When Alex woke up on Monday morning, Harold was already up and reading again. A change of clothes was laid out for Alex, too.
Alex sat up in bed, and said, “Did you get any sleep, Harold?”
“Good morning, Mr. Minor,” Harold said. “I’m feeling completely rested. I told you I don’t need much sleep.”
“You’ve mentioned it,” Alex said, and dropped the subject. He got out of bed, and noticed the change of clothes. After a moment’s thought about whether or not he wanted to ask Harold to knock it off again, he decided to just let it slide. He was, however, a little frustrated that he had not packed enough other clothes for the trip so that he could wear something completely different than what Harold had laid out.
Alex gathered up the change of clothes and took them with him into the bathroom to change.
I don’t think Harold slept a wink. How is that even possible? Alex thought. He remembered the last time he’d been awake for twenty four hours straight. He saw the sun rise and rather than feeling awe or joy or even an appreciation for the natural beauty of it, he’d just felt kind of confused, anxious, and a little nauseous. When he’d finally stopped moving and got some rest, he slept for twelve hours straight and felt as if he’d just laid down when he woke up again.
He’d known a guy, when he was younger, who would stay awake for days on end. After three days, that guy would be completely loopy. Eventually he’d fall asleep whether he liked it or not, where ever he was. Once, he’d fallen asleep in the middle of the afternoon, sitting in his car in his driveway. He woke up a day later. It didn’t make any sense to Alex. Why stay up for so long just to end up feeling terrible? Alex had assumed that guy was on speed, though Alex later learned that he didn’t even drink.
Alex hoped that Harold wasn’t going to conk out on him at an inopportune moment.
Once Alex had changed and freshened up, he went back in to the main room, and turned on his laptop. It was time to see if Noah had left them any more convenient information.
There were some new posts in the Thomas Smith forum, one of them was by Noah. It said, “We’ve been having more signs of success, although we haven’t achieved any breakthroughs yet. We’ve decided to stop trying to work outside, since there are too many variables outside of our control in the woods. Also, somehow we ended up in a campsite next to the only other occupied campsite in the campground. We all got the impression he was suspicious of us, and we decided we’d rather not find out what would happen if he decided to act on those suspicions.
“We also had a bit of thrill yesterday. We were in town, and thought we were being followed for a time. We split up and ran to evade two guys in a car, which was exciting but perhaps unnecessary. It turned out to be nothing at all, they just continued on their way. Afterwards, we realized they were probably tourists who were lost.
“FairyWingz has offered to let us set up in the spare bedroom of her house, so that’s where we’ll be working for the rest of trip. I can’t believe there are only a couple of days left until I have to fly home again. It’s been such a pleasure being here with other like-minded people.”
There were a couple more pictures. One of them was of the spare bedroom volunteered by whoever FairyWingz was. The other was of the same group, standing in front of what was, presumably, FairyWingz house. The photo was unremarkable, except for one tiny think Alex nearly overlooked.
The photo had a clear shot of the house’s number: 7468.
“Oh my gosh, they’ve told us where they are,” Alex said.
“What? How so?” Harold said. He moved from where he’d been reading to look over Alex’s shoulder.
“Look, there’s the house’s number. We just need to figure out what street they’re on and we’ve got them,” Alex said.
Harold thought for a moment, and said, “We need to figure out which city they’re in, too. Does this FairyWingz person have a profile on the forum? Perhaps she’s listed what town she lives in.”
A little bit of digging revealed that FairyWingz was on the forum, but had not listed a location more specific than “Northern California.”
“Well, I guess I can just start searching for that address in the towns around here, and we can try to narrow it down from there,” Alex said.
Before he got started on making that list, Alex opened his email. He was mildly surprised to see a new email from Kaylee. The subject line was “Hunting for Fairies.”
“Hey, I got another email from Dr. Porter’s assistant,” Alex said.
“Really?” Harold said.
Alex opened the new email. It read, “Hey there – I’ve been watching the Guild of Smith’s forum. I thought you might like to know that FairyWingz’s house is there in Eureka.”
“How on Earth does she know that?” Harold said.
“I don’t know, but if she’s right, I think we’re going to owe her a beer when we get back,” Alex said. “Too bad she couldn’t be more specific than just, ‘somewhere in Eureka,’ though. Oh well, this should narrow things down quite a bit.”
Alex noticed the time, nine o’clock in the morning, and also noticed he was hungry. He figured he really probably shouldn’t waste time going down to the restaurant that morning. That and he was still a little embarrassed about the incident at breakfast the previous morning.
“Say, Harold, would you mind calling room service and having them send up some breakfast and coffee?” Alex said. If Harold insisted on being a butler, then Alex figured he might as well benefit from it a bit.
“Of course, Mr. Minor,” Harold said.
“Be sure to get something for yourself,” Alex said.
It didn’t seem like much time had passed before room service arrived with an impressive continental breakfast spread. Harold brought the tray of rolls and fruit over to the desk Alex was working at, and poured Alex a cup of coffee from an insulated pot. Alex noticed he didn’t take anything himself.
“Aren’t you having anything?” Alex said.
“I’ll have some coffee, but that’s it for me,” Harold said. Alex heard him pouring another cup of coffee.
Alex had managed to narrow it down to two likely addresses here in Eureka. He was glad they weren’t in a bigger town, or he might have been searching for a long time.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Harold had picked up his own cup of coffee, held it for a moment, and then set it down again. It was strange enough that Alex started paying a little more attention. He kept working, sort of, on his laptop until after a few minutes, he saw Harold do it again.
He considered asking Harold what the hell he was doing, then thought about it some more and realized it was extremely unlikely that Harold would actually answer the question. So instead he simply filed that information away, and wondered again what the deal was with Harold.
After a couple more minutes, Alex turned to Harold and said, “OK, I think these are probably the two most likely addresses. Should we go take a drive and have a look at the houses? That should give us a good idea of which one best matches the house in the photo.”
“Yes, I think that’s an excellent idea,” Harold said. “I’m ready to go if you are.”
Harold stood up, took his coffee cup over to the sink and poured it out. Alex wondered if Harold had actually drunk any of the coffee.
“Great, let’s go,” Alex said.
When they got down to the lobby, on their way out to the car, Alex noticed that Noah was there as well. He was walking just a dozen feet ahead of them. Alex elbowed Harold in the arm, and pointed as discretely as he could manage at Noah.
The two of them slowed down, and followed Noah at a distance as he left the hotel and went out to the parking lot. They followed him from one row over, and saw him get into a tiny, red car. Alex guessed it was something like a Honda Fit.
“Let’s get to our car and follow him, if we can,” Alex said.
He and Harold hurried to their own car, and got moving as quickly as they could manage, hoping to keep up with Noah. Alex was glad Noah was in a bright red car, it was going to make keeping track of him a lot easier.
They got to the exit from the parking lot just in time to see Noah turning left on to the main road. Alex followed, but had to let two cars coming from the right get in between them and Noah first.
That was probably for the best, just in case Noah recognized them from the day before.
Noah led them, eventually, to a seafoamy sort of green house, where he pulled into the driveway and parked.
“Check the address” Alex said to Harold, and kept driving down the street. He saw Noah walking up the sidewalk to the house in his rearview mirror.
“7468,” Harold said. “I think this is the place we’re looking for.”
“Wow, that ended up being easy,” Alex said.
“I think the more difficult part, Mr. Minor, will be getting the artifacts back from them,” Harold said.
Alex thought about the other items he’d recovered in his career working for Mr. Darcy. After figuring out where something was, he’d found it was about a 50/50 shot as to whether it would be more difficult getting his hands on what he was there to get, or simply tracking it down in the first place. Sometimes it took him months to track an item down, then he just had to grab it and walk away.
It seemed unlikely that they would just be grabbing these artifacts and walking away this time, unless they managed to get there while Noah’s guard was down.
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Alex said. “So, how do you think we should go about this?”
“Let’s circle the block a few times and see if we can get a feel for the house. It might give us an idea of the best way to get in there. Then we can just go in and take the artifacts back,” Harold said.
“What, when they’re all in there?” Alex said.
“Yes. The only way we’re going to know for sure that the artifacts are all present is if they’re in there using them. For all we know, Noah might be keeping them with him at all times, otherwise,” Harold said.
“You think they’re using them right now? Shouldn’t we come back at night?” Alex said.
“Why come back at night instead of taking care of it right now?” Harold said.
“Well, you said we can only be sure if they’re using them. It seems like night time is when they would be doing that, based on what we know from the camper I bumped into,” Alex said.
“I think you’re confusing a desire for secrecy and the cover of dark with a need for it to be dark to do magic. Magic works any time. And now they have a nice private house to work in,” Harold said.
“You know, now that you mention privacy and having a house, didn’t they have another house they were working in? I could have sworn one of the older photos posted to the forum was taken indoors,” Alex said.
“Well, you felt what I felt last night. Would you want the people responsible for it to keep doing whatever it was they did to bring that about in your house?” Harold said.
“Good point,” Alex said.
As they drove past the house again, Alex didn’t notice anything unusual about the house, or a particularly good way to get in except through the front door. Harold had looked intently at the house, but said nothing until they were past.
All he said was, “Go around the block again, please.”
Alex didn’t get any more information from the next trip past the house, but Harold seemed satisfied.
“They’re in there, and they’re working. Go around the block again, and then stop in front of the house,” Harold said.