Excerpt From “LOST OASIS” by R Lawson Gamble
After digging into steaming heaped plates of tangy soul-satisfying Mexican food, the friends leaned back in their chairs to contemplate the possibility of dessert. Zack sipped the dregs of his margarita and eyed his friend.
“What else did you learn today? I’ve heard nothing to suggest a reason for the urgent tone in your message requesting we meet.”
“Two things,” Eagle Feather said. “Chemehuevi runners can fly, and someone is anxious enough to protect the Ta’va Ma’ma’u sacred site to kill me.”
Zack stared. “You saved those tidbits for dessert just to startle me?”
“I have no designs on your emotional state,” Eagle Feather said. “I did not mention it before because we were discussing something else.”
“Okay, then.” Zack took a deep breath. “I think we should begin with whoever tried to kill you.”
Eagle Feather took Zack through the events in the Great Wash. In the end, he offered his conclusions. “It appears most likely to me either Dr. Mike told someone about our conversation or we were overheard in some way.”
Zack sighed. “Well, first of all, that was a very near thing and I am extremely happy to see you here. I won’t continue this line of thought because I know it makes you feel uncomfortable. Just saying. As to how this assassin knew to find you there…well, that is a puzzle.”
“I need now to tell you about flying runners,” Eagle Feather said. “Certain Chemehuevi runners were thought to have that ability. It appears to be a spiritual, dreamlike state to the Chemehuevi yet almost inseparable from reality. Before you comment, think about this: can a Skinwalker change into an animal? We have both dealt with that before. Is that concept very different?”
Zack shook a head heavy with doubt. “Both are an extreme challenge to my traditional belief system.”
“Yet many of you white people believe a man can walk on water, raise people from the dead, and return after death.”
“Okay, okay, we don’t need to revisit this debate. But you felt Dr. Mike challenged your tracking skills?”
“No, not directly. Her belief in a runner’s ability to fly offered another interpretation of the appearance of the scientist’s tracks, one I had not considered.”
“With good reason.”
Eagle Feather shrugged. “You say you do not wish to return to the debate.”
“No, no. Go on.”
“Her interpretation was my reason to go back. I did feel challenged.”
Zack was lost in thought for a moment. “You know I am not a believer in coincidence. But isn’t it possible someone else was concerned enough to prevent the discovery of something out there that they or their agents make intermittent trips to the area and just happened to see you?”
“It is possible, but you do not believe that.”
“No, I guess I don’t,” Zack said. He grinned at his friend. “Well, what do you think? You went back and looked at the prints. Did the scientist fly?”
“I did not have time to study more than two prints. I could not eliminate the possibility.”
Zack smiled at her. “I will have the flan,” he said.
She smiled as if he had done her a personal favor and looked at Eagle Feather, who shook his head.
“I have eaten too much already.”
Eagle Feather continued his thought after she left. “I think someone was in a nearby room, listening.”
“Was there another car out front? Did you hear noises? Do you remember anything to support that?”
“Nothing. But I can think of no other explanation.”
“Someone planted a bug in her house, maybe?”
“Why? Who knew I would go there?”
“Maybe it wasn’t just about you. Maybe someone wanted to know everything about Dr. Mike’s connection to the site.”
Zack paused when Maria returned with the flan. She watched him take a bite.
He looked up at her. “This flan is unbelievable.” He glanced at Eagle Feather.
“You made a mistake not ordering it.”
Maria walked away, looking very pleased.
Zack took several more bites before speaking. “What if there is a connection between the energy project and this remote oasis? That would explain why Scheidecker went out there in the first place. If someone wanted to know more about the site, wouldn’t this Dr. Mike be a good source? But what if she didn’t want to talk to a company exploiting the region, in her view? It certainly would not be beyond the capability of a huge corporation like EverSun Energy Company to bug her home.”
Eagle Feather gave a slow nod. “That is a good theory, White Man. Can we prove it?”
“Maybe you could ask Dr. Mike to allow the FBI to search her home for a bug?”
“I do not think she would permit it. Remember, she has no more reason to trust the FBI than to trust EverSun.”
“Even if you ask her?”
Eagle Feather shook his head. “As soon as I ask on behalf of the FBI, she will see me as one of you.”
Zack nodded. “Okay, let’s save that as a possible later option. Do you need to go back and make a more thorough examination of those footprints?”
“I do not think I would find anything different from what I already know. I would not be able to eliminate flying as a possibility. I also can not eliminate alien abduction as a possibility.”
Zack grinned. “We can agree on that one.” He stood. “I’m for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow I will find a geologist and ask him for his thoughts on that lost oasis site to see if we can connect it to the energy storage project.”
He left a large cash tip on the table.
Enjoyed this excerpt check out R. Lawson Gamble’s Lost Oasis, available now!
A little about the author: “R Lawson enjoys the Southwest, great stories, Native American lore, and scary paranormal possibilities, all of which find their way into the Zack Tolliver, FBI crime mystery series. He lives in Los Alamos among California’s Golden Hills.” (https://rlawson.allauthor.com).