Paradigms Lost – Chapter 16

Paradigms Lost – Chapter 16

Chapter 16: The Only Thing He Has To Fear…

“How did you find me?”

Verne and I were comfortably seated in his study. He smiled slightly. “I have always known roughly where Carmichael lived, just as he always knew where I lived. Once I arrived in the general area, it was simple to sense your presence and follow it.”

“Thanks.”

“No need to thank me, Jason. It was my fault entirely that you were involved. I should have realized that once he found my household impenetrable, he would look for anyone outside that was connected to me.”

“Maybe you should, but so should I. Heck, you hadn’t had anyone ‘outside’ connected to you for so long that I’m not surprised you sorta forgot.”

“For far too long, but I thank you for your understanding.”

“You think he’ll keep his hands off from now on?”

Verne gave that cold smile again. “Oh, yes, I assure you. I was not concerned with the niceties of civilized behavior at that point, Jason. I made sure that he was, shall we say, thinking very clearly. He knows precisely what would happen to him if he ever crosses me again. And as you pointed out, the authorities won’t believe him even if he tells his story, nor would it do him much good if they did.”

“So how did your interview with Sky go?”

“Excellently well,” he replied, offering me a refill on the champagne, which I declined. “Your casual evaluation was, as far as it went, accurate. Mr. Hashima is a true artist, a dedicated one, and highly talented in several ways. I will have no qualms about supporting him fully. He is naturally a bit cautious — I do seem to him to be a bit too good to be true — but I am sure that we shall get past this minor difficulty.”

I sipped, appreciating the unique taste that a real champagne offers. “And the antiquities?”

Verne grinned, a warm smile that lit the room. “As usual, you and Morgan are right. I shall be donating, or selling, many of the items in question to people who will both appreciate them and be willing to place them on proper display. Some discreet inquiries have already elicited several interested responses, and I expect several archaeologists to visit in a few weeks in order to authenticate, insofar as is possible, the artifacts and prepare a preliminary assessment. I have already decided to send Akhenaten, at least, directly to Egypt. Let the Sun Pharaoh return to his home.” He raised his own red-glinting glass in salute. “My thanks, Jason, again. You have indeed found something that I shall enjoy doing, something which will contribute to the world as well. And you have given me your friendship, which I value perhaps even more.”

I managed, I think, to keep from blushing, although I do tend to do that when praised extravagantly. “It was my pleasure, really. Well, aside from being kidnapped, but that wasn’t completely in your control. I just hope he has bad dreams about you whenever he goes to sleep.”

“I assure you, your hope will be more than adequately fulfilled, Jason,” Verne said, with the expression of someone with a small secret.

“Why?”

“As I implied, I was quite capable of hearing his thoughts when I extorted certain promises from him, and discovered one quite serendipitous fact.” He paused for me to urge him to finish, and then said, “Many people are afraid of various things, real and otherwise.

“It turns out that Mr. Carmichael’s greatest and most secret fear… is vampires.”

I laughed out loud. “Well, I’ll drink to that!”

 

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