Chapter 9




          “Okay.  Time out,” Merlin declared.

          “I thought that’s what limbo is,” William observed.

          “You’re a smart guy, William, but don’t push it, okay?”

          She’d seen Derek’s expression.  Merlin felt a deep sympathy for Derek where Winston was concerned.  He loved his father, and had seen that love betrayed.  Winston’s treachery was a matter of record.  Derek was in the unenviable position of damning him and defending him.  Any aspersion on Winston’s character was a knife in Derek’s heart and it was only driven deeper by knowing that it might be true and not an aspersion at all.

          “Time out,” she repeated.  “The words ‘today I met with Winston Rayne’ do not infer guilt.  Winston had some part to play in all this but, until we know more, we can’t say what that part was.”

          “If the next words out of your mouth are something like ‘let’s stop jumping to conclusions’, fine,” William said.  “I’ll go along with that provided it’s across the board.  I don’t see why my father is being targeted as a bad guy when he wasn’t.”

          “That’s fair but we haven’t targeted your father.  We have, in fact, agreed that he isn’t responsible nor is he the one making the attempt. Thus far, all he’s done is have some serious doubts an’ give you an article which looks like an old coin.”

          “The inference being the coin did something to me to change the way I thought.”

          “Well .. yeah,” Merlin reluctantly concurred.

          “Your father could have been a mule.”

          William turned to Derek.  “I take it you don’t mean that as an insult.”

          “I mean it in the same way that people often unwittingly smuggle narcotics for others.  Or artifacts.  It was given to him, its true nature not disclosed, and he passed it to you in all innocence, never knowing what he’d done.  William, it’s possible that my father did give it to him.  I can’t deny that, not yet.  It’s one of the theories which require validation once we get back.”

          “I’d like you to consider this,” Merlin went on.  “You were shocked at the way your father looked.  I don’t know, William, but it could be that coin was exerting some kind of negative influence over him.  We don’t even know if it was a coin.  It could simply have looked like one.”

          William’s lips twitched.  As usual, his eyes were unreadable.  Then he looked up into Derek’s face.

          “I’m sorry.  I was putting two and two together and assuming it adds to four.  I could be wrong.  Winston may be entirely innocent.”

          “He may,” Derek agreed in a level voice.  “On the other hand, I know, more than anyone else, that he may not.  I understand, William.  You’re defending your father.  That’s an honorable thing to do.  I have to do the same .. or at least give him the benefit of the doubt.  They could both be innocent or at fault.  It’s difficult for us but we have to remember we’re seeing events which happened a very long time ago.  We can’t change them, only use them to discover what is happening now.  Perhaps we should, in that light, try to take a step back and view these scenes only as clues, and set aside the personalities involved.”

          “I think that’s fair,” Merlin said in support.  “It’s clear that we’re seeing all this for a reason.  Limbo has no real structure but it isn’t designed to be confusing.  It’s meant to help.”

          “Very well,” William nodded.  “We’ll try to keep the personalities out of it.”

          They paused for a moment, taking that mental step back and asserting a little distance.  Then Derek said, “The coin.  I haven’t really seen it but you’ve not only done that, you’ve handled it as well.  What can you tell us?”

          William looked away then sat down.  “It looked like a coin.  It was .. a tarnished silvery color.  It had a design on it but it was very worn.  Almost smooth with age and use.  It could have been something else, I suppose – part of a ring, possibly.  As my father had called it his lucky coin, I assumed that’s what it was – a coin.  It wasn’t big.  Maybe a half inch diameter.  It was thin.  Light.  Hardly any weight to it.  The design, such as it was, was on both sides.  The nearest I could describe it, Derek, is that it resembled an old British two shilling piece but a lot thinner.”

          “Did you feel anything when you handled it?” Merlin asked.

          “Nothing,” William said.

          “What of your father?  After he gave it to you, did he change?”

          William considered.  “I guess he did but not really.  If anything, I would say he reverted to how he’d been before.  Still gruff and a strict taskmaster but .. he didn’t look so down.”

          “Do you have any idea how long he owned the coin?” Derek inquired.

          “No.  I was away in Oxford for much for the year.  When he gave it me, I was about to leave for the final year of my undergraduate course.  I only flew home for the summer vacation, you understand.  It hardly seemed worthwhile going back for Christmas and Easter.  For a lot of the time when I was home, my father was away working.  I would have to estimate .. a year?  That’s when I first noticed him looking at it and asked what it was.”

          “Did he seem down in his spirits then?”

          “Not at all,” William replied.

          “Maybe he hadn’t had it very long then,” Merlin suggested.

          “It didn’t affect me like that,” William remarked.  “I never felt broken or defeated.  I felt the opposite.”

          “But you never paid it any attention.  To you, it was just a battered old coin and nothing more,” Derek commented.  “You forgot you even had it.”

          “It’s possible that your father investigated this coin,” Merlin said cautiously, “and discovered its true nature.  I’m not saying he was deliberately trying to harm you, William, but maybe he was trying to help you achieve what you wanted – to join the Legacy.  Derek’s already said you wouldn’t have survived as you were.  If your father learned that .. I don’t know, the coin’s effect was to give people .. ambition or backbone or help clear their heads, he could have seen that as a benefit to you.  Maybe he was down because he knew you couldn’t do it on your own an’ that you needed this kinda help.”

          William nodded slowly.  “It would explain why.  As I said, I’m not aware of waking up on any particular day with a brand new mindset.  It must have happened gradually, over months.”  He paused then looked up.  “This is all very fascinating but how does it fit with what’s happening now?  Someone is trying to bring me back from the dead.  My father isn’t doing it.  I doubt Winston Rayne is doing it.  We’ve learned a lot but we haven’t answered the question.  Without a list of suspects to investigate, how will we be able to stop them?”

          It was a good question and one which, for the moment, couldn’t be answered.

          “I think we should let limbo do its work,” Merlin shrugged.  “It’s frustrating, sure, but we are making some kinda progress.  We just don’t know what kind and in which direction.  If it helps any, we have to remember that the boss brought us here – me an’ Derek anyway – to meet with you on your way thru .. only he put you here as well, to save time.  He didn’t just toss us in here and leave us to get on with it.  He’s working on the outside to ensure we get all the help we need.  That’s why limbo is showing us relevant facts an’ not your first day in kindergarten or you doing your newspaper deliveries."

          William smiled briefly.  “I’ll try to remember that.”

          “All right.  Are you ready to continue?” Derek inquired.


          The cabin faded away and they found themselves back in William Sloan Senior’s study.  William gave an audible sigh.

          “Why here again?  Why is my father being painted as the bad guy?”

          “We don’t know that he is.  We are simply viewing .. relevant facts,” Derek reminded.

          Sloan Senior came in, looking troubled.  He closed the door and locked it then went to his desk.  He stretched his spine before he sat down and took out his journal.  Derek and William hurried to stand at both shoulders to see what he wrote.  Merlin let them get on with it – she trusted them to know what they were doing and what they were looking for.  She used the time to make a closer examination of the study.  Aquila, unseen but felt, kept guard on all of them.

          Sloan Senior picked up a fountain pen and opened the book.  He paused for a second to gather his thoughts.  Derek leaned a little nearer in an effort to learn the date but the preceding entry had started on another page and the date was hidden.  It seemed William’s father was sparing in his use of paper too – Derek would have begun a new page but this man began to write almost where he’d stopped the day before.

          ‘Today my son came to me and told me of his desire to join the Legacy.  I should feel proud and, in a way I do, but mostly I have fear.  It stalks me like a ravening beast.  I am proud that William has thought about it and it is clear to me that he has thought deeply – thinking has never been a problem for him.  Indeed, he thinks rather too much and, as the Legacy is a society which promotes in equal measures thought and action, it is the action part which causes me to dread his future.’

          William read these words as they were committed to Legacy history and he swallowed.  A flush of embarrassment crept up his throat and into his face.

          ‘I told him, quite bluntly, that I doubted his suitability.  He argued with me which I found encouraging because it indicated there is passion in him and the Legacy thrives on passionate belief.  It is the Legacy’s lifeblood.  If we didn’t believe in what we do, we might as well give up and perish.  I do doubt William’s suitability.  It is not his ability to be a member which gives me cause for great concern.  He is a deep thinker and has a wonderful imagination, and, with a little application and development, he would make a fine strategist.  But that is not a frontline role and we have all worked on the frontline.  We have to pass thru that to progress up the organization.  I doubt William, as he is now, would survive an encounter.  But he can learn and he has the time – he is only in the middle of his undergraduate degree at Oxford; the Legacy would not accept him just yet.  No, it is not his ability because that can be developed.  It is his attitude.’

          “Did you know that?” Derek murmured.

          “No,” William replied.  “He was never that specific.”

          The elder Sloan paused again, rolling the pen around in his long fingers, then he bent once more over the book.

          ‘William lacks commitment.  His attitude is that everything will come right with no effort from himself.  He has sweeping ideas for change but cannot see that he must work to make them happen.  He cannot be bothered with fine detail and often lives depends on the fine detail.  The difference between two very similar characters can change the entire meaning of a text or the outcome of an incantation.  William feels that it doesn’t matter but, of course, it does.  My son is destined to be a great man, I know it, but his future, as it is now, does not lie in the Legacy.  It hurts me to write that because it would be my fondest wish to have him work at my side for such a worthwhile cause.  But I would rather have him live and not be in the Legacy than to approve his request and watch him die.’

          Merlin frowned.  There were echoes in this room.  Faint and fading but there.  Not echoes of sound but physical echoes.  Limbo was distorting the scene by its very nature.  She was seeing the past – a long way back in the past too – and the scene was perfectly recreated but limbo couldn’t capture everything in the room exactly.  She sensed that, when this scene hadn’t been a scene but real, something else had been present.

          The study wavered and dissolved.  William straightened.  “That didn’t teach us very much new.”

          “It’s a relevant fact,” Derek responded.  “Quite where it fits in, we’re not sure.  We know from the entry that you were in your second year at Oxford.”

          “End of the second, start of the third.  I was home for the summer recess,” William said.  “We learned it was my attitude he took issue with.  It doesn’t help my situation.”

          “I think it does,” Merlin remarked.  “I can’t say yet how but I felt something in that room.  Something .. more than should have been there.”

          William looked encouraged.  “I think we should continue, don’t you?”

          “Absolutely,” Derek agreed.

          The cabin wavered and reformed into the same scene as before.  They all frowned, wondering if they were pushing too hard, if they should have waited a little longer, should have discussed the earlier scene in more detail.  Maybe they would be shown it again to reinforce the point that they were rushing.  William’s father came in, locked the door again, went to his desk and opened his journal.

          “It’s different,” Derek said.  “He’s wearing a different shirt.  The last entry in the book is different too.”

          Sloan Senior picked up his pen.

          ‘Today I met with Winston Rayne.’

          William glanced quickly at Derek who had paled but was otherwise unresponsive.

          ‘He was passing thru on his way back to San Francisco and called in to the Legacy house here.  I took the opportunity to discuss my son with him and he was very helpful.’

          The room wavered away into mist again.  “I wonder what he did,” William said lightly.

          “So do I,” Derek muttered.  “It must have been shortly before his trip to Peru.  I was fifteen then .. and you were already at Oxford.  We know his mind was disturbed at the very end of his life but it may have started to weigh on him before we set out for South America.”

          “Do you believe your father gave my father the coin?” William asked.

          “I don’t want to,” Derek admitted.  “But it is possible.  And, if he did, his motives are yet to be ascertained – he could have supplied it in the same spirit as your father when he gave it to you – to help.”  He turned.  “Peri, did you sense anything in the room this time?”

          “No,” Merlin replied.  “And I was looking.  The one thing I did notice was that Mr Sloan was quite upbeat.  The meeting obviously went very well.”

          “I don’t recall him ever mentioning it to me,” Derek commented.

          “Why would he?  It was Legacy business, kinda, in that it was about a Legacy member and his son, and you were a kid of fifteen.  You didn’t know William Sloan, Senior or Junior,” Merlin replied.  “Your opinion wouldn’t have mattered to him.  You hadn’t experienced enough life to be able to offer a valid opinion.”

          “Let’s press on,” William decided.  “I don’t know about you but I have a nagging suspicion that our time here is almost over.  And if I go with you .. it means I’m a little nearer to being brought back to life.”

          The Lear faded away into mist and reformed yet again into the study.  Merlin drew in a sharp breath and looked sick.  William’s father entered, locked the door, went to his desk and picked up his pen.  He opened the book and began to write.

          ‘Today I had a visitor.  He said he’d come in response to my misgivings about William.  He gave me a coin – or that’s how it appears.  He said it was lucky and that, if I felt William truly needed it, I should give it to him.  I shall keep it for a while and see how William does.  I must remember to thank Winston for referring this gentleman to me.  I shall do so upon his return from Peru.”

          Derek felt his throat knot up.  The inference of the journal entry was bad but it was the last sentence which hurt.  Winston never came back from Peru, at least not alive.  Derek wondered how many others in the Legacy world might have wanted to thank his father or had some kind comment to make but never had the chance.  And then, of course, there was the way Winston died.  His betrayal at the end of everything he and they believed in wiped the slate clean of a lifetime of good work and dedication.  Any kind words would have been instantly forgotten in the flood of universal condemnation.

          The Lear reformed around them and Merlin went to get a stiff drink.  She had a nasty taste in her mouth.  William and Derek didn’t speak and they sat down with distance between them, avoiding each other’s eyes.

          “C’mon, guys,” Merlin said quietly.  “We have to talk this thru.  Relevant facts, remember?  Keep the personalities out of it?  We agreed that was fair.”

          “I don’t want to say anything which might cause Derek to withdraw his assistance,” William returned with commendable tact.

          Derek smiled fleetingly.  “I promised to help, William, and I will.  You’ve learned some painful truths and had embarrassing secrets revealed.  No one ever said you would have the monopoly on that, not when the Legacy runs back thru the generations of both our families.  My father has been dead for many years.  I regret the way he died but not the way he lived.  If I have to swallow some bitter facts about him, I have to do it knowing I can’t change a thing.”

          He shrugged.  “I hope you won’t let it affect our history which is also in the past and cannot be changed.  I believe a man should be judged on his own actions, not on those of his family.”

          “Well said,” William nodded.  “I believe the same.  If I have to speak bluntly .. it isn’t directed at you.”

          “I understand.”

          “It seems Winston sent this .. visitor to my father.”

          “Yes, it does,” Derek agreed.

          “And it seems we’re sitting in a Lear jet,” Merlin said.  “I can feel the floor vibrating and I can hear the engines keeping us in the sky.  We all know that isn’t the case.  Seems is a little word with a lot of opportunity to mislead.”

          William studied his fingernails.  “I know you’re sympathetic toward Derek and to his father, Aquila, but – ”

          “There’s no but about it, William,” she cut in.

          But my father wrote it in his journal,” William persisted.  “He was a Legacy member and you know that they are perceptive people.  He wouldn’t deliberately lie, not in his journal.  There’d be no point in self-deception or deception of any kind.  He didn’t ever expect me to stand behind him while he wrote it so I could read his words.”

          “What exactly did he write?” she inquired.

          William sighed, feeling this was a waste of time they didn’t have.  “He had a visitor.  The visitor said he’d come in response to my father’s misgivings about me.  He gave my father the coin, told him it was lucky and that, if he felt I needed it, he should pass it on.  My father wrote that he’d keep it for a while to see how I did.  Then he wrote that he must remember to thank Winston for referring the visitor to him and he would do so upon Winston’s return from Peru.”

          “Hmm.  Anyone else see something wrong with that?” Merlin asked.

          “Such as?” William invited in a steady voice.

          “There’s no evidence Winston referred the visitor to anyone.  Your father assumed that.”

          “There’s only one way to verify that information,” Derek announced.  My father’s journal.  He was always meticulous about recording everything, every detail.  As this wasn’t strictly Legacy business, I doubt it would be in his official journal.  But he kept another.  A private journal.”

          “Where is it?  Do you know?” Merlin inquired.

          Derek shrugged slightly.  “My guess would be that it’s in his study somewhere.”

          “In the unopened wing.”

          “That’s right.”

          “Did you sense anything?” William asked her.

          “Yeah.  It’s my turn to assume because I haven’t seen any facts to back me up.  I’m guessing that your father saw this visitor in his study.”

          “He probably would have, yes,” William nodded.  “It was essentially private business concerning my lack of suitability and my poor attitude toward the Legacy.  My mother wouldn’t have been involved in that.”

          “I think the visitor wasn’t good.  There was a stink in the air which suggests to me that he didn’t have your best interests at heart.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say he rather hoped this action would eventually bear fruit in the destruction of the Legacy.”

          “But I never .. used the coin,” William exclaimed, sounding shocked.  “I never thought of it as anything except an old man’s fancy.”

          “I doubt you’d ever need to use it,” Derek replied.  “Just having it in your possession was enough.”

          “It was the .. fork in the road, William,” Merlin went on.  “Up till then, your road hadn’t had a fork.  Suddenly, it did and it tipped you onto another path.”

          “The wrench in the works,” Derek nodded.

          “All right,” William said, outgunned.  “Let’s assume you’re both correct.  Let’s leave aside the personalities and not consider whether Winston knew about the coin or its effect, or even the visitor.  The coin changed my life.  Personally, I don’t think it changed me for the worse.  For the different, yes.  But how does knowing all this help me fight being resurrected?  Who’s doing it?  Who’s the one we have to find and stop?”

          “I don’t know,” Merlin answered.  “Derek, you got any ideas?”

          He shook his head.

          “So .. all this has been for nothing,” William declared.

          “I wouldn’t say that,” Derek responded.  “We have learned a lot.”

          “None of which has any bearing.”

          That, we don’t yet know.  It could all have bearing, William.  Remember, everything limbo has shown us took place in the past.  It cannot show us what is happening now.  What we have been given are pointers.  Clues to direct us as we take the investigation further.”

          “This is just the beginning of the process,” Merlin elaborated.  “Here we can look at the pivotal points.  We can’t do that in the real world.”

          “And everything we’ve seen is a pivotal point?” William queried.

          “Has to be.”

          The vibration beneath their feet died away and they grew very still.  The Lear’s engines faded into silence and they listened hard.  Gradually, the aircraft vanished from around them and they stood in mist.

          “What does this mean?” Derek inquired.

          “I think our time here is done,” Merlin replied.  “We’ve had all it’s gonna give us.”

          William clutched abruptly at her arm.  “Don’t let them take me!”

          “Then I suggest I get us outta here.  We go together, we’ll stay together.”

          “We’ll wake up?” Derek ventured.

          “That’s up to the boss.  We haven’t exactly finished the work yet.  Our mission isn’t over.”

          “Then we’ll be ghosts?”

          “For now.”  She grinned up at him.  “It’s okay.  Has advantages.  You can do things that you can’t when you’re solid.  Everyone ready?”

          They took her outstretched hands and, for varying reasons of their own, clung on a little too tightly.  Merlin smiled.

          “Time to go.  Let’s see where we ended up.”




          “This is hardly a surprise,” William remarked.  “It’s a hospital room.”

          “Did you expect us to be trapped still in the mangled wreckage of a crashed airplane?” Derek queried.  “We’re not sure how much time has passed, William, but I doubt it has been only minutes.”

          “Time means very little to me, Derek.  I have eternity.”

          “For someone who was always so keen on hitting deadlines, that must have been a revelation,” Derek remarked.

          “It did take some .. getting used to,” William replied, a slight smile twitching his lips.  “At first, I found it incredibly frustrating.  You wouldn’t believe how much it irritated me that people didn’t hurry.  I’m not saying they’re lazy or can’t be bothered to do anything at all, they just don’t rush.  They don’t even walk briskly.  They get to where they want to be .. eventually.  I tried pacing myself.  Slowing down, giving myself longer to do things … ”  He shook his head.  “It made no difference.  I still found I had too much time on my hands.  That’s when Joe came to visit.”

          “Peri’s father?” Derek queried and William nodded.

          “He told me the secret of existing over the river while keeping your sanity intact.  And you would go mad, Derek, you really would.  We are creatures of time.  We invented time so we could cut eternity into measurable chunks.  Joe said don’t plan.  Don’t think about it.  Go on impulse.  Wake up one morning and go with your gut.  Some days, you’ll be full of energy, ready to do anything, go anywhere, any distance.  Some days, you’ll wake and want to do something specific – paint a picture, go walking to the lake, play a round of golf.  Other days, you’ll just want to lay in bed and do nothing .. and that’s okay.  Who’s going to yell at you?  You don’t have an office to go to.  No one’s going to call and ask where you are and what time you’ll be showing up.  Occasionally, someone will call by to see how you’re doing because they woke with that impulse.  Death is your reward for living, not your punishment.  It’s your time to use how you want.  So go for it.”

          “And it worked?”

          “Absolutely,” William said emphatically.  “The next day I woke up and thought I want to stay in bed and read a book .. and that’s exactly what I did.  The next, I woke thinking I want to work in the garden, so I did that.  The one thing you never think about is time because you know you’ll have time to do whatever you want in whatever order you want to do it.”  His face sobered as he looked at the still, silent figure in the bed.  “Until, of course, my time ran out and I found myself in limbo.  Now I’m back in the world and back in time.  Derek, the sand’s running again.  Whoever’s doing this .. they’ll know.  I can be affected by them.”

          Merlin drifted thru the wall.  “Here you are.  I’m two doors down.  You’re looking pretty good for a guy in a coma, Derek,” she remarked, bending over his body to inspect it.

          “I trust you look equally good,” he smiled.

          “Are you kidding?  I look fantastic.”

          “Where are we?  What part of the country?” he asked.

          “You got a good team,” she grinned.  “On the ball.  My Mom told me.  She’s been keeping watch, keeping a candle alight, an’ will stay on the job.  Take a look,” Merlin invited, gesturing at the window.  “We’re in San Francisco.”

          Derek felt a rush of pleasure mixed with a sharp pang of homesickness.

          “The doughty Dr Rachel Corrigan,” William said.  “When I first learned that you’d recruited Dr Corrigan, my thought was that you’d taken pity on her.  A widow with a small child.  I couldn’t see how she would fit.  She is a scientist, but that isn’t bad.  She is a skeptic despite everything, always the first to look for the rational, mundane explanation, and refusing to accept evidence when presented.  The most I thought she could ever be is a first aider to the team and a drag anchor holding you all back.  How wrong I was.  She’s an excellent addition.  Fast, thinks on her feet, that scientific skepticism keeps her grounded and acts as a balance to the impetuosity of others.  And, of course, she has her family background in witchcraft and sorcery.  Now she’s brought you two to where we all need to be.  When you get back, Derek, be sure to commend her and pass on my thanks.”

          “Naturally,” Derek murmured.

          “Okay, guys, we’re back in the real world.  Our first priority,” Merlin said, “is to get William somewhere safe, isolated from whoever’s working the magic.  We have a choice  of locations – my place or the island.  Both are shielded.  Until I get some proper backup – no offense, Derek – one of us should stay with William at all times in whatever location is selected.”

          “The island,” Derek said.  “I have to get to my father’s journal.”

          “Will that help me or is it just to soothe your conscience?” William asked.

          “Possibly both.  Nothing’s guaranteed.  I may yet learn that my father did send that visitor to your father.  He could be responsible for you being given that coin.  I have to know the truth, William.  The truth is important, to me and to you, good or bad.”

          “Okay, we’ll go to the island,” Merlin agreed.  “I’ll get you there an’ then I’ll head off to do some searching of my own.  You’ll be fine, William, so long as you stay there.  And, no, you don’t get a choice.  You don’t even get a say.”

          “How will we get there?” Derek asked.

          “The usual way.  On the ferry,” William replied.

          “We’re ghosts!  Try not to think like a flesh an’ blood person,” Merlin urged.  “Walls, doors, windows .. not there.  Walking?  I don’t think so.  We can fly.”

          “I think I’d prefer to take the elevator,” William remarked.  “We’re on the fifth floor.”

          Merlin thought about arguing but shook her head.  She was only the bodyguard.  Third string.  “Aquila, get going,” she said.  “I’ll look after things here.”

          “Where have you sent her?” Derek asked.

          “Back to the beginning.”




          William was insistent and it took precious time to get to Angel Island.  Merlin was irritated by using public transportation but Derek needed it so she didn’t argue.  He wouldn’t allow himself to think like a ghost because he didn’t intend to stay like this forever.  After his death, whenever that was, he would adapt to his new existence.  For now, though, he thought of himself as flesh and blood .. and invisible.  He’d been in limbo for a while, several days apparently if the newspaper stands were to be believed, and he needed to reintegrate himself into the real world.  He found he was constantly expecting the city to dissolve into mist around him – the mist of limbo, not the infamous San Francisco fog.  The precious time riding on the BART and the ferry was important.  If he was to investigate this, his mind had to be in the real world too.

          William seemed tense.  He had become accustomed to no time and now he had it back again.  He was very aware that the clock was ticking.  But, even though he was the only genuine ghost among them, he could not bring himself to act like one.  He waited for doors to open before he passed thru.  He stood aside to let others go first.  It was frustrating but he’d spent too long in the real world to let standards slip.

          Once on the island, however, Merlin took control.  She taught them the knack of moving without moving.  The glide.  Picture where you want to go and let the ground move under your feet.  It’s faster.  And the house is the only safe place for William.  Before they knew it, they stood in the foyer. 

          “You’ll be okay now,” she said briskly.  “Stay together.  Stay friends.  I don’t want to come back an’ break up any fights.  Aquila will be back as soon as she can, an’ so will I.”

          “Where are you going?” William asked, his voice a little alarmed.

          “Try to find that coin,” Merlin answered.  “New York.  An’ not by public transport.”

          She vanished and Derek took a moment to gaze around.  “It’s good to be almost home,” he said.

          “The unopened wing,” William recalled.  “The old family wing?”


          “Barbara told me about it once,” William went on.  “She said she wanted to empty it, that she should have done it years ago.  Auction the furniture, burn all the papers.  She wanted nothing left to remind her of her old life.”

          “I’m glad she only locked it and left me the key,” Derek responded.

          William pursed his lips.  “Legacy wives have it tough, don’t they?” he mused as they began to walk.  “It calls us to a lifelong dedication and sentences them to a life devoid of company.  Regular company, anyway.  And, when we die, they erase us.  Glad to be free at last to live the life they should have had.”

          “It’s one reason why I’ve never married,” Derek remarked.

          “You’ve come close.”

          “Once or twice,” Derek admitted.  “I could never take that last step and condemn them.  It wouldn’t be fair.  It’s either .. knowing a little and dreading the future, or not knowing but suspecting and being fed lies.”

          “Peri’s gone to see Patricia, hasn’t she?” William sighed, thinking of the lies he’d told his wife in the past.

          “Patricia won’t be able to see her.”

          William nodded.  “I wish I could …  I never said goodbye.”  He straightened.  “Come on.  I’d like to see this old wing of yours.”




          Aquila knocked on the door and waited patiently.  Eventually, it was opened by a gray haired man who stooped slightly to disguise his height.  He frowned at her.

          “I am Aquila, a Legacy Enforcer.  I am in need of information.”

          He stepped back in surprise.  “It’s a little late.  I’ve been dead some time.  Am I in trouble?  Have I done something wrong?”

          “Do you think you have?”

          He swallowed.  “I may have done.”

          Aquila slowly nodded.  “Will you assist me?  It’s concerning your son, William Sloan Junior.”

          The shoulders dropped and he lowered his head.  “You’d better come in.”




Continue to Chapter 10               Return to Home