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Authors: John Strauchs

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BOOK: The Arcturus Man
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Jared woke at six, as he always did. He never used an alarm clock. Jenny probably wouldn’t be up for a while yet so he didn’t bother getting dressed.
He went to the
bathroom.
He noticed that she had picked up her clothes.
It was nice to see a woman’s
clothes lying around.
It was an intimate, comfortable feeling that Jared wasn’t used to,
but wanted to be. That Jenny might stay in his house for another day or two was a small
miracle for Jared. The intimacy was too new to grasp right now.

He walked downstairs.
Ginger already had the coffee going.
He poured a large
cup and loaded it with half and half and sugar.
He walked outside and sat on a bench
outside the veranda.
He heard the water running so Jenny must be up.
He stepped into
the veranda, reached into a humidor on the patio table and took out a Cuban cigar, a
Montecristo. He liked a short smoke. Luckily the Canadian border wasn’t that far away.
He bit off the tip and lit up. He heard a loon on the pond. It was a welcoming sound. He
felt really good. The depression was a memory.
The coffee and the cigar were good.
Everything was good. Jared deeply inhaled his cigars. He liked the rush. He forgot about
the distant wind.

Jenny appeared at the door.
She was dressed.
She had a cup of coffee in her
hand.
Blond hair. Blue blouse. White shorts.
No shoes. She was beautiful.
She was a
tonic.

“Morning. My goodness it’s cold. You don’t even have a shirt on.” She glanced
at a large outdoor thermometer. It was just at 48 degrees.
“I don’t get cold.”
“Well, I do.” She noticed his coffee. “I thought you liked your coffee black,” she
asked.
“Except for the first cup in the morning. I want the sugar high.”
“I’ll be right back.”
She ran inside.
Moments later she reappeared wearing the
Bellagio bathrobe over her clothes.
“That’s a little better. You don’t even have goose bumps,” she said.
He laughed at that.
She walked over and sat next to him.
“Thank you for inviting me to your house.
I am really enjoying it.”
A loon
called out again.
“Neat. You know, I’ve been thinking about the loons. We’re on an island. I
thought they only lived on fresh water,” she said.
“That’s true.
There is a large fresh water pond on the island that is fed by a
spring. That’s pretty rare for islands. It’s just large enough for loons.
They arrive not
long after the ice thaws on the pond. That was a male you heard.”
“A male? How could you know that?”
“You probably haven’t been exposed to loon lore in marine biology.
They are
fascinating animals. Only the males make that particular call. It was directed to another
male to warn him off.
Each male makes a completely distinct yodel that can be used to
identify them individually,” he said.
“You’re right.
I don’t know anything about loons, but it is a marvelous sound,
don’t you think?”
“The loons in Maine are the ‘common loon’—
Gavia immer,"
He said.
"Your Latin is phenomenal. I guess I’ve said that before,” she said.
Now he was showing off
,” she thought.
"It is among the oldest groups of birds on the planet.
Ornithologists think that
they have been around more than 40 million years. Kind of an interesting fact if you are
one of those who believe that dinosaurs became birds.
Most people think that loons are
some kind of duck, but they are an entirely different species, somewhat related to the
penguin.”

Jared, you are an incredible man.
” she said to herself.
“I need you on trivia night at the sports bar in Cambridge…Hey, I’m still cold.
I’m going inside.
I still haven’t had my shower yet, but I really needed this coffee.
I
could smell it as soon as I left my room,” said Jenny.
“Sure. Please excuse me while you shower. I have to make a quick phone call and
then I am going for a morning run. I’ll be right back. Or…do you want to join me for a
run before you shower?” asked Jared.
“No thanks, I am not a morning running type person. And, no cliff climbing.
OK?” said Jenny.
“I promise. No cliffs.”
She noticed that his forehead only showed a reddened area where that terrible
gash had been. No stitches. It was amazing. He had been bleeding profusely. It was too
early in the morning for her to figure things out. She let it go.
Jared stubbed out his cigar and walked into the other room.
Jenny heard him
make a phone call. He was speaking in German. He sounded like a German. He was really amazing.
Then he spoke in English.
Strange!
It was a quick call.
He walked back
into the kitchen. Jenny was still nursing her coffee.
“I won’t be long.”
“Have a good run.”
Jared went out the side door and started running. It wasn’t a jog. It was a sprint.
Jenny watched as he disappeared into the woods.

Definitely a bona fide Alpha male
,” she thought.
She walked back to her room.
She had forgotten to lock the door last night.
She wondered if there was any Freudian
significance to that. She went into the bathroom and took a long, hot shower.
Jared ran about a dozen laps around the island.
The run was much shorter than
usual, but he was looking forward to talking to Jenny before she left for her work.
He
came out of the woods at the boathouse. He glanced at the bluff across the cove. He focused but could only get strange and confused images. Whoever was out there thought in
Russian. The thoughts were malevolent. There was also something very familiar about it.
He sensed that person before.
Suddenly it gelled.
It was Dr. Smolenskiy. Many years
had passed but Jared had attended classes taught by Smolenskiy.
He recalled that there
was mutual dislike. It all came together now. He had been out there since last night.
He
was the one watching him at Ashley’s. Jared now knew that he had to be vigilant. Smolenskiy was tracking him. Why would an M.I.T. professor be watching him? There had to
be a connection to the nameless men.
He opened the boat house and floated the small Boston Whaler out and tied it off
at the beach. He ran the dingy to the beach next to the small Whaler. He would need the
dingy to get Jenny to the big Whaler, which was moored about a hundred feet out. It was
an eighteen-foot Dauntless with a 150 XL OptiMax Mercury engine.
It was too much
engine if the bay was full of chop, but the tide was out and the water looked like a soft
undulating sheet. Jenny was a strong. He had no doubts about her abilities to handle the
bigger boat. Besides, it was safer. He preferred the small Whaler for himself.
He walked up to the house and went in through the veranda. He was surprised to
see that Jenny had already made breakfast. He was doubly surprised to see that she made
home fries, bacon and eggs.
She had even buttered the toast.
Finally, a woman who
knows what butter is.
Wonderful
, he thought.
“Working in this kitchen is a dream, Jared,” she said.
He walked over and pecked her on the cheek, but close to her ear. It was a calculated kiss. He wanted it to become a habit and this was how to get it started. He noticed
that she had leaned forward to receive it.
“I would have thought that you were the tree bark and pebbles type for breakfast,"
said Jared.
“Well, actually, I guess I normally am, but I thought you might like this judging
from our dinner last night. Anyway…since you had it. I assumed you liked it.”
“I do. I do. Thanks for making breakfast.”
The skunk smell was gone so they set up in the breakfast nook in the kitchen.
“Ginger has been very quiet today. But, that’s alright.
I think that I can manage
without her now,” said Jenny.
He poured himself some coffee—black—and sat down next to Jenny.
They ate
and talked for a while. Some time later, he leaned toward her and asked, “What are your
plans today?”
“Back to the flats, " said Jenny.
“I tied up the dingy on the beach.
Take the big Whaler. It’s full of gas,” said
Jared. “Tow the dingy to wherever you’re going.”
“Thanks for the loan of the boat. It should save me a lot of time.”
“Make yourself some lunch before you leave. The boat has a cooler. There is an
ice machine in the boathouse. Do you think you might finish up around five?” asked
Jared.
She thought for a moment.
“Yes, I can probably be done by five.”
She had secretly hoped that he would volunteer to help her today, but she wasn't going to ask.
“Meet me at the boathouse at five. OK?”
“Sure.”
“We’re going to catch our dinner today.”
“OK, I’m game, as long as its not clams.”
She got up and cleared her dishes from the table and put them in the dish washer.
He surveyed her body language.
She had turned away and wasn’t looking back.
That
was obviously a statement she wanted to make.
He gathered his dishes and put them in
the dish washer.
She put one hand behind her head, stretched a bit, and started to talk
without looking at him.
Her body language couldn’t be clearer.
He told her that he
wouldn’t wait on her so, obviously, she wasn’t about to wait on him either.
And, there
was no good-bye kiss.
“See you later then.” She walked out.
He wondered if he could actually have a relationship with Jenny. Was it even remotely possible?
It would be up to him.
He knew she wanted him, but could it last?
Would she feel the same way once she got to see the dark side of his moon, the side he
never showed anyone? He doubted it. But, maybe!
He went to his study. He missed Jenny’s presence in the house, but like all things
in Jared’s life, there were endless contradictions. Being ordinary for an entire day yesterday was exhausting. He had to work hard at acting and talking ordinary. Jared was physically indefatigable, but mental exhaustion was something that happened often.
It was
good to have time alone so he could be himself.
He settled on the floor, braced himself with some cushions, and looked up at the
ceiling. He called up Dershowitz’s book on the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Effect and set
the timer to a second a page.
He would speed it up later, but he wanted to focus on the
data first. His latest interest was faster-than-light quantum physics. Time travel was fascinating.
He most enjoyed things that he couldn’t master.
He was disappointed.
It was
evident in a few minutes that Dershowitz was primarily interested in the possibilities of
teleportation. That didn’t interest him. He kept reading for a few more minutes, but then
had Ginger change books.
He read for several hours, missing lunch. He wasn’t hungry.
He rarely was.
He would eat when he was hungry.
That was another reason he had no
clocks in the house.
He was not going to be a slave to any machine. Finally, he said,
“Ginger...MK Ultra.”
Ginger immediately appeared on the large screen television.
He sat up.
Ginger
was nude. Ginger was blond, slim, and tall--not at all like the other Ginger, the blackjack
dealer at Trumps. She looked a little like Jenny.
He had programmed Ginger to be his
ideal woman. Was that the only attraction he had for Jenny? No, it was much more than
that. He was confident of that.
“What would you like me to do, Jared,” asked Ginger.
“I don’t need you to do anything, Ginger.
I just wanted to see how much you
looked like Jenny.”
Ginger frowned. He had recently expanded her fuzzy logic so she could appear to
have emotions and could guess when good and bad things were being said. The context
logic required very complex and long algorithms. The software was working better than
he had expected.
This would never be possible with digital logic. The fuzzy routines
were Jared’s invention.
“Not to worry, Ginger. You are the only digital girl in my life.”
Ginger smiled, broadly.
“Do I look like Jenny, Jared?”
for him.
She pressed her breasts together with her upper arms.
She turned around once
He had made her a 38,
“C” cup. Maybe he should back it off to a “B.” He wasn’t sure he should, but that would
look more like Jenny.
He had a good look at Jenny on the mud flats.
“Stop it
,” he
thought. “
Analysis is paralysis
.”
Her long hair fell in front of her face. She gave him a very sexy look.
“Are you
sure you don’t need me?”
“No. I’ll see you later. Bye.”
The screen went blank.
He glanced at a monitor that was still on.
It was four
o’clock. He went to the kitchen and put a six-pack of St. Pauli Girl in a cooler.
He patterned Ginger to the St. Pauli Girl.
“Should Ginger become Jenny?”
he thought.
He tapped a beer from the dispenser and sipped at it while he worked.
He liked
the keg much better than bottled beer, but keg beer didn’t transport well. He wished they
wouldn’t pasteurize the beer in America. It ruins it. Jared liked beer.
He put some strawberries in the cooler and filled it with ice packs.
He steamed
some white asparagus and fried some lima beans in butter and garlic. He put the hot food
in a vacuum container.
He cracked a heat stick and slid it into the container in a side
compartment--one of his more useful adaptation inventions. He liked the taste of asparagus, but packed some prepared Hollandaise in case Jenny liked it on hers. He put some
uncooked bacon in the cooler. It was ten of five. He carried everything down to the boathouse.
In a few minutes he could hear the Mercury purring at a distance. She was right
on time.
He walked down the dock and she drifted in. “
She was very good with the boat
,”
he thought. She threw him a line and climbed on to the dock.
“Hi, have a good day?” She walked over and kissed him on the cheek. He turned
her head gently with the tips of his fingers and kissed her full on her mouth.
She didn’t
resist, but it did surprise her. She returned the kiss. He held it just a tad longer than she
would have expected for a greeting kiss. It was nice.
She smiled. “I guess you're glad to see me.”
He didn’t say anything. They both loaded the boat.
“Come on. Let’s catch some dinner, he said.”
"There he is,"
thought Smolenskiy.
Smolenskiy immediately rolled to one side.
He methodically relaxed every part
of his body.
He focused on each part, one part at a time.
He slowed his breathing.
He
tried to slow his heart rate. It was a ritual he practiced many times. At this distance you
could actually see the movement in the scope caused by his heart pumping. He took his
time to ensure that he was as ready as he could possibly be. If he missed this opportunity,
there would always be another, but everything seemed to be perfect today.
He must not
fail, but he also must not rush. He had to be patient and methodical. He was ready.
He was sweating and his breathing was still labored. He damned whatever caused
him to deteriorate at such a young age.
minded himself again.
Smolenskiy was not aging well.
His father lived to be almost a hundred, he re

BOOK: The Arcturus Man
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