A little over a year before the night he met Jericho, Marcus was a charmed man. He had just concluded a successful three-year investigation into an Order holding company, causing it to permanently shut its doors. He had also become a father to a glorious little girl. Marcus and his wife named their new bundle of joy Ailsa, meaning ‘supernatural victory.’ He felt very blessed by the Universe and decided a celebration was in order.
Leaving his young bride and infant child at their home in Dunsmuir, California, Marcus made the twenty-minute trip to the largest grocery store in the area. He went to pick up some lamb, fixings, and replenish his Scotch supply. In his excitement, the Scotsman forgot to reset the wards that guarded his house whenever he was gone. These served a two-fold purpose: To construct a palpable barrier that physically denied intruders entrance and to warn Marcus something was wrong, regardless of where he was.
Thinking everything was okay and lulled into a false sense of security by the blush of victory, Marcus took his time shopping. The last three years had been extremely taxing on both him and his family. Besides the fact he had rarely been home, when Marcus was ‘on the hunt,’ he became very distant, focused only on achieving his goal. He wanted to make it up to his wife, Deoiridh. He wanted tonight to be singular.
He had just finished purchasing the food required for his decadent celebration and was about to continue on to the liquor store when a dark, ominous sliver of dread stabbed at his heart. The sensation was so abrupt, so intense, that Marcus dropped his bag of groceries, shattering the jar of capers in the process. As lemons, grapes, and garlic rolled across the floor, he grabbed his heart and momentarily staggered.
A fellow customer reached out to him with concern written on her face.
“Sir, are you ok,” she asked.
No! Goddammit, no!
Marcus pushed the nice lady out of the way and flew out the door, groceries entirely forgotten. He ran as fast as he could to his old Citroen, fumbling for the keys. As the sliver of dread continued to grow and take shape within him, it more difficult for Marcus to function.
How could I be so fucking stupid?! How could I leave them unprotected?!
After several manic attempts, Marcus got the car started and peeled out of the parking lot. While it had taken him twenty minutes to get to the store, the panic-stricken return trip required less than half the time.
Marcus swung into the driveway of his modest two-bedroom, two-bath home, slammed the Citroen into park, threw open the car door, and sped to the door.
“DEOIRIDH,” Marcus screamed as he flung it open and switched on the living room light. “Ailsa! Deoiridh!!! Sweetie, are you here?”
As he went through the house, room by room, his calls became more and more manic, and his heart threatened to burst. Tears rolled down his cheeks unbidden, his eyes nearly swollen shut with grief, and his throat became so raw his cries turned into croaks.
Marcus’s wife and child were gone as if they had never existed. Nothing had been disturbed. There had been no forced entry of any kind. No clothes had been packed, nor lights left on. The house was eerily quiet, aside from Marcus’s ebbing sobs. On any other night, it would have seemed peaceful. On this night, the silence ripped through him like the eater of worlds.
Marcus did everything in his power to find his family. He enlisted the aid of the authorities, first local, then federal, to no avail. He pushed his knowledge of the esoteric to its limit and beyond. Typically, through the combination of crystals of finding and Marcus’s innate connection with the Universe, nothing could hide or be hidden from him. But still, to no avail.
Thirteen years after his family’s disappearance, Marcus was every bit as much in the dark as to the specifics of what happened as he was that night. Except for one thing. Marcus knew one thing with absolute surety. He knew the Order had taken his family and destroyed his life.