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Chapter Eight: An Unbelievable Story

Lily stood just inside the room, staring at Liam, her eyes wide with confusion and fear.

"Lily -" Liam said. "Um - wow - I - maybe you should come on in - um, did you hear what I was saying just then?"

"Yes." her voice was tight. "What - " she took a step back toward the doorway.

"Please, just give me a chance to explain." Liam glanced at his father who remained motionless, his eyes trained on the frightened young nurse. "Maybe it wold be best if you came on in and closed the door."

"No way" she shook her head. "The door stays open and I'm not getting any closer. Now, what is this you're talking about? What dream, what -" her voice trailed off.

"Okay," Liam took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Remember I said my dad and I work in demolition?" Lily nodded. "Well, we really don't."

"No kidding." she crossed her arms. "I knew that was phony - just like your name,'Smith.'" She suddenly seemed more calm.

"Well, you're right. We aren't demolition experts." He glanced at his dad who continued to watch Lily intently. "The truth is we're part of a private investigation and security team."

"Oh? So who do you do that for?" Her voice held a sarcastic tone.

"I can't say."

"And I'm supposed to believe this, Mr Smith?" She shook her head again. "Besides, what does that have to do with the crap you were saying when I walked in - that's so stupid and weird."

"Well, you say you're not believing this so I don't suppose you'll believe the rest of it, but I was, uh, using code words."

"Code words."

"Yeah. The group my dad and I work for uses code words." He made a non committal gesture. "So, when I say 'dream' I'm actually talking about, um, you know, intelligence reports."

"You've got to be kidding." She put her hands on her hips. "This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Didn't you ever grow up? Didn't you father ever tell you there would come a day when you would have to give up your childish fantasies about being a secret agent?"

"Look, I know this sounds silly to you - "

"Yes it would sound silly - except that you said I was 'the one who dies'." She shook her head again. "There is nothing silly about that. That sounds like a threat. And coupled with the lies and your overall strange behavior, I'm going to report you to the police." She turned to leave the room.

"Lily - please wait! Please give me a chance to make this more clear." Liam half rose from the wheelchair.

"Miss Seymour," Xavier spoke for the first time since Lily had entered the room. "I understand your concern and if you feel you need to call the police than that's your choice. But before you do, please allow my son and I to provide you with a bit more information." He glanced at Liam. "I think it will be worth your while."

Lily paused at the threshold. She leaned out the doorway and looked first one way and then the other. A member of the hospital staff walking down the connecting hallway passed into view and waved. Lily waved back and the sight of another nurse seemed to restore her confidence.

"Alright. But you stay in that chair" she pointed at Liam, "and you stay in that bed," she said with a gesture toward Xavier. "I'll give you five minutes - I don't know why; this really isn't something I even care about - except for that stupid remark about me being the one who dies."

Xavier and Liam exchanged glances and Xavier gave a slight nod to his son to let him know it was time to move on to "step two."

Over the years there had been situations when it was necessary to provide some sort of explanation for their behavior. Coworkers, people they became acquainted with in one town or another, police - every once in a while someone started asking questions. And when people ask questions they expect answers. If they don't get answers, they invariably stir up trouble. So, every Guardian had three levels of disclosure they were expected to abide by if their primary cover story didn't hold up. First they were to tell the curious that they worked for a private security firm. If that didn't work they were supposed to touch on the supernatural aspect of their vocation. And if that didn't work, Guardians were supposed to get out of town as fast as they could - or on rare occasions, explain everything in detail. Xavier and Liam had made the decision to try step two.

"Lily, do you ever go to church?" Liam asked.

Lily wrinkled her brow. "What - yes I go to church. What does that have to do with anything? What business is that of yours?"

"What sort of church do you attend?"

"Okay, forget it - I said I would give you a chance to explain yourself, but this is just more baloney." She turned as if to leave.

"No, Lily, please, give me a chance." Liam wheeled to chair forward a couple feet. "I promise, this is going somewhere, you'll see."

Lily turned back toward the room but she now stood just outside the door. "Hurry up then." She frowned and puffed out her cheeks as she let out an exasperated sigh. "This is your last chance."

"Okay, alright." Liam steepled his fingers under his chin and paused before continuing. "I asked about your church because what we do - well we really are part of a private security firm, but we deal with -" he raised his hands slightly in an apparent attitude of apology, "we deal with supernatural phenomena."

"Supernatural phenomena."

"Right." he glanced at his father.

"What do you mean, like ghost busters or something?"

"Well, no, not exactly, but we're, um, experts in that sort of thing and we -"

"So what does this have to do with you saying 'I'm the one who dies'? You said it was in a dream, right? So you're saying you dreamed I 'm killed by a ghost?"

"No, not exactly. Remember, 'dream' and 'die'," he made air quotes around the two words, "are code words for, for other things, so..." His voice trailed off and he raised his hands once again as if asking for understanding.

She stared at him for a long moment and then shook her head. "Alright, you know what? I'm not satisfied with this so called 'explanation'"she said as she mockingly made air quotes around the word. "There's something going on here with you two. I don't know what it is, but it's creepy and I think it's all part of a stupid game you're playing to hide something - something criminal or whatever." She took another step away from the door. "So, that's it. I'm sorry but I'm going to call the police and let them take care of this. If you're just a couple of crazies, then they'll figure that out. But I'm not comfortable with you or your story." With that she spun on her heel and strode quickly down the hall toward the front desk.

Liam looked at his father and held his gaze for a full second. Then without a word he got up out of the wheelchair and helped his father from the hospital bed.

Chapter One: Slaughter In The Churchyard
Chapter Two: The Guardians
Chapter Three: The Detective
Chapter Four: Checking Out The Church
Chapter Five: Lunch With Connie
Chapter Six: Back To The Scene Of The Slaughter
Chapter Seven: Suspects In View
Chapter Eight: An Unbelievable Story
Chapter Nine: The Suspects Disappear
Chapter Ten: A Plan Of Action
Chapter Eleven: Lily's Help
Chapter Twelve: Another Victim
Chapter Thirteen: The Briefing
Chapter Fourteen: Attack On A Guardian
Chapter Fifteen: The Fury Of The Fiend


THE END WAS NEAR
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