Castling, Part 3

APRIL 8 2000

The public address speakers chattered away in Hebrew while Kilroy and Alice slung their carryon baggage over their shoulders, heading down Terminal 3. "Tel Aviv is a short ride," said Kilroy, "only about fifteen minutes. We can stop for lunch and maybe some shopping, if you like. From there we'll take the Beersheba line to Kiryat Gat, and cross over into the West Bank via the Shekef moshav…"

"What's a Shekef moshav?" asked Alice.

"Ah," answered Kilroy, "a moshav is a settlement, a village. Sort of a farming town, very small on the whole. Shekef is one that lies close to the West Bank, so we'll be able to pass into Palestinian territory without much trouble."

"And that's where the sword is?" asked Alice.

"Well," said Kilroy, "maybe. I've got a contact there I think I can rely on. Between the two of us we may be able to figure out where it is."

"And then you take it to Mister Carter," concluded Alice.

Kilroy nodded. "That's the general plan, scout. If my guess is correct, he'll be more than happy with that acquisition once I explain what its…" He stopped suddely, looking around at the layout of the place.

"Daddy?" said Alice, screwing up her eyebrows.

"Shit," exclaimed Kilroy, "it's not here! The rail station isn't built yet!" He closed his eyes and silently cursed himself. "I should have figured this sort of thing would start coming up eventually," he added. He'd dreaded this day as a man dreads the day of his death; the train station would have been there if not for his interference with the timeline. That meant that his historical record was no longer any good, because his own actions had begun to change the order of events. His vaunted advantage of being time-displaced was now useless.

He stood there in silence for a few moments. Alice looked at him expectantly, but said nothing. Finally, he looked down at her. "Come on," he said, "let's see if we can find a cab."

They sat outside the sidewalk cafe, Kilroy enjoying a Moroccan tajin while Alice poked away at her mufrum. "I wish we could stay a while," mused Alice. "I like Tel Aviv. It's a nice city."

Kilroy nodded, allowing his gaze to wander around the square. Across the street from them, the Dolphin Disco was closed until the evening, but on a nearby bench, an old man was sitting and reading a newspaper, dressed in attire befitting an English gentleman. Kilroy watched him for a long moment, then said to Alice, "Sweetie, listen carefully. I want you to turn around and look at something, but don't be obvious about it. There's a man sitting on the bench behind you. Don't look directly at him, but tell me if you've seen him before."

Alice blinked, then nodded. She opened up her shopping bag with intentional clumsiness, and out dropped the new Hello Kitty vinyl purse Kilroy had bought her. She stood up out of her chair to pick it up, glancing casually at the man as she did. When she sat down again, she nodded. "I saw him at the airport," she said.

"He's been following us," said Kilroy, "since at least the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, back in the U.S."

Alice swallowed hard. "Is he from the Foundation?"

"I don't know," Kilroy said. "Very likely, though."

"What are we going to do?" asked Alice.

"I have an idea," he said.

"Excuse me, sir?" said Alice. "Have you seen my daddy?"

The old looked up from his paper, slightly taken aback by the question. He hadn't expected the child to approach him directly, having watched her father get up from the table some minutes ago. After a moment, he replied: "I can't say I have, little girl. Where did you last see him?"

"He went to the bathroom," she answered, "and then he didn't come back. I looked in the bathroom for him but he wasn't there! Could you help me find the police station? My daddy always says to go there if I get lost."

"Well," said the old man, "that sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. I'm sure they'll be able to help. Would you like me to lead the way?"

"Yes, please," said Alice.

The old man nodded, folding up his paper under his arm. He began to walk down the street, motioning for Alice to follow, which she did.

As they passed an alleyway between the buildings, the old man was abruptly yanked into it by an unseen assailant. Kilroy held the old man by his throat up against a brick wall, choking him. Alice scurried into the alleyway with them, hiding behind her father.

"Let me explain something to you," said Kilroy firmly to the man. "I care more about my daughter than anything in the entire universe. I will die for her. I will kill for her. My daughter is going to have a good life, a fulfilling life, a life where she isn't constantly looking over her shoulder for the Boogieman."

The old man began to chuckle, even as his face began to turn blue. "No, she isn't," he wheezed. "She's going to be taken away and dissected like a frog, and you're going to stand there and watch, and you're not going to do a damn thing about it."

Kilroy's rage got the better of him, and he flung the man around and smashed his head into the wall behind them. The old man's spinal column fractured just below the base of the skull from the impact, and he slumped like a ragdoll.

"Bastard," spat Kilroy, dropping the dead body, "fucking bastard." He looked over at Alice, who was frozen still, looking up at her father with a mix of emotions. Kilroy panted sharply, then opened up the man's jacket, digging his wallet out of the inner pocket. His identification, from the UK, listed the name Wallace Barnes.

Behind the identification was a business card made of glass, engraved with the logo for Marshal, Carter and Dark.

"Ahhh, shit," said Kilroy.

The night sky was clear and crisp, and Elka Nachman didn't merely stroll down the street towards the Dolphin Disco — she strutted. Tonight was going to be a wild night; it was her 18th birthday, and she planned to celebrate her passing into the realm of legal alcoholism with decided fervor. Dressed to the nines in her flashiest club gear, she smiled at the occasional catcalls and whistles as she navigated the Tel Aviv streets to the nightclub.

She was almost to the discotheque when something caught her eye; a glint of light coming from an alley. She stopped for a moment, peering into the darkness, but she couldn't make it out. Hesitantly, she walked into the side street.

She almost gagged at the smell. The old man's body had been rotting in the crawlspace for some hours, and he stank like a garbage can. Elka very nearly yelped at the corpse, deeply startled by its presence.

Then she saw the glint again. It was coming from around the corpse's neck: a gleaming medallion, set with an impressive amount of diamonds along a thirteen-pointed star pattern, with a blood red gem in the center.

Elka felt an unusually strong urge to put it on.

Interlude: Things To Do In Tel Aviv When You're Dead
Continued in Part 4

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