Peter and Megan were the first ones to arrive at the mobile lab the next day. He was relieved to find there had been no disturbances in the night, but was slightly annoyed that a message had come that morning that a government representative was being assigned to the case.
"Just what I need; someone to look over my shoulder," Peter muttered in an undertone, and shook his head.
Megan had gone for coffee, and met Mia in the galley.
"Oh! Hi, Megan. How are you and Peter this morning?"
Megan smiled at the girl about half her size. "Oh, we’re fine. What do you think about what happened yesterday?"
"With the scarab, you mean? I’d like to get hold of it and see what would happen to me."
Megan laughed a little. "You might change your mind if you were on the receiving end of it."
Mia shrugged. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Peter had just finished entering the raw data in a file when Megan came back and handed him a cup. "Thanks, honey. Did you hear the government is sending a representative?"
"I don’t know. But I hope he takes his time," he answered wryly.
"I’m not surprised they want to keep an eye on it, after the first one disappeared."
Peter sighed and shrugged. "I suppose not." He took a sip of his coffee. "Mm. Good. Do you want to write the e-mail, or shall I?"
"I’ll do it, honey. I saw Anton a bit ago. I think he’s anxious to see you."
"Okay. The filename is ‘beta.’" He gave her a quick kiss and was off in search of Anton.
She was just sending the e-mail when an operative entered the lab. "The government representative is here," he reported. Behind him loomed a very tall man, who entered and bowed, eastern-style.
"I am looking for Dr. Peter Axon?" His voice was rich and deep, and he put the stress on the second syllable of "Axon."
"My husband will be back momentarily. I’m Mrs. Axon," Megan answered. "Also, Dr. Axon," she added with a smile, and extended her hand.
He took it, and bestowed a Continental kiss on the back. "Mustafa Ben Ra-Hok, at your service."
Lindsay stretched and woke to find Connor smiling at her. She smiled back. "Well, good morning, darling," she said, kissing him. "What are you smiling about?"
"Just watching you sleep. Did you know that you sleep beautifully?"
She laughed. "No, being as I’m asleep at the time." She squeezed her eyes shut. "Oo. Sorry about that."
He laughed, too, tightening his arms around her and hugging her closer. "It’s so wonderful to wake up every morning with you in my arms."
Lindsay laughed. "If I get much bigger, I’m going to be halfway across the room."
His laughter shook the bed. "How are you feeling this morning?"
"I’m okay." She returned his embrace and slipped out of bed. "Today’s your first class, isn’t it?"
"Um-hm. Don’t you have a doctor’s appointment?"
She nodded. "Late this afternoon. After your classes."
"Good. I’ll be home to pick you up." By now he was up, too.
Sooty rose, yawned, stretched twice his length (seemingly), and hopped off the bed to follow Lindsay, while Connor started downstairs.
"Guard her well, Sooty," he said under his breath, and whirled with a start as the cat peeped in reply. He stared into the animal’s eyes and saw him slowly, and very deliberately, blink!
Peter was back in a matter of minutes, and Megan introduced the two men. Peter held out his hand and managed a smile.
"Good morning, Mr. Ben Ra-Hok."
"Please. Call me Mustafa. I am very pleased to be working with you. Have you discovered anything about the scarab yet?"
"Not much. But, we’ve really just started. It seems to be pretty powerful, though."
"So I have been told. May I see it?"
Peter brought out the key and opened the box. Mustafa looked, but made no attempt to touch it, instead standing with his hands clasped behind his back, a rapt expression on his face. He nodded slowly, smiling a little, then returned his gaze to Peter.
Peter exchanged glances with Megan, but hid his puzzlement as he again locked the box, then began to detail everything that had happened the day before. He was just finishing when Mia stuck her head in the door.
"Peter, can I see you a minute?"
"Well, Peter, what do you think? It’s something that hasn’t been tried yet."
They were at the morning Round Table, and Mia was pressing her case.
"It sounds like a good idea, and I have no logical objection–"
"I said, ‘logical.’" He sighed. "What do you think, Anton?"
"It’s your call, Peter, but I don’t see anything wrong with it."
Peter looked at Megan, who nodded. He sighed again, then returned his gaze to Mia. "All right. We’ll rig you up with Biostats and get an electronic record of you holding the scarab."
Elated, Mia all but danced out of the room, and Anton, looking tired, left too. When they were alone, Megan looked at her husband.
"What’s wrong, Peter? She’s right. It could net invaluable information."
"I know, honey. It’s just more instinct than anything. She’s a nice kid, and I don’t want to fry her brain!"
Megan bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Come on; let’s go make her day."
Breakfast was over, and Connor had left for his classes. Lindsay had gone upstairs to dress, but as she started down, Sooty stood on the landing in front of her, blocking her way. She nudged him gently with the toe of her sandal.
"Come on, baby, move. I have to get downstairs."
The kitten held his ground, and peeped, looking up at her. She frowned in confusion, and reached down to pick him up, but he moved just far enough away to avoid her grasp.
"Sooty, for Pete’s sake, what’s the matter with you?" Then, before anything else could happen, a wave of dizziness swept over her, and she abruptly sat down on the floor. Instantly, the kitten jumped into her lap, touching her face with his paw, and peeping several times. She stared at him in amazement, and cuddled him to her. "I understand, baby," she whispered. "I understand."
Everything was ready for the experiment. The scarab lay in front of Mia on a moveable table.
"I may watch?" Mustafa asked.
Peter nodded, then looked at Mia. "Now the only thing we’ve really established, Mia, is that the crystal has to make contact with your skin. Now, if you feel anything going wrong, tell me and we’ll stop. Don’t try to be a hero!" he finished, with an unconscious touch of acid.
She nodded to Peter, and he reluctantly flipped the switch on the monitor. She picked up the artifact, and at first nothing happened. Peter’s eyes were glued to the monitor, and he saw the pattern change, from Alpha waves to Deltas. Then he gasped. "Wait! This is physically impossible!"
"What, Peter?" Megan sensed his shock.
"She’s producing Delta and Theta waves at the same time!"
She looked at him blankly, and he explained. "It means she’s producing Deltas, which you would expect, but Theta waves mean wakefulness. You can’t be awake and asleep at the same time!"
Just then Mia’s head started whipping erratically in random directions, like she was following something only she could see.
"They’re around me! They’re all around me!"
"What are, Mia?" Megan asked calmly.
"I don’t know! They’re moving too fast! It’s like–long white shapes! Peter! Help me!"
Peter tried to get the scarab, but her hand was locked in place. "Mia! Come out of it! Mia! Come on! Mia!"
Connor’s face was as white as Lindsay had ever seen it. Even his lips were bloodless. They were parked outside the doctor’s office late in the afternoon.
"Why–didn’t–you call me?"
"Because the first thing I did after it happened was to call the doctor. He came over immediately and checked me out."
His eyes were incredulous. "He came to the house?"
She nodded. "And he said my blood pressure and everything else was normal, and that I should just rest until our appointment this afternoon."
The color began to ease back into his face. "You were downstairs when I got home. How’d you do that?"
Her lips twitched at the obvious answer, but she answered him seriously. "Mrs. Shultz came down right beside me, holding on like I was going to make a run for it." Lindsay giggled. "She’s little, but she’s strong!"
Connor huffed an involuntary laugh at that. "I’m glad I insisted she be there."
"So am I,"she smiled, and slipped her hand into his. "Come on, honey; let’s go in."
"You wait here. I’m coming around to open the door for you."
When he had lifted her to a standing position, his arms went around her as tightly as he dared. She could feel his trembling, and she buried her face in his neck to comfort him.
Mia’s eyes were just coming into focus, and she saw Megan bending over her.
"Feeling better now?"
Mia nodded. "What happened?"
"You don’t remember?"
Megan smiled and gently moved the girl’s bangs aside. "You were pretty freaked out. We couldn’t get the scarab away from you, so Anton had to give you a muscle relaxant. That’s when you passed out."
Mia let out a slow breath, and just as slowly sat up. She was in one of the lab’s exam chairs. "Guess I should have listened to you."
Megan laughed. "I’ll call them in."
She stepped back a pace and motioned to Peter and Anton. Anton did a quick exam while Peter questioned her, but all memory of the incident was gone.
"She’s okay, Peter. Just a little stressed."
Peter nodded. "Would you like to see the tape?"
"Yes. Uh–where is ‘it’ now?"
Peter grinned. "Don’t worry; I locked it up again."
Mia was stunned after looking at the tape. "I can’t believe I’d react like that. I’m a trained observer!"
"Yeah, well–what you were observing was pretty wild."
She glanced sideways at him with a trace of a grin, then watched the tape again, shaking her head. "Do you have any idea what I was seeing?"
No one had an answer.
As they lay in bed that night, Lindsay told Connor of the e-mail from Egypt with the data that needed collating, and told him what their friends had experienced.
Connor frowned in speculation. "Sounds like the one they have is a lot different from–from the other one."
"I know. This one seems more–benevolent, is the word I guess I’m looking for."
Connor gave a short, skeptical laugh.
She shrugged. "Yeah, I know." She shifted a little toward him, and told him about the incident at the top of the stairs. "Connor, that was no random chance. He knew."
It was then that Connor told her about that morning, and his reaction.
They looked at each other in wonder, then both looked at the purring, contented little cat that lay curled on her chest.
She was silent for a time, gradually becoming aware of the extreme tension Connor was still feeling, and determining to dispel it.
"Um-Connor, do you really want to know how I got downstairs this morning?"
"What do you mean? I thought–"
She put her finger on his lips, and lowered her voice to a stage whisper. "I slid down the bannister!"
There was a moment of stunned silence, and then he roared with laughter till his stomach hurt. "You-are-totally, certifiably, undeniably crazy!"
"Yeah," she grinned. "But you love me, anyway, don’t you?"
He answered her without words.
The next morning, Megan found Peter in the lab, frowning at the monitor, and pecking idly at the keys. He was slouched sideways in the chair, his right arm casually draped over the back of it.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
He looked up and smiled, but the frown continued. "Hi, honey. I was just reading Lindsay’s answer."
She crossed to stand beside him. "Oh! What did she say?"
"Well, her theory is that it picks up on our strongest subconscious thought."
She nodded slowly. "Makes sense. Archeology is my forté, and I’m sure Anton’s thoughts are never far away from his daughter."
"Well, I’ll grant you that. But what about Mia? And me?"
"Well–Mia’s a parapsychologist. Maybe she was seeing her conception of ghosts."
"May-be." His tone was unconvinced.
And as for you, my darling–" she shrugged. "I don’t know. But I know you like music."
He grinned. "Yeah, but the kind of music I was hearing, I’d never heard before."
"What was it like?"
He shook his head. "Megan, I can’t even begin to describe it. But it was beautiful, and it had such power!"
He sighed deeply and reached for her hand, pulling her down gently onto his lap. "Let’s forget it for a while, and think of something else."
"Why, Peter Axon! What do you have in mind?" she laughed, and lowered her head to kiss him.
"I may disturb you?"
Both of them started, and Megan fell with a resounding "thunk" to the floor.
"Oh, I am sorry. I have disturbed."
Peter’s face colored, and he refused to meet the Egyptian’s eyes. "No. Yes. Well, I–"
Megan scrambled to her feet and spoke up, her voice trembling with suppressed laughter. "What my eloquent husband is trying to say, Mustafa, is that we were–er–doing a little ‘unauthorized research.’"
He startled them both by laughing, and soon they joined him.
"Please forgive us, but you see, Peter and I have only been married just over a month."
His face brightened. "Ah! This I understand! I have just married my third wife."
"Oh! Well–con-congratulations," she replied, and promptly came down with a case of the hiccups.
By now Peter had himself under control. "What can we do for you, Mustafa?"
The Egyptian frowned. "I have been most concerned about what happened yesterday, with that young girl."
"Yes. So have we."
He complied, then leaned forward, his face grim. "There is something I must tell you."