The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Valley of Light: A Loop Serial Story

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

Series: The Serial | Story 4

June 8, 2019

For Part 1 click HERE

Part 2, by E. M. Young

[Picking up the story from the paragraph beginning: "Steve leaves for work at 7 a.m. each morning. His wife, Becky, kisses him goodbye without knowing exactly where he is going or what he is working on. His work is secret ... Where does he go? What secrets does he keep?]

The problem is that Steve talks in his sleep. And Becky is a light sleeper. Steve is often restless in his sleep, too. Sometimes what Steve blurts out in the quiet of the night puts an end to Becky's rest and is largely responsible for her chronic insomnia. But she can't admit that to her well-meaning friends or even to her concerned doctor.

What does Steve mean when he says big doors on the side of some mountain open up and he flies in? Didn't he leave the driveway in his old pickup? Where has he gone? Which mountain? We're surrounded by them. And just how far inside does he travel? What big elevators going way down? To where and on what fast trains?

One night he bolted straight up in bed and announced, still asleep, that he is NOT working with THOSE ones! Those little ones smell bad and the way they read his thoughts unnerves him. He likes working with the ones who look more like us. Look more...?!

Another night Becky was more curious than startled when Steve softly murmured in her ear that the Earth looked so small and beautiful and vulnerable from where he was observing it. And in the next breath apologized that he got caught trying to bring home the little souvenir for her. "Captain was real angry I even attempted to put it in my pocket. Maybe another time, dear."

By first light in the valley, Becky was typically already up and brewing the morning coffee. And mulling over whatever was the night's "report" from her sleeping husband. Was he just a vivid dreamer like the ones she's read about in the ladies' magazines at her hairdresser? Or were his dreams truly the troubled outbursts of a person under chains of silence and daily experiences of other worldliness she could hardly imagine might be true?

She dare not ask and add to Steve's stress. Well, at least not yet. But things were surely coming to a boiling point with the new baby now well on the way.

Part 3, by G.E. Perlin

"Danny!" "DANNY?"

"What?" Danny responded, looking mildly annoyed.  Danny turned his attention to Wade to submit his inflection of disapproval; Wade did not receive that angry glance, he was looking past Danny toward the entrance.

Danny wasn't a clairvoyant, or even mildly intuitive, but without turning to look, he already knew that the Chief was standing at the doorway.  "He's behind me, isn't he?" Danny said ironically, smiling at Wade uneasily.

"Hi Chief," Danny said as he swiveled his chair around; the hinges cursing with pain under his weight.  Chief Tyson stood in the doorway, leaning heavily against the frame. His arms were crossed and rested precariously on his large belly.  The men called him 'Tyrant Tyson,' and with good reason.

"When you're done with your nap, maybe you can do some actual police work. We only have twenty-four hours to hold this mute until the FBI takes him.  Get in there and find out what happened on that damn trail." Tyson was in his early fifties and completely bald except for two small patches of hair on either side, which recessed back into his head little by little each year.

Sergeant Josephs considered a rebuttal, but instead kept the words sealed behind his tight lips, which smiled awkwardly down at Tyson as he squeezed by.  Josephs knew from experience how to avoid Tyson's wrath.

"Come on, Wade," Josephs said from around the corner as if calling for his disobedient dog.

"I'll take lead on this one, Corporal," Josephs said as he opened the door to the interrogation room.

The room was dimly lit by a shop light that hung unevenly from the ceiling. In the center of the room was a small metal table pockmarked with indentations from years of angry fists slamming into it.  Two chairs sat facing each other from opposite ends, both were empty.

In the corner of the room was a young man pressed so deeply into the crease of the corner that he resembled a tight ball of laundry.  The air was unnaturally humid. There was an almost inaudible whimpering noise coming from the man.

Wade and Josephs looked at each other with lines of confusion stitched in their brows.  Josephs nodded at Wade and Wade cautiously walked over to the man to help him to his feet.  As he got near, the man screamed, stopping Wade in his tracks. Wade peered back at Josephs with fear in his eyes.

"Sir, are you okay?"  Wade quietly asked.

"We don't have time for this, get him in the chair."

Wade took a deep breath and knelt beside the man.

"Sarge, you need to have a look at this, there's black stuff all over the ground here."

"The lights, don't look into the lights," the man said, his voice shaking.  Suddenly, the man lurched and yelped in pain as he vomited a thick black liquid onto the floor.

Wade and Josephs looked at each other and this time it wasn't only Wade who looked terrified.


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