The Book of Gateways Installment 27 (#BOG)

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We all rejoin at seven in the little locked office via the outside window.

“This is why Milo always kept this place locked. He used it to come here. Aw he kept my kitten calendar here.” Desimae goes to change the calendar to the correct month but then decides against it and leaves it. “He touched it last.” She says matter-of-factly.

“Are you ready for this?” Piers looks concerned. “You might feel nauseous and possibly even pass out. Are you gunna be okay?” He slips his arm through his second backpack strap. She nods and pulls her little backpack on. It almost looks like the character Domo but a sky blue version with a ton of multi-colored patches and little legs that swing back and forth when she walks. She named him Phil. We all file through our bags to make sure we have everything we need. Passports? Check. Bank cards? Check. Change of clothes? Check. Looks like we are ready to go.

“I’m a little nervous to put this many people through the gateway.” I swallow hard at the thought of half my body in Singapore and half my body in this office. The police wouldn’t be tired of me anymore.

“How bad could it be to get stuck between space jumps? You’d probably be severed instantaneously.” Desimae shrugs which causes Phil’s legs to swish back and forth. Piers sighs exasperated.

“Can we just do this?” He says opening the book to a page with a picture that read: “100 Year Old Dim Sum Shop…Singapore”.

“Well we know why Milo went to Singapore.” Desimae laughs.

“Grab onto me.” Piers says to both of us. Each of us puts a hand on Piers’ shoulder and another hand around his waist. We don’t want to get disconnected and turn into Swiss cheese.

“Three, two, one. Go.” Piers says as he puts his finger onto the starter circle and just like that we’re sucked in.

Through the blackness, I hear a gasp of air entering deprived lungs. My eyes open to the back of the restaurant before me, Piers underneath me, and Desimae beside me. Her eyes wide and searching her surroundings. “Whoa.” Is all she says as me and Piers stand up already used to the pressure of jumping through gateways.

“Need help up?” Piers yanks Desimae up by her forearm. Her whole body is shaking with adrenaline. “Are you okay?” She nods yes.

“Why don’t we try some food here? Milo obviously liked it. We should try it too.” I say bouncing on the balls of my feet. “It’s ten in the morning here, but anytime is a good time for Dim Sum.” With that, we all make our way into the little shop and are greeted by a small Singaporean woman.

“Ah! Riley! Oh my goodness, you take after Milo so much! Popping in whenever the wind blows you here!” She says with a wide smile. “Please, please come in! Sit down. We aren’t quite open yet, but for you, anytime!” She says and points us to a table.

“You know her?” I whisper to Piers. He shakes his head no.

“My name is Min. Milo has told me so much about you. Who are your friends?”

We all introduce ourselves and sit down at the table.

“How is Milo? Is he well? I haven’t seen him in a long time.” She says sitting next to us. A dread falls over me and suddenly we are stuck in a difficult position. I look to Piers.

“Oh, Min. I am, so sorry…” He looks down to his hands and suddenly Min seems uncomfortable. “Milo, was murdered about three and a half months ago.” Piers fidgets. Instantly Min’s eyes well up.

“Milo was a good man. Who would murder him?” Her voice cracks.

“We don’t know. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind. The police haven’t found anything. I’m very sorry you’re just finding this out.” Piers pats her folded hands.

“And, I am sorry for your loss Riley. Whatever you want to eat today will be free, in honor of your loving uncle. He was a good man.” She says as a few tears dripped from her eyes. “It’s nice to know that so many people loved my uncle.” Piers smiles at her. She returns the kindness.

“I have so many books to return to you then. I was waiting for him to come back. He was going to pick them up the next time he came around. Anyway, I am so happy that you all came to visit. He told me this was his most favorite place in all of Singapore.” Min stood up and smiled proudly. “My husband Eugene should be in soon and we will cook you many delicious things and we will celebrate Milo.” She wipes fresh tears away.

We soon after met Min’s husband Eugene and boy could he cook. They brought us almost everything there was on the menu. We all shared great stories we had of Milo and in an instant, we had another glimpse into what kind of man Milo was. It was a great thing to see another layer of his legacy he left to another family in another country. He truly was a great man.

The Book of Gateways Installment 26 (#BOG)

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I awake to the sound of a series of taps. I open one eye to see Desimae fully dressed and sitting at her little table in the kitchen area with a single glass of orange juice and her phone in hand. She looks over at me and nods then goes back to her text.

“What time is it? How long have you been up?”

“Ten am. Since seven thirty.” She doesn’t look up. I get up and quickly get dressed feeling obligated and silly for sleeping so long.

“Alright, I’m ready. Should we meet up with Piers?” She shrugs and stands up. Today she sports a pale green shirt with a nineteen fifties pin up styled Medusa that says “Medusa, master sedusa.” Which I wish I owned.

“Want breakfast?” She still doesn’t look up from her phone.

“Sure.”

“Let’s go meet up with Piers and we will eat together.” She looks up at me. I nod and get dressed. We make our way to a little diner not too far from the book store. A fifties styled diner with a blue Cadillac car for its emblem and bright red neon lights that read “Cadillac Sal’s Diner”. Oh San Diego, you so differ from my little town in Maryland. We order in array of food to fill the table, say a prayer to bless it, and then dig in.

“So…” She pauses for a long time. “What’s the deal? How was Milo getting around the way he was? I know you’re doing the same thing.” She leans in expecting something great. Piers spends the next few hours talking to her about the book of gateways and our hypothesis on why Milo was targeted and killed. Which in short, someone became too interested in Milo’s travel and transportation of books, and when Milo wouldn’t give up his secrets…He was murdered. I mentioned Matt, our British canary that has been warning us about how dangerous it is. Desimae looks unsurprised as she sips her chocolate milk and pushes her eggs around in an uninterested way.

“Aren’t you lactose intolerant?” Piers comments. She shrugs.

“Aren’t you even a little bit shocked?” I ask surprised by her unsurprised reaction.

“I suppose not. I saw Milo take that book with him everywhere with his planner, although the book was much harder to catch a glimpse of. He must have figured out the science of the book to make those transporter boxes. I can’t believe that old man kept such a good secret.” She says thoughtfully, her eyes darkening the same way they did the night before. Maybe she feels that pang of bitterness too. The fact that he would hid something so big from the people he loves so much.

“But it’s not like he owes me anything anyways. Not my life to interfere with.” She says bringing her eyes to meet mine, and for the first time I see her smile with that darkened look. A mixture of anxieties and feelings like when a river and the ocean meet, not quite sadness but not joy either.

“So where have you been other than here?” She says calling over for a bill.

“Greece.” I say.

“That’s it? You’ve had this book for several months and you’ve only been to Greece?” Her smile now reminds me of the Cheshire cat from Wonderland. “I think that should change today.” She sends the waitress off with her card.

“Listen, before you get travel crazy this has been really dangerous. We’ve already been attacked and we don’t want you to be involved in this.” Piers says agitated.

“Piers, mah dawg.” She flicks her head in dramatic way. “I was involved the moment you got here in your little jumper machine. There’s no turning back now. Besides whoever is following you is gunna take some time to find you. They can’t track you the traditional way. There are obviously no flight records to San Diego. So you good homie.” She stands up and puts her card in her wallet.

“What kind of a person thinks of a paper trail?” I say jokingly.

“I’m pretty sure I have family in the mafia. Uncle Sal is always acting sketchy. Right Sal?” She hollers over her shoulder.

“What are you saying you crazy kid?” An older gentleman in a pair of khakis, a white shirt, and suspenders sputters to life from the far corner of the diner. I look at Desimae unconvinced to which she mouths “He’s crazy.” And twirls her finger by her temple. I just laugh and shake my head. We walk back to the book store and see that Lannah in all of her flowery woodland fairy glory has opened the shop and adorned the front desk with a new water lily in a bowl. For which an unknown reason bothers me. From the instant we walk in Desimae zeroes in on the lily and plucks a petal from its base and frolics to a nearby sitting chair. We follow her and sit down. This store is different. It’s also two stories but has white inside with geometric bookshelves to give it a sterile but inviting atmosphere. All the furniture is a dark wood and on the sides of some of the bookshelves are little succulents that are perched in little frames. Milo has yet again surprised me with his good tastes in design.

“Let’s go to Singapore!” Desimae smiles devilishly. I nod, Singapore seems like an interesting place.

“I told you, it’s dangerous. We can’t just take trips willy nilly.” Piers huffs as if gray hairs are starting to sprout from his fresh scalp.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Maybe, maybe Milo would want us to all take a trip together.” I say trying to ease his mind.

“I’m not so sure.” Piers huffs and runs his hand through his hair. “Let’s take a trip.” I look my clock which reads: 1:32pm. “Currently it’s four thirty-two am in Singapore. We should wait until it’s a decent time to go over there.” I say look back at my crew. They both nod.

“We’ll go after dinner around seven pm. What do you say? Spend a day in Singapore?” We all smile knowing full well we are about to embark on an adventure.

“Desimae! You little wretch! Stop dismantling my lilies!” Lannah shrieks from the desk.

“Gotta go! Be right-!” Desimae leaps from her chair unable to finish her remark. For the next fifteen minutes I watch two grown woman run around a book store (with paying patrons inside) and bicker over a lily. Maybe we should leave sooner than seven.

The Book of Gateways Installment 24th

By this time I think the police are fed up with coming and asking me about perpetrators who have already fled the scene. Thank God, Piers’ ankle is fine. Just a minor sprain.
Once everything calms down and the police leave Piers and I rejoin. Sitting across from each other on my white living room couch a few inches from where he was pinned down just a couple hours ago.
“This isn’t safe anymore. We need to lay low.” Piers says as he rubs his ankle.
“You need ice.”
“I’ll get it in a second.”
Silence. I don’t think either of us know what to do, and neither one of us wants to give up the book.
“My semester at the college ends in two weeks. I’ll try to finish it out. Maybe by that time things will cool off.” I clasp my hands together at his statement. Two weeks is a long time. Anybody could come back within that time.
“You don’t think they’ll come back? I’m afraid they will. I’m still shaky from earlier.” I fidget in my seat.
“I know you are but you did great today, thank you for helping me earlier.” Piers’ eyes water a little and grabs my hand. I let it rest there for a while. We both need the comfort.
“I don’t think we should travel during the next two weeks. Just to be safe.” He nods.
“The book should stay in the safe.” I nod. “We just have to be careful…that’s all.” Piers’ thumb strokes my hand thoughtlessly. That brings me into his gravity and I find myself drifting into his comfort. Before I know it my back is pressed to his chest. He kisses the crown of my head, but I don’t mind. All of this just exhausts me. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be able to stand.

~*~

Three days go by and nothing happens. Everything seems to return to its normal state. My nerves didn’t seem to receive the memo. Every noise, shifting shadow, and random stranger became a threat. I’m jumpier than normal, but I still return to the book store. I like to think Milo keeps me company while I stay there.
“Hello, beautiful.” I know who it is before I look up from my computer. My skin ripples into goose flesh.
“What are you doing here Matt?” I say clenching my desk.
“Don’t act like this is my fault.” He says advancing to my desk. He makes himself comfortable and sits on my desk.
“Get out.” I stand. “I don’t know what you’re angle is but you’re nothing but trouble. Get out.” I walk towards the door and open it. He sneers at me and walks towards the door, but before I can react he yanks me by my collar and slams me into the wall.
“Listen to me! You stupid half wit. I warned you, I told you to stop this and get rid of it. But you refuse.” He presses against me more firmly. I grown under his weight. “You’re just like him.” Instantly it registers.
“You knew Milo?” Tears pour out of my eyes.
“No.” He releases me. I slap him in the face as hard as I can manage and spit at his feet.
“You’re disgusting.” I say as tears drip onto my collar bones. I look over to see a mother and her little daughter hiding behind a book case. Matt catches on and clears his throat.
“Cesar… I’m-”
“Get out.” And he does.
I lean against the wall for support. Turns out the woman had called the police. They’re definitely tired of me by now.

The Book of Gateways Installment 23

Latest installment of The Book of Gateways! Please comment and like! There is more to come! I actually have a plan this time around… 🙂

After a quick slip through the portal we drop into my shed in my backyard.
“Ow” I say as my knees buckle. Piers rests his head on the wall.
“Didn’t you say something about getting used to the shock?”
“Oh zip it. I’m not a portal scientist.” Piers gags.
The rest of the night seemed like it would be uneventful until we entered my house. All of my book cases were turned over, my couch was slashed, lamps were overturned, and my bedroom was torn apart. Panic rose to my ears as I looked to Piers.
“Stay here, and call the police.” Piers grabbed my wrist and stood me by the door then disappeared into the house. I do as I’m told and call the police. Piers returns shortly after I get off the phone with the police.
“No one is here anymore. Maybe we should look for anything missing.” He rubs his neck in frustration.
“I doubt anything is missing.” I say feeling nauseous. “Matt said I should be careful. I never thought something like this would happen.”
“You don’t know if they were after the book.”
“And if nothing is missing?”
Silence.
We look around and nothing is missing. My gut tells me they were after the Book of Gateways. The police finally come and take notes and pick around. Then we are left to clean up the mess.

“I don’t want you staying here alone.” Piers says grabbing a bedding set out of my hall closet.
“Well where are you going to stay?” I say grabbing the bedding from him.
“I don’t know I’ll stay downstairs. Or in the hallway.” He pauses for a while. “Bathroom?”
“You’re useless downstairs if someone comes back, I guess just stay in my room.” I put the bedding in the corner. Far far away. I shouldn’t really be nervous around him since we’ve spent so much time around each other. Especially when Milo first died.
The night goes on and I have jitters the whole time but I make myself tea and force myself to bed. I snuggle myself in to my soft blankets, give a few wriggles, and make a few squeaks. Then I roll over and realize that Piers is snickering in his stupid sleeping bag which makes me shrink under my blankets.
“Goodnight!” Piers says laughing. Then sleep overtakes me.

My eyes open for some unknown reason and my hairs stand on end. An eerie feeling is clutching my stomach and I’m still unsure for what reason. CRASH! Something down stairs slams into a wall.
“Piers!” I whisper. “Piers!”…No reply. I flick on my bedside lamp to reveal his empty bedding. Oh no.
I slip quietly out of my bed and pull out a safe box from underneath my bed. Push a few numbers and pull out a nine-millimeter handgun. My hands tremble as I load it. I never thought I would actually have to use it this way. I creep down the stairs with my hands clenching my gun. I peek my head around the corner of the hall to see a man in black pinning Piers to the ground. Piers’ face pressed into the carpet. All I can see is his muscles tensed and his shirt soaked with sweat. At this point my heart is beating against my chest so hard I think I’ll throw up. Just do it. My muscles tighten and I launch myself out in the open.
“DON’T MOVE!” I scream aiming the gun at the intruder’s chest. He shoves his foot into Piers more firmly and draws a gun and points it at his head.
“I WILL PUT A FREAKING BULLET IN YOUR CHEST!” I cock the gun. He doesn’t move. “Lay down on the floor and put your hands behind your head and cross your ankles!” Still no movement. “DO IT!” as I scream Piers pulls his arm free and slams his elbow into his attacker’s crotch. The man crumples to the floor. Piers yanks the gun from his hand. Piers immediately stands reversing his position. I crumple into the chair next to me and place my gun in my lap.
“Who are you working for?” Piers says through his teeth. “Cesar call the cops.” I oblige hands still shaking.
“What are you doing here?”
“You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” The man says into the floor.
“What are you talking about?” Piers yells. “What are you talking about?!” He kicks the man.
“Piers!” I stand from my chair. “Don’t be like this.”
Then the man quickly grabbed Piers’ ankle, twisted it and shoved him to the side. Piers fell to the floor in a disheveled heap. He made a quick getaway after he shoved me into the wall knocking the gun from my hand.

The police arrived shortly after.

Book of Gateways Installment 22

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We spend the day doing tourist things like visiting the Acropolis, Mars Hill, Zeus’ Temple, and of course finding the best gyro possible. We also find out that the Athens Metro is not that bad, and in fact is quite useful.
“It’s almost eight o’clock.” I say as we walk down a crowded street filled with street vendors, tourists, and locals. I smile knowing I’ve spent the last four hours in Greece.
“Ya, I know.” Piers says without looking up from a book, the book of gateways.
“Should you really have that out in public?” My voice tenses.
“It looks like any other book, I’ll just be sure to hold onto it tight. I wanted to see if Uncle had already put a Greece location in here. Maybe he has another shop like he does in California and China.” Piers says leafing through a couple more pages.
“Ya I guess that would’ve been smart before we created an entirely new page. Wait, what do you mean China?”
“There’s a location in the book for a store location just outside Shenghai.”
“That makes sense…You know, that’s where he was right before…”
“Ah he did have a location here.” Piers says changing the subject and shows me the page. A little store by the name of George’s Place. Not very descriptive.
“Wanna try and find it?” I nod my head yes. We ask a few locals and even try to find a map. After a while we find out it’s on the opposite side of Athens. We stand in front of the little orange cream building with a royal blue lamppost outside. To the left a large tree with leaves full and a rich green that provided shade for a couple of homeless dogs. By far the cutest place I had seen yet.
Piers and I walk pass the dogs who ever so slightly raise their heads to notice us, and then go back to sleep. We peer in the front window and see an older balding man with a salt and pepper goatee. He smiles and waves us in.
“Kalispera.” I smile and nod. Piers does the same.
“Kalispera, please come in and sit.” His English surprises me. Although most Greek people we have spoken to speak very good English, this man had no accent whatsoever.
“You work for my employer Milo? We found your store in our records.” I say sitting at a chair across from the man’s desk. Piers sits beside me.
“Yes, Milo a great man…He was a dear friend. I see you have picked up his knack of suddenly showing up.” He smiles.
“Yes, we keep hearing that.” I say returning the smile. “I’m Jazleen Cesar, and this is Milo’s nephew Riley Pierson.”
“Nice to meet you, I have heard much about you. My name is George Georgiades” He shakes our hands.
“What is it exactly that you do?” Piers asks.
“I am a financial adviser for your uncle. I take care of the various financial budgets and things of that sort.”
“You’ve continued to do this without pay? It’s been several months.” Piers’ eyebrows furrow.
“Your uncle was a very generous man, he paid me until the end of this month. I figured I would do my job as long as there was work to do.” George seemed to hold his breath.
“We would like a copy of all of his records he sent to you, and to continue your services.” I say trying to go back to a business side rather than bitter-sweet memories.
“Of course, it’ll take me a few minutes but I will grab them for you. Milo was a very busy man. I still don’t know how he did it all.” George stands and disappears into the back somewhere. Kittens with their mother appear out of nowhere and make themselves at home. Piers is not amused.
“No, Satan’s workers! No!” He pushes one away with his index finger.
“Stop being so mean, they’re sweet.” I say picking up a little black one with green eyes. I play with the cats while Piers sneezes and sulks until George comes back with a large binder of papers.
“This is for the last year or so. I tried to organize them according to location. There are at least fifteen international locations, and several in the United States.” George plops them down on the desk. Piers and I flip through the book seeing the various places in the records book link with the book of gateways location. So many places with so many stores. Milo definitely had a unique niche.
“Did you have a copy of the will George?” Piers asks.
“Yes, I am aware you both have joint custody. Otherwise I would not have shown you these records.” George chuckles a little.
“That would make sense, are we able to get a document of the yearly gross and deficit?” I say looking through a few more pages. “Oh and we will need a billing statement from you so we can continue with your services.” I smile. We continue on with George for another hour or so and gather all the documents. Turns our Milo had minimal deficit and around a seventy thousand yearly gross. Most of which went to churches, orphanages, as well as a little savings he set aside. He was a smart businessman. We say our goodbyes to George and give him our thanks. It’s a bittersweet thing to find out all these secrets Milo had. I wish he was here to tell me them himself.

The Book of Gateways (Installment 17)

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We leave the shop and turn the corner down the alley and to the back of the shop. A little emergency exit and square window adorn the back.

            “What are we doing?” I feel very confused.

            “We’re going back to the office.” Piers says matter-of-factly. I give him a strange look. “I unlocked the window after I used the restroom so we could get back in without being seen. I roll my eyes. “What? We don’t know how this thing works yet. We need to get back in there.” He says and pitches the window open. The window is smaller and I’m wondering how Piers is going to manage to shimmy his way through. I pull myself up and through the window and manage to somehow quietly “fall” into the room. Piers does the same except his hips get caught slightly and I lose the battle of stopping myself from pinching his side. He swats my hand away.

            “Get away from me you meanie.” He scrunches his nose. He shifts himself around a bit and proceeds to slip into the room. He pulls out the book and I feel a tremor violently run through me. My heart starts to pound and my hands begin to feel clammy. I swallow the lump in my throat and nod to Piers. He opens the leather book and leafs through the pictures until he finds the one labeled: “Oakland Book Store”. I start to feel light headed and make myself take a breath relieving the sensation. He looks up at me and I see the excitement and anticipation in his eyes. I feel afraid but then I realize I must be mirroring the same expression as him because he smiles and squeezes my hand. I take another deep breath. He nods to me and I nod back. Then I see his pointer finger hover over to the little oval and my reflexes cause me to grab his forearm. He looks at me questioningly. I take another breath and hug his arm and give him a nod. He smiles at me reassuringly and presses his finger to the oval and I see him grow uncomfortable as the page heats up. The same shimmering icy colored blue lighting up the page. I force myself to take in deep steady breathes to cope with the dizziness. The room starts to swirl and I start to feel the pressure like last time. It’s getting harder to breathe. Black patches start to barrage my sight and I try to blink them out. I feel like I’m about to pass out but I manage to suck in a big gulp of air. My body feels like it’s being sucked in by the energy of the book. I feel the pressure double and that’s the most I can stand. Everything goes dark.

 

            “Cesar.” I hear the steady voice from the dark. My head is spinning. “Cesar.” My eyes roll around in my head as my muscles work overtime to open my eyelids. The light is harsh and causes me to flinch. Piers is hovering over me. The color is still drained from his face. I start to laugh. His brow furrows. “Do you have a concussion?” He asks with concern as he pries my eyelids open to look for dilated pupils. I shake my head and manage to poke my eye on his finger.

            “Ow!” I huff and slap his hand away. I hear him mumble an apology. “Did we make it?” I look around and see that we’re in the backroom of our shop. No kittens with “x’d” out eyes. I smile and start to laugh. “We did it! We did it!” I can’t control my laughter and throw my arms around Piers’ neck and give him a squeeze. “Ah we did it!”.  I lay myself down on my back taking in deep satisfied breaths. Piers lays next to me, and I can tell he is just as happy. I turn my head and we both smile widely.

This adventure is just beginning.