You’ve followed the directions on the pamphlet to the tiny church on the corner. It has white-washed walls and a neat garden out the front. The beautiful stained-glass windows betray nothing about the interior. The roof has a tall spire made of a darker metal that’s mismatched with the rest of the cheerful building. Then you hear someone approach.
It’s Beryl. “You’ve come for the meeting.” She sounds surprised, as if she didn’t expect you to actually show up.
“My uncle wants to know more,” you say, deciding to avoid the subject of her sister for now. “What sort of healing is it?”
Beryl’s expression brightens. “Astrid Crane runs the sessions. She’s an incredible healer! She uses vibrational energy to clear your body’s toxins.”
Lang nods as if he understands what that means. “Yep. Can’t do any better than crystal quartz.”
“It’s amazing! Astrid uses a blue-light crystal discovered by an Amazonian tribe…”
She’s describing the bit of glowing blue crystal you found at the clock tower!
“Was your sister at these sessions?” you ask.
“Why?” Beryl’s expression closes off again.
You think fast. “My grandfather loved her art.”
“Bought a few pieces. Was sad to hear about it when we came into town.” Lang is so sincere you almost buy his act yourself.
Letting out a breath, Beryl says, “Dawn was… troubled. We were in Astrid’s group together. But then one day she just stopped going. Locked herself in the house.”
“She said crazy things about Astrid, that she was draining people, and planning to take over the town! We got into a fight… Sorry. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s all right, love,” says Lang, in a gentler tone. He pats her on the shoulder with a sun-browned hand. “We’ll be off. Unless you’re running a session now?”
Before she can answer someone calls out.
“Astrid!” responds Beryl in a nervous voice. There is a mixture of awe and fear on her face.
The newcomer is a tall woman, with sleek blonde hair and glowing tanned skin. She could belong on the cover of some fitness magazine. Her smile is dazzling. Next to Astrid Crane, Beryl seems… faded. “Greetings. How are we today? What are we discussing?” She puts a bony hand on Beryl’s shoulder. Her speech is strangely stilted, and formal, as if she’s not used to speaking English.
“Astrid, uh, I was just inviting these two to our group…”
“Our healing session has been cancelled,” the woman says in a brisk tone, “We have an important energy-raising ceremony at the amphitheatre, only open to experienced members. We’re not accepting new members. Perhaps tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow, then,” you say.
Astrid takes Beryl’s arm in a vice grip and drags her away. You hear: “Dear, why don’t you pick up the tuning equipment we needed from the Scout’s Hall?”
Cross Roads: Amphitheatre: Head for the amphitheatre and crash this shifty energy session? If Crane is planning something, you want to act now. You go down Whitmore Avenue, turn right onto Dean Drive, and cross the road to the amphitheatre at the lakefront.
Scout’s Hall: Tail Beryl to the Scout’s hall where she’s picking up the ‘equipment’? Maybe you can persuade Beryl to help you stop Crane. You go down Whitmore Avenue which is straight ahead of you and leads past the oval down to the lake. You go all the way to the end, turn right onto Dean Drive, and continue along the lakefront path until you reach the Scout’s Hall building.