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WEDNESDAY, JULY 17th, 2019 — CONNECTICUT

 

Gleaming bright in the mid-afternoon sun the white SUV cruised northward along the vacant highway while it’s driver listlessly fiddled with the map display. Global positioning systems weren’t what they used to be. There was a serious lack of resources when it came to satellite support but there was a lot more to it than just general maintenance. Like most things these days, technology suffered the effects of the Nevus. Some places more prolific than others. Even his own mana might have been, probably was to some degree, messing with the vehicle’s computer. He didn’t need it anyway. It was of the reasons most members of the Order tended to drive late model vehicles. He’d have requisitioned one in advance if he’d had the time. As it was, the Magus was acting purely on, well, one might refer to it as instinct but those familiar with the nuances of a psychic’s mind knew better.

Trystan had awoken that morning with a nagging. The sort you got when something important was misplaced only you weren’t sure specifically what that thing of importance was. Hardly a novel sensation for a ‘sensitive’ but the impressions were somehow different, more pronounced. It’s drawings had dominated his sketchbook over the past week, a cryptic vignette that had made little sense until that very afternoon.

He had been tasked with clearing out the desk of a fellow Magus that had gone missing months ago. He’d requested the job, if only to satisfy his curiosity and have one last ‘look’ at the life of Third class Shield.

Peter Pembry was a former special operations officer gifted with the abilities of a Magus. It had taken the man a few years to embrace the calling but when he had finally given up his old life for the Order he immediately proved himself an asset. Unfortunately like many of his kind he struggled with the realities on this new world and had been passed up for promotion several times. Assigned to the case, Trystan had focused on this doldrum, but to no avail. No other clues yielded through the psychometry of his personal possessions had allowed the psychic to glean his whereabouts or even derive a single indicator of the motive. The eerie details of the vanishing had continued to haunt him and Trystan had felt that one last scan of the man’s belongings would give him closure. Instead, it had inadvertently allowed him to piece together the cryptic mosaic of his mindscape and point him to a specific place.

The revelation was hardly a break in the case. The experienced Eye had long accepted the fallibility and vagaries of his visions, but he had felt as if he had tapped into something. The extent of it went beyond his comprehension and against all better judgement Trystan had given to the overwhelming obligation.

‘Was there a connection?’ Trystan didn’t know, but something was drawing him north. Often times there was little else he could do to appease the obsession of his wandering ‘eye’ but to fumble along behind it. That very afternoon he obtained a vehicle and left the city, but for the life of him, the normally cautious Magus could not recall whether or not he recorded the reason for his departure or even the destination.

‘Strange.’ Not one to deviate from standard protocol, Trystan could only assume that he followed the basic procedure. Why would he not?

Taking the exit to Millbrook, he turned off of the Taconic State Parkway and headed east on the 44, the only route safe enough for higher cruising speeds. His destination was located in the northwestern corner of the state of Connecticut. The ‘Wilds of Connecticut’, two terms in tandem that would have been considered an oxymoron prior to the Resonance but since then much had changed. The entire region had been plagued with the zombie virus and a blight had rendered the land infertile. Arid steppe and wind swept wasteland stretched to the horizon. As far Trystan knew nobody lived in these barren lands. The bulk of the population adhered to the southern and eastern parts of the state where the land had remained fertile. Even the zombies had long since expired or were forced into permanent stasis upon the bleak, lifeless heath.

Trystan drummed his fingers on the steering wheel in time with a classic tune, the heavy thump of his signet ring resonating in his thoughts. He’d been too long in the city of late. It felt good to hit the highway, explore a little. That’s all he figured this was going to turn out to be, a ‘Sunday drive’ on a Wednesday. It certainly wasn’t the first time he’d followed a vision into the wilds only to arrive at a destination that served as a catalyst to produce more pieces of the puzzle. The coalescence of a myriad of fragmented possibilities into one comprehensible idea momentarily alleviating the burden of self perpetuated intrigue.

Tapping the break, Trystan swerved, narrowly missing the dried carcass of some unidentifiable form of roadkill. A long exhale ensued, widened eyes putting daydreams aside and focusing on the present.

‘What the hell was that thing?’ The fleeting image in the rearview mirror might have been a deer but it was too robust. Streaks of dried blood denoted it to have been killed by a heaving impact, a land-train to be specific. Passing near the carcass the psychic saw the creature’s last thought, the reinforced steel grill of an enormous semi-truck. They were used in Australia their popularity now growing to haul cargo across the vast, unpopulated areas of North America. ‘But why would one come all the way out here?’

Trystan’s question was answered a half hour later, when the barren shoulder of the highway suddenly burst into a vibrant verge. Lush vegetation thickened with each passing second and in the distance a bright verdure contrasted against the brilliant blue of the summer sky.

A sign was quickly approaching and instinctively the Magus reduced speed as the rooftops of structures rose in the distance.

‘Where was this?’ He pondered prior to reading the pristine sign’s message, ‘Welcome to Lakeville’

To his right a small lake, a little over a kilometre in width, sparkled in the afternoon sun like a blue gem, the white of a sail dancing across it’s shimmering surface. Healthy trees, bumper crops and well kept homes surrounded the highway hugging town as if the catastrophe that struck the area had never occurred. These were, however, incredible times and thus the Magus immediately began to formulate a rational explanation for this oasis in the desert.

There were three small people riding their bikes on the shoulder of the road ahead of him. Children, their smiles beaming as he passed by, the smallest among them exuberantly waving. Trystan waved back, returning a hesitant smile. There was something ‘off’ about this place, though he sensed nothing that would support the feeling. There were stranger places in this world to be sure, so the Magus chalked it up to paranoia.

It was a quaint town, grand old trees shading the sidewalks. Many of the homes and buildings dated back to the early 1900’s, predominantly white washed or brick giving the borough a coastal feel. It appeared to be a resort town, banking on it’s close proximity to two lakes, but no longer. He doubted few came up this way very often, although there were the definite signs of a freight truck. Still, there were a few vehicles about save for those owned by homeowners or staff.

The slate blue siding of a large ‘A-framed’ building caught Trystan’s eye, the name ‘Boathouse’ laid over the image of two crisscrossing oars across the front. Decorative white trim and french windows were immaculate, hardly the rundown restaurant of a place beset by hard times and yet the place wasn’t large enough to sustain it’s economy without the commerce of outsiders. He noted a few patrons through the large windows, and to be fair, it was four in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

He kept driving along the main street, following highway 44 through the small town. It barely took ten minutes to near the outskirts and it was at that point that better judgement finally won out and Trystan decided to call into the office.

‘No service.’

He wasn’t surprised. Like GPS, the reliability of cell phones had plummeted, especially over the last few years. He needed a land line, of course that meant stopping and getting out of the vehicle, two things of which he had hoped to avoid.

Coming up on his left he saw a sign, ‘Inn at Iron Masters’, and down the lane from it was the motel. As good a place as any, Trystan figured as he hung a left and drove toward it, the crackle of stone beneath the tires breaking the eerie calm.

The bells attached to the door of the motel’s office chimed as the Magus entered, hands tucked into the pockets of his linen pants.

[trystan]Hello?[/trystan] He called out, after waiting a few minutes. He then tried the phone on the counter.

Dead.

‘Great.’

[trystan]Hey! Excuse me![/trystan] He tried again.

Nothing.

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