Malachite – Chapter 1

The knock on the door startled him. It had been weeks since anyone had come around; and that, after weeks of so many visitors wishing well – trying to help themselves feel better, and hoping the same thing wouldn’t happen to them.

“Yeah?” he called thru the door.

“Um, Mr, um, Mal-.” He opened the door before the caller could finish.

“Just ‘Mal.’ What can I do for you?”

“I’m, um, from the police department. I’m Sgt. Detective….”

“Thanks. Good or bad?”

“I’m, um, afraid the best I can offer is that we finally have a lead.”

“Let’s have it,” Mal sighed wearily. A virtual eternity of either silence or false hope had long since taken their toll.

“We have found a friend of your daughter’s. Uh, Jaz seems to have been with her last.”

Mal raised his eyebrows. Finally: someone who had actually seen Jade. Probably not helpful in finding his daughter, but some idea of where she had gotten off to.

“Would you like to talk with Jaz? Not that I think it will change anything….”

“Yes, of course. When?”

“As soon as you’d like. Today?”

+++

“We had heard that we could get out of this hole by going thru a pool.” Jaz was looking down and worrying the bandages on her hands. She had been otherwise cleaned-up, but it would take weeks of calories to fill her emaciated face.

Mal leaned over and cupped his chin in his hands. How in the world did they survive going thru a pool? None of them had an exit as far as he knew, and he should know.

“When we got outside, we kept the morning sun on our right, ‘cause we heard that we could get to the city that way.”

The City? Jade and her friend should have been named ‘Dumb and Dumber’.

“We were gone about two suns when we got…. When we got, split up.” Jaz had yet to look up. Mal was about to grab her and shake her.

“Why did you get split up?” the female police officer gently prompted.

“We heard a noise. And, um, I ran. I just started running, and running, and running.” Jaz dissolved into tears and convulsive sobbing.

+++

“Can you show me the pool the girls went out of?”

“We’ve already checked it out. We’ve had our best divers into it, and they could find no way out.”

“I guess there are two teen-aged girls who could teach your best divers a thing or two?”

“No. You don’t understand. There is no way out of that pool.”

“Ok. So how did they get out?”

“Not thru that pool. Anyway.”

“In, or out?”

“Sorry?”

“Well, either Jaz is making this all up, or she is the only person in the history of this place to both leave and return thru pools that are impassable.”

Silence.

“You’ve got nothing to say? I’m not surprised. Just like everyone else around here, you’re content to do nothing.”

“That’s not fair! We have no training in this sort of thing.”

“Maybe an imagination would serve you better.”

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