Chapter Ninety Three

Twins are flying to LA from Palm Beach. I pack more clothes and send them along with Amaya, Chloe and Eloise, leaving today from Teterboro. They all arrive around noon, there will be an Escalade Platinum waiting for Amaya to get everyone to Shutters. Chloe is expected to be filming for six weeks, be a big bill for the hotel, but that’s on the studio. The twins suite is on us, if Amaya wanted bodyguards, the studio would have provided them, we prefer our own.
Janah, “I sent Cleaners, the body is in pieces in the Atlantic. Another group is searching the house for cash, I doubt she kept much there. Tomorrow appraisers are going through to estimate the value of art, furniture and jewelry.”
“Nobody asks why she disappears and is selling off everything?”
“There’s no she. Our on paper company owns the house. Our representative isn’t given a reason, just instructions to find buyers or auction the stuff inside and sell the house. All he knows is that the former owner decided to move to France and sold the company everything. Daria and Susan are transferring her liquid assets over the next couple of days. I’m dumping the forty million into the Society account. It pays operating expenses for the ranches, plus there are ongoing expenses for Society operations. We use Society assets for Shadow surveillance and cleaning the mess, it’s costly.”
We’re the Society now, we control the money and run the assets. The original investors have been repaid, even though they had no expectation of repayment. Some of our captures were so lucrative it didn’t seem right to keep the millions in seed money they gave the Epsteins to start up. It wasn’t venture capital, they only got their original contribution returned, but considering they expected nothing, it was a happy surprise. Janah, as Mrs. Pearson, keeps them generally informed on refocusings, the term we use for ‘adjusting’ child and spousal abusers. They have no knowledge of Shadows or our efforts in removing them. It isn’t in their best interest to know details of refocusings and definitely in their best interest to be ignorant of Shadows.
We’re going to Arizona tomorrow. Nikko and Zi can skip LA and fly out with us, stay a few days and go to San Francisco. When they return, we get to meet Lawan, their Thai delicacy. Oceane’s happy, her Olympic pool is waiting. Sloane is happy, her go kart awaits. Janah’s happy, Danika’s waiting for her. I’m happy everyone is happy.
We do dinner simple, order from Empire Szechwan, no cooking tonight. Girls are organizing and packing a few things. We have clothes at the Arizona house, don’t need to haul much out there. Cassie has nothing in Arizona, but considering her simple wardrobe, packing is almost a joke. Like Oceane, she doesn’t require a swimsuit. None of us suit up there, it’s all girls, and suits leave tan lines. We save bikinis for trips to St. Martins.
Blue Sky does what Blue Sky does, has us off on time and into Prescott on time, with a lovely full breakfast while we fly. I check in with Dasha in-flight.
Everyone settled in?
Da. Shutter hotel ees always gud. We haf vodka to celebrate arrival, then dinner downstairs. We are at first location, Scene ees being set up, Chloe will be een office of some kind. Sister haf patrol, nothing unusual or suspicious. Eloise haf drone overhead, no problems.
Good to hear, go back to work, I’ll check in later.

After omelets, hash browns, smoked salmon, and several cups of coffee, we land at the not famous or international Prescott City Airport. Danika is there in our SUV. Transfer the few bits of luggage and off we go.
Danika, “Cassandra, pleasure to meet you. Daphne, how did you stumble on a clone?”
“Blind coincidence. We have such a variety in the family, a new additions was bound to resemble one of us, this time it was me. Sloane may be the last original.”
“The house is set, we have Cassie in the guesthouse. I didn’t attempt to guess about furniture changes.”
“Amaya will play around with that later. We may have to build something, we had two guest rooms and now down to one. I don’t know, Amaya and Nikko will figure it out. It doesn’t matter if people come when we aren’t here, they can use any room. We may want to have Christmas with the parents, Black, Chan and families.”
Danika, “Su and I can double up and open up one room.”
“Yeah. Maybe put Cassie with Oceane, open two, if the twins take Eloise, that’s three. I don’t know, if everyone comes we need at least four rooms. I wonder, maybe have the parents for a few days, then Black, Chan and families on a different stretch.”
“Sounds more sensible, and manageable.”
We pull onto the private road, a half mile to the house.
Cassie, “This place is gigantic.”
“We like space. Oceane, Sloane, take Cassie on tour, get her set up in a room, one of the guest bedrooms, she can decide which. I’ll deal with lunch, everyone will want to hit the pool I’m guessing. Later we can play with the karts.”
Sloane hustles Oceane and Cassie off, Janah takes our small bag to our room, Danika and I to the kitchen.
“I have cold cuts, bread for sandwiches, condiments and extras, lettuce, tomato, pickle. And the chips you like, salt and pepper and the vinegar ones.”
“Thanks, saves me from thinking. Were you able to get the burgers for tonight?”
“Marinating in the fridge. For breakfast, fresh eggs, grits, biscuit batter or pancakes, bacon, cut fruit and yogurt.”
Danika and Su know our preferences, it’s so great to have on site help. No massive shopping trip on arrival, the place stays clean, aired out, beds freshly made, everything ready to enjoy.
“And we fired up the karts, the Formula Ones, Amaya’s Corvette gets regular use as do the twins’ dirt bikes. We’re getting pretty handy on them, I take one to my mountain hideout occasionally.”
“Speaking of which, Cassie is either out of tune with the world, or hearing a different tune.”
Danika, “What do you mean? What’s different?”
“She was raised, for a few years at least, by a Shadow. We have no idea where she came from or why he had her. We don’t get the impression he started any kind of training, we presume that was his intent. She had almost no contact with the world, he called her ‘girl.’ When she came with us, she had never seen TV, never been anyplace, her world was a backyard with a high privacy fence. She got limited human interaction from a housekeeper, but only when the Shadow wasn’t around. With us she clicked on the TV and watched whatever channel it happened to be on, glued, didn’t surf. If it was CNN, she watched CNN. Fortunately, we wiped out all the Jesus and shopping channels, she couldn’t have even stumbled on those.”
“And what’s she do otherwise?”
“Kind of bonded with Sloane and Oceane, she likes swimming well enough, not like Oceane but she goes regularly. Good thing, otherwise she would be in her room, often doing nothing, just sitting.”
“Perhaps contemplative.”
“She likes to sit in Tan’s hut, she catches a vibe there.”
“Ah, a clue. What do Chloe and Zi say?”
“Aura is serene as a leaf on a slow stream, ride the glide.”
“You haven’t talked to her about it.”
“We haven’t explored it because we don’t think she’s caught on to what it is, we aren’t even sure the it is anything. After she settles in, have a talk, see what opens up.”
Danika smiles, “Janah doesn’t collect the ordinary, does she?”
“Worked out that way so far.”

Chapter Ninety Four

So nice here, no icy rain, it does snow occasionally, but not like Canada, no traffic unless you count racing karts around the track. Cassie, the epitome of focus, is a kart terror with a tendency to spin out. The concept of slowing in turns is foreign to her. They have roll bars of course, but karts are so low to the ground and the axle track is wide, a rollover would take a serious crash.
Sloane, “Mom, Cassie is impossible. She weighs, like, nothing. She should have a weight handicap or nobody will ever beat her.”
“Well, she’ll grow. I notice it didn’t trouble you when you had the weight advantage.”
Sloane grins, “I was hoping you wouldn’t think of that.”
“And you don’t mention it, what does it hurt to let her think she’s a natural? She’ll figure out that weight matters eventually.”
“She should figure out how to tap the brake once in a while. Maybe not, I beat her when she loses it.”
“See, knowing how to work the track is also part of it, besides, what’s the competition for? We aren’t giving out trophies.”
“I’m gonna talk Daria into juicing up my kart.”
“And I’m gonna tell Daria she’ll do no such thing. They do sixty now, a flipping go kart. You want faster, move to the Formula Ones.”
“Yeah! Then Cassie will never catch me.”
“The two are never on the track at the same time.”
Sloane grins again, “Yanking your chain mom, gotta go, I’m taking her on a dirt bike ride. You don’t care if we skip helmets, right?”
“No, brain dead sounds like fun, I always wanted my kids in a persistent vegetative state.”
She races off, I see her tear out of the garage, more like a hangar with all the vehicles. Both helmeted, wrist, elbow and shin pads. Cassie on the seat in front of Sloane, bouncing along, she looks like one of those dashboard bobble head things. Around the dirt, then up the mountain.
Janah, “You must be the world’s bravest mom. Both your kids on the same dirt bike, and Sloane driving?”
“Sloane is part wolf, she can balance on a pinhead. See stuff down the road, or off road, most people can’t. They have top of the line helmets, knee and elbow protectors, clunky boots. Let’s do something inspiring, like watch Oceane in the pool.”
Sitting at one of the patio tables, glasses of iced tea, Oceane diving. After a dive, she swims to the shallow end of the pool, affording us the pleasure of watching her walk slowly back to the boards. She also thoughtfully takes her time on the end of the board, allowing us to further admire perfect form.
Janah, “She so sylph she’s scary.”
“Drives Amaya crazy, the idea anyone is as hot as she is. I’m just happy to get to appreciate the differences. I recall the distant past when I was top of the charts.”
“You get your unfair share of attention. I must say, if I had to choose on legs alone, I could never make up my mind. All three of you have exquisite legs, unique to each of you. I’m happy to enjoy the variety.”
Oceane does a front triple off the high board.
“She’s having too much fun, time to dive,” I strip off jeans and top, not wearing anything else, hit the one meter board to loosen up, a simple straight dive and a lap down the pool. In a burst of wretched excess, we built it the full fifty meters. I exit and walk back down to the deep end. Two more dives from the one meter, swim, walk. Danika joins Janah, now they have twice as much visual entertainment.
I do a full flip, then flip twist, half gainer and full gainer off the high board without killing myself. I don’t land as cleanly as Oceane, Chinese Olympians don’t hit the water as cleanly as Oceane.
I hear the dirt bike. Sloane and Cassie walk up a cloud of dust trails them.
Sloane looks me and Oceane over, “Shameless.”
“I like to think of it as natural.”
Cassie, “Swim,” she strips, pile of dirt covered jeans, shirt, boots, helmet stack on the deck.
“Shower the dirt off before you get in the pool, your face is streaked.”
We have two outdoor showers, get the chlorine out when we’re done, or get the dirt off from riding or racing before it winds up in the water. Bad enough we have to have a gigantic tarp system, when the wind blows, the desert wants in the pool. At least it’s automated.
Danika, “She’s not shy.”
“No, she came that way. The Shadow’s doing perhaps.”
Oceane, “I was with Shadows, they wanted me undressed all the time. I was for sex.”
Danika knows this, but is a bit surprised by her saying it so plainly.
“Oceane is fully aware, unlike Cassie, of what happened to her. She handled it by taking herself someplace else. Now she is frequently someplace else.”
Cassie drips by, hops in the pool, laps up and down. I take a few more dives, swim alongside in between. She goes steady for a half hour, then out. Sloane is waiting with a big towel, wraps her up and pours a glass of tea.
“I need to get those clothes in the wash, you too Sloane, dirt bike piggies.”
Sloane, “I’ll do it,” she picks up Cassie’s stuff and hauls it to the laundry room. Undresses herself outside the door, and shakes the dust off things.
Sloane is a girl with boy parts, so she wears underwear. She isn’t embarrassed about it, but she’s usually only naked by herself or with Oceane. I’ve seen her of course, but I’m good at ignoring and she doesn’t try to cover up around me. Stripped to her skivvies, she takes the pile inside, I hear the hiss of water filling one of the machines.
Danika, “Sloane is quite well adjusted, is she going to transition?”
“She decided to hold off. One of the girls finds it fascinating, and has put it to its intended use, uses.”
Danika, “How delightful, for both of them. I will not ask who, that is really none of my business.”
Oceane has a mysterious smile, she gets up, “Sloane will be showering,” she walks off to the house.
Danika, “Please note, I did not ask who.”
Janah giggles, “Oceane doesn’t care who knows what or who doesn’t know what. She is oblivious to opinions, like the twins. I don’t think she’s a sociopath though.”
Danika, “Are you saying the twins are? Or am I conclusion jumping?”
“They are, we give them plenty of outlets, they don’t have to take it out on strangers, or us. Actually, they are fiercely loyal to the family. If we approve of someone, they accept it. They won’t be pals, but they would never hurt them. Men used to be an issue, but they like Mini and Chuck at the diner, Black and Chan. Chan worked with them on qi. Amaya taught them to fake sociability, that helped. They got favorable feedback, and people, particularly New Yorkers, like their direct no nonsense. Perhaps we can say former sociopaths, with an asterisk.”
“But Oceane isn’t like that.”
Janah, “Fact is, we don’t know. She’s never been in a position where a violent or even manipulative nature emerged. She’s allowed to live precisely on her own terms, we require nothing from her, she spends her days as she wishes. She could have anything she wants, she seldom asks for things. As long as she can swim and draw, she’s happy. Well, she has a hyper-active libido, but that applies to all of us.”
Su joins us, “I fell off the sex train. No, that’s wrong, I was never on the sex train,” she laughs, “it never occurred to me to get a ticket.”
Janah, “About one percent of the population is asexual, in America, you’re in a crowd of three million.”
Su smiles, “Good to have company. Cassie is adorable, she is reticent I notice.”
“What else?” Su is a Sensitive, she will pick up Cassie’s vibe.
“Calm, not hyper, she floats, kind of like Oceane. There’s a difference, I haven’t put my finger on it yet.”
“Neither have we. They don’t have straightforward conversations. Oceane will say whatever is in her head, which may or may not be relevant to the topic at hand. Cassie doesn’t say much at all.”
Su, “It isn’t because she’s afraid or unhappy, I get no sense of either. You might send her up the mountain with Danika.”
“Yes, we talked about that. Letting her adjust to the new territory first. Sloane looks out for her, and her energy forces Cassie to do stuff. Not force, encourages, she goes along. It’s like it doesn’t occur to her. Once she was introduced to swimming, she goes if she sees Oceane going. She’s learning the karts and the dirt bike, but she won’t initiate the activity on her own. She’s absolutely passive, not incapable, she drives the karts full out. But if Sloane never brought it up, she would never drive one again.”
Su, “The wonder of them, Oceane and Cassie. I think they are instructive, but I haven’t figured out the lesson. I will meditate on it, two living koans to knock me off linear thinking.”
Janah, “I hadn’t thought of it, our brain twister sisters. Thank you Su, you’ve popped open the possibility of insight, if we are open enough to see it.”

Chapter Ninety Five

Our days are active, full breakfasts, light lunch, long dinners. We’re three weeks in and Cassie is on her own bike, we bought one more her size. She and Sloane race off after breakfast, zip around the mountain, Cassie dumps it a few times, but she climbs back on and keeps going. Janah and I spend time doing qi healing for scrapes and sprains.
Danika, “The qi you have learned to apply, amazing. Cuts and bruises disappear. Cassie and Sloane look brand new every day.”
“Tan gave us much of it. I don’t want the girls to get hurt, but at least Janah and I get to practice regularly. We remind them that we can’t qi a broken bone away overnight. I’m not sure it does any good. I see them sailing through the air coming down the hill.”
Danika, “I recall a certain gung fu student flying around heedless of her body, what was her name again?”
“Point taken, and the reason I lecture the girls but don’t restrict their rides. I could keep them off the steeps and down on the flats, but I don’t. We don’t do limitation.”
After lunch and a mandatory lie around, Oceane and Cassie swim, she’s teaching Cassandra to dive. Sloane is out there with them. Her dives aren’t pretty, but she can leap so far off the board and the deep only runs thirty feet from it. I put four red buoys, two ten feet and two five feet from the end of the twelve foot depth. She hits the water on an angle when she dives for distance, not straight in. So far she hasn’t hit bottom.
“Danika, when we leave this year, drain the pool and put a very visible red line across the bottom, put two, where the buoys are now. She’s learned how far she can go, still, I’d like a second stand out reminder.”
“I never thought anyone could springboard such a distance, like a self powered missile.”
“The wolf gave her his ability to leap, and nimbleness, she can scurry across a narrow wet log and not miss a step. Scoots up the mountain in Canada so fast she’s out of sight in seconds.”
Dasha’s online, Dahfoney, we are watching Chloe making movie. She ees een mental hospital faking crazy girl. Then she ees talking to patient wiz illusion and haf to figure out what part ees truth.
She’s not played a role like this before, how’s she adapting?
Eemaya makes Vesnushki rehearse every night, we also read other parts. Vesnushki must haf every look, tone, word peerfect. How she holds head, raises hand, walks or sits. Would drive anyone but Chloe crazy.
The director happy?
Directing person ees shake head. Every scene wiz Chloe, one take. He says she ees most prepared actor ever.
He hasn’t seen her other projects, Amaya is always like that. No problems?
Only one stalker peerson, came to location, follow to hotel, een lobby. Sister and I feex.

Uh oh, Fix? Fix how?
He ees een hospital wiz broken things. Not anymore stalk.
And they haven’t connected you?
Cops ask question, they find out we are bodyguard for Vesnushki and Eemaya. Stalking man doesn’t anyway see us. Sister took his mind, he tells cops he was beat up by fat black person for his money. We took his wallet and watch, threw them away.
Good. If there’s any problem, call me, we’ll get it handled.
Da, okay, but no problem. Eemaya charms cops, Chloe geeves autograph picture, they don’t care about beat up stalker anyway. They say he just got dessert.

I laugh, she means just desserts, I like it her way.
Good job, I’ll tell the others you’re looking out for everyone. Eloise having fun?
Da, Eloise ees take great shots from drone, Chloe ees beautiful. You will check later Dahfoney,
 she clicks off, got my update, she’s gone.
At tea, I retell Dasha’s story.
Su, “Oh my, a stalker, did he do anything but hang around?”
“Not sure, Dasha tends to capsulize her stories. It wouldn’t take much, the twins are happy to be preemptive. He’s lucky.”
Su, “Lucky? He’s in the hospital.”
“Lucky to be alive. When it comes to Chloe, don’t even.”
Sloane, “Good for them, wish I’d been there.”
“Bite marks would have given you away.”
She grins, pointed incisors and molars gleam.
Danika, “When did that happen?”
Sloane, “I got a transmission from a wolf.”
“I know that, I didn’t realize you got carnivore teeth in the bargain.”
“Yeah, an extra gift, these jaws can snap a baseball bat. Have to be careful when I kiss Oceane.”
“I should hope so.”
Oceane, “My tongue feels spikes,” she gets up, smiles at Sloane, “I will feel spikes now.”
Sloane follows, “Thank you wolf, grrrrr,” they disappear to Ocean’s room.
Cassandra, “Sloane has a penis,” then nothing, she goes off to her room.
Janah, “See anything Su?”
“Nothing unusual, her normal sea blue-green, I took it as a statement of fact, she didn’t have any colors that indicated anything else, not interest or curiosity.”
“You didn’t say it, but don’t be surprised that she knows. Cassie is in Sloane’s room a lot. She could easily go in when Sloane was in the shower or just out. Sloane thinks of herself as a girl, another girl in the room doesn’t mean much. Probably be more cautious if it was a boy. She won’t go around the house nude like Oceane or Cassandra, but in her room, well, it’s her room.”
Danika, “Apparently didn’t freak Cassie.”
Janah, “Cassie doesn’t freak.”
Danika, “I may go to the mountain tonight, may I ask Cassandra if she wants to go?”
“No, she won’t answer. You have to tell her, not like an order. Just say, let’s spend the night on the mountain, I know a cool place. Better if I’m there, to grant permission. She would be cautious otherwise.”
“Good, you’ve gotten through to her not to just follow instructions from anyone.”
“Janah did that, a bit of open dialogue and a bit of mental work. Janah told her what she was doing, help her doubt what strangers say, particularly when it involves going someplace. Otherwise, she’d just go along.”
Danika, “She doesn’t make decisions, look for options, have choices or preferences?”
“Almost never. Zi and Chloe read her when Amaya gave her name choices. Cassandra got the brightest response, she didn’t choose verbally, it was subconscious. Look at how she rides the bike or drives the kart. One speed, flat out. If you ask her how she decides where to make the bike go, she’d just look at you, she doesn’t know. Her body and brain do it without the interference of conscious thought. We learned to do the same thing in gung fu, Oceane does it when she dives, Cassandra does it with everything.”
Danika, “Ah, of course! It seems obvious when you explain it. Shall we go tell her about the mountain?”
Cassie’s on her bed, Netflix is streaming something. She doesn’t choose movies either, just clicks on anything Netflix suggests. She looks up at me.
“Cassie, tonight go with Danika, she has a special place on the mountain, kind of like Tan’s hut in the temple, you remember?”
“After dinner, it might be a couple of hours, or longer if you’re good with it. You can stay all night or return anytime.”
Eyes return to the movie, nice chatting with you Cass.
Danika goes to her room, also in the guesthouse. Which isn’t so much a guesthouse now, Cassie is family, Danika and Su close enough. Guesthouse is a term of convenience.
Dinner rolls around, not much of a cocktail hour now, three Shaolin and Cassie who don’t drink, Sloane, Janah and Oceane have wine. Tonight, it’s chicken, baked potato and vegetables. I do the chicken and vegetables on the mega-grill outside, the weather’s good, we opt to eat by the pool.
As Sloane and I clean up, I tell Cassie, “Brush teeth, wear your boots, jeans, a sweat shirt and take a jacket and hat. It get’s chilly up there.”
Danika, “Come with me Cassandra, we’ll both get ready.”
To their rooms, Danika will make sure she has enough warm stuff, she always takes a backpack with nibbles and bottled water.
Sloane, “Should I go?”
“Good thought, I think Danika can take care of her. She is a Shaolin master.”
“Okay, doesn’t hurt my feelings to sleep in my big warm bed. I’m gonna watch TV for a while, right in that very bed. I’m not going to have trouble sleeping, all the diving, then Oceane had her way with me for an hour.”
I laugh, “Tough life isn’t it?”
“I may be the happiest girl on the planet, for sure the happiest girl with a dick.”

Chapter Ninety Six

Bedtime, in our room, Janah’s lying lusciously nude, “Strap up and do me.”
“Front or back?”
There are different toys for each.
When she wants both, it’s always start from the rear and wind up in front. By the time I finish, I’m tingling. Our toys vibrate against the wearer, and the one for front door sex actually goes in me too. Not as deep as the recipient, but in. There are two kinds of orgasms, clitoral, and vaginal. With the toy variety, I get both. Janah gets a third, anal gets her off too.
Janah, “Nice work, legs. I wonder how many orgasms you’ve given me?”
“Not enough, more to come.”
“And if I add all my other girl orgasms, sheesh, plus self stim. How did we ever get anything else done?”
“We don’t age, we have time and time again. Wonder what will happen to Cassie?”
“She takes our proteins or she doesn’t.”
“Yeah, but she can’t just decide like the rest of us.”
“We find out the same way she didn’t pick a name, offer her the options and see which one lights her up.”
“When? Can’t ask her now, she’ll be nine forever, or ten soon enough.”
“What if she wants to be ten?”
“Susan will develop an aging program, there’s stuff out there now. Put in her photo and advance a year at a time. Chloe and Zi can read her. It’ll be unconscious self reporting, like getting glasses but subconsciously.”
“What are you talking about? Oh, you mean when they flip the lenses around in the machine to find out which one is clearest.”
“Yes. She looks at herself a year older, two years, on up. Her aura will tell the Sensitives which one she prefers.”
“That’s slick, Amaya will want to know how she would look older. Maybe not, no, she’ll refuse and insist she couldn’t possibly look better even one minute older.”
“Guess we’ll find out. I don’t want to know, I might be sorry we didn’t quit at fifteen.”
“We didn’t have the option, neither did Nikko. It was only after Miyako discovered the proteins in our blood that family members get to choose. Zi was already twenty when she came to us. The others all chose teen something.”
“Speaking of, I’m a little concerned about Chloe.”
“You mean it’s going to occur to someone that she looks perpetually six or seventeen.”
“Yeah, she’s out there a lot more than we are. The public will assume makeup, but the producers, directors and other actors know better. The studio people already blink when Amaya walks in. They think they’re negotiating with a sixteen year old girl, one wanted to know who signs contracts since she couldn’t possibly be old enough.”
“That was funny, she got carded at a contract negotiation. Her lawyer, Tricia, said she could barely keep a straight face. She told them Amaya has power of attorney on all of Chloe’s business affairs, cosmetics, fashion, modeling and films. That Chloe is a hundred million dollar a year industry and Amaya is signatory on all of it.”
“On the original point, Chloe’s public face, there’s nothing to do. She’ll get Lena Horne or Halle Berry excused for a while, they looked young for a long time. The only other way to avoid the problem is obvious.”
“Just because someone asks a question doesn’t mean you have to answer it.”
“Precisely, ignore it as if it was never asked. Politicians do it all the time, doesn’t appear to affect their reelections, eighty percent of the bozos sail right back in.”
Janah settles in against me and falls away, I channel surf for a while, then yawn, click off and sleep.
I’m up early, thinking of Cassandra. Check her room, she didn’t come home, so she either got eaten by wolves or stayed up the mountain all night. The cave isn’t that far up, less than a half mile. Our house is at the back of the property, close to the mountain. We own it all the way to the other side, gives us privacy, the part behind that is national forest. Course we never know when the politicians will sell that out. If they do, it has to go to bid, and we’ll bid highest. Or Janah makes a few phone calls and stops the sale in its tracks.
Coffee on the patio, Oceane comes along and I make her tea, then inside to start breakfast. Today biscuits, scrambled with cream cheese, grits. That’s sufficient, perhaps thick ham slices grilled with sugar free cherry pie filling on top.
Sloane shows, kisses me, fixes herself coffee. Su comes in, I know she’s an early riser, must have been in meditation or the garden.
Garden, she has a basket of oranges and lemons.
“I’ll do orange juice.”
She pulls out the juicer, I slide biscuits in the oven, heat the stove grill and crack eggs. Grits already simmering in the pot.
“Sloane, get the butter and other stuff out please, set the table and go shake Janah.”
I hear, Janah’s already shaken, be out in a sec.
“Never mind, she’s coming.”
I hear the door slide, Cassie and Danika walk in.
“We’re hungry, sat up until something after midnight. We came down and showered, ready for food.”
Cassie pours a green tea, then outside with Sloane.
“Have fun?”
Danika, “She’s a mystic.”
I stop stirring eggs, look to Danika, “Say what?”
“A mystic, you have Tan Two, a whole lot more adorable.”
“Good gravy.”
Janah comes in, “You catch that?”
Janah, “Yes, interesting. She actually say anything? How did you decide?”
“Bobcat. He came for a visit. When I’m up there, I see them but they keep a wide berth. This one came to the entrance, I nearly fibrillated when he went straight to Cassie, he was limping. She opened her palm, he lay down next to her, he had a bleeding paw. She took it, studied it for a time, held it in her little hand and he went to sleep.”
Janah, “Stay all night?”
“Yes, she tucked her jacket under her head and nodded off. I watched for a while. It’s dark in there, I didn’t have a fire, but the moon was full. I went to deep meditation until sunup. When I moved, he blinked, stood and stretched, licked Cassie on the cheek with a growl and walked away, no limp.”
“She didn’t say anything of course.”
“No, Daphne taught me to ask, so I did. How did you fix the animal? She said, he was bleeding, a cut. I fixed it while he slept. I asked how did you fix it? She said, I told it to stop bleeding.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s what I got.”
Janah, “I need tea, and food.”
Oceane comes in with Cassie, Sloane fixes them up, eggs, biscuit, grits, slice of ham for Cassie. She cuts it and gives half to Oceane. Oceane eats meat, but not red meat, only chicken or fish. I hadn’t thought of ham one way or the other. She’s eating it though.
Oceane, “Sweet, warm fruit.”
Cherries do the trick. She likes hot cherry pie filling on chicken. We have that on ham as well, but it’s been a while.
“Cassie, did you enjoy meeting the bobcat?”
“He needed help, I helped.”
“Danika said he thanked you with a lick on your cheek.”
She plops a spoon of grits in her mouth, I failed to ask a question, I fail to get a reply.
Janah laughs, “You need to follow your own rule.”
Su, “Do you like the cave, Cassandra?”
“It shakes there.”
“What shakes?”
“The air.”
“You feel a vibration, is that it?”
“Vibration, yes.”
Su, “She feels the energy of it, like in Tan’s hut. You didn’t mention it to her in advance?”
Danika, “No, she discovered it on her own.”
Janah, “I need to spend an evening up there, Tan’s hut was good for a booster, the cave must be the same. We always credited the vibe to Tan. We had it wrong, the energy was there, he put the hut where he felt it most strongly.”
Danika, “Energy is everywhere, but usually faint, there are spots where it concentrates, like a watering hole in the desert.”
Janah, “Magnetism. Earth is a giant magnet, a liquid ball of iron in the middle. Spots called vortexes, or vortices, either is correct, are concentrations of magnetism. Arizona has several well known ones in Sedona, Superstition mountain and the meteor crater in Winslow. People make all sorts of psychic claims, healing, the usual mishmash of anything tagged spiritual.”
“We do weird stuff with the energy.”
Janah, “Yes, it’s there. We spent a lot of time, tedious nothing time, accessing it, and letting it access us. I doubt much happens standing on a rock in Sedona.”
“Then explain Cassandra.”
Janah laughs again, “I can’t. It took me years, Tan said it took him years, as did the qi masters. A nine year old that has near zero experience…wait, duh, there’s an unknown block of time.”
Danika, “When? Oh, you mean the time she was with the Shadow.”
“Yes, we don’t know what happened then, but we do know she was on her own a lot, no TV or internet distraction, didn’t go anywhere. When she did interact, it was with the Shadow or a part time housekeeper.”
“From the time he took her until she was seven or eight, her brain wasn’t filled up with normal stuff. No school, no favorite music, no kid activities.”
Su, “And now she doesn’t initiate conversation, or know to reply unless she’s asked a direct question, has no opinion, at least none she verbalizes. We know she likes some things more than others, like the name she chose. She’s fond of swimming, and machines.”
Janah, “She’s temperamentally calm, preternaturally so, like Oceane. That she likes Oceane makes sense, but she also likes Sloane, who is anything but calm. I think her connection with the energy comes from not doing. She is what Nisargadatta calls the Supreme, in part because she never formed a self image. She has no fear or desire, the two impediments to realization.”
Danika, “Oh my, how obvious it is. Her young life was a version of what we teach, drop your idea of you as a doer, of a conceptualized world, of a person. A gnani with no idea what a gnani is, Tathāgata, one who has thus gone.”
A gnani (pronounced yahnee) is a realized being who leads others to their own realization, Tathāgata is a name Buddha ascribed to himself in the Pāli Canon. A realized person is one who understands that all is one, there is no separation, there is no person, only one universe, one ground which is perfect. Janah and I think of no separation not as everything is one thing, but that everything is connected. Cause and effect are illusion, everything is the cause and effect of everything.
Janah, “Each one ripens differently, there is no realization without ripening. She was inadvertently given nothing to do, no distraction, not allowed a personality. Out of the Shadow’s game and his amusement, a being emerged that he would have hated had he understood. How wonderful the universe, how little we grasp.”
So she is. Girls go off to whatever, I decide a bit of sun is in order, strip and stretch out on a patio recliner. I hear the whine of karts, Sloane and Cass are into their morning ritual, kart then dirt bike.
Oceane comes along deliciously apparel free and takes the recliner next to me. Janah pulls up a chair, takes off her t-shirt and sits, “View’s improved out here.”
Danika passes by, “Three naked nymphs, such a pleasure to have the family here, well, some of it. I’m going to the store with Su, we need a few staples. Anything for you?”
“I think we’re good, please check the mail box place, Dasha has a tendency to ship things and not mention it.”
“Will do, I should be an hour, hour and a half,” she leans in for a kiss from each of us, tastes sweet and minty, she takes a few beats longer with Oceane.
Oceane, “Come to me after lunch.”
Danika, “My pleasure,” she goes off smiling.

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