With both men becoming more and more engrossed in the life of Lazarus Lane, they realized that they might be in for a long night. Since they both had highly inquisitive natures, neither of them seemed to mind.
“Why don’t I put on a pot of coffee?” Brian Walker suggested.
“I think that sounds like a pretty good idea,” Richard Occult replied.
As Brian went to fill up the coffeepot with water, Richard began to flip through the journal. He was becoming more and more surprised by the life Lazarus had led. By the time the young detective had returned, the older man had found what seemed to be the last entry.
“This is odd,” Doctor Occult told his friend.
“Lazarus has been meticulous in keeping a record of his exploits,” Richard said, “but for some reason, he just quits.”
“Perhaps Lazarus died,” Brian offered. “When was his last entry?”
“October 12, 1936,” the older man said, “but I don’t think he died. Here, listen to this.”
From the journal of Lazarus Lane:
12 October 1936:
News comes slowly to the monastery. Unfortunately, when it finally does come, it is almost always distressing. It seems war has come to my adopted home.
There are no foreign invaders, although I am certain there is foreign influence behind what is going on. There always is, in one form or another. No, this time it is brother against brother, father against son, neighbor against neighbor.
As a small child in America, I witnessed the horrors of one civil war. And now, it seems I must return to Spain and witness it all over again.
“That’s it?” Brian asked.
“Nothing but blank pages after that,” Richard replied.
The young detective took a sip of his coffee. “Talk about needles and haystacks. Spain is an awful big place to look for someone we’ve never met.”
“True,” Occult said, “but look at it this way. At least we have very little to go on, and no idea as to what Lazarus looks like.”
Brian laughed. “Well, if nothing else, you’re looking at this in a positive light.”
Richard laughed along with his friend.
After a few moments, Brian got a thoughtful look on his face. “I have an idea.”
“Isn’t Brian coming with us?” T.J. Dalton asked as he boarded the Red Torpedo.
“He can’t get a leave from work to come with us,” Richard replied. “It’s just the three of us this trip.”
Despite the fact that he felt as though he and the detective were in competition for Kelli Lockhart’s attention, T.J. really wished Brian were coming along. After he spotted Kelli at the controls, he began to change his mind.
“I thought you would be wearing your costume,” the older man commented.
T.J. smiled. “I am. Just watch this.”
Doctor Occult remained silent, and even Kelli turned to watch, as the young man began to concentrate. After only a couple of seconds, the brown-hooded tunic began to fade from view over his street clothes, and even the belt and holster that held the Red Bee — the stinger pistol that once belonged to the man it was named after — were now visible.
“How did you do that?” Kelli asked as she approached.
“I was just playing around — you know, experimenting — when I noticed that I could make it fade without making me disappear as well. I mentioned it to the Witch…”
“Don’t call her that,” Kelli admonished him.
“But, that’s her… sorry. I mentioned it to Abigail, and she taught me a little trick that King had shown her. With people like Brain Wave around in the ’40s, he developed a way to keep his true identity locked away for a short time, even from himself, in case he encountered a foe that could read minds. Abigail suggested I could use that same method to keep the costume invisible without concentrating on it. I just call forth a predetermined phrase, and presto, here it is.”
Richard seemed impressed.
T.J. glanced at the girl standing beside him. “And speaking of costumes, you seem to be getting closer to one of your own.”
The brunette glanced down at her outfit, a form-fitting black pullover and black pants, then back at him. “Just don’t expect to see me in spandex anytime soon.”
For just the briefest moment, that picture popped into his head, and he turned away. “So, where in Spain are we going to find this Lane fellow?” he asked, changing the subject.
“According to Brian, somewhere near Cartagena.”
“How did Tracker figure that out?” T.J. asked, referring to the detective by his codename. “Did he draw upon the psychic emanations of the journal?”
“Actually,” Occult said with a smile, “he checked with INTERPOL.”
“You mean they have been keeping tabs on Mr. Lane all this time?” Kelli asked.
“Not exactly. Brian said that, several years ago, Lazarus Lane left his home and never returned. Money was sent to pay for the upkeep for nearly fifteen years, then suddenly a man shows up claiming to be Lane’s nephew. There were a few of the older folks who remembered Lazarus and made the man welcome. After about a decade, the nephew left. Again, money was sent. Recently, a man arrived claiming to be the great-grandson of Lazarus. Since no one seemed to remember any mention of such a person, they had him checked out to make certain he wasn’t a confidence man. That’s how INTERPOL got involved. The man provided enough evidence that he was who he said he was, so he got the house.”
“So we are going to see if the great-grandson can lead us to the old man,” T.J. surmised.
Kelli began to shake her head. “I think I’m starting to see the pattern. Lazarus lives in the home for a while, then moves out before it becomes obvious that he isn’t aging like those around him. He waits a few years, then returns under the pretense that he is one of his own descendants. After a certain amount of time, he does it all over again.”
Richard nodded. “You’ll be a detective before you know it. That’s exactly what I think is going on.”
A beep from the controls informed Kelli that the Torpedo was fully powered up and ready for departure. As she dropped into the pilot’s seat, she said, “Grab a seat, guys, and buckle up.”
Once her passengers were secure, the young woman tapped a series of numbers onto a keypad, then pressed a button. Overhead, the roof of the warehouse began to open, retracting from the center. As the opening grew, Kelli hit a second button, and the Torpedo’s engines roared to life.
After checking the opening overhead, she fit her hand comfortably around a throttle and began to pull it toward her. The Torpedo’s VTL system engaged, and the craft’s engines pivoted until they were in a vertical position. Another button was pushed, and clamps were released from the outside of the flying sub. Free of its fetters, the Torpedo began to lift into the air. Within minutes, the flying sub had passed beyond Charleston Bay and plunged into the deeper waters of the Atlantic. Other than attracting the attention of a small pod of curious whales, the trip was uneventful.
Lazarus Lane sat on the veranda and watched the road coming from Cordoba. He took a sip of coffee and then looked over at the gentleman seated on the opposite side of the wrought iron white table. Although his visitor appeared to be his senior by several years, Lazarus had already lived a lifetime by the time he was born.
Originally from the Mexican city of Cordoba, Ricardo Roarke had moved to the home of his grandfather in Spain after a successful career in acting. While most people thought his portrayal of the mystical Senor Montalban on the popular Isle of Fantasies was without peer, little did they know that he knew something of the Arts in real life. This was one of the reasons he had struck up a friendship with the mysterious Mr. Lane.
“Today is the day?” the retired actor asked.
“I believe so,” Lazarus replied. “According to Wise Owl, they will arrive at the time of the full moon.”
“And that is tonight,” Ricardo said, nodding. “So, do you intend to join them, or shall you send them away?”
“I feel that my place is with them. The shaman told me that I shall finally find the completeness that I have searched for so many years.”
The actor knew what his friend meant, so no explanation was necessary. He had sensed the man’s dual nature the first time the two had met. “Then I shall wish you luck.”
“Thank you, my friend.” Lazarus started to take another sip of his coffee when Ricardo pointed to a small cloud of dust rising up in the distance.
It was another ten minutes before a dust-covered gray rental car turned off the main road and headed toward the man’s home. Lazarus was there to greet his visitors as they rolled to a stop.
“Please,” he said as three people climbed from the car, “come in and make yourselves comfortable.”
This was not the greeting Doctor Occult had expected; nevertheless, he and his companions accepted the gracious offer. Ricardo was still on the veranda when Lazarus led his guests out.
T.J. immediately recognized the man seated at the table. “Oh, wow,” he said, rushing forward with his hand outstretched. “You’re Ricardo Roarke, from Isle of Fantasies. I loved that show.”
Ricardo laughed. “I am glad that someone appreciates my work.”
Occult introduced himself and his friends.
“I have been waiting for you,” Lazarus told them. Despite the curiosity on the faces of his guests, he explained no further.
Reaching into his pocket, Richard pulled out a book and handed it to their host. “I believe this is yours.”
Lazarus accepted the book with a confused look. When he finally saw what he had been given, a grin appeared on his face. “I haven’t seen this since near the end of ’36. How did you come to possess it?”
“I stumbled across it in a bookstore in New York City. Once I realized it was a journal, it seemed like I was compelled to purchase it,” Richard explained.
“I’m glad you did,” Lazarus said. “Thank you.”
As they spoke, a dark-haired woman in her mid-fifties stepped onto the veranda. “Senor Lane, dinner will be served in half an hour. Rooms have been prepared for your guests in case they wish to freshen up.”
“Gracias, Maria,” the man told her. He then looked at his guests. “Gentlemen, and fair lady, if you will follow me, I will show you to your rooms.”
Before their allotted time until dinner had expired, Richard and T.J. had returned to the veranda, each wearing a black suit provided by their host. The four men were walking to the dining room when they met Kelli coming down the stairs to join them.
She wore a long, strapless black dress that clung to her like a second skin. A slit up the left side that ended six inches above the knee made movement easier. Her hair had been washed and dried and hung in loose curls across her bare shoulders.
“Madre de Dios,” Ricardo swore with a grin. “La senorita es muy bonita.”
T.J. remembered enough from his Spanish class in high school to agree. “Yes, she is beautiful,” he whispered to the man. “But I think I would have used the word caliente.”
“Yes,” Ricardo said, smiling, “I do believe hot would also be a precise description as well.”
Lazarus offered his arm, which Kelli graciously accepted, and then led the party to dinner.
After they had eaten, everyone returned to the veranda for coffee and conversation. Lazarus finally explained how he knew they were coming. He told them that he would be pleased to accompany back to America, and wherever else their journeys took them.
When his friend finished speaking, Ricardo made the surprise statement that he, too, had been expecting them. “I have seen a glimpse of the future in my dreams as well,” he said. “I know that you have an adventure ahead of you before you return to the United States. I can explain no further this evening, but in the morning, you come to my home for a visit. Everything will be made known to you then.”
Although mystified by the man’s words, they respected his refusal to say nothing else on the subject. It was long before Ricardo stood and bid them good night. As they accompanied him to the door, he did offer them one piece of advice for their next meeting.
“Please wear your work clothes,” Ricardo said, “even you, Lazarus.”
Lazarus and his companions awoke to find that Maria had breakfast waiting. They ate quickly, each of them anxious to find out what Ricardo had meant the night before.
Within the hour, they were pulling up in front of Ricardo’s home. He stood on the front stoop waiting to greet them. After the pleasantries, he led them inside.
The man led them through a series of hallways until he came to a locked door. Drawing a key from inside his coat pocket, he unlocked the door and held it open.
Inside, they found a room full of mirrors. When they turned to ask their host about the room, they discovered that he had not entered, and the door was locked. After a moment, the man’s voice filled the room.
“Please forgive the dramatics,” he said, “but I will not be accompanying you on this journey. I must remain here and continue my role as the guardian of these mirrors.
“In a moment, one of the mirrors will offer a view of somewhere else; when it does, please step through as though you were passing through a doorway. You will be entering a dimension that has only recently attached itself to our world. During the Crisis, a dimension that had formerly been attached to our world became attached to a different world. Just before everything settled down, a different dimension attached itself to our world to restore the cosmic balance. In this new dimension, you will find yet another member for your team. I will be waiting for your return.”
There was silence, and then a mirror in the center of the back wall emitted an unearthly glow.
“Do you trust him?” Doctor Occult asked Lazarus.
“Yes,” the man said without hesitation, “I do.”
“Then let’s see what is on the other side.”
Leading the way, Lazarus stepped through the mirror. Within seconds, the room was empty. Elsewhere in the house, Ricardo accepted a cup of coffee from his diminutive butler. “Good luck, my friends.”