The victims were all loners with no connections.
November 2, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“Okay, Skeeter. Let’s say something is in these little drums—honey pots. Where did the victims get them? Are they all world travelers? Did they bring them back from their travels? Did they purchase them in import shops? Were they gifts from unknowing givers that knew they liked such things? Were they gifts from people who knew they contained something deadly and gave them anyway—the mother-in-law plan?” Angus asked these questions of Skeeter back at Austin Homicide headquarters.
“Yes and there is something else to consider,” Skeeter answered.
“And what would that be?”
“The probable incubation period. LeBraun thought it was about four months, didn’t he? So they had to have gotten them at least four months before death,” Skeeter answered.
“Good point. Very good point,” Angus admitted.
Skeeter continued, “Then there is always the possibility that there is some type of African-Artifact-of-the-Month-Club, and they were all members.”
“Ha! Maybe that is not so far-fetched.” Angus showed Skeeter a map of Africa in a large atlas. They had been reading up on Masai all morning. “We have figured out that most Masai are located here in Kenya. Skeeter zoomed in on the area. Angus was pointing to it. “There are not many cities in Kenya—only small villages, spaced far apart.”
“Kenya,” said Skeeter.
“Kenya,” said Angus.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Angus?” Skeeter asked.
“Laroux. We must call her in a few minutes. Okay, let’s say all of the honey pots are made here and come from here—the land of the Masai. Somehow, something deadly is getting inside of them and getting to North America. Is it an accident? Is it something the Masai are unaware of when they are selling their wares to outsiders? Have any Masai, themselves, died brainless? Is it a parasite indigenous to equatorial Africa?” Angus asked, as he pointed to the equator line running through Kenya. Angus was full of questions and they had no answers.
“Yeah, the equator may have something to do with it all right. It could be a parasite that thrives only in that environment and can live for only a short while, outside of its range,” Skeeter added as she observed Angus reaching for his desk phone.
“Calling Dr. LeBraun,” he explained. “Dr. LeBraun? Did you receive that packet of new photographs we just sent you—the ones with the holes in the honey pot lids? Have you had time to figure out what made those holes? I see. Skeeter and I are trying to figure out which direction to go in this investigation. There are too many directions. We need to narrow it down. Thanks and we will be back in touch. If you learn anything new, you know how to reach us.”
Skeeter asked, “What did he say?”
“He said that something ate its way out of the honey pots. According to his experts, the edges of the holes exhibit marks that indicate tiny organisms ate their way out of the honey pots en masse—something similar to amoebas, but not exactly that. An unknown.”
Angus was dialing the phone again. “Could you ring Laroux Dimitri’s room, please?” He gave her plenty of time to get to the phone. “This is Angus, Laroux. Thank you for the message. We think we know what it is. We think the ‘ken’ may be for Kenya, the country in Africa—does that sound right? Think about it for awhile. We think the causes of the mysterious deaths originates in Kenya. You may be able to bring up some more information, knowing that. Is there something we could send you in the mail that would help? More photographs? Thanks a bunch.”
“Is she going home soon? Did she say?”
“She hopes so. They told her she might be able to go in a week or two. She thinks ‘Kenya’ might be it. I’m going to send her some recent photos of the honey pots to see if she can get a vibe on them.”
“I think she could figure the whole thing out, if she hadn’t gotten sick,” Skeeter concluded.
“I guess our next move is figuring out where the victims got the honey pots.”
“It will be almost impossible. One of the common denominators in all of these cases is that the victims did not have many connections. They were loners, family members were non existent, or dead. I doubt if there will be a bill of sale in their business records. We will have to go through all of them and it will be a lot of digging.” Skeeter said.
They were startled when the phone rang. “It was Inspector Manuel Padilla,” Angus explained. “He would like to take us out to dinner. He is whizzing through on his way to Dallas and wants us to meet him in Salado, Thursday evening. He says he has some information for us.”
Inspector Padilla? Skeeter had not thought of him or Pulgar Doble, Double-Thumb, in a long, long time.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.