Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Twenty-Three

After a brief sci-fi holiday break, my continuing blog fiction continues...


Chapter Twenty-Three

by John L. Harmon

    “Too late for what, Stickler?” Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse demands as he steps up beside his superior, confronting his childhood boogeyman face-to-face.

    “I see there is no need for introductions,” Eugene Raymond Stickler half chuckles in his deep, deliberate tone.

    Sheriff Benjamin Straker, eyes locked with the seemingly refined gentleman, formulates his own question.  Working back to Lawrence resigning and then his empty house, to now with the parked moving van and Stickler mentioning the former sheriff’s name, it all adds up to one thing for Ben.  “Where is Lester Lawrence?”

    Not even a flicker of recognition or fear passes over the face of Eugene Raymond Stickler, as if nothing can faze him.  “I see you’ve been through quite an ordeal to get here,” referring to Ben’s disheveled clothes, “so, perhaps you should all come inside.”  He turns around with the expectation to follow, “For I have nothing to hide anymore.”

    The law enforcement duo enter first, followed closely behind by the scientific duo.  A comfortable entryway greets them, complete with a coatrack and numerous shelves and pegs for shoes, purses, and the like.  Their guide, after silently motioning for Ben to relegate the beige hat of Lawrence to a peg, takes them through to an expansive living area full of ornate fixtures and paintings.  All of which are dusty, neglected, and deemed unimportant to the owner.

    Eugene Raymond Stickler begins a deep, deliberate explanation of sorts as they continue to walk through the living area.  He mentions how Lester Lawrence, while no genius, managed to connect the dots from his yearbook.

    “How did you change the color of that sturgeon, if you don’t mind me asking?” Dr. Samuel Dwyer interrupts, aching to know the answer.

    “It was all merely smoke and mirrors,” their guide answers matter-of-factly, “but it impressed the hell out of those judges.”

    Samuel nudges up his glasses, feeling rather disappointed at the mundane answer.  A quick glance at Dr. Christine Abernathy’s smirking face shows she assumed as much.

    “Yet, that trick inspired me,” Eugene Raymond Stickler continues, entering a long, narrow hallway.

    “But where is Lawrence?” Ben asks again, determined for an answer.

    “He came here all in a tizzy about the disappearance of Bob Kinney, swearing he had never heard of such a thing, that is, until he remembered my little science fair project.”

    “You are not answering my question, Mr. Stickler.”

    “Oh, but I am Sheriff Straker,” he states with an air of familiarity, proving there was truly no need for introductions.  “Lester Lawrence demanded to know what was happening, so I told him…and showed him.”

    As if he designed the scene for added punch, Eugene Raymond Stickler opens a door at the end of the hallway and escorts them into a room.  A massive room that can be best described as a laboratory with an impressive television monitor to one side.  He stops in the center and proudly turns to gage his expected guests’ reactions.

    Christine and Sam stare in awe over the mixture of old and new scientific technology surrounding them.  Clyde is in a near trance-like state staring at the familiar scenes flashing on the television monitor.  Ben, without taking his eyes away from Stickler, swiftly pulls out his gun, clicks off the safety, aims and fires a question.

    “For the last time, where is Lawrence?”
Click CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,

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