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Dark Dig 8 - More Questions

by Bruce J. Spohn 6 months ago in fiction
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Ancient Gods and Modern Drama

8 - More Questions

More Questions - No Results

It was late before the couple regained consciousness. It was much later than either had anticipated. The sun was already high in the clear blue sky. Rushing to get dressed to greet the day they constantly bumped into each other.

When they finally strolled into the admin office, they were shocked to see Ruth Smith, Inspector Campus, Inspector Borga and Todd Silverman all crowded around a small conference table engaged in a video conference.

Carol went straight to the coffee pot and retrieved two big mugs of steaming brew, while Marcus went to the group of inspectors to try to see what was going on.

Marcus only caught the last few sentences of Ben’s comment, but was glad to see the young man still pointing at a chart showing the results of the lab tests on the strange pills obtained from the Sheppard boy.

Ruth finished making a notation before she looked directly into the camera and said, “Good job Ben! I was not expecting any results so soon. What did you do to get the lab rats to act so fast? Well, were you able to get any input from our HQ on any connection between this new drug and any other areas”?

“Thanks Ruth. I would not have been able to get so much accomplished if you had not flown out in the chopper last night and let me catch a ride back to the lab. The lab rats were excited about their first analysis. They said who ever developed this drug is using very advanced technology. They are currently doing more detailed analysis to learn more about the substance and how it works. Oh, good morning, Marcus! As you can see, I will not need you to drive me anywhere this morning. I might need some assistance in getting my car back,” Ben concluded.

“Good morning to everyone here. Sorry for our late arrival. Last night really exhausted Carol and me. Don’t worry about your car. I will call Fronia and have her drive to your location and pick you up. We still have a lot of things I want to talk about with you tonight. I’m really surprised to see everyone here. I assume you all came as a result of the alarm last night. I hope you might have some additional information to share,” Marcus commented as he accepted the mug of coffee from Carol.

Ruth stepped forward and nodded to the other inspectors behind her before she commented, “I’m glad to be here to give this update in person. First, I want to apologize for some of the measures we have taken. In order to get responses, we often use methods to point blame in different directions to see what kind of reaction we get. That was why I told Carol that your family was under investigation. It was assumed that if there was any illegal activity there would be some action to attempt to cover up. We now all agree your family has nothing to hide”.

“Well thanks for the bill of good standing,” Marcus injected.

Ruth cut Marcus short with a stern, “May I go on? Carol brought to our attention the little-known cult group lead but a very mysterious individual that goes by the name ἑλληνική. Up until now this group was seen as strictly a local bunch of young people seeking a fun time. The local police have been tracking them and trying to find out more about their leader, but there is simply too little known. The police did know drugs were being used, but until you found this strange new drug, they thought it was just the normal pot, and the DISCO DESIGNER DRUGS that are easy to obtain on the street. Ben explained that the lab never saw anything like this before and they will need time to do a complete analysis, but if what the two people said is true about this drug it will make it even harder to control.’ Ruth recounted.

“Ruth, Good morning. Have there been any local police reports about some new drug? Are there any accounts of this cult having meetings? I mean I’m not a police expert, but there must be some visible activity,” Carol injected.

Inspector Campus coughed loudly to clear his voice, before he stepped forward to answer Carol’s question. “I contacted the local police operations chief as soon as I was told of this new development... The quick answer is yes, there seems to be some reports of this cult in the local papers. So far there was never any real criminal activity. They have had a few complaints of disorderly conduct, but nothing like bombings or shootings or kidnappings. The use of drugs is wide spread among the young college students so that was never reported. I did request a complete report on all events that required any type of police intervention. I was provided that list just before we caught the chopper to fly here.” He paused and placed the report on the table for all to see. He ran his thick index finger down the list of police calls until he reached an entry about a disturbance at a small bar near the university.

“Apparently, when this happened it was considered just a drunken party by a group of students from other countries and they were all given a warning and sent back to the dorms or where ever they lived. It was only in light of this knowledge about some super sex pill that this incident takes on some significance. You will note it involved a young female from the university who was causing a scene in the bar by engaging every male in sex. Needless to say, there was a lot of pushing and shoving and the police were called to break it up. I can’t be sure, but it could be a case of this new drug being used in public. The fact no one was tested for alcohol or any type of drugs prevents me from making a more definite statement,” Inspector Campus concluded.

“Well, that does sound like the effects the two young people we interviewed last night were talking about. So, I hope you gave instructions to everyone to pay more attention to anything of this nature in the future,” Marcus barked.

“Yes, Marcus, now that we know more about what we are dealing with we have made reports to our respective HQs to give widest distribution so we can track this cult from more angles. In the mean time Inspector Campus is taking the two suspects to Athens where they can be given a more detailed interrogation,” Inspector Borga explained in a voice straining to remain polite.

As she returned to the table putting her phone away, Ruth interrupted Borga, “I was just informed the chopper is about 5 minutes way. We need to gather the suspects and move to the landing area. Marcus, Ben said he will have everything he needs packed up by the time Fronia arrives. Carol I really do want to spend a day with you. Maybe we can do something other than play cops and robbers.”

Carol had the look of a deer caught in the headlights, but she smiled and kissed Ruth on both cheeks as she departed. The entire gaggle of inspectors moved out of the admin section and onto the small field behind the building that was now being used as a helicopter pad.

The inspectors helped the two youthful suspects into the helicopter as soon as the chopper touched down. Then they hopped in and buckled up. Ruth shook the hands of her counter-parts and rushed out of the rotor wash zone to join Carol, Todd and Marcus as the chopper lifted off in a whirlwind of flying debris. Marcus took Ruth by the hand and joined Carol and Todd. They were washed with dust and debris from the rotor thrust while they gave a final wave goodbye.

“Ruth, I thought you were going to fly back with the other inspectors,” Carol greeted.

“No, I have Ben rushing to the big lab at our HQ to have these pills analyzed. Then someone needs to drive the car back. At the same time, I really wanted to spend some time here and maybe even have a little time to get to see for myself what this site is all about,” Ruth answered.

“Then you will be interested in what has been going on last night,” Carol commented.

“Yes, I want to talk with your security team,” Ruth acknowledged.

“Well. I think you will agree that the security system works,” Beamed Todd as he accompanied Carol and Ruth back to the admin office.

“Yes, it is pretty good at catching young horny boys racing to experiment with some sort of SUPER VIAGRA,” quipped Marcus.

“Well, I’m impressed. With just a small security team they did prevent an intrusion and more important there was no gun fire and no injuries. I commend your operation and your team members highly,” asserted Carol.

“Thank you. I will not try to be humble here. CYBER EYE depends upon high tech. We spend a lot of money on training and equipment to be at the cutting edge of the industry. Getting the best equipment is easy as you can keep in contact with the industry giants, they are eager to do business. What is causing us the most concern is recruiting personnel,” Todd answered.

“Oh, Gee I would think you would have a lot of young people interested in such a HIGH-TECH enterprise,” Carol mused.

“Oh, it is not a question of quantity. We get thousands of resumes daily. You would be shocked to see how sloppy and error ridden they are. Most of them are tossed out due to poor spelling, grammar and sloppy format. The few that get past the first screening are then submitted to a background check, Parking tickets will not get you rejected, but DUI, DWI, DRUG OFFENCES certainly will disqualify you and you would be shocked at how many applicants try to hide this on their resumes. Don’t they think that an agency specializing in security knows how to check their records in this electronic data age? So, the few who come up clean are invited to come for the final interview. They are told they must pass a physical fitness test and are given the minimum requirements that they must achieve to meet the requirements. So, I’m constantly shocked at the number of young people who show up who are clearly out of shape even morbidly obese,” Todd paused in his commentary to shake his head and take a deep breath.

Before Todd could continue, Carol injected, “I really had no idea there was such a problem, but then when I think back to my high school, I can understand. I do recall how there were a lot of people saying ‘common sense does not need a diploma’ and they actually laughed and scoffed at the people who studied Math and Science and called them NERDS.”

“So, you do see where the problem is. Lack of general education is a big problem. There seems to be some sort of hidden agenda to prevent people from getting a serious education in math or science. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a need for liberal arts. There should be a balance of both so graduates are well rounded and productive citizens. But a student should ask themselves what kind of job does this prepare me for,” Todd raged.

“Yes, I do think we share the same philosophy,” Carol agreed.

“Then there is the ‘HOME SCHOOLED’. I’m sure there are a few parents who are truly qualified to teach, but I don’t think there are many who are qualified to teach all subjects at every level. As a result, there are many applicants who were home schooled that are totally unqualified. They have become the unwitting victims of their parent’s stupidity. They have been brainwashed to accept myths and reject facts. When it is my turn to conduct in-person interviews I end up wanting to slap some sense into these silly children, but their lack of basic education and skills is compounded by a poor work ethic. Young people think they do not have to work. They think they should be hired to start at the top, not start at the bottom and work their way up as they learn the skills needed along the way,” Todd pontificated.

“Wow, you really seem to be worked up about this. I can only hope you do not stuff me into that pigeonhole,” Carol retorted.

“Oh, No, I’m sorry if I sounded like I thought anyone in this room fit the category. In fact, you impressed me from the way you presented your request for security. At the time I only knew you over the phone so I was not aware of your age. It was clear you had done a lot of research and had a list of questions regarding our service. I must say you were better organized than most of our clients,” Todd rebutted hostilely, attempting to recover.

“The only woman I have seen from your office was the receptionist. Is that a result of poor resumes and home schooling?” Asked Carol.

Todd paused and shook his head before he replied, “I am mortally wounded. You have not seen many of the team members who are assigned to this location. The personnel assigned to monitor the video must rotate every two hours. That means we keep six two person teams here 24/7. Four of those teams are female. Now you may have some complaint about the fact they are segregated, all male, or all female but that is the way they chose to partner up.”

“Gee! I really should be more careful about shooting my mouth off when I really don’t know what I’m talking about,” remised Carol.

Todd smiled and felt a bit smug at his record and went on to boast, “I’m pleased to state we have a very high percent of women employees. Oh, and the women do excellent on resume writing and educational achievement. Most of the women applying for the more physical positions are better fit than the large number of males who apply and fail. But Carol you have pointed out some of the reasons it is hard to succeed in this business.”

“Well, I for one, am grateful for the great job your team is doing,” proclaimed Marcus as he raised his coffee mug in a toast.

Ruth had quietly listened to the exchange of information. She thought it best to keep a low profile for the time being. A commotion at the door attracted the group’s attention. The chief of the digging team was waving his arms trying to get some attention.

“Marcus, when are you going to give the go-ahead on moving the stone in the doorway?” Paul shouted across the small office space.

“Paul, just give me a minute. Go in my office while I finish up here,” Marcus called out.

Returning his attention to the group he said, “Well I really do have a dig site to run. I will catch up with you all later.”

Focus on the Mission

Marcus entered his office and motioned to Paul to have a seat while he checked his email. He mumbled profanity, under his breath, at the monitor as he scrolled down the long list of new emails. Suddenly he hunched over the keyboard and stared intently at the screen.

“Oh. Thank you, Paul for being so patient. I was looking for a reply from the language gruels to see if they could shed some light on those strange inscriptions on the stone. Well, I just read their report and they haven’t a clue. So, looks like we will just have to take our chances with the normal batch of curses that we were able to decipher. So, you better gather the team together, we have some catching up to do. I’ll meet you at the location as soon as I check in with Carol.” Marcus announced as he stood up.

After Paul left, Marcus went to Carol’s office to hand her a list of things that need to be accomplished. He was surprised to see Ruth and Carol engaged in a rather animated conversation. From the bit he overheard they seemed to be talking typical girl talk.

“Marcus, I think it would be a good idea if Ruth spent the night with us at your home. I’m sure Ellen would love to meet her,” Carol suggested as she perused the list of tasks Marcus handed her.

“Sure, I think it might be a good chance to get to know Ruth better and find out her side of the story Ben gave us. Be sure to call Ellen and let her know we are bringing a guest.” Marcus replied as he headed out to the dig.

Carol grabbed the phone and quickly dialed Ellen’s number. “Hey Ellen! Would you mind if we brought Ruth from the FBI team to spend the night? I think we need to talk to her and see what is going on,” Carol inquired.

Carol listened to Ellen as she made her reply. A smile spread across her face as she nodded to what Ellen was saying.

“Ok! Then we will be there as soon as I can pry Marcus out of that hole in the ground he has been digging,” Carol responded before she hung up the phone.

“Ok, Ruth everything is set. You will spend the night at the Konus mansion. Ellen is a great hostess and she has so many interesting things to talk about. I’m sure she will want to hear more about what you are doing and why you said her family is under investigation,” Carol relayed to Ruth as she pulled her desk chair out to take her place in front of the computer.

“Oh! Thanks. I really do want to meet with Ellen. You have told me some very intriguing things about her. As for the investigation, well that was just a typical ploy to see if we get any reaction. You know like a sudden rush to make things disappear. I can say you all passed with flying colors. There was absolutely no activity by anyone. No blaze of phone calls, no sudden meetings, no sending couriers out to distant locations to spread their news, so clearly you have nothing to hide,” Ruth reported with a charming smile.

“That is a relief! I’m sorry but I have this list of things that need to be tended to. Please make yourself at home and take the grand tour of the storage area where we keep items until we find a place to send them to. I can have one of the people from cataloging show you around,” Carol offered.

“Thanks. I really would like to see what is going on around here. I have a little secret, I love historic research,” Ruth said with an impish giggle.

One of the clerks stepped forward and handed Ruth a hardhat and safety glasses. He briefly explained the need for protection from fragments of stone being removed from the artifacts that were being prepared for shipment.

“Ruth, see you here around 4:30 we can pry Marcus out of his hole and then get home in time for dinner,” Carol quipped.

With Ruth out of the way, Carol gathered her staff and handed out assignments to each group to work on and arranged to have a staff meeting at 4 PM so she could review their progress and compile a report for Marcus. After each task was assigned, she turned her attention to replying to emails. She was relieved to find there were no urgent matters to tend to. Next, she checked her in-box. Slowly she reviewed each document and made notes on pages she thought she carefully edited and signed the letters and invoices that required action.

Lost in the clutter of paper deafened by the soft roar of electronic equipment digesting numeric data, Carol toiled over the routine requirements of sustaining operations of the dig site. In short, she settled into the daily routine.

“I’m going to lunch. Would you like to come along, or do you want me to bring you something back,” announced the logistics director.

OH! What time is it? I have been so busy getting caught up I lost all tract of time,” Carol stammered as she glanced at her watch.

“Almost one o’clock. I’m running late myself. I had a phone call run overtime. I noticed you had not gone to lunch and thought you might need a break, or at least need someone to bring something back for you to eat,” was the reply.

“Thank you for thinking about me. I really need to get all this paperwork caught up. I’m not sure what my schedule might look like tomorrow. All this police investigation and security stuff has been taking a lot more of my time than I expected. As it is, I think we will be leaving early today and not sure when we will make it back tomorrow. By the way I want you to let everyone know how thankful I am to have such dedicated workers. I assure you Marcus feels the same way. But if you could bring me a salad with some ranch dressing that would be super,” Carol conceded.

“Ok, I’ll be right back. For the record everyone here is really happy you are on board. Marcus was spending too much time doing admin work and he does not have the temperament for that kind of work. Sitting in an office is the worst kind of torture for him. He is a real hands-on digger at heart. You set him free to do the things he does best, but he is really struggling with the interruptions due to the police, Well, I better get going before they stop serving,” the clerk blurted.

Carol returned to her paperwork and soon was totally oblivious to anything around her. She just opened the last folder from her inbox, when she was startled by the return of her clerk.

“Sorry it took so long but there was a long line,” he said.

“Thank you! It did not seem like you were gone very long. Guess time flies when you are having fun,” Carol joked.

Carol eagerly attacked the large bowl of salad. After the first bite she became starkly aware of how hungry she really was. As she enjoyed the food, she looked out the windows and thought how lucky she was to be a part of such a thrilling adventure. Something deep within her seemed to derive great pleasure in what she was doing and it gave her a feeling of accomplishment.

There was only the dark cloud of the tragic kidnapping that hung heavy on her mind. Carol knew the events surrounding the kidnappings affected everyone. She was truly amazed at how diligently everyone worked to keep the operation going. At first, she feared she would be rejected as just some young opportunistic girl. Carol saw from the first day that everyone treated her like family.

She could tell she was really accepted by the way her entire staff responded to her, there was a feeling of belonging. She knew the shadow of events weighed on everyone. In the back of her mind, she started to make preliminary plans to have a special party to celebrate the return of the kidnapped girls.

“Hey Carol! Hope I’m not disturbing you,” quipped Ruth as she slid into a chair next to Carol’s desk.

“Ruth! You did catch me daydreaming I suppose. At least I got the mountain of paperwork finished. What time is it anyway?” Carol inquired.

“Just past three thirty. I really enjoyed the tour of the area, but WOW! I had to get away from all those erotic images. I really don’t consider myself a prude, but those ancient Greeks really were unabashed about the topic of sex,” Ruth intoned.

“WOW! I really am running late. Oh, I should have warned you about that. Being around the artwork all the time you sort of get used to it and forget that not everyone has been desensitized. It is the extreme erotic nature of the artifacts that have caused so much speculation about what this location was used for. I am constantly amazed at the extremely high craftsmanship. You know, just like everyone who read “Play Boy” only read the editorials. Perhaps the graphic nature of the artifacts played a role in the little drama we had here last night. After all we are dealing with a lot of people in the prime of their life isolated in a remote location. I’m pretty sure if I did not have Marcus, I might be looking for some Sheppard boy too. To tell the truth, I have even been inspired to get Marcus to try a few of the positions depicted.” Carol joked.

“Ok Carol, I think I understand what you are trying to say politely, but now back to reality. Do you think Marcus is ready to call it a day?” Ruth inquired.

“I’m really not sure. I have not seen him all day. I thought he would stop by to take me to lunch, but as you can see, I ended up eating here at my desk. When Marcus gets into a project it is like time no longer exists. We could go out to the new location and try to pull him out of the hole he is stuck in,” Carol suggested.

With that, Carol got up and led Ruth out to the new dig location. A blast of hot air greeted them at the office door. The air was dry with a dusty smell. Carol pulled her sunglasses down to protect her eyes from the afternoon glare. As they trudged through the dusty field, Carol pointed out some of the structures that had been uncovered. On the way she paused to show Ruth the spot where the lightning struck on the night of the storm that produced the strange ball lightening.

“Oh God you should have seen that storm. Three bolts of lightning hit this spot simultaneously and created this glowing ball of energy that went careening around the area for what seemed like a long time. But I’m sure it really was only a few seconds,” Carol explained to Ruth as she pointed to a small outcropping of stone.

From that little knoll it was easy to see the new excavation and the team scurrying around bringing tools and removing buckets of dirt and debris. Ruth held her hand up to shield her eyes while she followed Carol across the wind-blown plain.

Marcus was not visible as they approached. Carol rushed to the edge of the newly dug pit and peered down into the dark depths.

“Marcus, are you down there?” Carol called out.

One of the hardhats jerked around to see who was calling and Carol could just barely recognize Marcus under all the dirt and sweat.

“Carol. What are you doing out here?” queried Marcus while wiping his face with a grimy towel.

“Well, it is getting late and I can see you will need a real soaking to get all that grime off. So, I brought Ruth along so she can arrest you and have you jailed,” quipped Carol.

Marcus quickly climbed the ladder to join Carol and Ruth. He took a fresh towel offered to him buy one of the team members and attempted to remove the dirt from his face and arms.

“Ok guys, that’s enough for today. Take a break, get cleaned up and we can try again tomorrow. We need to bring in some bigger equipment. I hope I do not have to resort to blasting that door open,” Marcus addressed his team.

Still working at wiping the dirt off his arms Marcus turned to Carol and said, “I really didn’t realize it was so late. That door is proving to be harder to remove than expected. Can you deal with me in this condition until we get home, or do you want me to take a quick shower now before we leave?”

“Oh, come on. Ruth and I can sit in the back seat and talk while you drive. Once you get home you can shower and dress for dinner. I’m sure Ellen will want to meet Ruth and we can talk while you get cleaned up. I called ahead so Ellen will have the wine waiting for us,” Carol intoned.

Girl Talk

Carol slid into the back seat, next to Ruth, leaving Marcus alone in front to drive. He started the engine and pulled out of the parking area before the A/C had a chance to attack the hot air trapped in the vehicle.

Ruth was fanning her face while she leaned against the door trying to get seated more comfortably. Carol smiled at Ruth and suggested she remove her dark jacket and relax. She pointed out that everyone at the site went casual and took their hot fatigue jackets off.

Seeing Carol with only her light weight T-Shirt confirmed to Ruth that she was indeed over-dressed. Struggling with her jacket Ruth managed to pry herself free from the constricting garment before they turned out of the parking lot.

“Thank you for that suggestion. I guess I have really internalized the FBI image and have difficulty in shedding the outward personification of the burro. But I think I can rationalize my lax dress code with being in such unique situation,” Ruth confided.

“Ruth, please make yourself comfortable. I want to talk with you as a person not an agent,” Carol pointed out as she turned to face Ruth more directly.

“Well, you girls can have a good conversation while I drive home. If there is no traffic we should be home long before dinner. That will give me a chance to clean-up and Ruth can meet Ellen,” Marcus shouted over his right shoulder.

Carol smiled in Ruth’s direction and said, “Oh yes, I really want you to meet Ellen. She seems to have some sort of Extra-Sensory Perception. Ellen communicates with the ancient Greek Gods in some unexplained manor.”

“That is very interesting. Believe it or not, the FBI has done a lot of work in the field of Extra-Sensory Perception. There are documented case files noting how the use of these special powers have led to solving cases that had been unsolved and gone cold until someone came forward with a clue which they say was a result of ESP. So yes, I would love to talk with Ellen and learn more about her and her abilities,” Ruth replied.

“I’m sure Ellen will have a lot to say to you. For one thing there is the issue of you telling me that the entire Konus family was under surveillance,” Carol accused.

“I’m sorry about that! It is just an old FBI method to attempt to “SMOKE” out suspects by making them believe we are closing in on them. Innocent people get up-set, but guilty people start running around trying to cover up. Please feel re-assured that you and the entire family proved to have nothing to cover up,” Ruth countered.

“Well, I can understand how you got your nickname,” Carol shot back.

“So, Ben told you what I’m called around the office? Yes, I know they call me “RUTHLESS RUTH”, but being a woman in an organization drunk on testosterone is not easy. I thought you might understand that by the way you attacked Todd about his company’s stance on women. I have to prove myself daily. I can’t let my guard down for a moment. I have been passed over for advancement three times and the reason is always the same. ‘The position has very high physical demands’ that is their code word for no women allowed. So, if I upset you with the way I conduct my investigation I’m sorry, but that is just the way I have to act in order to avoid being seen as too soft and not fit for duty. By the way, talking about nick names, Ben’s nick name is ‘Molder’ you might remember from the X-Files. He is very good at finding links and connections in cases that defy everyone. He is not liked by most of the field agents. Maybe that is why he was assigned to be my assistant. At any rate, I’m glad we had a chance to get things out in the open and I think we can work together with a better understanding now,” Ruth concluded

“Wow Ruth, I never thought about the stress you must face daily. Maybe I’m just one of the silly people who assume the FBI and other law- enforcement agencies were somehow above the pettiness,” Carol admitted.

“Yes, in fact until just a few years ago the only women you might find in the FBI were in some office admin or logistics office, or maybe accounting, but even there they were never the chief. Maybe I should be happy that progress is being made. I think we will have a female deputy soon – NOW THAT is a big crack in the glass ceiling,” Ruth boosted.

“Now that you mention it, I realize that you must have suffered greatly trying to succeed in an environment dominated by Alpha-Males. I mean I can relate from my own experiences in school. Even though schools are not bastions of testosterone like law-enforcement must be. None the less, there was constant concern about rape and sexual harassment. My school did not require us to wear a uniform, but they had a very restrictive dress code. Maybe that was for the best. After all you didn’t want to give a rapist, an excuse based upon the way you dressed,” Carol recounted.

“You have no idea how much harder it is for a woman to succeed in the FBI. The dress code of dark suites is applied to everyone. Pant suits are practical, but women are expected to wear shoes with heels. Really hard to run as fast as a man when wearing even the shortest heels,” Ruth bemoaned.

Carol could not contain an outburst of laughter at Ruth’s complaint about running in high heels,

“Well, that is one problem I have not been forced to face. Here at the dig everyone dresses the same and safety boots just seem to be the best option. But I remember on campus there seemed to be some unwritten law requiring women to conform to a certain dress code. Those who refused to adhere to the standard were seen as out-casts,” Carol agreed.

“Then there is the intrusion into your social life. I don’t know of any male agents who have not been divorced at least once. The job is a real family killer. Being on call and having to disappear for long periods of time and not be able to talk to your significant other about what you are doing will break most any relationship. The men are never questioned about their social activities like the women. Women who are not married and wish to avoid the entanglement of dating a co-worker are soon labeled LESBIAN. Being strict and enforcing rigorous discipline is my only defense against the chauvinistic attacks,” Ruth bemoaned.

“I guess you have seen all the down sides of being a woman in a man’s world. But if the job is so bad, why did you want to work for the FBI?” Carol inquired.

“Well, there are times I ask myself that very same question. I think it has to do with my family’s history of law enforcement. It seems like someone was involved in some form of law enforcement going back five generations. Maybe it was because of all the TV programs like ‘The Untouchables’, ‘Naked City’ and ‘Dragnet’. You know, the programs where the good guys always win. Now I see the ‘X-Files’ and see that the image of the burrow is becoming the source of conspires theories. In reality, the FBI is very effective but greatly misunderstood. One thing for sure it is deeply rooted in the American Culture and the people working there are, after all, just humans. As long as the women there are treated differently ALL WOMEN will have to suffer. The one area where women working for the Federal Government have made a big gain is in pay equality. Oh, please excuse me, I really did not mean to dive head first on my personal rampage about women in the work place. I just wanted to give you some perspective on why the men think I’m ‘RUTHLESS’.” Ruth explained.

“You have made some very valid points. I can tell you speak from years of experience, so I can only admire your candor. I must say I have seen much the same issues. Though admittedly not to the degree you have,” acknowledged Carol.

“Thank you. So, now explain to me why a sweet young thing like you is spending her summer out here in this God forsaken, dirty, dig site? Is it really your desire to devote your talents to un-earth ancient cultural treasures, or is it just a desire to be close to a very distinguished archeologist?” Ruth inquired.

Carol glanced toward Marcus who pretended to be totally absorbed driving and oblivious to the conversation in the back seat. Then she laughed out loud and slapped her knee, “Is it that obvious? Well, I really do have a very deep love of art and ancient cultures, but I must admit after seeing Marcus at the university my desire to explore the Greek antiquity grew exponentially. Here I thought I was doing a very good job of keeping our personal life personal and projecting a professional appearance,” Carol protested.

“Yes, well I didn’t mean to put you on the spot, but maybe it is just my FBI training getting out of control. To tell the truth I can really understand all of your reasons for volunteering. You seem to be very intelligent and hard working. At the same time, you show that you are able to apply your skills to achieve your goals. I can tell from the way you express yourself you have been fighting the gender war for a very long time. I’m a bit older than you and have been in the fight most all my life. My mother was a single parent. She never talked much about the ‘sperm spender’ as she called him. I witnessed first-hand how she had to struggle,” Ruth recalled.

Ruth paused and looked out of the window at the passing scenery before she took a deep breath and continued.

“I’m sure my personality was shaped by the environment I grew up in. You said you came to New York from a small farming community. I was born in a large suburb of Chicago, but at a very early age I learned I had to be tough if I did not want to end up barefoot and pregnant like so many of my girlfriends. I worked hard in school to earn a scholarship and go on to college. Yes, I was young and dumb. I started dating a guy that was about to start studying law in grad school. He wanted me to drop out of my program and marry him. The idea was I could work while he got his law degree. Fortunately, my brain kicked in and my history of law enforcement caused me to stop and re-evaluate the situation. Suddenly I saw myself as a victim of the ‘Stafford Wife Syndrome’. I really do not regret my choice; I really do love my job at the burrow. So, with all that being said, I think we both have much in common,” Ruth conceded.

“Thank you so much Ruth. Now I can see why you have adopted this hard shell. I guess law enforcement does attract more ALPHA MALES than other professions. Here at the dig things are better. Marcus has managed to assemble a fantastic team of volunteers. I must say from personal experience Marcus treats everyone equal. He selects people based upon their skill not their gender,” Carol insisted.

“Well, I did fill one position based upon GENDOR,” Marcus injected.

“Oh – Marcus! Are you talking about my job? Here I thought I got the job because I was the best Admin Assistance - not just a pretty face,” Carol replied in mock anger.

Ruth laughed out loud, “Oh dear I thought there was more going on than your eagerness to study history. From the first time I saw you together it was clear you had staked a claim. Marcus, you really should consider yourself a lucky man. It is hard to find a good-looking woman with brains. Carol, from the first meeting I knew I had found a woman to whom I can relate,” Ruth explained. The two women were so engrossed in their girl talk they were totally unaware of their arrival at the Konus mansion.

“All ashore that’s going ashore!” exclaimed Marcus as he opened the door for Carol.

She took his pro-offered arm to exit the car. Then he rounded the car to open the door for Ruth. Marcus smiled at the two women and with a comic “SHEEPISH GRIN” excused himself saying he really needs to get cleaned up. Carol and Ruth playfully pushed him away saying YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!

Ellen greeted them at the big front entrance door. She turned to Marcus with exaggerated dramatic effect pinching her nose and fanning her hand as if to avoid toxic fumes, “Marcus you better go decontaminate yourself. You can find us out in the garden after you get cleaned up.”

“Ok! I’ll join you soon. Is Jason around? Maybe you can have him find some whisky,” Marcus replied as he headed off to the shower.

Ellen said, “So you are Ruth? Carol has told me much about you.”

“I hope it was not all bad. I know there are things I do in my job that do not make me very likeable, but I was just telling Carol about why that is the case,” confided Ruth as she followed Ellen through the house to the garden.

“I was not happy that my family was being investigated. But the Gods told me your story and how you fight daily to survive. That is why I was so eager to meet you when Carol asked if she could bring you to dinner,” Ellen commented as she signaled the servant to serve some snacks and wine.

“Yes, I’m sorry about the investigation. I explained to Carol why. I did discover a lot about your family. Yes, I discovered your secret. Between your two families you own this town and it is your efforts that keep the fishing fleet and this place alive. I hope you can forgive me. Carol told me about your special gift. I really do want to learn more. You may not know this but the FBI does have a section devoted to learning how PARA-NORMAL events can help solve open cases,” Ruth explained.

Jason dashed from the house to see what was going on. Ellen explained Marcus was cleaning up but suggested he could use something a bit stronger than wine to drink. Then she shooed him away to fetch something to appease Marcus. Jason popped to attention and saluted like some cartoon character before he stormed out to find something to bring to the party. Ellen waited until the food and wine was served before, she raised her glass in a toast.

“To the powers that rule our lives and the adventures they hold for us,” Ellen exalted. Carol and Ruth glibly raised their glass and echoed Ellen’s “SOLUTE”.

Gathered around the garden table the three women soon buried their collective thoughts in an animated conversation.

“Ellen, please tell me more about what you hear from the Gods,” Ruth coaxed.

“Ruth, you must understand the Gods do not set down at the dinner table and chat with me. They express themselves through the wind, the rain, the shadows on the wall. I have learned to ‘hear’ what they say. They do not mention names, but they told of a woman struggling with emotions and fighting to move forward in her quest for herself. At the time I did not know about you. In fact, at first, I thought they were concerned about Carol. It was hard to tell the difference in the messages. It seems both you and Carol share many common traits. The Gods speak of great danger for both of you, but it seems that you are the one in greatest danger, Ruth,” whispered Ellen in a very concerned tone.

“Well maybe it is because of the kind of work I do,” Ruth replied.

“Yes, I’m sure that is part of the danger, but I see signs indicating terrible events are coming soon. So, I hope this warning helps you prepare. Now that I see you up close, I feel your power and you might be the one who can defeat the evil forces,” Ellen intoned.

“Ellen, I wish you could explain more about how you communicate with the Gods,” Ruth implored.

Before Ellen could even begin a reply Fronia came rushing to the table with movements almost like a ballet dancer.

“Hi, I heard the FBI agent was coming for dinner. Sorry I’m late”, Fronia babbled before she noticed Ruth seated in the corner.

Fronia instantly stopped talking as a bright red blush painted her cheeks. In the awkward silence that followed her out-burst she pulled a chair up to join the group.

Ruth smiled and extended her hand and introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Ruth Smith the senor FBI agent assigned to this case. You must have been expecting to see Ben. He had to take some samples to our lab at our state side HQs. In fact, I’m expecting a phone call from him soon,” Ruth remarked in a casual yet formal way.

“Yes, I was expecting Ben. He is the only FBI agent I know. No one mentioned he has a partner. My name is Sofronia Konus, Ellen is my mother and Marcus is my uncle. Everyone calls me Fronia. I’m very glad to meet you. I hope I did not miss out on any juicy gossip,” Fronia gushed.

“Ruth was interested in my ability to communicate with the Gods. I sometimes think you are the only one who actually believes me, Fronia. I’m glad you stopped by, so you can verify the different times the Gods warned about something and we were able to avoid a real disaster,” Ellen said.

“I know it was hard for me to believe, but I saw how you were able to warn Jason about the fish being contaminated last year and he was the only fishing fleet to destroy their catch while the other fishers ended up being sued for selling the fish that were polluted. If you had not been warned by the Gods Jason might have lost everything. I’m not sure if your ability to predict the weather is related, but I have seen how you prevented Jason from sending the fleet out thus preventing them from being caught in terrible storms,” Fronia testified.

“So, you do not actually hear voices? All the Gods do is send you omens and you can feel some connection with these omens and you warn others about some event even if you do not know exactly what it might be,” queried Ruth.

“Well, yes I guess that is sort of what it is like, but I really do feel their presence and derive guidance,” Ellen added.

A loud commotion disturbed the women as Jason and Marcus came out to join the conversation. Jason had his hands full of different bottles of liquor and Marcus had a tray of glasses. With a great display of pompous servitude, they started to serve the women a glass of their preferred beverage from the limited selection. Their comic routine was well received and the women could not resist laughing.

“I was trying to get your sister to tell me all about her ability to communicate with the Gods,” Ruth explained.

“Oh. I’m sure she will talk your ear off with that topic. It seems I’m the only one around who does not believe this mumbo jumbo. But hey what can I say – I’m just the scientist in the group,” Marcus grumbled.

“Well, ‘Mr. Scientist’ for your information the FBI has a history of using Para-normal phenomenon to solve cases. This case has proven to be very hard to get any real lead on. So, at this point I’m willing to give anything a try,” Ruth countered.

“Ellen, please let me know everything you can about what is going on,” Ruth continued.

Ellen took a deep breath and closed her eyes as if trying to visualize the events of the last few weeks. Her entire body quaked as the images filled her mind, after a few moments of meditation Ellen spoke. The voice was not her normal sparkling style. Rather, it was raspy, like dried leaves blown over rough concrete by a winter wind.

“The Gods have been restless for a few weeks even before the attack on the dig site. I repeatedly warned Marcus of impending danger, but as always, he paid no attention. I felt the Gods rejoice as Carol arrived. Then the big storm caused me great concern. That was the strongest omen I have ever felt. I thought it was about Marcus and Carol, I didn’t know you or Ben at the time. When I met Ben, I did not get any vibration or other indication of him being an omen, but you Ruth, you send out powerful vibrations. It is you, more than anyone the Gods have been concerned about. You are like the force of good sent to battle the evil forces surging to gain a foot-hold and send mankind into a pit of degradation. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific about the exact nature of the threat. The Gods do not whisper in my ear, they only send signs and omens to warn of danger,” Ellen concluded with a quaking gasp of air.

“From reading case files from past cases, I did not expect you to say you knew exactly who was responsible. But can you determine what the evil is? Maybe some clue that can at least point us in the right direction,” Ruth inquired.

“About the only other thing I can add is from my dreams. I’m not sure if they are directed by the Gods or just a figment of my own imagination. I would have to send you off on some wild goose chase based upon my silly dreams,” Ellen sighed.

“Tell me whatever you can remember. At least I will be able to see where the puzzle pieces might fit. It is possible some bit of information you might not think is important might combine with something someone else has found,” Ruth coaxed.

“Well, I have been having a lot of dreams with strange dark figures cloaked in darkness that seems to be stalking a woman. Sometimes the woman is like Mary Magdalena, other times she is more like Joan of Ark. The dark being fears her, but still stalks her. It is almost as if the evil knows she is the only force that stands in the way, but I do not know what they are fighting over,” Ellen confesses.

“Interesting, so now you think I might be this woman? Wow I never considered myself to be wonder woman. But then, you said you are not sure of what your dreams signify,” Ruth observed.

“Just as I suspected, more of Ellen’s mumbo jumbo. But if it will help you solve this mystery so, be it!” Marcus grumbled while he filled the glasses with a dark amber liquid with a pungent aroma of aged scotch.

“Marcus you should not be so hard on your sister. I have heard from Jason that he was skeptical until she saves him from a big fishing scandal. I know Ben will be interested in this. He spends a lot of time with the ‘GEEK’ squad,” Ruth assured.

“Like I said, I don’t have to believe as long as it works. By the way have you heard anything from Ben?” Marcus replied.

“Not yet, I am expecting a call, but he won’t call unless there is something to report, or if there is something he wants me to check on before he returns,” Ruth answered.

As if that was some sort of cosmic queue, Ruth’s cell phone rang.

“Hello, Oh Ben, we were just talking about you. . .. Remember this is not a secure line. . .. So, you do have some preliminary lab reports. . . Yes, I will pick you up at the airport. Send me a text with the flight number and the ETA. Good to hear your voice. Hope your flight is uneventful. Yes, I’ll say hi to everyone. Is there anyone SPECIAL you want me to say HI to? Oh no reason, just thought you might want me to make sure someone here knew you were thinking about them,” Ruth said with a taunting laugh. Fronia popped in with an unusually chipper voice, “was that Ben?”

Ruth paused for a long moment as a big all-knowing smile spread across her face before she replied, “yes that was Ben. He said he will be back tomorrow and he wanted me to say ‘Hi’ to everyone and especially let you know he is eager to see you again Fronia. Now that I have the official business out of the way it must be time to party.”

With that being said, Ruth grabbed her glass and indicated to Jason to fill it up. She slid onto the bench next to Fronia and downed the shot of scotch in a single gulp. Then she slammed the glass on the table and pointed to the empty glass for a refill. Soon everyone was in high spirits and an easy flow of conversation ensued. Carol was surprised to see this side of Ruth. Apparently, Ruth had adopted a ruthless persona to shield her from the macho domain of the FBI.

Fronia engaged Ruth in animated exchange focused on finding more details about Ben. As the hours sped away Carol looked at Marcus with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. She was surprised he had been so reserved and did not take control of the conversation as he normally did.

She attributed his silence to the long hard day struggling in the pit. Taking him by the hand she said good night to everyone and said a silent prayer that he was not too tired to full fill her dreams. Her prayer must have been heard by at least one of the Gods, because Marcus literally leaped out of his clothing and wrapped his arms around her. The last words she remembered him saying was something about wasting time talking when all he wanted was to be making love to her.


About the author

Bruce J. Spohn

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