Lipstick Message – May 30, 2012

“Three snowboarders strayed out of bounds at a ski resort in Oregon in the past two months.  They all died of exposure.  A fourth is missing and presumed dead – I’m telling you it’s Yuki!” Sharon stabbed her finger emphatically on the wall map.  A multicolored array of pins stretched from the tip of South America to northern reaches of Alaska, including one lonely pin in Cheboygan.

Lori studied the map, searching for patterns, trying to see it with fresh eyes.  The small cluster of pins in eastern Oregon did seem compelling, but no more so than half a dozen other similar clusters scattered across the western hemisphere.  She silently cursed Melinda for her impetuosity.

“Melly should never have gone after Yuki alone.”  Lori reached for her cold cup of coffee and absently backhanded it, knocking it over.

“Oh hell!” Lori exclaimed in dismay as the collection of newspaper clippings spread out on the desk quickly wicked the coffee from one end to the other.

“I’ll grab a towel,” Sharon said as she dashed into the bathroom.

Lori slid the few clippings that were still dry away from the danger zone and tried to salvage a few that weren’t too wet.

“Lori come here – hurry!”

She burst into the bathroom to see Sharon pointing at the mirror with a shaking finger.  At first nothing seemed unusual, but as she watched it seemed to shimmer.  Numbers began to appear in a hastily scrawled script that Lori knew well, but they seemed backward.  She snatched a makeup compact from the counter and turned her back to the mirror.

“Sharon, write this down:  45.34454, -121.7095”

“Those are coordinates!”  Sharon ran back to the map and searched the fine lines that indicated latitude, “Forty five, forty five…that’s North America.  I told you it was Mount Hood!”

—–

Melinda knelt by the stream and searched for that calm that would help her with what should have been a simple spell.  She’d fumbled through her purse looking for the tube of Sharon’s lipstick that she’d swiped on her way out of the apartment.  After a deep breath, she leaned down until she was nearly touching the water.  She whispered a few words to the stream that hadn’t been uttered in over a century.  Almost imperceptibly, the water seemed to slow.  Then quite suddenly there was utter silence as the flowing water simply stopped.

Using the lipstick, she scribbled a series of numbers on the surface of the water.  A slice of eternity seemed to pass before the stream sluggishly began flowing again.  The slowly building current began to carry away the numbers before Melinda realized how much trouble she was in.

Even though Melinda had released her spell, the stream stopped moving again.  The crystal clear water turned a cloudy white as a draft of breathtakingly cold air washed down the gully.  A small series of staccato booms sent jagged cracks racing through the ice as sudden expansion from the freeze heaved the streambed upward.

“Too close!  I’m not ready yet and she’s too close!”

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