Voyagers: The Aurora Frequency
Chapter 1: The life of Jeffrey Jones
October 8th 1987
Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Jones gazed out the window with his binoculars. He'd never have thought that the Aurora Borealis would make an appearance in New York. He was glad his aunt Tricia lived away from the city and in upstate Saratoga. Manhattan's bright lights might've definitely obscured the rare phenomenon. He noted the exact date and time. He turned off all the lights in the house to test it and saw his notepad clear as day.
Keys rattled in the door and his aunt rushed inside, struggling with three grocery bags.
"Jeff, you home?"
"Hang on Trish, I'm coming!" He shouted from the living room.
"You better hurry, Jeff…I can't hold them much longer!"
Jeffrey ran in and grabbed two of the bags before they had a mess of cracked eggs on her peach carpeting.
"Jeffrey, do you see it outside? It's wild! And two of my favorite colors, pink and purple!" She giggled and headed to the kitchen. "Please tell me you defrost the chicken, I can't eat McDonald's again."
Jeffrey proudly showed her the package of cutlets. "Here ya go, ready for that great recipe you make. This time, I even mixed the ingredients for you."
He opened the fridge to show her the mixture and set up a frying pan and a pot for spaghetti. He put the water on boil.
"Chef of the future. Thanks, kiddo. You didn't forget the Parmesan cheese, right? It's mayo…"
"I know, Trish, mayo, pepper, Parmesan, and a pinch of lemon juice for an added kick. I mixed it all up. My cutlets are gonna be awesome."
Tricia De Lorenzo laughed as she hung up her maroon suede coat by the front door. She tied her wavy, black hair into a loose ponytail. "It seems like somebody's hungry around here. Just pour the breadcrumbs in that bowl, will ya?"
"Yes, auntie! And you know I'm always hungry. I'm a growing teen."
"You don't have to remind me." Tricia opened the windows in the living room to let in the cool, October breezes. The illumination from the Borealis forced her to shield her eyes.
"I feel like ET is gonna come down, or I'm gonna be lifted straight up into outer space and made captive on an alien ship. Good think I'm not cooking mashed potatoes, you might start making mountains."
Jeffrey laughed. "I feel like that too. The news said it could last more than a week."
Tricia stuck her head in and went to the kitchen to wash her hands. She resumed making dinner. "I hope I can sleep with all this glow, it's directly over our house."
Jeffrey stirred the spaghetti. "Don't be such an old grouch, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the beauty of nature."
"I know. I have to remember to stop and smell the roses more often. But I'm smelling flowers and oils at the spa all day. You remember what it was like in the Manhattan, not a tree in sight unless you went to Central Park."
"Yeah, I remember." He said sadly.
Jeffrey thought of his father, Bill. He would've loved the Borealis and they'd have probably been outside with a telescope and taking photos. Jeffrey couldn't remember where he put the camera last, and his aunt Elizabeth and her boyfriend Tom kept the telescope. Jeffrey knew why Tom really wanted it; she lived directly across their stupid penthouse and didn't believe in curtains or shades.
"Oh yeah, don't call me old, Mister. I'm only nine years ahead of you. I'm not ready for the nursing home yet." Tricia chided.
Jeffrey laughed deviously. "When you are, I get this house right?"
Tricia threw a cherry tomato at him and finished with the salad. She moved on to the garlic bread. "By the time that happens, you'll be too old to keep it up anyway."
Jeffrey strained the spaghetti and turned the chicken in the oven. "Ten more minutes and I'm digging in!"
"Ha! Give it fifteen. Then put the bread inside too, and give it five minutes exactly. Last time you completely burned it."
"That's because I fell asleep."
"Yeah, and remember the pizza? I was scrubbing soot off the walls the next day. You nearly burned us out. You have to be more careful, Jeff. Big rule of cooking, don't leave it unless it's stew or soup and can simmer for hours."
"All right, Julia Child." Jeffrey groaned. He set up the table for two, and counted the places.
"Umm, Tricia…Nicky's not coming tonight, is he?"
Tricia spooned the bubbling sauce into a serving bowl and brought it to the table with the salad and dressing. "No, he's very busy. He's has a lot of sales this week." She said.
Jeffrey noted the relief in her her voice. Tricia had been dating Nicky Rossini for one month, but he was definitely not the man for her. Jeffrey thought he was a nothing more than an elegant thug and he hated the way he'd always snoop around their house and barn. Nicky was tall, dark and handsome, but he couldn't understand what else his aunt saw in him. Sometimes he wondered if she were more afraid than anything else.
"Good, because he annoys me. He's always telling me to go to work for him and stuff."
"Jeff, he's not that bad. It would be nice to have extra money in your wallet. It's only a car dealership. What about Colleen? She's ogled you since freshman year."
"Colleen McKay? You really think she likes me?" Jeffrey asked shyly.
"Likes you? That isn't the word! You're her Jeffy! Why don't you take her out to a movie or dinner? I think she's a pretty girl and she's funny. A sense of humor is very important in a relationship."
"Jeesh, Trish, you act like I'm gonna marry her. Yeah, she is pretty, really big blue eyes and long, blonde hair. Hey, I did go out with her a few times."
Tricia went to his chair and draped her arms around his chest.
"You're right, but mostly with a group of friends. How are those mugs anyway? I haven't seem them in a while."
"Aww, they're cool. You know, I better hurry up and ask Colleen out, because Ricky had his eye on her for a while too."
"Oh, you mean the one born with the silver spoon in his mouth?"
"Yeah, the fair-haired one." Jeffrey grumbled.
"Ha, I know Colleen prefers dark, curly mop heads any day. Jeff, I don't want to pressure you, I just want to help you out of your shell. You're really doing great. Keep focused on what's most important to you. I think it's cool you're going for history major."
"Thanks Trish, I try. I'm not that shy. Not anymore."
"True. The debate team won because of your speech last year."
"That's right! I stuck it to them, I was glad to be on the negative side with that topic. Slavery is a heavy issue."
"I loved your part on Harriet Tubman. You spoke as if you'd met the woman yourself."
"I guess her history intrigued me." Jeffrey smiled. He remembered studying for the talk so hard the night before that he'd dreamed he did meet her. He was twelve years-old and they talked over a campfire about slavery and all its evils…until the slave catchers caught up with them. There was another little boy with them. It was very vivid, almost like a recollection. But he never told that to Tricia.
Jeffrey watched Tricia putter back and forth around the spacious country kitchen as she prepared dinner. She finally sat across from him with a smile. Tricia was tan with large, black eyes and altogether very pretty. She was Kathy Jones' baby sister. When his parents died she was still in college and couldn't take him in. Jeffrey's grandmother died the following year and left Tricia the summer house that would've went to his parents.
Tricia saw this as an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle and her own stress, but when Elizabeth dumped him and threatened an orphanage, she selflessly took Jeffrey and his dog, Ralph, with her. Tricia worked as a masseuse and cosmetologist at one of the upscale spas in Saratoga Springs. Jeffrey helped her with the bills by taking a part time job at the local supermarket; however, Tricia wanted him to focus on school. He was already preparing his college applications for next fall and many of the big ones expressed a keen interest.
After eating the tasty dinner and begging off the dishes, Jeffrey strolled around the old barns behind their house while giving Ralph his walk. Tricia didn't have much use for them, but Jeffrey loved to go use the smaller one to read and meditate on things.
Tonight Ralph acted very strange and Jeffrey attributed it to the Borealis. Ralph kept barking, growling, and chasing his tail in circles near the small barn. He didn't calm down until Jeffrey brought him out of the light and set him up to sleep in a darkened room.
Jeffrey returned and sat at a work desk at the back of the barn. Earlier that week he'd cleared the cobwebs and debris and made it his own with a cot, a few books and small television set. Jeffrey still had more cleaning to do. He spent fifteen minutes sweeping and decided to refurbish the space. As he moved a very heavy dresser, it kept scraping against a lump on the floor. He pushed it in the opposite direction until the space was cleared.
"Man, you need about three guys to move this thing! My arms hurt." He was still proud that he did it himself.
Looking down, he found a doorway to a passage that was camouflaged into the floorboards. A small hook caused the scraping. He yanked the floor board up and waved his flashlight down. It was a whole other room.
Jeffrey climbed down the rickety ladder, being very careful not to avoid weak spots. He didn't like the feeling that struck him. The air smelled musty, with a deep scent of decay. The room wasn't as big as he thought, about ten by ten feet, but a decent size for a cellar. The walls were dry and lined with cement and stacks of rotting wood crates. Jeffrey decided to rummage through them. He found nothing until he hit the bottom. Hidden within was an old Ham radio, in near perfect condition.
Jeffrey pulled it out gently; it was covered with a small quilt. He knew how to work these. His father used to have a similar one and his grandfather had operated them when he worked for a radio station in the forties and fifties. This model looked even older. He was careful not to dismantle the parts or bounce it around. The copper coils and black and white dials were still firmly in place on the wooden breadboard. When he dug in further, he found a transmitter hook up and headphones.
"Wow! This is totally awesome!" He exclaimed. "It probably won't get any frequency but it's worth a shot." Jeffrey carefully placed his find back in the crate, making sure the quilt cushioned it on the sides.
The cement floor was coated in dust, a section of it was missing, filled in with dirt and topped with rotting wood planks. when he moved the flashlight around, he saw an odd swatch of cloth lying in the far left corner. He picked it up, it was frayed and red with multicolored threading. It resembled a sash. His foot kicked something firm and it clanged against the wall. It was a brass colored belt buckle and he examined the design. A spread-winged eagle was sculpted in the center.
"This is the National Emblem." He muttered. "Interesting."
It may have belonged to his grandfather, but it seemed like his grandparents didn't even know this room existed. Jeffrey's grandparents weren't the original owners of the farmhouse and had only vacationed twice before ill health struck them. The house lay empty until Tricia came during her time off and worked on cleaning it out.
His grandfather used to tell him that the house was a haven for gangsters. Aside from the Spas, Saratoga Springs was a hot-spot for illegal gambling and infamous for its racetrack. He'd often joked that Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano stashed all their illegal earnings on the property, but it was never fully recovered.
If he found the money, he wouldn't be able to keep it. It would have to be returned to the city and he would at best get a measly reward. The wall where he found the sash and buckle was discolored at the bottom, as if someone had scrubbed it clean. He stared at the floor, trying to make out the dark splotches.
A queasy feeling hit him. If this house once belonged to gangsters, then they might've hidden more than money. Jeffrey stood up quick. He wiped off his jeans and rushed to the ladder. There was nothing to freak out over, but his gaze wandered back to the wood planks. The length and width were just the right size. He picked up the crate and ascended the ladder.
He locked the cellar tight. "No way! There's no bodies buried down here!" He said aloud. But he wasn't convinced.
He glanced at his clock and groaned. It was near midnight and he had school, but it was Friday. He put the crate on his work desk and secured the outside locks when he left.