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by Krystal McDermott
After we told her and she exploded at us, Sydney and Jarod disappeared on me. Typical men. Totally useless. Well, maybe not *totally*, but near enough. Anyway, they both slipped away while Krystal was staring out of the window and I sat and watched. I wasn't silly enough to believe that statement of hers, saying that she was calm. She was anything but, not that I was surprised. We sat there for about ten minutes in silence, before she looked at me. "You weren't kidding, right?"
"I'm sorry. This wasn't some sick joke or revenge. This is real."
"How?" It was a whisper.
"For that, you'll have to ask your mother."
She stood up and started to pace again. Not that I blamed her. "When are we going to find them? First Jarod says that he'll take me to them, then Miss Parker catches us, then Lyle chases us, and we end up here. And I still don't have any idea where they are. Do you?"
"I'm afraid not. I didn't ask and Jarod didn't offer the information. I would trust, though, that they aren't in Brisbane anymore or Jarod wouldn't be here. He'd be off rescuing them, despite the fact that Lyle's there. He's probably got some friend of his keeping an eye on them, maybe moving them around to keep them safe."
I'd thought about this for a while and that was the best conclusion I'd come up with. I'd talked myself into believing it, too, and I could tell that Krystal had accepted it to a certain extent. That must mean that either I'm really persuasive or else she's grasping at straws. Suddenly she drops, face first, onto the pile of pillows in front of her and started to sob, quietly at first and then a little louder. I move over and stroke her hair gently, but without saying anything. After a few seconds, the door opens slightly and Sydney sticks his head around it. I nod and he comes in. We'd organised this, suspecting what would happen. Of course, having Jarod simming it before we did it helped a lot. Not that he was much calmer than Krystal - it was eerie.
Anyway, Sydney comes in and I disappear. He's the trained psychiatrist, after all, and I don't want him to think that I'm treading on his toes. It's bad enough with Miss Parker mad at me. And besides, I need Sydney's help to complete my plan - preferably without him hating me at the same time!
My plan *is* developing - slowly. Every minute that I spend working on it reduces the confidence I have in it and makes the variables seem bigger. Don't you just love self-confidence? Of course, I have started a few parts of it, and they are falling together with remarkable ease, but it doesn't remove the nagging doubts. I rub my temples to remove the stress that's boiling up in there and bring up the files I need. All eight of them. This computer's so old that if I tried to put all of the info into one file, it would seize up and sulk. It does that a lot, even to the extent of refusing to print tables. Don't you just *love* technology? Sorry, I'm being really sarcastic but it's not totally intentional. Anyway, I intertwine my fingers and link them behind my head, lean back in my chair and read over the information that I've got. It's in German, because I know that the only other person in this house who can read it is Sydney, not that I'd *ever* suspect any of the others of trying to read my computer files. Much.
Anyway, a knock on the door (okay, who's surprised? If you were, then you haven't been paying attention!) and I turn around to see Miss Parker standing in the doorway. A closer look reveals the black circles under her eyes and the fact that her hands are trembling slightly. Good, it's working. No, don't ask what. It will all be revealed in good time. She comes in and sits down gingerly on the bed, as though it's going to shoot out from under her.
Ooh, she's grumpy too. Now is that what I hope it is, or is it normal? Hard to tell.
"What was all the..." she stops and yawns so widely that I worry she might dislocate her jaw. "...all the noise?"
"A bit of fun. Oh, and Krystal going off the deep end."
"Did she see you two kissing again or something?"
"I thought we called a truce on that topic."
Sorry? She's apologising? Wow, it really is working!
"Are you okay, Miss Parker? You don't look too good."
"I'm fine!" Snappish. As if that's unusual.
"Really? You look terrible!"
"Well...I haven't been sleeping too well. I'm probably just tired."
"Hmm, could be a lack of exercise. Maybe you should come to the gym with me in the morning."
"What time are you going?"
"Seven thirty. I have a class at nine."
She yawns again before nodding. "Okay, sure. Anything to wake me up."
"I'll call you, if you like. Or you can set the alarm."
"Call me. The alarm might wake everyone else up."
"Okay. Oh, and Jarod isn't coming."
"Why no..." she yawns again. "Oh, never mind." She gets up, wavering slightly, before walking to the door. "I'm going out for a walk ... try and clear my head."
"See you when you get back."
"Uh huh." She yawns again, nodding to emphasise her response. Yes, it's definitely working.
I turn back to the computer. Okay, point one can go. It's definitely working well. Point two and one of the hardest. I actually have to tell everyone my plan. This is probably a good time, as Miss Parker's walks tend to last upwards of an hour. And this time it could easily be more.
"Broots?" He looks up from his computer as I stick my head around the door.
He's not really seeing me, I can tell. Probably still caught up in the cyber-chat he's having.
"Hello? Earth to Broots, can you hear me?"
He reddens slightly. "Sorry. What's up?"
"Can you see how Krystal and Sydney and doing? Oh, and call Jarod for me. I think we need to start planning."
I pull my head back into the room and sit back down on the chair in front of my desk. It's a cliché but it's make or break time. If they don't like this plan, I'm sunk. I can't really think of another one that will work as well as this one - and this has taken long enough in research hours to make sure that everything fits.
Ten minutes. That's how long it took before everyone decided to rock up. Ever noticed how nervous you can get in ten minutes? Try it some time. It's great for skyrocketing stress levels! Sorry, there's that sarcasm again. Anyway, *eventually* they decide to make an appearance and scatter themselves around the room. Krystal still looks a little red around the eyes but I'll have to ignore it. This is important.
"Have you come up with anything?"
I take a deep breath, not that it usually helps. "Okay, can you please leave all comments until I've finished and just let me explain."
"That means you think we won't like it." It's Jarod, being shrewd. He knows me far too well.
"Which is why I only want to know at the end."
The nodding starts and, as always, takes a few seconds to stop while I try not to giggle. I don't know why silent nodding makes me want to laugh, but it does.
"Okay, I hope you'll all agree with me when I say that Jarod and I are probably the ones most in danger at this point."
Sydney is about to agree when Krystal speaks up. "I get Jarod but why you?"
"How long do people usually survive when they don't do what Lyle asks? And he told me to call him the moment I saw any of you."
"Well, I suppose..."
"Good. So, here's my plan..."
Okay, so they're skeptical. Hell, *I'm skeptical* but I can't come up with a better idea. All it needs is the Hall of Mirrors at Luna Park in Sydney, (the town, not the person) a few 'duplicates' and some good luck! What do I mean? Okay, my idea is for Jarod and I to fly to the US and convince the actors to come back Down Under to join up with the real people. Then we lure Lyle to the Hall of Mirrors at Luna Park (I know there's one in Melbourne but the one in Sydney is bigger and has other necessities in it) and confuse the heck out of him before drugging him with his own invention (remember that?) and reuniting him with his family so that they can all live happily ever after. Or something.
"But what about me? Aren't I in danger as well?"
"I thought about that, Krystal. But he is your father, and as far as I can judge, he's got a strong sense of loyalty."
"Always assuming he knew who I was..."
"And when he sees you with your mother, don't you think he's going to?"
"Besides," I'm warming up to the topic and this is the real clincher.
"Do you really want to be stuck on a plane with Jarod and I, all the way to LA, and back?"
I don't think she'll need a lot of time to consider that one. But I can tell that she's skeptical. Heck, I am if it comes to that but do you have a better plan?
"There's one problem you haven't mentioned."
"Ah, yes, well..." I was coming to that, honestly. But none of them are going to like my idea and I was kind of hoping they'd forget, and...
"Katherine, what are you planning?"
"It's not what I'm planning as much as what I'm doing now." I stare at my fingers until Broots becomes impatient.
"Well, what is it?"
"I slipped into her room a couple of weeks ago and started monitoring her sleep patterns. Then, a few days ago, I started to disturb them."
"Gee, I thought it made people grumpy and difficult to get on with. I guess we'll never know if it's working or not." I'll leave you to guess who said that - and it wasn't me!
"Oh, it's working, I can assure you. It's very effective."
"And how does that help? Miss Parker, in case you've forgotten, is an insomniac..."
"...who relies on pills to get her to sleep, I know. But, when they're sugar pills, they don't do much good."
"And how will an exhausted Miss Parker help us?"
"Well, the way she's going, we can probably, using the right tools, get her so deeply asleep that she doesn't even notice us leaving. And if we can keep her asleep..."
"...she won't have to know anything until we get back." I love a man who can follow my train of thought.
"Isn't that a little unkind?"
"Not really. There were other things I'd thought of, but they're all nastier than this one. Would you like me to list them?" I turn to the computer as I answer Broots' question.
"Uh, no. Not considering some of the things you came up with in your fics."
"I didn't think so."
"And how do we keep her asleep, while you're gone?"
"Yes. What's wrong with that?"
"It's an effective sleep-causing substance."
"And you think she'll just...take it?"
"I know she's not that gullible. But Mogadon just happens to dissolve in water and, if it was beside the bed in a glass..."
"How would you know she'd drink it?"
"I'll explain. First of all, Miss Parker is pretty well exhausted now. It won't take much to push her into that deep sleep that we want anyway. But there are a few things we can use to help a bit."
"Like chloroform, I suppose?"
"I thought of that. It's too obvious. This is more subtle. First, tomorrow night, we run her a nice hot bath. To that bath we add a mixture of essential oils which promote sleep. Secondly, I've been promising her a foot massage since she saw me giving Jarod one, a couple of days ago. So I use another mixture of essential oils, including Roman Chamomile and Lavender. Also, I slip into her pillow a tissue that contains a few drops of another mixture made up of Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage and Bergamot. Lastly, I have a few oil burners, of which I have about half a dozen, around her room burning different oils that do the same thing. I'd say that she'd be asleep in about two minutes, especially when combined with the lack of sleep she's been having."
"And how do you know she won't be allergic to any of them?"
"I've been testing it since you visited on that midnight errand, to share your discovery. Remember?"
I grin at Jarod, who said that just to rile me. "I bet you do. So anyway, I used this once on someone else and they woke up incredibly thirsty, because of the scents in the room. Also, they weren't awake enough to get up but went back to sleep again. That gives the Mogadon time to work. Keep her dosed up on it for about three days, by which time we should be back. If we ever come back," I can't help muttering under my breath. Hopefully no-one else heard. Now that everything's explained, I sit back and look at them. This is what it all depends on -their reaction. I just hope they don't think I'm *too* crazy.