Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 3 of 3

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.

ac-tyler-2“Awesome,” Tyler said.

“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.”

ac-maria-driving“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.

ac-jessica-hunter“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.”

 

***

 

ab-bogy-beast-1The 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.

ab-bogyman-3Emily 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.

ab-bogy-beast-2Emily 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.

ac-anthony-4“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

Happy Reading…

 

Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 2 of 3

Maria and Melissa got the twin beds in Tyler’s room.  Mom apologized, but both of them had brothers and said they understood.  Amina and Mindy got the twins in David’s room.  David was in the National Guard and currently deployed oversees in some place he could not talk about.  Jessica got the other twin in Emily’s room.

“Just like at school,” Jessica commented as she unpacked.  “This is a preview.”

“Except at school we won’t have Mom downstairs in the kitchen cooking way too much food.”  Emily yawned.  Now that the gang was there, her exhaustion started catching up with her.  She felt safe, whether she was or not.  Melissa freaked her out a bit when she sat cross-legged on the floor in Emily’s room, chanted and sprinkled what looked like dust all around.

“Mom’s going to get out the vacuum if you keep it up,” she commented.

Melissa also smeared some oil in a corner of every window and door in the house, and secretly to keep the window cleaner from coming out.  Melissa was satisfied that she had done all she could, until Jessica pointed out the heating and air conditioning ducts.

“It might get in through the roof and come down through the ductwork,” so Melissa applied some oil there, too.  It was odorless in the air conditioning of August, but it might have smelled in the winter with the heat turned on.  Once that was done, there was nothing else to do but go down to the living room where Dad had the Yankee game on.  He was an old time Clippers fan and offered to treat them all to a game at the stadium, hot dogs and all.  The Mud Hens were coming to town on Monday, he said, but the girls declined.

“I could go,” Tyler offered, and his dad agreed.  They had a date.

“And there are always some tickets at the box office if you girls change your minds,” he said.

ac-emily-5aPoor Tyler, Emily thought.  He was sleeping in the basement, but he could hardly complain about having his house invaded by all these young and good looking women.  He mostly sat and watched, and it was not the Yankee game he watched.  But he said little, like he was suddenly shy.  Then again, Emily did not have the strength at the moment to tease him, so maybe he got off lucky.

After supper, which Emily struggled through, the girls made various excuses to go up to bed early.  It was the plane trip and the drag waiting at the airports and a busy day of travel, and the family understood, even if Tyler was disappointed to see them disappear up the stairs.  Once up, Maria got out her concoction of anti-dream juice and then they had a schedule of sitting up through the night to watch over Emily.

“I feel like the helpless one for a change,” Emily said with a big yawn.

“You are,” Jessica responded.  “We’re a team.  Go to sleep.”

Emily nodded and had no trouble doing that very thing.

 

###

 

The banging started around midnight.  There was banging all around the outside of the house.  Mindy sat on watch and Jessica was asleep but sat straight up when there was a tap-tap on Emily’s window.  Mindy jumped out of her chair and switched on the overhead light.

ab-bogyman-5“Turn it off,” Jessica ordered, and when she did, Jessica peered out the window to see if she could glimpse something in the night.  There was nothing to be seen, so Mindy turned the light back on when Melissa came to the doorway.  She was sweating and trembling.

“I don’t have very much magic,” Melissa said.  “I won’t be able to keep it out.  I’m sorry.”  She collapsed in the doorway and Jessica and Mindy got her into Jessica’s bed.

Amina and Maria came last to the door and Amina spoke quickly.  “It has not gotten in.”  Emily’s mom came out of her room.

“I don’t mind the slumber party, but I would appreciate if you would keep it down a little.”

“Sorry to wake you.”

“Did we wake Mister Hudson?”

Emily’s mom shook her head.  “He could snore through a hurricane.”  She turned and went back to her room.

After that, Jessica found Emily’s old sleeping bag in the closet beside the bed Melissa was now occupying.  Jessica was not leaving the room.  Emily, and now Melissa were both asleep and unharmed as far as Maria could tell, but Jessica would not abandon them.  Maria took Mindy back to the other room, but Mindy swore she would not be able to sleep.  It was Amina’s turn to watch, but before she turned off the light, Jessica got out the army knife her dad bought her when she announced she was going into ROTC.  Then she found Emily’s sword, the one made by hand by the four hundred and seventy-year-old Heinrich Schultz.  Jessica had no idea if the sword had any magical properties, but she felt safer when she curled up beside it.

ab-bogyman-1The wind picked up at two in the morning.  It rapidly reached dangerous proportions around the house.  The windows shook.  Every door rattled, and if the women had been aware to notice, the doors rattled one at a time.

Melissa became a bucket of sweat and began to whimper in her sleep.  Jessica could not wake her enough to get a word out of her.  Maria came in and managed to get Melissa to swallow some liquid.

“A mild sedative,” Maria said.  “I would rather she sleep than be injured.”

The wind stopped.  Amina who was in the corner made her announcement.  “It has not gotten in.”

“Good thing,” Maria and Jessica spoke together.

Oddly, this time Mindy slept through the noise.  Emily’s mom also did not make an appearance.  Tyler did come up from the basement.  He decided to finish the night on the living room couch, with the kitchen light on, but the women upstairs did not know this.

ab-bogyman-4Four in the morning is when everything happened, only this time there was silence.  Maria was on watch.  Maria turned on the small light beside the bed to act like a night light.  Melissa and Emily were both asleep, and Maria felt like nodding herself.  Jessica’s eyes popped open, not because she had some sixth sense, she imagined, but because Emily’s closet door was slowly opening and pushing up against the bottom of the sleeping bag.

Jessica could feel the presence in the room and it frightened her, terribly.  She felt it pause over Melissa before it rounded the bed to Emily’s side of the room.  Emily had said that when she was little she took the bed farthest away from the closet door, and now Jessica knew why.

When she had her chance, Jessica leapt up and switched on the light.  Both Jessica and Maria caught a glimpse of the creature before it went invisible.  It did not look at all like the man in the movie.  This creature had absolutely no humanity about it.

As soon as it vanished, Jessica got grabbed by her hair, tossed to the ground, and the light got put out.  Maria’s chair got knocked to the floor, and the small light between the beds also went out.  Jessica grabbed Emily’s sword, and when Maria crawled to the door and switched the overhead light back on, she was ready.  She saw the indent in the rug where the creature stood, hovering over Emily, and she swung the sword as hard as she could.  The creature howled.

ab-bogeyman-2Emily and Melissa both sat straight up at that sound.  Emily punched, and connected with something that doubled over.  Melissa raised her hands, though it seemed to the others that Melissa was still mostly asleep.  There was a small gust like wind and they heard something crash into the upper corner of the room.  The howl came again from there, and they saw a purple smear, like bogy-blood spread across the wall.

Something ran between Maria and Jessica, shoved them out of the way and dove out the window.  The glass shattered and everyone in the house came running, except Mister Hudson who continued to snore.

“It is gone,” Amina announced.

“Where?”  Emily got up and avoided the broken glass

Amina shook her head.  “It is too powerful,” she said as she and Maria helped Melissa to her feet and carried her away from the broken glass.

“I never thought my little spell would stop it,” Melissa confessed in a sleepy mumble.

“A simple lock might confuse an ogre for a second,” Mindy said.  “But eventually the ogre will just rip the door off the hinges and without breaking a sweat.”

“I like that analogy,” Melissa said with a bit more strength.

Mindy screamed, “Don’t touch it!”  Emily and Jessica were staring at the smear of bogy blood up by the ceiling.  Emily at five-six would have had to jump to touch it, but Jessica at five-nine had her hand poised.  “Don’t touch it,” Mindy said more calmly, but with a strict to-be-obeyed voice.  “Unless you want to be haunted by nightmares for the rest of your life.”  She finished the sentence and Jessica snatched her hand back.

“What on earth happened here?”  Emily’s mom was aghast at the destruction.

“Maybe it was that big wind,” Tyler spoke over his mother’s shoulder.  “I bet it was that wind.”

Emily’s mom looked hard at the girls in the room, but none of them denied it so what could she say?

“Shoes,” Jessica said, and Emily echoed, “Shoes everyone,” while she slipped her feet in her sneakers which were by the door.  Emily was thinking about the glass, but Jessica was worried about the bogy blood in case someone accidentally stepped in it.

“Go back to bed, mom,” Emily said.  “We will clean up.”

“You think I can sleep?  Now I’ll have to call the window people first thing Monday morning, and that is going to cost,” she said.  “And your father is going to have to get some plywood in the morning.  He is not going to like that.  Sunday is his sleep day.”  She closed the door to her room.

“Your mom doesn’t know anything, does she?”  Jessica noticed.

Emily shook her head.  “She doesn’t want to know.”

“You’re welcome for the wind thing,” Tyler said, quick to point out that he lied for them.  “So what was it?”

“A bogyman.”  Emily spoke honestly.

“It came out of the closet,” Jessica added.

“Awesome!  You had a boogyman in the closet.”  They did not feel the need to correct him since that was essentially correct.  Instead, they went to get gloves and the strongest cleaners they could find.

“I like my closet,” Jessica said.  “Of course it is about as big as Emily’s room.”

“Beverly Hills,” Emily told her staring brother.  She looked up at the corner of her room and did not doubt that by the time they finished cleaning, the corner of her room would have to be repainted.

Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 1 of 3

The phone rang.

Emily’s younger brother, Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Dad was outside cutting the grass because Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Mom was outside talking to the neighbor to avoid any serious work in the garden.  All was right with the world, Emily thought.  She could get a short nap if the phone would just stop ringing.  She had not been sleeping well.  Too many nightmares about Pierce.

The phone rang.

She loved Pierce, as much as she ever loved anyone.  She did not care if he was a genetically engineered super soldier, or what.  She loved him and he loved her, and that was enough.  Life was good, but then he got activated.  He was ordered to kill every student at New Jersey State University.  She died when she killed him.  It felt like stabbing a knife into her own heart.

The phone rang.

Emily did not want to be one of the elect anymore.  She did not want to be one in a million.  She did not want to be the woman warrior, empowered to defend home and community.  Whoever came up with that idea could stuff it.  Lisa said she was as strong as any man with an uncanny ability to fight with or without weapons.  She was hard to injure, quick to heal, coordinated, agile, graceful…  Emily just wanted to be Emily, not some freakish superhero.

The phone rang.

Okay, back at New Jersey State in Trenton, Detective Lisa and Latasha, a high school sophomore, were also elect.  That made three women warriors in one little city.  The odds against that were astronomical, but at least for Emily it was nice not being the only one in town.  At that moment, what felt more important was she would not feel too guilty about abandoning the city if she decided not to go back to school.

The phone rang.

How could she go back?  She would see Pierce everywhere she looked.  That was what her dreams were telling her.  That was what her nightmares were vividly pointing out.  Stay home.  There are good nursing schools in Ohio.  But, “Damn it!”  She promised Pierce she would go back and finish at New Jersey State.  She promised that right before she killed him.

The phone rang and someone had the nerve to pick it up.

“Emily!”  It was Mom.  Emily tumbled off the couch and walked grumpily to the kitchen.  “I think it is one of your friends from college.”  Mom smiled and held out the phone.

Emily nodded.  “Hello?”

“Emily!  Are you all right?  I have been worried sick about you.”  It was Amina, her own personal Sybil.

“You’re the seer,” Emily had no patience at the moment.  “You’re the one who sees things no one else can see.  You tell me.”

“The dreams.  You have been having terrible nightmares.”

Emily sighed.  She had not told anyone about her dreams.  The girl could truly see things.  Amina was a bit of a freak herself.  “Yes, I’ve been having dreams, but I think it is just my subconscious trying to talk some sense into me.”

“No, you must not listen.  It isn’t you dreaming.”

Emily paused before she asked, “What do you mean?”

“You are being attacked.  I have discussed it with Mindy.  She is looking for possible causes, what it might be that is attacking you.”

Emily swallowed.  “Attacked?”  If that was true, her attacker knew just where she was weak and vulnerable.  It was preying on her guilt and broken heart over Pierce and telling her not to go back to school in Trenton.

ac-amina-4“We are coming.  We will all be there on Saturday.  Melissa is finishing her summer classes and working on a spell of protection.  Jessica is anxious to find what it is and is harping on poor Mindy to identify it.  Maria will meet them at Newark airport.  She says she has been researching in her pharmacology books and may have something to help you sleep without remembering your dreams.

“And you?”

“Mindy will come up from Colombia, and I will come down from Chicago.”

“Your father is letting you go?  I thought he was going to keep you under lock and key until you were twenty-one and married.”  Amina was born in Chicago, but her family was from Morocco and strict beyond reason.

There was a pause this time on the other end before Amina spoke.  “My family knows I have the gift.  I told them it was a matter of life and death.”

“And is it?  A matter of life and death, I mean.”

This time the pause stretched out into an uncomfortable silence and Emily felt the chills of that silence in the back of her neck.  “I told my father I am going to go on a date this year,” Amina said.  “Meanwhile, we will all be there Saturday.  Please tell your mother not to make a fuss.”

“That will be like telling water not to be wet.”

“Try to rest, only don’t listen to your dreams, my queen.”

Amina hung up, and Emily griped.  Being elect made her some kind of Amazon queen to these women.  That was why at times they referred to Amina as the Sybil—the seer—and Amina referred to Emily as her queen.  Emily shook her head.  Despite the terribly prejudiced point of view, Emily’s picture of an Amazon was some big, weight-lifting, man hating woman with a moustache.  She could not help thinking that way, and that was so not her.  She went back to her couch.

“Oh, honey.  Don’t you have to go to work today?”  Emily’s mother began to dust around her.

“No,” Emily said.  “A day without French fries is like a day with sunshine.  By the way, Jessica, Melissa, Maria, Mindy and Amina are all coming here for a visit.  They will be here Saturday, and Amina said don’t make a fuss.”

Emily’s mother quickly calculated and looked at the clock on the mantle.  “I just have time to get some new bedding.”  She whipped off her gardening hat as she walked briskly to the basement door.  She shouted down the stairs.  “Tyler, as long as you are down there, pull out the bed from the convertible.”

Emily heard Tyler shout back.  “Is Aunt Matilda and the freak parade coming?”  Mother shut the door without answering.  She picked up her purse, paused by the mirror in the front hall and left.  Emily lay back on the couch and thought, at last!  Now she could get that nap, only now she could not get her eyes to close.  The dreams were bad enough when she thought they were her own, but the idea that someone or something was getting into her head and attacking her in her sleep made the chill return to the back of her neck.  The worst part of it was, given all she had seen and been through last year—her freshman year at New Jersey State, she did not doubt for one second that such a thing was possible.  Heck, if Amina said it, it was a virtual certainty, in which case she imagined she might never sleep again.

###

ab-fast-foodDad had to go into work Saturday morning.  The overtime was good, but that meant he could not pick up the girls.  Mom was too busy making beds, putting out flowers and checking the cookie supply to drive.  Emily was going to have to do it herself, but even as she got in the car, her manager called.

“I know you need the week off for police work.  You know me, cooperating with the police is my first choice, but I need you.  Can you come in for the morning shift?  Paul and Debbie both called out, but Alesandra will be in at two.  Please?”

What could Emily do?  As tired as she was, she needed the money.  Besides, she was not too sure about navigating the airport traffic lanes in her current condition.  Flipping burgers or running a register designed for idiots should not be a problem.  She called officer Marion.  The woman was instrumental in setting up department seven in the Columbus police force to help her stop an outbreak of vampires last Christmas.  At times, she felt like Emily’s own shadow, and Emily thought it was only fair to give the woman something to do.

###

ac-jessica-5Jessica was the first one off the plane from Newark, and not surprised to find a police officer waiting for them.  The woman looked about Detective Lisa’s age, around thirty-five or so.

“Where is Emily?”  Maria asked.  They had a half-hour wait for Amina to arrive from Chicago.

“Called in to work,” Mindy answered.  She had gotten there an hour earlier and spent most of that time sipping her latte, going in and out of the bathroom, fiddling with her long red hair and not talking.  She heard about the vampires, but offered little in return.

“Gee, Detective Lisa never offered us a ride in a police van,” Jessica said.

“I talked to your detective friend,” Marion said.  “She seemed to think if you are all gathering here, there must be something going on.”

“She is a detective.”  Jessica shrugged it off.  “Naturally suspicious.”

“So am I.”  Marion treated them to coffee and tea and then made them sit in a quiet corner.  “As I explained to Mindy, Captain Parker set up department seven last Christmas to help Emily and Anna Lee with the vampires.”

“Anna Lee?”  Melissa looked at her friends.

“Elect from New York City,” Maria explained quietly and Melissa nodded.

“Now, whenever Emily is in town, my job is to keep an eye on her.”  Marion hardly took a breath.  “I heard some of what you did at school last year.  I am sure you can still probably surprise me about things that a year ago I would have said are not real and you are mad, but I need to know what is going on or I won’t be of any use.  Besides, Lieutenant Anthony does not like surprises, so talk.”  The women looked at each other, but said nothing.

“Which one of you is in charge when Emily is not around?”  Marion tried again.

Melissa and Mindy spoke together.  “Jessica.”  But Jessica spoke otherwise.

“Maria.”

Maria shook her head.  “I am going to be a doctor.  The doctor is never in charge.”  She turned to Officer Marion.  “Jessica,” she said, emphatically.

“I don’t want to be in charge,” Jessica protested.

“That is just what Emily says,” Maria responded.

“Hey!”  Marion regained their attention.  “So Jessica, what is going on.”  Jessica just looked at Mindy who nodded to the look and finally opened up.

“I’ve narrowed it down to either ghouls or a bogyman.  According to my reading, though, it seems to me ghouls affect the vision and daydreams more than regular dreams.  Bogymen are the ones who turn night dreams into nightmares.”

ab-bogy“A boogyman?”  Marion had to ask.

“Bogyman.  Like Nightmare on Elm Street if you ever saw that movie,” Mindy responded.  From the look on Marion’s face it appeared she had seen the movie.  “Emily is having bad dreams,” Mindy offered.

Marion took a deep breath and her imagination almost took over.  She thought it wise to turn to Maria and change the subject.  “So you are going to medical school?”

“I haven’t applied yet.  I’m only a sophomore.  We all are, but that is the plan.”  Maria sipped her coffee.

“And you are in charge when Emily is absent?”

“Apparently,” Jessica said with a frown.  “And despite the fact that I am the blonde one.”

“You are going into ROTC with Emily,” Maria pointed out.  “You are going to be an officer.  And besides, you are the business major,” as if that had anything to do with it.

“Antiquities,” Mindy interrupted and offered her own major.  “The research information in Columbia is slim, but did you know New Jersey State has one of the biggest collections of old books, parchments, scrolls including papyrus and fragments in North America.  There are clay tablets at the school from Byblos, Nineveh, Babylon, and dating all the way back to Sumeria.  It is all such fascinating stuff.  Professor Papadopoulos—.”

“I am sure it is fascinating,” Jessica interrupted and Mindy quieted.

“And what about you?”  Officer Marion turned to Melissa who had said only that one peep to Maria about the Chinese woman from New York.  “What is your part in all of this?”

Melissa spoke quietly and in a very shy and unassuming manner.  “I’m the witch.”

Marion widened her eyes for a second before she appeared to shrug with those eyes.  “Did you think maybe a witch is giving Emily the nightmares?”

Jessica shook her head.  “Amina said whatever it is, it isn’t human.”

“Amina?”

“The one we are waiting for,” Maria spoke up.

“Our seer,” Jessica said.

“Our Sybil,” Mindy said.

“Sybil?”

“Amazon term,” Mindy explained.  “Amina says we are Emily’s Amazon tribe since she is…special.”  Jessica stared at her again.

“We think of it more like a club,” Maria said.  “You could be like an affiliate member.”

“Amazons,” Marion mused as the announcement blared over the speakers that Amina’s plane was at the gate.  Marion wanted to see this so-called seer, and while she waited she changed her mind.  Life still had plenty of stuff that could surprise her.

ac-amina-a1Amina had short cropped hair that cupped her face nicely and set off her deep set dark eyes.  Her hair was black, like Emily, but her skin looked extremely well-tanned, like she spent every day in the tanning salon.  When she got close and began to hug each girl in turn, Marion realized that this was the girl’s natural skin color.

Amina hugged Marion too, though they had never met, and she spoke.  “My family came here from Morocco.  I am glad the others explained things to you.  That saves me a lot of trouble.”

Marion turned to Jessica as they left the airport.  “Your seer?”

“Sybil,” Jessica nodded.  “It’s her job.”