“Who are you? What are you doing here spying on that house?” The speaker was a woman, young, blond, with blue eyes and not too many freckles. “It isn’t safe. You should run along home.”
“But my family.” Glen pointed toward the house. “My home is in America.” The woman looked and frowned before she understood.
“Your family? But how did you escape?”
“I,” Glen had to think. “I ran. A voice in my head said run and I ran.” Glen felt uncomfortable and a little afraid.
The young woman got down to one knee to look him in the eye. “Your family?” Glen confirmed with a nod of his head. “My name is Greta. And I think you speak German very well for an American.”
“I’m Glen. I was Greta once.” He paused, not because she said he was speaking German but because he thought of Greta and wondered why he did not think of her earlier. She would have blended perfectly into the background.
“You mean, I knew a Greta once.”
Glen shook his head. “No, I was Greta once. She was a wise woman of the Goths, oh, long, long ago.” He decided that maybe she had not come to mind because she was actually a Goth and not technically a German. “Marcus Aurelius was Emperor back then.”
Greta gave him a strange look but straightened up. She shouted up the tree. “David. We have a complication.”
A man climbed down out of the tree. He had binoculars around his neck and swung from the last branch. Glen had to use his hand to shade his eyes because the sun, nearly set, was at the man’s back. “That side window looks like the only option,” the man said.
“We have a complication.” Greta repeated herself and pointed at Glen. “Glen, this is David. David, that was Glen’s family who was taken.”
“I don’t get it.” David ran his hand through his curly brown hair. “What are they doing now that they need to take people off the streets. I would think that would be a great risk if the locals started to disappear.”
“But we aren’t locals,” Glen spoke up. “We’re Americans.”
“Tourists would give them much more time,” Greta nodded.
David knelt down and smiled for Glen. “Don’t worry, son. We will get your family back, safe and sound. You need to stay here and keep quiet and for a long time. Can you do that?” He pulled out a gun, a German Lugar from the war. “Souvenir.” He called it.
Glen shook his head. “I need to go with you. Maybe I can break the enchantment. You know, coercive magic has limits, like hypnosis. A strong, familiar outside influence might break the spell.”
David paused and looked up at Greta. “How do you know that?” He asked Glen but his eyes never left the young woman.
“Greta told me,” Glen answered. “My Greta, I mean. Not her.”
“And she is right,” Greta spoke up and then confirmed for David. “He is right. If they are enchanted and I don’t see how they could not be, the presence of their son and brother might be enough to break the enchantment.”
“I don’t like risking the boy.” David spoke, this time to Greta.
“David,” Glen interrupted and his words came out in Hebrew. “Are you Jewish. Israeli, I bet. Secret police maybe?”
David frowned, grinned and frowned again. “Are you a Jew?”
“Nah!” Glen sounded all American with that response. “I’m a Presbyterian.” He looked up at Greta.
“Lutheran,” she said, softly.
David shook his head. “The German, maybe, but how do you speak Hebrew?”
“I’ve been Jewish a few times,” Glen said like it was the most natural thing in the world. “I was Korah long ago. He fought the Witch of Endor, but I don’t like to think about that. I don’t like witches.”
David looked quickly at Greta. She put on a serious face and put her hands on Glen’s shoulder. “I don’t blame you,” she said.
“Yeah. My mom says the first time I saw the Wizard of Oz I ran from the room when the Wicked Witch of the West showed up and I wouldn’t go back no matter how much they begged. I think I was three or four.”
David stood, stuck the Luger in his back pocket and pulled out the corner of his shirt to cover it. “I don’t like witches either, most of them anyway.” He looked at Greta again. “We better get going. No telling what they are doing.”
Glen heard, “No telling what they are doing to Glen’s family,” but he was grateful David did not say it out loud.
It was not far to the side window. The house was on the end of the row and Glen imagined that was a kindness because only one poor family would share a wall with the witch house instead of two. David kept his eyes on the corner of the house while Greta stepped up to the window. Glen saw a mud colored stream leave Greta’s hand. It was the color of that older woman’s hair, and Glen said as much.
“You can see the magic?” Greta asked as the stream penetrated the glass and reached the lock. The window unlocked itself and drew itself up as well.
“Sure,” Glen said. “The other magic was purplish, but dark. That’s why I ran.”
Once the window was up, Greta turned to face Glen again. “There must be some magic in you,” she said. “Non-magical people cannot generally see the colors of the magic.”
Glen shook his head. “But maybe my Greta or another life is helping me see,” he said.
“You are strange.” Greta looked confused. “I do not understand this talk of being other people.”
“Ahem.” David coughed quietly. “Ladies first.”
Greta nodded and climbed up over the window ledge. David helped Glen up to the window and Greta helped him on the other side. She added “Shhh,” as if Glen did not know that. David came last and fingered his gun as he touched his feet to the floor. They were in a dark room since the window caught no light from the setting sun. They imagined they were alone. They found out differently when the lights came on and three men in suits already had their guns pulled.