Part 5: Medusa
That new girl stood in the pool again, right by the steps on the shallow end. She just started coming a few days ago. She looked maybe 10 years old, just entering the awkward, gangling stage of adolescence. The girl wore the same red bathing suit with white polka dots every time. She always came alone. In some personal ritual, she waded in just past the steps. She would bend her head face down into the water and let the ripples billow her hair. Then she would swing her head back in an arc. Soak head, swing back water, repeat.
Ruby stepped from her balcony back into her condo in time for Sandra Bay’s favorite reporter, handsome and sarcastic Som Pedersen. He looked as vibrant on screen as he had earlier that day in life and breath.
“Good evening, Sandra Bay! Coming to you with Five Alive News from Sandra Bay’s golden shoreline, I’m Som Pedersen. Today’s events have again astounded and delighted anthropologists gathered along the coast as new debris continues to wash in. Their findings have attracted attention from scientists of all disciplines around the world, with even more announcing plans to come to Sandra Bay this week…”
**Ruby zoned out and rehashed the week’s events. First, a major earthquake caused the worst tsunami ever recorded in the Indian Ocean. Four days later, the beach combers wading with metal detectors began finding a windfall of objects washing in. Several very lucky individuals discovered jewelry worth small fortunes. Others found strange relics. Some found junk.
Channel Five Alive installed Som Pedersen at the site later that day. Ruby watched more archeologists, more professors, more geologists, more government officials, and more media members cramming into what space could be converted into living quarters. The site had morphed into the strangest beach combing observatory with a live broadcast. **This part will be rewritten and expounded upon.**
The Starmind Foundation pressured their teams of engineers into staying in temporary quarters on the beach, but this, she refused to do. After enduring the most stressful month she could remember having in her entire life, Ruby demanded a day off. This was yesterday. She had gone back to work today and felt drained.
Ruby decided she needed a martini. That girl still dipped her head forward, swirled her hair, and slung it back. Ruby resisted the urge to open the sliding door and shout, “Don’t you ever get dizzy doing that?” Obviously, the girl did not. Ruby sipped her cocktail. That girl’s hair reminded her of snakes coiling then stretching. This disturbed her.
When she started her shift the next day, her friend was waiting to tell her, “THEY want to see you, Ruby,”
“I wonder what THEY want,” Ruby muttered.
“Well, it didn’t look like it was anything bad,” Callie reassured her.
Ruby entered a large conference room and was summarily invited to sit.
One of the administrators took charge. “Ruby, how would you like to have a little more time off? Two days each week? They can even be consecutive if you like. We are offering this incentive to anyone who will host some of the overflow of people staying here. Would you be interested?”
Ruby blinked. “Sure, Mike. Maybe. Whom did you have in mind to send over?”
Mike answered, “We were thinking Som Pedersen.”
“The reporter?” Ruby couldn’t hide her surprise. “I thought you would send over another engineer. Why him?”
Another administrator stepped in. “Ruby, not only are you very efficient, but you also work well with every personality.” Miranda managed a genuine looking smile. “You are one of our top choices to represent Starmind Foundation here in Sandra Bay.”
“I wouldn’t even know what to say to him,” Ruby contradicted.
Miranda answered bluntly, “Talk to him about anything but work. Keep him occupied. We are reimbursing you for amusement and entertainment expenses.”
“No,” Mike interrupted, “actually, we’re doing better than that! We are giving you an expense account. Keep it professional, and we can come to a pretty generous arrangement.”
Ruby’s eyes narrowed. “Why do you want him out of the way so badly?”
Mike told her, “We were only approved to contract for the Envirohome project. Our involvement in shore scavenging is off record, and we are keeping it that way.”
Ruby said, “Well, if you’re intending to move him into my condo today, I need to make some arrangements. That means I’m taking today off and tomorrow.”
Mike repeated, “Keep him occupied. We’ll call him in after you leave.”
Ruby rushed home. She got her phone call from her new house guest.
“Hi, Ruby, this is Som Pedersen. I’m supposed to crash with you for while? Hopefully not too long. Mike gave me your number to get directions.”
Two hours later, Ruby met her new roommate over lunch. In a diplomatic, if not charming move, Som brought an assortment of Thai takeout.
“I eat it every week. I grew up on awesome Thai food that my mom and grandma cooked.”
“Oh, Pedersen, though, that’s not a Thai name,” observed Ruby.
“Right. It’s Swedish.” He glanced out the glass door behind her. “There’s a girl out by the pool.”
Ruby turned around. Sure enough. Dip head, sling back hair, repeat. She told Som about how the girl’s enigmatic ritual started a month ago.
“I wonder why she’s absent from school so often. Homeschooler, maybe? Although, if that is the case, I don’t expect that her parents would just let her come down here by herself in the middle of the day so often. I think I’ll go down and talk to her.”
Ruby watched Som walk down to her. She heard him say, “Hi! Do you come to the pool a lot?”
“Everyday,” she heard the girl reply. This was certainly true.
“Cool! It must be a pretty awesome pool. My name’s Som.”
Ruby smiled when the girl replied, “Oh, that’s nice.” Nothing more. She wouldn’t even look up at Som.
He wasn’t deterred. “What’s your name?”
“Pretty name. Well, it was nice to meet you, Melissa, and I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
When Som walked in. “She seems ok, but weird. I can’t believe she doesn’t get dizzy and pass out.”
“That’s exactly what I’ve thought,” Ruby said.
“Her hair reminds me of snakes.”
“I’ve thought that, too,” Ruby confessed. “I wonder why she’s here.”
“I’m going to set up cameras,” Som decided.
The next day, Som covered events at Sandra Bay Excavation, while Ruby took her day off. She slept until almost noon.
Som knocked at the door. He plunked a heavenly smelling pizza on her counter. “Have you seen that girl again?”
“No,” Ruby answered.
“Do you know where she lives?” Som asked.
“No,” Ruby answered again. “I just know that I started seeing her a few days ago. I only see her at the pool, so I really don’t even know that she lives in my condo section. She could live in any of the other five sections.”
“Today, we are going to follow her when she leaves the pool,” Som announced.
Their evening progressed differently, however. Som answered a call and was off for action. He told Ruby, “Let’s go! There’s something happening at a condo development a mile up Nott Boulevard.”