Year One: Duquesa Bay
Chapter Ten

"Fishing"

Erika's Sailboat

    Three miles off shore of Concha Dos, the middle island of the "Las Islas Conchas" trio in Duquesa Bay, Erika von Meer enjoys some alone time aboard her sailboat "The White Tara." Stretching and sunning herself, she opens her lab book and begins to write in it, using the ancient Pali code.

ERIKA'S JOURNAL

Graph

I believe I have found the reasons as to why it took time to complete the change back from the last transmogrification. If the simulations parallel the data I've collected, then morphing more than once in a 24 hour cycle should no longer be a problem. Further study is still required. However, if successful, my next goal will be to find a freshwater trigger. This will no longer limit me to saltwater submergence and will greatly increase my area of coverage. The major obstacle is not to change from a simple shower or a swim in the pool. I estimate the completion of this goal to be anywhere from 3-6 months.

Speaking of obstacles, Morrigan McBride continues to confound me. Why I spared her life, as well as the life of Anita Fiore, goes against my greater nature. Fiore can be easily handled, she lets her large ego get in the way of her small brain. McBride is the conundrum. A conundrum I will solve, one way or the other.

 

    She closes her book, sits up, and dangles both legs over the side of the boat. Her feet dip into the deep, blue water where a school of Dorado swim around and nibble at her toes.

Erika: I wish I could stay out here all day with you but I need to take these medical supplies to my lair - then I have to go back and teach a Bio 101 class to a bunch of morons who think picking their nose is a scientific study

    Erika slowly stands, sighs, and gets ready to set sail.

Erika Tanning (by Alex Amezcua)

    KCON Newscenter 8

    On the second floor of the KCON building, Morrigan sits inside her stark, gray, undecorated cubicle and stares at the computer screen.

Morrigan: (Unaware that she is singing out loud) I am standing up at the water's edge in my dream...

    Gracie Takanachi quietly comes up behind her.

Gracie: I cannot make a single sound as you scream

Morrigan: (Startled) HEY, don't ever sneak up on my like that, I don't appreciate it!

Gracie: Take it down a notch, Morri - everything's cool, everything's serene!

Morrigan: Sorry, I just don't like surprises

Gracie: Wow, are you ever in the wrong business

Morrigan: (To herself) And the wrong town

Gracie: You, Chickie, have a gorgeous voice - USE IT MORE - the club I spin at has Karaoke Tuesdays, you could win some serious cash, as well as, plenty o' pints for your pals

Morrigan: (Returning to her computer) I'll keep that in mind

Gracie: What has you so deep in thought... and singing, no less?

Morrigan: My... my story

Gracie: (Looking over her shoulder) You've written two words

Morrigan: I need to get it done

Gracie: The school board thing, right?

Morrigan: (Typing) Yeah

Gracie: Hell, that'll take you a half hour at most

Morrigan: True... it's certainly not a multiple homicide or a train wreck, now is it?

Gracie: Things have been pretty calm around here the last few days

Morrigan: THANK GOD

Gracie: Feel like lunch?

Morrigan: I feel like doing some research into those murders

Gracie: I know a way to do both - let me get my keys and we'll go

Morrigan: Do you mind if we stop off and pick up my car on the way? - it's finally ready

Gracie: But are you ready for the bill?

Electrawoman and Dynagirl!Morrigan: (Grabbing her purse) Never

    The two go over to Gracie's cube. It is adorned with twinkle lights, a bamboo plant, a fish bowl, a calendar of half-naked firemen, and a gigantic poster of Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. Morrigan studies each item intently.

Gracie: (Noticing) OK, you've been in my space nearly a dozen times over the last three days - the fascination should be waning!

Morrigan: I just find it... interesting

Gracie: Try decorating your own "office" - you've been here long enough now and there isn't even a plant on your desk

Morrigan: I like to keep my personal life at home and my professional life at the office - no trinkets, no pictures, no plants!

Gracie: One little cactus will not kill you

Morrigan: But I will most likely kill IT - plants always die on me, like everything else in my life

    Upon hearing this comment, Gracie playfully strides away from Morrigan as they walk through the halls. Jason Clark, a tall African-American man on crutches, hops over to them.

Morrigan: Hi Jason

Jason: Where are you off to, ladies?

Gracie: Captain Dave's for some fish 'n chips - want to come with?

Jason: Sounds good but I have to be in the editing bay for the next hour - could you bring me back some?

Gracie: Sure thing

Morrigan: How's the ankle doing?

Jason: Much better, thanks - are you learning your way around here yet?

Morrigan: Getting there

Jason: Don't worry, you will - I'll catch you two later

Gracie: Extra fries, right?

Jason: (Hopping off) You got it!

    The two petite women make their way to the KCON parking lot.

Morrigan: I like Jason, he's a cool guy - do you think he'd mind if I asked for his autograph? - my dad is a big college basketball fan and it would absolutely make his day

Gracie: (Getting in the van) No, he won't mind at all - not everyone gets to make the game winning shot in the NCAA quarterfinals like he did

Morrigan: (Also getting in) Yes, but he probably wants to be seen as a sports reporter now

Gracie: (Starting the engine) He'll still sign the autograph, trust me - so, what do you think about the rest of the crew?

Morrigan: Everyone has been really nice... Turner has exploited my train wreck situation as much as he could, so I don't see him anymore - I haven't seen much of Kylee, either

Gracie: Try looking in the stairwell or under Gates' desk

Morrigan: I like Austin but if he asks me to do the "weather dance" with him one more time, I will kill Mr. Ortega... and I'm not a violent person

Gracie: Not yet

Morrigan: Oh, and Dan calls me Sarah - is that because I mistakenly called him "Don" on my first day?

Gracie: No, he calls all the girls "Sarah" - it was the name of his favorite intern ... five years ago!

    Morrigan shoots Gracie a perplexed look.

Gracie: He can't remember ANYONE'S name - so, he calls us "Sarah" and the guys "Buddy"

Morrigan: oookayyy

Gracie: What about Claudia?

Morrigan: Besides introducing ourselves, Claudia hasn't really chatted with me yet - I'm a little sad since she is a major role model of mine since my first journalism class in high school

Gracie: (Snickering) Just what Claudia wants be reminded of - how old she is

Morrigan: I met her husband, Benjamin, he seems like a sweetheart

Gracie: He is - and the best damn dentist in town - the two of them as a couple are quite funny to watch

Morrigan: Why?

Gracie: Claudia keeps her husband's balls in a big old mason jar labeled with bold calligraphy "MINE" - if she weren't married to Ben, I'd swear she'd be the first in line to an Indigo Girls concert

Morrigan: Really?

Gracie: But she's not, Anita tried once and got a huge bucket of ice dumped on her sorry ass

    The mental image causes Morrigan to chuckle.

Gracie: She and Ben are just like that, you know? - they like the role reversal - some men are happy cooking and cleaning while their women strut around like a roosters and slay the evil dragon

Morrigan: That's cool

Gracie: Hey hey for them - they have a long, solid marriage and their kids are well-adjusted, nice people... so unlike the other Martels!

Morrigan: I like Dr. Stephanie

Gracie: Well, she finally wised up and ditched that family, she's back to being a Gates now... which is only a small improvement

    They arrive at the mechanic's and pick up Morrigan's car. She then follows Gracie along Via Royal to the Duquesa Bay Pier where they park and get out.

The WharfMorrigan: (Starting to walk towards the pier) What are you waiting for, Gracie?

Gracie: (Looking around) Zach - he called and said he'd meet us here for lunch

Morrigan: You two are inseparable

Gracie: We keep tabs on each other - neither of us wants to be scooped

Morrigan: It's LUNCH

Gracie: IT'S WAR

Morrigan: (Winking) It's LOOOOOVE

Gracie: WHAT? - ARE YOU WHACKED? - TAKE THAT BACK

Morrigan: You LOVE him, Gracie Takanachi

Gracie: YOU ARE INSANE, MORRIGAN MCBRIDE - THAT BLAST DID SOMETHING TO YOU

Morrigan: My greatest gift, as well as my greatest curse, is the ability to read people - and I read Zachary "Eyes" Isaacson all over your heart and on your uterine walls

Gracie: EEEEWWWW - THANK YOU FOR RUINING MY LUNCH

    Zach pulls up next to them in a beat-up, silver hatchback.

Zach: (Getting out) Nice 'Stang, M&M... can I ride your pony?

Morrigan: (Evil grin) Other carousels await you, dear boy

Zach: Huh?

Gracie: I'M HUNGRY, LET'S EAT, NOW

    The three make their way towards Captain Dave's Seafood Shack on the pier.

Captain Dave's Seafood Shack

Zach: How's your car?

Morrigan: Fine now - the mechanic said he's never seen circuitry fried like that before

Zach: Hmm

Gracie: Weird

Morrigan: Very

Zach: Tell me, Lady McBride, what exactly does "Penis My Tire" mean?

    Both women stop and look at him.

Zach: Your license plate... PNSMYTR

Morrigan: (Rolling her eyes) "Pen Is Mightier" you jerk!

Zach: Ah

Gracie: I like Zach's interpretation better

Morrigan: Big surprise

Zach: What does that mean?

Gracie: (Running off) I GOT DIBS ON THE PINBALL MACHINE

Zach: (Chasing after her) HEY, I ALWAYS GO FIRST

    All three enter the small restaurant through a side door. As Gracie and Zach entertain themselves with a game, Morrigan sits at a glazed wooden table and ponders the ocean from her window. A burly man with an auburn beard calls to her from behind the counter.

Captain Dave: Can I get you something, Miss?

Morrigan: (Snapping out of her trance) Oh, I'm sorry

    Morrigan goes over to him.

Captain Dave: Hopefully, one day, I can afford an actual waitress

Morrigan: If you do, please don't make her wear a humiliating uniform made of seashells

Captain Dave: How about starfish?

    The two share a quick laugh.

Morrigan: I'm guessing you're Captain Dave?

Captain Dave: Aye, aye - and you be?

Morrigan: (Extending her hand) Morrigan McBride

Captain Dave: (Shaking it) Right, the dog saver - what can I get you?

Morrigan: I'll have an order of fried clams, a side of slaw, iced tea... and some information, please

Captain Dave: I can help you with the first three, I'm not so sure about the last request

Morrigan: Gracie said you might know about the men who washed ashore on Celoso Beach?

Captain Dave: I didn't know them personally - but they're friends of a friend, that kind of thing - all of the local fishermen are taking up a collection to help the families out

Morrigan: That's very generous

Captain Dave: (Handing her a basket of clams) I know they were doing something illegal at the time but you can't blame the families for their actions - everyone deserves a proper burial

Morrigan: (Sprinkling malt vinegar on her clams) Do you think you could arrange a meeting between me and one of the family members?

Captain Dave: You seem like a nice gal, Ms. McBride, but they don't need to deal with media vultures right now

Morrigan: Look, I know how it is to lose someone you love - I just want to get a little information to figure this out so it won't happen again

    The large man considers this for a moment as Morrigan quietly eats her clams.

Captain Dave: (Looking over to the pinball machine) You leave Fingers and Eyes behind and I'll see what I can do

Morrigan: It will just be me, one on one - no cameras, I promise!

Captain Dave: Give me a number where I can reach you

Morrigan: (Writing her number on a napkin) Thank you - oh, one more thing...

Captain Dave: Would you like some tartar sauce?

Morrigan: I would like to know about Aleta Oscura

    Turning pale, Captain Dave looks around and motions for Morrigan to follow him into the kitchen.

Captain Dave: What do you know about her?

Morrigan: Her... so, it is definitely female?

Captain Dave: (Clearing the sink) The guys who have seen her say she has a nice pair of jugs

Morrigan: Back up weapons, I'm sure

Captain Dave: (Serious) You think?

Morrigan: How long has she been here?

Captain Dave: There has been more and more talk about her over the last few months but sightings and stories about Darkfin... her ENGLISH name... have been around for years

Morrigan: Do you remember when they first started exactly?

Captain Dave: (Laying out his catch of the morning on the table) Not real sure but I'll ask around

Morrigan: I'd appreciate that

Captain Dave: (Taking out a fillet knife) You know, I agree with Darkfin's environmental concerns - no one likes a dirty hypo in their chowder - but she didn't have to kill those men, she could've disabled their boat, called the authorities, whatever - now, there are two widows and four kids without dads

    With one swift move, he chops off the heads of two fish as Morrigan turns away.

Captain Dave: I just don't believe in killing

    The young woman exits the kitchen, finishes her iced tea and heads over to Zach and Gracie who are just getting ready to order.

Morrigan: Hey, you two, I have some errands to run - Gracie, I'll meet you back at the station and Zach, try reading Edward Bulwer Lytton sometime

 

SCU Dept of Biology and Aquatics

    Within moments, Morrigan arrives at Santa Conchita University. She walks across the campus and enters a hall leading her to the Biology & Aquatics Department. She catches Dr. Javier Sanchez on his way to class.

Morrigan: Dr. Sanchez, may I have a moment of your time?

Javier: The new KCON reporter, correct? - it is lovely to finally meet you - we had an amazing weekend, did we not?

Morrigan: You could say that

Javier: (Smoothing his hair back) Are you here to interview me?

Morrigan: Uh, not right now - actually, I'm here to ask you a favor

Javier: (Disappointed) Of course, what do you need?

Morrigan: (Pulling out one plastic baggie with the Q-Tip inside) I was hoping you could run some tests on this and tell me exactly what it is

Javier: (Glancing at the contents) Where did you get the sample from?

Morrigan: Actually, I found it on the bumper of my trailer

Javier: (Looking at his watch) Interesting - I shall run some tests and have the results for you tomorrow - right now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get to class

Morrigan: Thank you, Dr. Sanchez

Javier: (Gently squeezing her hand) Please, call me Sandy... and let me know when you'd like to set up an interview

Morrigan: (Forced smile) Certainly

    Later, after his class, Sandy encounters Dr. Shelby Willis in the hall.

Javier: Shel... do me a favor

Shelby: Oh no

Javier: (Taking Morrigan's sample out of his pocket) Please

Shelby: NO NO NO - Javier Sanchez, I am NOT doing your work for you!

Javier: Look, I have to be at a meeting with all of the other department heads in a few minutes, I don't have time to do this myself

Shelby: Find the time - just like the rest of us - I have to pick up Calvin from school and get ready for the Feast of Orunmila tonight

Javier: It's a favor to KCON, we need them for good PR

Shelby: Sandy, I told you once, and now I am telling you a second time - I am NOT doing it - Erika is in the lab, have HER do it for you... good-bye!

    Taking Shelby's suggestion, Sandy finds Erika working in the lab and cautiously approaches her.

Javier: Doing something that requires your immediate attention?

Erika: (Not looking up) Let me guess, you have something to do, you asked Shelby to do it for you, she turned you down, and now you're asking me

Javier: No, not at all... well, yes, maybe - could you?

Erika: What is it?

Javier: (Placing the baggie on the counter) Just a sample that needs to be run

Erika: (Still working on her project) What kind of sample?

Javier: That's the question, I'm not sure what it is

Erika: Tim is due in pretty soon, I'll have him test it

Javier: As long as it's done by tomorrow, muchas gracias!

    As Sandy turns to leave, Erika finally glances at the sample and is immediately intrigued by it.

Erika: Wait, where did you get this?

Javier: That new KCON reporter brought it over... I think her name is Maureen

Erika: (Clenching her teeth) Morrigan... Morrigan McBride


This chapter was brought to you by our first Patron Saint:

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