Wednesday, July 7, 2010, about 11:00 AM (and throughout the following three days)
Wednesday is spent on the road. During the drive, Gidget feels a change in her system, as a built-up substance in her body effects its change. Unalarmed, she is aware that she can see hidden entities by concentration and possibly even revive herself in the event of an emergency.
Other than this revelation on the road, the evening is spent at a little motel. Thursday’s drive is similarly uneventful, and in the evening, Gidget and Paul arrive in Wolframbed, Wyoming.
Nestled in the eastern side of the Rockies, Wolframbed is a small place, a loose confederation of buildings bound by a single traffic light. Gidget and Paul drive until they find a little motel — unimaginatively called the Wolframbed Inn — and go to get settled.
The man at the desk does not introduce himself, and seems off — as if daydreaming or otherwise preoccupied. He asks a few questions about where they are headed and gives them a room for $60 a night.
After getting situated, they go back to the front desk and ask for a map so that they may determine what to do in the area. With the map, they return to the motel room and get the remaining portion of the elixir and the pendulum. Gidget consumes the stuff and starts moving the pendulum. It eventually comes to rest somewhere roughly on the outskirts of town. They note the location on the map.
Gidget and Paul return to the front desk to learn about places to eat nearby. The man at the desk replies that there is a diner a ways up the road — “The Diner,” he calls it. They thank him and go on their way, taking Paul’s car.
First, they go to the location noted on the map — which turns out to be a faded and abandoned building labeled the “Wolfram Bed Mining Co.” Strangely, a Camry with Indiana plates is parked out front of what otherwise appears to be an abandoned building. They decide to investigate the place, finding a building with worn surfaces, boarded-up windows, and a fenced-in yard with several rusting pieces of mining equipment. After some discussion, Gidget notices a shadow in the dark and speaks. She is greeted by a large man wearing flannel and denim and carrying a staff. He asks what they are doing there and says that residents tend to be jumpy, and that they should probably leave and return during the day. They acknowledge that, and return to the car.
After a bit of discussion, they decide to go to the diner and get something to eat. The older waitress takes their orders with the same distracted demeanor as the man at the motel desk. As they eat, a very large man with a brown uniform, gun, and badge enters. Greeted as the Sheriff, he says nothing when he sits at the counter, apparently either being expected or simply ordering his usual. He stares pointedly at Gidget and Paul before eating.
After they finish and pay, they are about to leave when the Sheriff clearing his throat gets their attention. They look and see him sitting with his back toward them, but with his hand sitting ominously upon his pistol.
After leaving, they decide to return to the motel. They return to the room for the night before discussing things further and deciding that they should probably try to retrieve the lantern tonight. Gidget is to talk to the motel manager while Paul takes their stuff to the car so as to be inconspicuous. Paul decides to leave money to pay the motel manager.
Executing the plan, Gidget asks about things in the area while Paul loads the car. She then takes her leave, going outside. They decide to take both cars so that they will have access to them, and drive them outside of the town to regroup.
After driving about a half hour outside of town, they park and decide to take a brief jaunt into the woods to pass the time. They manage to get lost, taking another hour to extricate themselves and return to Paul’s car. They notice that a police car is parked up the road with its lights off, and they decide to drive until they can lose it. Getting back into their cars, they start to drive with Paul in the lead and Gidget behind him. After losing the police car, they pull off down a side road and Gidget gets into Paul’s car.
Finally, they return to Wolframbed around midnight. They park a little bit away from the Wolfram Bed Mining Co. building and then walk the rest of the way. After debating, they decide to just break down the front door, but are interrupted when Paul gets struck in the side by a large staff.
It appears to be the flannel-wearing man from earlier, wearing football pads and wielding his staff. Paul turns around to face him with his baseball bat, while Gidget grabs a chunk of concrete and smashes the door open. Leaving the sounds of struggle behind her, Gidget kicks the door open to find an office that appears recently used. A handsome man with slicked-back brown hair, lightly tanned skin, brilliant green eyes, and a nice suit greets Gidget. They stare at each other for a moment and he explains that the police are coming before she rushes at him. Though he somehow changes — appearing so beautiful that the thought of assaulting him seems highly distasteful — Gidget manages to throw off the sensation and shoves him to the side, gaining access to the next room. In this room, a lantern sits prominently upon a desk, and Gidget runs for it. Then she sees a pale, nude girl in the corner of the room. Heedless of everything else, Gidget throws the concrete at one of the plywood-covered windows. When it doesn’t buckle, she runs at a side door, battering through it with the lantern in hand.
Hearing sirens, she starts running. When the police SUV catches sight of her, she makes a beeline for the woods and quickly scales a tree. The Sheriff doesn’t see her, so returns to his car and drives away. She descends from the tree just in time to hear commotion, and sees Paul running up the road followed by the Sheriff, the night occasionally punctuated by the potshots he takes at Paul. Just as he stops to take another, Gidget runs out of the woods and catches his eye, concentrating to freeze him in his tracks. She tells Paul to get the car, and he runs up the road to do so. Gidget also notices the suited man walking calmly up the road. Just as he is about to reach her, however, Paul’s car barrels down the road, pulling up beside her. She jumps in and Paul takes off. As they screech away into the night, Gidget nearly falls out of the car before managing to secure herself inside. The sound of a gunshot punctuates the night, accompanied by a loud pop. Paul corrects and keeps driving down the road, throwing sparks from one of his rear wheels.
When he is convinced that he lost them, he stops to change the tire. They also check the lantern, and seeing its archaic shape and occult symbols, conclude that it is the Lantern they seek. He then returns to Gidget’s car and helps her load her stuff into it, including the Lantern. She thanks him for his help, and they say their goodbyes. He says that he will likely be in touch with her again soon, and they agree for her to call him when she arrives safely in San Francisco; she plans on driving straight through for the roughly eighteen hours it takes to return. Getting into their cars, he follows her until she turns onto the highway, and she starts the journey back to San Francisco, alone.
She arrives in the early evening on Friday. After calling Mr. Long to make arrangements, he gives her an address at which to meet him. Finding it to be above a laundromat, she follows the instructions to tell the manager her name and that she is expected.
She enters the office above the laundromat to meet Mr. Long and two of his bodyguards. She tells him about what she encountered in her search for the Lantern, including the poem from Juanita Doe. He thanks her and says that he will be unable to give her the papers he promised at this time, as she is done much faster than he anticipated. However, he will be able to deliver the identification the following evening. He says that she should return at that time and he will seal the deal.
She then asks if he can recommend some place for her to stay and some place for her to eat, and he says if she goes downstairs he will make arrangements. After she waits downstairs for a few moments, he joins her and explains that a car will come around to take her to a safe house, and that they can get her anything she wants. She thanks him and agrees to this, getting into the sedan when it arrives and finding the driver to be a tall man of mixed Chinese descent. She is taken to an apartment complex a few blocks away, and led to a room toward the back where she is put up for the night. She says she has no preference for food, and so is brought Chinese food from somewhere nearby. Before going to sleep she calls Paul to let him know that all is well, and she sends an email to Dr. Zirpoli to wish him well and indicate that she might be heading east, so could they possibly meet in New York?
The next day, she awakens and asks the guard outside her room if she can retrieve her car. He says she may and that he will drive her. After she gets situated, she goes with the man to get her car. They talk for a little bit, and she learns his name is Greg. He drops her off at her car, and she says she will likely be around at the safehouse later. She then goes to a café to get some breakfast, write, and work on her computer.
Much to her surprise, she hears the door open to see Jennifer Caulfield, her “brother” Daniel’s fiancée, walk into the café. She looks rough, haggard, and as though she hasn’t slept or bathed in days. When she sees Gidget, she smiles and looks genuinely glad to see her — this despite the fact that Jennifer never really liked her, and was probably the major reason why she left Daniel’s house in the first place. Jennifer sits down — the smell reinforces the fact that she probably hasn’t bathed — and when Gidget asks, she explains that she came looking for Gidget because she wants her to come home. Gidget says that she is flattered, but will likely continue traveling, at least for a time. When she continues to rebuff Jennifer’s attempts to get her to return to Portland, Jennifer finally seems hurt and stands to leave — before turning around and firing a pistol through the front pocket of her sweatshirt. Gidget is struck in the shoulder, and is almost too dumbfounded to react. As the café explodes into chaos around her, she starts to gather her things as another bullet pierces her shoulder. She manages to run most of the way across the café with her things haphazardly gathered in her arms when another gunshot sounds and a bullet punctures her back. She staggers through the doors into the kitchen.
She finally runs into an alley and collects herself, shoving her things into her bag. She calls Daniel to inform him of what happened — he says that she has been missing for several days — and then, while blending into the crowd, she calls Mr. Long. He says he will send a car to pick her up.
She waits for a while at the corner before Greg’s sedan arrives. He steps out and is quite surprised to see her, as she has apparently been shot — and even moreso because nobody appears to be reacting and because he overlooked a bleeding woman.
Upon returning to her room in the safehouse, she explains what happened while he bandages her — she gets the vibe that he is keeping cool despite the fact that he hasn’t seen too much of this, that he thinks there is something weird about her, and that he thinks she is rather cute and happens to be shirtless at the moment — and he explains that he primarily drives, and hasn’t really seen injuries like this before.
When he leaves to find clothes, she decides to try what she knows about electricity. She scrounges a penny and sticks it in the light socket, feeling a gentle vibration as the electricity flows through her. She feels fine in a few seconds, and stops when electricity starts to arc from her. The lights brown, but otherwise nothing untoward happens.
Greg returns with some baggy clothes, and she thanks him and takes them. After he leaves, she calls Daniel. He explains that she left after Gidget called him last week, and that he couldn’t find her. She didn’t take one of the cars, and she had been acting so weird that he wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that she starting shooting. He also called the San Francisco police just to inform them of what he knew.
After her conversation with Daniel, she calls Paul to find that he has already heard about a shooting in downtown San Francisco on the news. She explains what happened. Paul says it might be a byproduct of the Disquiet she instills in normal people, while Gidget wonders if she may have been replaced, like the Fae do to people. She also tells him about Greg, and he says that she should ask him out, because he sounds interested. She says she probably won’t.
Finally, she asks Greg if she could go shopping for some new clothes until she can return to her car. He agrees, and takes her to Urban Outfitter at her request. She buys clothes for the next day or so, and then returns to the safehouse to be greeted by Mr. Long. He explains that the woman was arrested, and gives Gidget a box that should contain all her papers. She asks about the purpose of him taking the Lantern, and he explains that he hopes to destroy it, and that her information may help him do so. He indicates that he does this sort of thing — fighting these Fae entities — though he refuses to elaborate how he knows about them and why.
Upon returning to her room, she checks the box to find a birth certificate, Social Security card, passport, and the like. She also checks her email, finding a response from Dr. Zirpoli (he says that all is well and that he won’t be back in New York City for probably another week or so, but that they might be able to meet in Chicago), as well as correspondence from Billy Taylor and Ashley Moore, indicating that they are well and wishing her the same. She also writes an email to Dr. Henry Gutermuth, a former colleague of Dr. Frye’s in Los Angeles, essentially asking if she can ask him about Dr. Frye, much as she did with Dr. Zirpoli at first.
Finally, as evening approaches, she is allowed to return and retrieve her car. As she will likely leave the city shortly thereafter — Mr. Long recommends staying away for a month until things blow over — she bids him farewell and he gives her a business card and tells her to keep in touch if she encounters anything else from Faerie on the road. Finally, after he drops her off at her car, she gives Greg her number. Though initially surprised, he accepts and gives her his number for when she may return to San Francisco. Then, she gets into her car and heads south.