Something curious happened in the great north woods, in the enclave shadowed by mountains with presidential names. An occurrence, the news of which the few witnesses intended hushed, spread far on the low power of radiant whispers, the multipath channels interweaving into redundancy and threatening conflagration to public viral.
Somewhere southward, at an unknown junction where mechanised automatic and human experienced worked in tandem, set out traps tapped into the piped stream of electronic conversation. A light blinked, a screen displayed, and eyes evaluated.
Twelve gathered in a hurried meeting held in a secure room, their reasons, purpose, and justification, myriad. These watchers formulated a minimal plan born of a bureaucratic need to cover backsides: place resources on scene and investigate.
Locals spotted the caravan of four identical white vehicles before the left turn off the exit ramp, their anticipated destination the hospital, where those with reason to hide made their preparations to flee.
Officer and police chief teamed with doctor and therapist, she who denied but acquiesced to the insistent accompaniment of a confused partner just met, one who neared the event horizon of a family shattering, yet who knew not why. The disparate group spirited away the unconscious patient, the one who resembled not the forlorn soul of a day before, their destination a remote cabin absent any modern service, its access limited to one observable unmaintained trail.
In town, the official investigation began in a second floor office, one set in a restored nineteenth century Palazzo style brick structure. A shattered window, its glass deposited on the sidewalk below, allowed free passage to a brisk April wind, the adjacent sheer curtains fluttering and probing the room as if twin tongues in search of love. A lamp lay in pieces on the carpeting, dropped hard by the overturn of an end table. A wingback chair sat on its back.
Latex gloves covered hands. Video cameras whirred and special sensors rattled off their particular readings. A closer look at the sofa, carpeting, the overturned chair, and another left upright, displayed sun-bleached colouring in a pattern not circular but on careful examination, spherical. Further from centre, walls and carpeting showed lessened lightening.
The ambulance followed the desolate gravel road, a contoured path meandering and climbing a foothill. The police chief drove at speed with the practised confidence of one experienced, while the doctor rode beside the stable patient. The officer, sucked into circumstance of which he knew fewer facts than but one around him, rode shotgun. The therapist, she of seared eyes now sensitive to light, sat in back, welder’s protective eyewear in place. Her skin, unexposed to daytime sun, displayed the telltale singe of overexposure. And the insistent stowaway stared disbelieving, feeling the unspoken explanation but not quite comprehending it as possible.
The two-way squawked out a stream of ominous observations, the work of stealth allies on watch in town, who knew not but carried faith in the police chief. The assembling information formed up a conclusion.