Emily was still in bed three days later when Jessica and Fiona the hunter joined forces and found Carlos in an unused warehouse meat locker. He was completely drained of blood and stank. Fiona guessed he had been hanging for two or three days. They all kept quiet as they looked around the main room for Mama spider. Officer Dickenson spoke first.
“I imagine the big spider is long gone,” he said. He knew it was wishful thinking when the others contradicted him.
“I can sense something, not far,” Latasha agreed.
Harmony called her troop for backup with a word. “There may be more babies as well.”
“Not what I want to hear,” Dickenson said. “But if there are more, we get out, call Schromer and get extra back-up.” It took some convincing, but eventually the women agreed.
At that same time, Sara was in the city hall, waiting outside the courthouse for Paul. She had come to realize if she did not go see him at work, she might never see him at all.
Lisa came out from testifying against one of the drug dealers Latasha got her mixed up with. “Off with time served,” she said as she sat beside Sara on the bench outside the courtroom. She expected Sara to say something about the lack of justice and how the streets will never be safe if the bad guys keep getting off so easy, but that was not what she heard.
“How do you do it?” Sara looked at Lisa with questions written all over her face. “With Josh and the kids, I mean. The only place I see Paul these days is here or over in City Hall where he is working in the Mayor’s office.”
Sara got quiet and Lisa paused for a moment to think.
“I got lucky. Josh knew what he was getting, police and all. He knew about my election, not all the details, but that my life would never be normal. He sent me flowers anyway. He said his programming job was the kind he could work from home most of the time, and he did not mind being a house husband and doing child care if we should have children. He said he would always be there for me. How could I say no?” Lisa smiled and then added a serious note. “Honestly, I don’t do it very well. I struggle with guilt the way most women do these days, I suppose. The days of wife and mother staying home with the kids are pretty much over. Women work these days because they have to, and the idea that a woman can have it all is a croc. Either work or Josh and the children are always getting gypped.”
“Not so,” Ashish said. He had come out of the courtroom in the middle of the conversation, but heard enough of it. “I think Lisa does a remarkable job of balancing things.”
Lisa gave her partner a brief smile but turned straight back to Sara who looked so serious. Lisa’s intuition was acting up. “You haven’t told Paul about you and the girls, have you?”
“I have, but not in detail, and I haven’t taken him to meet them yet. I’m afraid.”
Lisa reached for her hand. “Complete honesty. That is the only way to know if he is right. You don’t have the luxury of picking just any old husband.”
Sara opened her mouth and shut it just as quick. “When I met the girls I thought I stumbled into a band of superheroes, like the X-Men. I discovered it isn’t just Emily, you and Latasha. Each of the girls, in her own way, can do things no human being ought to be able to do.” Sara stopped and Lisa encouraged her.
Sara took a deep breath. “And then I found out I could do things that defied nature. Not big things, but subtle things.” She looked up at Lisa and let out the smallest grin. “I can glow in the dark.”
Lisa patted Sara’s hand and stood. “My pastor says we all have our crosses to bear.” She returned the slight grin and added the word, “Priestess.” Then she raised her voice. “Aurora.”
A young girl stepped around the corner, or more likely appeared from somewhere else. Sara was not fooled. She knew this was an elf in disguise. It was confirmed when Aurora stopped at the bench, looked at Sara, gave a little bow and said, “Priestess,” in echo of Lisa’s word. She turned to Lisa, nodded her head again and said, “Lady.”
“Anything?” Lisa asked.
“There have been ghouls here, but not here now.”
“Ha,” Ashish interrupted. “She hasn’t seen the lawyers.”
It was on a Saturday, around sundown, two weeks’ shy of finals, when Jessica and Fiona found their way back to that same warehouse. Latasha, Harmony and Officer Dickenson followed, and all said they knew the trails would return to this place.
“I about have this old warehouse memorized,” Officer Dickenson said while his eyes continued to search every corner for signs of spiders.
“We have been over this place,” Harmony admitted.
“And we found nothing,” Fiona agreed.
“But all the signs point here,” Jessica looked frustrated.
“Maybe we missed something.” Fiona began to second guess.
“At least the place is not full of webbing this time,” Officer Dickenson remarked.
“In here.” Latasha was by the door and everyone looked in her direction. A young man and a young woman came in. “That is why I asked for a second set of eyes. This is my science teacher, Ms. Riley.”
Jessica opened her mouth but said nothing. The absurdity of Latasha asking her high school science teacher for help was beyond even Jessica’s ability for quick remarks. Harmony and Fiona were not fooled by the glamours. Both heads dipped and Harmony spoke.
“Lord Roland. Lady Boston.”
Boston responded while Roland took a long look around the big room. “From the way Latasha described things, I am guessing a secret door.” Boston sat down in the middle of the floor and opened her purse. She took out a Jar of dust and a stick, which was her wand.
“Your wife is sitting down to find a secret door?” Officer Dickenson thought they should be tapping the walls and looking for signs on the floor, but in part he wanted to know who these strangers were. It was police curiosity.
“Yes,” Roland spoke openly to the police officer. “My wife was a witch before she became an elf.” Officer Dickerson just shut his mouth like it served him right for asking. “Like your Melissa,” Roland added for Jessica who nodded that she understood and stepped back to let the woman work.
Boston chanted very softly and waved her wand several times in between her chants. Jessica could see the orange colored swirl of the magic that surrounded Boston like a fine mist of fire. Every time she swirled the wand, the mist expanded to cover more of the warehouse floor. Officer Dickenson asked his question before it reached the walls.
“What is happening?” he whispered. “I don’t see anything.”
“Hush,” Latasha quieted him. “It is like a red-orange mist, and it looks like she found something.”
The mist began to pull together over one round spot on the floor. Boston got up slowly and brought her jar of dust to the spot. She sprinkled the dust and spoke, and the round spot glowed with a sparkling golden tint that everyone could see. Then she spoke.
“This is not a magical door. It seems mechanical in some way and that may be why our elves did not find it, because they were not looking with the right set of eyes.”
“You did say at first they were not spiritual creatures,” Fiona reminded Latasha who simply nodded and unwrapped her ax.
“Here, give me a hand with this,” Roland said to Officer Dickenson. Latasha also got down to apply her strength to what for all practical purposes was like a manhole cover cut smoothly out of the concrete floor. When it was open, all they could see was down into the dark.