Chapter 30 – Jason and Others Go to The House

The troop of seven retraced Stephan’s and Jason’s route to the house. Jason was in the lead with Michael and Felicity. John and Liam trailed with Millicent and Rachael. Michael asked, “What have you been up to old boy.”

Jason sighed, “Probably the same as you just in a different town. I work as a dishwasher in the pub where you are staying. Before that, I was working part time on my Uncle’s and Aunt’s  farm. I did leave the farm in a huff.”

Michael commented, “Stephan was showing off the  water heater he said you made. I was  impressed.”

Jason was quiet for a moment and then said, “Making the water felt good. It was different than in a University Project. Stephan knew what was needed and how to do it right. I wasn’t working alone for some abstract grade.  When it was done, it made work in the kitchen easier. That’s different.” He looked at Michael and asked,  “ How about you? What were you up to?”

Michael chuckled, “You’re right of course.  I was working on at the manor as butler because I couldn’t find anything other than a drafting position. I did propose to Felicity and she has accepted.”

Jason smiled at Felicity, “Congratulations. He is a bit abrupt but he means well. And he is the best construction engineer in the class. He raved about you constantly but never brought you around. Some of us,” he added looking at Michael archly, “were not convinced you were real.” Looking back at Felicity he continued, “So it is a pleasure to see you in the flesh.”

Felicity smiled back, “Tis nice to see his school mates. It was hard keep you all straight in conversation. Now I shall get to see faces.”

Jason continued the conversation with Felicity, “You’ve decided to join the grand adventure?  You must truly love this lunk.”

Felicity said, holding Michael’s arm tight, “Oh I do. But I’ve already seen some wondrous things. And I think I will get to do far more than be a maid if I go. Taint much for a poor girl from Manchester to do these days.”

Jason said, “Taint much for a poor farm boy from Dunstable and a University First either.  What have you signed on for?”

Felicity said, “Organizing you lot and keeping you scatter brains on schedule.”

Jason laughed heartily and good naturedly, “Never was a job more needed and less appreciated.” He hit Michael on the shoulder and said,  “Michael, she is too smart for you. How ever did you land her?”

Michael said with a straight faced, “Stolen flowers and walks in the park. It’s what I could afford.  She seems to see a warm and friendly side you competitive gits never see.  She has a way with everybody. I’m lucky she seems to like me a bit more than the rest of you.” He pulled her a bit closer for a hug and she pecked him on the cheek.

Jason said to Felicity, “I just finished the water heater project. If Stephan hadn’t kept my head on straight and forcing me to get stuff done, I would still be drafting pictures.”

Felicity said, “I thought a bit of guidance would help focus you.”

The three talked about projects finished late at night because of poor planning until the group reached the lot.  The seven lined up along the fence and looked in. For Jason little had changed since he last saw it.  He explained the house, it’s history, the garden, the original layout, the pond and its origin.  The others listened and occasionally asked questions.

John looked at the two story house with the yard and said incredulously, “Your parents lived here?”

“So I am told. I was less than three when this,” waving to the collapsed house and pond, “happened and was taken in my Aunt and Uncle at a farm.”

John muttered to himself, “Could fit three of mine in that place.”

Millicent filled in a bit of history for the rest. “Sean, Jason’s father, was a consultant for a previous client. At the end of his term, he and Stephan settled here in Dunstable. Stephan has hinted there is a third person who has been a consultant, but he is not mine. I find that disturbing, but that is of no matter here. Stephan set up a pub. Sean set up…this. I am most curious as to what Sean was up to here. “

Continuing she started assigning tasks, “Let’s get to it. Liam, John and Michael poke around the structures. Michael, I want your estimates of what happened here. Rachael and Felicity comb the garden for objects that look out of place. Here are some gloves. Don’t touch anything that looks strange. The town believes this place is tainted and they are probably right. Jason you are with me at the pond.”

In an odd sort of precision, everyone moved into the assigned groups and started their tasks. Most had been used to “taking orders” or “finishing assigned tasks” so the direction was probably strangely  comforting.  Liam, John and Michael started with the garden shed which looked relatively stable. Rachael and Felicity started scouring the path from the house to the pond. Jason followed Millicent to the far side of the pond.

Millicent looked at the pond with its unnatural clarity and odd blue hue. Jason looked closely at the bottom of the pond. He could now make out the remnants of walls and possibly some equipment.  Millicent disturbed his thoughts with a question, “Where would you start?”

Jason considered, “Up until a moment ago, I was going to do an analysis of the water for metals and other ions. That needs to be done – the color is strange.  But I think a diagram of the wreckage at the bottom might be useful as well if we are trying to figure out what happened.”

Millicent nodded in agreement, “I hadn’t thought of the diagram, but we scientists tend to go with what we know. When Michael looks finished, bring him over to start sketching. Analysis of metals is a good start. Why not a microscopic analysis?”

Jason shrugged, “As you say, we go with what we know. I don’t have one. But if I did, I am not sure anything would be visible. That pond has to be twenty feet deep and I might as well be looking through glass. I find it hard to believe there is anything suspended in that water. “

“Decent observation. Something is causing that blue hue,” she said.

Jason racked his brain for a moment, “Oxidized Copper is the most common element, but blue could also be caused  by Cobalt or Chrome, or possibly Vanadium although those are rarer.  Which element causing the blue would be would depend a bit on the acidity of the pond. The more acid would favor copper or cobalt. Still nothing that would be visible by microscope.  Of course, we could be looking at colorless water and everything under the water has a blue hue in which case a microscope could be quite useful. ”

Millicent said, “Not eliminating a possibility that the water isn’t the source. Good. It seems a bit of testing is in order.”  She handed him some test tubes but said, “Wait a moment. I wish to check something.” She pulled out her ever present notebook out of her satchel and opened it .  She used a cloth to dab a bit of water onto the page and waited. After a moment she said, “Oh my,  those counts are high.  This pond is a problem. Frankly, it might be a problem for the whole town; they just don’t know it yet.”

Jason asked, “What’s wrong with the water? Poisoned?”

Millicent said, “Poisoned is a good term, but it is inexact. It isn’t a compound that is causing the problem. And no one will die immediately from any sort of exposure to this water, but they will have problems later on – days, months or even years later. I can’t explain. You don’t have the necessary knowledge. No one around here does except Stephan and Abigail. I’ll tell Stephan and he can decide what to do. In the meantime, don’t touch the water with your bare skin. Protective clothing should stop the worst of it.”

Jason shrugged. He was getting used to dire predictions. He pulled a set of tongs out of Stephan’s loaned bag. “Will these be sufficient?”

She looked appraisingly, “Yes, but cork the tubes carefully and let the tongs air dry.”

Jason did as he was told and collected five tubes of the water. Then Millicent said, “Get Rachael over here. I will need her expertise.” Jason laid the tubes and tongs on the pavement next to the pond to dry and went over to Rachael and Felicity. They were combing the outskirts of the pond. Millicent could have called her with a bit of a shout,  but stretching his legs felt good.  He asked the pair, “Find anything interesting?”

Rachael said, “A lot of metal debris. Frankly, I can’t make heads or tails of all the pieces. We have them in the bag. Maybe if we look at all them together something will start to make sense.”

Jason said, “Millicent says she needs your expertise.”  Rachael looked a bit confused but handed Jason the gloves and headed to the other side of the pond. He looked at Felicity and said, “Anything else to add?”

Felicity said, “Well, the pieces all center around the pond. No big surprise there. And most are on the side farthest from the house.  If I were guessing, whatever blew up the house wasn’t what blew up in your parent’s lab. If it was the same, I would think there would be more pieces closer to the house.  And I would also say your Mother was a fine gardener. Even through the weeds and overgrowth  I can see the order.”

Jason looked around, “Stephan said her garden was the envy of the town.” Jason thought for a moment, “Felicity, do you think you could sketch out the garden for me. I guess I would like to know what it looked like. The bits and pieces you found are going to help us figure out something, but there won’t be enough to puzzle together. But if you know plants and such, I would have a picture of the garden.”

“Millicent assigned me to pick up the pieces, what would I tell her?” Felicity said scratching the back of her head.

Jason smiled at her and winked, “That I asked you to do something else. We might need a map in the long run. Who knows?”

Felicity shrugged and handed him her bag, “Sketching the garden would be far more interesting than picking up bits and pieces. I’ll fetch Michael’s sketch book.”

Jason pulled his lab book out of Stephan’s bag, “Here is mine. Michael has his own tasks.” Felicity headed over to the gate to start. Jason headed back to Rachael and Millicent.

Millicent was telling Rachael, “I need a tool to grab pieces off the floor.  It is probably twenty feet down.”

Rachael asked “Why not a net?”

Millicent said, “Too indiscriminate and I don’t want to stir dust.”

Rachael said, “Sounds like you want a latch or loop at the end of a pole.”

Millicent said, “That is simplistic, but essentially yes.  It will need to be retractable and twenty feet of standard metal might get a bit heavy. Design it as if it was a light metal.  I will pass you some material specs to see if those will work for you.”

Rachael eyed her suspiciously, “Like that miraculous thread you showed Michael?”

Millicent answered with a twinkle in her eye, “Oh heavens no, dear. That substance has no rigidity. You’ll need something light, rigid, and strong enough to hold a bit of weight. I take it you can come up with something?”

Rachael, “It helps to know what I will be working with, but if I assume the impossible…I can come up with something fantasitical.”

Millicent smiled and said, “Excellent. How long to build it?”

Rachael, “I can have a design in a day or two.  Assuming I understand this miracle material and I have a proper machine shop, a few days to build”

Millicent insisted, “If John helped you?”

Rachael sounding exasperated, “If there were two lathes, it would go faster. Two pieces could be turned at once.  The lathe is the limiting factor. “

Millicent said with some finality, “I’ll check with Stephan. Start your diagram.”

Jason handed Millicent the bag of collected scrap from around the yard and said, trying to sound confident, “I asked Felicity to make a diagram of the garden instead of collecting these. I can continue the search if you disagree.”

Millicent ignored the bag. She was distracted with problem of the pool and said sharply, “I need you analyzing the chemistry of this water. Felicity’s time is better spent searching for items.”

Jason looked in the bag and said, “I can’t do anything here now – I’ve collected the water. The analysis will need to be done  in a lab. Felicity knows gardens and I don’t – I only know animals. She can do something useful. “

Millicent paced along the pond and snapped, “The garden is unimportant…”

Jason replied back, “Look in this bag and tell me what is important in it. I’ll look for it. I need her to sketch the garden map.”

Millicent jerked her head up angrily and saw Jason holding the bag with both hands. Bits and pieces of grey and bronze and green metal were in it in a jumbled mess.  Rachael was staring very intently at the pond. But Felicity was staring at Millicent and Jason. Millicent must have spoken loudly because even Liam and Michael were staring at her as well while John tried very hard to be interested in the shed.  She took the bag from his hands abruptly and looked at the pieces.  She didn’t look up when she said, “You didn’t know your father or mother well, did you?”

Jason said defensively, “I was less than three when…”

Millicent said, “You sounded like your Father just then. He was less sentimental I suppose, but just as stubborn.”

Jason said quickly, “Then I should look for more pieces.”

She looked up from the bag. “No, I think not. This is a start and we can categorize what is here. The garden map will help determine patterns. I wasn’t thinking.  Further searching would paint a better scene of the final moments and the map will assist with that.” She looked to Felicity and nodded to her to continue the sketching.  Than back at Jason she said, “But I need you to begin some analysis, “ and then a bit more loudly, “and the rest of you back to your tasks.”

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One thought on “Chapter 30 – Jason and Others Go to The House

  1. Pingback: The Recruiting Matter – Chapter 30 – Jason and Others Go To the House | The Finder's Saga

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