A Conspiracy to Murder, 1865 (The Symbiont Time Travel Adventures Series, Book 6)
by T.L.B. Wood
Who was Mary Surratt and what was her role in the assassination of President Lincoln? Join Kipp and Petra on their next adventure as they investigate the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. A trio of young women passed us, and my attention was drawn when I heard one refer to the middle girl as “Polly”, since, if the old news accounts were accurate, the attack would be made on a girl named Polly Adams. She stood out from her companions, with a shorter, slighter silhouette. Without being overly conspicuous, we made a subtle loop around some large, dense shrubs and began to follow at a distance. The road, which was a packed mixture of dirt and rock, led down a gentle incline before a sharp right turn curved behind a copse of trees that seemed darker than the night itself. The women disappeared from our view when they took that turn, the trees and underbrush concealing them. Not unexpectedly, we heard a series of high pitched screams and darted forward, Kipp just a little ahead of me, his natural speed a distinct advantage, as usual. The other two girls who’d been accompanying Polly almost knocked us down as they raced past, retreating in the direction from which they’d come. It was clear, in their terror, they had abandoned the girl to her fate. Then we saw Polly, who’d been accosted by the man we sought. He was tall, much taller than was she, dressed as before in black clothing, and he bent over her, using one hand to hold her while he used the other to tear at her blouse. Even though our purpose was observational and to gain knowledge -- which prevented our intervention during an attack -- Kipp was caught up in his outrage over the mistreatment of a lady and gave voice to his disapprobation with a loud, aggressive bark. The man glanced up, and recognition of us flooded his thoughts, as he stared through the darkness in our direction. We huddled in the shadows as I peered through the gloaming to try and better see the man’s features, which were somewhat hidden under the brim of the hat that dipped deeply over his brow. I was convinced he wore a half mask on the top part of his face, leaving his mouth and chin uncovered. Spring-heeled Jack had been rumored to breathe blue fire, and I was waiting for such a display so that I could determine the mechanism, since it was clear this was a human man with no more powers than the rest of the species. As the man’s eyes from behind the mask met mine, he lifted his right hand up to his mouth, and a moment later, a flame of blue fire shot out, about a foot in length, only serving to terrify poor Polly even more, if possible, as she slumped in a swoon. I could have been wrong, but I got the distinct impression he was showing off his prowess just to impress me. The man dropped her abruptly and roughly to the ground and began to run, with Kipp in hot pursuit, Kipp’s frenzied barking echoing against the emptiness of the park. There was a long, uninterrupted fence ahead, and the man took one amazing bound to clear the fence, as Kipp pulled up short with no route to follow. Dashing forward, I bent over the distraught Polly, who was babbling hysterically. As I helped her to her feet, she tried to pull together the remnants of her blouse, which had been shredded. The soft skin of her belly was scored and blood began to well along the cuts. As others began to gather, drawn by the commotion, I quietly allowed myself to be absorbed by the crowd, and signaling Kipp, we faded into the darkness before a constable could arrive. I didn’t need an interview of one Petra Goodgame to be recorded in the annals of history. “He has a gas cylinder hidden beneath his sleeve, attached to his forearm.” In my mind, I formed a diagram so Kipp could follow my thoughts. Yes, being a telepath has certain advantages. “Then, he uses a fire starter with a flint to get a spark and, whoosh, he creates the blue flame that we just saw.” I felt satisfied I’d figured out the mechanics of one part of the theatre. Now we were left with the why behind it all.