65th Octave – Chapter Four

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Content Updates

65th Octave

65cover

CHAPTER FOUR

Robin shivered in the chilled room and felt his mind wander as he stared at the screen. “The 65th Octave?”

His thoughts were drawn to the words, but more to the remarkable nature of his friend’s scanner. Sitting in the gloom of the ashen morning, he realized it had copied everything exactly as it had appeared in the book. The glow spreading softly into the room showed every word, mark, note and spot, as if he were looking at the book itself.

Different people had seemingly made the notes that covered the pages. They told of experiences and incidents, referring to specific pages of the book. The book itself was ancient and well used, as if handed down from one generation to another. Notes on one page were dated 1893.

Rather than read the entire volume from the screen, he attached the computer to a small printer he had obtained from the hotel. Would it work?  The scanner had let him download to his computer.  Would it let him print from his computer? It had been worth asking the hotel for the printer and some paper. Now it was time to find out.  With fingers stiff from the cold that pervaded the room, Robin typed in the print command. He held his breath. Suddenly an electronic chatter began to fill the room.

While the printer proceeded in its tedious task, Robin rose and looked out the thick glass window at the dismal weather. His mind pondered the events of the day. Here he was printing an ancient text claiming to contain the wisdom of the world that had been copied onto a personal computer by a device no larger than a flash drive. Yesterday he had been 4,500 miles away and had crossed the Atlantic in one night. The fantastic, incredible modern world.

Yet her he was being forced to believe that someone or something had read his mind and could control him with forces he could not see or hear.  Even worse, the only explanation might be in a book that was over 100 years old!

And what about Ian? Will this book help me find him?

Robin saw that his coffee had gone cold.  He stood stretched and walked to the steaming Teasmaid that was provided in his room.  He brewed another cup. The rich aroma from the Cuban espresso he always carried with him spiraled up from the cup and he winced as the hot, burnt flavor jolted him awake.

He shivered as the temperature had dropped and there was a rising dampness seeping through the thick walls. The cold nipped at his body and darkened his solemn mood even more.  He walked to the steam register and fully opened the valve in the old radiator.

The printer’s humming faded into the background as he thought back to their time in the Philippines.

Robin remembered the incident that had sealed their friendship forever, an event that had involved a woman   He had fled the West Coast to escape his father’s death. Raised without a mother, his dad had meant everything to him.

Manila had been booming; business had started well and he quickly became rich. Robin had everything, money, success,strength, good health and a height, chiseled face and lean body that looked good enough.  Yet he wasn’t happy, couldn’t have fun and didn’t want to.  He just worked, often sixteen hours a day.

His father’s death had pushed him into a shell.  Work blotted put the pain and grief.  Then he had met Ian who worked for a large accounting form that Robin had retained.  Ian’s expertise in helping expand his business had added a huge increase to the bottom line.

As they became friends, Ian wasted no time challenging Robin’s reclusive frame of mind.

“What the hell’s the matter with you, Robin? There are beautiful women all over this place. And they are drooling for you my lad. They love the dark, silent type. But you’re missing out. Why don’t I organize us some dates, eh?”

Robin remembered his reply. “I’ve never been a womanizer. One girl, worth spending time with is enough. I never liked messing around. Now isn’t the time for me.”

Ian hadn’t pressed but called Robin a few days later. “Do me a favor, mate? One of my big clients, Gloria Gartner, is having a birthday party. I’m invited and jolly well can’t be there. The old biddy is going to be mad as hell. Fill in for me, would you? Charm the old girl’s socks off. Apologize for me and explain you’re the ogre that’s making me stay in the office and work. Be there exactly at eight. Please don’t let me down on this.”

Robin had arrived expecting the party to be in full swing. No one was there.

The room had a typical Filipino feel: breezy fans arcing lazily above wooden parquet floors, rich hardwood trim and a huge table loaded with food. In the middle of the table was a brown bag, and Robin was unable to resist a peek. Inside was a whole roasted pig, looking so alive and so mean Robin jumped back in surprise.

His sudden retreat was greeted with immense laughter and he jumped again, shocked by the unexpected presence. A young woman, Eurasian, beautiful beyond belief, had quietly entered the room. “A big man like you? Afraid of a little cooked pig.” She laughed as she extended her hand. “Melanie Chong. I’m an associate at Ian Fletcher’s office. I specialize in finance.”

“Not the pig, just the unexpected. Robin MacAllen. How’d you sneak in so quietly?” he asked while taking in her exotic appearance, her lustrous black hair, almond eyes and silken skin.

“Ian asked me to fill in for him at the last moment, so I’m unexpected,” she smiled coyly. “Are you afraid of me too?”

“Ugh, yes. I mean no. I’m not afraid, just surprised. Where is everyone?” Robin looked about uncomfortably.

Her stunning good looks tied Robin’s tongue. They had chatted haltingly for an hour before anyone else arrived. She too was a loner. They had talked into the night, and soon after become lovers.

All his memories came flooding back. She had changed Robin’s life and had helped him out of his shell. He learned later how Ian had set everything up, including making sure no one except Robin and Melanie arrived before nine.

Then, Melanie disappeared. His stomach ground as he recalled the panic, the search and the hours, weeks and months of anguish and waiting, the police, and the dozens of reports. Never knowing. He angrily pushed these recollections away.

He jumped up suddenly to disengage his thoughts. He looked out at the morning mist rising off the common and refocused his thoughts. How could Ian be in trouble? We met in London just last week. He was working on a puzzling case for an English stockbroker; a client who owed money, was killed by lightning. There were many irregularities and Ian had been hired to investigate.

Could this be just like Melanie? He slapped his hand against the unforgiving stone wall, letting the pain erase the memory again.

To focus his attention, he sat down and opened a new file in his computer. This is like any other scam. I have to be logical. “Stay organized,” he mumbled under his breath, and began an orderly and disciplined listing of all of his thoughts as he typed:

Gloucestershire, England- 8:45 a.m.

Fact: Fergus Clague contacts me. He says a friend will call from England. Clague gives me a book. Clague is then killed in a hit and run.

Fact: Ian Fletcher calls and asks for help. Ian Fletcher is missing.

Fact: I have been attacked by some unknown person or force. The book has been stolen.

Questions: Does Clague, book or my attack have anything to do with Ian? Is Ian’s disappearance connected with his latest investigation? Are all events some gigantic coincidence? Can this be an incredible con?

Need to Investigate: Has Clague really died? I didn’t see his body.  Could he be part of con?

Robin stopped as his computer repeatedly beeped with the burden of his typing and the printing of the book. He pondered this last point as he waited.

Con men rely on the public’s acceptance of authority figures. A fraud always relies on one of four fatal attractions-greed, fear, anger or lust. People accept their good luck because phony figures of authority tell them they can. A fake banker says 100% profits are sure. Or a fake policeman could make me believe Clague’s death. He returned to the keyboard.

Possible Deceptions: Did Ian really call? Is he actually missing? Was I attacked last night? Could I have been drugged instead?

Possible Motives for Events: Could Ian have stumbled on some incredible industrial con? But why me? Because of Ian’s call? Because of something else? What?

MacAllen stopped typing and reviewed the logic of these points again. Nothing quite fit; there were too many unanswered questions. His stomach twisted as he began typing again.

Questions: How could they know I’d return to England? How could they follow me to the Inn? How could they read my mind?

Robin shook his head. Things are too loose for a good scam. He stared at the screen and waited for the computer. And if this is a confidence trick, it’s definitely big.
Discouraged, his mood plunged. A raw sleet had moved in from the north turning the room even darker and more gray. The room was suddenly punctuated by silence as the printer stopped.

Slumping into his chair, Robin picked up the printed pages.

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