James walked over to his computer nook in the corner of the living room and sat down. He typed “circulus nubis” into the search field. Some Latin definitions describing a circular cloud showed at the top of the list of search results, but that didn’t help explain the cryptic note from Ben Arnold’s grandfather. Then a website caught his eye: The Legend of Circulus Nubis. He clicked on it and read the whole article which only consisted of a few paragraphs. He looked over his shoulder at Brad on the couch.
“I think I’ve found something. There’s a legend about that Latin phrase.”
“Yeah? What does it say?”
“It’s too complicated to explain.” James smirked. “Get off your butt and come look for yourself.”
Brad gave out a loud, exaggerated groan as he got up and looked over James’ shoulder at the web page, sarcastically sighing when he saw the article’s length.
“The phrase dates back to Roman times,” he said, reading the first few sentences of the article. “People were described as disappearing into dark, circular clouds, usually during rain storms.”
“That’s interesting, right?” James asked in eager anticipation, quietly tapping on the desk.
“That still doesn’t help us much.” Brad shrugged his shoulders.
“I know. We’ll just have to look deeper into the legend, I guess.”
Going back to Google’s homepage, James typed “Roman legends” into the search field. A long list came up, but a local site was featured right at the top of the list. He accessed it and typed in his Latin phrase in the site’s search box.
“It doesn’t say much,” James muttered, “except that there is a rare legend about it. There’s a phone number to call for further information.”
“That’s odd,” Brad said. “Why wouldn’t they just give the information outright?”
“I guess I’ll have to call and find out.”
James clicked the number on the website, and a dialling sound came over the built in speakers. An aerial view of the museum filled the screen. After a few rings, a recorded voice came on.
“You have reached the office of Linda Haddle, curator for The Myths and Legends Society of Mississippi. Ms. Haddle is unavailable to take your call at present. Please leave a message after the tone.”
James waited for the tone, then spoke in the general direction of his computer's built in microphone.
“Hello Ms. Haddle. My name is James Miller, and I would like to set up an appointment to talk to you about The Legend of Circulus Nibus on your website. It doesn't give much information, and I'd like to know more—“
Before he could finish his sentence, there was an audible click. Then the scene of the museum on his computer changed. The new image showed a young woman about James' age, with shoulder length brunette hair and golden brown eyes. She was attractive enough, but the intense stare coming across the screen was a little scary.
“The legend you speak of is very rare. How did you learn of it?”
He didn't like her curt and inherently unfriendly manner, but that could be put down to the fact that she was speaking to a complete stranger so late in the evening. James turned his web cam on so she could see him. He smiled into the computer.
“There's another website—“
“Yes,” she interrupted him rudely, leaning in toward the web camera, “I know about that site. I mean where did you learn about it originally? Why were you researching it?”
If they were speaking in person, she would have been right in his face. He instinctively jumped back in his chair, immediately thinking better of making an appointment with her. He had a very intuitive nature that had suddenly raised a red flag in his mind. She seemed way too cagey for his liking.
“Umm ... it's not really that important. I'm sorry to bother you this late.”
James made a motion towards clicking the conversation out of existence when Ms. Haddle raised her voice.
“No. Wait!” She was waving her arms side to side. When she spoke again, her tone was much more friendly.
“I'm sorry I was so blunt. Please forgive me. I wasn’t ….” Her eyes darted away from the camera to look at something else in the general direction of her computer screen. She looked back at the camera.
“Did you say your name was Miller? James Miller?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” James replied, unsure why his name was so important.
“I've been doing some research on the subject myself,” Ms. Haddle added, “and I probably know a great deal more about it than you do. I see by your caller ID that you're right here in Jackson. I would very much like to speak to you personally about this, Mr. Miller.”
When James did not reply right away, Linda continued, “I am at the museum right now. I would like to discuss this with you personally. Would you please come over? This legend we speak of is very important to me, and I get the impression that it could be important to you, too. Please come see me.”
She leaned back in her chair and flashed James a genuine open smile. Her entire face lit up with it, changing her aspect entirely. She had gone from scary to beautiful after just a few seconds.
“Well, I guess I could do that. I'm bringing my friend Brad with me, if you don't mind.”
She appeared to think about it, as if she did mind but didn't want to put
him off by saying so.
“That's alright, bring him along,” she answered after a short hesitation.