Discover more from Gary Paul Varner
THE TEMPLE OF MAGGIE STONE
Chapter 10: Pinkerton Part 2
As the group made its way down the labyrinth of hallways, Maggie kept toward the back, watching Pinkerton. She felt pity for the young man. His limp was obvious and looked painful. His left leg was visibly shorter than the right, and he leaned heavily on the cane as he went. At one point, he stopped, and the entire group waited as he refilled and lit his pipe, smiling apologetically. Between his tiny grunts of pain, the obvious limp and the way his clothing hung off him like oversized rags, Maggie wondered if he had long to live.
They reached the observation room. One by one, they all crowded behind the one-way mirror and watched the girl, still naked, staring off at some unseen thing. Then Albertson who was the last one to enter the room closed the door. The girl stiffened, and her eyes focused on the mirror. Maggie swore she was looking right at her. Everyone except Pinkerton and his team gasped.
“She must have heard the door close,” Dr. Lane said.
“That’s impossible, and you know it,” Dr. Blake said.
Maggie watched Pinkerton stare into the mirror, his little smile never leaving his lips. He puffed on his pipe. Smoke billowed, filling the room, becoming thick like water, choking them. Maggie tried to suppress the urge to cough and couldn’t. She began to hack and covered her mouth with the top of her shirt. Pinkerton hardly noticed. He seemed transfixed by the girl. Maggie’s eyes moved to the three standing behind him. His entourage seemed concerned. The priest pulled out a necklace with a crucifix and kissed it absently. Pinkerton moved away from the mirror and went toward the door leading to the the girl’s room.
“Wait!” Maggie cried. Pinkerton turned to her. “What if she…tries what she did to Dr. Blake?”
Pinkerton shrugged. “I’m not her type.”
He opened the door and quickly limped toward the girl who had just enough time to see him. He stuck out his hand as if to shake hers, and to everyone’s amazement, she stuck out her hand in the same way. Pinkerton’s smile grew again, and the girl realized what she’d done. She pulled her hand back.
“No. You don’t get out that easy,” he said, sitting down in the chair across from her. For the first time, the girl’s serene smile disappeared. She eyed Pinkerton suspiciously as if she knew him. “You understand me. I know you do. I can tell by the way you’re looking at me. You’re not very good at hiding it.” The girl stiffened and even leaned back in her chair like the young man’s presence burned her skin. “I wonder how long you planned on playing this charade.” Pinkerton leaned forward. It occurred to Maggie that while Pinkerton was trying to act in charge, he was nervous, and while he was leaning toward her, his right hand was squeezing the handle of his cane which he’d leaned on the table between them. “I wasn’t sure until I saw you. Now, I am. So, you can drop the act. Whatever you’ve got planned, you’re running out of time.”
The girl relaxed. It was her turn to lean forward. Pinkerton leaned back. His poker face disappeared. He was clearly afraid of the girl, but why?” She smiled again, but this time, it was a smile of pure malice. She gritted her teeth and lunged forward, chomping at him as if she meant to bite him like a shark. Pinkerton lifted his cane instinctively and held it up between them. The girl stopped and sat back down on her chair. She crossed her arms across her bare chest. “I know who you are,” she said, smiling.
Maggie looked over at Dr. Lane and Dr. Blake who stared at the girl, their mouths hanging open. Albertson gasped, but a hungry smile grew on his lips, and he pressed both his hands on the glass.
“Great, so do I,” Pinkerton said. He was trying to keep up his arrogant act, but it sounded forced.
She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t need too. The interview was over, and as far as she was concerned, she had won.
Pinkerton slammed his palm on the table. Unlike everyone else, the girl did not jump. “Welcome to this side of the void,” he said. Pinkerton stood up and started to leave.
“Let me ask you one question,” the girl asked. Pinkerton turned to face her. “How did you get my hand to do that?”
“You already knew what to do,” Pinkerton said. “The body has reflexes. Shaking hands is a shadow movement.”
“I see,” the girl said. “Interesting.”
“If you’re surprised by that, then you have a lot to look forward to,” Pinkerton said.
“You have no idea,” the girl said.
Pinkerton turned and left the room. Once inside with the others, he closed the door behind him and stared at his three companions who looked horrified. “Oh, yeah,” he said. Without another word, he left the observation room and entered the hallway. The other three followed him. Maggie followed them. She stepped through the doorway as they were all walking down the hall.
“Pinkerton, what was that!” she shouted.
“You already know,” he said. “But you won’t believe me if I tell you. You’ll have to accept it on your own.”
Maggie was startled, but she didn’t let the familiar words stop her. “It sounds dangerous. Whatever it is, I can accept it. Just tell me!”
“I’ll tell you this. Albertson didn’t do a thing.” With that, Pinkerton and his three companions disappeared around a corner.
Maggie stepped back inside. The rest of the group were all staring through the mirror. The girl was looking straight at them.
“She…she talked,” Dr. Lane whispered.
“But why wait?” Robert asked. “Why put on the act?”
“Albertson…” Dr. Lane started, turning toward the man.
“Pinkerton doesn’t think he did it,” Maggie said, cutting her off.
“I don’t care what Pinkerton thinks,” Dr. Lane said through gritted teeth. “If she…I don’t know…has some kind of motive, then the only others who could share her motive are the people trying to take my project away from me!”
“Rachel, I swear to you, I did not do this,” Albertson whispered, his wide eyes, staring at the girl. Maggie sensed awe in his gaze rather than fear.
“Should we try and talk to her?” Dr. Blake asked.
“We can try, but I doubt she’s going to say anything,” Dr. Lane said, returning her attention to the girl. “Pinkerton surprised her. That’s all.”
“Why keep hiding the fact she can talk? She knows we’re in here, and she knows we heard her. What would be the point?” Robert asked.
“Because there was a reason,” Dr. Lane said. “She’s probably afraid to give it away.”
“I think we’re missing something important,” Maggie said. She was startled when everyone fell quiet and looked at her. She’d been mostly talking to Robert. “Uh, look, Pinkerton already knows what’s going on. You heard what he said to his three partners. Then they all stormed off. They came here with a theory, and their theory was confirmed during that conversation. The real question is why he didn’t tell us. We don’t need to interrogate her because she’s just playing games. We need to pressure Pinkerton into telling us what he knows.”
“I don’t think we can pressure Pinkerton,” Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Lane shook her head. “Besides, I’m not sure how much credit I’d give his theories anyway.”
“Well, I’m sure one part of his theory is right. I don’t think Albertson did this,” Maggie said.
“Yeah!” Albertson said, suddenly becoming angry. “I didn’t do it. And for another thing, Dr. Lane, how could I do it? I don’t have access to your lab. Pinkerton is going to go down there to dust for prints. They won’t find are mine! What are you going to say then?”
“Stop,” Maggie said, taking a deep breath and holding up a patient hand. “Look, let me talk to Pinkerton.”
“Why would he tell you anything?” Dr. Lane snapped.
Maggie was surprised by the doctor’s sudden anger at her. “Because…” she began defensively. For a second, she struggled for the words but was able to recover her thoughts quick enough. “He reminds me of my husband. I think I might be able to get through to him.”
“What makes you say that?” Robert asked.
“Something he said,” Maggie replied.
“Fine,” Dr. Lane said, rolling her eyes. “Do what you want.” She returned her gaze to the mirror. The doctor jumped back with a cry. Everyone turned to see the girl standing in front of the mirror, her forehead pressed against the glass, bearing another toothy grin. She seemed to be looking at Dr. Lane. Their eyes met. “What…what…do you want?” Dr. Lane asked. Then she stumbled back, covering her ears with both hands like she’d heard something loud.
“What!” Dr. Blake cried.
“I…I don’t know,” Dr. Lane said, lowering her hands. The girl continued staring at her, but the doctor refused to meet her gaze, keeping her eyes glued to the floor. “I just got a sudden headache. It’s the stress of this whole thing, I guess.”
They all looked back at the girl whose eyes shifted to something behind them. Instinctively, they all turned to look at the door. A second later, they heard footsteps in the hall, and the door flew open. In stepped a young male doctor, his face pale.
“Dr. Lane,” he said, panting.
“What?” Dr. Lane asked, rubbing her temples.
“Um, well, it’s…another body. It woke up.”