Chapter One Preview
Lazarus Lézard was feeling every bit of his 80 years on the planet earth. Traveling, while still exciting, was much easier on a younger body than he was dealing with. It was ironic that the brain learned and matured while the body reversed itself toward infancy.
Thinking about it made him laugh. The idea of his green scaly tail in an oversize senior diaper tickled him immensely.
The travel from his office in the Far North Country to Europe involved many modes of transportation. Some of them, like the dog sledding leg across the Yukon, could be brutal on his old bones.
The last big blowup caused by the Alaskan Miners, digging for gold on Inuit Indian lands, was just too much for him. The search for gold and silver brought out the worst in people. The Inuit tribes had asked him to stand up for their rights but the human miners would take little input from a grizzled old lizard, even one with his great reputation. His years of good works in the frozen north were hard won. He would not let money crazed newcomers destroy the life that the Indians had built there over thousands of years.
The miners still carried guns and their dreams of the next big gold strike continued to dance around in their heads. This gave their trigger fingers spasms and made for a potential disaster.
His last few months of intervention had pushed the miners back off Indian land. A temporary piece was in place. For how long was anyone’s guess.
He needed to get away from all the conflict for a while. He was ready for this trip into warmer climates and cooler heads. It sounded really wonderful to him. He was glad the trip was finally under way.
Spending a few weeks in Paris with his egg brother Lorenzo would be a great interlude. After that it was on to the United States to spoil the heck out of his grandkids.
As always his time with Lorenzo was an extremely interesting visit. Lorenzo had a way of turning everything into a special event. Lorenzo’s life had been full of surprises that translated into many scale raising tales of adventure. Lazarus had enough of his own problems for a while. He could escape his troubles and bury himself in his brother's stories.
Laz never tired of hearing his brother’s tales of travels into the back streets of suspense and intrigue. In his younger years he had been known as Lorenzo Lézard - “The Spy with a Thousand Faces”.
He had spent many years in the ghettos & dark alleys as Europe's most famous war correspondent. While going under-cover to get the hottest stories he had come to the attention of Europe's Spy Masters. He had been recruited to keep his eyes peeled for plots against France, England and the Western Free World.
His expertize with disguises and dialects allowed him to disappear into the guise of a Japanese street vender, a Polish sausage maker, even a tambourine shaking Gypsy.
Retelling the old stories would keep them up late reliving scenes from exotic nights of sipping tea & eating dates on the Kasbah to Champaign and Caviar along the Rhine River in Germany. Lorenzo told of the times he almost froze his tail off on stake-outs below the onion domed Cathedrals of Soviet Russia. He had nearly died of hunger and thirst crawling across the sand dunes of the Sahara.
His years of fighting against the German War Machine alone could fill a hundred books with stories of narrow escapes from the clutches of his brutal enemies.
Spending time with Lorenzo was exhilarating & exhausting all at the same time. He still had endless energy and loved to take Lazarus to his favorite restaurants and bistros. He was well known in all of them. These daily adventures stretched into the wee hours of the night. Sometimes they fell into bed as the stars began to blink out from the light of the rising sun.
Too soon it was time to bid adieu to Lorenzo and “Gay Paree”. Laz was off to visit his other family members in the United States. His brother called in a favor and got him on a military flight to Southampton, UK just in time for his Atlantic Sea Voyage aboard The Queen Mary. WWII was over and it was now safe to travel the oceans again. Well safe from marauding Ships of War anyway. Lazarus was soon to find that he wasn’t immune from the things that could go bump in the night
The time aboard the Queen Mary from Southampton, England to New York gave Laz six days to recharge his batteries. The sea air and mild summer breezes were just what he needed to put a nice green hue back into his snout. He always found it hilarious that ocean travel could turn human passengers green as well. Of course this was not in a particularly attractive way. The sounds they made as they hung over the rail reminded him, in a real guttural way, of the miners on their hands and knees scrambling and grubbing for the little globs of yellow gold fever back home in the Yukon.
He had to shake his snout back and forth to push those ugly thoughts back down where they belonged. During his life he had fought hard to see both sides of the issues. The miners could be hard to warm up to but he still needed to understand their side as well.
He definitely needed this trip. He couldn't keep his work problems from creeping in on him at the strangest times.
The Queen Mary: Haunted Ship?
Speaking of strange things creeping around, Lazarus was fascinated by the stories that were circulating regarding the ship he was riding on and the ghosts that could be walking its decks.
During the war the Queen Mary had been used for military operations such as troop transports. She made many voyages as a Troop Ship delivering soldiers from New York to Great Britain, Italy, and anywhere they were needed.
Because of the war there were a number of horrible accidents that resulted in great loss of life.
In October 1942 the ship had an accident with one of her escort ships. She sliced through the light cruiser HMS Curacao causing the drowning of 239 sailors.
Lazarus heard some passengers saying they could hear screams and loud grinding metal sounds through the hull in the middle of the night.
During the day it was easy to dismiss these stories as the musings of bored people with too much time on their hands.
But as the sun went down he had the feeling that strange things were going on just outside his peripheral vision. He would turn rapidly seeing something just wiggle out of the corner of his eye.
Through his work and travels he had seen many things that would have shocked and frightened most people. However these feelings were still unnerving. It was as if something or someone was playing a game with him.
One Twilight evening as he was walking down a hallway a cold damp presence seemed to stalk straight through his body. This really made his scales rattle. Whatever it was left his shirt wet in front and rear. It was an experience that he would remember for years. Due to his many unique adventures this didn't so much scare him as it gave him something bazaar to think about.
He spent days quizzing crew members and searching the hallways hoping to re-experience this phenomenon.
The crew had many stories of sightings and sounds that they couldn't explain away. Lazarus loved the mystery of situations like this and it gave him hours of a lizard’s version of Goosebumps during the remainder of the trip.
One evening as darkness fell Lazarus heard a loud commotion and jumped out of the way as crewmen ran excitedly past him toward the ruckus.
A group of adults were yelling and waving their hands in the air. A number of children were missing and all the parents were frantic. They had been looking for their kids for some time and the search was made harder by a cloying mist that had begun to envelop the ship. Having a fog horn blow off every so often was shredding their nerves to the bone.
The crew organized several search groups and they split up into sections of the upper decks.
As the minutes stretched into hours a deep fear began to overtake the search parties. Whispers of evil doings began to circulate among the passengers. The creepy stillness of the night and the damp hazy fog did nothing to ease the unrest.
Everyone was jumpy and people screamed at the slightest touch of someone’s elbow or jump out of their skin when a crew member accidently dropped a flashlight.
Lazarus kept hearing an odd sound. He could swear he heard a little girls voice whispering “Come Join the Party”! It gave him the creeps and he shook it off thinking his imagination was getting the better of him just like the others.
The search of the upper decks found no missing children. The parents were apoplectic by now. The fathers were cursing and yelling at everyone and everything. The mothers were broken down in tears and ripping at their clothes dreading something awful must have happened.
The groups of searchers headed down into the bowels of the ship. The darkness and damp air did nothing to relieve the bad feelings radiating through the thick oily air caused by the ships engines.
The deeper Lazarus climbed down into the ship the louder the whispered “Come Join the Party” message entered his brain.
Over his years he had experienced many frightening events but fearing for the safety of youngsters was always the hardest of them all to deal with.
A woman next to him cried “Did you hear that”! Lorenzo asked her what she meant. The woman had an odd look on her face and said, “I thought I heard a little girl say, ‘Come join the party’! It gave me the willies”!
This was no coincidence and it scared Lazarus down to the tips of his claws. Now he knew something bazaar was going on!
As they walked deeper into the shadows they saw signs stating Crew Only. All of a sudden they heard children’s screams and the sounds of running feet.