At five-thirty, Jessica began to pace back and forth between the refrigerator and the dishwasher. She reminded Emily of the way Detective Lisa paced, and she imagined Jessica was pacing for the same reason. The girl was anxious, and wanted to do something, but first they had to feed Melissa. Melissa gave it everything she had and was utterly drained. She was not tired. She had slept well, especially after Maria gave her the sedative, but she was starving. Apparently magic took a lot of energy. Only Tyler kept up with her eating.
Emily leaned over to Melissa at one point and the girl stopped eating to look up. She had missed all of the action Freshman year and felt like a bit of an outsider. The others all accepted her, and Amina and Maria did everything they could to reassure her, but without Emily’s approval the rest did not matter. Emily had run into a big, bad and real wicked witch last year and one of her friends was burned to ashes. Melissa understood that Emily’s feelings toward witches were not good, even little witches such as herself. She felt the churning begin in her stomach before Emily surprised her.
“Welcome to the club,” Emily said, and there was not the least hint of reservation in Emily’s words. In fact, Emily leaned forward to give Melissa a little hug.
Melissa wanted to cry for joy as Amina and Mindy both interrupted with the same word, “Tribe,” and Amina added, “Not club.”
“Whatever,” Jessica said. “Can we go?”
“So where do we go from here?” Tyler asked between bites.
“Hidden beneath the spell of protection, Melissa set a simple tracer spell,” Maria explained. “With any luck, it will lead us back to the bogyman’s lair.”
“We will have to be prepared to take on the bogy beast,” Mindy said between nibbling on her danish and twirling her red hair. To the curious looks of the others, she explained. “Like a bogyman’s dog, but the size of a grizzly bear, metal plated, big jaws, deadly claws and breathes fire.”
Jessica stopped pacing and stared. She shook her head. “Let’s find it first,” and she resumed her pacing.
“You’re not going,” Emily told her brother.
“What?” Tyler protested with as many words as he could think of, but he ended with, “I’ll tell mom.” At the moment, and for once Emily was not fazed by that.
“Tell her,” Emily said, as she got up to get her sword off the kitchen counter where she set it down when she got out the danish. “She has no business pretending she doesn’t know what is going on.”
The girls followed Emily out to the car, and Emily looked at her sword and added a thought. “I can’t drive with this strapped to my belt.”
“I’ll drive,” Jessica volunteered.
“No!” Maria, Amina and Emily all shouted. Jessica driving was a frightening thought.
“I’ll drive,” Maria insisted. “Emily and Melissa sit up front with me.”
“Sorry, no room.” Emily shrugged for her brother. “Maybe next time.”
Tyler was still protesting. “What if there isn’t a next time?”
The girls all laughed as they climbed into the car. Maria started it up and they pulled down the street to be out of sight before Melissa activated her tracer. She sat still for a moment before she raised her arms. Then she moaned and doubled over, and Maria and Emily reached for her.
“I’m fine,” Melissa said. “I just way overextended myself yesterday and I don’t need just rest and food, I think I need some healing time.”
“Like a pulled muscle on the sports field?’ Emily wondered.
“Something like that,” Maria said before she looked up at the street. “I don’t see anything. I thought you said it would be like a blue trail.”
“Yes,” Melissa nodded as she sat up. She explained for the others. “My magic tends to be blue in color. I don’t know if the colors mean anything, but something like this should be blue.”
“Wait a minute.” Maria turned the car around and went back by the house. Melissa saw the trail there, like a dotted line of bluish lights going down the street in the opposite direction.
“I see it, but it is so faint.” Maria admitted.
“Same for me,” Mindy said, though she squinted with all her might.
“I see it bright and clear,” Emily and Amina both said, and Jessica added her voice.
“Looks like it crosses that lawn up ahead.”
“How do you see it?” Mindy wondered. Jessica shrugged.
“Bright, like Christmas lights only all blue,” she said, and Amina let out a slight smile, but said nothing.
After that, the seats got shuffled. Melissa had to drive because of the ones who could see the trail best, Amina did not have a driver’s license and Emily and Jessica were going to have to get out when necessary to follow the line across yards to the next street over. The car followed them around when that happened, but thankfully the bogyman appeared to stick mostly to the streets, especially when he got into town
As the sun came up, the bluish lights began to grow dim and Maria and Mindy could no longer see the line at all. “I’m sorry,” Melissa apologized. “I guess this is a magic better suited for nighttime. I didn’t know. I’m just learning.”
“We all are,” Emily assured her.
“I bet it is more of a temporal thing,” Mindy suggested. “The spell was not going to last forever. We probably spent too much time cleaning up and having breakfast.”
“But I feel we are close,” Amina said.
“Pull over here and park.” Emily pointed. The dim line was headed off down an alleyway between buildings.
Melissa pulled over, scraped the tires and paused to catch her breath. She really needed healing time, that was certain. Emily got out and checked her tires before she stood up straight. They started down the alleyway, all six together. They went by several dumpsters, a couple of loading docks and back doors, but the line stayed straight down the middle of the alley until at once it blinked and went out.
“Sorry,” Melissa said and Emily pointed at her.
“You need to stop saying that.”
“Now where do we go?” Maria asked.
“Keep straight and see if we can see some other sign of activity?” Emily suggested, but Jessica interrupted.
“In here,” she said. She was squatting and looking at something in the dust. Emily leaned over, but could not see it. “Bogy blood,” Jessica pointed at a little purple spot in front of a door. Emily thought it looked like a drip of purple paint, hardly noticeable, but they had nothing else to go on.
“She is right,” Amina said and looked at the door. “It must be in there.”
“J & Jr. Plastics,” Maria read the sign out front.
“The door is locked.” Mindy tried it. Jessica stood and the two of them together put their shoulders to it. Mindy backed away with the word, “Ouch.” Jessica backed off and invited Emily to the front. Emily easily kicked the door wide open and did not give it another thought. “Ogre strength,” Mindy mumbled.
They stepped into a relatively empty warehouse room where pallets of plastic cups and plastic plates sat along the far wall, and rolls of plastic sheeting for wrapping up shipping pallets looked abandoned. A forklift was parked by the pallets, but otherwise the floor was empty, that is, apart from the figure that stayed back in the shadows. The windows along the same wall as the door looked very dirty, and though they let in little of the sunlight, clearly the bogyman was not interested in light.
“I was given instructions,” the bogyman talked, much to the surprise of the women. “If I could not get you to drop out of school, I was to kill you.” The bogyman put a hand to his back where he was evidently cut. He shouted something unintelligible and unrepeatable and they heard the roar from the back of the building. The bogy beast came to its master, and the master simply said, “Kill.”
The bogy beast turned, roared again, and let out a stream of fire that made the women scramble. Emily patted the knife strapped to her calf and pulled her sword. Jessica pulled her fancy army knife. Maria grabbed Mindy and Amina and took them to the wall where a fire hose sat curled up on its big red wheel.
“Melissa!” Maria shouted. Melissa was in a fog, but she could be trusted to turn on the water.
The beast swiveled its head to the left and right as Jessica and Emily separated. It felt like the beast was trying to decide which morsel to gobble up first. The beast was about twelve feet long on all fours. It had more of a dog’s big mouth than a bear’s short snout. It appeared to be covered in hairy scales which Mindy said were just about impenetrable. Emily thought Jessica and her knife did not stand a chance, so she jumped first. She used the reach of her sword to go for the eye, but the beast was quick. She managed a deep cut on the beast’s nose, but that was all before she felt the back of the beast’s paw. It knocked her through the air to where she crashed into a metal support beam just a couple of feet from the bogyman. Emily heard her ribs crack against the pole, and the bogyman laughed. She had not expected that level of enormous strength.
Jessica shouted and waved to distract the beast. The beast responded. It turned and sent a stream of fire in Jessica’s direction, but Jessica was ready and leapt behind a nearby support beam of her own. Then the others got the water on. It became a real battle, not the least to keep the hose pointed in the right direction. The beast roared flame and the water attacked. Steam filled the room, but at last the beast turned away. It had swallowed enough water to put out a small house fire, and the beast could only smoke. It decided it did not need the flame. It charged the hose. The girl’s dropped it, screamed and scattered, and the beast paused, once again not knowing which girl to swallow first.
Officer Marion burst into the room, gun drawn.
Jessica shouted. “Go for the eyes!”
Marion fell to one knee and emptied her entire clip.
Emily got up slowly with a hand on her ribs. She looked straight at the beast, but her peripheral vision stayed on the bogyman. When she faked a limp, the bogyman turned toward her and laughed, which was just what she hoped. She spun and with both hand on her sword, she sliced through the air and cut the bogy neck cleanly so the bogyman’s head rolled under the forklift. But instead of collapsing, the bogy body went in search of the head. After a moment of shock, Emily began to slice off limbs. She separated both arms and one leg before she felt the back of the bogy beast’s hand once again. It roared, caught her from behind and threw her into the warehouse wall. She crashed ten feet up, dropped her sword, and slid to the ground. Now Emily was certain her ribs were broken. Lucky for her, the bogy beast could not see her since that eye was the one Marion put out of commission
The bogy beast turned again to the others and that annoying woman with the gun, and while Marion reloaded, Jessica made a run and leap to try and stick her knife into the beast’s other eye. The beast backhanded her, but Jessica fell to the floor and slid on her jeans and some plastic sheeting to the front windows.
Marion fired again, convinced that her bullets were not penetrating that scaly hide, but then the beast did something that surprised them all. It stood on its hind legs like a bear, and it was at least twelve feet tall. Marion shot the belly and tried for the neck, but the beast was as heavily armored there as everywhere else. When she needed to reload again, Jessica came up beside her to stay her hand. Somehow, Emily had jumped on the beast’s back from behind.
Emily held on with her knees and grabbed the beast’s soft, pointed ear with her left hand. Her right hand held her trusty knife. It was the same knife she used to kill Pierce. That thought, the thought the bogyman kept haunting her with night after night, made her enraged. She jammed the knife into the bogy beast’s ear over and over. She sliced the bogy beast’s good eye and rammed the knife deep into the back of the head where she could get between the scales. The bogy beast tried to back up to crush her against the wall, but it could not move well on two feet. At last it staggered and finally fell, and Emily had no strength left to jump free. She heard her left leg bone crack as the full weight of the beast came down on her, but she did not care. She was in tears.
Jessica and Marion rushed up to make sure the beast was dead. Amina rushed to Emily and told her to hold on, and she hugged her. Mindy kept screaming, ‘Don’t touch it!” The bogy body had almost rebuilt itself apart from the head which was wedged under the forklift. Melissa did not know what to do, but Maria got into the forklift and started it up. She started forward with a shake and jump and the bogy head popped out from beneath, only slightly flattened. Mindy’s scream changed to, “The sunlight will kill it!”
Maria caught the bogy body in the fork so it could not escape without being run over. It tried to turn and scratch at the driver, but it could not reach and in a second, Maria crashed it through one of the front windows. The body steamed, smoked, caught on fire in the light and quickly crumbled away to dust. At the same time, the body of the bogy beast began to deflate like a balloon with a slow leak.
“The head!” Mindy shouted and Marion got up to fetch it. “Don’t touch it!” Mindy screamed, and Jessica caught Marion’s hand and shook her head. Marion stepped over to the wall where there were various lengths of plastic water pipe cut and waiting for a plumber. She picked up a suitable piece about three feet long and used it to shove the head toward the broken window as Maria backed the forklift out of the way.
“No! No!” The head pleaded with them, but it did no good. Marion stopped short of the sunlight, gripped the pipe like a club and with a shout of “Four!” she hit the head through the window. It hit the light, screamed, fried, and went to dust, even as Lieutenant Anthony came racing into the building followed by a half-dozen police officers.
“What the hell is going on here?’ He yelled.
“Nothing. All finished,” Mindy said as she looked around at everyone and got nods of agreement.
“What the hell was that scream?”
“Bogyman,” Mindy said.
“What the hell is that?” The Lieutenant pointed to the deflated creature.
“Bogy beast,” Mindy said.
Lieutenant Anthony stopped to look at the little redhead who was doing all the talking. “And who the hell are you?”
Before Mindy could answer, Amina spoke up from where she was kneeling beside Emily. “I am definitely going to go on a date this year.”
It was so out of context, everyone had to stare. Of course, Jessica had to say something.
“Got anyone in mind?”
Emily laughed as Marion came to kneel beside her, and she laughed again at the thought of a supposed Amazon tribe having an affiliate member. She did not laugh long since it made her ribs hurt.
Coming Monday, Elect II – 2 Amazons