Day 256: Jedediah and the Lady

Ty helped Harold carry the horse tub out to the abandoned paddock on Miller’s place. Ty had to hand it to the lad, he worked hard. Experiment after experiment on Jedediah, determined to figure out what purpose the off-worlders had for changing him in the vat full of potions.

Still, he wished the kid would wear the blacks he’d provided for him. Image is everything.

Harold had tried to put Jedediah in places he thought would attract the aliens. He tried to get him reacting to every kind of stimul-eye to see if he conveyed some kind of code. He put him through the paces, but so far got nowhere, and Ty could see his frustration. Of course, Ty would’ve given up long ago.

“If this don’t work out, I reckon I’ll put you back in the field fer a while,” said Ty.

Harold stopped. “I can’t stop now. I just got a second subject.”

“Honest? How come I didn’t hear about it?”

“Will brought her in yesterday evening. You were at the rodeo exhibition.” He started the tub moving again. “Her story is identical to his.”

“I guess it’s just as well,” said Ty. “Ain’t been a crash or encounter in months.” His hat blew off. “What’s the point of this thing?”

“I’ve soaked Jedediah a number of times and tested the water to see if anything leaches out, but it hasn’t produced much. I want to see what happens if both of them are in the tub. Will their chemicals be attractive, or repellant, or neither?”

“They hitch to that?”

“It’s all right. I’ve got a partition and a tarp.”

“Tarnation, you’ve thought of everything, kid.”

They set the tub down. Ty picked up his hat, and they walked back to the Ten Pound Lounge, where they fetched a hose and a crank pump that Harold devised to draw water from the nearby creek. After filling the tank, they took the six-seated carriage and headed to Doc’s homestead where Jedediah stayed.

“Have you progressed at all reckoning the purpose of what they done?” asked Ty.

Harold’s mouth thinned and he shook his head. “Not in the slightest, but science is all about persistence. You gotta—”

“No need arguing the point. I got ‘er.” Ty had given him a hard time about all his predictions turning out wrong, but Harold convinced him that was what needed done until they come to the right one. More like he convinced Will, who then convinced Ty, but no matter.

“Hm.” Ty chewed on a thin cigar and imagined the air of contemplative toughness it should give him. “Who’s the lady?”

“School marm by name of Jenny Newcastle. Picked her up from Kansas City after she was abducted for three weeks.”

Ty blew through his lips. “Poor thing.”

“Yeah, well I almost feel sorry for the off-worlders if they take her again. She makes Doc seem downright placid.”

They pulled up to Doc’s house and overheard him hollering in the back, so they climbed off and went around.

Doc yammered at Jedediah and a lady as they paced off, dropped a spoon, turned to each other and waved around their fingers, then paced off in another direction until they stopped and dropped a fork. They did this silently several times, Doc getting in front of them, but not slowing them in the slightest. He spied Ty and Harold.

“They’ve gone completely batty,” he growled. “By the time I noticed, they had most things I owned made of silver out in the yard. Mitzy’s jewelry, silverware, and my hunting trophies.”

They walked off a few more and dropped the final spoons and forks.

Ty kicked the dirt with his toe. “What do you think, Harold? We need to confine them?”

“No. This is what I’ve been looking for. Bringing them together must have triggered something.”

Harold stared at the ground.

“What do you see?” asked Ty.

Doc wiped his brow. “A cluttered mess.”

Harold shook his head. “Their actions seem random, but look carefully at the ground.”

“I see we’re paying Doc too much, if he’s got this much silver.”

After staring at it for a while, Ty realized there were places left completely clear, and there was clustering of the silver pieces, and they were dispersed in a very regular order. Plus, the denser the cluster, the closer it looked like a triangle.

“What’s it mean?”

“It means Mitzy’s going to have a fit,” said Doc.

Harold swept a hand in front of him. “They’re making something, and I think bringing them together started them much sooner than intended.”

Ty nodded. “Looks like progress.”

“If by progress you mean a wasted afternoon,” said Doc.

“I don’t know what to do next,” said Harold.

“Sure you do,” said Ty. “Ask more questions.”

Harold smirked and nodded.

“Why do I feel like no one’s listening to me?” said Doc.

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