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The reponse had been encouraging, so here is a new short...Rex is up to some new tricks. If this is well accepted, I'll work the darft pieces up into a full episode & drop it on Amazon

A Horse is a Horse…
The package was now deep enough to be lost in the backscatter from the bottom. In another minute, it should be resting in a full 90 meters of water, much better than I'd hoped for in the beginning.

It had taken more than an hour to find even this much depth. Despite the assurance of an official Government issued chart for the area, the bottom rarely dropped deeper than 30 meters, not nearly enough for what I needed. Happily, as I watched the sounder chart, the bottom fell away to over 90 meters before ramping back up just as abruptly. The hole, or rather, an offset trench ran not quite a mile long and just over 150 meters wide.

The how or why didn't matter. I put the boat on station keeping and dumped the package. There was a moment where it looked like it might float despite the chains and lead weights I had wrapped around the damn thing in before putting it overboard. It sank out of sight, leaving a small trail of bubbles. Perhaps the tarp had trapped some air, slowing the thing down. No matter, by now it was safely and deeply underwater. Sadly, the package had showed up, quite literally on my doorstep with no notice and the instructions were very specific for disposal. I really am going to have to get out of this business.

Before I could enjoy a second of peace, the proximity alarm sounded. Something small was on an intercept course and getting closer. I took a moment to sigh, and stowed the instrument package back in the cabinet. Now the cabin looked just as an ordinary cabin should look. Once back in the cockpit, I shut and sealed the companionway hatch. One couldn't be too careful, after all.

After shutting down the station keeping gear, I picked up a set of optics to see who the visitors might be. I could depart at speed, but that wasn't always the best course of action. Sure enough, my luck was still heading downhill; the approaching boat sported a set of flashing red and blue lights. Rather than curse, I shut down the engines and waited, this was certain to be entertaining, if nothing else…

The boat got close enough that I could see the marking for the Harbor Patrol, just exactly the folks I had wanted to avoid. If I'd had enough time, I could have gone past the three mile limit or even further. Now I had to deal with these…meaningful Public Servants. No doubt armed to the teeth and all ready to go ballistic at the least provocation.

By now, the boat had pulled up alongside of mine. There were two uniforms, one at the helm, the other, older one, was clutching the Bimini frame for all he was worth. I decided to let them have first serve.

"What are you doing out here?" A demand, and with it an attitude. Maybe entertainment might not be something had tonight.

"And good evening to you. Would you care to identify yourself?"

The reply was swift and harsh. "NO. I asked you a question. What are you doing out here!"

I just shook my head. Pointing to the fishing rod siting in the stern holder I said, "Well, it should be obvious to even the most casual observer. But since you seem to be less than observant… I was sitting here trying to fish. Now that you've come up making a racket, I'm just sitting here."

A blinding bright light bathed my boat in harsh white light. The patrol boat was smaller than my vessel, for this reason, the light flashed up and down as the swell became more pronounced.

"At this point, I have to ask what this is all about. So, do you have a reason to come all the way out here to spoil my fishing…? If so, I'd like to hear it."

That netted silence as the two uniforms looked at each other. Finally Mr. Nasty gave up, "We got a phone call."

I took the high road for my answer. "If someone told you that I was fishing illegally, shouldn't they have called the State Fish and Game people? Oh, for the record, I'm perfectly legal. I suspect you'll have to take my word on that as I doubt either you know squat on fishing regulations."

'You trying to be a smartass?' The old uniform was having none of it.

"No. I'm trying to understand why you would come all the way out here to harass me while I'm trying to fish. And for Pete's sake, turn off the damn spotlight!"

At that, the light snapped off, and then the younger of the two uniforms spoke. "We got a call that someone was loading a body onto a boat. Yours is the only boat to have left the harbor in the last two hours."

Ah, a concerned citizen. "Well, thank you for that much. Did your caller specifically identify my boat…or give a name to follow up with?" I knew the answer before I asked, just the same, I had to ask.

"Ah. No. But your boat is the only…"

I held up my hand. "You have no specifics. At all. No way to ask questions or get clarification. Despite this, you came flying all the way out here for – what? A slow night on the beach and you wanted some fun?""

At this, the older guy put his hand on his pistol. The one not clutching the support with a death grip…"Look, you smart ass…"

"Hardly. As you partner can witness…"

I was interrupted at that, "He's not my partner."

I must have hit a nerve on that one. "Very well. As your coworker will have to witness, I've been minimally corporative, despite being given no good reason to do so. I would add that you should hold on with both hands or sit down. You have no float vest…and we are quite some distance off shore."

At that, the old guy must have turned green, I could see the blood leave his face. "Happily, there are no sharks in the area, no matter what the locals might say. I've had little luck anyway."

The uniform at the helm had to hide the grin on his face…

"I suppose next you'll demand to inspect my boat and further trample my rights..."

The old guys hand went right back to his weapon… Bad move on my part.

"Which I have no problem with. To keep you from falling into the water, I'll be happy to follow you back to the shore so you can both see what you wish without risking your lives…My fishing is now certainly out the window in any case."

This resulted in a hushed conference between the two uniforms. At this point, I'm certain the younger of the two was willing to call it night.

"No. One of us has to be on board. Too dark out to do otherwise."

I rolled my eyes, which was invisible to the pair. "Fine. Have it your way. But know this. I'll not lift a finger to help you and if you fall overboard, it's on you. I hope you can swim…"

Five minutes later the young uniform was standing on my deck. "You'll need to head back to the harbor, we have a dock there with good lighting…"

Sitting, I pointed to the other seat. "No problem. Your coworker have a clue on how to pilot the boat?" As I asked this, the patrol boat motored off.

"Not really, but then that's not my problem right now. Shall we?"

I started the engines, slowly adding more power until the patrol boat was well astern. Then, I hit the throttle, letting the foils automatically deploy. The knot meter was indicating over 50 less than two minutes later.

"Quite the boat you have here. A lot more than one needs for fishing."

My reply was civil enough, "I can tell you've never been on a competition bass boat. Tell me, what's the old guy's problem? He new to the unit?"

That got a laugh. "Yeah. Green as can be."

"Let me guess. Your dock must be the new construction on the east and of the marina. This guy used seniority to get in on what has to be a better paying gig. As a result, you couldn’t get the qualified person you all really wanted."

"Something like that. What did you hear?"

"Nothing. I have had to deal with entrenched bureaucrats my entire life. No matter the outfit, jerks are the same the world over…"

I looked over my shoulder; the patrol boat was nearly out of sight. Cutting the throttle stowed the foils, and we were quickly at a dead stop. I came about and lit up the forward flood light so the poor sap behind us wouldn’t get lost.

"I don’t want to waste my time looking for the guy in the dark when he takes off toward the brightest lights. The refinery is over twenty miles away. I'll let him catch up a bit, and then we can head in."

"Thanks. The guys a real jerk, I was hoping he would head for the refinery. That way we would have an excuse to dump him…"

"Yeah. But then you’re the jerk. Give it a bit, he's bound to step in it big time soon enough. Oh, by the way, it wasn't a body I was loading up."

"The hell?" Thought that would get his attention.

"No body. It was a wooden horse actually. Okay, a wooden pony, still weighed enough. I suspect your mystery caller is the Hoolihan lady a couple of slips over. A right bitch – she thinks she runs the place."

"Wooden pony? How about you explain…"

"It was a contract job. Short notice. I'll going really stick it to the client that dumped that one on me.."

'Okay. Stop. You got a name by the way?"

Now he finally asks. "Yes. Rex North."

So, Mr North. You got a contract to dump a wooden horse at sea? What the hell line of work are you in?"

Using the optics, I could see the patrol boat had seen my lights and was finally heading toward us. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me."

"Fine. Remember, you asked. The wooden pony was less a wooden horse as much as it was a dimensional tesseract. A keyway between dimensions. This particular one has some rather nasty creatures on the other side. My job was two-fold. Remove the tesseract from circulation and the other was to…discourage visitors." I looked at my watch. "It's just about dawn in Tehran. Which means…"

The water all around the boat light up as if someone had turned on an underwater spotlight. This lasted for almost thirty seconds… In the distance, I could see the water fall into itself, before a small fountain spit up into the air. As the light faded, the fountain fall back into the water.

"Ah. Success." I tuned to my passenger, "You seem to be a legitimate water person. How much pressure is there at 90 meters?"

That caught him completely off guard. His reply was somewhat hesitant. "You get one atmosphere for every tem meters, so, 90 meters is…at least 10 bar, at 100 meters it's 11 bar. Call it 145 pounds to the square inch. Why?"

I had to smile. "Image opening a door you expect to lead you out into a desert oasis. Instead, you get salt water slamming into you at nearly 150 PSI. Nine tons per square foot. That tesseract was nearly four square feet. No visitors today and I doubt any in the future. The device itself is out of circulation. That much is certain…"

I throttled up and we were soon back up on the foils and heading to the harbor. Another 20 minutes and I'd cut back to avoid complaints from the other marina live-aboards. The Hoolihan woman would complain no matter what….

"Had the SOB had given me enough time, I could have dumped the damn thing are our end of the Milwaukee Depth. That bad boy is over 27 thousand feet deep. Talk about a real welcome mat..."

"What in the hell?"

"Indeed. But not today. I'll add this - you try and tell anyone about our conversation and you will be the one going to the funny farm. I'll deny everything."

"Bull****. People will believe me."

"I'd find that pretty humorous. I know from experience, they will not…well most won't buy a word of it. Back when my Grandfather was in the business, he had to fund a full time disinformation effort. Today, I have Hollywood and the comic books. I couldn't buy that level of spoofing if I had to…"

"What's this, North? Your Grandfather?"

Yeah. We lost him in July of '45. He was trying to disable a Kerillain warp device…. He almost made it. At least the Army built him a decent marker. He hated the summer heat. I don’t know how they talked him into going out to New Mexico…"

"You are making no sense…"

"To you maybe. Real question is – are you going to scrape your coworker off my shoe?"
The coffee that morning was wonderful, the breakfast just superb. I'm sure the Team will be along any time now to explain the facts of life to the local heat…

Please PM any comments to me, I'm interested in your take...
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