Avalon 1.9: Bump in the Night

            Lockhart set guards in the night to watch for the Gott-Druk.  He was especially concerned about the behavior and comments of the ones in the orange jumpsuits.  He guessed they were from the future and tossed into the past like them, and everyone agreed with that conclusion.  “There is no telling the capabilities in terms of advanced equipment they might have with them,” he concluded.

            That night, people slept well enough despite everything.  They were learning to sleep when they could.  The night was warm and the sky was clear when Captain Decker took the watch.  He looked to the moon and was glad it was not full.  He watched the stars and was equally glad that none of them moved.  All calm, he thought right before he felt the splitting headache.  He squinted, and put a hand to his head.  When he looked again, he had a shock.

            The sleepers in the room were all ghouls.  He looked where Boston and Lieutenant Harper were asleep.  He saw only ghouls.  They looked like female ghouls and he never imagined there was such a thing.  Something in his mind said they needed to be killed.  It said they all turned into ghouls because they were asleep and unable to resist.  It said the only reason he was not turned was because he was awake.  He believed what his head told him, but at the same time his military mind did not cease to work.  He was too exposed where he was, so he got up quietly to first move behind cover.

            “Captain Decker, close your eyes.”  The Captain heard the words and recognized the voice.

            “Mister Mingus?”

            “Exactly.  The real ghoul has cast a glamour.  I see it, too.  None of our friends have become ghouls.  It is an illusion.”

            Captain Decker paused.  “How do I know you are not lying to me?”

            “Man, close your eyes.  Just listen to my voice.  The Kairos is hunting the ghoul right now.”

            Two of the sleepers stirred.  Lockhart because he just lay down and Boston because she was a light sleeper.

            “Decker?”  It was Boston’s voice that came out of that ghoul mouth.  “What is it?”  That time the voice had a ghoulish sound to it.  Captain Decker raised his rifle, but he did not pull the trigger.  He slammed his eyes shut.

            “Keep your eyes closed.  And don’t trust your ears.  The humans can be made to sound like ghouls.  I have enough magic to cut through that part of the illusion.  You must trust me.”

            “Sir.”  Captain Decker said and sweated because he came very close to killing everyone.

            “Keep talking,” one of the ghouls said, but it sounded enough like Lockhart so Captain Decker did not open his eyes.

            “The ghoul had to come to the surface and get close to affect the glamour,” Mingus continued.  “Roland is with Odelion.  It can’t be far away.  They will get it.  Trust me.”

            “How can I trust you?  Maybe everyone has turned into ghouls.  You may be the illusion trying to disarm me.”

            “No one has touched you.  Don’t touch him.”  Alexis was up and about to do that very thing.  She backed off.  “Listen, Captain.  If they were real ghouls they would have you on the ground already and be feasting off your soul.”  Mingus paused.  “Hurry up,” he said the words through what sounded like gritted teeth.  He was running out of things to say to keep the Captain distracted.

            “It’s a trick,” Captain Decker said.  “It has to be a trick.”  He was about to open his eyes when they all heard an unearthly scream.  They heard a voice a moment later.  It was a human voice.

            “All clear.”

            Mingus came in from the outside.  He had been speaking through the doorway with his back to the outside wall.  “All clear,” he repeated the words but still kept back from touching the Captain.  Captain Decker opened his eyes, slowly.  Everyone looked human again.  What is more, the voice in his head appeared to be gone.  He set his rifle on the floor where he stood and walked out into the night.

            “No.”  Lockhart prevented anyone from following him.

            Odelion found Decker sitting in the chief’s chair by the council rock.  Of course, Captain Decker would have no way of knowing it was supposed to be a sacred seat, like a throne of sorts.  Odelion did not mind.  He just took Balamine’s seat.

            “Are you alright?”  He asked.  Captain Decker spoke but he did not look at Odelion.

            “Why did you bring me on this mission?  I nearly killed everyone.”

            “A-ha!  So you admit that lady Alice and Glen and I are all the same person.”

            “It would be kind of hard not to admit that at this point.”

            Odelion  waited before he spoke in case the Captain had something more to say.  “You are here because of your military background.  You are a marine ranger, you have been with the seals, done specialized missions in the field and have the training in both strategy and tactics that may be needed to get everyone home safe and in one piece.”

            “But that is why I almost killed everyone.  And I could have.”

            “But you didn’t, and now that glamour will be much harder for another ghoul to get away with.  You are experienced and with such experience comes a natural resistance.”

            “Small comfort.”

            Odelion stood, but he had one more thing to say.  “Take as much time as you need, only remember your crew needs you, too.”

            Captain Decker nodded before he asked his question.  “So why are you up?”

            Odelion smiled a very broad smile.  “I have four wives.  You don’t think I get any real sleep, do you?”

            Captain Decker nodded but said no more as Odelion walked off.

            Roland came back to the hut at the same time.  “Ghoul scouts come in threes,” he said.  “And seven in the force to follow.”

            “That is two,” Mingus counted.  “Anenki’s and Odelion’s.”  No one had to say there was another one out there, somewhere, and seven to follow after that.

###

            In the morning, Odelion took them straight to the docks.  “This is modeled after the ships of the Arisopholas in the south.  They regularly make trips to trade in North Africa, so it should be seaworthy as far as you are going.”

            “Look out for the Gott-Druk in the orange jumpsuit,” Lockhart reminded Odelion.  “He looked to have a sophistication of devices that your present day Gott-Druk do not possess.  He and his crew called your Gott-Druk weapons primitive.”

            “So you really think he does not belong here.”

            Lockhart looked around before he nodded.  “We all think it, and he may yet tip the balance of the coming conflict.”

            Odelion nodded.  “I will watch.  My wild men are out even now on the edge of the village, watching.  That was how we knew of the attack in advance.”

            “Technology is good,” Captain Decker said with a look at Lieutenant Harper.  “But there is no substitute for a good pair of eyes.”

            Odelion just nodded again and he and his wives said good-bye.  “I have asked that Oceanus watch over you in your journey,” Odelion added at the last, and he waved while the travelers shoved off.  No one saw a small fishing boat with a good sail pull up its own anchor and drift into the wake of the bigger ship.  No one noticed, so no one saw that the boat appeared to be empty.

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