Aliens harvest human hormones for their healing properties. - - - "On the fields of Revolution / Where England's traitor King runneth / Passion's dew is stolen / The undercroft keeps the salve of enemy wounds". The Charles River in Boston is named after Charles the First, the Traitor King of England. Bit of a stretch when you read the quatrain, except that three wealthy women had recently disappeared in Boston. Looks like I was headed to Bean Town. One of the women who had gone missing was Jennifer Moore, the sister of Renee Ashford. Ms. Ashford was offering a reward, $100,000 to the person who could find her sister and bring her home. Apparently Renee thought the cops didn't have enough incentive to launch a real man-hunt. Met Renee at her home as she was telling the press about the reward money. Posing as a representative for the missing sister's bank – I told Renee that the last time Jennifer used her credit card was to charge a room at the Whitmore Hotel. Renee already knew that – she wasn't interested. What she didn't know was that Jennifer hadn't used her own name – she'd registered as Christina Reynolds. It struck a cord with Renee. Christina was the heroine of the romance novels Renee Ashford was famous for writing. Renee didn't think the cops were interested in finding her sister because they expected Jennifer had been the target of a serial killer and were waiting for her body to turn up. Sounded pretty cynical to me. But for a novelist who'd made her fortune writing sweeping love epics, Renee was pretty hard – she told me it was a fact that nobody cares about anything in this world, the only way to stay afloat was to look out for yourself. Wasn't my way. But Renee didn't know that yet. Figured I could help her. We headed to the Whitmore. The cops had ordered the hotel to keep Jennifer's hotel bill info strictly confidential. Needed a diversion. While Renee played the distressed babe in a low-cut dress, I checked out the computer at the registration desk. Wasn't much there. Jennifer had made two phone calls and ordered a drink from room service. Renee thought that was odd, Jennifer didn't drink. But Christina did. The only thing that the real-life sister and the fictional character had in common was that they were both married to jerks. Started to wonder if there was more about Jennifer that Renee wasn't aware of. Tried the number Renee didn't recognize but it wasn't in service. Called Eddie who was in the trailer knee-deep in a Renee Ashford tome. Book was about romance, passion and sex – Eddie said he could relate. Wanted him to check and see if the disconnected number's billing address was charged for any other numbers. Seems as soon as the old number was disconnected a new number was established. Eddie gave it to me – that was my next lead. And Eddie had something else for me. The word "undercroft" referred to a vaulted chamber under a church. There were 483 churches in Boston. Maybe this wasn't getting any easier. Called the number Eddie gave me and heard the same music playing in the hotel lounge on the other end of the phone. The last person to speak to Jennifer was sitting right there in the hotel. The guy on the line said I had the wrong number. Told him I wanted to talk about the call Ms. Moore made to his phone. When we were finally face-to-face he told me I had the wrong guy and took off. Chased him through the stairwell and up onto the roof. The guy wasn't interested in answering my questions. He threw himself off the roof. Broke like Humpty Dumpty. And then, piece by piece, he put himself back together again. Bones snapped back together with a loud crack – it sent chills through my whole body – and not because it was creepy as hell. It was because he was Gua. Back in the hotel, Renee and I decided to check out Jennifer's hotel room. Found a strange vial in the bathroom. Didn't know what to make of it. And then Renee was gone. Eddie checked out the fluid in the vial. Looked like brain cells and some other type of cells he didn't recognize. The coroner had found the other missing bodies but not Jennifer's. Both victims had puncture wounds in their foreheads – like a needle had been inserted right into the pre-frontal cortex. Eddie expected the women had something injected in their brains. How would injecting something into human brains help the aliens? Didn't know. Wasn't sure I wanted to either. The guy on the roof should've died in the fall – Gua or not. Could the aliens have found a way to make themselves immortal? Eddie freaked, wanted to go pitch a tent on the beach and live out his last days in peace. But I wasn't giving up. They could not win. I wouldn't let them.moreless
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