The travelers stabled their horses and took all five empty rooms at the inn. They would have preferred six rooms. Boston and Sukki did not mind rooming together, but Decker and Elder Stow did not mix well. Major Decker, the marine, had been trained to sleep wherever, when he had a chance, but Elder Stow snored, terribly. Decker claimed he kept waking up, thinking someone was sneaking up on him.
In the back of their minds, Millie and Evan wondered if that night would be the night they could steal the formidable weapons of the travelers. When they came in from the stables where they took a turn seeing to the horses, a man got in their way. He got their attention with a word.
“Light and dark. Light and dark.” He said it twice and handed them a potion of some sort. “The lady said spill this in the room of the marines. Do not breathe the vapors, but wait an hour. Then the sleepers should stay asleep.”
Evan took the potion and slipped it in a pocket. Millie nodded, as they entered the common room. She looked once at Boston, but Boston did not indicate that she heard anything with her good elf ears. Evan imagined no one noticed.
That evening, Evan and Millie went up to their room early. Millie ran into a spider web on the stairs, and nearly screamed, but Evan held her.
Evan stepped inside Decker and Elder Stow’s door and spilled half of the potion on the floor by the bed. He did not see or smell any vapor, but he did not stay in the room for long. The other half he spilled in the Lockhart’s room. He knew Captain Katherine Harper-Lockhart was a marine who worked out of the Pentagon, though maybe Nanette did not know that. Then Millie and Evan sat on the edge of their bed, staring at the wall, and waited for an hour, looking like two china dolls with no will of their own.
The others came up and went to bed. Something outside roared. Someone down the street screamed. Strange lights flashed outside the inn and sped off to disappear in the city streets. Evan and Millie heard the click-click-click overhead, like squirrels in the attic. Being from 1905, they never imagined Santa Claus. Then the hour was up.
Evan pulled back the curtain that acted as a door, and stepped carefully into Decker and Elder Stow’s room. Major Decker slept on the floor, though it looked like he may have passed out. Evan gathered up Decker’s rifle and gun-belt, which had been laid carefully on a small table in the room. Decker shifted in his sleep, but he did not wake.
Elder Stow slept on the bed, and was not presently snoring at all. Evan paused to look long at Elder Stow’s things, which had been piled on an end table beside the bed. He honestly did not know one item from another, so he could not imagine what might be the weapon. When Elder Stow turned on his back and snorted, Evan left the whole pile undisturbed. He was only supposed to gather the weapons.
Millie crept into Katie and Lockhart’s room as quiet as a mother might check on a sleeping child. Their weapons sat in a single pile on the floor, by the bed. Millie easily picked up the rifle, Lockhart’s shotgun, and both gun-belts, though that was all heavy for her. She stopped still, when Katie suddenly spoke.
Millie dared to look, but Katie appeared to be talking in her sleep. Millie hustled through the curtained doorway.
The hall outside the room ran like a long balcony overlooking the center courtyard of the building. Downstairs, the common room took up the whole back end of the building. The kitchens stood at one end. The family rooms took up the other end. Upstairs, a dozen rooms sat off the long balcony which had stairs where the balcony turned on both ends. The three rooms over the family end had two cousins and a storage room. The three rooms over the kitchen end were the ones to sleep in during the cold rains of winter. Presently, Evan and Millie stood with their arms loaded with guns, lit only by the stars and the moonlight.
“Wait here,” Evan said, as he put down Decker’s rifle and gun-belt. “If I get caught, you will have to carry these things.”
“I can’t carry all of this,” Millie complained, quietly. She stared at the guns, an uncertain look on her face, but she said no more.
Evan crept into Lincoln and Alexis’ room, quiet as a mouse. He knew Alexis carried no weapon, but Lincoln had a gun-belt he wanted to get. He briefly wished he used some of the sleep-vapor potion in the room. He remembered Alexis was a witch of sorts and he feared she might wake. But his instruction had been to use it on the marines. There were actually two marines, but neither was Alexis or Lincoln.
Evan paused and stared at the enormous spider web in the corner of the room by the closed window shutters. He knew that could not be just old cobwebs, but he could not stop to worry about that. He had a task to finish, for Nanette.
When he came out, he took a rifle, the shotgun and three gun-belts, two of which he quickly slipped around his waist. That left Millie with the other rifle and the last gun-belt. She handled that well enough, but she had a question which she whispered when they reached the stairs.
“What about Boston and Sukki?”
“Sukki doesn’t have a weapon,” he answered. “Boston has one, but she keeps it in what she calls her elf slip. It is invisible to me. Besides, being and elf, I am sure Boston would wake up the minute we pulled back her curtain. We go with what we have. One gun is no big deal.”
Millie said nothing, but as they came to the bottom of the stairs and started across the central courtyard, headed toward the wall and iron gate that served as the front door, she first wondered why they were doing what they were doing—disarming the others.
Just before they reached the gate, a foul wind and brilliant light entered the courtyard from above. It stopped near the couple, swirling lights of yellow, red, and blue. Evan and Millie stared, as a darker ghost-like form grew in the center of the light. It looked human enough, until the form turned to face them. As the colors of light swirled and cleared, Millie screamed.
“Demon,” Evan gasped.
“Jesus,” Millie honestly prayed.
“I rebuke you,” Evan yelled, and the demon image screamed, a high pitched, piercing sound that echoed in the natural acoustics of the home. Evan and Millie ran out the gate. The demon light flew up and over the roof. Alexis, Lincoln, Boston, and Sukki sprang to their feet.
“What was that?” Sukki shivered.
“Something to wake the dead,” Boston said, but she only meant it as the overused twenty-first century expression.
Katie kicked Lockhart and fell out of bed. Lockhart groaned, and got up like a father needing to hold the baby in the night. Katie shook her head to try to clear it. The couple threw on their clothes, a simple thing with fairy weave which seemed to cover them with almost a mind of its own.
Decker sprang up, and felt very dizzy. Elder Stow held his head and complained.
“I feel like I drank alcohol,” he said. Elder Stow could not hold his liquor, at all.
Decker reached for his rifle, which wasn’t there. “The weapons are gone,” he said.
Elder Stow looked at the pile of his things beside the bed. He picked up his own weapon and fired at something behind Decker. Decker whipped his head around and saw a spider roast. The spider looked the size of a small end table.
Millie and Evan found the man from earlier, and without thinking, they followed him to a house down the street from the inn. There were other men there, a half-dozen in all, and they all had the same look about them. The men moved slow and awkward, and their eyes appeared glazed over. Someone from the twenty-first century might refer to them as mind-numbed robots. But Millie and Evan, being from 1905, saw them the way every human before the twenty-first century would see them, as enchanted, and under the spell of the witch.
When Millie and Evans dropped the weapons on the floor in front of Nanette, they did a little head shaking of their own, to come out of the hypnotic suggestion. They looked at each other, wondering why they disarmed their friends.
Evan found his mouth open. Words came out, and he could not stop them. “Boston, the elf still has her weapons. They were in her slip and invisible to me. Sukki still has her knife, but we thought it best not to enter the elf room, lest we be stopped. Alexis still has her wand in her old elf slip, that is invisible to me, but if she has a weapon, it would be a bow and arrows at most.”
“Alexis hates weapons,” Millie added.
“Elder Stow still has his things,” Evan continued. “I looked at it all, but I did not know which one was the weapon, so I thought it best not to disturb the pile. But we brought all of their guns and weapons of power to you. Why did you make us do this?”
“Why are you haunting the town with demons?” Millie asked.
Nanette grinned a wicked grin. “Meg,” she called, and something came from the back room. It appeared a ghost-like person, a woman not quite solid, and she floated into the room and cackled—her attempt at laughter.
Evan’s eyes got big. Millie moved into Evan’s arms and turned her head into his shoulder so she would not have to see.