Track Ten

The next scene begins with Lucy and Beach Guy standing on the side of the highway. It's an impressive shot, artistically speaking. They're both looking down the road away from town, holding that pose for several seconds. Then they look at one another, and we see the dawning realization that they'd just died again, that something had gone wrong. It gives their expressions a 'what the fuck just happened?' quality to them. Then Lucy drops to the ground, sitting listlessly on the side of the road.

At least the spider is dead.

"Told you so," Pablo says without taking his eyes from the portal.

I'm not ready to get up yet.

Lucy pulls out her cellphone and sends a note to the rest of the group.

Everyone okay? Or did you all just have another loop moment?
Ty, you doing okay?

Beach Guy turns to face her, his expression thoughtful.

Was it us? They know about us.

Their phones chirp with a message from Chelsea.

It killed me again. Okay now. Didn't do anything.

"Well, at least three of them are thinking the same thing," Rene says. "The reporter is with Chelsea, and the barbecue dinner seemed innocuous enough."

"That leaves the paranoid fool." I sigh. "She's telling Beach Guy that the bad guys only know about the two of them, but I don't know if she's thinking things through. Maybe it's partially their fault, maybe it's Diver Dude."

I sigh again, this time with frustration.

"Here's how I see it," Pablo says, meeting my eyes and then looking at Rene before turning back to the portal. "If there are people watching them — and let's assume for the sake of argument that there are — then all of them have been seen together in various configurations since the beginning of that last spiral. Tyler, Derek, and Chelsea were actually with Melody at some point." He points his chin at the figures in view. "Lucy there and our paranoid conspiracy theorist have both hypothetically been seen with Tyler. That puts them one step away from Melody. Maybe Tyler and Lucy screwed up here. Maybe not.

"It's obvious that someone is trying to get rid of the paranoid guy because something like that bomb setup would have taken more than a couple of minutes to throw together."

He glances at Rene, who nods.

"I agree that it looked like a professional job. It probably should have gone off the second he lifted the engine cover up if it was a contact trigger. If so, it makes me wonder if they were sloppy or somewhat rushed or both. Maybe they just got unlucky with a blasting cap. But I think it's more likely that it was a remote detonation job. Did you see a timer in there? I didn't . . . just circuit boards. What do you want to bet they're from cellphones or beepers that are being used as receivers?"

Pablo nods. "Okay. I'll take your word for it, Rene. You're the expert. And what did Mrs. Mallory say toward the end there, Andrea?"

"The bit about friends, you mean?" I'm not quite following him yet. "That it's the best medicine."

"Right. So if all those people are Melody's friends, and the bad guys know that they're trying to help Melody, then it's not an unreasonable assumption to think the bad guys might try to get rid of them."

I stare at him for a few seconds. "Ha. And you have the nerve to say Maddie is a bad influence on me!"

He looks at me levelly. "I worked the Gang Unit, remember?"

I close my eyes as a shiver of pain passes through both of us. "Sorry," I whisper. "I remember them so well. I sometimes can forget they were murdered because you and Danny took down that gang leader."

He leans over and kisses my forehead.

"I know. It's something I'd like to forget, too. But even if I'm wrong — and I really hope I am for their sakes — it does make sense."

I smile sadly as I open my eyes. "We can't forget. But we can heal. And . . . yeah, it does make sense."

The scene dissolves into the gathering at Jilly Mallory's home, with Teresa's comment about small towns having a unique quality that big cities don't have . . . with Melody saying that she just wants to be well . . . with Crazy Ice Cream Lady interrupting them with her special ice cream flavors for each of them. I still don't like her.

This scene, though, has a variation. Sunny isn't asleep on her mother's lap.

For the littlest one? My, my, my, my . . . Sunny, Sunny . . . lemon sherbet! As soft as a sunbeam!

The little girl takes the ice cream — hesitant, awkward, even confused — as she holds her teddy bear so tightly that its front and back sides might almost touch before thanking the woman.

Crazy Ice Cream Lady continues to dish out carrot cake ice cream for the adults.

Miss Jilly speaks her fateful words once more.

You know, it's so nice seeing that Melody has friends.

Instead of watching the elderly woman smile, we see Newspaper Man and Chelsea exchange a look . . . they know just what she's going to say. Chelsea shudders and closes her eyes.

I think friends . . . friends might be the best medicine.

Then we see the text exchange between Lucy and Chelsea.

The next scene change is abrupt, showing Diver Dude on the docks with the sun just starting to slip beneath the horizon. It's getting dark because of the storm clouds; street lights and dock lights are on, but all of the businesses along the dock are already closed. His phone buzzes with Lucy's message. With a quick glance at his boat, he texts Lucy back.

Another loop. BRB, going to test something.

Next up: Track Eleven and Beyond

© Kelly Naylor