The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 5

“What’s happening?” Lisa nervously eyeballed the vicinity, but she couldn’t identify anything that would cause Delron to panic as much as he did, so she was left udderly addled.

“Whatever you do, never touch the Proctor Bible!” Delron vehemently stressed to Lisa.

As Delron dug through some drawers underneath a cash register, Lisa furrowed her brows over his cryptic warning. She couldn’t comprehend the motive behind this high degree of alertness until she recalled the tour she did with Melanie, and then she apologized, “Oh, I’m sorry! I forgot that the boss told me not to touch anything from the historical collection without gloves!” As she studied it, the book didn’t seem so delicate to her, but it did appear at least three hundred years old, so she thought perhaps the oil from her skin might have damaged it, which made her feel somewhat guilty about her lack of discretion.

After slipping on a pair of rubber mitts, Delron filled her in, “Yes, it’s important to handle the antiques with care, but this one is different. You couldn’t destroy it if you tried! And believe me, a lot of people did try!”

“If it’s so hard to destroy it, then why do I have to be so careful with it?” Lisa asked with her befuddlement renewed once more.

“Because…” Delron hesitated before answering. He mulled it over for a moment, and then he concluded, “Well, you’re gonna find out sooner or later, so I’ll have to tell you… That tome is cursed!”

Lisa grimaced in a slight agitation. Just when she reckoned that she finally met a normal person in this town, he sprung that on her! She skeptically questioned him, “Cursed? Really?”

Delron pulled out an ancient-looking wooden box with a lock keeping it closed, and he flipped it over to the bottom where old words were etched. “See for yourself.”

“Do not touch this vessel with thine flesh lest ye wish to unleash a deadly wraith,” Lisa read out loud. That definitely sounded ominous, but something didn’t make sense to her… “If we’re not supposed to handle it, how did it wind up in the book drop?”

“It keeps turning up in different places to try and trick us into contact with it!” Delron spelled out. “Sometimes it shows up in large piles, and other times, it appears in spots where we may lay our hands. Watch out for what you come into contact with around here- it can manifest anywhere!”

Lisa inquired, “But who’s putting it there?”

Delron replied, “A ghost. No, seriously! This building is totally haunted!” Lisa’s face remained firm in skepticism, so he elucidated, “Have you experienced any cold chills or felt something brush against you when the room was empty?”

The truth of the matter was that she had, but she didn’t want to accept that as evidence of the paranormal! “There could be a lot of explanations for that stuff!”

“Seen any orbs?” Delron probed. “Any lights in your pictures that weren’t there with you?”

“I…” Lisa did think the glare in her photo of the river was odd, but it still seemed like a coincidence to her. “It was probably the flash! Or it could have been a reflection of-.”

Delron queried, “Did you hear any weird footsteps?”

Lisa reported to him, “I heard footsteps, but it wasn’t weird! Melanie left a note when she came in this morning, and it’s not unusual to hear a librarian come in an hour prior to opening!”

“You said you heard it around eight? Melanie didn’t come in ‘til about ten to nine,” Delron let her know.

“Ugh! Why do you gotta lie like that?” Lisa grumped.

Delron insisted, “No, really! She had a parent teacher conference at nine, and she wanted me to give you the note, but I was in the bathroom. She yelled a bit, but she’s saving more for later when she can spare a few minutes. You’ll see it occur, I swear!”

Lisa found this revelation somewhat daunting, but her mind still didn’t want to accept such a ludicrous idea- there had to be another explanation for all of these events! Still, she didn’t want to drive away the one person in Melas who acted kindly towards her, so she decided not to question it any further. Instead, she promised, “Alright, I’ll make sure not to touch that book.”

“Good!” Delron breathed a sigh of relief. He put the Proctor Bible away, and then he turned his attention to the computer above the till. “After the book drop, we check our delivery requests. It’s really easy- you find the books or movies they’ve requested, and then you bring it to them. This one wants season one through four of Thackery’s Adventures. You can see the children’s DVDs at the end of the first aisle.” Lisa went to the site he indicated to, and once she found them, Delron directed her, “Perfect! Now you can take them to the Ingerturn Gable.”

“What is that? A hotel?” Lisa puzzled.

Delron illuminated her, “No, it’s just a historic home. It’s super easy to get there- you just follow the alley across from the back gate all the way up.”

Lisa grew slightly nervous due to that instruction. “You’re not going with me?”

“I’d like to, but I’d have to shut down the library in order for both of us to leave, which I’ve had to do quite a bit when Melanie is out. Thank goodness you’re here!” Delron gave her a grateful smile, and she returned the gesture as she headed out the backdoor. She couldn’t remember the last instance where she felt truly appreciated, and that elated her enough to forget her nerves over this task as well as that ghastly ghost business!

“Ah-ha! I knew I saw a bike under here!” Lisa mumbled to herself as she went to the rear yard. Beneath the staircase leading out of her studio was a somewhat antiquated bicycle with a covered wagon attached behind it. It began to rain, so she put the videos in their enclosures and then tightened the hood on her jacket preceding her departure. She opened the gate, and she beheld an alleyway directly in front of her. It didn’t seem so spooky from this angle, and as she started pedaling, she crossed her fingers that it would stay like that!

To her surprise, the alley didn’t contain anything too sinister! The road was rather muddy in some parts, but otherwise, it was very peaceful! There were a lot of fences and walls to people’s properties, but it didn’t show signs of the people themselves. Its stillness made her feel at ease! At least it did until the path curved and went up a small hill! Lisa’s asthma kicked in, and as she huffed and puffed tremendously, she was glad no one was around to see her struggle! She pushed through this arduous feat though because she grew excited about meeting a new neighbor, and she envisioned herself making a friend on the other side of this ordeal! 

At the exit of this avenue, she espied a house that was as dark as coffee with several triangular eaves on it, and she presumed it to be old enough to identify it as the structure Delron referred to. She parked the bike by the stony driveway, and she opened up a rickety fence to get to the porch. She marveled at her surroundings- it bore the facade of a stereotypical haunted hovel, and yet, its form somehow inspired an iota of comfort to her! It was strange- it emitted an aura of familiarity as though she had been here previously…

Lisa could hear children loudly playing inside of the abode, and she hoped the customer would hear the doorbell when she rang it! The archaic chime boomed throughout the facility, and while it caused Lisa to jump, it didn’t seem to bother the youths at all! The entrance became ajar with unexpected speed, and a fairly disheveled woman approached her. “Is this the order for Marilyn Bell?”

“Yeah,” Lisa confirmed without total certainty. Delron didn’t give her the name of the patron, but based on his description, she assumed that she found the right individual. “Forgive me if I was slow! You see, I’m brand-.”

“Marcy! Get down from there!” Marilyn hollered. Without making eye contact with Lisa, she grabbed her cartoons and curtly stated, “Excuse me!” She slammed the door, and Lisa overheard her scolding her daughter in  a severe fashion. Lisa backed away, and as she vacated the premises, she absorbed the sting of disappointment from not earning a fresh acquaintance!

When Lisa returned to Brigfell, she beheld Delron on a ladder putting books onto a shelf. He swiveled his head around and checked in with her, “How did it go?”

She didn’t know how to summarize her odd interaction with Marilyn, but she wanted to assure him that she could handle the job, so she shrugged as casually as could. “It went fine I guess.”

“Were the kids super noisy?” Delron catechized.

“The noisiest! I can see why she got such a loud doorbell!” Lisa laughed.

Delron chuckled, “You’ll get to know our regulars fairly soon! They… have their quirks…”

Lisa tittered, but then his comment jogged her memory of a statement her cousin made to her. “So… like… Is the whole city sorta… quirky like that?”

“Pretty much! I think you have to have a penchant for the peculiar to live in an area like this!” Delron joked.

“Hey! I’m a new resident here, and… I can’t really defend myself against that!” Lisa chortled.

After they shared in some mirth, Delron informed her, “I’m gonna make the next delivery. You can finish shelving these. Don’t worry, it’s simple- fiction is shelved alphabetically.”

As he prepared to take off, Lisa grew slightly anxious. “What if someone comes in to borrow a book?”

Delron responded, “Oh! I suppose it’s possible! Well, if that happens, call me! I’m two on the speed dial.” He waved goodbye and embarked on his errand. Lisa gathered that in-person clients were rare before commencing in her assignment.

Lisa found this project uncomplicated and reasonably enjoyable. She initially fretted about not interacting with the public, but she found that she relished the silence! It had a soothing effect, and she savored the chance to detox from all of the stress she endured lately! In the midst of her requiescence, she heard her phone sound off. She chose to ignore it as well as the next one, but soon, her device pinged her more and more! When it got to the point of ridiculousness, she irately paused her pursuit and glanced at her cell. When she learned what was causing the heightened activity, her jaw dropped…

She got tagged in several social media posts, and none of them were very flattering towards her! They labeled as crazy and a liar, and Lisa couldn’t comprehend their motivation for doing so until somebody mentioned her monstrous behavior towards Tommy Dane… She readily located an article about his recent comments, and apparently, a reporter pressed Tommy about the outburst at his proposal concert, which prompted Tommy to characterize her as a jealous fan attempting to ruin his shot at happiness! Blinding rage flowed through her veins and coursed  throughout her entire body! How could he? She was leaving him alone, why couldn’t he have given her the same courtesy? He had so many fortunate assets around him, so why did he have to focus on her instead of them? Why did he have to continue to humiliate her?

Once she switched off the notifications for these apps, she returned to her original agenda but with far more venom in this instance! Lisa seriously weighed whether or not to post pictures of them doing romantic activities together, but then she theorized that his followers likely accuse her of faking those photos. She felt so powerless to stop him, and she desperately wished for the means to get even with him! He needed to get punished for his cruelty! All of a sudden, she felt warmth below the publication in her hand! She gazed at it curiously, and her eyes went wide with terror when she recognized how gravely she messed up…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 4

“A hidden staircase?” Lisa exclaimed as the ancient-looking steps revealed themselves. She couldn’t help but gape at it- she had only seen things like that in the cinema!

“It came with the building,” Melanie shrugged it off as if this weren’t completely spectacular. “Come on.” Melanie gestured for her to follow, and Lisa felt slightly hesitant about that prospect. While Lisa didn’t believe that her new employer would lead her anywhere too ominous, she couldn’t imagine what good would have gotten stored in such a mysterious manner! Still, she didn’t come all that way only to back out now, so she took a deep breath and hoped for the best as she set foot in the passageway.

When they ascended to the second level, Lisa anticipated seeing some sort of truly magnificent treasure stashed away there, but a part of her feared that a sinister substance existed in these chambers! She would have dreaded listening to Lydia crow about being correct regarding the spooky nature of this town after witnessing a confirmation of the otherworldly activity occurring in there, and she felt tempted to cover her eyes and maintain her plausible deniability of this frightening reality! Her heart beat wildly as they entered into the space, and it truly stunned her to behold…

Books! Boxes and stacks of reading material lined most of the upper floor, and with such an elaborate entrance, Lisa sincerely expected more extraordinary paraphernalia than this! No wonder Melanie’s attitude was so blasé about it! Melanie informed Lisa, “This is the store room. We keep new material as well as items that need reviewing up here. This is also the front door to your new home.”

“It is?” Lisa hadn’t meant that to come across so rudely, but the ad for this job described this opportunity as one that included a studio above the library, and this was not what she had in mind! There were no amenities whatsoever! Lisa wasn’t about to sleep on crates, and she certainly wouldn’t live anywhere without a bathroom! It struck her as ironic that out of all of the scary possibilities that she would have guessed might have driven her out of Melas, a lack of accommodations wasn’t one of them!

“I left the door unlocked. Go ahead and explore it,” Melanie directed her. She indicated to what Lisa assumed was a small closet, and Lisa’s pessimism on her potential pad hadn’t ebbed an inch! In her head, she was already making plans to use the last of her savings to escape from this horrible hovel, but she still felt she needed to verify the facts completely before she hightailed it out of there, so she turned the knob…

Melanie hadn’t lied- Brigfell, indeed, contained a living quarter! It had the same round shape as the public sphere below them, but other than its quirky shape, it was really quite nice! On the right, there was a cushy bed underneath a window with a gorgeous view of the river, and within feet of that, there was a kitchenette complete with a stove, refrigerator, and even a microwave! The appliances seemed a tad outdated, but they were so well kept that she didn’t begrudge their presence at all! Actually, it sort of gave off a comfortable aura like she had returned to the best memories of her childhood! There was a little set of chairs and a dining room table adjacent to it, and on the far left, she saw a restroom with simple but very pleasant decor! It wasn’t huge, but it offered enough hospitalities to tide her over! “I like it!” Lisa declared.

Sounding very much relieved, Melanie responded, “Perfect! Now, there’s a private entrance over there next to the counter, and feel free to watch whatever you want on the tv by your bedside, but if it’s during business hours, remember not to blast it. You’ll start training tomorrow at nine. Since your commute is so short, I hope I won’t see a lot of tardiness to your shifts!”

Was that an attempt at humor? Lisa didn’t think Melanie had the capability to crack a joke! She considered shooting a comedic comment right back, but she was afraid of pushing her luck. She had already created a negative impression on her, and if she kidded around and accidentally offended her, she worried that she may never recover! In order to stay on the favorable side of her new boss slash landlord, she opted to simply smile at her instead. Melanie reached into her pocket and then handed Lisa a set of keys. “Thank you!” Lisa genially regarded her.

Melanie twitched her mouth into a quick grin, and then she briskly articulated, “See you in the morning!” Melanie swiftly swiveled to the exit, and then Lisa listened to her footsteps creaking down the stairwell.

Lisa soaked in her surroundings, and while it felt surreal to call this location home, she theorized that residing in Melas wouldn’t turn out too badly after all! Prior to her having the ability to fully relax, her cellphone pinged. She eagerly opened the home-screen since she suspected it stemmed from Lydia urgently wanting to contact her and ensure that she hadn’t been eaten by ghosts or something along those lines, but to her dismay, it was a social media alert about Tommy getting spotted with his new fiancée! “Ugh! How long are you gonna haunt me?” she huffed as she switched the app’s settings. She wanted to stew about that jerk’s persistent presence, but then she noticed that there was an unopened text from her cousin, so she decided to make better use of her time by addressing her family rather than her foe!

After positioning herself on the bed so that she got more of a panoramic scope of her riverview, she aimed her camera and clicked on the icon to get the photo. Suddenly, a cold draft unexpectedly filled the room! It danced across her skin and gave her pronounced goosebumps! She tightened up her sweater, and then she closed the curtain to keep out the chilliness. She felt a bit sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful sight, but she reasoned that she was going to be there for a while, so it would be there when the sun’s rays were more pronounced again. As she bragged about her waterfront property to Lydia, she happened to espy a white glare in her picture. She didn’t like that shot, but she didn’t want to let more frigidness in, so she let it slide and sent the message as is. 

The fog thickened as she walked down the road, so she used her device to light her path forward. It irked her that she had to perform this task at all, and she bitterly thought that people who riled up hungry people ought to get locked up! She eventually observed illumination in the distance, and she felt slightly mollified to reach a point where the finish was close! When she got near enough to the figure, she discerned the Wicked Fresh Pizza logo and knew she had stumbled into the correct person. “Are you Lisa Bassett?” he queried, which she nodded to. “Thank you for meeting me by the old courthouse! It’s a safety protocol, you know?”

“No, I don’t know!” Lisa couldn’t hold back her urge to snap a smidgen. “What is so unsafe about going to a library front?”

“Are you kidding me?” the pizza guy reacted in aghast. “That joint is brimming with unfriendly spirits!”

Lisa dismissed that concept, “I’ve been there for hours now, and I haven’t seen a single one!”

The pizza guy retorted, “That won’t last long! There’s not enough sage in the world to cleanse Brigfell!”

“Oh, come on! Just ‘cause it’s next to a graveyard doesn’t mean it’s possessed by anything scary!” Lisa argued.

Something went down there!” the pizza guy countered. “Whenever I went there, I started freezing, and then I had difficulty getting myself out of a depressed funk! That doesn’t occur anywhere else I go in this region!”

The iciness he described disturbed her slightly since it resembled a similar experience with her, but she still felt determined not to let him or anyone else shake her, so she stoutly stated, “I don’t believe in the supernatural!”

He insisted, “You will!” Lisa snatched her order from the pizza guy, and he gladly sped his bicycle away from the area! As Lisa headed back to her house, she got a prickly sensation throughout her limbs thinking about his prediction! She brushed it off and resolved to relax the rest of the night!

As Lisa took a shower, she heard the floorboards outside of the library entrance creaking. It startled her at first, but then she recalled that Melanie might have come to work early to get stuff done preceding the training of her new employee, and she exhaled a little easier. It would take a while for her to get used to having housemates that ran an enterprise beneath her feet!

It felt so strange to leave for her shift two minutes prior to its beginning, but she reckoned that this oddity would merely get added to the list of quirks that she would have to get accustomed to. While she dashed out the door, she spotted a piece of paper attached to her studio’s entrance. She read it outloud, “Lisa, I had some last minute things to do at my kids’ school, so Delron will train you today. See you soon!” She remembered the treading she detected earlier, and she figured that this explained it. She shrugged and went downstairs.

The shelves were devoid of any individuals, and upon an initial inspection, Lisa came up empty. She speculated that this Delron fellow may not have been aware of his added duty, and she fretted about being the sole employee present at this venue- she knew nothing of their standard procedures! She perceived the sound of a book falling behind her, so she presumed that her coworker’s proximity was there. When she turned around, she located the tome that perpetrated that noise, but no one appeared to be around! She felt perplexed by this, but she conceived that it had not gotten shelved properly and tumbled as a natural consequence to that. She put it away real fast and returned to her quest.

She caught a glimpse of a short man with curly, black hair outside of the building, and she hypothesized that this could have been him. She ventured outside, and she saw a scrawny, bespectacled dude around her age with a cigarette in his mouth, and as he shakily brought his lighter up to his jawline, he became aware of Lisa’s company and inquired, “Do you care if I smoke?”

“I have asthma,” Lisa replied.

“So do I,” the man admitted.

Lisa probed, “Then why are you smoking?”

The man took his newly lit smoke out and instantly snuffed it. “You’re right! I shouldn’t do it! And I did promise my husband I’d quit- I should stick to that! You have my full permission to yell at me if you see me doing it again!”

“Okay!” Lisa giggled. “I take it you’re Delron.”

“Oh, where are my manners? Delron Faulkner at your service!” Delron extended his hand to her, and Lisa gladly shook it. Finally, she met someone in this hamlet who wasn’t so dark and gloomy! “Pleasure to meet you, Lisa! I was just about to do the book drop. Join me!”

He strolled over to an old-fashioned, metal receptacle that Lisa initially supposed was a mailbox. He produced a key, and he educated Lisa, “We empty this every day at nine and again at four. Some of our customers prefer to return items here rather than go inside.”

Lisa opined, “I don’t understand why! It’s gorgeous in there!” Delron gave her a half grin, but he clearly decided not to remark on that statement. He retrieved a full bin and replaced it with an empty one, and then he motioned for her to accompany him into the library.

Delron instructed her, “Go through them one by one and check for damages or bugs or whatever.” That sounded painless enough, and sure enough, once she processed enough, she saw that it was! Her confidence on her capability to handle this position heightened tremendously! After several minutes of this, she was in the midst of feeling like she had reached a sanguine groove when Delron abruptly grabbed her wrist, and with his face as white as a sheet, he warned her, “Don’t move another muscle!”

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 3

As soon as Lisa stepped off of the bus, a woman with a scraggly, gray wig and dark, tattered clothes stuck her long, warty nose within inches of Lisa’s face and froggily greeted her, “Welcome to Melas! Explore my streets… if you dare!”

Once the witchy figure finished cackling, Lisa pointed out, “You know, they never caught any actual witches, don’t you? How dangerous could the streets be from innocent victims?”

“Boy, you’re a delight!” the witchy figure muttered in a slightly more masculine voice. “If you’re not into the festivities, why did you come here?”

“I live here now,” Lisa conveyed to them.

The witchy figure frowned considerably at this notion, and they dryly bade her, “See you around, neighbor!”

As Lisa walked away from that scene, she said to herself, “I’m off to a great start!”

While the witchy figure gave salutations to another person in their periphery, Lisa soaked in the scenery. She espied a blocky, gray building that had a silver-lettered sign with the words “Bayside Estates” etched on it, and while it certainly had a view of the ocean down a small hill, Lisa wondered why they put this institution by a bus depot rather than the water! She found it slightly odd, especially since it labeled itself as luxury condominiums! It gave off a cold vibe, and she questioned why well-off individuals would want to spend their money there! She suspected something off about this site, but when she recalled how her cousin described most of the citizens of this district as strange, she shrugged off any leeriness she had and determinedly aspired to prove both of their first impressions of Melas wrong!

Once she passed the obstruction of Bayside Estates, she beheld a long, cobblestone road with a variety of Colonial Tudor construction. The pictures she had previously viewed of Melas’ downtown area looked much more clean, but in reality, the avenue’s stones seemed slightly uneven and often unmatching. The structure of the edifices appeared slightly unbalanced as though a transcendental force kept them from toppling over, and Lisa would have guessed that they were condemned if it weren’t for the scores of patrons popping in and out of the various businesses there! She couldn’t comprehend it, but she realized that she would simply have to get used to her new surroundings!

The boulevard was fairly quiet, which sort of relieved Lisa but also disturbed her- why wouldn’t the community socialize with each other? Living in quarters close to the tourists’ zone usually meant dealing with a lot of clamor on the main arteries, but not in this case! Many denizens chose to keep to themselves, and a lot of passersby avoided eye contact with one another! The few who chose to congregate talked in whispers or hushed tones! Lisa got perplexed by this until she caught someone telling her friend, “Do you see that flashy outfit? Who does she think she is?” Lisa gazed down at her garments, and she didn’t esteem that her pick of attire was so egregious until she studied everyone else’s outfits. Most people wore neutral shades, and the handful who dared to sport a bit of color donned soft hues. Lisa’s bright fabrics definitely stood out! It disheartened her to perceive that she may need a totally new wardrobe, but with how little she possessed at the moment, she convinced herself that she would have had to do this anyways, so perhaps it was for the best.

She came to a fork in the road that stemmed from a town square, and an ancient architecture loomed over the entire plaza. It had a large plaque indicating that it was the old city hall! It left Lisa awestruck to envision the corrupt trials that led to the unjust executions of the Puritan era, and although she read that their sentences were carried out elsewhere, this epicenter’s shady wood radiated their pain and anguish! A glum mood began to overtake Lisa, but when she remembered the eerie phenomena that supposedly occurred within these borders, she purposefully cast that sentiment out of her mind and moved on! 

The right path had a much more inviting appeal than its counterpart! Its bustling shops brimmed with cordial folks, and the sun radiated over the rooftops. A scarcity of stragglers trudged through the left, and shadows cascaded throughout the thoroughfare! Lisa would have loved to have sought the comfort the right path suggested it had, but her new home laid on the left, so she peeled her eyes off of the ulterior boundary and convinced herself the quiet darkness appealed to her!

The further down she went, the rarer it became to spot anybody milling about! She theorized that perhaps the influx of visitors ebbed and flowed like the salty brine. Speaking of the shore, Lisa discovered that this terrain edged by the sea! She could smell the salty mist and hear the crashing waves, and she couldn’t grasp why more Massachusetts tourists didn’t frequent this locale! She could see a tuft of grass next door to her destination, and she assumed it stemmed from an adjacent park. It baffled her as to why the region had been so readily abandoned, but she reckoned that it may prove advantageous to her to have this gem remain clandestine- she could keep this secret all to herself!

Lisa turned to Brigfell Library, and she could hardly believe that this place existed in real life! Its lofty height coupled with the outlandish layout of the trim gave it more of a cartoonish facade! It reminded her of a drawing she created in her childhood depicting a fairytale cottage, and a part of her felt positive that entering the facility would instigate the wrath of a wicked sorceress or something! She could only imagine Lydia seeing this establishment- she would have begged her not to set a single toe into a house that probably harbored a multitude of apparitions! With the defiant mindset of proving her viewpoint as incorrect, Lisa went inside!

Immediately, Lisa felt something brush past her legs! Fearing that she had accidentally released someone’s pet, she stuck her head out of the door and cried out, “Psst! Hey! Get over here!”

“Most people start with hello!” an unamused female from behind her chided Lisa.

“Sorry! I think I might’ve let an animal out!” Lisa apologized.

Upon facing the lady, Lisa raised her eyebrows in a slight shock! She sounded so nice over the phone, but this lady gave off the distinct perception of antagonistic venom! Her fierce frown made her round head appear almost sharp, and her glasses only magnified the contemptuous stare she emitted. Her rigid stance made her plump body look anything but soft, and her curly locks practically melded into her charcoal dress! Lisa speculated that her previous vision of trespassing onto a villainous chamber may not have strayed far from the truth, and she scolded herself for not giving her new boss more of a chance! The lady furrowed her brows at Lisa, and she stated, “I don’t have any animals! I’m actually allergic to cats!”

Lisa puzzled, “Really? I could have sworn…” She glanced out of the window, and she didn’t see any hints of furry creatures running around, so she pondered what else could have possibly manufactured that sensation…

“Ahem… You must be my new assistant!” She shifted her timbre to a more falsely sugary inflection and jovially extended her hand to Lisa. “I’m Miss Romero, but feel free to call me Melanie!”

“Nice to meet you… Melanie!” Lisa shook her hand, and she strove not to wince as she touched Melanie’s icy palms! Lisa had never handled a corpse before, but the clammy texture of Melanie’s skin was exactly how she would have thought it to feel!

Melanie smiled at her, which somehow rendered her more intimidating! “It’s a pleasure to meet you! Let me give you a tour!”

Lisa was so preoccupied by the non-existent critter escaping that she failed to notice the unusual arrangement of this space! The public’s sphere was circular, and a small maze contained shelves that were at least ten feet high! As Lisa marveled over this oddity, Melanie explained, “This is where we store most of our books! There isn’t square footage to expand out, so we went up! Don’t worry, we have ladders!” She tapped on an old but sturdy set of steps that attached to rollers and a rod that encompassed the entire labyrinth.

“Do customers ever fall off of those things?” Lisa inquired as she ogled its massive altitude.

“Actually, most of our clients prefer to have their titles delivered,” Melanie replied.

Lisa’s optimism deflated when she received this information. “Deliveries? Oh, um, I don’t have a car…”

Melanie assured her, “That’s fine! I have a bike for you to use. Your new coworker, Delron, has a car, but he prefers to use the bike ‘cause it’s easier to peddle through the alleyways than it is to fight through traffic!” Lisa felt a rush of relief, but this jubilation got subsided as her curiosity tried to forecast how maintained these alleys were. She sincerely hoped that they weren’t as daunting as the ones she watched in movies…

“Over here is our RAH section!” Melanie had gone on without Lisa knowing it! Lisa scurried to catch up to her as Melanie continued, “RAH stands for rare and historical. If you handle anything over fifty years old, it’s absolutely imperative that you wear gloves!”

“Alright,” Lisa acquiesced. She kept her internal interrogation of why she had such a high emphasis on that rule to herself- it seemed weird, but she didn’t want to enhance any bad opinions that Melanie may have gotten about her already by acting too nosily or something!

Melanie gestured to a region by this glass case, and she spelled out, “Here’s our reading lounge. It hardly ever gets used, so make sure to dust it every once in a while.”

Lisa got entranced by this setup! A couple of plush, leather couches and chairs gathered around an antique fireplace, and a large window gave this nook a breathtaking scope of a waving river, a lush field, and even a bit of the Atlantic! Lisa’s heart skipped at these accommodations, and she couldn’t wait until she could peruse through a pleasant novel over there! One aspect of this arrangement mystified her though… “How could anyone opt to get their books delivered when this cozy corner exists?”

“Well, because of the graveyard, of course!” Melanie responded in a fashion that attempted to hide her obvious condescension on the issue.

“Graveyard?” Lisa’s face contorted into an expression of confusion. She had not come across any graveyards, and yet Melanie had uttered that in a manner that indicated that it should have been plain for her to see! She didn’t want to further Melanie’s probable belief of Lisa not having as much sanity as she did during her interview, so she studied the scene outside to discover what she was referring to. It suddenly dawned on her that the acreage she hypothesized to be a park got utilized for another purpose entirely… “Oh, yeah! That!”

Melanie knowledgeably briefed her, “The Corigiles Cemetery is one of the oldest graveyards in the country! Some of the original inhabitants of Melas are buried there…” Lisa glanced at it with more profoundness. If that property dated back to the sixteen hundreds, then that meant the witchcraft victims were likely beneath those tombstones! The momentous event that birthed this municipality’s spooky reputation ended within feet of where she now stood! Melanie tentatively asked her, “Does… Does this scare you off?”

If her cousin was present, she would have most definitely advised her to run and never return! Lisa had no intention of adhering to that apprehension though! The concept of residing next to the catacombs and coffins was gloomy, but she was determined not to allow it to daunt her! She firmly answered, “Not at all!”

After breathing an exhale of alleviation, Melanie articulated, “Good! Then there’s one more piece of matter we gotta go over…” Melanie approached the fireplace and tugged on a decorative candlestick. Lisa found this action sort of bizarre until the wall opened up…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 2

Lisa flipped open a small laptop, and a rather stern-looking woman appeared on the screen. The woman coldly greeted her, “Good afternoon! Is this…?”

The woman stared at a frilly, pink bulletin board with pictures of a bunch of cartoon princesses and mermaids on it, and Lisa quickly explained, “It’s my cousin’s kids’ room. I’m staying with them for a while.”

“I see…” The woman raised an eyebrow and then jotted down some notes, which made Lisa cringe. She got so used to the childishly decorated room that it didn’t even occur to her that this may not have come across as professional! She was surprised that an establishment that works with kids would conduct themselves in such an austere manner, and she dreaded the picture of their pupils’ severe routine! She could only imagine how horrible it must’ve been to attend classes there! If she didn’t need a job so desperately, she would have ended the interview right then and there! Since she did need it so badly, she crossed her fingers and hoped that the rest of this conversation would go more smoothly! The woman focused back on Lisa, and she stoically stated, “Thank you for applying to the Sanderson School System! You may begin your presentation when you’re ready.”

“Presentation?” Lisa puzzled.

The woman’s eyes flashed in a slight annoyance, and she somewhat irritatedly asked, “You received the email with the presentation topic questions, correct?”

Lisa answered, “Yeah, but I sorta assumed that those were just things you were gonna bring up. I missed the part where you said to prepare a presentation.”

“Uh-huh. Well, Miss Bassett, if we do choose to hire you, I would suggest that you read your messages in their entirety moving forward!” the woman rigidly advised her. Lisa kicked herself for not following the instructions more clearly, and she thought that the woman would conclude the interview immediately, but instead, the woman directed her, “Go ahead and present whatever replies you prepared.”

“Oh, okay! Um, let me find them…” Lisa hurriedly scrolled through here phone, but it took her a while to find the email that the woman previously referred to. The silence created a notable discomfort, but unearthing what she was searching for didn’t alleviate the dour ambiance- she hadn’t actually prepared a response to anything! The inquiries were fairly generic, so she didn’t take a lot of care to do research or jot down any ideas to them! She took a deep breath and aimed to wing it the best she could, “Alright, about me: I’m Lisa Bassett, and I’m thirty six years old. I have a degree in English, and in my spare time, I like to read funnily enough!” Lisa chuckled, but the woman’s expression didn’t budge, she went on, “Number two, what I’d like to get from the position is stability, a chance to grow my skills, and a positive environment…” She trailed off on that part as it became apparent that was not part of the company’s mantra! She cleared her throat and continued, “My best quality is my determination to get the job done no matter what, and my worst quality is not reading emails thoroughly!” She tittered, but, once again, the woman did not reciprocate. “And five: where I see myself in five years. I…” She found this topic difficult to fathom! Up until a few weeks ago, she pictured herself as a housewife to a rockstar, but at the present, she had no clue where she would wind up! She nearly got misty over this concept, but she set her doubts aside and lamely relayed, “I’ll go as high as I can and do my utmost to make a difference to others!”

The woman wrote a couple of things down, and then she addressed Lisa, “Splendid. Well, I have a few other candidates to speak with. I’ll inform you of our decision by Wednesday. Have a nice afternoon!”

After she signed off, Lisa closed the notebook and stared at the ceiling in an attempt to absorb this interaction. She had lofty expectations for this opportunity, but because it was such a disaster, she was forced to reckon with the mindset that she wasn’t about to be employed, she would have to return her hunt elsewhere! She accepted this fact with a sigh and headed out of the room.

“How’d  it go?” wondered a woman with similar features to Lisa carried a box into a nearly bare kitchen as she heard someone entering into the living room.

“Oh Lydia, it was awful!” Lisa slumped onto the living room couch in a defeated fashion. “She didn’t like the way I answered her questions, and those questions were actually supposed to be part of a presentation!”

Lydia’s brows furrowed upon receiving that insight. “A presentation? Were you applying to be a teacher or a student at this school?”

Lisa dejectedly shrugged. “I dunno! I’ve never heard of a presentation being part of the interview process! Is that a new thing or something?”

“I don’t think so!” Lydia affirmed. “It sounds like she was being lazy to me! Maybe this chick doesn’t have any real conversation skills and wanted you to do all of the work for her!”

“Maybe! She had a pretty icy attitude the whole time!” Lisa ascertained.

As Lydia loaded her box, she opined, “It doesn’t sound like a great place you wanna be working at! You probably dodged a bullet there!”

Lisa morosely muttered, “Yeah, and I jumped right in front of another one! What am I gonna do? That was my last chance!”

“No, it wasn’t!” Lydia encouraged Lisa while she taped up the box. “You still have three days before my bunch and I take off for California. A lot could happen in three days!”

“Or it could be three days where nothing happens!” Lisa argued. “I’ve been unemployed for over three years, and everyone wants somebody with recent experience! It’s not fair! How are people supposed to get experience if no one gives us a shot?”

Lisa stacked that box on top of a small pile, and then she offered, “You could always come with us to Angelwood! I know it’s on the other side of the country, but you wouldn’t have to worry yourself to death about getting a job right away!”

Lisa politely declined, “With the positions I seem to be qualified for, I’d never be able to afford it there! Not even with roommates! Besides, Tommy and the bimbo live there; if I moved there, he’d get the impression I was chasing after him!”

“That prick really spoiled everything!” Lydia grumped as she assembled another box.

“Tell me about it!” Lisa concurred with that sentiment. 

Lydia put more kitchen items into the new box, and she consoled Lisa, “Something will turn up for you!”

With her visage filling with dread, Lisa articulated, “Something did turn up for me, but it’s so not what I wanna do! Still, I’m out of options- I gotta take that job in Melas!”

“Lisa, no!” Lydia objected. “That was such a low paying job for all you’d have to do!”

“It was low paying ‘cause you can stay in the studio on the premises,” Lisa reminded her. “I’d have work and somewhere to live…”

Lydia catchized, “Isn’t it weird to have a library with an apartment above it?”

Lisa informed her, “Kinda! But Brigfell is a super small library for a super small city, the rules are different! Apparently, it used to be someone’s house ages ago! I have always wanted to work in that industry…”

“Yeah, but in Melas?” Lydia contended. “That town is so creepy!” 

“It has a dark history, but it seems like they’re really exploiting their past just so they can get more tourists who like spooky stuff to visit!” Lisa countered. “Yes, the witchcraft trials were horrible and those twenty five people didn’t deserve to get killed like that, but that was over three hundred years ago! Things have changed since the sixteen hundreds!”

Lydia riposted, “Have they though? The people who live there are, like, completely strange! There’s a darkness to them like they possess a wicked secret, and a lot of eerie things occur in that region- things no one can explain…”

Lisa waved that off, “You’ve been watching too many Halloween movies!”

“This is different!” Lydia disputed. “They built a city around where innocent blood was spilled! That creates some bad karma…”

“Yeah, for the wrongdoers!” Lisa reasoned. “Why would the spirits of the victims bother individuals who had nothing to do with their murders?” 

Lydia shook her head. “I don’t know! I don’t know how it all works, but Melas is definitely haunted!”

Lisa scoffed, “Seriously? You think the entire territory is brimming with ghosts or something?”

“Yes!” Lydia insisted. “Too many incidents transpired without a single logical cause behind them! Objects get moved around, it gets cold on warm days, moods sour with little to no motive… But that’s on a good day! Fires have broken out from nowhere, and some of their citizens reported hands tightening around their neck when they were all alone! People have fallen out of windows and got their bodies submerged under water! Lisa, you can hear screams in the wind! Is that something you wanna deal with?”

“I…” Recalling the sinister howl in the storm’s gale from the night she split with Tommy, Lisa began to falter on her stance on this subject. Was the source of the shrieking tone really echoes of pain from yesteryear? She considered the validity of her claims, and she pondered if she was making the right decision. She wanted her independence, but if it wasn’t destined to last long, would the move even be worth it? A horrific demise would have been a far worse fate than going back to a two-timing ex… She remembered how her anxiety from that juncture fooled her into falsely judging that she had run into peril when she hadn’t, and she resolved to not fall for that sort of trickery again! “Humanity has often blamed magic for what they don’t understand! If someone doesn’t see an immediate rationale for an incident, they automatically blame the paranormal! All of what you described has legitimate evidence behind it, but people ignore it ‘cause they believe what they wanna believe! These scary stories are simply that- stories!”

Lydia’s confidence in Lisa’s plan clearly remained doubtful, and Lisa had to turn away from her line of sight. She felt slightly irked by her intentions to instill fright over her proposed course of action, but she was more irritated by the tiny part of herself that deemed Lydia’s words rang a bell of truth! These tall-tales of the supernatural had to be mere forms of entertainment- they couldn’t be real! Could they?

Once a moment of silence had elapsed, Lydia apologized, “I’m sorry! I know I’m two years younger than you, but my mom instincts took over ‘cause I don’t want you to go anywhere dangerous!”

“I’ll be fine!” Lisa assured Lydia. “I know it’s not the greatest location to reside in, but I’ll make the best of it! I could have a couple of nice neighbors there, and I could make some friends that are awesome enough to make it worth staying!” Lydia’s lips skeptically twitched, so Lisa added, “At least its bad reputation will keep Tommy far out of my hair!”

“That’s for sure!” Lydia giggled.

Lisa was pleased that she had lightened Lydia’s disposition, but she could hardly savor that feeling! She now brimmed with apprehension on the premise of enduring another change, and she had to ignore the ill sensations gnawing at her stomach in order to take the next step toward solidifying a new chapter in her life! She took a big inhale, and then she told Lydia, “Okey-dokey! I’m gonna call the library and tell them I’m coming to Melas!” Thunder boomed instantly following her uttering that, but that was a total coincidence… Right?

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 1

With slightly shaking hands, she struck a match. Success! She carried the small flame to a black, Halloween candle, which felt sort of odd to her. Yes, obviously, a candle’s purpose is to light up whatever space they occupy, but she originally bought that solely for decoration! Her boyfriend didn’t care for any festive embellishments, but she liked to bring out a couple of small things whenever he was working. Now she could only pray that wax didn’t drip out and blow her secret…

Lightning cracked unexpectedly, and this abrupt cacophony caused her to drop the taper! She groaned, and as she picked it up, she admonished herself for getting so frightened! It wasn’t as though she had never experienced a blackout before! Plus, the gray skies and howling wind made for the perfect atmosphere during this spooky season, so she reasoned that she should have been enjoying this spectacle, and yet she wasn’t! As she gazed out of her large, penthouse window, she couldn’t rid herself of these nerves! She wasn’t sure if it stemmed from the deserted street of a normally bustling downtown area or if it was the somewhat human reverberations that emanated from the forceful gale, but something felt different that night! The air had the aura of a climatic horror movie scene, and nothing she could say to herself would convince her anxious brain that disaster was not near…

Suddenly, the lights flickered back on, which made her jump! Wasn’t this the outcome she wanted? She tiptoed across her posh living room, and after a visual scan of the terrain, she determined that everything was exactly as it had been preceding this dark experience- so why did it seem as though it had gotten tampered with? She glanced into an ornate mirror that hung on the wall by their bedroom, and her pale, beige skin had somehow become even paler, and her golden-brown irises were surrounded by red lines. Her deep brown hair appeared to have lost some of its luster, and her hunched over posture gave her already thick curves a more round shape. She felt shocked by seeing how much this had affected her! Especially since absolutely no ounce of logic supported her apprehension! She decided to ignore her heebie-jeebies and take more practical steps in this matter!

She picked up her cellphone, but its battery had died. She intended to plug it into the charger by the kitchen’s island when she heard a loud crash outside! She ran back to the window, and she discerned that it came from the direction of the stadium! Now she had a more valid motive to panic! The person she cared about more than anyone else in the world was slated to perform there that night! She grabbed her jacket and dashed out the door! If she couldn’t call him, she was going to check on him in the flesh!

When she got to the arena, she could see the clamor she witnessed had merely been from a billboard falling down! No one had sustained any injuries, and they were still allowing patrons into the venue1 Phew! She was tempted to return to her apartment to take care of business, but her feet wanted to continue on to the concert. She didn’t know why, she had seen him and his bandmates perform a million times, but she figured it couldn’t hurt to give him a quick visit. So, with a shrug, she headed to the megaplex.

She walked over to a backstage entrance, and a burly security guard blocked her admittance. “It’s okay- I’m Tommy Dane’s girlfriend!” she asserted.

“Psh! Do you know how many girls tell me that?” he dismissively responded to her.

“No, it’s true! See?” She held up her device’s case, which depicted her getting kissed on the cheek by a dashing man with a flowy, sable mane, navy eyes, and a trim, well-dressed body, and it stunned the security guard to get this verification! “Can you let him know that Lisa Basset is here?”

He rather reluctantly spoke into a small speaker, “Uh, Mister Bane, Miss Bassett wants to see you.” He listened to a reply, and then he reported to Lisa, “He says to enjoy the show, and he’ll talk to you afterwards.” He handed her a ticket, which puzzled her a bit. Eventually, she reached the conclusion that he was simply busy, and she resolved to watch the performance in peace.

The concert actually turned out to be a fairly fun venture! All of the songs were painfully familiar, but the band seemed extra enthusiastic about it, especially Tommy! Tommy brought a lot of energy into this performance, and the crowd really absorbed it and went wild! Lisa had enough fun that she almost forgot about the trepidation she endured earlier! It was a weird day, but it ended well! Or so she thought…

Once the attendees settled down from the final song, Tommy set down his guitar and took the microphone. This move piqued Lisa’s curiosity- Tommy always held an instrument while he sang because he couldn’t dance to save his life! What was happening? “Thank you, Botwulfshire! This audience means so much to me, every one of you! But someone here is more special to me than anyone else in the world…” Lisa’s heard rose up to her throat! If he was mentioning her, it could only mean one thing… “Now, you know I like to keep my private life, well, private, but I’ve realized I met the woman I wanna spend the rest of my life with, and I want the entire planet to know it!” Her pulse skyrocketed! After three years together, they had certainly discussed the possibility of getting married, but she had no clue he’d pick tonight to put them on the road to the wedding aisle! “Baby, come up here!”

Lisa bolted up immediately, but prior to her setting one foot towards the stage, Tommy addressed her, “No, not you, ma’am! I appreciate the support though!” Lisa’s spirits plummeted from this rejection! Did he just call her ma’am? She could not fathom  good grounds behind this move! Was it a cruel joke? She couldn’t comprehend why he would have wanted to wound her in such a callous manner! A blonde woman closer to the front stood up, and Tommy beamed at her. “Come here, my love!” Lisa’s mind reeled- this couldn’t be occurring! Tommy loved her and only her, he’s made this clear! Who was this chick? The woman took an awkward stance next to Tommy, and Tommy romantically regarded her, “Annie, I want you to be my wife!” He got down on one knee…

“You bastard!” Lisa bellowed. Everyone swiveled their heads to face her, but she could hardly pay attention to them at a juncture like this! The shock hit her like a freight train, and anger over his betrayal made her blood boil! It probably wouldn’t have stung so much if she saw any sign of an imminent breakup, but she had the impression that they were happy together! And he chose to end things by popping the question to somebody else while she watched? She never pictured him acting in such a sadistic fashion, and now that he had, white hot rage surfaced, and all she wanted to do was tear him apart! 

“Security!” Tommy motioned to some of the guards stationed in her vicinity.

Lisa was filled with too much animosity to go down without a fight! As the guards seized her, she vehemently shouted, “How dare you! After three years, you owe me an explanation!”

Tommy grimaced, and then he snidely snickered to his spectators, “Yikes! I didn’t know a crazy person would ruin my big moment!”

“I’m crazy? You’re gonna act like I’m crazy! You’re the one who-!” Lisa strove to counter that.

“Go home, crazy lady! Go home!” the throng erupted in a chant, and as she got dragged out, they heckled her! Some of them even threw trash at her! She couldn’t wrap her brain around this! Not only did he dump her in a completely vile style, but he had to humiliate her too? Lisa fell limp as they went into the unlit halls of the exit, and she wasn’t certain what to do next!
Later that day, the front door slowly creaked open, and Tommy crept into the pitch black foyer. He cautiously switched on the light, and he was instantly greeted with a pillow violently flying in his vicinity! He ducked, and it hit a decorative vase on a small table by the entryway. A second pillow nailed him in the stomach, and he grunted, “I deserved that!”

Lisa irately agreed, “You’re damn right you do! I gave you everything for over three years, and this is how you repay me?”

“I can explain!” Tommy claimed. Lisa folded her arms in utter disbelief of this statement, but she did not object, so Tommy went on, “My publicist said that sales on our albums went down ‘cause people are over this forty yeard old bachelor thing, and the paparazzi already caught me with her. It had to be her or else everyone would think I’m a cheater!”

“They should think that ‘cause you are!” Lisa yelled. “How could you cheat on me?”

Tommy confessed, “Actually, I cheated on her. I met her four years ago.” Lisa took a second to absorb this fact, and then Tommy apologized, “I’m sorry! I should have told you sooner, but I knew you’d dump me if you knew the reality of the situation! I didn’t wanna lose you…”

Lisa growled, “So, you imagined that I’d be fine with seeing you propose to another girl?”

“I didn’t know you were gonna see the show!” Tommy contended. “I was gonna have a chat with you later, but this seemed a little easier. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, we’ll have to take extra precautions when we go out together….”

“What do you mean ‘when we’re out together?’ You still wanna see me while you’re making plans to marry someone else?” Lisa wondered.

Tommy assured her, “Of course! She’ll be my spouse, but you’ll always be my lady!”

He amorously grabbed her waist, and she pushed him away. “You can’t be serious!” Lisa shrieked. “You want me to spend the rest of my life being your secret mistress? I’d never get to proudly walk arm in arm with my man, I could only hide in the shadows whenever we go out! And… what? If anyone spots us together, I’d have pretend to be your sister or something?”

“Well, since I had to pretend you were a nutty fan today, you’ll have to change your appearance slightly so we can pull that off. Dye your hair, maybe wear colored contacts too,” Tommy instructed. Lisa marched into the bedroom, and when Tommy beheld her taking out a large suitcase, he inquired, “Where are you going?”

Lisa resolutely replied, “Away from here! And I’m not coming back!”

Tommy scoffed, “Where are you gonna go? You relied on my income to survive! The food, the furniture, the utilities, that all came from me! You have nothing to live off of! Your entire existence revolves around me- you can’t go far on your own!”

With her luggage stuffed with as many essentials as possible, Lisa snapped the lid shut, looked Tommy straight into his eyes, and retorted, “Watch me!”

She stormed out of their home without glancing back at him! She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of viewing the tears currently rolling down her cheeks! She assumed that he would chase after her, but he didn’t. She interpreted this as him waiting for her to turn around and go crawling back, but she was determined not to give him that victory! She sped towards the elevator, but then a strange silhouette forced her to slow her gait! It appeared to have been a very tall female with a raggedy attire and an unusually pointed hat. She recalled the eerie sensation she went through earlier, and she approached the individual with absolute caution! Was this the proponent of the malevolence that befell her this evening? The circumstances were so out of the ordinary that a sinister force might have played a role in what transpired! She took a deep breath and caught sight of the culprit, and it proved to be a mere cardboard cutout of a witch advertising the complex’s upcoming events! She admonished herself for getting so easily fooled, and she cast all of that supernatural nonsense out of her imagination as she stepped inside of the shaft and dialed a number on her phone…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 37

Chapter 37

“Aha! I got ya!” Jera victoriously declared as he hopped down from the ceiling, or whatever this dimension had above our heads, and threw a net over Minna.

Minna yelled, “It’s the D!”

Jera confusedly responded, “Pardon me?”

“It’s the answer to the riddle,” Minna explained. “I gave you the answer, so now you have to let me go!”

“No! That was the last trap, you twit!” Jera barked. “And how did you figure that out anyways?”

Minna confidently stated, “I love everything about the D!”

Aidan interjected, “Bleck! You didn’t have to go there, you know that, right?”

“Oh, crap!” Jera groaned as he stared at Aidan and me quite lamentably. “Wade’s gonna kill me!”

“Isn’t it too late for that?” I taunted him.

Jera differed, “You know what I mean! I’ve done so much work to make this moment happen! I had to infiltrate the court system, manufacture black market items to fundraise for all of the necessary expenses, persuade a cult to go in another direction, and get a ton of sweat stains out of my clothes!” We ogled at him blankly, so he clarified, “It’s really humid here! And do you know how hard it is to do laundry when you’re on the run? Part of the reason I convinced ‘Mother’ to buy property was for the access to a washing machine! Apparently, she previously wanted to teach them humility! Psh! What a terrible week!”

Minna inquired, “I’m sorry, are you trying to get us to feel pity for your plight? Aren’t you trying to murder us?”

“You don’t get it!” Jera replied in anguish. “I’m doing this for your own good! Humanity has been nothing but cruel to each other! The planet doesn’t deserve that!”

“Humanity has done a lot of good too though!” Aidan argued. “When disaster strikes, people risk their lives to save strangers! When disease is rampant, so many individuals dedicate their entire being into caring for the sick and coming up with a cure to end their suffering! When famine breaks out, so do food donations! Heck, humans even built the washers you’re so fond of! Yes, there are some rotten ones out there, but most of us are truly decent if you give us the chance!”

Jera dismissed his speech, “A few charitable deeds don’t make up for all of the damage human beings have caused!”

I countered, “Says who? Who are you to judge? Your deception in the legal system took away justice from a lot of innocent victims, and the drugs you sold hurt and destroyed a lot of families! You manipulated enough people to get your way, and granted ‘Mother’ kinda did the same thing and deserved a little, you screwed over mostly honorable citizens! And for what? A delusional dream of a Fay’s utopia? You’re not destined for paradise- at the rate you’re going, you’re heading straight to Hell, and you deserve whatever punishment they give you on the other side!”

After I spoke, the floor beneath Jera began to open up! Aidan and I grabbed Minna, and we pulled her away from harm in the nick of time! A deep pit of fire and brimstone sucked Jera inside! Once the chasm closed and the skies returned to normal, I recalled, “Ah, that’s right! The whole purpose of this space is to make the case for Fay Folks to go to Heaven! Or not!”

Suddenly, ropes flew out and wrapped tightly around our torsos! We could hardly move, and Wade celebrated, “Ha-ha! I did it! I won! Though I’m pissed you removed my foster brother! Now, I’ll have to use some of my precious energy to dispose of you! I was trying to make sure I had enough to obliterate the Fate Particle’s wall and evoke the apocalypse!”

Aidan proposed, “You don’t have to waste your magic on us! We can’t really move, so you can work without interruption! And you can force us to perish with the rest of Earth!”

“Hmm…” Wade considered this notion for a second. “Nah! If you want me to do it, it’s probably not in my best interest! Nice try though!” As Wade raised his wand, I concentrated as hard as I could in producing a spell without a wand, but nothing was coming out! Panic started to set in- I couldn’t believe we went so far only to wind up with such an unjust ending! Villains aren’t supposed to conquer heroes, that’s not the course the epic journey was meant to take! I feared we were done for… until…

“Wade! You son of a bitch!” a woman around his age with teak skin covered in spots of dirt, thick & dark hair with twigs sticking out, and a tattered prison guard uniform held her wand in a threatening manner to him.

Wade nearly tripped over himself in shock upon her entrance! He sputtered, “Martina! I… You… How did you…?” 

Martina indicated to someone behind her. “How did I get here? I had a bit of help…”

Peeking behind her was a very familiar blue Fay who sheepishly waved to us. “Hey!”

“Ben!” I gasped. “How did you find us?”

‘Well, I figured you’d come here to confront Wade eventually,” Ben illuminated us. “Then when Officer Pálido here said she was trying to find him, I recommended she check here.”

I snarled, “Did it occur to either of you that this might be useful information to the FBI?”

Ben apologized, “Sorry, babe!”

“Didn’t I tell you not to call me that?” I vexedly reminded him.

“I thought that was just when we were working together!” Ben contended.

I shot back, “It’s never okay! We haven’t been married for two years now!”

Prior to the continuation of this argument, Martina intervened, “Uh, could you two zip it? I didn’t travel to the underworld just to listen to your drama!”

“Actually, we’re above the planet,” Wade corrected her, “so we’re not in the under-.”

“Shut up, you double-crossing gilipollas!” Martina spat.

Wade wondered, “Where did you get a new wand? I still have yours!”

Martina repeated, “Shut up!”

Wade aimed the wand in his hand at her and queried, “What do you want? An apology? An explanation? To finish what we started in that hospital bed?” He gazed at her hopefully.

“No!” she resolutely affirmed.

“Oh, then you think you’re gonna get revenge for hurting your feelings then?” Wade surmised with an arrogant smirk. “Well, sweetheart, I hate to break it to you…” As he spoke, I concentrated all of my energy to will my magic to manifest itself without a wand. “… No, that’s not true! I thoroughly look forward to telling you this!” I could sense our confines getting looser… “I can best anyone who dares to fight me!” Freedom was eminent… “So, this show was worth it to you! It’s gonna be the last thing you’ll ever do! No one can stop me!”

I brazenly ordered my wand, “Cuff him!” My overenthusiasm produced an abundance of shackles to appear! Wade attempted to halt the pathway of one of them, but too many of them were flying in all different directions, and he inevitably got bound at every major joint! “Man, I can’t believe we thought these wands were weak! Can you imagine if the kids knew this when they had them?”

Wade sneered, “No. What kind of question is that?”

“I wasn’t talking to you!” I stood over him and formally announced, “Wade Toonella, you’re under arrest!”

“Can you two get him out of here?” Aidan appealed to Ben and Minna. “I don’t want him to land on the Island of Death- he doesn’t deserve it!”

Ben asked, “He doesn’t? It sounds like he does…”

Minna answered him, “No, trust me! It does the opposite of what you’d expect it to! I… Why are you staring at me like that?”

“Oh, sorry!” Ben snapped out of his torpor and shyly smiled at Minna. “You’re just really pretty…”

“I am?” Minna became very bashful from his sentiments. “You know, I might get really obsessed with you…”

Ben returned with, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?” 

Minna blinked in a pleasant surprise, but prior to her getting to verbalize her reaction, Martina demanded, “Can we go already? This place is kinda creepy…” Martina linked arms with Ben as he did the same for Minna, who was making goo-goo eyes at him as she held onto Wade. Martina addressed Aidan and me, “I left the backdoor open, so you can use that if you don’t wanna go through the maze again.”

Aidan catechized, “Huh? How’d you get through there?” They disappeared preceding a chance for her to explain it, which aggravated Aidan initially. He shortly shrugged it off, turned to me, and enquired, “Ready to go?”

“Nah! Let’s stay awhile!” I sarcastically told him. He chuckled, and as we walked hand in hand towards the exit, I mused, “It appears as though I’ll be getting my fibroids removed after all! But I’m still keeping Doctor Iona as my ob/gyn!”

“It’ll be nice to come here and not do any forced labor!” Aidan remarked.

We fell face first onto the grassy terrain! Moe checked in on us, “Are you two alright?”

As we collected ourselves, I assured him, “Actually, I feel better than ever!” 

“It says here it got rid of uterine fibroids from the female,” Moe read from a nearby rock. “And it says it cured the male of a cancerous polyp.”

“Wow, I didn’t know I had that!” Aidan commented.

Moe quizzed him, “Really? You didn’t get your colon checked? Aren’t you over forty?”

Aidan huffed, “Barely!”

We climbed onto his back, and as our giant lizard friend glided to the shore, I posed to Aidan, “Is it weird that our exes are an item now?”

Cracking a grin, Aidan opined, “A tad, but not as weird as them meeting in the realm between Heaven and Hell! And our mode of transportation is a mythological reptile…” We all tittered at his quip, and as odd as this picture may have been in reality, I relaxed from the relief of this exhaustive ordeal finally coming to a finish!

When Aidan and I strolled up to the farm, Laraleigh proclaimed, “They’re alive! Didn’t I tell you they would survive?”

Mom ran up to us and squeezed us tightly enough that Aidan croaked out, “I’m not so confident that’ll last though!”

Samena approached us and extended her hand, which we shook. “Glad to meet you two officers! Forgive me for investigating you, but it was obvious you were lying! I didn’t have a clue it was for Witness Protection though- I thought you were connected to the cult I was investigating!”

“We were eventually!” I acknowledged.

“Speaking of apologies…” Clifton and Agent Hearne came over, and Agent Hearne ruefully conveyed to us, “The FBI deeply regrets overlooking the connection to Wade that wound up putting you into jeopardy! To make up for it, we’d like to give you a free weekend at a seaside resort!”

I was about to point out that a small vacation couldn’t have possibly made up for putting us in mortal peril, but then Laraleigh pressed them, “Can I send the kids to their grandparents and bring my husband?” Agent Hearne nodded, and Laraleigh shrieked out in delight.

This development made me grimace, but Aidan consoled me, “At least we’ll have our own room!” I gestured in acceptance of his logic, and I found comfort in knowing I could return home after this!

Okay, so this story set in Hawaii does have a cliché beach scene after all! Aidan and I dined at an outdoor restaurant that overlooked the ocean, and I happily sighed, “I’m so relieved we can finally be alone!”

“Sorry to interrupt!” Chief Mazarine appeared at our table with Sandra. “We’re here for some unfinished business.” 

“Yes, business… It’s not about paperwork that we could have finished over the phone…” Sandra shiftily darted her focus back and forth. Aidan and I spotted her husband in the distance wearing a tropical shirt and a sunhat, and we couldn’t resist giggling as we waved to him.

Chief Mazarine encouragingly regarded us, “Yeah, so I know you’re tired of talking about the case, but you should feel good knowing  it’s ‘cause we’re closing it!”

I asserted, “I sincerely hope this is truly closed and that we’ll never have to go through this ever again!”

Sandra unflappably articulated, “I’m certain it is! I mean, it’s not like a dying, imprisoned man can break out and try to destroy the world again, right?” She guffawed at the premise, but the rest of us did not. Chief Mazarine took out his file on us, and as the documents got filled out, I prayed that the angst I felt at this juncture simply stemmed from anxiety over the possibility that she raised of Wade resurfacing into our lives once more and that our misadventures were done at long last! Fingers crossed our happily ever after stays happy this time!” 

The End