Clark County Coroner, Rancho Oakey, Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, Friday, December 11th, 2015 16:00f
Before she went back to Vegas, she gave David a call and asked him for a local lawyer. Then she rode back into town, and straight to the coroner's office.
"Sara Miller?" A man in a suit called her as she dismounted.
Bearing a faint but friendly smile, he politely extended a business card to her. "Brent Elmore, attorney. I believe I'm your legal counselor."
"Did David contact you?" He nodded. She accepted the card and shook hands with him. "I'll be in your care." The sirens blared around her. "And not a minute too soon."
The cops were already approaching, closing the circle.
"Can you quickly describe what happened?"
"I got a phone with a video. It should explain what happened," she handed him another crappy old phone. She then took another phone and started recording the cops.
Brent took the phone but just slid it into his pocket. "I'll watch it later, but why are the cops coming for you?"
"Miss Miller, you got to come with us," an officer said.
Sara nudged with her head. "Mr. Elmore, you're up."
"Good afternoon, officers. I'm Brent Elmore, Miss Miller legal counsel. We are having a conversation here, it's privileged. Please keep away," he told the cops out loud, then whispered to Sara, "what exactly happened?"
The cops weren't happy but the presence of a lawyer and some approaching media reporters put them on the back foot. That gave Sara time to explain what went on in front of the burger shop. She told her horse got scared of the cops and buckled without her command. She also showed him another photocopy of the veterinarian's statement.
"Mr. Elmore, we need to talk to your client," the cop said. "She's a witness in a case."
"Do you have a subpoena? My client is grieving." He said out loud as he stared into the TV camera thirty yards away. "She just lost her parents. We are going inside to see them. Get the DA to subpoena her and we'll schedule an appointment. Now, excuse us."
Brent moved to put himself between the cops and Sara. She took the saddlebags from Chloe and slung them over her shoulder.
They entered the coroner's office, leaving Chloe behind. If anything, she feared for those who tried to harm her. Armageddon was a few years away and a fight with the cops was detrimental to her budding plans for the next few years.
Inside, they talked to a clerk, Brent filled a form on Sara's behalf, she showed her Washington ID, the accursed adoption papers, then she was charged a handling fee of 210 dollars per body, which Brent paid on her behalf. After that, they were led to a room with a glass window. Soon a person in a white coat came with a gurney and a black body bag. They opened the zipper to show the head, Sara nodded, then another. Yes, the Millers were dead, both with a very suspicious hole in their foreheads.
"Are you okay?" Brent asked.
"Yeah. I need to know if they took their belongings."
"The cops probably have them as evidence. I'll file a motion to retrieve them, to make sure the cops preserve the objects even after they are no longer of interest. I don't think you'll retrieve the money, though."
"Don't care. I just want to know why. Can you ask them to let me touch them? Leave me alone with them for a few minutes so I can say my goodbyes?"
"That's not an unusual request. Come, I'll see what I can do."
Brent convinced them to let her alone in a room with the bodies. They were already autopsied, although not by Robert David Hall. As the door closed, Sara flicked the forehead of her foster father.
"Wake up, it's time for your reckoning, asshole."
She felt a drain in her Mana, then the ghost of Nicholas Miller rose from the gurney.
Damn. Even here in another reality in the past, they still start with her name. The girl gritted her teeth, sucked in the tears. Her hand almost grasped the metaphysical scythe shaft and summoned it.
"So, dad," Sara drawled in her overly sarcastic voice. "How did you like robbing me? Me, of all people?" She was livid as she asked. Sara was tempted to test if her scythe would do anything to a ghost.
She could see his sins. Crumpled money stuffed into his pockets. Bags of white powder. Damn, they were drug traffickers. He also had a ridiculously bloated bulge in his pants but that was enough. Shriveled, a miser. A long nose, compulsive liar. Clawed fingers to pry away other people's possessions. A forked tongue dripping green venom. And some horn stubs. That last one had her in a bind. What did it mean? Diabolism?
"I am sorry. If that's of any value to you. We learned of your money and we had to get it for ourselves. We owed money to the Colombian mafia. We were supposed to go to Arizona to meet a contact but we ran afoul of some bad people here. They were the ones who tipped us to your inheritance."
"What a luck, eh? Where's the money?"
"I'm afraid they took it with them after we were murdered."
"The bad people or the cops? And who killed you?"
"These guys were from some weird cult. Inverted pentagrams and stuff. They paid us really well to take you and make your life miserable. One of them even lamented they couldn't deal with you the same way they did to your mother."
The ghost was oblivious of social cues and their own guilt to the point of being callous. Sara slammed a fist on the steel gurney, bending it in half and shattering the corpse's hip bone.
"THEY DID WHAT?" She screeched.
On the other side of the mirror, Brent and the coroner clerk hurried to get in the room with her. She had little time before she needed to cut the ghost loose.
Her fingers tingled to summon the scythe. She had enough. "Any last wishes?"
"Would you forgive me?" Nicholas' ghost asked, honestly wishing for redemption.
"No can do," she said through clenched teeth. "Try praying for the Boss upstairs. He said you can be saved if you believe, even after death. I'm just the courier. Hurry! Tell me where I can find some information about my mother. My real mother."
"I don't know. It took us some time to get her name from the cultists, the trust fund was set to be anonymous. She was called Cecilia Ann Bernard."
She knew the dead didn't lie. But that was a shock to the girl. She should've been Sara middle-name Bernard. The name didn't ring any bells. Why would her mother leave an inheritance under an anonymous trust? Why all this effort to keep her from learning about her mother? She could only believe it was to protect her. From what? Michelle's murderers? Demon cultists? The Colombian mob? Was Sara of the past that endangered? And why the cultists couldn't murder her the way they did to Cecilia?"
Sara dropped to her knees. "Go. Just go. The day of your judgment is not today," she dismissed the ghost but didn't gain any Mana. As dry as this Earth was, not only she had to pay to summon the ghost but it also had just evaporated into nothingness.
Did she need to talk to Heather Miller? Did she need the drama? Sara thought not. The two women didn't really see eye to eye. For one, she now understood Heather was jealous of Sara during the brief time they lived together. Afraid she would steal her man. Hah.
Could she get some evidence from Heather? Sara decided their murder was not her problem.
Brent came and picked her up. Sara felt some moisture on her cheeks and a salty taste in her mouth. Her chest was also moving involuntarily. The rest was a blur.
Brent Elmore's office, Downtown, Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, Friday, December 20th, 2015 15:00f
The past week and a half were a blur. The media got wind of Chloe and Sara's wings and swarmed over them. At least the attention made it hard for the police to make Sara's life any harder (a tough proposition, given what she went through at the morgue) and they dropped the charges of animal mistreatment after Chloe went live on national TV to be examined by a certain star veterinarian from a cable channel.
Despite the low body temperature, Chloe could perform better than any Olympic horse. She got even some offers from stallion breeders to make some foals. Chloe wasn't interested.
The verdict was that Chloe held a strange mutation and while she was subjected to mistreatment before, it all happened before Sara had acquired the horse. Then the veterinarian spun things around and said that Chloe was a survivor and everyone should respect her situation.
The Pale Horse now had her own YouTube channel and about 2 million subscribers. Sara was on the fence if she should go digital or not. But the world wouldn't let her alone. The invitations flooded Brent's office as the lawyer now had to double as Sara's agent. With her permission, he closed a few contracts, having Sara appear in some shows and shoot some ads. At least she got a lot of stuff from her sponsors.
That made her think. She had suggested to David to become a digital influencer and start a YouTube channel, but couldn't she do it? She had the wings, Chloe already had a steadily growing following, and she had the future knowledge. In early 2019, the digital influencer market was crowded but not so much in 2015. Could she try to get people to prepare for the Apocalypse earlier if she pushed things that way?
Vegas was a treasure trove of opportunities. Heck, people were offering thousands of dollars for a single appearance in some shows at the Strip. Yet, Sara wished to go back to Seattle to look for clues about her mother. The name burned a hole in the back of her head. Cecilia Ann Bernard.
But most of all, Sara wanted to go to Georgia. To Forest Park, earlier this time, so she could meet and build a relationship with the people important to her. Get them ready for the Apocalypse, build a bunker, perhaps even prepare their Mana Channels. She was sure that with the proper technique and finesse, she could make even ordinary humans survive the infusion of magic.
She needed money. Tons and tons of money. And then burn it all before it became useless in October 2019. If only she knew of an asset that would have a meteoric rise...
Bitcoin. But someone snapped a finger in front of her.
"Are you listening to me, Sara?" Brent asked.
"Not really, no," She replied.
"We have a request from the Royal Canadian Auction house for a feather to be auctioned in a fundraiser for the refugees of the Syrian civil war."
"Politely decline, please. I haven't handed over any feathers until now and won't be doing it."
After she proved they were the real deal, the scientific community was crazy about her wings, trying through every means possible to study her peculiar anatomy.
"I already did," Brent smiled. He was making good money as her agent but the lawyer's job was superb. Dogs were quickly losing ground as her second favorite type of pet.
"What's next?" She stared at the stack of paper.
"Red Bull wishes to enter an exclusive sponsorship contract with you. Their initial offer is half a million, plus benefits. You would travel to several sponsored events and make appearances."
"I don't know. How are things going in Washington about my guardianship?"
"The social worker formerly assigned to you was arrested and confessed everything. He didn't post bail and seems happy to remain in jail. My guess is that whoever went after the Millers wanted more money."
Sara frowned. No, the demon cultists probably wanted to eliminate all the witnesses.
"I don't think they'll go after you. You are too high-profile." Brent continued.
"I'll be fine even if they do," Sara muttered. "What about the PI sent to get information about my mother?"
"Nothing. It is as if Cecilia Ann Bernard had never existed. He only found one reference to her name, and it was buried deep in the inheritance trust fund filings. The records and even her social security entry were erased."
It could be a fake name and it was her father's doing. The Celestial might have paid Earth a visit to leave her some money. What good did it make? Sara just shook her head. Unless she could go up there and shake some answers out of her grossly negligent father. It was a dead end. Could she try and pay Heaven a visit? How would she go about doing that? Could her wings allow her to cross dimensions?
This was the second-to-last reality she would ever visit. If she couldn't do it right this time with four years head start, she might as well give up.
"Let the investigator keep trying to dig information for another two months. If nothing comes up by the end of February, just let it go. There's another thing. I need you to hire a PI in Georgia and have them check the whereabouts of a few people in a very covertly and non-intrusive way. I just need to know if they are alive and living in the region."
"I want you to hire a computer expert with an ironclad contract to set up a trusted laptop to negotiate Bitcoins."
"What is that?"
"Some sort of digital currency. I want to buy as many as I can. All the floating money should go into buying Bitcoins. Let's make a huge nest egg."
"Consider it done. Should I put some of my own money in it too?" Brent grinned.
"Sure. But we're selling all of it during 2019. "Regarding the sponsorship contract with Red Bull, do you think we can negotiate a better deal?"
"You are rather unknown. It will be tough."
She infused her wings, making them shine softly, then floated off her chair. With her legs crossed (she was wearing pants), Sara floated until the wing wrists touched the ceiling "Even if I do this?"
The lawyer / agent gaped and stared silently for a minute or so. Then he remembered to breathe. "Nice trick. Do you want to go on Penn & Teller's show?"
"I don't think so. This is not a trick," Sara said and snapped a finger. "Hey, isn't there a guy offering a million bucks for proof of the supernatural? Let's get him to pay us some money."
Brent let out a dry chuckle, "What else do you have hidden on your sleeve?"
Sara condensed a snowball out of thin air. The temperature in the office dropped twenty degrees in a few seconds. Brent shivered.
"A few more tricks." She laughed.
"Why do you need that much money?"
"A catastrophe will happen late 2019. We need to prepare. I would like to buy a property in southeastern Atlanta I could turn into a prepper bunker. Preferably near Lake Stonecrest."
Brent started typing on the computer. "Lake Stonecrest? Never heard of it."
"It's by Panthersville, DeKalb county."
She watched as Brent focused on his laptop. He typed, clicked, typed, clicked, frowned, clicked again, fiddled with his mouse, scrolled, then frowned harder. "How big is this lake?"
"A few miles across, round. An ancient crater that filled with water."
"I don't see anything like that on Google Earth. Wikipedia says Panthersville is a community of 11 thousand people. No lake of note."
"What?" Sara jumped and flew over the lawyer’s head. Brent turned the monitor to show her.
"There's a small town called Stonecrest here. Panthersville is even smaller, here on the east. There's no lake."
Sara froze. Did the distortion get so bad not even the lake existed anymore?
"See if a Royal Lakeshore Hotel and Convention Center exists around there."
The lawyer typed a bit more.
"No. Googling that term yields only eight results, none of them an exact match."
Sara felt her hands chill. The Sky Pencil was never built because Lake Stonecrest didn't exist. Lake Stonecrest didn't exist because the System Core never created the crater when it was sent back in time. The System Core was never sent back in time because it wouldn't fall down in the future. She had no idea if it meant the Apocalypse would happen or not.
But it seemed that every time she jumped back in time, the reality she landed on was further and further away from her original one. A reality where she remained behind after Verachiel jumped back in time. A reality where her plans for the System Core became true.
But this Sara was lost. Wandering blindly through time, trying to fight an inexorable force. Looking for a better outcome that wouldn't ever arrive. She lost her friends, she lost her sanity, she lost the war.
It wasn't how time loops were supposed to happen. The antagonists weren't supposed to react to it and change the game.
"Sara, is everything okay?"
The girl was raving, rapid-firing her ideas.
"Negotiate the Red Bull contract, see if they can offer more money, way more money. At least two million yearly after taxes and fees. I'm going to fly for them in those wonky flying car events, anything. Also, make them drop the exclusivity. They either make it worth my time or go home."
"Sure. Anything else?"
"Hire me a consultant on personal image, social media, and video production. I want to start a few YouTube more channels."
She gave it some thought.
"Also, I need to learn civil engineering, farming, gardening, and a lot of other stuff."
"Just that?" Brent whimpered a titter.
"No. Add how to fly helicopters to the list."
Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.