Chapter 2

Fiona lit a candle and set it down next to the guitar by Jimmy’s grave. Jimmy had counted them as friends, and they’d tried to hold onto him, tried hard, but failed. Their parents had made a particular effort to save him. They failed too. Just before they disappeared, just before that terrible failure, they tried to prevent this one.

The golden light of the last of the day shone in that candle, and, careful to keep her back to the water and the Gate Rock, Vivian tried not to cry. It was another painful, inexplicable death.

Neither of them could hear him, although if they called Vivian knew he would respond. Any of the dead here would. Here and everywhere else, the dead would respond to either sister.

She turned away, walked over to a bench that faced the garden and not the water and sat down. Fiona joined her. Scrolling through many photos Vivian stopped. “Look at this one.”

There weren’t many stages on the Point. This one was out on the western shore near the lighthouse. It was the best, and Jimmy was the best. His death should mean something to them, should inspire them or motivate them or something. It just made them sad.

“What do we do, Viv? Do we keep sitting here in Sandy Point doing nothing? If they’re dead, why can’t we reach them?”

A year ago their mother vanished, no, not vanished, was murdered and kidnapped or some combination of violent removal from their home at Cloud Lake far up in the Northern Range. It had been exactly six months, two weeks and one day since their father had left in great excitement claiming he was bringing her home and would be back in a day. He never returned.

Their father, like the two of them could see and talk to the dead. Their mother could not. Their mother talked to the stars where she worked up in the Observatory in the desert islands, before she started dying, before someone ended that long death early. At the end, they seemed to have discovered a way to combine the two, a dangerous way, a way they kept to themselves and a way both sisters had become convinced was the reason both Luca and Kinley were gone.

Tired of thinking and digging and crying about it, Vivian told her sister, “You’re right, if they’re dead we should be able to reach them. We don’t know what happened and we can’t fix it and we’re stuck here, so all of that is one big whatever.”

Fiona was quiet. It wasn’t calm or dejected. It was ominous. “Don’t start it again,” she warned her sister. “I know what he told us. We don’t understand it, we can’t figure it out, it’s like telling us to pull down the sky and pick the right cloud and make it rain for us.”

Luca Dirac had said, in all seriousness, to find a Lombardo if he didn’t return. Find one. Then do what? Make it wave its Lombardo hand and do magic? There weren’t any who would even listen to them about it. They’d tried. Everybody looked at them weird and some of them snickered and it was hard to ignore it, so hard they dropped out of school and hung around this last island in the Southern Sea, nothing beyond buy water rising to the infinite horizon. And did nothing.

They looked out across the garden where the dead were planted with the flowers. Crows flew with the song birds. It was a nice day. The columns and the roses almost hid the Gate Rock. Almost. Vivian looked away. “We can look for Gabe,” Fiona said for the one billionth time. She used a sweet voice. “We can try. Like Mom and Dad, if he’s dead we should be able to reach him and we can’t. He’s not dead, and he’s a Lombardo, and he was different. He would go for something like this. What else are we going to do? Sit here and call to Jimmy?”

Gabe. The legend – the glamourous ruler of a kingdom of conspiracy theorists. The One Who Disappeared. Who might have been killed or not or had kids who lived in other hidden places under hidden names. Or just one. Or not. Gabe who had been good friends with their mother and father and had vanished like their mother thoroughly and completely and only a few days earlier.

Except he didn’t leave his blood on the floor.

“Fiona, Camilla Lombardo’s been looking for that man. He’s like her god. If she can’t find him, we definitely can’t. We know it. We’ve tried.” Close to tears, there was Jimmy’s body and here they were trying to find their parents by trying to find someone famous and notorious and gone, probably dead like Jimmy, she begged her sister, “Please stop.”

Fiona shook her head. “I’m going to Cloud Lake. I’m going to look one more time. I’m catching the ferry tonight.”

In worn out desperation, Vivian threw out the idea they’d wrung dry months ago just because it was all they had. “Fiona, try Jay again. Ask him out on a date or something.”

Fiona kept walking. “I wouldn’t beg that asshole to pick me up off the road if I got run over by a car. He’s been laughing at us. You know him.”

Vivian gave up. She ought to go with her sister. She hated it up at the old house now though. She stood up, then turned the wrong way toward the water instead of the park and looked directly into the Gate Rock.

The thing sighed, and groaned, and spoke to her and looked at her and knew her and caught her. She was transfixed. Sometimes she thought she could see something in it, a face, a shoulder, a woman’s face, a woman’s eyes. It took her voice and pulled her, pulling at the water.


She heard her sister walk through the dead leaves, then Fiona put her arm around her and together they looked at the rock with the hole into nowhere. Nothing moved inside it. Mercifully it had limited power over Fiona and now, as it had been before, it had turned down, it was almost quiet.

“It’s okay Viv. Whatever is in there isn’t coming out. Go home. Don’t come back here. I’m going to find Mom and Dad and we’ll get out of here and we’ll never have to see this thing again.”

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