Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dark World: The Madman and Atlantis

(The story begins here.)
(The last recap is here.)

[Since it's been a week, a brief recap: Lassiter has suddenly reappeared, fresh from an interview with someone he calls a madman with potentially useful information, and Darren thinks the missing Dr. FitzHugh is likely in a place called Atlantis.]

“Is your madman available now?” Dr. Fleming asked.

Lassiter shook his head. “No, he’s gone again. He’s almost as hard to keep track of as the werewolf people.”

“Then Atlantis wins. Darren, I assume that you’re driving.”

“It would be quicker,” Darren said. “Since Clio probably has no more idea of where Atlantis proper is than I do, the clue must be to the place we called Atlantis, and it’s only a few hours away if you know the roads.”

Darren took the wheel, and Dr. Fleming relegated Lassiter to the back seat and a low profile.

“Don’t sulk; I’m sure there are still some policemen around who would like a talk with you. And we can trade stories while we drive. I can tell you what happened inside the house, you can tell us what happened outside, and Darren can tell us about Atlantis. With any luck, we shall not have to resort to singing to while away the hours.”

“How do you know there aren’t policemen watching us now?”

“Because either you or Darren would have noticed. You aren’t idiots, but I have no such lofty opinion of the local constabulary.” The car started, and the doctor continued, “I think summaries are in order. Darren, tell us briefly what this Atlantis of yours is.”

“There’s a small valley in the foothills near here, and someone built a hut in it. Somehow—probably a natural dam gave way—the valley became flooded, covering the hut. Clio and her father had found it long before I met them, and she called it Atlantis. I saw it on my first visit to the area—to America—a few years ago. There’s a more recent cabin that the doctor uses for a camp. I think he honeymooned there, from something he said.”

“He’s a widower?” the doctor asked.

“Yes. His wife died not long before I met them—he travels sometimes as much to forget as to study. But inevitably he wants to remember again, and then he comes home. He often spends a day or two at Atlantis.”

Dr. Fleming followed this up with a swift yet reasonably detailed presentation of the adventure of the locked room. “I’m mildly surprised and mightily relieved that Officer Hancock forgot to tell us to remain in the area,” he concluded. “He and his fellow lackwits will spend years trying to find the attacker. They seem convinced he was a local hood, but I am equally certain he was no such thing. He probably wasn’t in the same group as that enchantress, but there is a general similarity.”

“Are we going back?” Lassiter asked.

“To Boston? I hope not. But it depends on what we find at this Atlantis. If we can interview Dr. FitzHugh, perhaps we can get a lead on this whole business. Or are you depending on your lunatic friend for that?”

Lassiter smiled. “It’s such a mad affair, it would be only fitting for a madman to explain it. But even ‘madman’ hardly sums up Rick Shafer.”

Next: The Shafer Mystery

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