Chapter 8

I call Dr. Seter in San Francisco but end up speaking to James, who acts happy to hear my voice. Perhaps it is not an act, but he does want to know if I am ready to show them my scripture. I tell him I have something even more important to show him. After making an appointment to see him and his father at the Hilton, after the lecture, I book a flight for San Francisco. As the plane lifts off the ground, Seymour nods to the manila envelope in my hand.

"What's that?" he asks.

"Newspaper clippings. Proof."

"I won't ask."

"You'll see soon enough."

We do not attend the lecture because I have a slight fear that Kalika will be there. We are waiting in the lounge area of the Hilton when Dr. Seter returns to the hotel. The elderly doctor looks fatigued from his travels and lecture, but James is as bright faced as ever. I introduce Seymour as an old friend and they take seats across from us. Dr. Seter orders a scotch and James a Coke. Seymour munches on the pretzels and sips cranberry juice.

I have nothing to eat or drink, not even a few drops of blood. I fear there may soon be enough blood flying to satisfy my most perverse thirsts. I wonder if Kalika still kills her victims, how many she hunts a night.

Dr. Seter studies me with tired eyes. For the first time I listen to his heart beat in his chest. He has clogged arteries, cardiac arrhythmia. He must know--I sense he is experiencing a tightness in his chest even now. Yet he smiles warmly before he begins to speak. He is a charming man.

"James tells me you have something exciting to show us," he says.

I stare at both of them for a moment.

"I know where the Dark Mother is," I say. "I need your help to kill her."

This gets their attention. Dr. Seter takes a mo?ment to catch his breath. James glances at him anxiously, but I don't know if his anxiety is con?cern for his father's health or concern for the confrontation. Finally the doctor manages to speak.

"How do you know about the Dark Mother?" he asks. "You said your scripture did not speak of a particular danger to the child."

"It speaks of her in general terms," I say. "And I know this young woman." I open the manila envelope I have brought with me. "I have chroni?cled her behavior. But perhaps you have as well. She's been in the papers lately."

First I give them clips from the Los Angeles Times of the series of brutal murders that were committed last December. Crazy Eddie Fender and his gang of nasty vampires were responsible for these crimes, but the murders are of such a bizarre nature--heads torn off, bodies drained of their blood--that I feel they strengthen my case. Next I show them clippings of the major shoot-out the police had with a gang of terrorists in downtown L.A.: three helicopters downed and dozens of po?lice killed by a tiny but invincible force. Of course, I was responsible for those deaths. The police and FBI had the bad judgment to chase after me and Joel for our vampire blood.

I show them clippings of the Nevada nuclear explosion, and finally give them articles on Eric Hawkins, who was kidnapped from the park while playing basketball with friends. He was not found until weeks later, his throat scissored open by what appeared to be sharp fingernails. Yes, the words of the city coroner have made it all the way into the article, and they are surprisingly accurate. Natu?rally, it is only this last death Kalika was responsi?ble for but now is not the time to reveal that Dr. Seter and his son study the clippings for several minutes and then the doctor frowns at me.

"I don't see what this has to do with the Dark Mother," he says.

His voice is without conviction. I suspect that either he or James has been collecting similar clippings. The possibility strengthens my position and I decide to hold nothing back. I lean forward slightly as I speak and my tone is deadly serious.

"The Dark Mother is vampiric in nature," I say. "The original serial murders in L.A. all bear a vampiric stamp. This is when the Dark Mother moved into the Los Angeles area. Notice the dates of the murders, how they cease right after the terrorist shoot-out with the police. Yet these terror?ists have never been found, never been identified. The media says it's because they escaped, but the real reason is that these terrorists never existed. In fact, the only one the police ever spoke about definitively was a young woman who was able to move extremely fast."

"We have read about her," James says, glancing at his father.

"Then there is the nuclear explosion in the Nevada desert," I continue. "Once again the media and the government drew a connection to terror?ists, but here, too, they failed to identify the terrorists. Because there weren't any. For a brief time the Dark Mother was a prisoner of the mili?tary camp where the explosion occurred. But even with all their guns, all their tanks and soldiers, they couldn't contain her and she broke free and de?stroyed them. She went underground after that, yet she didn't leave the Los Angeles area. Note the description of Eric Hawkins's supposed kidnapper and compare it to the descriptions the police gave of the young woman who helped mess up down?town L.A. You will see they match. That's because all these events originate with one young woman who is not really a human being at all." I pause. "I know her name. I know where she lives. She may know I know this, I'm not sure. She won't remain where she is long. If you want to destroy her, you'll have to strike at her tonight. And don't look so shocked. I know you've prepared for a long time to do exactly this."

Dr. Seter is so taken aback by my words he can't speak. James takes up his role. "How do you know these things?" he asks. "You didn't read about them in an ancient scripture."

"I had a friend in the FBI who leaked parts of this information to me. He came to me originally because his agency was researching the Suzama material. This friend is now deceased--he died in the Nevada explosion. But before he died he gave me enough clues to locate and speak to the Dark Mother."

They both almost fall off their chairs. "You have seen her?" Dr. Seter exclaims.

"I have, too," Seymour says on cue. "We both spoke to her at the end of the Santa Monica Pier three months ago. She almost killed us both, but in the end decided to let us go."

"Why would she let you go if you're a danger to her?" Dr. Seter asks.

"She obviously doesn't think we are a danger to her," I say. "Or else she thinks we may eventually lead her to the child. That's why she agreed to meet us, to quiz us about the Suzama material."

"We still need to see your scripture," Dr. Seter says.

"You can't," I say. "She destroyed it this after?noon. Furthermore, she might be on the verge of destroying your copy, along with the rest of you." I pause. "She was at your lecture last night."

James's voice is harsh. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I didn't know," I say honestly. "I only found out today when she called me at home to tell me."

"Why would she call you?" Dr. Seter asks.

"I told you. I think she stays in touch because we--Seymour and I--might possibly lead her to the child. Plus you do not know her the way we do. To you she is just a name. To us she is a witch, who calls to taunt us, to let us know we live in her shadow."

Dr. Seter regards me critically. "What is her name? Do you know?"

"If I tell you, will you believe me?" I ask.

"Not necessarily," Dr. Seter says. "But I will at least give more credence to your wild story."

"Her name is Kalika, Kali Ma. This dark age of Kali Yuga is named after her."

Clearly Kalika is mentioned in Suzama's scrip?ture. Their suddenly shocked expressions confirm this fact. Yet the information fills me with dismay. Is there no hope for my daughter? I know I am here to solicit aid in killing her but a part of me still longs to discover that I have made a terrible mistake, that all the horrors Kalika has committed since she drew her first breath are nothing more than misunderstandings. But it is not to be and I know it. Either my daughter dies or we do, and then also the child who can save the whole world. Dr. Seter is again having trouble catching his breath.

"Can this be true?" he whispers to himself.

"It is true," Seymour says. "I have seen with my own eyes what she can do. She is stronger than two dozen men combined, as fast as lightning. She is already stalking your group. You don't have much time."

James stares at Seymour. "How do you know Alisa?"

Seymour shrugs. "We're old friends."

James turns to me. "Neither of you has ever given us a last name. We have no way to check your background. We still don't know if you're with the government or not."

"The names we have given you are false," I say. "So what is the point in giving you a false last name? Surely you can understand our reasons for secrecy. We can talk all night and into the next morning. There is only one way of convincing you that we have found the Dark Mother, and that is to bring you to her. But when you do meet her, you have to be ready to kill her or else to be killed by her. It is that simple. You lose nothing by trusting me enough to check her out. Once again, that is if you have all your forces standing at full readiness."

Dr. Seter scoffs. "We don't have any forces."

"You are a poor liar, doctor," I say. "The FBI knows about your training exercises and your automatic weapons. They didn't interfere with you because there were agents, like my friend, who knew about the Suzama material and understood what you were preparing for. But those agents are dead now. Kalika killed them. As a result your group is threatened from all sides, politically and spiritually. You might even think I'm a threat, that I've been sent here by the Black Mother to lure you into a trap. Actually, there may be a particle of truth in that. I am not working for her, but if you do choose to confront her you may be wiped out. Seymour is not exaggerating her strength. But at least if you hit first you stand a chance. If you go after her you must hold back nothing. Yet you must first explain to your people what the real nature of the risk is. Tell them that several dozen police and marines couldn't stop her."

Dr. Seter is shaking his head. "This is all hap?pening too fast. We can't do anything tonight. It's out of the question."

I don't want to push him, to fry his brain, or even to confuse his mind. I want the decision to be his because I suspect I am not exaggerating when I say many of his people may die. So I assuage my conscience. Yet I cannot let him stall. I feel he is close to agreeing with me. I have told him much that only he would know is true. It doesn't matter to me that I have lied to him a lot as well.

"You knew when the time came there would be no time for hesitation," I say gently. "She is down in Los Angeles, right now, in a condo with a wonderful view of the city. We were in her place this afternoon."

"She told you where she lives?" James asks.

"No. She made a mistake when she called me. That is all I can say. Seymour and I were then able to figure out where she lives."

"You traced her call?" James persists.

"In a manner of speaking," I say. "Dr. Seter, this is all real. I know you have been talking about it so long that it has lost some of its reality to you. But you only have to come with me tonight and bring your group, and you will see a five-thousand-year-old prophecy fulfilled before your very eyes."

He looks at me. "You are not a normal young woman, Alisa. There is something in your face, in your voice, in your eyes. James mentioned it last night and now I see it." He pauses. "How do we know you're not the Dark Mother?"

I smile sadly. "Some nights I feel as if I am. And even if I were, then that's all the more reason to heed my warning." Reaching over, I touch his knees. "Trust the inner senses that Suzama's mate?rial has given you. Trust what they are telling you right now." I pause. "Your whole life has led up to this moment."

Dr. Seter flashes a faint smile. "Somehow I can't imagine you are evil." He turns to James. "I need to talk to my son, alone, for a few minutes, if you please."

I stand and point to the entrance. "We will wait over there. We will give you all the privacy and time you need to decide."

Of course the moment we leave I stand still and listen to every word they say. It is a short but intense conversation.

James: "She knew the name of the Dark Mother! No one in our group except us knows that'"

Dr. Seter: "She knows many things I would have thought impossible. But that doesn't mean we can trust her."

James: "But you heard her argument. It's the same argument I've been giving you for the last few months. Those incidents we read about were all caused by a single deadly force. Only she has put the pieces together much better than we did. I'm telling you, father, I believe her. I say we throw everything we've got behind her."

Dr. Seter: "But just last night you were worried she was working for the Dark Mother."

James: "She is not behaving like someone who is trying to harm us. Right now she gave us a ton of information she didn't have to. Information that could be used against the Dark Mother."

Dr. Seter: "Only if it's true."

James: "It is true! Look, she only asks us to trust her so far. We will know within seconds of meeting this person if she is the Dark Mother. But she is right, we must be prepared for a major attack. It is the only way to protect our people."

Dr. Seter: "But what if she's lying to us? If she's working for the government and is trying to trap our group white it is engaged in illegal activities? Think about it, Jim, we're going to be storming a residence of some kind. If it is a government trap, we'll look like just another evil and confused cult in the eyes of the public."

James: "We'll have her with us when we make our attack. If she's lied to us, she'll pay the price."

Dr. Seter: "That's just talk. You wouldn't hurt her."

James: "I don't think I'll have to hurt her. I think our enemy will be so evil our hatred will be turned totally on her." A pause. "Let's do it. If we don't, Father, we will regret it for the rest of our lives. That's what my inner feelings tell me."

Dr. Seter is a long time answering. But finally he gives his OK.

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