The guards at the east door were vigilant. The Queen was not going to catch them napping.
“Muggas, do you hear something?” One asked.
“What’s that?” Muggas did not seem to hear anything in particular.
“Sounds like wheels rolling against this hard surface stuff, whatever it is, you know, like on the roads.”
“You’re dreaming, Arias.” Muggas spoke right before a rollerblader went zipping past, laughing at them.
“Like that sound.” Arias said, pointing to where the rollerblader disappeared around the corner. Muggas was simply staring. A moment later, the rollerblader came back from the other direction. This time she hit both guards on the head with a billy club before she was out of reach. Her speed and surprise was such that the guards could hardly react beyond putting their hands to their heads and saying “Ouch!”
“All right. Put your hands up.”
“You are under arrest.”
The guards looked at each other. A man and a woman, both in uniform, though different uniforms, had sneaked up during the confusion. They appeared to be holding something, but since the Tuscans did not recognize the hand guns, theirs being a world still stuck in the late Middle Ages, they pulled their swords in response.
“Ever shoot anyone?” The Sheriff asked.
“Heck no, Wayne, and neither have you.” The Police Officer responded.
“OK, Lindsey. So what if we’re in the seventh grade.” The Sheriff said.
“What are you talking about? I’m a traffic cop.” The Police Officer responded in a way that showed the magic was really beginning to work. Meanwhile, the guards who had waited through this strange exchange of words, finally decided to act. They each took one step toward their antagonists when the rollerblader, who was a professional in the ring type rollerblader, came back and body slammed the guards into the wall, dislodging their swords and sending them to their knees. The Sheriff and Police officer jumped, and though there was a bit of a struggle, it was only a moment before both guards were handcuffed.
“I got mine, county mounty.” The Police officer shouted, raising her hands like she was at a rodeo.
“This is not a hog tying contest.” The Sheriff said, clicking his handcuffs tight.
While they lead the prisoners back toward the cafeteria, the Police officer could not resist the shout. “Hey! No rollerblades on school property! There are kids around here that might get hurt!”
Donna the hobo and Bobby the homeless bum stood side by side looking out the window at the end of the hall between the gym and the cafeteria. Then they looked at each other for a long time before Donna finally spoke.
“I don’t want to fight anymore.” She pushed her hair back with a hand, but when it didn’t stay, she tried blowing it with her lower lip pushed out.
“No reason to fight.” Bobby responded. “We’re older now and all of those things we used to argue about no longer seem so important.”
Donna nodded and looked up into Bobby’s eyes. “Now we have the whole world stretched out before us. Ours for the taking.”
“Who wants it? You can keep it. I am much happier being free of it all.”
“But we’re broke. We have no home.”
“So?” Bobby took her by the arms. “We may be broke, but we’re not poor. Poverty is a state of mind, and I feel rich when I’m with you.”
Donna moved in for a real hug. “I always knew I liked you.” She said, and her lips turned up at the corners in a genuine, comfortable smile. “Funny.” She said. “I can’t remember much after living in a trailer park and being in the middle school.”
“Tornado Heaven.” Bobby referred to the trailer park and Donna laughed and pulled away to face him. “It is funny,” he said. “But I don’t remember much after that either. I suppose it doesn’t matter, though. Right now we are free, without a care in the world.”
“There does seem to be a lot going on here, though.” Donna said, looking around.
“Just worldly madness.” Bobby said. “Ignore it and hopefully it will go away.”
At that moment, Babette came screaming out of the back door of the gym. She ran the hallway, pausing only briefly to dust the door handle before opening the cafeteria door and resuming her scream.
“The world gone mad.” Donna said softly as she slipped her arm around Bobby’s waist. Bobby responded with his arm over her shoulder and with his other hand, he pulled out a harmonica on which he began to blow a sprightly little tune.
Rachel, the vampire had the airline pilot backed up to the wall. The man was trying not to scream, but it was hard, looking at the size of those teeth. Luckily, Tom caught Rachel by the hand.
“Not here.” Tom said. “It’s too crowded.” He looked around to see who might be watching.
“But I’m hungry.” Rachel protested.
“Soon.” Tom assured her. “I think first we ought to repair to the rafters and get a good look around at the feast. Don’t worry, my dear, the feast will be here for some time.
Rachel gave a growl to the pilot, which caused him to yelp and faint. She was clearly ready for supper, but reluctantly had to agree with her man. There were too many people watching. They became bats and flew up, high over the gym. They found a hole in the wall at the top of a long ladder, and went in. It was a storage area for the auditorium, which was over on the other side. There were light fixtures for stage lights and chords everywhere, and from a couple of places, where there were holes in the floor, they could look down on the balcony below.
“Come on.” Rachel tugged on Tom’s hand, after they had resumed their human forms. She had heard something, so he followed. They climbed down a shorter ladder to the balcony and sat to watch what was happening on the stage in the distance.
“I want that girl found!” A woman was shouting. Tom understood that this was the Queen. “Our whole reason for coming was to get the girl and get out before anyone was the wiser.”
“Majesty.” The man, Count Severas, who slapped the Principal and cut Mister Johnson spoke up. “If your wizard was any good at his job.” The Queen slapped the man and then kicked the wizard.
“Count Severas.” She started to yell at the man she slapped. Then she seemed to change her mind. “Well, Wizard?”
“Majesty. I was told there was no magic in this world. The girl should have been easy to find. She should have stood out like a stain on a white shirt.”
“And?” The Queen had clearly lost all patience.
“And there is magic all over this building now. This crystal machine was not designed for such a delicate selection of one among many, and in the strange atmosphere of this world there is much interference with the crystal. What does “Ta-do-run-run” mean?” The Queen lifted her foot but the wizard jumped out of range. “I did find the retainer.” He pointed out.
Barton-Cur was sitting quietly between two guards.
“Yes.” The Queen turned on him with less than a lovely smile. “I understand your family has served the house of Nova for generations, and that you are a bit of a wizard yourself.”
“A very good one, actually.” Count Severas said from a safe distance.
“I take it you are responsible for the magic that is everywhere in this building at present.” The Queen ignored Severas and Barton-Cur nodded. “Barton-Cur, isn’t it?” The Queen asked as if she had heard nothing in the party room. Barton-Cur nodded, and if he had been wiser, he might have wondered what game she was playing. “You know where the girl is, don’t you?” Barton-Cur nodded again. “And will you tell me?” Barton-Cur shook his head, vigorously. The Queen screamed and turned to look at the men who were still holding the hilts of their swords, upright. The cut that severed those swords could not have been made cleaner with a diamond saw.
“I could make him talk.” Count Severas suggested.
“And what have you done to the children?” The Queen asked, ignoring the Count. Barton-Cur shook his head again and the Queen screamed once more.
Rachel in the balcony giggled and both vampires had to struggle not to applaud the performance so far.
The two guards at the front entrance saw the peculiar person at a good distance. They watched as the big feet brought her closer with a slap, slap on the sidewalk. The clown grinned when she was close enough and squeezed her big red nose twice. Honk-a! Honk-a!
“What a strange creature.”
“Here! Get away. You’re not allowed in here right now.”
The clown did a handstand and a cartwheel that took her within arms reach of the guards. “Have you seen this?” She whipped out three balls and began to juggle. One guard stiffened, but the other relaxed, just a little.
“I’ve seen better than that.” The first said.
The clown frowned and added a fourth ball. When the guard still shook his head, the clown added a fifth.
“No sale.” The stiff guard said.
“What? I thought that was quite good.” The other disagreed.
The clown stopped juggling and looked so sad for a moment, the guards almost bent to comfort her. “I know!” The clown brightened instantly. “Toss me your knives.” The guards looked at each other while the clown began again with three balls. “Just the little ones.” The clown asked sweetly. “Please.” The one who liked the act tossed his over and the clown caught it and began juggling the knife with the balls.
“Hey!” The other guard started to admonish his fellow but since nothing seemed to be going on other than juggling, he eventually pulled his own knife. To be sure, he threw it a little hard, but the clown caught it all the same, and then added more balls until it was five balls again and two knives flying through the air. Even the skeptic was impressed, and the other guard had is jaw open.
“That really is excellent.” He said, right before the two black belts, formerly seventh grade members of the school color guard, jumped down on them from the front porch roof. If the guards remained conscious for two seconds, that would be giving the guards too much credit. The guards got tied with the black belts themselves, even if Kate had to expose herself a bit to do it.
“Come on, Lucy.” She said. “We need your help getting them back to detention.” The clown did not move. “It is Lucy isn’t it?” Kate asked.
“Clowns don’t have names.” Lucy decided, but she helped Kate get her prisoner to his feet. “Mind if I keep the knives? Sort of a memento.” The clown asked, but the guard was hardly conscious enough to respond.
Up in room 204, the ghoul clicked his nails against his cards. He was deliberately drawing out the tension, and the Grim Reaper tried to peek. The ghoul finally spoke, though the other boys could hardly see the smile beneath the mask. “Go fish.”
The demon tried to remain calm, taking a moment to adjust his own mask, which kept slipping down into his vision. Then he pulled out his rubbery-plastic knife and repeatedly stabbed the remaining cards. Scream and the demon laughed.