Chapter Four – Somatic Sense
I know the feeling.
Part I – I’ll Just Pretend It’s OK
Nothing’s going wrong and everything makes sense. I never was ever going somewhere, and so I never found out why.
Of course it was boring, being at the house with nothing to do, waiting. Waiting for Marek to show up. Staying inside, because outside was nothing but wasteland and the incessant rain which battered the house, driven by the strong wind.
Jack was nevertheless on the porch standing just outside the front door, where only if you hugged the wall could you be sure to stay dry. He liked feeling the wind blowing into his face, he felt somehow free and it was exhilarating.
He didn’t notice anything different until they were within a few hundred metres, how could you see through the dark and the rain? Besides he wasn’t really looking. The two figures drew closer, emerging from the gloom to take form as they walked bent forward the hoods of their dark capes drawn up over their heads.
They were expecting Marek, and Jack thought he would be alone, so it was surprising to see two people coming towards the house. He turned back to the front door, opened it just slightly and shouted to Joel.
They were at the steps now and looked up as they approached him, but Jack did not recognise Marek – who were these guys?
Joel opened the front door, the two new arrivals glanced from Jack to Joel and walked inside, nothing was said. Jack followed behind, closing the door and locking out the elements.
As they lowered the hoods of their capes, standing there, dripping water onto the wooden floor, the taller of the two spoke.
“I’m Howard,” he offered an outstretched hand. Joel gripped it, followed by Jack.
“This is Emret,” Howard nodded to his partner standing beside him. They shock hands.
“Joel... and Jack.”
For a moment the four of them just stood there. Joel was wondering who they were and where was Marek, Jack was probably thinking exactly the same. There was an uneasy tension. The last thing Kado had said was that they were looking for him.
“Marek couldn’t make it,” Howard said by way of explanation.
Joel relented, told them to hang up their wet coats and come through to the lounge, but he was just being polite, he was not relaxed, the tension persisted.
“Sit down,” Joel indicated the large sofa.
Howard and Emret sat one at each side of the large sofa. Jack took the armchair next to Joel, who remained standing.
“So what happened to Marek?” Joel asked.
“Ah, we can’t tell you that,” Howard looked up at him.
“No,” Emret added. “We just got a message from him with directions.”
“So here we are,” Howard interjected as if that was an explanation in itself.
They're a double act, Laurel and Hardy, Jack smiled to himself amused, but Joel was suspicious.
“Are you two alone?” Howard asked.
Joel didn’t feel comfortable at all and he decided he needed to push for more information. Ignoring the question he replied, “What did Marek say? In the message?”
“Oh nothing much,” Howard was looking around the room as he answered.
“Is Professor Madison here?” Emret, his partner, shot the question into the room.
And like a bullet, that name ricocheted around inside Joel’s head, throwing him off balance. Where had he heard that name before? Joel was certain he knew that person. Of course he wasn’t here, the house was empty and closed up when they found it. There were only the two of them, before the odd couple showed up.
“Professor?” Joel let the question hang in the air.
“Your uncle,” Emret clarified.
Joel noticed the sideways regard Howard gave his partner, a sort of look that hinted he had perhaps said too much. My uncle, Joel was certain he should know this Professor Madison, he was convinced this was true, but it was another hole in his memory. What he wondered though, was how they knew about his uncle. No way did Marek know about Madison, so this was all looking more and more suspect.
Although Clement Madison was occupied 24/7 with whatever it was he was working on at the house, and that it was obvious he was set up there to be isolated and not interrupted, he wasn’t going to completely ignore his own sister.
That evening the four of them sat down to eat together around the solid dark wood dining table. The same wood as that of the stairs, the house was full of old fashioned wooden furniture. Charlie looked across the table at Uncle Madison and Joseph, Joel was on his right and their mother the other side.
“What you doing here uncs?” Charlie asked.
“I could pose the same question,” Madison replied glancing over at his sister. “I have a big project I’m working on,” he returned his attention to Charlie.
“Oh,” was all Charlie replied, looking back down at his plate and sticking his fork into whatever it was that was their dinner.
Joel smiled to himself, thinking how his little brother’s mind wondered, quickly losing interest if there was nothing to grab his attention. Clearly Uncle Madison’s big project excited Charlie about as much as the food on his plate.
“What stuff are you working on uncle?” Joel tried to interject a tone of studied interest into his question, which apparently worked.
“The Weatherman Project,” his uncle replied. “We are trying very hard to address the problem of continuous rainfall and to see if we cannot stop it and at the same time keep the water suspended in the air.”
Joel nodded, doing his best to look interested.
“Of course it is much more complicated. We need the rain to provide power, but if there is ever going to be any sort of return of vegetation to the earth it needs to dry out. That will take a long time, but it needs to happen to address the viruses and the contamination. The great problem is...” He paused as if he were contemplating philosophically some sort of universal dilemma. “The great problem is, that when you manipulate something like the weather and rainfall, you never really can take account of all the consequences. There are just too many unknown factors. You solve one problem, but create others.”
In a way Joel wished he never asked. He was only making polite conversation, in an attempt to diffuse the somewhat hostile atmosphere between his mother and his uncle. He wondered if it had always been like that between them, or if it was them showing up at the house.
Charlie was obviously completely bored, he was just playing with his food and fidgeting in his seat. Their mother was not being drawn into any argument with her brother, maybe because their being here was a kind of last resort. The rest of the meal passed in virtual silence.
“We would like to see where Professor Madison was working,” Howard looked across at the two of them.
“If that’s okay,” Emret smiled.
Was it okay? Joel had no idea. He didn’t know who these guys were, or what they wanted, obviously they were interested in his uncle. Trying to put the pieces of the two jigsaws together at the same time was causing Joel a lot of stress. These guys, inadvertently or not, had given him some missing information which made sense.
This was why he recognised the house, his bedroom. Of course he had been here before, and now he knew the house belonged to his uncle, Professor Madison. And Charlie? Was Charlie a relative? His brother? Was that possible?
The more he thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense. And thinking about this provoked more ideas, it was as if memories were being dragged up from the depths, filling the holes in his mind.
He remembered a woman in black, she was sitting opposite them in the waiting room. Where was that? No, he didn’t know, that bit escaped his grasp. It was frustrating, but that was nothing new.
Charlie was swinging his legs back and forth under the chair, it was annoying. Did he hit his little brother? Yes, I mean NO, he didn’t hit him, no he told him to stop fidgeting, it was irritating. He was his BROTHER!
Howard and Emret were standing, waiting. Joel snapped back to the moment, to reality.
“I’ll take you guys to see the control room,” he told them. Then added, “But It’s dead. I mean, nothing in there is working.”
Jack stood up next to him as he turned to lead the two new comers out of the lounge. They followed him and Jack along the corridor to the back of the house.
Joel stood aside and indicated for Howard and Emret to enter the control room. “I guess we’ll leave you to have a look around,” he said as a sort of question, wondering if he should stay or not.
“That would be great,” Howard replied.
“Yes,” Emret added. “We might be some time.”
“That’s okay, we’ll be around, in the lounge or kitchen. Come and find us when you’ve finished.”
Joel left the two of them, turned and walked back down the corridor.
“I don’t trust those guys,” Jack told him when they were out of ear shot.
Joel glanced at him. “Yeah, me neither.”
“What we gonna do?” Jack asked as they went back into the lounge.
Joel was thinking on his feet. “My guess is they’ll be poking around for some time in there.”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“Take the battery pack, it’s fully charged. Go back to the car and see if you can get in touch with Kado at the club using the coms system. I’ll stay here and just pretend everything’s OK.”