Sizzle - Part 4

 

 

Another school day was over. It was the quiet time when most kids were either at home or trying to avoid go home for as long as possible. Bill Baker was sitting in his classroom finishing some paperwork before heading home. He had been staying at the school as later as possible over the last few weeks. There was no comfort for him at the house anymore. He was slowly making his way through the stack of essays on his desk, trying not to be too critical of their work. He knew that he was in a bad mood, but his students didn't need to suffer because of it.

 

When he heard the knock on the door, he sighed, even though a distraction was something that he really needed. Three sharp raps and then the door opened. His visitor wore blue pants with a gold stripe, making it clear what he did for a living. Constable Douglas Scott had been assigned the Baker case the day Bill had called to report his daughter missing. There were too many questions that bothered Doug about the case. The phone call he'd received that morning was just the icing on the cake.

 

Looking up at the familiar face, Bill said, "Doug, I wasn't expecting you here. Do you have any news?" He really didn't want an answer to the question , but it had become the normal greeting to the RCMP constable.

 

"Mr. Baker, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?" the constable asked.

 

Bill immediately became suspicious at his formal tone. "Of course. I'd be happy to help."

 

"As a routine part of my investigation, I found some rather disturbing facts," started Doug. "The first of which is the reason you left your previous place of employment." He paused for a moment to let the statement sink in. "I'd like to hear your side of the story before I add it to the official record."

 

"My prior employer and I had a difference in religious beliefs," he explained, picking his words carefully. "I was no longer comfortable working in that environment and I gave them my resignation."

 

Doug made several notes on his tablet before asking, "Would you care to explain why the college has quite a different explanation of the situation?"

 

Bill gave a puzzled expression as he said, "I'm not certain what you mean? What is it that they've said?"

 

"I contacted Upper Canada College. The administration staff hasn't been completely forthcoming with details. However, they made it clear to me that you were given the option of resigning or face criminal charges. That resigning your tenure with the college was not your decision."

 

Bill struggled with his emotions for a moment. Part of him wanted to admit to everything, but another part was afraid of the consequences of his actions. He had gone too far down a long road to be able to turn back now. He finally smiled at the constable before saying, "I'm not sure who you talked to, but I can assure you of this, my leaving the college was a mutual decision. I was not forced out at all."

 

Constable Scott stood before asking his last question. "I've been continuing my investigation since Elizabeth's disappearance. Some evidence has become available that might shed new light on things. Are you sure you have no knowledge of where your daughter went that night?"

 

Bill just shook his head, "No, I wish I did. I imagine there's not much chance of finding her now, is there?"

 

Doug made a few last notes on his tablet before answering, "Oh, you never know. Stranger things have happened." After making his way to the door he added, "I'll let you know if this leads me anywhere, and if you can think of anything else, call me." He closed the door before Bill could say anything else and walked out the side exit of the school.

 

As he left the school, Doug wasn't surprised to find Annie waiting for him. She couldn't wait any longer and started to ask questions. "Did he say anything? Did he admit what he did?"

 

"No," Doug answered. "Did you really expect him to?"

 

"But Beth will be home in a couple of days," she replied. "I thought you were going to arrest him."

 

"Unless he confesses to something," he explained, "or Beth does get home and files a report, there's nothing I can do yet. I don't have any evidence. Besides, I didn't tell him that you got a call from her," added Doug. "And I don't want you to tell anyone, either. Do I make myself clear? No one."

 

She looked at her boots as she answered, "Yeah, I understand." Annie had never been good at keeping secrets, and her mom was the worst one at worming them out of her. She always seemed to know when Annie needed to talk and would get it out of her somehow. "Can I tell my mom? I hate keeping secrets from her, and she always knows when I am."

 

"If she asks too many questions, have her call me," he answered. "I'm not telling you to keep secrets from her, just that I want to be the one to tell her. Okay?" Doug needed to keep control of his investigation. Even after working in Iqaluit for so many years, people still looked at him as an outsider at times. They would tend to resolve issues in their own way, instead of calling him in. "And if Beth calls again, ask her to call me, okay?" he added before climbing into his SUV.

 

Annie stood beside of the car and said, "I'll tell her. If she calls. But she sounded really angry when we talked. I don't know if she will call again."

 

"That's what I'm afraid of," Doug said just before he pulled away.

 

~ ~ ~

 

When the sun slowly made its way over the horizon, its light woke Rob and his dad in their tent. Their tent may not have been a traditional one, like grandfather's, but it was still set up in the traditional way. The door of their tent faced east, toward the rising sun. In addition to being tradition, it was also a handy alarm clock.

 

After pulling on his outer pants and coat, Rob unpacked their small camp stove and unzipped the door of their tent. He was greeted by Beth's smiling face as she held a fry pan filled with fresh bannock cakes.

 

Smiling, she said, "Morning. I hope you're hungry."

 

"I'm starving," replied Rob. "I usually eat last when it's my turn to cook breakfast." Looking at Beth cooking, Rob was surprised to see that there wasn't a fire or even a camp stove. "How are you cooking that without a stove?"

 

"The same way that I boiled your tea last night," she explained. He looked at the large, heavy cast iron fry pan again. He notice that she was handling it with her bare hands, and likely heating it up from the handle.

 

"Well, I'm glad you're getting better control of the heat. That seems pretty hot."

 

"Oh yeah, I had a grease fire earlier," Beth added as she flipped the cakes over with her fingers.

 

"How did you put it out?" asked Rob. He knew that a grease fire had to be smothered. Anything else would usually make it worse.

 

"Oh, that was easy," she explained. "I just cooled it down until it went out." She pointed to their camping kettle, adding, "There's hot water for tea or coffee, but I couldn't find either in the sledge."

 

"How are you heating that up?" asked Rob.

 

Beth smiled and said, "It's sitting on a rock I heated up." Their blue, enamel coated kettle was sitting on a flat rock that was about the size of a small suitcase, steam slowly coming out of its pour spout.

 

"Cool," Rob said quietly. He pulled a plastic bag full of tea bags out his pocket and dropped three into the kettle. While it was steeping on its hot rock, he walked over to the kamotiq and pulled out some dried fruit and meat. As he was returning, both his dad and grandfather came out of their tents. He said,  "Morning," to both with a smile.

 

Rob's grandfather poured two cups of tea. He traded a cup of tea for a bannock cake from Beth. "Morning, Beth. Did you sleep well?" he asked, while watching her cook.

 

"Yes, I did. Thanks," she answered. "Sis really liked that dried meat you gave me."

 

"I'm glad she enjoyed it."

 

Rob's father was standing with his tea while Beth and Anilnik talked. "Sis? You mean the other bear that Ukalik told us about?" Aariak seemed a bit nervous about there being a bear nearby, and wondered if they should start moving out sooner.

 

"Yeah, but she wandered off this morning," explained Beth. "I think she's heading to the coast. That's the direction that she went." Aariak sighed in relieve from her news.

 

They all ate lightly and packed up the camp, before continuing their journey to the coast. Unlike the day before, Beth was prepared for a rough and bumpy ride. Fortunately, the worst of it must have been behind them. The ground was relatively smooth and flat. The salty air continued to get stronger for Beth as they travelled west. After coming over a small hills that separated them from the coast, Beth was able to make out a few new odours. She could smell seal meat, unfortunately it was overpowered by the stronger, more unpleasant odour of people.

 

Leaning forward she said into Rob's ear, "Are we getting close?"

 

He turned his head, slightly, to be able to answer, "Yeah, you should be able to see the coastline ahead. We have about another fifteen or twenty minutes to go."

 

When the coastline came into view, Aariak stopped his ATV, pulled out a set of binoculars and started searching. Anilnik and Rob pulled their two ATV's up alongside his and stopped as well. Beth climbed off Rob's ATV and walked for a few steps to stretch her legs.

 

"I can't see them," Aariak said quietly.

 

"Who?" asked Beth.

 

Rob answered, "We left my uncle and two others here hunting seals before heading inland to the lake."

 

"Oh, okay," replied Beth. "In that case, you're looking in the wrong direction."

 

"What?" said all three of them at once.

 

"I could smell them as soon as we came over that hill," she answered, pointing to the hill behind them with her thumb. Beth pointed into the wind and added, "Since the wind's blowing from that direction, they must be over there."

 

"You're telling me that you can smell them from here?" asked Aariak. It was a question, but his tone made it clear that he didn't believe her.

 

"Seal meat and body odour. You mean you can't smell it?"

 

Instead of answering, Aariak lifted the binoculars again and started to look in the direction that Beth had pointed. It took a while to find what he was looking for, but he finally found them. He handed his binoculars to Rob and said, "I looks like they'll need your help, Ukalik You'll have to go get them."

 

Rob lifted the binoculars to his eyes and searched in the direction Beth had pointed. "I don't see them, where are they?"

 

Aariak said, "Look directly into the wind at the shoreline."

 

"I am, but I don't see them."

 

"Now look at the sheet of ice a few hundred meters off shore."

 

Rob refocused the binoculars before saying "Oh shit!" He handed his dad's binoculars back to him as he said, "Show Beth how to drive my ATV and you can catch up." Beth was just about to ask a question when Rob disappeared. She was looking right at him and then, he was gone. She thought she saw something a few hundred meters away, but it was gone before she could make out what it was.

 

She turned to Aariak and asked, "Where did he go?"

 

He handed her the binoculars and said, "Look into the wind at the shoreline, where the open water is the narrowest."

 

Beth focused the glasses on the spot that Aariak had told her to, but didn't see anything. She was just about to ask what she should be seeing when Rob popped into view. He stood there for a moment and she wondered what he was waiting for. If he was a teleporter, why didn't he just pop out onto the ice? Why wait at the shoreline? Before she could ask anyone, Rob disappeared and reappeared on the ice, beside the three people and all their gear. They hugged for a brief moment before Rob and one of the others disappeared from the floating sheet of ice, only to reappear at the shoreline.

 

"Come on, we need to get moving, and fast," explained Aariak.

 

Anilnik was standing between his ATV and Rob's when he asked, "Have you ever used one of these before, Beth?"

 

"Once," she answered as she walked closer, "but it was electric, not ethanol." The controls looked similar to a friend's ATV she had tried at her cottage one summer. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out.

 

"Well, other than the smell, these are almost the same. I'll stay behind you, and Aariak will be in front. Just follow in his path."

 

After stalling the motor a few times, Beth was able to get it moving properly. Aariak led the three of them toward the shoreline, over the rock and ice covered ground, with Beth following him, and Anilnik behind her. After making their way to the shoreline as quickly as possible, they found Rob sitting in a snowdrift with an energy drink. He finished his drink before putting the empty bottle down beside another in the snow. Aariak and Anilnik ignored the three men standing near by. They both went to Rob to see if he was okay.

 

"Are you alright?" asked Aariak.

 

"Dad, I'm fine. I'm just a bit tired." he answered. "I'll be okay in a few minutes. It just takes a lot out of me, that's all." Rob noticed that Beth was walking closer. Picking up his empty energy drink bottles, he pulled himself to his feet. She smiled at his attempt to look strong in front of a girl, but it was obvious that he was still a little weak after exerting himself like that. Beth had never met anyone who could teleport before, but had read about them. She had read that they could make a huge amount of money by joining some sort of group or union, and provide it as a service to companies wanting to ship people or material.

 

Instead of mentioning anything about him looking tired, Beth asked,  "If you can teleport, why do you ride an ATV?"

 

"Because my range is only about a kilometre, on a good day," he explained. "I burn through calories like crazy when I hop like that, too, so it's not really a good way to travel. But in an emergency I can cover a lot of ground a lot faster than riding." Rob and Beth walked over to the group of men standing a short distance away. They were all talking Inuktitut with each other, but changed to English as soon as Beth got closer.

 

"We found her at Long Lake," Aariak informed the others. "She had been travelling with a bear and its mother."

 

Rob interrupted their conversation to introduce everyone, "Beth, this is my Uncle Nauja, Uncle Jack and Uncle Taliriktug. They were hunting seals in an inlet north of here while we went to Long Lake."

 

She smiled and said, "Your dad has a lot of brothers."

 

"Actually, I'm an uncle by marriage, and Talik is an honorary uncle," Jack explained.

 

Talik stepped closer to Rob, "I've known Ukalik since he was a first able to walk." He gave Rob a brief hug with one arm before saying, "But I'm glad he was here today."

 

"What happened? Why were you out there?" she asked while looking at the ice flow with all their gear on it.

 

"The ice started to break up last night and we got stuck out there," said  Nauja

 

"We knew that the others would be coming to meet us, so we just waited," added Jack. "It was a large sheet of ice, so we knew that we weren't in any danger."

 

Beth looked at Rob and smiled before asking, "Are you going to get all that gear too?"

 

He just shook his head and answered, "No, I can't. I could get some of the gear, but the ATV's weigh too much for me to move. And without the ATV's, we don't have any room for the additional gear."

 

"But don't you need your gear? And what about your meat?" asked Beth. She knew that a lot of people didn't just hunt for recreation. Hunting, for many people in the north, was a means of putting food on their dinner table, as well as being a tradition going back hundreds or thousands of years. She might not like the idea of hunting bears, but understood the need for it in a harsh climate.

 

"There's not much we can do about that," answered Aariak. "Rob's granddad and I are planning on staying here, while the rest of you go back to town and see if you can get help."

 

It seemed like a lot of work for questionable results. Six of them would have to ride three machines back to town and hope that someone came up with a solution in what time was available. All their gear was still out there, and it was still moving. At some point they wouldn't be able to reach it, or the ice might break up by the time they returned with equipment to retrieve their things.

 

Beth wanted to help, but couldn't think of a way. She took a few steps closer to the water and looked out, hoping to think of an answer. Her emotions had been on a roller coaster ride ever since waking up beside that frozen lake. After so many days of being angry with her father, Beth felt sad and helpless at the water's edge. These people had offered her help without any questions, or expecting anything in return. She wanted to help them more than anything, but just didn't know how. Standing near the water, Beth noticed that the air temperature was dropping. She wondered if that might be an answer to their problem.

 

"I have an idea, but I need everyone to stand back a bit," she said without turning to face the others. She didn't need to look, as she felt their body heat move as they were stepping back, giving her more room. The water was so cold it was teetering on the edge of freezing anyway. All Beth needed to do was drop the temperature a few more degrees to turn it into ice. She closed her eyes and concentrated. She could sense the water's heat, almost sensed its molecules vibrating. In her mind, she tried to calm its vibrations, tried to cool the water even more than it already was, and push it over the edge so it would freeze.

 

Taking a step forward, Beth placed her bare foot onto solid sea ice. She had done it! Another step and she placed her other foot onto solid ice again. Opening her eyes, Beth looked at all their gear in the distance and continued to walk slowly. Each footfall landed on solid ice. After almost a dozen steps, she turned and looked at the men standing on shore, "I think I can freeze it hard enough to get your ATV's if you want to try."

 

"The air is too cold for us to get any closer," said Nauja. "We'll follow after you get further out."

 

Beth turned again and looked at the scene she was creating. Sea ice was all she could see on either side of her for more than ten meters. If the water was frozen for ten meters out, she hoped that it was ten meters thick, as well. It would be solid enough to easily hold the weight of the men, their machines and all their gear. It was an odd image as she walked across her ice. With each step forward, the sea water would freeze further out, building a bridge of ice. Continuing to walk slowly, Beth made sure that the ice was frozen completely. After almost twenty minutes she was standing beside all their gear, waiting for them to follow behind her. Nauja, Talik and Jack quickly gathered their equipment and started the ATV's engines. Once they gathered on Beth's ice bridge, they went across, one by one, until Beth and Talik were alone.

 

"Would you like a ride back to shore?" he asked with a smile. Beth climbed onto Talik's ATV and held onto his waist while they rode the short distance to shore. After getting to shore and killing the engine, Talik turned to Beth and hugged her tightly around the waist. If she was a little shorter and lighter, he might have attempted to pick her up as well. "Thank you so much for that. I was worried that we would lose everything."

 

After briefly returning the hug, Beth smiled and said, "I'm happy that I could help."

 

Rob stepped beside Beth, grinning. "I should have warned you. Talik is a hugger," he said. "If there's any reason to hug someone, he'll take it as an invitation."

 

"Hey!!" Talik protested.

 

"It's alright," Beth replied. "I don't mind." The appreciation of these men filled her with a warmth that she hadn't felt for a long time. She had always thought that people in town were cold and distant to her, but these men were different. Beth wondered if their different attitude was caused by her changes, or if she had just never allowed anyone to get close to her. Her thoughts soon led to Annie, and how she had been such a good friend, even from the very beginning. Annie had been looking forward to seeing Beth during her changes, and help her deal with MORFS. She still didn't even know what Beth looked like. Their short phone call yesterday would have given her a few clues.

 

~ ~ ~

 

On the third ring, Doug picked up the ancient phone, "Hello, Constable Scott speaking." The phone crackled and distorted all sound, making it almost impossible to know who was talking. He tried adjusting its volume, but it was already at its highest setting. "Is that you, Dave? I can hardly hear you." Doug listened to Dave for a moment before saying, "Thanks, Dave, I'll be there as soon as I can. Try to keep them there until I arrive if you can."

 

Pulling on his hat and spring jacket, Doug stepped out to his SUV, started the engine and headed to the east end of town. As he drove, he passed  by Iqaluit's one and only high school on his  right side. He thought of Beth Baker and hoped that she really was still alive. She would be able to answer a lot of questions he had. After leaving Iqaluit behind and driving over a small hill, Doug could see more houses for a brief moment. The hairpin turn that led into town needed his attention first. Far too many people had misjudged this corner while on their way to the small town of Apex. There was nothing here other than homes, storage sheds, weather stations or other scientific observation posts.

 

Less than ten minutes after leaving his office, Doug pulled up to a large domed building with an old beat up car that was in desperate need of repairs parked out front. Six four wheeled all terrain vehicles, all of them pulling sledges packed full of hunting gear and game, were parked in front of the building as well.

 

As Doug killed his engine he saw Dave looking at him from among a group of people. Walking closer to the group of men, he called out, "Hi, Dave."

 

"Hey Doug," answered Dave. All of the men turned to look at Doug as he walked up to them. "Doug, I think you know Nauja, Aariak and their father, Anilnik."

 

"Yeah, we've met before," Doug answered.

 

"This is Jack and Taliriktug," he introduced the remaining two members of the hunting group. He nodded a hello, but didn't shake hands with the two men. If it was a little warmer he would have, but no one wanted to remove their gloves.

 

"I thought your son went hunting with you as well, Aariak?" asked Doug. He really wanted to ask if Beth was with them, but thought it safer to ask about Rob instead.

 

"Oh, he was," Aariak answered. "You just missed him. He and Beth just left."

 

"Beth? So Beth Baker was here then?" . This was great news. He would be able to close off his investigation if she was willing to make an official report.

 

"Yeah, Beth wanted to see Annie Onalik," added Anilnik. "I suggested that Ukalik should take her while we made arrangements here." It was a tradition that a feast would be held when a hunting party returned from a successful trip. Since Dave was one of only a few people with keys for the community centre, it was always a safe bet that he would be the first person to know when any hunting parties returned.

 

"Thanks, Anilnik," said Doug. "I need to talk to Beth as soon as possible. I have to go see if I can find her before her father knows she's back." He smiled to each one as he made his way back to his SUV. His drive back into town was a little faster than he normally would have gone. If Bill Baker knew that his daughter was alive and back, there was no way of knowing what could happen. Just to be on the safe side, Doug pulled out his eCom and lookup up the address and phone number for Christina Onalik and placed a call.

 

"Hello," Christina answered after a couple of rings.

 

"Hello Mrs. Onalik, this is Constable Scott of the RCMP," he said using his official tone. "I've been told that Elizabeth Baker is there with Annie. Is that correct?"

 

"Yes," answered Christina. "She just arrived. Would you like to talk to her?"

 

"Actually yes, but I'll be there in just a few minutes," he replied. "Can you please ask her and Annie to stay there until I arrive?"

 

"Of course," she answered. "I'll make sure they're here when you arrive."

 

"Thank you. I should be less than five minutes." Doug hung  up and concentrated on driving. It was only a short distance and there was never much traffic, but Doug had never been comfortable driving, particularly when he had a lot of things on his mind. After pulling up to Christina and Annie Onalik's house, Doug sighed with relief. He made another phone call, grabbed his hat and tablet, killed the engine and headed to their front door. Before he could even knock, Christina opened the door and smiled.

 

"Come in, Constable Scott," Christina greeted him as she opened the door wider. "They're in the living room."

 

"Thanks, Mrs. Onalik," he stepped through the doorway. Doug quickly removed his boots and followed Christina into their living room. He was a little surprised by what he found. There were three people, instead of two, and one of them was obviously Elizabeth Baker.

 

 During their long talk on the phone Beth had told Annie that MORFS had turn her into a polar bear hybrid. Annie had passed as much information onto Doug as she could remember when she called to report that Beth's father had tried to kill her. Even though Doug was expecting to see Beth as a hybrid, he wasn't really prepared for what the reality. Beth and Annie were sitting beside each other, in a tight hug. Beth was huge. Even sitting down, she towered over Annie, making her look like a small child getting a hug from a parent. He thought her skin was pure white until he got closer and noticed that she was covered in short, straight, white fur instead.

 

Since neither Beth nor Annie were in a hurry to let go, if they'd even noticed him enter, Doug directed his first question at Rob. "I'm assuming you are Robert Angmarlik?" he said to the only male in the room.

 

"Yeah," replied Rob. "But just call me Rob."

 

"Have you been anywhere else, other than here and the Apex community centre?" asked Doug.

 

Rob looked at Beth before saying, "No, we came straight here."

 

"Good." Doug had a plan, but it would only work if Beth's father didn't see her until he was ready. As Doug thought of what he was going to do, Beth let go of Annie and started to stand. As she got up, Doug looked up at her and stepped back involuntarily. She was huge! She was about ten or fifteen centimeters taller than he was, and likely a little heavier too, but it was her muscle tone that made her so impressive. Even under her thick skin, her muscles could clearly be seen as she stood and looked down at him.

 

"Has my dad been arrested yet?" she snarled. Her anger showed clearly on her face as she waited for his answer. Doug had been talking to people for so long and in so many situations, that he knew how to read them. It was still hard to tell what answer she was hoping for.

 

After a moment he simply said, "No," and waited for her reaction. He didn't have to wait long. She fell to her seat again and started to cry.

 

"WHY NOT?" she yelled between sobs. "He didn't want me any more! He left me out there to die! He tried to kill me."

 

"I know, Beth. Annie told me." Doug said calmly. "That's why I'm here, now." An angry polar bear was never good, and was one of only a few things that could make a seasoned hunter afraid. If Beth got that trait with being a hybrid, they might all be in danger. He continued in a calm voice, "I already have a good case against him, but I don't want there to be any chance of him being able to get away with it. I need you to calm down and listen to me."

 

It took a moment before Beth was able to say anything. While Doug waited, Rob sat on the arm of the couch beside her with a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. Annie also tried to help. She held Beth's hand as she said, "We'll get him, Beth. He won't get away with what he did to you, I promise. Doug's here to help. That's why I called him."

 

Annie's promise made Doug nervous. There were a lot of people here who preferred to take matters in their own hands, instead of letting the police deal with it. He didn't wanted to know what she had in mind, and hoped Annie's words were just something to calm Beth down.

 

"So, what's your plan then?" asked Beth. She had stopped sobbing, but tears still streamed down her face as looked at him. She hoped that he was someone she could trust.

 

"It's okay, Beth," Christina said from behind Doug. He had almost forgotten that she was still standing behind him. He turned to look at her when she went on,. "I have a good feeling about him. I think you can trust him."

 

"If Mom trusts him, you have nothing to worry about," added Annie. "She can always tell, somehow." Before telling Beth and the others what he had in mind, Doug and Christina sat in the two remaining seats. Christina was a little closer and handed Beth a box of tissues to dry her eyes, while Doug took his hat off and waited.

 

"Okay," Doug started. "I'll get you to make out a full report afterwards. It's just a formality, but it will help if he attempts to fight this in court. I don't think it'll go that far, but you never know." He took a small button from his jacket pocket and handed it to Beth. "This is a digital recording device. It'll hold about an hours worth of audio on it. The data is encrypted, and is admissible in court. It will also transmit that audio to my eCom, so I'll be able to hear you. I already called the school to find out if your dad was still there, or if he was already at home. The people in the office told me that he had just left, so he's likely home now."

 

Beth looked at Rob, then Annie, before saying, "You want us to go to my house and get him to admit what he did while you record it?"

 

"Not quite," answered Doug. "I want you to go home and confront him. I suspect that your dad is feeling guilty, but won't confess it to anyone other than you. If anyone else is there, I think he'd deny the whole thing." Beth had a look of panic on her face at Doug's suggestion.

 

"No, I can't," she finally blurted out. Beth looked at Rob for support, "I can't do it! I can't go there alone." She thought for a moment, trying to come up with an excuse to back out. "What if he tries to kill me again?"

 

"I'll be with Doug," Rob answered. He didn't look at Doug for his approval, he simply stated, "I'll be listening as well. If you're in any danger, I'll get you out of there, okay?" Beth thought about it for a moment before nodding with a forced smile.

 

"Good," stated Doug. "Now all we have to do is get you there without anyone seeing you. I don't want anyone to tip him off that you're back in town. I want his first reaction to seeing you to be recorded on that thing."

 

"Don't worry, I can do that," Rob suggested. He pointed to the recording button in Beth's hand and asked, "What's the range of that thing?"

 

"About three hundred meters, why?" asked Doug.

 

"Well, you'll need to get closer, then. We're a little further than that from Beth's house here."

 

"I know. I was planning on being in my car, just around the corner from your house," he told Beth. "If you have any trouble, or if you feel like you're in any danger, just say my name and I'll be right there." He looked at Rob, "Are you sure you can get her home without anyone seeing her?"

 

"Yeah, I can get Beth there," he answered with a grin.

 

Doug waited for him to explain, but Rob didn't offer any more information. For a moment he thought that he could drive Beth closer, but she didn't know him and she would likely reject the idea. If Rob thought he had a way of getting her home, he'd have to let him do it.

 

Doug stood up and made his way to the front door again. "I'll call here when I'm in position. I have my eCom on now, and it's already recording, so you don't have to do anything. I suggest you put it in your pocket and just ignore it." He pulled his boots on, put his hat back on before adding to Christina, "I'll call you in a few minutes."

 

After he had left Annie held Beth's hand and said, "It's almost over. You just have to be strong for a little bit longer, okay?" Beth smiled at her friend and hugged her again. Rob smiled at the two girls. It had been hard getting Beth here so soon after helping his uncles this morning on the ice, but it had been well worth it.

 

"Beth, are you sure that you're okay doing this?" asked Christina. She had known Beth since Annie had brought her home from school at the beginning of the year. Annie was very close to her and Christina couldn't help feeling the same way. When Beth was around, she treated her like another daughter. This was no different, and she was concerned about how this was going to affect her.

 

"I don't know," she answered honestly. "I just know that I have to face him sometime. It might as well be now." Annie looked as if she was about to say something when the phone rang.

 

Christina was closest and picked it up, hitting the talk button in the process. "Hello?" she asked, even though she knew who it would be. After a brief pause she said, "Okay" and hung up the phone again. "He's in position. Good luck."

 

Both Annie and Beth stood up and hugged again. It was brief and looked awkward with their height difference. Beth stepped closer to Christina and bent down again for another hug. She wanted to say something to her for all her help, but couldn't think of anything appropriate. Christina seemed to understand anyway ,and hugged her a little tighter before letting her go.

 

"Okay, I'm ready," she said to Rob. He stepped closer and the two held each other in an awkward hug. This time it wasn't caused by their height difference. Christina chuckled to herself just as Rob and Beth vanished.

 

Annie turned to her mother and asked, "What's so funny?"

 

"Oh, nothing," said Christina with a grin. "I just thought that they made a cute couple."

 

Doug sat in his police car outside Beth's house, wondering how Rob was going to get Beth there without anyone seeing her. With her dressed in only shorts and a tee shirt, white fur and being so tall, she stuck out easily. Yet he had gotten her to Annie's house without any of his contacts calling him, so he must have some way of doing it. As he sat there, he thought he would have a few minutes before they showed up. That turned out to be a mistake when Rob and Beth popped into view at her front door.

 

"Wow! He's a teleporter," he said to himself. "That kid is full of surprises."

 

"Constable Scott, where are you?" he heard Beth's voice coming from his eCom. He reached over and flashed his headlights for a moment to let them know where he was. "Okay, we see you. Rob will be there in a minute." The two hugged again before Rob disappeared from the doorway and opened the door of Doug's car. The sudden opening of the passenger door startled him, and Doug jumped slightly.

 

"Sorry," Rob said as he sat in on the warm car seat. He pulled his gloves off and opened his jacket while they waited for Beth to open her front door and go in. Both Doug and Rob saw her take a deep breath before she reached for the door handle and opened the door.

 

~ ~ ~

 

"Dad?" Beth called after closing the door behind her. "Are you home?" There was no need to ask, she could already sense his body heat coming from the kitchen. Her call was more to announce that she was home. Her dad didn't answer, but a crashing sound from the kitchen confirmed where he was. Walking slowly through the hallway, Beth looked into the kitchen to find her dad standing over the pieces of his favourite coffee mug. She stopped at the doorway and waited for him to say something.

 

"You're not real," he said more to himself than Beth. "You can't be real." He quickly crossed himself before clutching his hands together in prayer. His lips continued to move, but only mumbling sounds could be heard.

 

"I'm real," Beth replied. "I'm still alive!"

 

His voice quivered slightly as he said, "That's not possible! No one can live in that cold for this long without any supplies."

 

"And you made sure that I didn't have anything, didn't you?" Beth wanted him to admit it. She needed to hear it from his own lips, to convince herself that it wasn't a bad, MORFS induced dream.

 

Instead of answering her question he asked, "How is this possible? Why did God not strike you down?" His initial shock was starting to wear off and anger was quickly replacing it. With Beth still alive, Bill had to think about what that might mean. Was this a test of his faith, or was it prove that he really had been wrong?

 

"I'm not dead because you're wrong! God loves everyone, not just the people you think of as human." she replied. Beth knew all her dad's buttons and how to push them. Questioning his faith guaranteed a reaction, and she hoped that he would say something when he was angry.

 

"My God is the only true God," was his predictable response.

 

"There is one God, but he has many faces. But you... you twist his words to suit your own beliefs," she taunted him.

 

"I will not be preached to by a beast!", he yelled. "You are tainted by the devil and have no soul." Accusing someone of not having a soul was her father's idea of the ultimate insult, but Beth wasn't taking the bait.

 

"The people I've met here believe that everything has a soul. Are they wrong? Are they tainted, too?" she asked

 

"YES! They are wrong! These people follow a false God."

 

"You have so much to learn. You and I have been here for the same length of time but you still don't know anything about them." Beth had never thought that her dad was an ignorant person until that moment. She couldn't believe that he had anything to teach these people. He should be the one in school.

 

Looking at her dad, she sighed. This was pointless, he wasn't going to say anything. "Why don't you love me, Dad?" She pointed to herself, adding, "This is hard for me, too. I didn't do anything wrong. All I've ever wanted was for you to love me."

 

Her statement seemed to strike a nerve that she hadn't expected. "I loved my daughter!" he yelled. His anger was briefly replaced with a look of deep sorrow, but the anger returned even more forcefully. "She was the most important thing in my world, until you destroyed her! And now you want to take her place ... I will not have it!"

 

Bill turned his back to Beth. She thought he wasn't able to look at her because of his shame, but she was mistaken. "Dad," she cried, "it's still me in here." She paused for a moment, hoping that she would be able to get through to him. "I love you, dad."

 

"NO!!" he yelled even louder. "I failed to save my daughter's soul before, but not this time." When Bill turned to face Beth again, he had a large kitchen knife in his hand. "I will kill you with my own hands this time, beast!" he snarled.

 

"Dad, no!", screamed Beth, while trying to back away from him. Beth's father jabbed at her with his knife. She screamed again from the sharp pain under her ribs. Backing into the hallway again, Beth was able to get a little distance between herself and her dad. Unfortunately the small hallway wasn't enough for her to stay out of reach for long.

 

Bill advanced on her with the knife again, intent on stabbing her again. Beth thought about the barrier she had used to protect sister. Without thinking she created another one between them. The wall of heat that suddenly appeared startled Bill, while smoke immediately started to rise from the walls and floor. Bill moved back and raised his hands to protect his face from the searing heat.

 

Beth heard a faint popping sound behind her. Before she could turn to see what had caused it, the house disappeared from around her. As she blacked out from the pain, she heard a loud sizzling sound . It reminded Beth of water being splashed onto a hot frying pan.

 

 

 

The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


Views: