Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dark World: No Place Like Home

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

Darren thought Dr. Fleming’s laboratory and residence seemed more forbidding than welcoming, and he was sure Lassiter spoke for them all when he said, “It seems like years since we left here.”

The doctor was driving, and he muttered, “A little over nine months at most.” But his eyes searched the scene for traps. “It will take me a moment to collect my gear. Darren, you have a key; go unlock the door while Lassiter and I begin packing our luggage inside.”

Darren smiled. It was as close as the doctor would probably come to admitting that they might confront a spiritual problem requiring a spiritual solution. For what it was worth, he didn’t sense such a thing though he still prayed as he opened the door.

The hasty cleanup from their recent campaign to civilize and humanize Lassiter definitely needed improvement, but Darren scouted the building first. It didn’t take long, but he had to poke his head out the door with an all clear anyway before his friends joined him. Then he went out for a load, though there wasn’t much left. Dr. Fleming had evidently insisted on carrying most of his gear, and Lassiter, who didn’t have any luggage, could easily pack most of the rest inside.

The doctor surveyed his home critically. “Apart from some untidiness, everything seems in order. Gentlemen, I suggest we turn in early; tomorrow I intend to run more medical tests on Lassiter than either of you have ever heard of.”

“Why?” Lassiter asked. “I haven’t even begun to change since we were on our way to Dvorak’s.”

“True, but the only other time you’ve encountered the witch lately was when she was busy with the Nazis. I want you to be ready for her next visit or the full moon, whichever comes first. And if you’ll recall, the last time you started to change, your failure was quite painful. I’d like to prevent a recurrence almost as much as you would.”

Lassiter nodded unhappily, and Darren said, “Where does that leave me?”

“On a centrally located couch,” the doctor replied. “You’re a light sleeper, and while I believe I trust Lassiter’s intentions, you are more likely to resist any attacks and provide useful assistance.”

“We have other potential enemies as well—whoever tried to kill Dvorak, and perhaps Newman.”

“Annoying but true. We sleep armed. I’ll feel a little better once I’m sure Lassiter’s problem is under control, however. An external menace is easier to defeat.”

With that, the doctor began locking the place down, though sunset was not imminent. Lassiter helped Darren move the couch, and the doctor opened his library for general use. Darren, who was already familiar with its occasionally quite non-utilitarian contents, located a small volume of Donne’s poems and headed back for the couch, while the others made selections and pulled up a couple of chairs for close if silent companionship and awaited the fall of night.

Next: The Calm

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