally.
   “Well, are we going to be up to that then? Or are we doing field work? I know there was this whole idea of training and team work practice,” Pearl said.
   “Yes, I have thought about what we could work on. I decided we can look into one of our open files,” Sally told her.
   “Which one?”
   “You’re familiar with the cult?”
   “Blue Oyster Cult?”
   It was a joke and Sally had a small smile.
   “No. Not the band. The ones who targeted Araminta,” she then expanded on.
   “Oh. Yeah-I think I looked at those notes. Nothing much but white dudes, crooked knives, and responsible for killing her family.”
   “Some of their previous activity has been in Benton County. I have looked into various American Cults, and from their expanded deeper into historical records. What have determined is the cult that has targeted Araminta has existed for a time,” Sally said.
   “That sounds like a lot of work,” Pearl said.
   “It’s like a hobby. I enjoy it. I found some connecting symbols- not form any online database but from a book I purchased called the Necronomicon,” Sally said.
   “That’s not a real book. Its from a bunch of horror stories and movies,” Pearl said.
   “I am aware of the books history but for some reason symbols used in the one edition I found are the same markings in a number of crimes decorating the history of the US post 1927-after HP Lovecrafts stories established it,” Sally divulged.
   “So what? A bunch of horror enthusiasts thought it was real?” worried Pearl.
   “Maybe, maybe not. What if Lovecraft accidentally touched on a nerve-a truth. One he was unaware of,” Sally responded.
   Pearl thought about that and got a shiver.
   “It is-rather unpleasant. Somehow Araminta is connected to some force, and that force has been co-opted by fictional scriptures. Fantasy becoming reality,” Sally continued.
   “So how did you tie it to my neck of the woods?” asked Pearl.
   “Researching around Araminta’s birth, there had been abductions of women. Some killed in ritualistic fashion. Like I said, the markings. These people have moved and continued operating. Sacrifices, mysterious killings. You look hard enough you start seeing the same markings. Took time but I, with some some help from Professor, traced what we believe to be a hideout in Tennessee. I believe Araminta was born in this state or somewhere neighboring like…” Sally lost in a train of thought.
   “What is it?” Pearl asked.
   “Mississippi. One of Lovecraft’s stories.”
   “You want to head out to the Mississippi?”
   “No. I want to follow up my leads here. But I’m just making a mental note to look deeper into crimes around that state,” Sally said.
   “How about we take this conversation elsewhere. Um… We can talk about it at my place,” Pearl said.
   Sally nodded, “That would be fine. I would like to tackle this soon. Tonight if we can pull all the necessary information.”
   “Want to ditch me as soon as possible?” Pearl jested.
   “No-I… I didn’t mean that,” Sally responded not seeing the joke.
   “I’m kidding. C’mon, we can catch the bus if we leave now,” Pearl said.
   “First I need to drop by the hotel,” Sally said as she got up and then asked, “How do you get around in your work?”
   “The Kestrel Mobile. Its just a black car,” Pearl answered leading Sally toward the nearest bus stop.