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.
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.
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.
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?
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"
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
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
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.
Morrigan: (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
Gracie: I'M HUNGRY, LET'S EAT, NOW
The three make their way towards Captain Dave's Seafood Shack on the pier.
Zach: How's your car?
Morrigan: Fine now - the mechanic said he's never seen circuitry fried like that before
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!
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
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
Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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