Avalon 7.1 Spirits Alight, part 5 of 6

The travelers had no problem that next day.  They saw Seleucids—soldiers from Syria, but no one stopped them or bothered them.  They minded their own business, and the people left them alone.  They did stop, however, well before dark, so they had time to plan for the next day’s border crossing.

“The Syrians and Judeans are essentially at war,” Katie said.  “We should expect the border to be guarded going both ways.”

“In other words,” Lincoln said, as he sat up straight and gazed into the fire.  “The Syrians will want to stop us from crossing the border, and the Judeans will probably arrest us as soon as we cross the border.”

“Crossing should not be a problem,” Decker said.  “They will be stationed around the road.  They won’t be in the wilderness and should not be paying much attention to the local farmers who might have land on both sides of the border.  Boston and Elder Stow can go invisible and fly and run rings around the soldiers to draw them away from our path.  The Captain and I can back them up and cover the flank.  We just need to scout out a farm trail that the rest of you can get the wagon through.”

“Major,” Katie said. “When you say, we back up two invisible people, what are you thinking?”

“We hold the horses and kill as few Syrians as possible.”

“If you start shooting, you will just draw the Syrians back in our direction,” Lockhart said.

“The object is to make them go away from us,” Katie agreed.

“We have to find a farm path first,” Lincoln said.

“Boston,” Alexis interrupted.  “You can give play to your impish impulses this one time, only.”

Boston grinned and rubbed her hands together.  Decker spit.  They had some talking to do.

When the time came, just after lunch on the following day, they found thirty Syrians camped beside the road as expected.  The road went more or less straight at that point, as it had most of the way from Galilee, avoiding the inevitable bends and curves of the river.  Lincoln reported the river flowed for more than a hundred miles, but the road ran about fifty-five miles to that point, and that took them two-and-a-half days.

Up ahead, the road entered a forest of poplar and willows trees.  It looked like a natural demarcation between Judea and the Syrian controlled territory they traveled through.  On the Syrian side, there was not much cover, but Lincoln assured them the gully would hide them most of the way to where the farm trail cut through the trees.

Lockhart and Lincoln went first and took up a position by the woods and above the gully, in case the Syrians had a patrol out scouting the border.  Lockhart had Decker’s binoculars.  Katie, with Evan carrying her handgun, snuck to a place below the gully, where they could see the Syrian camp in the distance.  Decker also pointed at the Syrian camp, but kept well back from the others, near the place where the gully started.  He got behind a hill and spied on the Syrians through the scope on his rifle.

Once everyone got set, Alexis, Sukki, and Millie had to help Yusef drive the mule and wagon into the gully.  It made for a slow, rough passage.  One time, Sukki had to lift the back of the wagon to get it over a rock.  Another time, the wagon could clearly be seen, and Alexis had to pull out her wand.  She caused a swirling wind to pick up the dust, and made it look as much like a natural dust storm as possible until they passed that section.

When the wagon started, Decker said, “Go,”

Elder Stow walked invisibly, straight to the place where the Syrians tied off their horses.  Boston covered herself with a glamour that covered her red hair and made her look like a local.  She also made herself look as attractive, that is, as sexy as possible.  She got plenty of stares as she walked down the road, which was what she wanted. She made a scene when the Syrians finally stopped her from crossing the border.  She screamed and yelled, and all but exposed herself in the process.  Finally, she started toward the trees, away from the wagon.  The guards tried to stop her but could not seem to catch her.  Boston slowly sped up so they could not touch her.  When one man tried to run, to get in front of her, she turned on some elf speed.  She quickly arrived at the edge of the woods, roughly a hundred yards away, where she went invisible and entered among the trees.

At that same time, the Syrian horses stampeded to the sound of Elder Stow’s sonic device.  He had knocked down one side of the makeshift pen.  He used his weapon to set fire to the side of the pen that pointed toward the wagon.  Then he let the sonic device squeal.  The horses bolted away from the fire and the sound, while Elder Stow, still invisible, rose up in the air and chased a few lazy horses.  He set the tents closest to the road on fire, with a judicious use of his weapon.  He figured the Syrians closer to the wagon would be drawn in toward the road to help put out the fires.  He tried not to kill anyone, but briefly felt sorry if there were humans inside the burning tents.  He flew, still invisible, back to the wagon.  They were just ready to enter the forest, and he thought he might fly cover until they were safe.

Decker caught up to the back of the wagon.  Lockhart and Lincoln came down from above the gully, while Katie and Evan came up to the trees.  They pushed in amongst the trees on what looked like more of deer trail than a farm road.  Less than a dozen yards in, and they became surrounded by twenty rough looking men.  The men looked more like farmers, builders, merchants, and teamsters than an army, but they also looked like they meant business.

“Where are you headed?”  The man who appeared to be in charge, asked, but he looked uncertain how to take these strangers.  Two men looked in the back of the wagon but did not touch anything.  Most appeared interested in the horses and equipment.

Lockhart got down and said, “We are no friends with the Seleucids.  We are newly arrived from Greece, though we are not Greeks.  Our home is far in the west, beyond the sea.  We must go to Egypt and beyond to reach our home, but first we have a task.  We told this family we would take them home to Jerusalem.”

While Lockhart distracted everyone’s attention, Elder Stow landed behind the group, unseen.  He became visible and walked to his horse without incident.  Likewise, Boston ran up to the group and became visible, returning to her normal red-headed self, covered in her glamour of humanity.  A few of the men may have looked at her twice when she went to her horse, but they may have been startled by her red hair.

“We cannot help you right now,” the man in charge said.  “The temple and the city are being cleansed of outsiders and outside influence.”

“And Acra?” Katie asked.

The leader paused to stare at the yellow-headed woman.  “You know something… But no.  The fortress on the hill over the city remains in enemy hands.  My brother will not spend his forces on direct confrontation.  Better we cut off their supplies so that they surrender peaceably.”

“But we promised Yusef and his family that we would see them buried in Jerusalem.”

The leader smiled.  “He looks healthy enough, and not so old.  I would say there is time for that.”

“There is no time,” Yusef stood in the wagon.  His wife stood and held his cloak while their daughter stood and held on to her mother’s skirt.  “The time is past and is now over.  Listen Simeon, son of Mattathias.  I am Joseph, eldest son of Jotham, king of Judah.  Son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, son of Amaziah, son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, son of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, son of Abijah, son of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, son of David the King.  From David to my father is twelve generations, and I am the thirteenth, cut off from my home for all these years.

“I was sent by my father to Samaria, to speak peace to the kings of Israel and Damascus.  My younger brother, Ahaz, thought the time ripe to rebel.  He and his Assyrian friends locked my father away and demanded my return in chains.  My own servants turned against me, as Ahaz had long since planned.  But I was warned in a letter from the prophet Isaiah, and I took my wife and my child and fled, not knowing who else to trust.  We eventually came to Hazor, far in the north country, but there, the Assyrians caught us.  We were killed along with the city, and we have waited all these years to return home.

“Now these good people have pledged to see us buried in the place of the kings.  See that it is done.  Do not fight against the Lord your God.  The word of the Lord, given to the prophet Isaiah, has been plainly spoken, and now it is done.”  Yusef pulled a very old parchment from his cloak, but it immediately crumbled to dust and blew away on the wind.  “The time is over,” Yusef said to the sky, and he, Tama and Aleah began to glow.  They became too bright to look at before they vanished in an instant.  Everyone heard the clump, clump, clump as three bones fell to the wagon bed.

To their credit, none of the Judeans screamed and ran away, but to be fair, they might not have dared to do so.  The travelers acted much less surprised.  This seemed in line with so many of their other experiences, but not, in a way.  They all felt moved in a different way than the gods might have moved them.  This felt holy.

Katie and Alexis moved first.  Katie fetched the empty bag they had used to carry grain from a village they passed through the day before.  Alexis caused her fairy weave clothing to form gloves for her hands. She carefully picked up three bones, one from the buckboard, and two from the wagon bed.  Being a nurse, she identified them as femur bones.

Lincoln, who stepped up to help Katie hold the bag, commented.  “Probably the only bones they could save after five hundred and sixty-eight years.”

“Simeon?” Lockhart asked.  The man nodded, closed his mouth and looked up at Lockhart.  “We promised to see them buried in Jerusalem.”  Simeon nodded a little but said nothing.

“The City of David,” Evan interrupted.  “He belongs in the sepulcher of the Kings, with his fathers.”  Simeon looked at Evan and nodded again, slightly.

“Now, we need someone to drive the wagon,” Decker pointed out.

Simeon appeared to come to himself.  He waved for two men to take the mule, but the men shook their heads and backed away.  None of them would touch the wagon, especially when Katie placed the bone-filed bag gently in the back.

“That’s okay,” Evan said.  “Millie and I will take the day.”  He looked at Millie to be sure, but she nodded.

“Tama and Aleah seemed very nice, even if they never said anything.”

Katie complained.  “Now that I know his heritage and story, I have so many questions.”

“We all do,” Evan agreed, and Simeon nodded again.

“But now he is no longer available to ask your questions,” Lincoln said.

“Probably on purpose,” Lockhart suggested, and no one argued.

Avalon 7.1 Spirits Alight, part 4 of 6

Lunch did not last long, and they stopped in a green field when they had plenty of daylight for the horses to feed.  The day remained cold, but the winter there still produced some green feed by the river.

When Lincoln finished his duty, helping to tend the horses, he pulled out the database, and after reading for a bit, he reported his speculation.  “There, on the hill, or in those hills, should be the city of Ephron.  Tomorrow, we should pass Pella in the morning and reach Amathus by afternoon.  They should all be on the other side of the river from the way we are traveling.  We should be able to wave and pass right on by.”

“How close to the border of Judea?” Katie asked.

“Um,” Lincoln figured.  “Based on the information I gathered in Philoteria, I would guess the Maccabees have not yet moved out of Judea.  That narrows the time frame to early in the rebellion.  I would guess we should cross into Jewish territory about lunch on the next day, about a half-day from Jericho.”

Katie nodded.  “That is the day we will have to watch carefully.  Both the Syrians and Jews may have men guarding the border, and they may not be too happy with people crossing over, one way or the other.”

“True enough,” a woman said.  People looked, expecting Tama, or maybe Aleah to appear.  Instead, Anath-Rama, the goddess of the Amazon paradise appeared, though it took the travelers a minute to figure it out.  Katie was the first to speak.

“I’m not dead yet,” she said.  “And I was told I don’t qualify as an Amazon.”

“And you are correct,” Anath-Rama said.  “But you carry three who are dead.  I thought it only right to apologize for burdening you with them.”

The travelers looked at each other and asked, “How so?”

Anath-Rama took a seat between Katie and Alexis before she spoke.  “The Jews are kept in a place apart.  Not even the gods know that place.  Since Alexander, things have become muddied.  Baal, Hades, Erishkegal, and many other cathartic gods from here in the east all the way to Egypt have argued at times on just where some people need to go.  Some spirits have had to wait for years to be placed.  These three, however, were different.  No one wanted them.  No one dared take Jews into their place.  But the source did not take them, either.  No one knew what to do with them.”

“That is terrible,” Alexis said.

“To have to wander that town, without hope, for more than five hundred years.

“Five hundred and sixty-eight years.  But they were not alone.  I broke down and took them in so they would not have to be alone.  Your adopted android daughter, Artie, prevailed upon me, kind heart that she is.”

Lockhart looked up before he turned his head to the flames.  Katie stiffened, before she confessed, “She got her kind heart from her father.”  Lockhart kindly did not say anything.  He remembered how they found Artie crashed to the earth, and how Elder Stow was instrumental in setting her free from all the restraints her Anazi makers placed on her.  He remembered how he and Katie adopted her, long before they actually married, and how she became transformed at one point into a human, so she became like a real daughter to the couple.  But in the end, she transformed back into an android so she could set her people free of their Anazi slave-masters.  He knew she was gone but felt glad to know she continued among the dead.  He remembered Anath-Rama volunteered to watch over the spirits of the android dead until what they called the time of the dissolution of the gods.  He felt grateful to know Artie was in good hands, but thought he better listen, as Anath-Rama picked up her story.

“Once that became settled, the gods prophesied.  These three, a man, a woman, and a child, would be a sign for when the days of the gods would end.  You may have noticed the gods are not around as much as in the past.  It is said, when these three reach Jerusalem, the time will be two weeks and two days.  By dead reckoning, that is one hundred and sixty years.  The Gods have that time to finish their work and go over to the other side.  When the time is up, the day of the gods will be over.”

“Dead Reckoning, good pun,” Decker said.

Anath-Rama smiled for him.  “Thanks.  I saved it for years.”

“But wait,” Lincoln spoke up.  “Not all of the gods are anxious to end their days.  What if one of them tries to stop us?”

Anath-Rama shook her head.  “These three are protected by the full power and might of the gods.  Any attempt would send the offending god or spirit instantly to the other side.  You will be left alone.”

“The other side?” Millie asked, quietly.

“Death,” Alexis explained, with equal quiet.

“So, I am sorry to burden you, but when you came through the time gate, I felt—no—I believed you were the answer we were waiting for.  I am glad you don’t mind.”

“Mom?  Dad?”  The voice came before Artie appeared.

“Artie?”  Katie jumped up and opened her arms.  Lockhart stood and watched Artie the android race into Katie’s embrace.  Katie and Artie started to cry, and Lockhart slipped his arms around his two girls, and without the awkwardness or embarrassment he used to show all those centuries ago.  After a while, Artie talked.

“Mom, my people are all gone now.”

“I know,” Katie said as she took her hand to brush Artie’s hair.  “But you lived a good, long time, and your people lived free.”

“We did,” Artie said, and began a new round of tears.

“But where will you go when the gods have all gone?”  Lockhart had been thinking.

“We are not sure,” Artie said, and with a glimpse at Anath-Rama, she added, “No one is sure.  But most believe it will be a great adventure.”  Artie grinned, and looked at Boston, who returned the grin.  “And mom,” Artie said, and waited.

“I am here,” Katie said.

“My big sister, Sekhmet, wants to say good-bye, too.  She says she will see you at the time gate in Suez.”

Katie, Lockhart, and Artie hugged again, and then Artie and Anath-Rama began to fade, until they disappeared.  Evan waited until they were gone before he asked.


“The Egyptian lion goddess, defender of the upper Nile,” Katie admitted.

“I’m not sure how we adopted Sekhmet,” Lockhart said.  “I suppose she sort of adopted us.”

Katie nodded, and said, “But I don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t mind,” Lockhart agreed.  “She is a good daughter.  Both of them.  We had two good daughters.”  Katie nodded in agreement as Millie turned on Evan.

“I want a daughter.”

Avalon 7.1 Spirits Alight, part 3 of 6

In the morning, when everything got packed up and ready to go, Boston shouted at the trees.  “Yusef.  Tama and Aleah.  It’s okay to come back now.  We are ready to get going.  Come on.  We don’t mind.”

They waited and watched as something like a white mist coalesced into three people.  They looked like they had at first.  Aleah held on to her mother’s skirt.  Tama held on to Yusef, and Yusef looked pensive and worried his hat.

“Very different from the dark mist of the wraith,” Sukki whispered to Boston, who nodded.

“You don’t mind?” Yusef asked.

“Naw, come on,” Boston said.

“We don’t mind,” Katie smiled, and Tama smiled for the first time.

“We carried a ghost once before,” Alexis said, and added her smile.

“Carthair.”  Decker spit.  “The careless,” he said, and rode out to the wing.

Yusef looked curious, so Lincoln explained.  “He lost his body down a crevasse in a glacier.  We had to retrieve his body before we could do anything.”  Yusef seemed to understand something.

“You drive the truck,” Lockhart said, pointing to the wagon.  Tama and Aleah got right up in the back.  Yusef got up on the buckboard, having no trouble understanding Lockhart, even if he did not know what a truck was.

The travelers passed through a few more villages, and a couple of towns along the lakeside.  Alexis, Lincoln, Millie and Evan rode in front, talking away, and sometimes included Yusef in their conversation.  Katie and Lockhart followed the wagon.  It would have been their turn to drive the mule.

“Curious that the people today are not showing any of the fear the people did yesterday.  How do you explain that?” Katie asked.

Lockhart shrugged.  “I don’t know, but they seem to be ignoring us, and I prefer it that way.”

Around ten-thirty, Boston came riding back to the group, and the group stopped moving.  “City up ahead,” she said, and Lincoln got out the database.  Lockhart rode to the front.

“Philoteria,” Lincoln decided.  “That is where the Jordan comes out of the lake and heads south.  Unavoidable,” he concluded.

“City,” Boston told Lockhart.  “Full of army men.  Sukki has her eyes on it.”

“Perhaps we should disappear,” Yusef suggested.

“No,” people said, but he waited to hear from Lockhart.

“No.  We have not had any trouble today, or even notice in the places we have been this morning.  I don’t see any reason for that to change.”  He called Decker and Elder Stow to pull in before he went back to Katie.

The travelers got into the city with no problem.  They stopped in the market and got some things for lunch and supper.  Yusef, Tama, and Aleah stayed in the wagon, but their heads turned here and there as they watched the activities of the living.  Lincoln tried to bargain with the sellers, but Lockhart got the better price.  They were not going to argue with a giant, especially when he had a second, black giant looming over his shoulder.

“That went reasonably well,” Lockhart said.

“They should teach bargaining in school,” Alexis said, as she came to the wagon with twice the take for a tenth of the cost.

Surprisingly, the only time the travelers ran into trouble was in leaving the city through the river gate, where the river road headed south.  They found a dozen soldiers there, and they appeared to be checking everyone headed south.

“The Gulf of Suez,” Lincoln answered, giving the general location of the time gate.  Katie, Alexis, and Lockhart had all yelled at him for being so free with the information that they were headed to Jerusalem.  Presently, Judea and the Syrians were at war.  Mention going to Jerusalem from outside the territory of Judea, and he risked them all being taken for spies, or enemy combatants.

Lockhart and Katie came to the front in time to hear the chief in the gate say, “Ah, Ptolemy bound.  We got no use for those Egyptian scum.”

“They trade,” Katie said, quickly.

“We are simple travelers,” Lockhart tried his line.

The chief looked twice at Katie’s blonde head before he got rude.  “And in what merchandise?”

“Horses and weapons from the Athol, in Thessaly, Greece,” Katie responded.  “We were just there, not many days ago.  You may have heard of that place.”

“I heard of it,” one of the soldiers spoke.

“Best horses in Greece,” Lockhart added.

“I can see that,” the chief said.  “I might let you go for one of your horses.”

“And the mule,” a different soldier said.  “He looks like a strong one.”

Several of the soldiers got to the back of the wagon and got ready to rifle through the traveler’s things.  Yusef turned to the man admiring the mule.

“Not a good idea,” Yusef said, and he distorted his face in a way that made the soldier scream

Tama also screamed, a bone chilling sound, when a soldier reached for her.  Aleah changed into the shape and face of a decayed body.  The soldiers screamed in return and ran off.

“Did we mention the ghosts?” Lockhart said.

“Don’t push it,” Katie whispered.  “I think we can go,” she said more loudly, and they started through the gate.  Yusef got the mule moving, and Decker and Elder Stow brought up the rear.  Elder Stow turned on the screen device he worked on while they were stopped.  A screen wall got projected behind them.  The chief, and the few who did not see the transformed faces of the ghosts, tried to fire some arrows.  They bounced off Elder Stow’s wall, and the chief quickly decided that maybe it would be best to let these people go after all.

When Elder Stow and Decker moved out again on the wings, and Boston and Sukki rode out front, Lockhart sent Lincoln and Alexis to the rear.  They would stop for lunch as soon as they got far enough down the Jordan River to be away from the city, and Alexis and Lincoln would have the afternoon shift in any case.

“You should not lie like that,” Yusef said, once they got in the clear.

“About what?”

“About the Athol, and the Greeks.  I heard about that valley, even in my day, and again, when the Greeks came through to ruin the Persians.  I know what you said about the Athol making weapons and raising horses is real, but that valley is a long way from here, far across the sea.  One of the commandments is you shall not bear false witness.”

“Not false witness,” Katie said.

“We were there just two days ago, and maybe fifty years ago,” Lockhart said.  “It is kind of hard to explain.  You see, we are time travelers, people out of time, and we are trying to get home to the far future.”  Lockhart paused, so Katie added a thought.

“I don’t think the people in the Athol would be upset if we made a few sales while we travel.”

“You need to go to Jerusalem, and we don’t mind taking you there,” Lockhart said.  “Our journey is a bit longer—about two thousand years longer.”

Yusef shook his ghostly head.  “We are dead, but sadly, not gone.  But you people are stranger still.  I do not understand.”

“Don’t let it bother you,” Evan said.

“I don’t understand it either,” Millie said.  “And I am in the middle of it.”



The travelers and their ghosts head for Jerusalem and hope they don’t run into any more Seleucids.  Until Monday, Happy Reading


Avalon 7.1 Spirits Alight, part 2 of 6

Lockhart frowned.  He figured the family had probably been stuck there for some time and might know more of what made those creepy sounds.  He stood.

“We have wasted enough time, fascinating as ruins may be.  Pack it up.”

The travelers did not object.  The mule objected briefly to Yusef, but they got Yusef up on the buckboard to drive the beast while his wife Tama and daughter Aleah rode in the back of the wagon.  Until then, they had worked out a schedule for the married couples to take turns driving the wagon.  Lincoln and Alexis had the morning shift.  They tied their horses to the back of the wagon, and Lincoln played at driving a Conestoga across the plains, though he admitted it felt more like driving a chuck wagon for a cattle drive in the wilderness.

With Yusef driving, everyone could ride.  Millie and Evan, who were supposed to have the afternoon turn, volunteered to bring up the rear and follow the wagon.  That left Lockhart, Katie, Lincoln and Alexis to ride in front and get into some kind of conversation.  Boston and Sukki joined them now and then, but they mostly rode further out to scout the trail, while Decker and Elder Stow stayed out on the wings to guard their passage.

In this manner, they came down out of the heights, mostly on a poor dirt road of some sort.  In some places, the road got reduced to two wagon wide ruts, but even that was better than trying to drive through the rock-strewn hillside.  They had to be careful in a couple of places where the road got steep.  But their new wagon had a brake of some sort, and they showed Yusef how to use it to slow his descent.

When they got down from the highlands, they came immediately on the sea of Galilee, which the Greeks called, Lake Gennesaret.  Katie checked her amulet, but it did not help, not showing the details like Boston’s advanced model.  Katie could see the next time gate, where they were headed, but she would need a map to find Jerusalem.  Fortunately, she felt familiar with the area.

“We follow around the lake shore until we come to the Jordan River.  Then we follow the river south to Jericho where we can cut across country to Jerusalem, like we did the last time we came through here.”

Lockhart remembered.

Another half-hour, and they came to a fishing village.  The people there did not receive the travelers well.  Most of the people hid.  A few who were caught outdoors screamed and ran into their houses to peek out the windows.

“Not expected,” Lockhart said.  Lincoln sniffed at his underarm, and Alexis reached over to slap him.

“Gee,” Boston said.  “And we got Roman saddles and everything.”  She and Sukki had moved back to ride at the front of the column.  Decker and Elder Stow moved in to act as rear guard.

“Makes me think my glamour has slipped,” Elder Stow said.

Millie turned her head back. “No.  It must be something else.”

Fortunately, the village was not that big.  They were soon out of it, and on a rough, but better road, which unfortunately, led to several more villages where they got more or less the same reception.  The travelers began to get discouraged.

When they came to a Katie approved defensive place in the wilderness, between the villages, Lockhart called them to stop for the night.  They pulled the wagon off the road and set about caring for the horses and gathering wood for the fire.  Alexis and Lincoln walked back up the road to a farmhouse, where they bought a goat.  When they got back with the beast, and Decker and Boston butchered it, Alexis asked the obvious question.

“Where are Yusef, Tama, and Aleah?”

“We have been wondering that ourselves,” Lockhart answered.

“They seem to have disappeared,” Elder Stow said.  “And don’t ask me to get out my scanner, because I got it out when we went through that first village.  Given the reaction of the people, I wondered if there might be soldiers about causing trouble, and I thought they might have seen us as connected to the soldiers.  But when I checked the area, I did not find anything peculiar.  Then the scanner fell on our group, and I noticed Yusef and his family did not show up as being there.  It is possible the scanner has developed a flaw, but I checked several times, and they don’t register.”

“I know,” Millie interrupted.  “I Spent all afternoon trying to get Tama or Aleah to say something, anything.  They just stared the whole time.”

Boston looked up from her cutting.  “Oh, they’ve gone to sleep until morning.”  She went to wash up and would let Decker do the rest of the butchering, while Alexis and Sukki prepared the meat for the fire, along with what few vegetables they found.

“What do you mean, they’ve gone to sleep?  Lockhart wondered.

“Goat is not off the Jewish diet,” Alexis said.  “I just need to ask if I have to prepare it in a special way.”

“Boston.” Katie said, and put some insistence in her voice.

Boston scrunched up her face before she decided something.  She shouted to the trees.  “Sorry.  I have to tell.  Sorry.  But it will be all right.  You will see.  Everything will be all right.”  She turned to the group and sheepishly said, “They are ghosts.  Yusef asked me not to tell.  He was afraid you would drive them away, and they have to get to Jerusalem, or they will never be able to rest.  And in their condition, they cannot move far unless someone takes them.  It is complicated, but I said it would be all right.  Tama and Aleah don’t talk because they have given everything they have to Yusef so he can talk and drive the wagon.  You don’t mind if they go with us, do you?”  Boston took a breath.

Decker Spat.  “We put up with Carthair.  A few more ghosts should not matter.”

“That’s right,” Lockhart said.  “I forgot about him.”

Alexis worried about Sukki.  “Oh, Boston told me,” Sukki said, having made some peace with the idea.

“That was up in the alps,” Katie explained to Evan and Millie.  “Carthair was an early Celt who died in between the Greco-Roman and the German worlds.  He did not want to go to Hades.  He preferred the idea of going to Valhalla.  We took him into German lands.”

“But then he ended up going into the new Celtic jurisdiction,” Lincoln said.  “And he was not happy about that.”

“I remember,” Katie said.  “It was fascinating to watch.  The Kairos Danna, the mother goddess for the Celts was there, and Odin showed up.  They bargained right in front of us about dividing up the Celtic and Germanic people.”

“The Kairos lived as the Gaelic mother goddess?” Evan said, but quickly added, “I don’t know why that should be surprising.”

Avalon 7.1 Spirits Alight, part 1 of 6

After 168 B.C. Judea

Kairos 86: Judith Maccabee

Recording …

The travelers came through the time gate in a place Lincoln said he recognized.  “Third time is the charm,” he claimed.  “Judith is a Hasmonean.  Her father is Judah Maccabee, the hammer, one of the sons.  Her uncles are Eleazar, Simon, John, and Jonathan.”

“John and Jonathan?” Alexis asked.

“That is what is says,” Lincoln pointed to the database.

“The first book of Maccabees,” Evan said.

“It’s not in the Bible,” Millie added something she knew.

“In the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles,” Alexis said.

“I heard of the Maccabees,” Boston said.

“Yes, I remember,” Alexis said.  “I never read the books, though.”

“Lovely,” Lockhart interrupted.  “But that doesn’t tell us where we are.”

“Everyone knows the books of the Maccabees,” Katie teased.  “Four books, right?”  She looked at Millie.

“I think so.”

“Yes,” Evan said.  “Two or Four books.”  Lockhart looked at Lincoln. but Evan answered.  “We are in Palestine, er, Israel, or actually, Judea, depending.”

“Depending?” Lockhart asked.

“Depending on what time in history we have actually arrived,” Lincoln picked up the answer.

“Last time we came through here there were armies fighting,” Evan added.  “We avoided everyone.”

“Is that all the human race does?” Millie asked.

“Seems so,” Elder Stow said.

“That is what armies do,” Decker added.

“Now be fair,” Alexis said.  “There is peace in most places for most of history.  We just have to assume the Kairos is going to be where all of the action is taking place, that’s all.”

“Not an assignment I would like,” Katie said.

“Which way?”  Decker asked, getting a bit impatient.  He was ready to ride out on the wing and just needed to know the general direction.

“Toward Galilee,” Lincoln pointed.  Both Boston and Katie looked at their amulets and confirmed the direction.

“But I would like to see what that is,” Katie pointed.

“Ruins,” Boston said.  Elf eyes were as good as eagle eyes on level ground.

“I am not picking up many life signs,” Elder Stow said, as he looked at his scanner.

“To the ruins,” Lockhart said.  Decker nodded and rode to the top of a small rise.  He paused, before he disappeared down the other side.  Elder Stow rode more slowly out some distance from the other side of the group, hardly taking his eyes off the scanner.  Boston whooped and rode out front.  Sukki had to catch up.  The rest started out at a slow but steady pace.

The ruins turned out to be a city.  “Hazor,” Lincoln named it.  “The Assyrians burnt it to the ground in 732 B.C.”

“I never imagined ruins this far back in history,” Evan said, honestly enough.  “I normally think of these days as the days people build the cities that we find as ruins two thousand years in the future.”  Katie made no objection to that way of thinking.  “I suppose it makes sense, though.  The human race has been building and making war for thousands of years at this point.”

“Actually, having been through all those years, it makes perfect sense to me,” Lockhart said, and Katie appeared to agree.

The day felt cold and wet.  The wind whipped around the travelers, adding to the chill.  When they got in among the crumbling walls and buildings, they felt grateful for the windbreak.  At the same time, they heard the wind whistle through the streets, sounding like people in torment.  They heard low moans, creaks in the stones, and whispers that occasionally rose up the scale to human-like screams.  It is just the wind, people said.  The winter wind, Boston insisted, and Lincoln pointed to a small pile of snow, shoved by the wind against a pile of stones, where the sun could not get at it.

“Snow?  Doesn’t look like middle east to me,” Lockhart objected.

“They get snow,” Katie insisted. “We are up in the highlands.”

Lockhart shook his head.  “When I think of this part of the world, I think of heat, like a desert, or Lawrence of Arabia.”

Katie laughed, but paused at the next wind driven scream down an alleyway.

When they got to the far side of the ruins, they stopped for an early lunch, and Lockhart asked what had been on his mind.

“The question is, why hasn’t this place been rebuilt?”

“The Greeks and Romans destroyed cities all the time, but later, they let the old people, or sometimes entirely new people go back in and rebuild the cities.”  Evan agreed with the question.

“The Assyrians were not that open minded,” Katie suggested.  “Sometimes, they eliminated competitors and did not want anyone else to come along and start it up again.”

“Besides,” Lincoln said.  “Who would want to live here?  The place sounds haunted.”

“What I was thinking,” Sukki said, and looked around, furtively, to await the next scream in the wind.

“Hey,” Boston got everyone’s attention.  “Maybe there is a secret cave deep under the ruins where a genie lives in a lamp.”  People ignored her.

“Fair enough,” Lockhart responded. “But I would think after five hundred years, there would at least be people living here.”

“There are,” Elder Stow said, and pulled his scanner back out.  “Not many.  Mostly hiding from us, I would guess.”

“Maybe merchants passing through,” Millie suggested.

Evan agreed with his wife.  “Travelers, like us.”

Lockhart offered a thought one might expect from a former policeman.  “Maybe thieves and robbers using this place as a hideout.”

“Thanks,” Lincoln objected to that image, and Sukki looked scared, but Boston picked up on the idea.

“Maybe cutthroats, murderers and assassins planning their next job.”  She chuckled but stopped when she noticed some of the others did not find it so funny.  “Sorry,” she said.  “I seem to be losing touch with the way some humans view things.”

“It’s not that different,” Alexis scolded, and added, “Don’t give in to your impish impulses.  That way leads to the dark side.”

Boston frowned.  “Yes mom.”  She gave it her sarcastic best, before she, Katie, and Decker all jumped to their feet.

“Excuse me.”  A man stepped from behind their windbreak wall.  He had his hat in his hand and worried it.  “You appear to be travelers.  May I ask where you are headed?”

“Jerusalem,” Lincoln said, before anyone could stop him.  Between his database and Boston’s amulet, they figured out that much.  The Kairos had to be in Jerusalem.

“Can we help you?” Lockhart asked in his best policeman voice.

“My wife and I need to get to Jerusalem.  It is our home.  We came up here because of family, but things went bad.  There were armies and killing.  It isn’t safe to travel home, just us, alone.”

“Your wife?” Alexis asked.

The man reached one hand behind the wall, and a young woman, ten or more years younger than the man, and a seven or eight-year-old girl came to join him.  They said nothing, but the wife appeared to cling to the man, as the girl clung to her mother’s skirt and stared.

“You have names?” Katie asked, as she resumed her seat beside Lockhart.

“Yusef,” the man said.  “Tama, my wife, and Aleah, my daughter, is eight.”

Katie introduced the travelers, and Alexis asked, “Are you hungry?”

“Thank you, no,” the man said.  “We have eaten, earlier.  If you don’t mind.  Our people have many restrictions on what we may eat and how it is prepared.”

“Kosher,” Alexis nodded.  “We understand, at least the basic idea.”

The family looked toward the wind caused scream in the distance.  The travelers followed the family’s eyes but saw nothing; except a few noticed the fear in the eyes of the family.

“More ghosts.  Not nice ones,” Boston said, before she quieted.

Avalon 6.9 Rome, part 2 of 6

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.

“Just a cobweb,” he told her. “Hush.  Just a cobweb.”

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.

“No… Don’t…Wait…”

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.

“Is this all of them?” Nanette asked.

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.

R6 Festuscato: 7 Travelers, part 3 of 3

“Attend,” Danna said, clapped her hands, and all three wraiths appeared before her and promptly fell to their knees, even if they continued to float about a foot off the ground.  They had knees at least.  It was the feet beneath the nightgown-like dresses they wore that were invisible or non-existent.  Danna tapped her foot and put her hands to her hips.  “You have names?”  And she knew their names.  Morgan had the dark hair, Mabon was the blond and Moira had flaming red hair.  “Change of venue,” Danna decided.

Mirowen came running out the front door, saw what was happening and said, “Lady,” and stood quiet.

Danna waved her hand and all five women appeared on Captain Breok’s ship.  “I have made it so the Captain and his crew cannot see or hear you or in any way be harmed or frightened by you.  I have done the same for Mousden since Mirowen does not need the screams in the night, and come to think of it, I have done the same for the dock-master and any workmen or locals who have occasion to be aboard ship before we leave.  The tie between you and the Travelers is now severed.  You are henceforth tied to the ship until I give you leave.”

“Goddess, we will starve.”

“You will not starve, but you will not feed for a time.”  Danna changed back to Festuscato and he continued speaking.  “Mirowen and I will be the only ones you can communicate with, and you can only do that if it is polite and not threatening.  Break the rule, and I will cut you off from everyone, and it will be like you don’t exist, and you will starve, so be polite until I give you leave.”

Festuscato took Mirowen’s hand and walked her across the plank to the dock while the wraiths wailed their lament and followed up to an invisible barrier where they could not leave the ship.  “Thanks a lot.”  Mirowen inched closer to her Lord.  “I’ll have nightmares for years even after you let them go.”

They ran into Captain Breok on the dock, and he asked a friendly enough question.  “Why are you two still awake?  We are leaving before dawn.”

“I was just thinking I should sleep well, now,” Festuscato grinned at Mirowen.

“Okay. I’ll give you that one,” Mirowen admitted.

“Then again, maybe Fianna is awake and wondering where I went, in which case I might not sleep at all.”

“Lord.”  Mirowen slapped his shoulder, softly.  “I will not give you that one.”


“So tell me,” Captain Breok said, over a late supper. The time, just after nine, when the moon started to rise.  “All day I have watched you speaking to the air and I have not seen who you are talking to. But I believe you have been talking to someone, perhaps invisible.  I offer three reasons for my belief and please tell me where I am mistaken. First, anyone else and I would say they had lost their mind, but you?  Second, I saw the lady speaking to the air more than once as well.  Third, I saw when you laid your hand on young Mousden’s head, and from the way he screamed and flew up to the masthead, I would say he certainly saw something.  So, tell me I am wrong.”

“I saw,” Dibs said.  “But I pretended I did not see so they left me alone.”

“I saw nothing,” Gaius said, and Bran and Seamus agreed, but Seamus added a note.

“I felt something frightening, something evil and uncanny all day, but I saw nothing so I said nothing.”

Everyone paused and waited for Festuscato to speak. “What you did not see,” he said. “Was for your own protection, for you and your crew.  Mousden has been likewise protected, and only caught a glimpse because the women claimed they were starving, and pixie fright was a treat.  In the case of these Christian men, there is a natural disconnect. Their faith can be turned like a weapon, so the women hide from them so the men must make a special effort to see. They have made no effort because until now they had no idea there was something to see.  Interesting that you made those observations since they were not out much during the day.  They have made a place for themselves down in the hold and mostly rest in the shadows during daylight.  They say the sun makes them look too wan and pale and hard to see.  The moon, they say, makes them glow.  I wouldn’t know about such things.  Mirowen?”

“Don’t ask me.  I haven’t glowed in years.”

“No.  Not true. You glow even now.”  They all protested, but Mirowen yawned,

“Raising boys is a dirty business,” she said.

“Not surprising your invisible visitors are women,” Gaius said, softly.

Mirowen yawned again.  “I am so tired.  The sea does that, but I probably won’t sleep a wink tonight.”

“Me neither,” Festuscato admitted, and they were still up at sunrise with Dibs and Gaius talking about old times when Colan and Mousden both shouted down.

“Sail ho!”  It appeared a ship they were all familiar with, and Festuscato groaned, while Mirowen clicked her tongue.

“What will it take to teach this guy.”

“Captain Keravear and his Pictish lads,” Captain Breok named the ship.  “Treeve. Get that sail down and get the men lined up.  Now, I want to hear please spare us and bless you good Captain nice and loud this time, and with feeling.  Last time I felt like you were getting a bit lax.”

“Captain, wait a minute,” Festuscato interrupted everyone as Bran and Seamus came up alongside him to get a good look over the railing.  “I have three women here begging to be let loose.  Ladies.”  Festuscato turned to speak to what the rest imagined as empty air, but he spoke sharply and wagged his finger.  “I want you to turn them away from this ship and head north, back to their home port, but you have to do it carefully.  Don’t scare them to death or drive them insane, and don’t scare them so badly they abandon ship.  If they abandon ship, you will be stuck floating around on an aimless, empty ship forever, or until you sink and drown in the sea.  So be careful.  Let them take you to their port.  Then I recommend you move inland with the Scotts over the years.  One day, they will build great stone forts and castles in the highlands, especially around the lochs.  You are welcome to haunt those places, and if you get to Loch Ness, say hi to Stubby for me, okay?”  The invisible women seemed to respond, because after a moment, Festuscato added, “Go on, then.  Shoo. Scat.” and he, Mirowen, and Dibs watched something head toward the oncoming ship.

“I liked the blond,” Dibs said.

“The redhead,” Festuscato countered.

“You have a thing for red hair,” Mirowen pointed out the obvious.

It did not take long for the ship to turn around and head north.  Mirowen smiled like she had been set free.  To Mousden’s question she said, “You don’t want to know.”

“To Wales?” Captain Breok asked.

“To Wales.”  Festuscato confirmed.

“I want to thank you for shielding our eyes and ears, and I don’t want to know, either,” Treeve, the mate said.

“Yes.  thanks,” the Captain said, and added to Treeve, “Go get Gerens.”

“All in a day’s work,” Festuscato said, and he went back to looking out over the endless waves of the Irish sea.



Festuscato takes his crew back to Wales, but finds the Saxons there doing what Saxons do.  See you Monday for R6 Festuscato: 8 Branwen’s Cove.  Until then, Happy Reading


Charmed: Part 10 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 10

All of the creatures and people, with Mary, Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth, Cinnamon, Nuggets the dwarf and Mister Greely Putterwig found themselves back in the pine forest where the adventure first began. “Time to go home,” Mister Putterwig sighed, but before he could do anything, he got interrupted.

“We got you now.” It was Marrow the goblin. Worms and Maggot were with him, as was Big Tooth, the troll. “You need to take us to Earth or we will tell Lady Alice that you stole a human child.”nal gobin king

“We already did that part,” Mary got right into the goblin’s face and did not even blink. “Lady Alice has forgiven him now that he has set Elizabeth free.”

“Hey.” Worms sounded very unhappy. “Does that mean we can’t go and scare the children to death?”

“You are not going to scare any children to death,” Jake spoke up, loud, but it was from fear. The goblins were frightful to look at. “I won’t let you.”

“Me neither,” Jessica stood right beside Jake, and they both protected Elizabeth between them.

“How are we going to feast?” Maggot asked.

“Quiet. I’m thinking.” Marrow frowned and pulled on his chin.

“The portal,” Big Tooth suggested.

“That’s right,” Marrow grinned, a look almost more frightening than his frown. “You got an unauthorized portal to the human Earth. You need to let us go there or we will tell Lady Alice.”

“I am sure she already knows,” Cinnamon said.

hween dwarf 1“No doubt about that,” Nuggets agreed.

“Puts!” Marrow swore.

All that while, Mister Putterwig worked on opening the way to Earth, but he was not quite finished when they were all interrupted again, this time by the ghost of Thackery James Barrett, Esquire.

“Sir,” Thackery came up beside Jake and Jessica as if to protect them, and he stared at the goblins. hween thackery“You are brigands to be sure. You should certainly be hanged for highway robbery, but I confess you have the upper hand at present. Thus I implore you, in the name of Christian decency, let the women and children go unharmed.”

“You’re not a woman or a child,” Marrow responded. “I suppose that makes you free game, doesn’t it?”

There was a sudden flash of blinding light as the portal between here and there formed. Thackery let out a chilling shriek before the light settled down and Thackery became able to speak with more calm. “I remember,” he said. “I remember those very words. Suddenly a great light appeared beside me. I was facing certain death, so I ran toward the light. I heard the gun. I stumbled into the light. My God, the man shot me in the back and killed me, and I ended up here.” Thackery began to weep. “Gone. Gonnnne!” He wailed a true ghostly wail and then shouted. “Abigail. Abigail.” And he went into the light. Everyone stayed silent for a moment before Jake spoke loud and clear to the goblins.

“Doesn’t matter. I won’t let you eat any children.” He reached for the cutlass and got a bit unhappy to realize it had vanished along with the Lady Alice.

“What eat children?” Marrow responded with a dumbfounded shrug.

“Do you know the penalty for eating humans, especially children?” Maggot said, and the goblins, troll, and several of the others in that big group from the circle moaned and shivered at the thought.nal goblin extra

Marrow spoke. “We just want to scare them so bad they drop their bags. Then we plan to feast on all that Halloween candy.”

“I want to eat so much I throw up,” Worms said, and sounded happy with that prospect.

“Don’t forget,” Maggot said. “I claim the vomit.”

Most of the people moaned again at that thought.

The portal wavered.

“Hey!” The goblins yelled, but Mary, Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth and Mister Putterwig went though first. Everyone else followed and got directed by Mister Putterwig out the back door, toward the big back yard where an old fairy circle was already present. It wouldn’t take long to put up some lights and get the music started.

hween putterwig house 2Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth and Mary went out the front door and got surprised to find Tommy, Blockhead, Mike and Serena still there, sitting around, nibbling on Elizabeth’s candy. It turned out to be a bit after seven, and they had been waiting for more than an hour.  At least they were sitting and waiting before the ghost came through the locked door. They backed up to the yard and the fence, and Blockhead looked ready to bolt every time Thackery wailed for Abigail.

“Watch it! There’s another one,” Mike shouted. It did not help being by the street, under the street light, when another ghost came floating up into that light. In fact, Mike and the others moved back into the shadows since the ghosts appeared to be attracted to the light.

“Thackery?” the ghost called. It looked like a woman, dressed in a fine traveling dress and cloak. She looked very young and pretty, even if she did not seem to have any feet.hween ghost love


“A very fine and proper lady named Alice said I would find you here,” the woman ghost said.

“Oh Abigail. I searched for you for ever so long.” Thackery flew to her and they embraced.

“At last, at last.” Abigail hugged him before he set his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. The two faded from sight and were not seen again in this world. Everyone sighed, except Blockhead, who looked more relieved. Then Jessica made a decision.

“Serena,” Jessica said. “Call Vanessa and tell her the party is being moved to the old Putterwig house.”

“Really?” Serena looked uncertain.

“Hey, we are talking Halloween party.” The music began to work its enchantment from the back to the front yard.

“There is that,” Serena said, and she got out her phone.

hween tommy 2“Tommy,” Jake called. “I got twenty bucks. Take Mike down to the supermarket and buy as much candy as they have left. We got some big kids that are dying for Halloween treats.”

“Keep your money,” Tommy said. “For the ghost show it’s my treat. So how did you do that?”

“Holographic?” Mike suggested.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Elizabeth said, and she tugged on Jake’s hand to take her out back. Fortunately, just then Sage and Thyme, with their mother Cinnamon, all in their natural small fairy form, came to fetch the little girl. This time, they sprinkled her all over with fairy dust and Elizabeth giggled when she lifted right off the ground and flew with the fairies down the hall and out the back door.hween fairies 2

“Serena shut your mouth and get the party here,” Jessica yelled, while Jake reached over and took her hand. Jessica stared at their hands for a minute.

“Blockhead, how’s your dancing?” Jake asked.

Blockhead said nothing. He just began to bounce up and down in a way that showed he had no sense of rhythm. Serena interrupted. “Hold it big boy. Save it for when we get to the dance floor.” She grabbed his football jersey and pulled him toward the back.

Jessica suddenly turned Jake to face her. She looked him square in the eyes. She tried to listen to her thumper, and she said, “I am loving you.”

“Well.” Jake hardly knew what to say, so he returned the words. “I am loving you, too.”

“Goody,” Jessica said, sounding like a genuine fairy, and she locked her lips to his. Jake was surprised for all of a second.

Tommy and Mike came back after a while. A bunch of other kids from the high school came. But neither Jake nor Jessica wanted to stop long enough to take a breath.hween greely 7

Greely Putterwig came out of the house, looking once again like an ordinary enough old man. Mary had pulled up a chair and was quietly knitting, have gotten her needles and yarn from some unknown source, presumably by magic. She gave the hobgoblin a look that he thought to explain. He pointed at himself. “You might call this my un-Halloween costume.” He chuckled.

Mary merely smiled and patted the seat on the rocking chair beside her. Greely sat and then stared at hween mary on porchthe witch for a few minutes before he spoke again. “So,” he said. “Want to go out on a date?”

Mary stopped knitting and her jaw dropped.

“Then again, we could just get some DVDs and stay in and cuddle by the fire.

Mary’s face turned red, but she did not say no.


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hween alien 5Charmed is either a very, very small book or a long story offered in eleven parts over this October, hween alien 32015, leading up to Halloween. The posts will be put up on the blog on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 5, 6 and 7; 12, 13, and 14; 19, 20, and 21; 26, 27, and an extra note on the 28th. If you miss a post, or want to go back to the beginning, they are easy enough to find. Just click on the archives and select October 2015. Charmed is the only posting for the month … So after the 28th, I say to you all, Happy Halloween, you know, aliens, robots, cyborgs and such.hween alien 1

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