Holy Cross Hospital
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Tuesday May 18, 1999
It was midday when Will pulled off the Capital Beltway. The interstates in the states were always crowded near the cities. Between the traffic and driving on the right side of the road, he had had to spend too much of his attention on the driving. He had seen no one following them but he knew that once word of the adjacent world got out that Jess, Marie, and Kim would need guarding. Their families also would need guarding. Probably all of the family members within a year. Moving to an adjacent world, especially not the one that would be announced would be the safest thing to do. Everyone would want to go and it would make sense to the governments that they would want to be there. We would have to build the houses and the compounds in locations so that they could not be easily reached from another world. Security would be a nightmare as soon as people caught on to how easy it was to hop from one world to another. What good is a locked door if you could walk in from another world?
The Suburban pulled into the hospital roadway. “Jess, I will let you and Edna off at the front door. You girls go with them. Leslie and I will park the car then head on in.”
At the front door, they got out of the vehicle. Jess leaned back in. “This hospital has a very large maternity unit with about seventy suites for the mothers and babies. Make sure you ask for the room number and directions.”
Leslie looked a little shocked. “The Townsville hospital isn’t that big overall. They’re upgrading it to a regional hospital but the maternity unit will be only ten beds.” She knew a lot about the hospital upgrade. MME’s headquarters was nearby and she was on the fundraising board. She would take a look around and see what she could learn from this place.
“They’re the biggest baby factory in the area.” Jess laughed. “Kim was very happy with them after she checked them out.”
As Jess and the three women head into the lobby, Will considered the need for medical care when they explore the new worlds. “We may want to do our first egresses into the other worlds near hospitals. It’ll be handy to get people quickly to them.”
“Not necessarily. Transportation will be easier on this world for a good while. We should move the window close to the worksite. That way we can shift them back to Earth and then transport them to the hospital.” Leslie replied.
“You’re a step ahead of me again. I was thinking exploring and you’re thinking mines and farms.”
“Yes, I do tend to think long term, that why I took over the family ranch. Not the money maker that the mines, factories, or investments were, but I think that the future will be interesting there.”
Will smiled. Leslie’s intuition had shown remarkably accurate many times. Her place on the MME board had much more to it than family.
As they approached the room, Brenda and Mary slowed down. Jess noticed this, turned and waved them forward. “There’s room for all of us.”
Edna had not slowed down. She would answer a question that had been haunting her for over fifty-four years. Had she been mistaken in believing that the soul of her grandmother Alice and her daughter Alice were one and the same? If it had happened again, then others would be able to tell. Kim had talked about it. She expected that Jess and Will would be able to tell also. As she got closer, she sensed Kim and Alice. Yes, it was Alice. She had not been wrong all these years. She entered the doorway. “Kim, I have a lot to tell you.” she said as she caught sight of her granddaughter and great granddaughter.”
Kim looked up as her father and cousins enter the room. “Yes, I hope you can explain.” She smiled and looked down at her daughter. “It has been a bit much, but I understand that you know that.”
“Yes, the soul of my grandmother Alice passed from her to you mother. Now it has moved on again to your daughter. I could sense Alice as I came up the hallway just as I could sense you.”
Rob who had been sitting by his wife interrupted, “What happened to the soul that was in Alice Elizabeth.”
“No, Rob. Mother did not kick our daughter out of the baby. She was making her place there all along. Just that she was there and not yet there. I could feel a trace that was like her but it was more like an echo and not being actually there.”
“Thank God!” Rob sighed.
“You must be more sensitive than I am. I did not have a good feel for any of my children until after they were born.” Edna walked over to the bed.
“She may have reinforcement from my side of the family. Baby Alice is Alice.” Jess added.
Brenda and Mary were at the foot of the bed. They looked intently at the baby. They looked at each other and shared a thought. “We agree.” Brenda remarked.
“Well that is five of us now.” Kim said with a look of relief on her face.
“Make that seven.” Leslie and Will hurried into the room.
“So it’s more than one bloodline.” Beth commented as she looked at Will and Leslie. She had first met Will during her time at Edinburgh. She had thought that Jess and he were twins at first. The closeness between them had been like looking at two images of the same person. They seemed so much like the same person. Years later, she had met Leslie and their family, when Will had brought them to visit Jess and Alice in Texas.
Rob looked at his mother. “Definitely Mother. I also can feel Alice. I was just too scared to mention it. I was worried about what happened to the soul that was there. I knew the baby was Alice as soon as I saw her.”
Kim took her husband’s hand from where it rested on her shoulder. “I know dear. I waited for grandmother to explain so that you would feel comfortable.”
“Well everybody say hello and get comfortable. I will explain what I know and answer your questions.” Edna bent down and kissed Kim as she took the baby from her arms. “I wish we could get answers from you but my daughter did not know much and so I guess you will also not have any answers.”
“Grandma, I would like to wait until Dr. Klemanski can get here. Linda heard what I said about the baby. I want her to hear what you have to say.”
Edna gave a questioning look to Kim, but it is Beth who offered an explanation. “Linda is more than Kim’s doctor. She is also a friend. Alice and I helped her son, John, with choosing a graduate school. She often stops by to visit when either Alice or I are in town.”
Beth walked out to the nurse station to have Linda paged. She had talked to her earlier when Jess had called to say that they were leaving the airport. Linda was visiting some of her other patients.
Jess walked over to Edna. “May I hold her?”
Edna smiled as she hands him the baby. He was holding up very well. I know what it was like when I lost Alan. To have you loved one back as a baby is a twist I would not like to have.
When Linda entered the room, she was a little startled to see Will with his arm around Leslie. She had mistaken him for Jess but had quickly straightened her thoughts out when she seen Jess holding baby Alice.
Kim had sensed Linda in the hall, had seen her face as she came in. “This is my dad’s cousin Will and his wife Leslie. Their daughters Brenda and Mary. You know my dad Jess. And this is my grandmother Edna. She is the one with some explanation of what is going on.”
Edna watched as Will closed the door. “Thanks Will. No, I do not have explanations. I have not found anything on something like this having happened except for my Alice and now Kim’s Alice. And that information is definitely not written anywhere.” She settles back on the couch. “First though, so you don’t think that it is just two mother’s imagining something about their daughter’s because a loved one died at the time of the birth, we have others who believe the baby is Alice. Raise your hand if you know that this babe is the same soul as my daughter Alice.”
Everyone but Linda and Beth had raised their hand. That included the baby Alice. Jess sat there stunned as he held her. Just like the others, she had raised her hand when Edna had asked for it. Kim had noticed as soon as her father had, as she had been watching them. Linda and Edna were the next. With the incredulous looks on their faces soon, everyone had looked at the baby, who was smiling at Jess. Then she had taken her hand and touched his face tenderly. She had put her hand down and gone promptly to sleep.
Linda had gone over to Jess and examined the baby. She then had looked at each individual in the room. On none of them had she seen anything less than amazement. Only Leslie showed anything more, she had been shaking her head yes. “I have been practicing for twenty seven years. I have never seen that type of cognizant activity in a three month old, let alone a one day old baby.” She looked at Edna. “Did your Alice every show that type of advanced behavior?”
“No. She was wise beyond her years. She was exceptionally intelligent. But nothing as a baby where I would think that she understood and acted as someone of many greater years.”
Leslie spoke up. “She had a greater presence when we arrived. When Edna asked us to raise our hands, I felt that spike to being like an older person not a baby. Now that she is asleep, she still feels like Alice but a baby Alice not an adult. It was like she was waiting for the question, then to touch Jess to say goodbye.”
Jess eyes had started to tear. Linda took the baby as Kim got out of bed and went and sat in her father’s lap. Beth had come over and picked the baby from Linda’s arms. Rob and Will had walked over and put their hands on Kim and Jess.
Jess looked up at Kim. “She did say goodbye. That is the one thing that I had regretted, not saying goodbye to her. She found a way to say goodbye.” He looked at Beth, who brought the baby closer. “Goodbye my wife. Hello my granddaughter.”
Kim looked at the baby. “Goodbye my mother. Hello my daughter.” She turned to her father and kissed his cheek where the baby had touched him. They gave a hard hug to each other, and then they looked each other in the eye. Slowly they had let go then Kim rose and hugged her husband. They kissed. She returned to bed.
Jess looked at Edna. “Sorry for the interruption.” He laughed. All the sadness of the past day was gone from him. “Well there is nothing that we can say that is a better proof that what just happened. I too felt an older Alice there but I don’t any longer.”
Beth had been looking hard at the baby. “I too had a sense of Alice. I have never felt anything like it before. Now I feel a sense of her but it is different.”
Linda was shaking her head yes. “I felt it also. I too feel the difference with her, but I also feel something from each of you. A can sense each of you.”
“Yes, I feel it stronger with Rob, but he’s my son. I guess that is a stronger bond that I never noticed before. I do feel all of you though.” Beth went and hugged her son.
Mary looked at Brenda, who shook her head yes. “Brenda and I think that this makes the case for learning to feel someone’s presences but I do not see it leaning one way or the other on whether it requires a special something in the individual already. Both Beth and Linda have close ties to the family, which included Alice. Maybe part of this closeness is due to the potential to sense someone’s presences. It may be Alice who is the catalyst or it could be the group of us together who bring this out.”
“The boys have it. I do not remembering having the ability at such a young age as they do.” Kim remarked.
“I had it as a teenager.” Edna stared at the wall as she thought about her experience. “I did not understand it. My mother did not ever have it. Grandma Alice. She talked about sometimes being able to sense people but it was now and then. My ability grew but it was always there. When I was pregnant with Alice, it grew. I was able to identify members of the family and some of my friends before seeing them.”
“Jess and I have had it since we were boys. We lived near Edna and Alice and went through school with Alice. We knew that she had it also, but none of our other classmates. That’s what made us close. Jess and Alice fell in love. I wondered if I was ever going to find someone with whom I could share that same closeness. I joined the army partly so that I could travel and meet more people. While in Australia, I met Leslie’s brothers while cross training with the Australian SAS. They had it and used it to work with each other. I had been using it one sided, nobody else that I had met in the SAS had that special knack. They were in a reserve unit so they lived off base at a small ranch. Andy and Don had their own homes but Gav still lived at home with his parents and sister. They took me home to meet their family but I thing they were trying to set me up with their sister. I didn’t mind since I needed some home cooking.” Leslie elbowed him. “Well it was love at first sight.”
Leslie continued the story. “We were married within the year and he took me to this horrible cold island off Europe. It took him getting shot up in the Falklands before daddy could bribe him to take a job with the company.”
“Well I needed to get my twenty years in. I need to know that I was going to able to provide for my family. I did not know how long I could hold the job as head of security.”
Jess started laughing. He looked at Leslie. “What is you share of MME?”
“And that’s worth over a billion pounds.”
Leslie nodded her head.
“Well they had just opened the Rainbow a little bit before that. Until then they didn’t have that big a need for security. I didn’t want to live off of my wife’s money.”
Jess looked at his cousin. “I think you just liked playing soldier. Getting shot up reminded you that you wanted to see you kids grow up and marry.”
Will’s smile had told them that was as close as they were going to get to the truth.
Linda looked at Will and Leslie.
Leslie had gotten used to peoples attitude changing once they knew how wealthy they were. She had really started to link Linda.
“You are that Captain Maclaren that snuck into the Falklands before the invasion. You and your troops got into a battle with the Argentineans troops when they tried to use the civilians as a bargaining chip to halt the British from landing. I remember watching as the Queen came to your bed and knighted you.”
Leslie looked at her husband. Well Linda did have the correct idea of what was important. Will’s stand to protect the Falklanders certainly outweighed money.
“Yes, I can go by Sir William but my commander was not to happy when I told him I was going to go work for my father-in-law. Of course, he was willing to overlook that a few years later when I hired him to come in to run the office so I could spend more time in the field.”
Edna told her story of Alice’s birth. How she had had no one to talk to about Grandma Alice now being her daughter. She discussed Alice growing up and the early arrival of Alice’s ability to sense people. She had not brought up how Alice was very lucky or the many times that she knew what would happen and how to make the most of it. Alice had learned to hide it soon after she started school, so she was not too sure how much of those abilities Jess knew about.
She had spoken of Alice finding in Jess and Will, two who were like her. How the three grew together because of the gift they shared.
She had never known Alice to remember the past. In her early years, she had met family and friends of her mother’s generation. She had often commented about how old they had gotten but she did not know their names.
When Edna finished, Linda looked at her watch. She went over to Kim. “Let us get you and Alice checked out. I think that it would be better for you to go home. You and your family have much to talk over. I will stop by later in the week and we can talk about it.”
“That sounds good. I miss the boys. They aree eager to meet their new sister. I wonder how they will take this.”
Linda left the room to get the paper work taken care of.
Rob commented. “They will know her. It might confuse Jerome and Eric a little, but Jason is very good at identifying people. He leads me right to Kim every time at the mall.”
Will looked impressed. “A couple of hundred feet is a good range.”
“No it is more like a half mile. We are driving up to the mall and he tells me what store she is in and what clerk she is with if he has met them before.”
Will whistled. “What I would give for a man who could track like that.”
Rob looked at Leslie. “I think you would give more for the twins. They are dowsers”
“Yes some of the native people can detect water. It’s very useful to know where the water flows in the mines.”
“They do more than just water. They can tell you where all the pipes and wires run in the yard. If I miss place my keys, they know where they are. If they are with me but not Jason when I go to pick up Kim, they know where she is by the items in her bag. They go out in the yard and find nails and other metal items. I had to have a long talk about them not doing this in public without their mother or my permission. Also, we have had to warn them about the types of things that they should not go looking for. I had to put my guns in a case with a combination since they knew both where the guns were and the keys.”
Leslie looked at Kim “Twenty percent finder’s fee.”
“What?” Kim replied.
“MME will give them a twenty percent finder’s fee to find and map out mineral location when we go to the new worlds.”
Edna complained “That is too much money. They are just little boys.”
“If they can find the big mother loads and map out the location and the surrounding rock and water so we can go right in and get the high grade without trial and error, they’ll be worth it. Especially if we avoid errors that could kill someone, they are saving us at least that much.”
Jess said “Shake on it Kim. It’s a good deal for both sides. Additionally, it’ll be very important for our development of the two worlds. I wonder if any of the kids can detect a window.”
Will looked at Leslie. “We will spend a few days here. You brother will have to wait for the controllers. He will understand when he hears the news.”
Leslie walked over to Kim and they shook.
As Linda entered the room, she could tell something has happened. “I missed something big.”
Leslie looked at her. “How would you like a job with a bunch of travel?”
They all laughed at the look on Linda’s place.
Kim looked to set her friend’s mind at easy. “We will discuss this when you drop by. Bring Jim with you. This is definitely a family offer. A surgeon is definitely on the list.” Jess and Leslie both shook their head yes to that.
Linda could tell that was all that she was going to get from them. She knew that Leslie had only made the offer because of her comment. What had that comment to do with such an offer? Well she and Jim would find out later. How had they known that with the kids all on their own, they had been looking for something different? They had been thinking of a small hospital in a remote location of a developing country, but had not looked forward to have to rely on primitive equipment and a shortage of supplies. Leslie or more likely her family’s company could afford the best so that would not be a problem. But what did they mean by travel? Well, let them get out of here. I think that Jim and I are going to have a very interesting meeting with them.
Rob and the Australians had left first to get the cars and to clear out the room. When Will had got in the car, he turned to his daughters. “Can Marie’s children do what Kim’s can?”
“No” replied Mary with an impish smile.
“What my sister means is that they do not dowse or find people. At least that we heard of.” Brenda laughed.
“Then what do they do?” Leslie knew when her daughters had a secret that they were dying to tell.
Brenda knew that they have their parents’ full attention. “Well Dr Dolittle, KA, is breeding smarter cats and dogs. She says that it is so hard to get anything meaningful from the dumb ones. She has a couple of parrots but says she need more and a longer time to do anything with them.”
Mary took over. “If John had thought he would have a hard time with the PM, he would have taken JJ as well as his father. He is the one that did most of the negotiating for KA with their parents for the breeding program. Oh, he has gotten KA and himself on the third team for exploring through the window by S-I.”
“Less has not shown any particular ability. She’s into horses. I have never seen anyone ride like her. A six year old should not be jumping a 16 hand horse without doing more than hold the reins.” Brenda added for the last sibling.
“Oh, if you play any games with them, it’s almost like playing one person.”
As they pulled up in front of the hospital, Leslie remarked. “I think they may turn out to be every bit as useful as their cousins when we go exploring in these new worlds.”
Kim & Rob Reynolds’ Home
Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA
Tuesday May 18, 1999
The second Suburban with Robert and the pilots arrived at the Reynolds’ home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. David Ridgeway had driven. They had not had as easy of a time getting there, since none of them were familiar with the area. They had followed the other Suburban until it had turned off to the hospital. It had been straight forward from there except for the amount of traffic until the circle by the school that had almost led to an accident. David had turned in the direction as he would have back home. He had found out that Americans did not treat the circles as Australians did. Luckily, there had been little traffic and their destination was only three houses from the circle.
Robert looked at the three older men. “I will go and announce us. David, stay with the SUV. Kevin, take a stroll further down the street. Nev, do the same with the street to the north of us. You are just stretching your legs. Be back in four minutes even if you find something.”
“Yes, sir.” They all replied.
David had stood by the open driver’s door of the vehicle as he inspected the neighboring houses. One of the rifles lay on the floor in easy reach.
Robert walked up to the front door and rang the bell. It had taken a couple of minutes until a young black woman had answered the door. She left the screen door shut. “Yes, can I help you?” She asked.
Go’day, I am Robert Maclaren. I have come over with Uncle Jess. They sent me ahead with the luggage while they met Kim and Alice at the hospital.”
Linda Steele looked at the young man outside the door. He did look like a younger copy of Jess Maclaren, Kim’s father, but he was forty years younger and a half a head taller. If he was ten years older she would make a pass at him, but even Mary, her younger sister, was too old for a teenager. She noticed the man by the SUV and the other two who were returning to it. They were checking out the neighborhood. “Who are your friends?” Four years as an Army MP after growing up in DC had taught her to have good situation awareness.
“Oh, David, Kevin, and Nev are our pilots. Dad has them dropping me off with the luggage before they go to the hotel and crash.” Robert could see that the answer had confused her. “Grandpa had us take the Gulfstream since he needed some parts picked up in Dallas.”
“Take the Gulfstream to pick up some parts.” Linda had been totally confused. He had made it sound almost like they were going to the hardware store.
Neither of them had noticed Tom Reynolds come up behind Linda. As he started to speak, his grandsons yelled and pushed by him and Linda and out the door to greet their cousin.
“Robert!” “You are taller that daddy.” “Where is Grandpa Jess?” All three of the young Reynolds boys had spoken at once.
Robert knelt down to be more of the height of the three boys. He had last seen them two years ago at their Aunt Lynn’s wedding in Dallas. He had been surprised that they remembered him so well, especially the twins. Five year olds do not usually remember people that they met two years earlier.
“Hi, Jason, Eric, Jerome. Yes and I am also taller than my dad. Your grandpa Jess went to see your mother and your new baby sister.”
Linda had been surprised that he gotten the twins identified right. It still was hard for her to do even after working with her sister as their nannies for the past eight months.
“It’s all right Linda. I know Robert. I am the one that sold them the parts that they are picking up in Dallas. Yes, his Grandpa Ian would send his family with a jet around the world to pick up parts since they were going that way anyway.” Tom Reynolds laughed at the expression on the young woman’s face. “Let’s get these young ruffians inside so that Robert and his friends can get the bags inside.”
They shepherded the boys inside while Robert returned to the Suburban.
Linda turned to Tom Reynolds. “He looks so like Mr. Maclaren. I thought his brother’s children were older.”
Jason answered before his grandfather can. “Uncle Will is Grandpa Jess cousin. They were born the same day. Their mothers were twins and their fathers were twins.”
Eric piped in “We have a lot of twins in the family.”
Jerome, his twin added, “Robert’s sisters are twins. Brenda is going to be a doctor, just like mom and Mary.”
Tom finally got a word in. “Her twin, also Mary, is study electrical engineering. That is close to what you are looking at doing. You and your sister should talk with them about what you are studying. Also, you should definitely talk to Jess Maclaren. He knows more about engineering than any three professors do. He has more patents than anyone else that I know.” Tom Reynolds was a Senior Vice President at TI. Much of his work there had been with products based on Jess’s patents. The first one came to TI because of Beth and Dame Alice’s friendship. Later ones were because TI had a need to do something and he got Jess interested in solving the problem or Jess had an idea and asked him if TI had anything that they would like to use it for. He had seen to the commercialization of Jess’s ideas. Jess was an inventor. He came up with ideas and made them work. It was someone else’s job to see that they made money. Jess and Alice had plenty of money even if they did not live a fancy life. They had lived in the same home since they were married. Then it all changed four years ago with Alice’s Adjacent World theory. She put it out with none of the support that she had presented for her previous work. Scientists and mathematicians tore it apart. They had done it not because she was wrong but because they were not bright enough to understand her theory. Beth had been distressed when she had seen what was happening to her best friend. They had gone to the Maclaren’s suite to comfort her. She had been shocked to find the four of them Alice, Jess, Marie and John celebrating. They had planned for the bad reception of the paper. They had explained that they wanted people to remember it but as fiction and not fact. Jess had then turned to him and asked if TI would like to make a lot of money. He had laughed that TI was a business. Jess had laughed also. Then Alice, Jess, Marie, and John had explained what they were planning. Beth and he had been awed by the scope of the plan. Now with everything ready to go, Alice had died as they conducted the initial experiment with the window.
Linda had thought about Robert’s sisters and about what Mr. Reynolds had said. She had not seen how two rich women could have anything in common with her and her sister, who had grown up in the inner city. True, Kim and Rob were very nice. They treated them as family. It was great to be able to discuss the technical aspects of what they were studying with them. Kim was covering their tuition as well as their salaries and benefits. Sure they were distantly related through several marriages to Rob’s sister, but they had laughed when their Aunt Eve in New Orleans had called and asked if they would be interested in being nannies for some doctor in Chevy Chase with three boys. How that information had ever got to Aunt Eve, they would never know. Linda was back from the Army and even with her GI benefits going to college would be very hard since their mother had to put so much money towards Mary’s schooling. They had gone and found out that the couple in Chevy Chase was very different from anyone they had ever met. Maybe she should reserve judgment on these cousins. Robert sounded Australian. She had never really met any Australians.”
“Boys, stay with your grandfather. You can talk with Robert after they get the bags in.” Linda opened the door for Robert and the black pilot. No, not black. Definitely dark skinned but not of African descent.
They had put down the bags. Robert holds out his hand to Linda. “Robert Maclaren.” They shook hands and she replied “Linda Steele.” He turned and indicated his companion. “Linda, this is Kevin Gilbert. He is second pilot and my second cousin.”
Kevin held out his hand. “Glad to meet you. Maybe third cousin. It is hard to figure relationships in the European way. We do it through the mothers. That puts us closer than European second cousins. My mother’s mother’s mother sister was Robert’s mother’s mother’s mother.”
Linda laughed. “I thought we kept track of family.”
“Townsville is not that big a town.” Robert commented.
“I think that when your grandfather started to make all that money, all of your relatives made sure that they were remembered.” Kevin joked.
“No one has too many relatives.” Robert answered.
Linda had been startled by his attitude. He did not reject the relatives that came forward because of the money. He was happy to have them. Family was what was important to him.
“Follow me. The bedrooms are upstairs.” She headed towards the stairs.
Jerome had come running into the room. “Why do you have so many guns? Can I see them?”
Kevin looked at Robert who was looking at his young cousin. Robert asked, “How many guns do we have?”
The other boys and their grandfather had followed Jerome into the hall.
“You are each carrying one on your belt in back. There are two rifles and two pistols in that case. There are two more rifles in that one. That case has a rifle and a telescope.”
Eric added. “The man by the steering wheel has two pistols and a big knife. There is a rifle in the front of the truck. In the back of the truck, there is another one of these cases with rifles. Then there is another case like that one with a rifle and a telescope. Why do you have so many of the same rifles and pistols? Daddy’s are all different.” He looked at his twin and they both smiled.
Robert and Kevin were stunned. The twins had just named all of their weapons without having opened the cases or seen what they were carrying. They had even identified the pilots’ guns that were still outside.
Robert looked at Tom Reynolds. “Dad is head of security for MME. The pilots and I are dad’s security team. Mom and the girls are also armed. This sniper rifle is mom’s. He was afraid that the cargo would be hijacked if someone found out what we were carrying.”
Tom smiled, “I am aware of your Dad’s position and what the shipment is and how much it is worth. I sold it to your uncle Andrew. I know your dad’s history and reputation. I am not sure if he is aware of the security risks in this house.” He looked at his grandsons. “As you have seen, nothing can be hidden from those two, including keys. How are the cases locked?”
“Combinations. We all have to be able to get into them.” Kevin replied.
“Good. Rob had to get a gun safe with a combination to keep them away from the guns. Keep your handguns where they cannot get at them. I will talk this over with Will when he gets here.” He again looked at his grandsons. “You may ask Uncle Will to look at his guns when he gets here. You will not bother him about it until I tell you. You will stay out of the bedrooms where the guns are kept. They are his not your father’s.”
“Yes, sir” answered Jason quickly followed by both of his brothers.
Linda had never seen such quick obedience from the boys. She had known it was not Tom Reynolds. They obeyed him but there were always questions.
The boys returned to the kitchen with their grandfather.
They had taken the bags up the stairs. Linda had been curious how Robert qualified for a security detail. Mr. Reynolds had not been disturbed by Will Maclaren’s decision to arm the pilots as well as his family for security for a shipment that must be very valuable. Robert had looked sixteen maybe seventeen. She remembered the MP training that she had had. You did not just hand a person a gun and tell them that you were a security guard. Linda had led them to one of the spare bedrooms. “Put them in here. “
They returned downstairs. From the kitchen, Tom called out. “Pull around back and unload there. Lockup and come through the kitchen. I have fixings for sandwiches and drinks. I think you should tell the other two what you have learned.”
Robert thought about it for a second. “That is a good idea.” He and Kevin headed outside while Linda went to the kitchen.
Robert and Kevin walked over to David. Robert beckoned Nev over. “There is a small change of plans. Move the Suburban around back. We will remove the rest of the family’s bags there. Lock up. There are sandwiches and drinks in the kitchen. There are some things that we learned, that need to be discussed.”
Around the back of the house, they found a three-car garage and a large parking area. They parked so the vehicle was not visible from the road. After the bags were put in the bedroom, they gathered in the large kitchen. Linda had fixed plates for the boys who were sitting at a very large table. Robert and the adults prepared their plates and joined them.
Robert made introductions. Then he looked at Jerome. “Jerome, where and how many guns and knives does Mister Ridgeway have?”
David and Nev looked startled at the question, but they saw Kevin laughing which confused them, but not as much as Jerome’s answer.
“He still has the two pistols. The one that was at his back is now in his jacket pocket. He still has the big knife in his boot. There is a small knife in his pocket on a key ring. I did not tell you about it before because it is just a little one.”
Robert looked at Eric. “What guns and knives are in the truck?”
Eric answered. “There are the two rifles in one case and a bigger one with a telescope in another case. The other rifle is under the seat but the bullets are in Mr. Ridgeway’s other jacket pocket.”
Nev asked Eric. “How many coins are in my pockets?”
Eric looked at Nev. “Seven in that pocket.” He pointed to Nev’s right front pocket. “A gold coin in your back pocket. May I see it? I have never seen a gold coin.”
Nev took out his wallet and pulled out a large gold coin He slid in across the table to the Eric. Nev looked at the others. “That is my lucky coin. I never take it out of my wallet.”
Tom looked to Jason his oldest grandson. “Jason, tell us what these men did when they drove up.
“Robert came to the front door and rang the door bell. Mr. Gilbert walked down the street and looked at the houses. Mr. Smith walked over to Stanford Street and looked at the houses. Mr. Ridgeway stood in the driveway and looked at our house and then the Clifton’s house and across the street towards the school.” Jason answered
“Were you looking out the window and saw this?” Tom sought to clarify how Jason knew this.
“You know I was here helping make lunch. When I knew that Robert was getting near, I told you. You said we needed to work on lunch because they would be hungry. That’s why we did not run to the door to greet you.” Jason looked at Robert.
“Where is your mother?” Tom asked.
“Over there at the hospital.”
“Is your dad with her?”
“Yes, And Grandpa Jess is there. He is holding Grandma Alice.” Jason said with a big smile.
Robert was surprised by this turn of events. He could keep track of his family or his mates when they were running an op, but they had to be close. He could not track them miles away. He could not tell what they were doing. And he definitely could not track strangers. Even worse, Jason had told them about Aunt Alice.
Jason had become interested in what was going on with his parents. “Great-grandma Edna is there. Uncle Will, Brenda, Aunt Leslie, and Mary. Grandma Beth is there too.”
Robert looked at the rest of the team. Maybe they would miss the reference to Aunt Alice, but Linda hadn’t. He looks at Tom, who realized that he needed to keep their thoughts on Jason and not what he said.
“That is good Jason.” Tom looked at the men. “My son Rob had told us about this before we got here. I have been having the boys show me what they can do. As an engineer, I like to check things out. Also, I thought that having the boys learn how to be aware of what is around them would be good for them to learn. I have been having them tell me what they could sense.”
Linda was concerned. Jason did not make mistakes about identifying people he knew. Why had he said that his Grandma Alice was at the hospital? They had been holding off on telling the boys until their mom got home, so he had not known that his grandmother was dead.
Robert knew that he needed to keep them busy thinking of other things. “Linda, we need to run a security sweep of the neighborhood. Dad is concerned about Kim and the family’s security. David, show her you Glock. Are you experienced with this model Glock from your time as an MP?”
“How did you know I was an MP?” Linda asked.
Robert replied. “You and your sister are part of the household. Dad ran a background check. He was impressed.”
“Impressed!” What had impressed this boy’s father?
“If Major Maclaren was impressed that is saying something.” Kevin commented.
“Sir William Maclaren spent twenty years in the British SAS. He was knighted for his defense of the islanders in the Falkland War.” Tom explained.
An SAS Major had been impressed with my service record. Linda had reached for the Glock and removed the magazine. Then she had checked that there was no round in the chamber. She had started to dry fire but had seen the boys staring at her. She had put the magazine back and had handed the gun back. She looked at the boys. “I was in the Army Military Police.” I think I had impressed them. She had then looked at the men. Maybe I had impressed them also.
She had looked at Robert. “I guess you were the only one that knew.”
He smiled. “What I want to do is use the boys to run the security sweep. I would like you and me to take the boys on a walk around the neighborhood.” He turned to the boys. “I want you to tell me about the people in the houses. Whether they have guns. What type of guns. Especially if they are carrying the guns or are holding them.”
Jason looked at his brothers. A silent agreement passed between them. “The house over there has twelve men in it. They have a lot of guns.”
Eric broke in “They all have pistols. There are five rifles. There are no telescopes, but two of them have big metal … ahh.”
His twin toke over. “It is like a ball with a point. It is on the end of the gun. They also have eight guns that are bigger than a pistol. Not rifles. They have those metal things with bullets. Like Linda showed us. But they are longer.”
Robert was alarmed. The boys had just described rifles with RPGs and probably Uzis. When he looked at the adults, he had seen the alarm in their eyes. Dad would have to decide what to do, but more intelligence was always useful. What else should he do? Keep the guys here until dad gets here. They should rest. Mount a guard. He looked at his mates. “You will have to stay here until dad can assess the threat.” They nodded. “Dad will have to decide what to do, but take one of the bedrooms upstairs. Two of you sleep but I want the third on guard.”
“On the third floor, the room on the West has two single beds. There are trees between the houses but it has the best view of that house behind us.” Linda suggested.
“That sounds good.” Robert nodded to Linda. “Get your thing and take them up to the bedroom, then come back down. I will need your advice. Do not forget to lock the gun cases. These boys are very interested in guns. I plan to find out what my cousins can tell us. Bring the map in. David, give Linda your Glock. Tom do you want a gun.”
“I will get one of Rob’s. Linda can you get paper and pencils for everyone. You three stay here with Robert.” Tom nodded at the boys.
They had gone off leaving Robert and the boys at the table. He smiled at them. “That was very good information that you gave us. You need to tell your parents or one of the adults if you notice people with guns nearby.”
Jason said, “Mom said that I am not to tell anybody at school that I know these things.”
“She is right. I meant Linda and your grandparents.” Robert clarified the instruction. I have have to remember to be specific with the boys. It takes a while for kids to know enough to be able to interpret the full meaning of statements.
“And Mary?” Eric asked.
“Yes, she knows that you can do this.” Eric shook his head yes. “Also my three mates and myself. We are here to protect you. When the rest of the family gets here from the hospital, I will tell them what you can do. Then you will be able to tell them about people with guns.” The boys shook their heads in agreement. They would get to show them what they could do.
“Now I am going to tell you about different types of guns.” Robert pulled his automatic out and started to explain about the different parts of a gun.
Tom entered the boys’ playroom where Linda had been gathering up the boys pencils. She grabbed a box of crayons. Can the boys identify color? She turned towards Tom who appeared to want to discuss something.
“Robert is quite an impressing young man. You will see where he got it from when you meet is parents.” Tom commented.
“Yes, it almost makes me wish I were a teenager again.” Linda replied.
“He has two older brothers. Only one is married.” Tom turned and left.
Linda had seen the twinkle in his eye and did not know what to say. The brothers must be in Australia. When am I ever going to go there?
They sat around the kitchen table as they asked the boys questions about the house with the men and the other houses around the neighborhood. Tom had found some gun magazines. From the pictures and their own guns, they were able to work out with the boys the probable models of the guns. They had also identified the men as Moslems. Jason had mentioned that all of the men had gotten down on their knees and faced the same direction.
After an hour, the twins had gotten tired. Tom had sent all the boys to take a nap, saying that they may be up late showing the adults what they can do. Dave and Kevin had taken the opportunity to go upstairs and rest. Nev had taken guard duty.
Linda showed Robert the yard. He had been especially interested in the detached three-car garage. There was a large unused room above the cars. The western window had a view of the house that concerned them.
When they went back in, Linda’s sister Mary was there. Linda had blushed as she came through the kitchen door behind Robert. Thankfully, Tom had been there to introduce Robert to Mary. They had just started to explain what the boys had told them when the rest of the family had arrived.
Mary, Edna, and Brenda had been the first to enter. Robert had introduced Kim’s grandmother and his sisters. Beth, Kim, and Rob with baby Alice had entered next. As soon as Kim had entered the house, she asked her father-in-law. “What have the boys done?”
Tom smiled. “A very good thing. Sit down at the table. Rob, you too. Put Alice’s carrier down on the table. I think I hear the boys wakening from their nap.”
Jess, Will and Leslie entered. Will had given a questioning look to his son.
“You got them to take a nap!” Kim looked at Tom, who smiled.
Tom turned to Linda. “Take you sister and Robert and bring some more chairs in here.”
Cries of “Mommy” were heard from the stairway along with running feet. As Robert passed the boys at the bottom of the stairs, he saw Nev at the top of the stairs. “Nev, dad is here. I will brief him on what is going on. Tell David and Kevin to continue to rest. Dad will want to meet with us after the family is told.”
“Ok.” Nev headed back up to the third floor.
Beth and Leslie were getting drinks for everyone as the chairs are brought in. The boys were meeting their sister.
Jason was very confused. “Grandma Alice?” He looked at his mother.
“Yes, your sister has the soul of Grandma Alice. I guess she did not want to leave us. Grandma Alice died when baby Alice was born. Her soul moved to baby Alice.”
“I thought the baby that was inside you was grandma. But that did not seem right.” Jason confessed.
“You thought she was grandma?” Kim asked.
“The baby was more and more like her every day. I was confused.” Jason face was a mixture of confusion and having not told his parents something that might be important.
Kim had seen that he had not known what to do. “You should talk to me or dad when you are confused. Eric and Jerome, that goes for you two also. You can also go to your grandparents.”
“OK” and “Yes, momma” had been the responses from the three boys.
Kim looked up at Linda and Mary Steele. “Another secret I would like for you two to keep.”
“No problem Kim.” Linda replied. Her sister had nodded. “I think some of the others may be getting harder to keep.”
“That is probably true. The boys have discovered a threat in the house behind us.” Tom commented.
“A threat?” Will questioned as he looked at Robert.
“Yes, Sir! Twelve heavily armed men, probably Muslim. Pistols, rifles, Uzises, one sniper rifle, and two rifles with RPGs.”
“I need to call the police.” Rob said as he moved Eric off his lap to get up.”
“No, son.” Tom put a hand on his son’s arm.
Rob looked at his father in shock.
“Do you want to explain how the boys told us about them? Do you want to have the men start shooting as the police pull up to your door?” Tom asked.
Rob had shaken his head and had sat back down.
“I have Nev on look out on the third floor. Kevin and David are napping so that we can rotate throughout the night. The view from up there is obstructed by trees. The room over the garage has a window that offers a better view. I decided to maintain everyone in the house until we had sufficient people to man both places. Linda and I walked around outside to check things out. The only off the property scouting was by Nev and Kevin when we arrived.” Robert reported to his father.
“That is a very good start considering the situation that you found yourself in. Sergeant Steele, do you agree with the assessment?”
“Yes, Sir.” Linda was amazed at how she had responded automatically to Robert’s father. He was a definitely an officer who took command of the situation.
“Uncle Will, who are the men upstairs?” Kim asked her godfather.
“Our pilots, who are also part of our security detail. We will be carrying a very large shipment of AJ Power Generator controllers back to Australia. I decided to check your security situation out since we were stopping here. I gave it to Robert as an exercise. I had no idea that he was going to find anything like this.” He turned to Robert. “Very well done son. When was the last time you checked on them.”
“Right before the boys took their nap. Jason, what are the men doing.”
“Most of them are either sitting watching TV or sleeping. Two of them are at the Safeway.”
Edna had been surprised at how fast he had answered. “Jason, you answered that real fast. Do you not have to do a little work to find them?”
Jason turned to her. “No, great grandma Edna. Grandpa Tom and Robert asked me to keep track of them. I just added to the others that I am keeping track of.”
“What others?” Rob asked his son.
“You, mommy, Eric, Jerome, Grandma Beth, Grandpa Tom, Linda, Mary, and Grandpa Jess. Oh and Grandma Alice, eh baby Alice.”
Jess questioned him. “You were keeping track of us when we were in Scotland?”
“No, it does not make sense when I tried.”
Jess thought. He did not say he could not sense us. He said it did not make sense. He would have sensed us down underground below the curve of the earth. I need to look into this.
Tom noticed that Eric and Jerome were starting to squirm. “Eric, who in this room has a gun?”
“You do.” Eric pointed to the people as he named them. “Robert, Linda, Grandpa Jess, Mary, Brenda, Aunt Leslie, and Uncle Will. Uncle Will has two pistols.”
Jerome decided he needed to show off also. “Uncle Will has three knives.
Leslie noticed that Mary Steele was very confused. “I think that we have a lot of information to share here. Will, take Robert and Rob and check out the garage and the yard. Linda, show my Mary where the bags are. Mary, bring my rifle down. The rest of us will discuss what is going on.”
Leslie turned to Mary Steele. “From the look on your face, you have a lot of questions. Why don’t you start off?”
Over the next few hours, some questions were answered, but many had lacked answers. The most important unanswered question had been “What threat do these men pose to them?” From what the boys had told them, they were not paying attention to the Reynolds’ house. All agreed that the men were planning something and that they did not appear to be involved. Will planned to scout out the house after dark. They would need more information.
The adults were very curious about what the boys could sense but they soon tired the twins out. It was decided that the boys should sleep in the twins’ room in the front of the house. Robert had volunteered to stay with them. It was obvious that they were fascinated with their cousin from Australia.