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   Chapter 14 Brownie Oxford and the Ashland Affair

Brownie Oxford and the Ashland Affair: Brownie Bk1 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 11841

Updated: 2018-03-07 14:26

Chapter 14

I slept fitfully, drifting off only to startle myself awake, as though I expected an attack, my body braced. Finally, I managed to fall into a deep sleep, jerking awake when the alarm on my watch beeped. I rubbed my eyes as I tried to wake up. I pressed the button ending the alarm and realized it was morning. The night was over and I had not dreamed. I sighed with relief and felt a small knot of tension loosen slightly. Part of me wanted to relax and roll back into sleep, but I remembered the helpful group waiting for me at the cemetery.

"Besides I need to maintain a routine, " I told myself as I slid out of bed. I dressed for running and slipped the small tatting shuttle and silk thread into the pocket of my hoodie, taking the Mayenfield map out of my pocket. I replaced it with the notes I had made from my files the day before.

"Back in a bit Martha, " I told the dummy. I locked the doors behind me and slipped my keys into my pocket.

"Going to need that jacket soon, " I thought as I began to run. The morning seemed crisper and the fog a little chillier. I let my tension fade and my body relax as I ran. The thick trees made me feel like the only person in the world and I felt my fears of the dream returning slip away for the moment. I had no doubt they would return to reclaim my attention later.

At the entrance to the cemetery, I paused and slipped a little energy in, saying good morning before I crossed the threshold. The residents rose and once again Thaddeus greeted me warmly, escorting me to a bench in the sun. I was grateful for the sun, even though the concrete bench was cold and quickly turned my butt numb. I also appreciated that it was shielded from view of the street and entrance by several trees and twists in the picturesquely winding paths. If anyone came to pay their respects, I would be able to hear them before they could see me.

"And where are our scientists?" Thaddeus called, grandly to the crowd. The residents who had offered to help the day before drifted over. Dr. Alan, the former professor, seemed to have been elected the chair of their committee. I took out my folded sheet of paper and began relaying the basic information I had to my attentive audience.

"Did you require the pills more when you were working with the dead for Swift than when you were recuperating?" Dr. Alan asked.

"Yes, " I replied. He nodded as though expecting the answer.

"And did you speak to the dead while recuperating?" He asked. "On your own, not for Swift?" he clarified.

"Occasionally, " I said slowly, thinking back. "But I didn't mark those times down. It depended on how much mobility I had during the recuperation." He nodded and signaled the nutritionist, Barbara. Barbara quizzed me on my food selections. She asked me to justify my choices and explain their effects, not only on the number of pills taken but on my general well-being. She listened attentively and then stepped back, her brow creased in thought as she processed my responses.

"We will think and discuss, returning when we have more questions or a suggestion, " Dr. Alan informed me.

"Thank you, " I said tucking my paper back in my pocket. I glanced at my watch and realized I still had plenty of time and needed Paul to get accustomed to my longer stretches in the cemetery. "Mayor, " I said turning back to Thaddeus. "I still have time available. If you would like, I can provide energy to the residents so that they can more fully interact with each other."

The former mayor

ch. At dinner time I made myself a large spinach salad and set my sewing aside. I spent the evening reading, finishing the first of the mysteries I had picked up. I approached bed time with a little less trepidation than I had the night before. With my book finished, I stood and stretched, wishing Martha a good night and went into the bedroom. I tested my bilirubin levels, brushed my teeth, washed my face and dressed for bed. I was a little nervous as I dressed, again pulling on pants and socks before sliding beneath the sheets.

"The dreams didn't come last night, " I told myself, still unable to turn off my bedside light as though warding off the boogie man. I sighed and closed my eyes. I was tired from my late and restless night and early morning and even with the nerves, sleep found me an easy mark.

I blinked and found myself in the field of poppies. I didn't have time for fear. This time there was no cajoling voice, no quiet, but insistent tug. As soon as I realized where I was, the scorching wind roared around me. I dropped to the ground and tried to bond with the earth. The poppies were bent nearly horizontal by the wind and the heat turned their bright red petals as black as ash. I was shaking and sweating in seconds.

"Go into the tower Betty, " Matheson's voice boomed across the sky like thunder. "I command you Betty Watson, go into the tower." I felt my heart thump against the ground and thought about the paragraph on conscious dreaming. This wasn't a metaphor, at least not one I could recognize, but I needed to know if I could control anything here or if I was in a completely Matheson controlled environment. I swallowed the hard lump of fear that had lodged in my throat and closed my eyes. I pictured my body sinking further into the earth with every heartbeat, the cool earth protecting me from the hot wind.

Thump thump, went my heart and I pictured my body sinking by millimeters, cool and safe. I opened my eyes as I felt the coolness of the earth surround my feet. Most of my body was buried in the earth, protecting me as the poppies caught fire. The flowers burned, but I was safe, cocooned. The wind continued to roar until a scream of pure, frustrated rage split the sky. The wind stopped, I closed my eyes and rested my wind burned cheek on the cool earth. Moments later, I woke up in my bed.

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