Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All the Wearisome Days

We've arrived in Leavenworth. Somewhat appropriately, we arrived during the first official day of summer, the longest day of the year. Somehow, I thought this would be like the last two - that whatever happens would happen after we arrive. But I was wrong.

The headline for today's local newspaper: PRISONER KILLED IN MAXIMUM SECURITY.

A local prisoner by the name of Wayne Hickson was eviscerated, with all his internal organs removed. Hickson had been convicted of the murder of two children a few months ago and hadn't been released to general population yet. It wasn't hard to put two and two together: child killer plus evisceration equals the Jabberwock.

Problem was, there were no witnesses. Hickson was killed in his room. There's no security camera inside. Nothing to see. No one to interview.

So now the question becomes: why are we here?

 -- Carol Baker

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not A Well-Mannered Ghost

I saw the dirty white pickup for a fifth time today. Still can't see the driver.

We're getting close to Leavenworth. We've been stopping each night to stay in a motel, which slows us down, but neither of us like driving at night. We've had...bad experiences in that regard. Maybe I should tell the story -- it could illuminate information on another Boojum (or perhaps they weren't Boojums at all).

About six months ago, we were driving at night, coming back from an interview that had turned out to be nothing at all. Half of the leads we chased back then were nothing -- Mr. Boots didn't really tell us where to go, we just followed where the stories were.

So: driving at night. The headlights shown ahead of us, illuminating the road and little else. I'm lucky that Frank is such a cautious driver, otherwise we may have hit the car in front of us that was stopped. Nonetheless, it was a close call, but Frank was able to stop before hitting the other car's bumper.

Curious, we got out of the car to see why the car ahead of us wasn't moving. The driver was still there - he looked to be in his late forties, brown hair, wearing a business suit - but he was frantically looking for something in the glove compartment.

"Hello?" Frank said and the driver jumped up, surprised. "Do you need any help? Do you want us to call triple-A for you?"

The driver look disheveled. "I'm sorry," he said. "I just...I lost my keys. I know I had them. I know I did. They just...they just disappeared. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize," I said. "It happens. Do you know where you left them last?"

"In the ignition," he whispered. "They were in the ignition and I was driving and then they weren't there. And the car stopped. But I know they were there." He gave up looking through the glove compartment and just starting tossing everything inside it on the car seat.

Frank looked at me and mouthed the word Boojum? I shrugged. I had never heard of a Boojum hiding someone's keys.

The driver continued to frantically search for his missing keys when the car starting to shake. Frank and I backed away, but the driver was so shaken, he couldn't move at all. Then, a shadow passed through his car, covering the interior like all the lights had gone out. When it moved through the car, all the papers and pamphlets the driver had dumped out of his glove compartment shuffled into one large, neat stack and then quietly shifted back into the glove compartment and organized themselves. Everything in the car arranged itself neatly and the driver, in a panic, tried to open the car door.

It wouldn't open. We watched as he tried again and again, until finally he was kicking the door and crying.

The shadows apparently didn't like that. They tried to...they tried to neaten him up. To organize him. A shadow passed over his head and his whole body seemed to stand rigid in attention. His arms pushed themselves down, his legs closed together, and his head snapped upward, his eyes open with alarm.

He tried to turn. I could see him straining. I think the shadows decided to just let him go then, because he head then snapped sideways and he fell down onto the steering wheel with a broken neck. The shadows pulled his body backwards and laid him neatly on the seat and then seemed to melt away.

Frank and I got back into the car and buckled our seatbelts. We didn't say a word as we drove around the man's car and away from it all. The only sound I made was a gasp as I found a new set of keys in my purse, keys that weren't mine. Frank looked at them and then told me to put them back where I found them in my purse and never touch them.

I left the purse in the next motel, all belongings inside essentially lost.

 -- Carol Baker
I think there's someone following us. I've seen this dirty white pickup truck on the highway four times now.

No Boojums drive pickup trucks. Snarks, maybe.

 -- Carol

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nobody on the Road

Still on the road. It's taking us longer than expected to get to the next place in the book: Leavenworth, Kansas. Yes. Joy.

I've been writing in my journal more often. I know it's sort of paradoxical having a journal and a blog, but the journal is for more private thoughts. Thoughts I don't wish to share, not even with Frank. He respects that - sometimes I think it would be a good idea if he had a journal, too, or if he wrote more in the blog. But he doesn't.

Even I know sometimes that private journals aren't private though, so my journal is an old copy of Through the Looking-Glass and I write my thoughts underneath the words and in the margins. So technically, it's a palimpsest. I don't know why I decided to do it that way, but I did. I like writing underneath words that were written before - words describing Alice's live chess match, her conversation with the Red Queen, all the nonsense wisdom.

I never really understood the book before we started on this mission - or whatever you would call it. I always thought it was just pure nonsense. It is nonsense, but it's right, too. I don't know what I'm saying. I just reread this passage and I'm getting tired:
"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Run as twice as fast to stay where you are. Nonsense wisdom, see?

Sleep now.

 -- Carol Baker

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Departed Days

We left Hope behind yesterday. It didn't seem so pleasant after what happened. I've managed to figure out what was going on, but I don't really want to talk about it (if you really want to know, go read about what happened from Steward).

Onward. The road feels more and more like home these days. Highways, gas stations, rest stops. Places of transition, people coming and going, only stopping for a few minutes. Liminal places. In-between places.

I'm going to talk about the Looking-Glass now. It was one of our first interviews after Mister Boots recruited us.  We talked to a Mister Higgins, whose daughter and her friend were taken by the Looking-Glass. By the City.

We didn't really believe it, you know. I mean, Frank and I had seen weird things - the Incident with the Aged Aged Man - but now someone was asking us to believe in a city that was alive. A place that lived outside of reality and trapped people within its maze. It seemed kind of silly. (I know, I know, arbitrary skepticism ahoy.)

But we did our interview and further research. We looked at the place where the girls vanished. We even interviewed other family members and friends. Finally, we were going to close the book on it and move on. Then, we heard that Mister Higgins himself had disappeared...out of a locked mental institution.

The security tape of his room (don't ask us how we got it) showed him waking up, then looking at the door to his room in awe. The camera wasn't pointed at the door, so it couldn't see it, but we saw Mister Higgins turn the knob and open the door, illuminating him in sunlight. Then, he walked through and the door closed behind him.

Sometimes, I wish I could have seen inside the Looking-Glass. Just for a moment. He had such a happy look on his face. But then I pull myself back to reality, back to the road ahead. Back to work.

 -- Carol Baker

Sunday, June 5, 2011

They Hunted Till Darkness Came On

Carol's sleeping now. I'm going to let her. I don't want her telling what happened last night. I know she doesn't want to remember it, but she will write it down just so it's written. So I will write it, so she doesn't have to.

I packed the gun and several flashlights and we headed off to the Land of Make Believe. I don't know why I thought it would be better to go there at night -- we had been there during the day twice and nothing had happened, but for some reason, I was just feeling like something bad was brewing and felt we had to be there after it all went down.

We were a little early.

When we arrived, the gates had already been broken open. Carol looked at me with that questioning eye and I took out the gun. We walked steadily through the amusement park, which in the dark of the night had become so much more sinister and unnerving.

Then, suddenly, we saw it: a Door in the middle of the path. A Door to the Looking-Glass. We ran off the side, behind the wooden horses of a Merri-Go-Round, as the Door opened and three men walked out.

"Don't do that ever again, Sleight," one of them said. "I don't want to be there."

"It was just a quick jaunt," the one whom I presumed was Sleight said. "If we didn't use it, we would have been too late."

The third one, who was tall and stout and looked very much like he could kill you with one punch, said nothing, but it clear he didn't like Sleight either.

We watched as they walked down the path and the Door vanished.

And then, just to make matters worse, several dozen more people ran down the path. They must have arrived as soon as the Door appeared. Men with guns and wicked grins. Following whatever orders they had gleefully.

And behind them, a man in a suit. Leisurely strolling after them. He turned and, unlike the others, saw us hiding. He gave a little wave and then continued walking. I knew then that he must have been Steward.

I don't know how long we stayed there. Hours, minutes, seconds. We heard an unholy scream and then suddenly there was a hush as all the air stopped. I held onto Carol's hand as we waited. Then, as suddenly as it descended, the silence went away and I could hear her. Carol. She was whispering.

"One, two. One, two. And through and through.
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack."

It was supposed to calm her. She only said it when she was about to panic. I held onto her hands and we listened as the sound of gunshots faded away.

And we waiting for the morning.

 -- Frank Bellman

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Evening Got Darker and Colder

So the kerfuffle I talked about last post? Turns out it was between some proxy of the Jabberwock named Steward (with two Revenants in tow) and two other people opposed to the Jabberwock named Peter and Hunter - and the little girl the witnesses mentioned was a servant to the Carpenter. So I guess we probably should have believed the witness who stated she instigated the fight.

Anyway, I'm glad we weren't there when it happened. I hate guns. And violence. I mean, Frank and I learned how to use a gun and keep one packed with us -- we're not stupid -- but I just hate them. There's no taking back a mistake with a gun.

We went to the Land of Make Believe again today. It was kind of crowded, probably because it was Saturday. Still, we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Frank wants to go back tonight, though, after it gets dark. Around eleven.

When I asked why, he said he was just getting a funny feeling. I've learned to trust Frank's funny feelings over the months. When we got back to the hotel, I saw him unpack the gun. He never unpacks the gun unless he thinks something's going to go wrong.

I hope Frank's feeling is wrong. If not, if something does happen, I hope we get there after that fact. I hope there are survivors we can interview.

I'm hoping for a lot of things.

 -- Carol Baker

Thursday, June 2, 2011

They Roused Him With Mustard and Cress

We went to a restaurant today. It was kind of a splurge, but I think Frank was feeling better. This feels like a good town.

Afterwards, he flipped on our radio to the police band and we heard about some sort of shoot-out in a restaurant across town. Since it might have been a Boojum, we legged it up there to take a look.

We interviewed about five witnesses to the event - each one had a different perspective. One said that two men at a table drew guns and tried to shoot three innocent men who were walking past. Another witness said that the three men tried to kidnap a little girl who was staying with the first two men at the table, which is why the two men attacked. Still another witness claims that the little girl was the one who attacked one of the men and started the whole fight (needless to say, we didn't believe this witness at all).

Still, there one thing all witnesses agreed on: the participants of the fight all seemed to vanish away when no one was looking. Police have searched all over for them, but there's no sign. So this either means that they were all servants to the Jabberwock or that they have access to the Looking-Glass.

I talked with Frank to see if this was what we were supposed to observe and write about, but he doesn't think so. Even though all the participants disappeared, none of them appeared to be Boojums. He thinks we should stay a few more nights and if nothing happens, then we should leave.

I think he just likes it here.

 -- Carol Baker