The Vampire in the Bog

By Linda

Rating: PG

Genres: adventure humour romance

Keywords: Trip's Parents

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Chapter 1

Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.

Genre: Trip and T’Pol’s Most Excellent Vacation challenge, humor, adventure, mystery.

Rating: G

Summary: Trip and T’Pol take up the task of solving a mystery at the request of an old college roommate of Trip’s mother’s. They must change their destination from Hawaii to Maine and turn it into a ‘working’ vacation.

Note: This is sort of a sequel to ‘A Mystic Experience’— another vacation story. The setting of this story is in Lubec Maine and Campobello Island. It is a familiar venue for me as my brother worked as a podiatrist in Lubec for several years and I made a few visits there. The Marybeth character is loosely based on a friend of my brother and myself who is a lifelong resident of the area. The photos were taken several years ago.

PHOTOS:

 

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Chapter One

Caroline Tucker sighed as she opened the attic trunk where she had stored Lizzy’s things. It was hard, but it was time. She was ‘borrowing’ from the dishware that she had bought for Lizzy, a surprise for her daughter’s wedding — whenever Lizzy would have finally decided to settle down with some nice man. Of course now, that would never be.

Ah, this must be the box of fine china tea cups. She lifted it out carefully, slit the tape with a fingernail, pulled the top open, and folded back the tissue. Yes, she was sure this was a fine enough gift for an anniversary present for her son and a Vulcan daughter-in-law who had given her a beloved grandchild almost two years ago. This tea set would be employed at dinner tonight and if T’Pol liked it, the complete set of dishware would pass on to the next generation of Tuckers. Yes, a fine anniversary present that should have gone to them long ago if Caroline had been able to part with it. Again she sighed, for she also had a favor to ask her son and daughter-in-law.

**********

T’Pol set her tea cup gently back into the elegant saucer. She glanced at Trip. Through their bond, she knew he was considering his mother’s request. T’Pol thought she would help the decision along. “Caroline, that was a most excellent pot of Vulcan spice tea. May Trip and I take some of the tea with us when we go to Maine? I am sure your former college roommate would enjoy it as much as I have.”

Trip did a double take, his face shifting between T’Pol and his mother.

“So you have discussed this and it is decided,” smiled Caroline. “I am so glad. And I will take good care of little Les-beth just as well, whether it is to be Hawaii or Maine.”

“I guess it is decided, then.” The corner of Trip’s mouth rose slightly as he sent a flick of confusion telepathically to T’Pol. But his smile broadened in resignation. He had been wondering how he was going to talk T’Pol into a trip to Maine rather than a vacation in Hawaii.

“Well,” said Caroline, folding her hands on the table in front of her, “then, I think I should fill you in a little more on what Marybeth told me. It is not that I believe in supernatural things, certainly not in vampires. But someone has been stalking children on the shoreline walking paths that start near West Quoddy lighthouse and on the bog nature walkways that veer off from the shore paths. Also, incidents have occurred on the bog walks on Campobello Island. This may be just a prankster, but when it comes to the safety of children, especially her own grandchildren, Marybeth is right. Something should be done.”

Trip relaxed by leaning back in his chair and stretching his legs out under the table. As a child, his mother had made him sit up straight but his father had always gotten away with slouching after the meal was over. The first time Trip had tried it as an adult, his mother had frowned at him but said nothing. And now, it was no longer a conscious act. Charles II and Charles III just assumed the posture as a sign that the meal was concluded. So table manners were not on Trip’s mind tonight – the proposed mission was. “Mother, this is really a job for the local police.”

Caroline’s forehead wrinkled slightly. Life since the Xindi attack had not been easy for her. If it were not for those deepening lines in her forehead, Trip thought she looked a lot like Lizzy in the soft dinning room candlelight.

“Trip, Lubec is the least spoiled area in Maine and the tourists love it that way. The lighthouse at West Quoddy is the furthest point east in what used to be the country of the United States, before there was the United North American Federation, which was before the United Earth Gov. But you know all that from elementary school. Anyway, tourism is a big part of the local economy Down East these days.”

Caroline turned to T’Pol to say, “That’s the eastern-most seaboard section of Maine.” She looked back at Trip and continued. “Marybeth feels that if they step up uniformed patrols of the area, tourists will start asking questions and be scared away.” Caroline paused and took a deep breath. “Besides, she feels she knows who this might be and wishes to solve this quietly. Some guy who used to live in Lubec and liked to take walks in the bog. Now I know you two are trained in Starfleet to take care of yourselves and to solve security problems. So I am confident that you will be able to track down this . . . prankster without alarming the tourists. I hope to heaven he is not something worse, but my gut feeling from Marybeth is that he is not, just a sad case who should be given some slack. If you don’t figure this out in a week’s time, of course it must be made a matter for the police.”

“Alright, Mother. Okay, T’Pol?”

“Of course. We will leave for Maine tomorrow.”

**********

Trip fit the rented aircar into the long-term small aircraft parking spot with no trouble. After powering down thrusters, Trip turned to see T’Pol opening the hatch, their bags beside her.

“We have to walk over to the airbus terminal area of this Bangor International Airport. I have noted the best route. It should take us 5.5 minutes,” said T’Pol. “Why do airports still have ‘international’ in their names when there are no more nations?”

Trip picked up his bag and hopped out of the aircar. “Tradition, I would guess.” He secured the door and they headed for the terminal.

A woman rose from a bank of seats filled with travelers sitting next to piles of luggage. She extended a hand as she approached. “Hello there, I am Marybeth and I know you must be Charles and T’Pol Tucker. Welcome to Maine. Charles, you look just like your dad now. How time passes. You used to be such a charming little guy but unable to keep your hands off anything mechanical.”

“That description still applies. Greetings, Marybeth, friend of my mate’s mother.” T’Pol started to offer the Vulcan greeting, but lowered her hand and timidly took Marybeth’s.

Marybeth’s gaze took in T’Pol, but in a friendly way. She held Trip’s hand a little longer than T’Pol’s, then gave his arm a pat with her other hand.

The hovercar trip to Lubec took only forty-five minutes on the highway, the car skimming along a couple of inches above the roadbed surface.

“Thought you’d like to see a bit of the scenery, otherwise you could have taken your aircar all the way to Eastport across the Passamaquoddy Bay from Lubec. You were here in Lubec as a very small boy, Charles. Do you remember?”

“Only vague impressions. My mother said it was hard for her to keep up with me. She was very pregnant with Lizzy then.”

Marybeth’s face took on a sad cast. “Yes, your beautiful baby sister. Do you know she was named after my middle name?”

T’Pol glanced at Trip who seemed to be fishing for how to answer, so she spoke. “Do you mean the Beth part of your name?”

“Exactly. My middle name is tacked onto my first name, sounds nicer than plain old Mary.”

Not wanting to go into the sad memories of their first child, T’Pol said: “Our two year old daughter also possesses Elizabeth as a…middle name, with her first name being a tribute to my mother, now deceased.”

Marybeth brightened. “What a nice way to honor the memory of two people. It keeps families together, don’t you think? My own family goes back over three hundred years in this part of the country, way back to when parts of our family lived in different nations with a border running right through our community. We used to have customs stations at all the bridges and car ferry terminals. There were bridges and car ferries between the mainland sections and islands of both the U. S. and Canada. Now the ferries are gone, though the bridges are kept up for hovercars. And island hopping is now done with low flying shuttlecraft. My grandmother lived in Canada – Campobello Island, but shopped and worked in the U.S. Her brother lived in Lubec, which was on the U.S. side, but fished in both Canadian and U.S. waters. The border was a mild nuisance but did not stop us from being one community.”

“What an interesting arrangement,” said T’Pol. “Perhaps the Federation will one day become essentially one community.”

“That is a hopeful sentiment, T’Pol. And one that touches us even at the extreme end of the eastern seaboard megalopolis that used to be just from Boston to Washington D.C. But by the 21st century it extended to Bangor. Of course we are still recovering from the Third World War of over a century ago. I know we have a lot to thank your people for in aiding us with that.” She smiled at T’Pol.

T’Pol gave Marybeth a small nod of acknowledgement and Marybeth turned back to the highway, continuing with the orientation to her community. “The population has still not quite recovered to where it was at the peak of the megalopolis growth. And I would hope we have learned some lessons from that time. Back then, the seaside resort buildup had been creeping from Bar Harbor up toward our little community. All the waterfront property was bought up by the late 20th century, but fortunately it never as been completely developed. We still have paths along the beaches, tide water pools, and unspoiled views on top of the sea cliffs. Also, there are remnants of forest and bog areas when you move back from the shore. These are now protected. They draw the tourists from around the world and even from beyond our world. Our other local industry is aquaculture in sheltered bays, with some fishing still done on the ocean.

T’Pol was enjoying the ride, but in Vulcan fashion decided to get to the main reason for their visit. “You mentioned the bogs. Is not that the location of these troubling encounters of children and vampires?”

Marybeth unconsciously slowed the vehicle a bit. “Your mother told me she had filled you in on much of this problem, so I won’t feed you a lot of boring details until you have had a chance to settle in and do a little touring yourself. It is a vexing situation, but has not escalated into anyone being harmed. No adults have encountered this individual. It seems he takes pleasure in scaring children on the nature trails. Somewhat of a self-styled protector of the environment. And the rough descriptions given of a short, portly guy who limps slightly, remind me of someone who used to live in Lubec. Someone who took solitary walks in the bog. As a boy, he used to say he hated people and that plants were his only friends.”

Marybeth turned off the highway, lowering the vehicle’s wheels which jarred a bit as they engaged the surface of the exit lane. They turned onto a two lane road and entered Lubec. Then she continued her story.

“The children, when pressed, admitted they had wondered off the designated paths or were picking protected flowers. The man would suddenly appear and in a strange accent, warn them to “desist their illegal environmental damage activities.” Actually, he was right. But his manner was very frightening and threatening in the children’s perception. He dressed in a heavy long coat which is too warm for hot summer days and made him look straight out of an old vampire movie. And his skin looked sickly, bruised, the kids thought. But he never touched the children. In fact, he actually backed away when a teenager challenged him back. The teenage boy went to grab the guy’s arm because he had scared his younger brother. The man glared at him, shied away from actually physical contact and disappeared quickly into the woods. That kinda rules out the sickly part but some physically ill people are capable of brief bursts of energy.”

“Strange,” commented Trip. “Very strange. Sounds a little off his rocker.”

“We don’t think he is mentally ill. Well, not alarmingly so, if he is who I suspect he is.” Marybeth said as she turned off the road onto a gravel driveway and stopped at the side of a two-story wood frame house.

This house could use a coat of paint, thought Trip. But the weather here must be rough on paint. The sea air must not be easy on houses.

The house was welcoming inside, delightful in a Down East practical way. The high ceilings were of an era before the numerous ranch style homes were built on housing tracts, themselves to be succeeded by homes with solar heating that tucked into the natural contours of the land.

Before they even got settled in, Marybeth’s cousin Matt dropped by, obviously curious about her visitors. He deposited a box of lobsters on the kitchen table. The introduction was followed shortly by an invitation to accompany him the next time he went out to check his lobster pots and do a little whale watching afterward. All visitors wanted to do some whale watching, Matt informed them.

They accepted Matt’s offer, Trip with delight, T’Pol with trepidation. T’Pol had taken a look at the incoming tide rushing under the bridge to Campobello Island in the Lubec Narrows, when Marybeth pointed it out on their way to her house. She had read up on the Bay of Fundy on her wireless padd on the flight to Maine: photos of boats stranded on their sides on the sand when the low tide had retreated out from beneath them, then riding high when the tide returned. This was nothing like anything on Vulcan.

T’Pol later stood in their bedroom with her arms crossed. “Why don’t we go clam digging instead? At low tide, the beach goes out very far and the clams are plentiful.”

“T’Pol, Marybeth said that clam digging was done by people who had no other way to earn a bit of extra cash, especially the local kids. I don’t want to poach on their territory.”

She considered this logical and abandoned the argument. Most of the time her Trip was correct. Trying something new, like deep water boating, would be fun when she overcame her Vulcan stubbornness, as he called it. She crossed the room, her feet enjoying the hard wood of the floor, then the corded feel of the braided area rug, then the floor again, as she entered the bathroom to freshen up before dinner. She really was looking forward to exploring yet another of the Terran environments which seemed as diverse as the cultures which populated this world.

**********

T’Pol was kneeling on the wooden boardwalk watching a mosquito slowly abandoning its struggles inside a pitcher plant, so Trip whipped out his camera and snapped off a shot. “Hey, Hon, on Earth even plants eat meat.”

“So I am observing. I read about this when I was in school on Vulcan.”

“But not curious enough to take a holiday to observe this when you lived at the Vulcan compound in San Francisco?”

“No. It was not relevant to my duties there.”

“See what you were missing? All these nice vacations.”

“True. But this is not supposed to be a vacation. We are on a mission for your mother’s school friend.”

Having reminded herself of the mission, T’Pol stood and slowly turned in a circle to scan the bog. A child could surely see a strange man approaching for quite a distance from the center of the bog. But near the entrance at either end of the boardwalk, a man could emerge from the trees suddenly. “Where was Jennifer standing when she saw her vampire?”

“At the ocean side of the boardwalk. The man was approaching from the other side of the bog.”

“And she was picking needles to make Labrador tea?”

“Right,” said Trip. “She glanced up, saw that he was just entering the bog from the far side, and thought she had time to harvest all she needed before he got close enough to see what she was doing. When she looked up again, he was right in front of her. ‘He flew,’ she said.”

“Upon questioning, she admitted that she did not actually observe him in flight,” said T’Pol. “He just arrived more quickly than she thought was possible. Hence he must be a vampire.”

Trip said: “Yeah, perhaps she was so intent on picking off those needles that more time passed than she thought.”

“Possibly.”

Trip started walking back toward the shore path. “Well, I think we have learned all we can from this site. Want to go over to the island and check out the other bog?”

T’Pol stood motionless, thinking. She could hear the waves behind her and see across the bog to the tree line. “Trip, we should walk all the way across the bog, and check out the paths beyond it, where the man came from.”

“Logical, as ever.” Trip consulted the tourist birding map. “Seems we can circle around the bog from there, and join back onto the shore path. It will take an hour or so, and I will be ready for a crabmeat sandwich by then.”

They tramped over the boardwalk as it wound its way to the tree line. Stepping up onto solid ground, they found this side of the bog was just as delightful as the sea cliff side. But it had been wood chipped here, deeper soil than the thin layer on the cliff walk where exposed roots crisscrossed the path. Trip’s eyes were drawn to the ground moss and occasional rock. “Many nice mediation spots, T’Pol. It is peaceful here. I’m surprised this has not attracted more of your people.”

A slight breeze ruffled T’Pol’s hair. For a moment the sun brought out an almost reddish highlight which reminded Trip of T’Les . . . and his daughter. There was an occasional redhead in both their families. This fact had surprised Trip.

“Over here.”

T’Pol was squatting a meter off the trail. Trip looked down to see the imprint of a boot.

“Too bad we don’t have equipment to take an impression.”

T’Pol pulled a padd out of her jacket, and activated the measuring function. Then she photographed it with the same padd. “This will at least be helpful. We will share this with the local authorities.”

“It might be the imprint of a tourist’s foot.”

“Perhaps, but few tourist come to this side of the bog except for the more avid naturalists and birdwatchers.”

The path did indeed wind around the bog and back to the shore. Trip and T’Pol reclaimed their vehicle from the West Quoddy lighthouse parking lot and drove to a food concession stand at the Lubec side of the bridge to Campobello Island which spanned the Lubec Narrows. It offered crab sandwiches and Pizza.

T’Pol finished her crab salad and sat with her elbows resting on the picnic table, gazing out at the water flowing swiftly under the bridge. A boat passed under the bridge heading seaward. So fast, the water of these narrows. The boat was moving without sails up and perhaps without its auxiliary motor. No, she did not want to go out there, but did not want her mate to go alone. Marybeth said Matt had been handling boats since he was old enough to climb into the pilot’s chair. She took another look at the swiftly moving water and shuddered.

A few minutes later, they flew over the bridge in Marybeth’s small electric hovercar past the cement blocks on which the customs stations used to rest.

“We have two hours before we pick up Marybeth from her shift as guide at the Roosevelt cottage,” said Trip. “Would you like to see it?”

“Yes. Marybeth promised us a private tour. She said we could even duck under the guide ropes and wander into the rooms if we like. I guess rules for museums are meant to be broken unlike the strict protocol in Vulcan museums.”

“I am not so sure about that. You don’t think VIP’s are allowed additional privileges in Vulcan museums? I don’t think we would do any harm to the Roosevelt cottage. Here is our turn off to the other bog.”

The gravel drive was rougher than the pavement and Trip slowed the car. This bog looked like its counterpart on the other side of the Lubec Channel. Thinking about what Trip had said earlier, yes, her people were fascinated by Earth’s rich biological variety. T’Pol had heard that this bog environment was one of the many that fascinated biologists from her own world when they first were allowed to roam freely on the Terran planet.

When she and Trip had visited V’Lar after her retirement on Vulcan, the former ambassador had related how the Vulcan Science Academy documentaries about Earth on the public media had an avid following ever since first contact with the Terran world. Padd-books on Terran microclimates filled Vulcan bookstores and went out-of-stock an hour after each new order arrived. They were more popular than similar publications about the Trill world which had been discovered shortly before the Terran world.

Trip snatched up the backpack, though T’Pol knew she could carry it more easily. Well, she had carried it through the other bog, and he was always adamant about doing his share of the totin’ as he called it. T’Pol stopped to read each signboard, intrigued by the variety of bog plants that had adapted to a low oxygen soil. Three children ran by them on the boardwalk, their parents trailing behind, stopping to photograph birds. Trip slowed to listen to them and as they came up to him and T’Pol, he turned to them. “Have you folks been to the other bog yet? The one across the channel in Lubec?”

“No, that’s for tomorrow. We want to climb up inside the lighthouse there, West Quoddy. I hear it’s a great view. You can see where the channel bay enters the Bay of Fundy and you get an overview of the bog. Have you been up the lighthouse?”

Trip admitted that they had not.

“Well,” said the children’s father, “we wanted to do that because we were not allowed up the East Quoddy lighthouse yesterday. It’s right at the end of this island. Actually it is on its own little island, but at low tide you can walk across to it. You two should really see it if you haven’t yet. Just be sure to check the times for the tides because you could be trapped out there for at least eight hours if you don’t have a com unit to call for an air car. And none of the buildings are open. Being the only wooden lighthouse left around here, they don’t open it or its service buildings. Eight hours. That long stuck out there with my kids and I would consider our vacation over.” He grinned at T’Pol, his eyes roaming up and down her petite form.

Trip stepped sideways to partially obscure the man’s view of his mate. “Thanks. We will look into it.”

The man nodded and stepped past them, spotting his children halfway across the bog and yelling “Hey, stop right there until we catch up! And don’t pick anything!” One child was lying prone on the boardwalk and splashing a hand in the water and was disturbing some plants. The woman forced a brittle smile while staring at T’Pol’s ears, then glared at her husband, shoving him forward with a hand. Trip and T’Pol stood silently until they were well ahead down the boardwalk.

T’Pol then whispered to her mate: “I suggest we do our exploring at times when Human tourists are not likely to be around. That woman’s animosity toward me hit like a telepathic tsunami.”

Trip gripped T’Pol’s hand in both of his, inviting her to bled off the negativity, dumping it physically into him. She let him take a little of her anxiety, and then repressed the rest. She sighed audibly, and they moved on, taking a branch of the boardwalk where it split off so they would not be following the Human family.

Trip took the lead this time, and they explored the bog without finding new clues in their vampire stalking. Each signboard was dutifully read, both of them taking turns reading out loud. By the time they returned to their vehicle, the energetic children and irritating parents had long gone.

Marybeth was just saying goodbye to the last of the day’s tourists and hanging the closed sign on the Roosevelt cottage gift shop. One woman remained at her side and made furtive glances at Trip and T’Pol. When they approached, she nodded to acknowledge them but walked quickly to a car, got in, and spun tires on the gravel drive in an apparent hurry to leave.

Marybeth, however, welcomed them with a warm Down East smile. T’Pol was amazed at how many different ways Humans could smile. It ran the range of deeply loving to ragged murderous intent. She never knew how a day with multiple Human contacts would end, or how much the Vulcan psyche would be emotionally battered over the course of it.

They entered the cottage and Marybeth closed the door and flipped the door lock. Turning to them, her eyes took on a sad cast. “That was Annie Lawson who just left. She appreciates your investigating this case, but is too upset to talk to you right now. You see, this latest vampire incident has her convinced that it is her estranged son, Gary, who may be the culprit.”

Marybeth motioned Trip and T’Pol to follow and while she walked, she talked. She kept turning back to address them as she led them along a hallway. “The boy left Lubec many years ago after being arrested under suspicion of child abuse. His own illegitimate child. A two-year-old whose mother left Gary to baby sit while she was working. Gary said the child fell down the front porch steps while they were playing tag. I knew the boy, not a mean bone in his body. Gary was a sad boy. Didn’t play much with other kids because he bruised easily, from hemophilia. Always had a pale look and many times, huge bluish-green bruises. And he dressed in heavy clothing to buffer his body against that bruising. He was always careful not to injure himself and that’s why I don’t think he would endanger a child, especially his little boy. The mother did not believe him about that fall down the steps. She seemed embarrassed to have had a brief relationship with a geek, as she called him.”

They turned down another hallway and Marybeth stopped, hand poised on a cord hooked across an open doorway, but continued to talk. “There was no proof one way or the other about that fall and he was released. But he was embarrassed about his arrest and left Lubec. Went to Bangor to find a computer job. He wouldn’t even give his mother an address or phone number because he thought she would badger him to return home. She probably would have. He always called her on her birthday in February but didn’t call her for her most recent birthday. Well now, enough of this. Here we are at the main living room. It has a great view of the bay from up here on the hill.”

As Marybeth led them through the comfortable, yet simply furnished rooms of the cottage, the smell of the place was pleasant to T’Pol. The rustic style was not ostentatious considering the wealth of the people who had vacationed here. It seemed to T’Pol the family valued solitude and quiet intellectual pursuits. She had read that this family had faced life with fortitude and enjoyed the outdoor environment with zest. This was typified by the wicker picnic basket sitting on a table in the large kitchen. The basket had been Eleanor’s. T’Pol saw it in use in a photo with the family sitting around it, right on the grass. This might be another Human family that Vulcans could stand to socialize with . . . for short periods of course. She was glad she had decided to view the cottage as they had planned, rather than insist that her mate take her back to their room in Marybeth’s house so she could meditate. She was now looking forward to tomorrow’s whale watching excursion.

**********

The next morning they walked single file through the narrow hallway of Matt’s small house and out into the dark cement-floored garage. Matt lifted the wide articulated garage door and light streamed in on haphazardly stacked lobster pots. He rummaged in a faded yellow plastic crate, flipping aside several rain slickers until he held one up and glanced at T’Pol. The pipe bounced in his mouth as he addressed her. “This was Amy’s. She used to go out with me all the time, but now she’s away at college in Bangor, and I think she will be gone for good once she gets her teaching degree.” He twisted the slicker front to back, back to front and then tossed it to T’Pol. “Got one’ll fit you already on the boat,” Matt told Trip.

They walked down the hill from the house and across a two-laned, pot-hole dotted road. Walking along the gravel at the road edge, T’Pol noticed that this part of town was rundown and lonely. Matt turned between two old wooden buildings mostly bare of faded red paint.

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“Ancient canneries,” he said. “The fish farms in the more sheltered bays have more modern processing plants right on site or ship their product off to packing plants in the cities. Occasionally someone tries to fix up these old buildings for tourist shops or casinos or something. That is why they haven’t completely fallen down yet.”

The way was narrow with tall grasses on both sides of a bare earthen path between these buildings with boarded up windows. It led to a pier on Lubec Narrows which was high above the water, the spindly wooden posts and beams appearing old and vulnerable. T’Pol repressed her concern and followed the men down the vertical ladder to the boat far below. Its mooring lines were secured around the wooden posts so that they slipped down them as the tide went out.

Another meter lower, and the boat would have hit bottom, T’Pol thought.

The tidal range was 23 feet here, and they were almost down to bare sea floor. Matt confirmed this when he said they would have to hurry to catch the last of the retreating tide. It would push them out to the big bay without using the motor much.

Matt invited T’Pol into the pilot house but indicated with one hand and a few cryptic words that Trip was to release the mooring lines and bring in the fenders and stow them in their cages hooked to the rail. T’Pol followed Matt into the pilot house and watched him prime the old gas engine, pumping a lever back and forth before turning the key.

Out on the boat deck, Trip heard the engine sputter then roar steadily. Must be a four-cycle, as it did not putt-putt like the two-cycle outboard motor on the runabout Lizzy and I used to play around in, Trip mused.

He reached for the handhold on the outside of the pilot house as the pier posts started to move backward. Through the water-stained wood pilings, he could see the long fishing lines of a couple of guys that were sitting up top on the other side of the pier, their long, heavy ocean fishing poles couched between the slats of the flat wooden decking up there. He made a mental note to borrow a couple of those poles and spend an afternoon on the pier with T’Pol. Maybe engaging some of the sport fisherman in conversation might turn up more clues in this vampire mystery.

The boat turned into the channel with the retreating tide and picked up speed without an appreciable increase in motor noise. The boat rocked only slightly, so Trip let go his hold and joined the other two in the pilot house.

“Coffee?” Mattt asked, throwing his chin at a thermos tucked into a shelf with a lip so things would not roll off onto the deck.

“Not yet,” both T’Pol and Trip chorused, as they settled onto a bench behind the steering station. They watched the land slip by, assuming a companionable Down East silence as the boat moved past a fog shrouded Grand Manan Island in the distance on their portside and out into the Bay of Fundy. When the thirty-five foot trawler hit the long swells, Trip stood and took four rolling steps over to the wheel to stand beside Matt. The man still held the pipe in his teeth but it had been unlit since he entered the pilot house.

Matt noticed Trip’s glance. He grinned, yellow stained teeth revealed in a wide grin. “My wife doesn’t let me smoke in the house. Says it’s bad for her asthma. So I don’t smoke inside on the boat no more neither. She sometimes helps on the boat.”

Trip nodded. “Thanks.”

They spent four hours lifting out lobster pots and throwing them back into the sea. Matt showed them how to handle the lobsters and band their claws so they would not get pinched in the process. Finally Matt covered the tank where the lobsters moved weakly. “Enough of this now. Whales.”

They headed further out, scanning the sea for dark humpy shadows in the swells. T’Pol was feeling a bit queasy in the cabin.

Trip had been watching for this and hustled her out on deck. “You will feel better out here, than in an enclosed space, Darlin.”

“Logical. I do feel better out here. I will be alright.” T’Pol gripped the rail and leaned over the water studying the bow wave, but quickly straightened as a wave of dizziness hit. “I never was space sick. The streaming of stars passing the portholes never bothered me. It is illogical that I would be seasick.”

“It’s the motion, Darlin. Old fishing boats don’t have inertial dampers.”

T’Pol raised an eyebrow. ”Nor do they have tractor beams – they use towlines. Nor do they have re-sequencers, they have slow heating alcohol stoves. And the content of the head’s tank does not get recycled on board. It gets pumped out back at the pier. Matt gave me a short tour of the pilot house and forward cabin while you were out on deck.”

Trip grinned. “Oh, some have re-sequencers. But this is a two-hundred year old family work boat. Ya gotta get used to the local culture. Its kinda quaint. Relaxing, in a labor intensive kinda way.”

“So I am noticing,” T’Pol said as she brushed her mate’s hand in a two-finger kiss which they held until Trip let go to point off the port beam.

“Thar she blows!” He shouted toward the cabin against the wind of the boat’s movement.

Matt rapped knuckles on the pilot house window and nodded. The boat changed course slightly, heading for the plume of water shooting up from a dark form a half mile off. The form disappeared, and then appeared again between the swells. T’Pol gripped the rail with both hands. Trip, holding on with one hand, put his other arm around T’Pol’s waist and pulled her closer. He felt her shivering a bit under her slicker in the damp ocean air on this overcast day.

The whale was growing larger as the boat rose on each swell allowing them to see it. No, two whales. A half-grown calf hugged the side of his mother.

“We won’t go any closer,” Matt leaned toward them out of the window. “She will be very protective.” He had a pair of binoculars dangling from a hand hanging out the window. Trip leaped over and grabbed them.

As Trip was readjusting the lens on the binoculars, T’Pol was tracking the whale with her eyes and each time they topped a swell, she pointed.

“These are almost useless with all the bouncing around,” said Trip, letting the binoculars fall against his chest. He followed T’Pol’s arm and squinted. Yeah, he could see the whale. Okay! And the smaller shape humped up beside the larger one. It dove, flipping a miniature whale tail up – then that too slide down into the water and disappeared. Trip’s heart pounded. He had traversed a vast amount of the celestial void, yet rarely had he been astounded by such a sight. Dolphins, he had swum with on vacation with his sister years ago. But nothing as regal as this. “Lizzy, look! Look at this!”

T’Pol gripped her mates hand. She bit her tongue to keep from saying “I am not Lizzy. Lizzy is dead.” Instead, she said: “She sees. Her katra perceives. I believe it is so, Thy’la. She sees and so do I.”

Trip looked embarrassed. “Sorry about that, T’Pol,” he rasped. “I know you are not Lizzy.”

“No apology is needed. The bond with your sister, like your bond with me, is unbreakable. This is a moment of joy, shared by three.”

Trip swallowed hard. No wonder he loved this woman so much.

“Look down!” Matt shouted behind them.

Trip glanced back at the pilot house. It was empty. Matt was outside it at the rail. “Another one,” Matt shouted. Then he ran back inside and the motor went dead.

“What?” called Trip.

Matt appeared in the window. “It is right under us. I don’t want to injure it with the propeller.”

Trip leaned over the rail. Then he pushed back and ran over to the other side of the boat and leaned over that side.

T’Pol joined him, bumping into his back with the boat’s motion. “Did it strike the boat?”

“No,” Trip whispered, “I don’t think so. That is just the water action.”

Slowly the water beside the boat drained away as a black hulk emerged, seemingly moving out from under the boat. It WAS moving out from under the boat. Now it was entirely beside the boat. A jet of spray shot up from a depression on top of the shape and a shower descended over them, pelting Trip and T’Pol and running down the pilot house windows on the starboard side.

Trip pulled T’Pol down, sitting on the deck, gripping her and the railing. Then, the whale’s body rose even with the deck, and staring into their own eyes from five feet away was a huge, appraising whale’s eye. Time became suspended. T’Pol sensed a calm curiosity, an alien intelligence. The eye slowly blinked, breaking the rapture and sank back into the sea. She leaned through the railing to see the whale’s back slipping under the boat, slowly, gently, and only INCHES beneath it. Yet not touching the boat at all. It was as if the beast was showing off its skill, playing with the boat.

T’Pol took a breath and pushed her feet into the deck until her back was against the pilot house. The sense of the whale diminished, yet the awe remained. The sense, had it been a mind touch? Something had touched her mind gently, something other than Trip. But now he flooded into her mind with concern, excitement, wishing to share this experience in their own special way. She ran her fingers down his wet cheek. “Whale breath,” she said. “A whale has blown its breath on us.”

“How poetic,” said Trip. “You are the poet in the family because all I can say is Wow!”

A half hour later, the whales were behind them as they sipped coffee in the pilot house and hung wet towels over the back of the bench and pilot’s chair. The sun was peeking out intermittently. Matt shoed them out of the pilot house to take in the scenery as they returned to the pier. They took off their slickers and spread them on the wet deck so they could sit cross-legged and feel the thrum of the engine through the deck. It was peaceful.

T’Pol had been scanning the shoreline as they moved back toward Lubec Channel, specifically the cliff path they had walked on the other day when returning from the bog. She stiffened. “Trip! I do believe I heard a child’s scream of fright. Help me scan along that path.”

“Sure, T’Pol,” and he lifted the binoculars still hanging from his neck.

“There.” T’Pol pointed.

Trip adjusted the binoculars as he leaned forward against the boat rail to steady himself. “Yes! A child running along toward the lighthouse. Toward West Quoddy light.”

“And two people running from the light house to meet the child, I believe,” said T’Pol.

“You have excellent eyesight, Miss T’Pol, and good ears.” Matt’s head was sticking out the open window of the pilot house again. “Can you hear what they are saying?”

“No, they are too far.”

Matt kicked up the motor’s speed and the bow rose higher. Then he yelled out the window again: “Well whatever has happened…has already happened. We are heading back now, anyway. Whatever it is, it will be all over town by the time we tie up. We will soon know.”


Comments:

Linda
About the college, OOps! I will change that if I rewrite the story. And perhaps anything that is near Bangor, is Bangor to Matt? Or by the 2160s there is a teachers college in Bangor? Poor excuses, I know! But the Lubec scenes should be accurate - at least as much as they can be my from ten years ago memory and speculatively updated by two hundred years! And about the vampire, don't worry, the story is about Trip and T'Pol...mostly. I hope you are enjoying that. Do you remember the movie "The English Patient?" Well, the nature of the vampire is something like that. Now I hope that is not a hint that has given anything away! Please don't tell anyone if you figure it out before the third chapter is up on the site, LOL. But if you want to PM me with what you think is really happening, I will privately tell you if you have guessed right! ;)
JadziaKathryn
Whales will get a lot closer to boats than you think. I went on a whale watch for my 18th birthday and a humpback came really close. I still remember how the white on its fin looked under just a little bit of water. Can I make one teeny, tiny comment? (This is based on now, I admit it.) The teaching college in Maine isn't in Bangor. It's in Farmington, 2 hours west. (I know it's nitpicky, but UMaine Farmington is my alma mater.) Bangor has a couple small commuter schools, but the big college in the area is in Orono - the University of Maine. It's only 4 miles from Bangor. Alright, enough local talk. I'm enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would because I don't like vampire stories. Interesting stuff going on.
Linda
Yes T'Pol eats fish in my story. I explain about Vulcans eating fish in a later chapter of this story - the philosopy of food as I see Vulcans stating it(non canon explanation, of course). But Vulcans eating fish is canon. In TNG, Dr. Crusher has a Vulcan recipe for mollusks. And since Romulans are not vegetarians, I am thinking it logical that pre-Surak Vulcans were meat eaters. I can't see that a whole planet of sentient preditors (and like Humans, I see Vulcans evolving from preditors). Just my personal take on the Vulcans, though. ;) I miss Maine! Just writing this story, made me want to go back and visit my friend soon. As a child, I spent a whole summer at a camp in Maine, where I finally learned to swim. :D
Complicated
I was a bit surprised to see that T'Pol ate a crab salad? Am I misuderstanding? Considering the other choice was pizza, I would have thought that would have been the choice for T'Pol since she is vegetarian? The story looks interesting, by the way I live in Portland, Maine so I can see this happening ....:)
Linda
No Moby Dick here! This was based on a true incident with a whale who was not angry like Moby Dick. And it was actually a small rowboat that a curious whale was trying hard not to upset, but wanted to see the people in the boat up close. I am not joking! A close encounter of an intimate kind that happened in the Bay of Fundy. It was told to me by an area resident , and I believe this person. It would not have been in her nature to be joking about this, even though it is in my nature to be gullible, LOL. I don't think she was at all exagerating here. I am glad people are liking the whale scene!
Asso
Ah... and now? This is a new atmosphere, different from of other Fics. Mistery is my bread. (Obviously with love). And seems to me that here are a great deal of both! ;) Great job!:p
Dinah
I really like Maine, so I enjoyed your first chapter. I especially liked the part with the whales. Though I must admit that I was concerned for awhile that they might go all "Moby Dick" on the boat. I look forward to Chapter 2.
Linda
Oh, just thought I would mention, you can see how high the water gets at high tide if you look at the photo of the pier posts. It is low tide in the photo, but the where the dark part of the post turns grayish-white almost up at the deck of the pier - that is the high tide mark!
evcake
Fascinating. Looking forward to the next chapter. Favorite line: "This is a moment of joy, shared by three.” :D
Reanok
Linda I enjoyed reading the first part of your story your pictures make the story come to life. Looking forward to reading the rest of your story.:)
Linda
Well, maybe it is stretch to have those buildings survive. But this is not a dense population area, a somewhat isolated community. Perhaps that would aid in survival? It is a lovely area! An area ripe for mystery. I am glad the photos help.
dialee
Wonderful beginning! It's hard to believe that such buildings would survive WWIII but also heartwarmingly hopeful. The pictures are a great addition to the story.
T'Sara
OH a Halloween Story...it will be interesting to see how you weave this all together! :D

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