By: Tami (TGAUSS@tampabay.rr.com)
The phone rang in Peterís office.
The voice on the other end was low and musical, and just for a moment Peter was puzzled, then a huge smile crossed his face.
"One and the same, Peter. Iím in New York on business, and I was wondering if you were free for dinner?"
"Tonight? Uh, sure. That would be great. How have you been?"
"Oh, all right. Iíll fill you in on everything when I see you. Sardiís all right?"
"Er, fine. Seven?"
"Perfect. Iíll make the reservation in your name. Till then, Peter."
Peter hung up and sat back in his chair, remembering the bizarre incidents in Nevada that led to his meeting with her six months ago. He had been drawn to the tall, quiet redhead even then, but had lost touch with her after Connor and Lindsayís wedding. He wondered what she had been doing all this time and what she wanted. Well, he would find out, he guessed. He glanced at his watch and found he would have to hurry if he was going to meet her at seven.
She was there waiting for him when he arrived, only three minutes late. He gave her a light kiss on the cheek and sat down. "Iím glad you put the reservation in my name," he smiled. "Iím ashamed to admit, Iíve forgotten yours."
Her laugh was like her voice, low and musical. "I didnít expect you would remember, with all the chaos going on those two days. Dodds. Itís much easier than using my late husbandís name."
"Dodds. I should remember that, easily enough." Peterís broad, boyish grin animated his face. At 6'1", he was only a couple of inches taller than she was, and, although still young, his short hair was salt-and-pepper grey. "So--How long have you been in New York? And how long will you be here?"
"Actually, I just arrived today. I called you from the airport."
"Whereíd you come in from?"
"UC Berkeley. Iíve just received my Masterís in Anthropology and archaeology," she smiled.
"Thank you. I worked long and hard for it. Iím going to carry on my husbandís work."
"He was an anthropologist, wasnít he?"
She nodded. "A Hopi. He was trying to prove or disprove the Hopi connection to the Anasazi."
An involuntary shiver went through Peter.
"Whatís wrong, Peter?"
"Nothing, really. We just had a case a few years ago that dealt with the Anasazi."
Megan became animated. "Really? Tell me about it!"
"Well-they found this cave out in Chaco Canyon, and there were several deaths before we finished our investigation. No reason for them. They just went in the caveĖand died!"
Her eyes were wide. "Everyone?"
"No. One Native American wasĖseemingly immune."
"Why havenít I ever heard about a find like that? Iíve been doing research on this for years! Whoís at the site now?"
"No one. WeĖour teamĖsealed it off."
"Sealed it off! Why? It was an archaeological site!"
"Well, thereís more to it than that, but--"
"Could I see the records of that case? It could be just what Iím looking for!"
Peter became uncomfortable. "Megan, I canít let you see those reports without permission from the D.O."
"Can you get permission?"
"Well--possibly. But I canít promise anything."
She saw his discomfort and quieted down. "Iím sorry, Peter," she smiled. "I should have known better. The cases you investigate are secret."
"Not necessarily secret. Just confidential, I suppose you could say. Iíll see what I can do. So are you ready to order?"
The rest of the evening went well, and talk turned to their meeting in Nevada.
"Have you heard from Connor and Lindsay?" she asked. "The last I heard, they had found this little English cottage in New Hampshire and he had found a professorship."
Peter grinned. "I sure have. Connor called me the other night. He and Lindsay are going to have a baby in about six months. He was totally over the moon!"
"Oh, Iím so glad to hear that! The night they were married, I felt such love in that room. I didnít really get the full story, but I got the impression that they are a very special couple."
"That they are. I guess you know he was missing for three years and the last I knew, still didnít remember what happened to him. Anton seems to think he doesnít want to remember."
"Let him have peace," she said softly.
They had finished their dinner and were relaxing over coffee.
"If you donít mind my asking, Megan, what brings you here to New York?"
"Actually, Iím here to try to find funding for an expedition. Do you remember that I was anxious to see a petroglyph cave when we were out there in the desert?"
"Yeah. Did you ever find it?"
"Oh, yes! And I found a lot more than I bargained for! Thatís why I went back and finished my degrees, so I could qualify for a grant."
"What did you find?"
What she told him next made his green eyes widen, and caused him to be in Antonís office the first thing the next morning.
Anton was surprised to see Peter sitting in his office, reading a file, when he walked in at 8:00. Peter glanced up with a grin. "Hey, Anton. Iíve been waiting for you."
"So I see. And to what do I owe the honor of this singular visit at such an hour?"
Peter laughed. "I was just refreshing my memory on Case No. 288-128. You werenít with us on that one, Anton. Itís still an open file. An Anasazi cave was discovered in Chaco Canyon four years ago. Connor, Natasha and I were the ones that headed the investigation. Three young archaeologists found a sealed cave, sealed from the inside, mind you, and entered it. Within seconds, two were dead. The CDC investigators went in wearing full hazmat suits and were dead within seconds. Thatís when they called us in. We lost one man in an incident. A probe encountered some sort of unknown interference when we first sent it in, then, on the second try, recorded infinite space in front of itĖand simply vanished!"
"Are you talking about some sort of portal?"
Peter nodded, then added, "There was a young native, one of the original discoverers, who entered with immunity. As a last resort, we rigged him up with full biostat equipment and camera. He went to the bend, said he saw a bright light and a beautiful Indian woman that seemed to be summoning him, although our instruments recorded nothing, then he just walked out of sight, and vanished! Telemetry, everything, just gone!"
"Did you reach any conclusions?"
Peter shook his head. "After that, we figured it was too dangerous to investigate further. The local Indian representative wanted the cave sealed, and we agreed. We blew a charge that brought down a ton of rock."
"Thatís very odd, all right."
"In the end, the tribal representative told us that there was a legend that the ĎSpirit of the Mountainí told the warring Anasazi he would lead them back 200 years, to a time of peace and prosperity, and that he would leave a guardian spirit in the cave, calling to those who had a right to enter, and keeping out those who had no business there."
"Oh, and one more thing, Anton. In the rubble of the explosion they found a part of the missing probe. We carbon dated itĖat 200 years old!"
Anton was stunned into silence. After a minute he asked, "But why this renewed interest in an old case?"
"Anton, do you remember Megan?"
"In Nevada? Of course I do. Tall, pretty redhead; hard to forget," he smiled a little self-consciously. "She reminds me of a young Rula Lenska. What about her?"
Peter leaned back in the chair, lacing his hands behind his head. "Sheís here in town. Just finished her degrees in Archaeology and Anthropology. Anton, sheís stumbled onto something huge! Sheís here looking for funding, and I think the O.S.I.R. should give it to her. From what she tells me, this is right up our alley."
Anton looked at Peter a little sideways. "Are you sure thatís your real motive?"
Peter bristled. "Oh, come on, Anton! You know me better than that! Iíve always been serious about our work here! I wouldnít pull something like that justĖjust . . ."
"Peter! Peter! Calm down! Iím sorry! I believe you! Tell her to come in and weíll talk to her."
Peter grinned. "Thanks, Anton. Sheís due in here at nine."