Once outside at the Jeep, Aidan stowed a small leather kit under the passenger seat before he climbed in. “Drive past the road where the perps parked, the one that goes to the chambers,” he told Kian. “But, don’t go down the road. I just want to see how secluded it is.”
“It’s not really a road, more a dirt track.” She drove to the county road, and then turned left pointing to the rutted dirt track as they passed it.
Aidan took a look and then studied the map on his tablet. “Not on the map, that’s for sure.”
“Nope, it’s not.” From there, Kian drove straight to Jacob’s cabin.
When they arrived and got out of the Jeep, Kian felt a creepy dread pass through her. She swayed and leaned back against the side of the Jeep.
Aidan looked at her, concern showing on his face. “Are you okay?”
Kian pushed the dread from her mind as she pushed herself away from the Jeep. “Just feeling creepy, I guess. Last time I was here, well…you know.”
At Jacob’s front door they found the crime scene tape broken and the door wide open. The lock had been smashed off. Inside was chaos. Everything had been turned over, dumped out, or flung away.
“Not very methodical, our perps.” Aidan let out a long hard sigh. “Better start in one corner and work our way through. This could take a while.”
They had barely begun when Aidan called to Kian. He showed her a faded old kachina that had been on Jacob’s sideboard. “Some of these artifacts are genuine. Too valuable to leave in an unlocked cabin. Hand me that box, will you? We should pack some of this stuff up and get it out of here.”
They worked for two hours and when they were finally finished, both of them were covered in dust. It clung to their damp clothes and streaked in the sweat pouring down their faces. Three boxes of packed artifacts sat on the dining room table. They had not found the wings.
Disappointed, Kian flopped down in Jacob’s easy chair. “The thieves must have taken them. They’re gone.”
“I’m not so sure. Something that valuable? Well I would never leave it in plain sight.” He perched himself on the stuffed arm of Kian’s chair. “Think back and tell me what else you remember about that night.”
“Like I said, we looked at the wings, then had dinner, then my parents left, and I was mad at them so I went to bed without saying good-bye. Do we have to keep going over this?”
“Humor me. What happened next?”
“I went to bed, I read a while then I went to sleep, I guess.”
“Let’s try something. Close your eyes and think back to that night. Think about the last time you saw the wings. Tell me where you are.”
Even though she felt this was useless, Kian closed her eyes. “It is just before we ate dinner. I’m in this living room. I’m sitting on the sofa next to my dad.”
“Where are the wings?”
“On the coffee table in front of me.”
“Did anyone take them to the dinner table?”
“Okay, good. After dinner, did anyone pick them up or look at them again?”
“No, because mom and dad left right after dinner.”
“No, he went into the kitchen to clean up.”
“What did you do then?”
“Like I said, I was already up in the loft reading.”
“Okay, good. What happened before you turned off the lights and fell asleep?”
“Did Jacob go to bed right after he finished in the kitchen?”
Kian thought back, trying to remember. He’d finished in the kitchen and then she heard him moving around below her. “No, he cleaned up the living room and then went outside to work on his stone wall. I snuck over to the window when I heard him go out. He fixed one of the stones and then came inside.”
“Why was he fixing the wall?”
“Beats me,” Kian said opening her eyes.
“Tell me about the wall.”
“Well, Uncle Jacob and I built it. Well, actually he built it and I was his helper. He showed me how to shape the stones so that there were no cracks between them when we stacked them. Also how to make it so the rain would run off without going down into the wall and making ice.”
“That’s a strange thing to teach a child.”
“Yes, well Uncle Jacob liked to show me how to build all types of stone structures like the ones on my property. We made a miniature village, and he showed me how to align the structures to the stars just like in my visions. He seemed to think it was important. Weird, huh?”
“Maybe, maybe not. Let’s go have a look at that wall.”
Kian stood and felt herself sway. That creepy dread again. Would it never stop haunting her? She hated that feeling and pushed it away. No more craziness, she decided for the hundredth time since moving back here.
Aidan followed her to the garden.
At the stone wall, Kian still felt the dread but forced herself to focus as Aidan inspected the stones.
“Kian, look at these. There’s no mortar in this wall, and each stone is so perfectly shaped, you could not get paper between them, let alone my knife. How did Jacob do that?”
“It’s hard to explain, but it takes practice.”
“More than practice, I think.” Aidan studied the wall another minute. “So what part of the wall was Jacob working on that night?”
The creepy dread was growing now, but Kian was determined to ignore it. “Let me think. When I saw him that night, Uncle Jacob was kneeling here.” She pointed to the back and right hand side of the wall.
Aidan knelt. Using his fingers, he tried pulling the stones out but could not get a grip on any of them, let alone enough leverage to pull one out.
“Here, let me try,” Kian said. She knelt down. Using her two fingers, she pushed on first one side of a stone, then the other. She did this to each row of the first column of stones. Nothing happened, so she went to the second column. Still nothing.
Aidan crouched down beside her. “Show me what you’re doing.”
“It’s something Dad showed me once. It’s how he would open secret compartments in walls and things.”
“Strange, huh? When I was a kid, I thought every house had them.” Kian pushed on the right side of the second stone in the third row. It grated against the stone below as it moved. She pushed harder and the left side popped out.
Aidan looked at her, shook his head, and slid the stone out of the wall. He now peered into a deep dark hole.
Kian’s stomach tightened as suddenly the constant feeling of dread now threatened to overwhelm her. She almost doubled over, but determined to fight through it, Kian reached in and retrieved a smaller version of the ebony box containing the Ark. It was battered and water damaged. The clasp had broken off, and the lid was tied with string.
They both jumped when a deep commanding voice ordered, “Don’t turn around or you are both dead.” It was just feet behind them. “Now stand up.”
They did as they were told, arms raised in the air. Kian could feel her heart beating so fast she thought it would fly out of her chest. Her head swam. Focus, she told herself, focus.
“Put the box on the ground and kick it back to me.” The voice had a slight lisp. Or was it an accent? Kian realized she could not even tell if it was a man or a woman. She looked at Aidan, but she could see he, too, was helpless. He just shook his head and said, “Do as he says.” But Kian hesitated. “Please, just do as he says,” Aidan pleaded.
Kian bent down, placed the box on the ground, and pushed it back with her foot.
Kian saw Aidan reach under his shirt and thought he might be reaching for his gun. But then she saw his fingers on the cell phone tucked in the waist of his pants.
Kian fidgeted. “What’s happening?”
Aidan shoved Kian to the ground and spun around, grabbing his Sig-Sauer as he turned.
The thief and the box were gone.
By Thamizhpparithi Maari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons