Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"With terror it would seize ye, and make your souls uneasy." Thackeray
Was greater than that of her investigating manager, Hyawatha wouldn't be surprised if it was. Since she was in for it anyway, she gave them a full list of her requirements: a woman's watch, a personal undergarment, and the best perfume she had; toilet requisites and a silver basin, a Magimus ring and a pin; flannel shirts, heavy trousers and underclothes, and a wind proof outer jacket. Within two hours she was at Maryville station in person, with the whole lot neatly strapped into the large night bag. She should have liked a weapon of some sort, but it was laying unfair weight on her discretion to ask not to register or report the transaction.
Hyawatha took a mag-train to Huntington, and thence by slow stages to Varaster, where she arrived about six in the afternoon. She changed after Alister, where a friendly porter heaved her roll into an empty spot on a stopping mag-train without any trouble. By the time she reached the next station she was no longer the fashion-dressed woman. She had become a holiday-vacationer with a pair of expensive, very large and dark sun glasses, oh so stylish.
She charged her stuff at Varaster station. What transport to take into the blue depths of Upper Glen she hadn't the faintest notion. She couldn't buy an air vehicle or a ground car because of the difficulty of returning them. A derelict aircar or a wandering ground car at once arouses any amount of attention. To walk with her unwieldy luggage was nearly impossible. To take an airbus merely put off the moment when she would have to find more private conveyance, to her liking.
Strolling as far as the Gaddie amphitheater, she lay on the green grass slope to watch the air traffic above the Frogoth road and hoped for an idea. The band of air-cyclist interested her. She hadn't ridden an air-cycle since she was a girl, and had forgotten its possibilities. These holiday-vacationers carried enough gear on their backs to last a few weeks, but she didn't see how she could balance all her luggage outfitted on an air-bike.
She waited for a few hours, and along came the very air vehicle she wanted. She had since noticed that they are quite common above the roads, but this was the first she had seen. A tandem air-bicycle it was, with all sorts of rigging and the baggage slung alongside in a little side area. She should never have dared to carry all that stuff, would it fit on a contraption like that, but she must admit that for a young couple with nothing but love between them, and little money, it was a sensible way of taking a vacation holiday.
She stood up and yelled to them, pointing frantically at something in particular. They dismounted, looked at her with surprise, then at their things, then at the back gravity coil.
"Sorry to bother you," she said. "But can I ask where you bought that thing?" Just what I want for me!"
They were silent for a long moment. Then they seemed to gather their thoughts after having been put through a scare, thinking that she was warning them of something that was wrong, when in fact she was only asking as to where she could rent one of their air-bikes. The man went a short distance and began to explain where one might be rented while his wife went back to their business. At some point she beckoned him to put an end to it and gather their things as they were ready to be on their way. Hyawatha saw that she had bothered them as much as she was going to be able to do and then began to make arrangements to rent one of those air-bikes. A few calls later and she had one all set up. It was going to be an interesting vacation in the countryside. Visiting relatives and old friends. A chance to get away from her normal job. What she could not foresee, were the events that were yet to come and the mystery surrounding what was suppose to be just a good time in the countryside.
We can see a quaint little village, with small shops and the locals going about their day doing various chores and things. Hyawatha flies into the village on her rented air-bike. The domed cities of Mars are made of a kind of materia that allow certain electromagnetic energy to pass through while blocking others. They all simulate the blue sky that is found on Earth but allow the night sky stars the shine through when the sun goes down. In the beginning of early colonization, there were smaller domes built. But as time went on and resources were gathered and built up, manufacturing began to boon as mankind learned to live off the land, and other more expansive domed cities were built in vaster locations. Now there were over fifty massive super domes, housing many individual cities instead of each dome making up one city. Upper Glen was one of the older domed cities. We see Hyawatha as she dropped of the air vehicle and takes care of any transactions.
Retailer uttered, "You here for the festival?"
Hyawatha answered, "Festival? Hmm. I had forgotten about that. No. It's been a long time since I've been here. I was raised here, in Upper Glen."
Retailer voiced, "Ah. You are one of the young people that left for the big city. Yeah, there was a lot of that going on back in the day. The super domes seemed to draw the young people to them, like magnets. Looking for better jobs and a new life I suppose."
Hyawatha nodded, "That was it for me. I wanted to see the world, meet new people and discover new things. The job in the village seemed like yesterday's news. Not sure why though. I got the big city only to find that the jobs were the same. Just more of them."
Retailer stated, "It happens with all young people. I was young once. My folks were the second generation to live on Mars. I guess about a hundred years after the boon in colonization. Lots of people from Earth were fed up with the way things were going and decided to take a chance and immigrate to Mars. Now they are talking about leaving the star system all together, and colonizing a new solar system. I hear they found three planets that can be colonized using our current level of technology."
Hyawatha spoke, "Yes. I don't think that the spirit of mankind can ever stop seeking out different frontiers. It's just in our DNA."
Retailer asked, "So. You got friends and relatives in Upper Glen?"
Hyawatha nodded, "Yes I do. Like I said, it's been a long time since I've been back. Honestly I never thought that I'd ever come back. But lately something seemed to have drawn me back to this place."
Retailer asked, "What's your family's name?"
Hyawatha responded, "Thomas. The surname is Thomas. My family run a. . ."
Retailer's face lit up, "Oh. You are Martha and Sid Thomas' little girl. My. . .my, how you have grown all up. Yeah. I remember you. You used to run around all over the place with pigtails and all the bit. You and a group of other local kids. Most of them have all moved off too. Yeah I remember those days. . ."
We see Hyawatha as she moved about Upper Glen, looking at the various quaint shops and taverns and inns. It is a rather pleasant day, the weather inside habitat domes was controlled to the most part by artificial means. This meant that cycles of weather had to be duplicated, that optimal environmental and health conditions could be facilitated. Hyawatha happened to come back home during a fairly nice weather cycle. She decided to go into one of the local pubs. Once inside she found the place to be just as she had remembered. A few of the older locals were in their favorite booths. As she passed by a few of them nodded with smiles, a couple of them seemed to recognize her and the thought that was odd, hadn't she changed? Wasn't she older?
Hyawatha found a booth and a barmaid came over and took her order. We see an older couple kind of staring at her and finally the either got up the nerve or just were plain old nosy and decided to come and join her.
Old man uttered, "Do I know you?"
Old woman spoke, "Now, that is no way to ask a young lady like her, small wonder all the tourist are scared away from these parts."
Hyawatha smiled, "I used to live around here."
Old woman asked, "Oh really, how long back?"
Hyawatha said, "Oh, it's been awhile. Almost twenty years."
Old man gruffed, "Yeah, sounds about right! Most you young people leave and never come back. That is why I'm proud of the ones that decide to stay and make a living right here. We need fresh blood to take over the things that need to be done. Can't have all you, just up and running to the big cities, can we?"
Hyawatha cleared her throat, "No I guess not. I really don't think the young people are running away from here. I just think they get restless, need to see something other than this sleepy little village."
Old woman asked, "That's the way it was with you? You needed to see other things? Other things aren't always a good thing you know."
Hyawatha nodded, "You are right about that. But sometimes young people have to learn some things for themselves."
Old man said, "See. . .I told you. This is the Thomas kid. . ."
Hyawatha seemed surprised, "You know me?"
Old man kind of laughed, "Know you. . ."
Old woman answered, "Oh yes, your mother and father told everyone that would listen that their big important daughter was coming back, from living in the big city. Going to settle down here now and get al nice and proper."
Hyawatha cringed, "Oh. Yes. That sounds like my mother and father. I haven't been back at the inn yet, how are they?"
Old woman uttered, "Oh they are fine, child. Don't you go worrying about them. We all live in the countryside. You are used to those big city domes where all things are moving too fast and not enough attention paid to the little things. People live longer in the countryside you know."
Old man added, "They stay healthier too. . ."
Hyawatha's beer had arrived and she sipped it, "Yeah, I do know. But what is all the talk about me settling down here, I'm just here for a vacation."
Old woman looked at her mate then back at Hyawatha, "You not planning on staying?"
We see Hyawatha as she makes her way down the old streets of Upper Glen. A few old timers seem to recognize her and they wave and she waves back. Now we see her as she makes her way towards a well preserved inn. It is her parent's inn, the place where she was born and raised. Out the front door comes running a little girl, Hyawatha's little niece. She gives her a big hug and then proceeds to lead her towards the house by holding her hand. Now we see her mother and father as she come out onto the porch, smiles on their faces, mother with her arms held out warmly, father looking proudly upon there wayfaring now returned home.
Mom uttered, "Oh, darling, it is so good to see you, come on in, come on in. . ."
Dad nodded with a big grind, "Girl it has been too long. We are so glad to see you." He ordered a worker to get Hyawatha's bags. "You look really good!"
Hyawatha knew that no matter how she looked, her parents would only tell her that she was doing better than she was. "Mon, Dad, it's so good to see the two of you." The all hugged and kissed and then went on inside.
We see the dinning room, it is a little dark but filled with all sorts of photos, old ones, scenes from various family gatherings, relatives, living and now gone. Hyawatha slowly looks at the images, they bring back memories of days gone by. Mom comes in with refreshments while Dad settles in on his favorite easy chair.
Dad asked, "So, how's the big city treating you? Had enough of it did you?"
Mom served everyone refreshments, which included homemade pie, "Now, Charles, you promised not to go there."
Dad said, "Martha, I'm just trying to get the girl to realize that there is no place like home."
Hyawatha enjoyed them fussing over her. "Mom, Dad, I just got here. And this is going to be an extended vacation."
Mom uttered, "Oh. How long your stay, dear?"
Hyawatha hesitated, "A good month. . ."
Dad and Mom looked at one another. Finally Mom smiled, "Well that is good, Hyawatha. We can't get too much of you being here with us. We missed you so much."
Hyawatha said, "I missed the two of you, too."
Dad asked, "Have you been to see John?"
Mom voiced, "Charles, she just got into town and already you are trying to fix her up?"
Hyawatha shook her head, "No. I haven't had a chance. When I arrived I went straight to home."
Dad raised a brow, "Hmm. The local pub is hardly home, Hyawatha."
Mom interjected, "She was thirsty from the long journey, dear. Plus she just wanted to take in a few scenes before heading on over here, isn't that right, dead?"
Hyawatha smiled, "You go it right, Mon. Dad, how goes everything around here? I was talking to a few locals and they seem to feel that all the young people a keen to leaving?"
Dad sat back, loaded a pot pipe filled with home grown, "Yeah, they were telling you the truth. Seems that it wasn't just your generation that got ants in their pants, but this one coming up too."
Mom put in, "Something about the big city that seems to draw all the good ones away."
Hyawatha echoed, "The good ones? I never considered myself to be one of the good ones, Mom."
We watch them as they are all settled in for their first meal together in a long time. We see Mom as she lovingly fusses over ever little detail of the meal, it is obvious that she is a great cook. Dad is happy to have his family at the table once more, with Hyawatha and her little niece sitting next to one another. It seems like old times. Then there was a knock at the front door and Mom got up and answered it A moment later she returned with a handsome man following her. He is dressed in a local policeman's uniform. Hyawatha and the young man's eyes met for the first time and the both smiled at one another.
Mom asked, "Hyawatha, you remember Jax, right?"
Hyawatha responded, "Jax? Is that really you? Wow. I guess we have all grown up. You are the local sheriff now?"
Jax nodded, "Yeah. Small town problems. Nothing like the excitement you experience in the big city."
Dad said, "Jax, come on and join us. . ."
Jax responded, "Oh, I don't know. I was just in the neighborhood, heard at the pub that Hyawatha was home for a vacation. Wanted to say, hi. . ."
Mom fixed him a plate, "Well you've said hi, now sit down and join us. I'd take it as an insult if you didn't."
Jax looked at Hyawatha and shrugged, "Yes, ma'am."
Hyawatha asked, "So. How have you been? It has been so long since we've seen one another."
Jax answered, "You know, the same old local story. Just trying to keep out of trouble and keep everyone else out of it too."
Hyawatha said, "I understand. To be honest there isn't that much happening back in the city. It just seems like that because of the way the news reports everything. They hone in on bad news while totally ignoring the good news."
Dad interjected, "That's how that keep us oppressed. They always tell us things that they know will make us depressed and then they try and sell us pills to make us un-depressed."
They all get a laugh out of that. Jax asked, "So what is it like to be a big time crime scene investigator for the big city? You must help to solve lots of high profile cases?"
Hyawatha answered, "It's not that exciting at all, Jax. I'm one a group of experts that make up a department."
Jax said, "Well. That is modesty for you. Heck, I don't even have one expert. Just a few deputies. Small town stuff you know."
Mom said, "You two used to go together in high school didn't you?"
Hyawatha said, "As if you didn't remember, Mom. Are you trying to set us up?"
Dad voiced, "Oh, no, Hyawatha! Your mother is just being silly, isn't that right, dear?"
Hyawatha's niece said, "Jax likes Hyawatha. . ."
They all laughed again and went about enjoying the good home cooked meal, something that Hyawatha hadn't had in a very long time.
Jax uttered, "You are too modest, Hyawatha. We all saw on the audioimage how you helped to solve the Baxter case. The guy was a scumbag and you helped to put him away with really smart forensics. Man, I could sure use a person like you out here. . ."
Hyawatha frowned, "Why? What is wrong? You having trouble with a case?"
Jax tried to deflect, "Oh, I don't want to bother you with my local problems."
We see that the meal is over and they are all out on the front porch. It is a nice night. Mom and Dad are off to one side give Hyawatha and Jax some alone time. Her niece is running about playing with a domestic robot and having fun. Hyawatha and Jax are sitting in a large rocking chair by the edge of the porch.
Hyawatha asked, "What was that business that you were talking about that you didn't want to elaborate on in front of my family?"
Jax said, "Oh, you caught on to that, huh? You always were the smart one."
Hyawatha said, "Now we all know that is not true. You would have gone away just like me but you fell on hard times with personal family issues. You know, with your dad dying suddenly, you had to stay back and help out you family. I always admired you for that. It took a lot of courage and character."
Jax countered, "I always thought it took more to just up and leave. You know, get the hell out of this place before it sucked you into it like small towns do so many people."
Hyawatha uttered, "No. It really didn't take as much courage as you might have thought. I was running away. . ."
Jax asked, "Running away from what?"
Hyawatha answered, "That is the whole point. I never did figure out what is was that I was running away from. Now that I've come home, if even for but a vacation, I can't understand what must have been going through my mind back then. I mean, that is the place that a person wants to live in. Raise a family, and just live a quiet and slow life. People know you and speak to you. Oh, not everybody is your friend, but on the other hand, not everybody is you enemy either."
Jax went on, "Big city isn't what it is cracked up to be?"
Hyawatha smiled and nodded, "If I could get away from there I would."
Jax frowned, "Then why don't you?"
Hyawatha uttered, "Huh?"
Jax said, "It is a simple proposition. Why don't you get away from it all? What is keeping you there?"
Hyawatha answered, "I. . .I don't really know to be honest."
Jax put forth, "Maybe that is why you finally decided to take a vacation back home, after all these years. Maybe something inside you was telling you to come home?"
Hyawatha asked, "You really think it works like that?"
Jax said, "Why not? If you are unhappy in the big city, and from what I can tell, most people are. Then at some point you must have made an unconscious decision to come on back home."
Hyawatha said, "Only problem is that you can never come back home. It always is different."
Jax spoke, "And yet, you could spend the rest of your life in the city and always dream about the way it was when you were back home. So why is that?"
Hyawatha shrugged, "You know, I hadn't really thought about it like that. Why is that?"
Jax answered, "Because home is a state of mind and a real place. Home is where you feel warm inside. Where sights and smells bring you back to a place where you feel safe and secure. Home is a sanctuary of the heart. . ."
Hyawatha said, "You know, for a country boy, you sure have a deep understanding of human nature."
Jax told, "I left a million times in my head. I'd just sit back and dream about how it would be. Me in the big city and doing all the things I'd imagine I'd be doing. But there was always one problem. . ."
Hyawatha asked, "What was that?"
Jax uttered, "They weren't with you. . ."
There was a long but warm silence then Hyawatha responded, "Thanks. That was sweet. . ."
Jax said, "Ah, it's nothing. It's the truth. I couldn't leave because you what you said, I had things that were holding me down here. And I couldn't reach out to you because that would have been fair to either of us."
Hyawatha spoke, "You could have reached out. . ."
Jax asked, "What would you have done?"
Hyawatha reached over and kissed him, "I would have come running. . ."
Hyawatha's niece came over and uttered, "eww. . ."
Mom and Dad called the little one on over and they quietly went inside, to give the two some privacy. Mom uttered, "You two take your time. It's good to have you back, Hyawatha. Nice seeing you again, Jax."
Jax pointed out, "You got a great family."
Hyawatha stated, "Yeah, I'm blessed and I know it."
Jax uttered, "I wish all things were that way."
Hyawatha said, "Now there you go again. Why don't you just tell me what's wrong? Maybe I can help. . ."
Jax uttered, "Ah, you didn't come all the way out here just to get yourself all mixed up in small town problems. This is suppose to be your vacation. I'm not going to mess it up for you."
Hyawatha said, "Jax, tell me. . ."
Jax finally broke down, "Okay. A couple of local kids have gone missing. Really shook up their families."
Hyawatha said, "Well you know how me and you used to go running off with the other local children. Good Lord, we must have worried our parents sick, now that I reflect on it."
Jax uttered, "I thought so too. At first. Even told the families that such thing was common in these abouts. But something else is going on here. I can feel it in my gut."
Hyawatha asked, "What? What else is going on?"
Jax was reluctant, "I really don't want to. . ."
Hyawatha stated, "Jax, it is like you said. I'm a big time forensics technician. I do this kind of stuff for a living and as was pointed out, I'm damn good at it."
Jax said, "Yeah, right. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have fresh eyes look at the facts."
Hyawatha asked, "How long these kids been missing?"
Jax answered, "Months."
Hyawatha was taken aback, "And you haven't heard a thing from any of them?"
Jax answered, "No. But we've found a few bits and pieces of clothing and other personal affects. Nothing to point me in a serious direction."
Hyawatha asked, "Any strangers move in the town lately. Not that would be anything wrong, I mean, you can't go around randomly profiling innocent people."
Jax answered, "I agree and no, no one new has moved in except for you."
Hyawatha asked, "Where were the personal items found?"
Jax answered, "That's the damnedest thing, outside the dome."
Hyawatha reacted, "What?"
Jax nodded, "Yeah, that was my reaction too. I know we all used to play outside the dome even though our parents used to yell at us telling us not to, because it was so dangerous. But that was back in the day, we all were young and stupid! And things weren't the way they are now."
Hyawatha stated, "It's not safe outside the domes. Strange things happen out there. A person can go out onto the raw Martian surface and just vanish, never to be heard from again."
Jax nodded, "And you are talking about grownups, people who are suppose to be experts on the Martian surface, surveyors and such. I don't know what these kids were doing outside the dome. Most kids have enough sense now to even go neat the exits."
Hyawatha asked, "What have you done about it?"
Jax answered, "All exits and access points are sealed. Special cameras have been added, I've made use of robot police to guard the exits."
Hyawatha nodded, "All that sounds good."
Jax continued, "Not good enough. Another child's things was found about a kilometer away from the north exit."
Hyawatha said, "The north exit, that is where we all used to play. How the child get pass the robots?"
Jax just shook his head, "I haven't a clue! And the gate records show that no one has been in or out of the exit. I don't know what the hell is going on. But one thing I do know, I'm not going to be able to keep a lid on this thing much longer. This is a small town, people are already talking."
Hyawatha asked, "Any signs of foul play?"
Jax answered, "That is the damnedest thing, not a sign. It almost looks like the kids just got a wild hair up their ass and just decided to wander on off into the Martian wilderness."
Hyawatha told, "No one is that stupid. Not even us back then. Everyone knows that there is all sorts of crap out there, things that mankind put out there and worse, things that was there before human's colonized the planet."
Hyawatha asked, "Any theory on why this is happening?"
Jax said, "My guess is that they are looking for something."
Hyawatha asked, "Like what?"
Jax told, "Well, you know these are hard times. Kids hear things. Those old tales about Martian gold. How way back in the day when colonization just getting started and precious metals and gems were discovered, how there was a big boon. The tales of the old crusty Martian prospectors. We used to get into is when we were kids, remember."
Hyawatha smiled, "Yeah, I do. . ."
Jax said, "Well, best I can tell, those kind of rumors are going around again. Kid can get their heads filled with all sorts of ideas and go wandering on off looking for God know what in God knows where."
Hyawatha said, "That's a good theory, explains some things."
Jax agreed, "But not everything."
Hyawatha nodded, "No. Not everything but it is a start."
Jax uttered, "You must think the little of me because I can't figure this out."
Hyawatha countered, "Oh, no! Don't even think that, Jax. This is a real problem, it would be just a perplexing if it were happening in the city. The only thing is that this is a small town, not as much of a population, things get noticed here faster. But no. The fact that you were will to extend you hand for help shows just how sophisticated you really are. You realized when you needed help. And you've come to the right person, because I want to help you. . ."
Jax uttered, "You are?"
Hyawatha said, "One of the bad things about working in the big city. Competition is crazy and it often times keeps people from working together in order to solve common problems. Eros get in the way of progress. That and money. . ."
Jax said, "But you are on vacation."
Hyawatha countered, "This is my home town too, Jax. If something has gone wrong, I have a vested interest in getting involved and helping when I can."
Jax uttered, "Not going to be much of a vacation, looking into this mess."
Hyawatha voiced, "I have a strange way of relaxing. I like to solve problems and I lke to keep my mind busy. That is how I relax. Just sitting around the house doing nothing would drive me crazy, make me want to go back to the big city. This way, I stay busy and get to enjoy being home at the same time."
Jax said, "You always were different, Hyawatha."
Hyawatha responded, "So were you, Jax."
Jax said, "Okay then, it is settled. I'll pick you up in the morning. We'll get a fresh start and bring you up to speed."
Hyawatha said, "Er. . .give me a chance to wake up. Don't forget I just got here and I kind of wanted to sleep in, if you don't mind."
Jax uttered, "Oh yeah, I fully understand. Sorry, I wasn't thinking."
Hyawatha said, "Hey, no big deal. Hey, it's getting late, I'm going to turn in. See you tomorrow."
We see the two of them and they kiss gently and Jax goes of off. Hyawatha stands on the porch for a moment. Her dad joined her.
Dad uttered, "You are doing the right thing, Hyawatha."
Hyawatha asked, "When was anybody going to tell me about this?"
Dad answered, "We weren't. You mother and I decided that you came home to rest and vacation. Looking into this messy business, well, that is why we have Jax."
Hyawatha stated, "But he needs help. He can't do this by himself."
Dad said, "That's why it had to be something that you wanted to do. No one was going to put this burden upon you, Hyawatha."
Hyawatha said, "I just can't help but think, what if it was my niece or someone that I know's child."
Dad said, "I hadn't looked at it like that."
Hyawatha uttered, "Like Jax said, fresh pair of eyes and ears. This is happening too close to home for all of you, you'd do better to have someone like me talk a look at the case."
Dad voiced, "Jax isn't a proud man, he's willing to back away in order for you to step in."
Hyawatha said, "What? Oh, no! This is Jax's town, he's the sheriff and from what I can gather, he's been doing a damn good job of things. No, I'm here just to lend a hand when needed."