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180 37 ~ Sam All solstice evening, Sam kept an ear attuned for the sound of Emily’s car. When he heard the engine start, cough and miss, then finally catch, he scooted to the window and watched her pull away from the curb. He had been expecting this. Over the past few days, he had tried out several scenarios in his head. Various ways to monitor whatever scheme Emily and Pippa had dreamed up, so he could be available as their back up. He still didn’t have a plan. If only he had the guts to hack into the house arrest system, or tackle the electricity grid. He still didn’t think it would work, but at least then he would be working with Emily and Pippa and not be left behind. He might not have the nerve to do what Emily asked, to break the law so openly, but he wasn’t going to let them down. Even if Emily said she didn’t want his help. Grabbing his jacket, warm gloves, and car keys, he headed downstairs. He stood outside Anna’s door, torn about what to do. She would worry, but Emily might need them all before the night was over. Anna answered his knock. “Where did Emily go?” he asked. “Out for milk. Why?” “At ten p.m.? On the solstice?” Anna stepped back. “You don’t think . . . ?” “I do. I’m going to find her,” he said. “Please don’t do anything. I wanted you to know. I’ll call later.” Driving towards the park, Sam waffled about which park entrance gave better access to the rhododendron grove. He had located it on the maintenance website, but there was no easy way to get there. The main gate was closer, but it was locked at dark, and his truck would be conspicuous so close to Sumner Ave and the park police station. The archway entrance was farther, but parking on a residential street Ellen Meeropol ~ 181 was definitely safer. In either case, it wasn’t going to be easy to find the place in the dark, and it was snowing again. He parked, then reached across the cab to the glove compartment for a flashlight. The bulb lit up. A good omen. Zipping his jacket, Sam wrapped a wool scarf around his head and neck and pulled on his gloves. He shoved the flashlight into his pocket, then walked under the arch and turned to the left. Was it the cold, the storm, the night, that made him feel so awake and alive? Maybe he’d been spending too much time at the computer. Pippa’s group must have taken this path, but there were no footprints. The snow must have covered them up already. When the path ended at a wall of rhododendron, he was stymied. He walked up and down along the dense barrier before his hands found the narrow corridor sliced into the thick branches. He sidestepped into the tight passage. Sharp branches grabbed his scarf, pulled at his mustache. When he emerged on the other side of the hedge, Sam heard chanting. Hugging the shadows at the edge of the path, he reached a spot where he could see down into a gully, to a circle of stones each illuminated with a candle. In the center, bonfire flames rose into the sky. White robed shapes whirled around it, singing or chanting. He couldn’t make out the words. Hesitating, he inched down the hill, staying away from the light. How would the cult members react to seeing a strange man walking into their ceremony? A small clearing opened in the trees to his left, and he stepped back into it, to watch. Pippa and Emily weren’t there. Sam recognized the blond woman from the hearing , and the big guy with the bandanna. There were two other women. A smaller group than he expected. Just the few of them, dancing in a circle, seemed kind of pathetic. On a log by the fire, two boys sat wrapped in a white blanket. Their backs were toward him, so he couldn’t see their faces. What did all this mumbo jumbo mean to them? A rapid crunching of footsteps along the frozen path behind him broke into the smooth rhythm of the singing. Sam froze for a moment, then hunched back further into his hiding place. A tall figure burst through the thicket and down the steep slope into the circle, holding...


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MARC Record
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