The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Ch. 27

“Go home, Tommy!” Lisa gently advised him. “Don’t listen to the gossip on social media either! It’s not always correct, so let those select few who spout it doubt you! You have plenty of fans who adore you, and you need to be there for them! Write them some songs, go sign some autographs, and share some teasers about your wedding- pay more attention to them than anything else! Then, the rumors will disappear, or at least it’ll feel like that ‘cause you’ll be having too much fun living your best life! You’ll be fine, just don’t let the lies destroy you!”

“What are you doing?” Ezekiel asked incredulously. He went up to the post she was tied to and stared at her in disbelief. “What game are you playing here?”

Lisa very calmly answered him, “No games! I genuinely wish him well!”

Ezekiel contended, “No, no, no! That’s not possible! This guy broke your heart, lied about you to the entire world, and gloated about your execution! You can’t possibly wish him well!”

“Oh, yes I can!” Lisa differed. “I wish him well! I wish for his good health and abundant happiness! I wish for him to do so well that he leaves me alone and lives out his future quite nicely without me in it!” Lisa glanced up at the sky, and she could see the shadowy clouds start to dissipate! She smirked knowing that her plan was already starting to work!

“You are lying!” Ezekiel’s tone reached a nearly hysterical level. “It’s impossible for you to have meant that! You hate his guts!”

Lisa acknowledged, “It’s true, I don’t like him at all anymore! But a lot of people do, so if I wished ill on him, I’d hurt a lot of decent folks out there. Besides, his fair fortune doesn’t have to impede mine! Him achieving success doesn’t mean I’ll fail, so why not spread some love whenever I can?”

Tommy’s blank face indicated that he still felt stunned by her remarks, but his demeanor appeared to have softened pretty extensively as he drank in her words. He eventually threw up his hands and humbly regarded her, “I hate to say it, but you’re right! I’ve had vicious comments about me before, and I will again in the days to come! I guess I was just worried that this time it’d stick and ruin my career, but it won’t as long as I keep honing my craft! Gosh, an apology really won’t suffice in this situation, will it?”

“Not really,” Lisa admitted with a slight grin. “I think time is the only thing that’ll mend these wounds! Of course, I don’t have a lot of time left…”

“Hey, I can’t do much to make up for my mistakes, but I can get you out of your bind!” Tommy walked over to her and began untying her restraints.

Ezekiel bellowed, “Oh, no you can’t!” He pushed Tommy out of Lisa’s range, and he yelled, “These fiends will die tonight!”

Abby pointed out, “How are you gonna call them fiends? They’re over there wishing well to individuals they don’t like, and you’re trying to kill them!”

“They’re tricking you!” Ezekiel shrieked. “They wanna make themselves appear so innocent so we’ll let them go, and then once they’re out, all hell will break loose! If you even consider their release, you’ll be falling for their trap!”

“Maybe they’re telling the truth,” Ann piped up. “Lisa apparently wasn’t lying about dating Tommy Dane, so maybe she’s not lying about the ghost too!”

As Ezekiel howled in frustration, Lisa noticed that Tommy had loosened her knots up a little. She shimmied her wrists around, and she could sense the ties relenting, so she kept repeating this process while Ezekiel addressed the crowd, “She has him under a spell too!”

Beth brought up, “If she had that kind of power over him, then she probably wouldn’t have let Tommy Dane say that awful stuff about her in the first place!”

“Shut up!” Ezekiel barked.

“No! Speak up!” Delron vociferated. “This malicious spirit feeds on our bitter anger, so express some kindness to your enemies so that we can get rid of her and save our city from certain doom!”

The masses seemed reluctant at the notion, so Adam articulated, “You don’t have to like the person in order to wish them well! Like, I’m not real fond of my rival pumpkin farmers, but at the end of the day, I know they’re simply trying to make a living like everybody else, and I’d hate to picture how many families and communities would suffer if all of my competition suffered!”

After contemplating this concept briefly, the stocker from the grocery store Lisa previously visited remarked, “I never cared for our competing chains either, but I’m glad they were around when Dullahan’s was forced to close so our shoppers could still get food!”

“I found my neighbor’s kid to be super annoying, but I visited him in the hospital to make sure he’s doing alright,” John related. “You know, that combustion actually made him wanna become a firefighter? Imagine losing a rescuer over my silly dislike!”

“I don’t enjoy every single resident of Bayside Estates, but if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have employment!” the receptionist observed. “I appreciate their company, and I hope they will all return when we rebuild!”

Soon, nearly the entire congregation erupted in kind tidings towards their neighbors, and it was a beautiful enough spectacle to practically bring Lisa to tears! She could almost see their vitriol vanishing from their thoughts! As moving as this scene felt, she didn’t lose sight of her other goal. She tossed and turned her hands around, and her ropes buckled significantly! She grew close to freedom, but then…

Suddenly, everyone present sensed a dramatic shift in the energy above them! The atmosphere got colder and darker, and while this confused the spectators, the triad on the scaffold knew exactly what was occurring! Lisa anticipated this transpiration from the top of her plot, but a part of her hoped that this newfound aura of benevolence alone would have defeated this adversary! Since it had not, she braced herself for this battle…

“You wretches!” Rebecca shrieked as her virtually translucent form hovered above the platform. The collective gasped in fright, but she ignored them as she rebuked the trio, “How dare you interfere with my foreordination! Do you realize what it took for me to have these abilities? Do you have any idea how much I sacrificed to have a presence here? No, you don’t care! You are no different than your despicable ancestors! You’re perfectly content with me spending an eternity in torment! They didn’t give any regard to my fate either!”

“Listen, no one forced you to make a corrupt bargain in order to return to Earth!” Lisa shot back. “Maybe generations ago, our citizens reached some terrible conclusions, but none of them had the capability to require you to do this- you did this on your own! Any grim fate you endure going forward stemmed from your own choices!”

Rebecca asserted, “I had to find a method of reemerging onto this soil! I could not let that grave evil go unpunished!”

Lisa exclaimed, “We are not our ancestors!”

“Oh, please! Times may have changed, but people haven’t!” Rebecca disputed. “Humans will always operate with the same, self-serving modus operandi! They will do whatever it takes to appease their sinful desires, and if they have to step on their fellow man to gain victory, then so be it! The degenerates of yore passed their blood onto their next of kin, and so defeating your concourse will eliminate their wickedness from this planet once and for all! You may have the delusion that you’ve won, but so did your ancient grandmother! Her book didn’t trap me forever, and neither will your novel alliances! I shall get my revenge at last, and there is nothing any of you can do to stop me!”

“Gee, you’re right! There’s not a damn thing we can do other than surrender! Gosh, what rotten luck!” Lisa conveyed with heavy sarcasm.

Rebecca’s eyes flashed with white-hot rage, and she lowered herself down to Lisa’s line of vision with an intimidating stance. She snarled at her, “Do you think I’m a fool?”

Lisa clapped back, “No, but you’ve been fooled!” She held out her arm, and Adam tossed her the witching bottle! Rebecca attempted to escape, but Lisa uncorked the vessel faster than she could move! Lisa felt a tremendous push against her as Rebecca’s soul got sucked in, but she compelled herself to remain upright during this phenomenon! Within seconds, the blusterous wave vanished, and the area grew still! Light prevailed onto the terrain, and the only bout of frigidness was in the icy vial! It took everyone a minute to register this development in their brain, but once it sunk in, their hearts burst in jubilee- it was over!

Before Lisa or the others coil do anything else, dozens of well-wishers rushed the stage! Lisa found it odd to have so many doting people surrounding her, especially after all of the recent revile they doled out to her and her two closest allies recently, but she had to admit it was refreshing! Amidst this celebration, Ezekiel made another bid for a win on his claims, “This was all a sham! They’re  trying to coerce you into believing they’re heroes so they can go back out and cause more mayhem!”

“Get that man out of here!” JT’s voice echoed over the din of boos that emanated from the populous. He approached the stage as a few people ran Ezekiel away, but since he was dressed as a witch, they recognized that Fredwina was present. Fredwina very solemnly discoursed, “On behalf of the Harlow County Board of Government, I’d like to formally apologize for the mistreatment you underwent! If you decide to forgive us, we’ll do what we can to make it up to you!”

“You can start by honoring the victims of both tragedies!” Lisa threw out there. “Both the human beings and the animals! They were casualties of hate, and they deserve to get remembered!”

Fredwina glanced down at her getup rather guiltily, and then she obliged, “I’ve got a draft proposal for a memorial monument written in my head already!”

Everyone murmured in agreement of that intention, and Lisa beamed with pride. Following a lengthy stretch of admiration for this feat, the gathered group grew saddened upon the reflection of all of the losses from the current and the past upheaval, and the three protectors were unsure of how to proceed from there. They survived, but so many others did not! Lisa was clueless as to how to comfort them, and Adam seemed at a loss for verbage over the weight of it all. Delron, however, glimpsed at his watch and then announced, “Um, we still have a few hours of Halloween left! Let’s go have some fun!”

The entire flock concurred with that sentiment, and they merrily dispersed themselves. Abby curtly told Lisa, “I’ll see you around!”

“See you around!” Lisa reverberated to her. Abby gave her a half smile, and Lisa could tell that while neither of them would probably ever befriend each other, cordiality would befall upon them from that point on.

“Denis, hi! No, everything’s fine! Why do you ask?” Delron’s visage contorted in a way that implied he couldn’t fathom how to explain any of this to his husband before he vacated the vicinity.

Adam and Lisa giggled, but then Lisa’s expression grew more serious. She didn’t know how to account for her behavior towards him, but since  they got a second chance, she had to at least try to make amends for her actions! “I’m so sorry, Adam! I didn’t mean to hurt you! I care for you so deeply, but I got so guarded against falling for anyone else ‘cause of my ex! I was trying to shield myself from pain, but I ended up with more than  could stand by pushing you away! I’ll regret it for the rest of my life!”

Lisa craned her neck downwards due to the magnitude of her emotions. She couldn’t bear to watch him leave, so she kept her focus low and anticipated the heartbreak of hearing him part from the perimeter! To her astonishment, Adam used his finger to raise her chin up, and he consoled her, “You didn’t push me away! And I’m sorry I pushed you into a relationship so soon after a major breakup! Whenever you’re ready, I’m all yours!” Lisa’s heart fluttered rapturously, and she instinctively pulled his lips towards her and kissed him passionately! Their embrace felt lighter than air, and she never wanted to let him go! When they took a breath, Adam queried, “Does this mean you’re ready?” Lisa vigorously nodded, and they smooched each other once more!

The next day, Lisa and Delron guided the delivery bicycle on the main boulevard, and Delron griped, “I’m not saying our customers have poor taste! I’m simply questioning their judgment when they only wanna watch the Captain Stucard episodes of Galaxy Trekkers! I mean, clearly, Captain Shirkner’s version is far superior!”

Lisa playfully rolled her eyes, but prior to her getting to respond, her cellphone rang. “It’s my cousin!” she briefed Delron. “Hey, Lydia! Is everything okay? You usually text…”

“O-M-G!” Lydia squealed. “My husband got a research grant! He gets to spend at least a year on this project, and he’s hiring for a bunch of positions for it! He says he can take you on as an assistant, and when slash if it’s successful, you can stay on permanently! You don’t have to stay in that haunted hovel anymore! Come live with us in California!”

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m going to stay where I’m at!” Lisa politely declined. Lydia uttered a noise of disbelief, so Lisa elaborated, “I’ve made a few good friends here…” She looked at Delron, and then Hester manifested next to him. “Some of them are a bit unusual, but I love them anyway! Not everyone here is my buddy, but everyone here is nice! Even the people who don’t like each other much!” Abby gave her a terse nod from across the street, and then Lisa saw that she got a text from Adam. “I met a wonderful man here too! It’s not a perfect paradise, but it’s pretty darn close now!”

Lydia wondered, “Yeah, but what about all of the ghosts?”

Lisa assured her, “They’re not so terrible! Well, one of them was, but she’s gone now! Will she be the last phantom to cause trouble here? Probably not! But I’ll be ready for the next one when it comes!” They went by JT’s window where Rebecca’s bottle roosted, and a sharp wind blew by them. Lisa shrugged it off- coincidence or not, she knew she would be fine!

The End

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 21

The bailiff called out, “Order! Order in the court! The case of Melas versus Bassett et All will now proceed! Please rise for the honorable Judge William Hale!”

Lisa, Delron, and Adam stood up as well as the two people in the audience, and Ezekiel roosted on the prosecution’s side. Lisa purposely avoided eye contact with Ezekiel, but Adam sharply glared at him! Lisa would have savored in this show of solidarity, but she was too worried about what fate they would endure as a result of this hearing! With everyone’s predisposition to castigate her for an untrue backstory she didn’t esteem that she would get a fair trial! The further damage to her reputation would have hurt, and she fretted that this misdeed would prompt Melanie to fire her, but neither of those possibilities were even the worst part of this! Her incarceration would free Rebecca to run amok wherever she pleased without interference, and she feared her capabilities without Lisa’s ability to fight back! The only souls who knew of Rebecca’s existence were likely due to get locked up, and she grew frightened by what would wait for them once they got released!

“You may be seated!” a cold voice told the courtroom. Lisa wasn’t sure if his long, black robes simply adorned him in a manner that gave him this appearance or not, but Lisa swore he swooped in like a bat on its hunt! He perched on his bench and studied the court with his small, beady eyes, and his wrinkles became more pronounced as he sneered at the entire lot! Lisa’s trepidation heightened- this did not bode well for their odds of winning! Judge Hale pored over the document that the bailiff handed him, and he banged the gavel to initiate the hearing. “On this twenty-ninth day of October at eleven thirteen p.m., we are here for the arraignments of Delron Faulkner, Adam Farrington, and Lisa Bassett for the charges of trespassing and attempt at burglary or destruction of property.” He put down his paper and addressed Lisa directly, “So, you’re the one everyone’s been talking about! We meet at last!”

“Yes, your honor! But I hope my public image does not bar me from receiving a fair trial!” Lisa expressed as politely as her early irritation with this event would allow her to.

Judge Hale briefly flustered, “Of course not! I only mentioned this as a point of interest. Only direct evidence shall be considered for my ruling.”

Ezekiel objected, “Your honor, the city intends to present character witnesses to testify on the defendant’s criminal intent.”

“Isn’t that highly unusual for misdemeanor charges?” Delron challenged that premise.

“It is unusual for a strict liability case  such as this. Unless the prosecution can prove the defendants committed more erroneous offenses, the court cannot permit character witnesses or heresay.” Judge Hale begrudgingly decreed. Lisa began to grow hopeful about their odds of success until Judge Hale stated, “Sheriff Marshal Hopkins saw first-hand that they entered illegally onto property whose owners gave them no permission to do so, so I’m inclined to let the trespassing charges stand.”

Adam protested, “That’s not fair! We didn’t get a chance to defend ourselves!”

Judge Hale inquired, “Did you enter onto Blackthorn Orchards without getting the owners’ permission before doing so?”

“Yes, but-!” Adam tried to fully reply.

“Then I have no choice!” Judge Hale didn’t show an ounce of regret to act upon this obligation.

Lisa detected Peanut barking in the distance, and with Delron’s proximity to the dog, she recalled a vivid detail from their expedition and brought up, “We didn’t want to break into anyone’s land, but we had to retrieve his pet! We couldn’t let him just roam around on someone else’s grounds!”

Judge Hale questioned, “Why didn’t you get the owners’ permission to retrieve the animal?”

Who is the owner?” Lisa shot back. “No one lives there, so how would we get the dog fast enough to prevent him from wreaking havoc in that territory?”

“Well…” Judge Hale fumbled through some files, and when he couldn’t present an immediate response, he shifted to a different tactic, “You should have contacted the police and let them take care of the matter!”

Lisa folded her arms definitely and probed, “What police officer would have been willing to go onto a haunted property?”

Judge Hale’s frown grew more pronounced, but he didn’t verbally react to the issue she raised. Ezekiel could obviously see his inner turmoil over his legal obligations, so he catechized, “Your honor, what about the scream Sheriff Hopkins put in his report?”

“What about it?” Judge Hale countered. Ezekiel looked as though he had slapped him in the face with that remark, so Judge Hale elucidated, “Do you have any video of that occurrence? Photos of their activities? Eyewitness accounts? Something that proves they were doing something unrelated to dog retrieval?”

“We have theories…” Ezekiel pouted prior to Judge Hale’s reaction to this assertion, and Lisa strove to not appear overly delighted by Ezekiel’s downward spiral in fear that Judge Hale would rescind his lean to reluctantly side with them!

With a heavy sigh, Judge Hale ruled, “The court finds that the prosecution has failed to provide sufficient evidence that a crime took place, therefore, I shall not schedule any further hearings on this matter. All charges are dismissed!”

Ezekiel stormed out without his gaze meeting anyone else’s. The bailiff directed, “Please rise and stay standing until-.” He glanced behind him, and it stunned him to espy that the judge’s bench was already empty! Lisa shook her head at the poor behavior in which her opponents conducted themselves after receiving their loss, but she relished in the relief that she and her allies avoided a disastrous fate! As the officers who escorted them in proceeded to prepare for their exit, Lisa twisted the emerald ring on her finger- she could not wait to take that thing off!

“Here are your belongings.” A female clerk plopped a giant bag onto the counter next to her cellphone and keys.

“That’s not mine,” Lisa informed her.

The clerk gave her a quizzical stare. “Sheriff Hopkins brought this in during your processing; why would he do that if it wasn’t yours?”

Not wanting to explain the insult that Ann pinned onto her or the fact that Marshal further exasperated that jibe with this gesture, Lisa changed her tune, “Oh, I forgot. It is mine!” The clerk still eyeballed her peculiarly, but since she no longer had to make excuses for herself, she snatched her stuff and marched out the door.

It irked Lisa that while the police transported her to the station, no one offered her a ride home! Adam got released faster than her, and he apparently caught a lift to his home from someone who was unwilling to stick around for her. She felt certain that Abby’s cronies had relayed what transpired to her, and she assumed that Abby hovered around the precinct anxiously anticipating the outcome of this judicial entanglement. A pang of jealousy rose up within her, and in that moment, all she desired was to punish Abby for her manipulative efforts to sway Adam’s affections! As she stewed over this concept, she noticed the streetlights darkened from dark clouds forming over her! She glimpsed up at them, and then she focused on that ring. She shook herself out of this vengeful stupor- as much as she disliked Abby, she could not bring herself to enact any sort of horrendous curse onto her! She kept it on to ensure its safe passage to her abode, but she steadfastly refused to let any negative emotions overpower her during her travel! Regardless of what injustice she underwent, she resolved to never let herself become Rebecca Rook!

Delron lived close to that site, and he offered to loan her his bicycle for the journey, but she had to say no because of the bag of clothes forced onto her. She would have loved to have abandoned it somewhere, but she could not risk any other infractions, not even something small like littering, right then! Her studio wasn’t terribly far from there, but it felt that way as she dragged her heavy load down the boulevard! She could still see shadows lingering behind her, and she had no appetite to entertain them! It became especially difficult as she lugged her burden up her staircase- her pants got caught onto part of the railing and created a large hole in the fabric! She gritted her teeth, but she did not relent to her rage!

As soon as Lisa got into her apartment, she immediately wanted to get the ring off! She pulled at the spooky piece of jewelry, but it didn’t want to budge! She absolutely refused to don that accursed object for the eternal period it probably wanted her to, and she yanked at it even harder! All of a sudden, it not only loosened off of her finger, it flew across the room! It landed on the floor with a loud ting, and then it bounced under her bed prior to her being able to stop it! She bent over and aimed to retrieve it, but she couldn’t feel it anywhere along the edge, so she resentfully got low onto the ground. She already felt sore enough from the arduous trek she just made, and it was a total pain to perform this feat now! She turned on her cellphone’s flashlight, and she grew alarmed to find more than merely the trinket beneath her sleeping post…

Lisa squinted her eyes to read what the markings on the wall denoted, but she couldn’t quite make it out, so she turned on her camera feature and zoomed in… She gasped when she saw that the word “witches” lurked next to a set of tallies! It disgusted her enough to tempt her to avert her eyes, but she lingered momentarily in order to take a picture for Delron and Adam. As soon as she snapped and sent the photo, she tore herself away from that visualization! It was hard for her to process that! Whoever originally occupied this space clearly enjoyed watching the bodies of the witch-trial victims getting moved down the river and into the graveyard!

This development stressed her out enough that she pulled up her job search app! She didn’t fancy the idea of giving up on an important goal, but at this juncture, it seemed imperative to her survival! The others could repair the damage done by her accidental contact with the Proctor Bible! She acknowledged that this error released that malevolent essence, and that malevolent essence would undoubtedly destroy many innocent lives in her absence, but if she stayed in Melas, she may not have been able to exist long enough to do much good for the community anyways! She nearly texted Lydia to tell her opinion of this creepy city had been correct all along, but then…

The familiar sensation o a creature brushing against her legs returned, and she ceased her current undertaking to focus on it. “Oh hello, Hester!” The cat’s form appeared in front of her, and initially, she was pleased to get such a supportive visitor, but soon, she recognized that Hester was staring at her with a hurtful mistrust! She couldn’t comprehend why until it finally dawned on her that she probably sensed her intention of departure! “Listen, it’s not my fault!” The feline persisted in its peering, so she amended her sentence, “Well, I suppose I did start this fiasco, but I can’t finish it! I’ve done all I can…” Hester’s stance didn’t bend, so Lisa admitted, “Okay, so I could give the witching bottles a shot, but how can I live somewhere where a vile human being amused themselves with people’s suffering? See what they were doing…?”

She pulled up the image for her, but in this instance, she observed more details beside the witch tallying. There was another count labeled as familiars, and her stomach lurched. “They killed innocent animals too?” She buried her visage into her palms, but she craned her neck back up when Hester emitted a pitiful mew. She gazed at her as though she were striving to convey a relevant message, so Lisa posed to her, “Did they execute you in the witch-trials too?” Hester meowed in a sad fashion and bowed like she was reliving an awful memory, and that was more than Lisa could bear! She could not be quiet with this revelation! Action had to get taken!

Lisa dove back under the bed and swiped the ring back out! She dashed over to the kitchen table where Adam’s witching bottle stood and plunked Rebecca’s possession straight into it! She poured in the cinnamon and salt that the instructions next to her described, and she swooshed it around for about ten seconds. She stuck the cork back into it and proudly displayed it for Hester, and she avidly declared, “You will not have died in vain! I’m gonna catch that she-devil, and once this nightmare is over, I’ll do everything I can to insure that all of the guilt-free souls lost in this atrocity are remembered and get the justice that they deserve!” It warmed the cockles of her heart to see Hester’s warm glow resurface, but as she gawked at the completed witching bottle in her grasp, she became apprehensive that this endeavor would prove easier said than done…

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

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 36

“Let’s see if he’s smarter than last time!” Aidan aimed at the leafy wall in front of us and commanded his wand, “Create a hole!” A small window formed, and Aidan assessed, “Apparently, I got dumber, but he stayed the same! Okay, let’s try this again! Large h-!”

“Could you not?” a man larger than my hand requested. We stared in amazement as a crowd of these small dudes in loincloths began rapidly repairing the domain that Aidan destroyed! The little fellow who previously spoke encouraged his peers, “Come on, guys! Wade warned us that this might happen! Let’s keep going!”

Aidan mumbled, “Damn! He did get smarter!”

I told the minute men, “Alright then, we won’t mess up your work anymore and be on our way!”

“Oh, I don’t think so! We can’t let you leave!” Another one of them threatened us with an ax in his hand as dozens of others did the same. “We were hired to protect these parts, and-!”

“Large hole!” Aidan exasperatedly interrupted his speech.

After the opening was manifested, the axeman cried out in frustration, but we ignored him and his colleagues as we stepped over them and went onto the other side.

The instant we distanced ourselves from that bunch, we found ourselves in the midst of another set of them! “O-M-G! How many of you are there?” Minna moaned. 

“Man, I feel like Gulliver!” I remarked.

“Who’s that?” a member of the throng inquired.

I replied, “Ooh, you haven’t heard? Well, once there was a traveler who stumbled across a land where- spray lots of water!” Our miniscule adversaries didn’t realize that they were in danger fast enough! I sprayed them like I would with a hose, and they washed away from our vicinity! I briskly wiped my hands, and then I posed to the others, “How deep do you imagine their weapons would have cut us?”

Aidan responded to me, “I was picturing something like a chihuahua bite. Large hole!” 

While Minna went through this newly-formed entryway, she commented, “You know, I was a bit nervous about our odds of success, but now it seems like this whole ordeal will be a breeze!”

Suddenly, a strong wind hurled itself in our direction! If that wasn’t bad enough, it was accompanied by a horrible shrieking and a very offensive odor! I asked the other two, “Is this another monster, or did Wade’s illness give him some major digestive issues?”

Soon after I expressed that, a woman with green, mossy skin and seaweed hair appeared above us! Her breath made us all literally gag, so when she got close enough, Aidan bode his wand, “Give her a mint!” A peppermint candy flew into her throat, and the green lady choked on it! She collapsed onto the wall, which made a gap big enough for us to walk through it! “That was convenient!” Aidan noted as we moved on.

We came to a long aisle, and although it was a relief to no longer manufacture chasms for our travel, we had the worry of what would emerge from the various passageways that sprang from it! We cautiously crept forward, and after a minute, we espied a shadow lurking from around the corner! We assumed it was somebody lying in wait, so we prepared ourselves to ambush them. Aidan and I jumped into the intersection and yelled, “Freeze!”

To our astonishment, the object of our concern was already as still as anything could get! “Is that a statue?” Minna queried.

The figure looked as though it were made of marble, but Aidan and I examined it just to be sure. It didn’t react to any of our movements or gestures, and when I laid a finger on it, nothing occurred except for me getting a bit of dust on myself! “Why is there a giant fish statue here? It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose! I mean, it seems like a lot of work to bring it here simply to scare us!” I grumped. Aidan and Minna shrugged, and with an eye backwards in the event that this was some sort of trick, we traversed onto the next one.

“Oh gosh! That row has a statue too!” Minna assessed.

“Be careful! It could be real!” I cautioned her.

Minna dismissed that as she indicated to the silhouette on the ground, “It’s a giant flower! How’s that supposed to repot in the clouds?”

Aidan considered this concept for a moment, “Hmm… That is a valid point! Wait! That doesn’t mean you should-!”

It was of no avail! She took his pensiveness as consent and went right up to it! Aidan and I ran to catch up to her, and when we came into her view, she merrily waved to us while calmly standing beside an enormous, jade plant with buds the size of a piano! She confidently relayed to us, “See? It’s totally harmless! And very realistic! The paint on it almost makes it seem like a genuine-!”

Preceding the completion of that sentence, the bud unhinged its mighty mandible and engulfed half of her body! During her desperate flailing of her legs, Aidan petitioned me, “How do we kill a flower that doesn’t need soil for its roots!”

“Easy!” I aimed my wand at the base of the stalk that was presently trying to digest Minna, and I ordered, “Set it on fire!” The stem burst into flames, and the flora shrieked as it spat Minna out! “Unlike the noni sapling, I don’t feel guilty about this blaze!”

“I hope they’ve sorted out the drought problem by the time we get back- I’m gonna need a long shower!” Minna asserted as she examined the slimy entrails that covered her as a result of that venture. “So, I’ll go out on a limb and say that this thing isn’t a statue!” Aidan rolled his eyes, and I presumed that she learned her lesson as we continued our journey.

At the next intersection, we didn’t see anything waiting for us. “This has gotta be a trap!” Aidan articulated. Minna and I agreed, and we paused our gait briefly to ensure our safety, and even though we didn’t perceive anything that caused us to doubt our security, we still felt hesitant in crossing that lane! Eventually, Aidan begrudgingly esteemed, “Well, we can’t fight Wade from here, so…”

Minna guessed, “So, we’ll practice here until we can?” Aidan and I gave her a reproachful stare, so she sighed, “I’ll go first! It’s nice that I can’t die again, but it kinda sucks that I can still feel pain!”

Guilt over this decision twinged inside of me a tad, but we didn’t really have any other option! Minna got to the halfway mark without incident, so we stepped forward with my remorse ebbing. At least I felt decently until the floor beneath started to shake! I groaned, “Oh no! Whatever that is, it sounds like there’s a lot of them!”

We gazed at the cacophony barreling towards us, and we braced ourselves for the worst! I expected to view a frightening herd of monsters, but to my astonishment, they were merely wild boars! “Really, Wade? What’s so scary about a slew of pigs?”

“Isn’t that what killed Kaleo?” Aidan probed.

“Dammit!” I shouted as they drew closer. Their teeth had considerable size to them, and their sheer number worried us! Aidan and I racked our brains to come up with a jinx that would vanquish them all, but we found that to be unnecessary! The air above us darkened, and a rush of gliding wings befell upon us! Initially, I regarded this as another opponent for us to conquer, but in actuality, this herculean hawk did not fancy us for its meal! The swines all scurried to avoid its talons, but for one unlucky hog, the bird managed to snatch it and fly off! The remainder of the assemblage returned to their sanctuary. “Okey-dokey!” I verbalized as we pressed on.

We had one more set of paths to contend with prior to getting to the Fate Particle, and none of us were fooled into believing that this final stretch would be a cake walk, although we were tempted into letting our guard down when we beheld two unmoving entities! “Yeah, so those look like buffalo! If they were alive, they couldn’t resist moving, right?” Aidan speculated.

I recommended, “We should be ready  just in case they aren’t weird pieces of art!”

Aidan nodded, and we both positioned our wands in a defensive manner while Minna lingered behind us. Upon closer inspection, I could discern the craniums of these creatures appeared bovine, but the torso was human! “Wade and Jera are playing a joke on us, aren’t they?” Minna catchized.

“I dunno about Jera, but Wade has no sense of humor!” I conveyed to her. “And while that louse is a dog, he’s technically human! Moreover, we’ve encountered one of these guys before…”

“Hey, it’s our old buddy!” Aidan joshed as we faced two frozen Minotaurs. Either one of them could have been the replica, but we were positive a specific effigy was, in reality, a cowardly beast we met prior to this instance! We kept our wands at the ready out of an abundance of caution, but we relaxed considerably! Aidan sardonically stated, “Oh, he’s not talking to us! Whatever shall we do?”

I pretended to mull it over, “Hmm… Well, one of these two could be an enemy, so we had better destroy them both just to be sure!”

We raised our wands as though we truly meant to emit a potent amount of magic, and the Minotaur on the left relented, “Fine, I’m not a statue! Don’t hurt me for following orders!” As he backed away further into the depths of the labyrinth, he advised, “Watch out for the hidden door by the exit!” When he got far enough away from our trio, he turned and fled.

“Why did he bring this idiot back?” Aidan questioned. “Seriously, what good did he do last round?”

“Wade was probably desperate!” I conjectured. “For real, how many massive creatures can a dying man bring up here?” We shrugged and then ambled towards the ultimate phase of this affair.

We could feel a static energy emanating from the boundaries of this nearly translucent orb covering a small beam of light, and despite having such a close proximity to our destination, we did not maintain the naive mindset of all obstacles being overcome, especially with that Minotaur’s guidance. We tiptoed towards the platform until I spotted it. “There’s the door he mentioned!”

Minna curiously canvassed us, “Where do you suspect it leads to?”

“Let’s not find out!” Aidan suggested.

This was his grand finale?” I scoffed. “He’s losing his touch!” As we bypassed the trapdoor, we found ourselves on a surface that raised itself above the maze! “Oh… Maybe he hasn’t!”

An ethereal male’s voice commanded us, “In order to proceed, you must answer this cryptic complexity…”

Aidan griped, “Ugh! I hate riddles!”

The voice sonorously broadcasted, “What begins every dawn and is the first thing you see at dusk? Daybreak couldn’t exist without it, and midday is centered around it. It can’t be found in the sun, but no day can exist without it! What is it?”

“What do we do?” I whispered to Aidan.

“No clue!” He fretfully reported. “Last time, we were able to go around the riddle-giver, but I don’t see how we can avoid the-.”

Gazing down with eyes sparkling from excitement, Minna shrieked, “It’s the Night Marchers!”

The enigmatic individual lost his celestial tone as he hollered, “Oh, shit! It’s her!”

Our expanse abruptly plummeted to its original place! As we recovered our stance, we beheld a group of ghostly warriors all scrambling to escape us! Minna called out, “Hold on, don’t go! We have so much to discuss! I’m not living anymore, so we should be friends!”

“Minna, don’t!” I vociferated due to her entrance into the Fate Particle’s realm. I tried to warn her, but I was too late…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 35

“It’s the rush of euphoria that did it!” Minna prattled on. “The endorphins that were released when I fell in love was so addicting! That’s why I neglected my medication and allowed myself to fall in love with practically every man I interacted with! Don’t feel bad though- you were still more special, Aidan!”

“Huh?” Aidan’s bored torpor got jerked away when she mentioned his name. When her words sunk in, he sarcastically murmured, “Oh, darn! What a shame that I wasn’t the only one you obsessed over and stalked!”

As our giant, reptilian ride began to grow weary from scuttling along the rocky coast, his patience grew thin and he beseeched Aidan and me, “Can I toss her into the ocean? Please!”

I responded to him, “You’ve already asked us that, the answer is still no! Unfortunately, we need her.”

Moe gritted his teeth, or whatever salamanders have in their mouths, and Minna went on, “It made no sense to take a supplement that took away my joy, so I-!”

“Don’t talk for the rest of the trip!” I commanded her. She opened her mouth to protest, and I insisted, “We need to concentrate! We’re looking for signs of Wade or the Island of Death, which could be real subtle! The fate of humanity is on the line, so will you please let us focus?” Minna’s eyes grew wide at that unpleasant prospect, and I could tell she was on the verge of objecting again, but thankfully, she decided against it and instead held her breath and nodded in agreement.

“At least those orange hues were just from the sun rising!” Aidan remarked. “That was a relief! It had me paranoid that we were too late! Damn those beautiful Hawaiian dawns!”

I commented, “Gosh, our poor family is out there working in the fields right now! Assuming Mother survived that… incident! Man, it seems such a shame to survive only to die in the apocalypse!” 

Aidan speculated, “I bet Jera abandoned him to go work on their doomsday project! I wonder if Mother ripped him a new one for his jaunt off the premises! I imagine he was originally ordered to stay there twenty-four seven in case of a code gray! How many codes do you think they have?”

“No idea! What I can’t figure out is why Mother wanted to restore Lake Ana Wai if she planned on destroying the planet afterwards!” I brought up.

“A few people realized that my gift was on Moku Oka Make,” Moe filled us in. “They wanted to tempt me back so I could help them find it in order for them to use the island’s healing power for their own benefit.”

I surmised, “Ah, so they were trying to maintain their goal of wiping out humankind by remedying their woes. Or they wanted to use it as a fundraising measure. Or both!”

Aidan consoled himself, “If we’re having this much trouble finding it, then Wade probably is too! And he’s on foot too! We should be okay! Ha! This is probably the most exercise that lazy slob has gotten in ages!”

“I dunno, prison yards have excellent workout equipment!” I joked.

“Oh!” Minna sharply gasped.

I warned her, “I swear, you utter one more sentence and we’ll drop you off and find a new Fay to help us!”

Moe requested, “Can we do that?”

“That’ll take more time, which we don’t have,” I decreed. “Who knows, Wade could pop up right when we decide to give up, and then we’d have to start this process all over again! We gotta stay the course, we’re bound to discover it soon! I mean, how much coastline does this state have?’

“It’ll have more in a minute, the tide is getting low,” Moe observed.

Minna couldn’t resist it anymore and burst out, “My tanning rock is visible then! You’ll see the sandar in a second!”

I directed Moe, “Stop here, please!” Moe obliged me, and I motioned for everyone to slide off. I then solemnly addressed Minna, “Listen, we-.”

“Eek! There it is!” Minn shrieked in delight as the land formation came into view while the sea began to recede.

“Minna, you’re… We… Can you look at me for a moment?” I demanded. She somewhat unwillingly took her eyes off of her coveted sight, and I remorsefully let her know, “We’re going to pursue this project with someone else.” Minna’s expression became sullenly shocked, and Moe celebrated in pure relief. I expounded, “We’re trying to save the world, and you’re distracting us from something vital to our existence! We’re gonna go into the nearby village and find another Fay to assist us in the Ploutonion.” I didn’t relish the minutes, hours, or even days it might take to accomplish this task, but at this juncture, Minna was doing more harm than good, so it didn’t seem like we had much of a choice.

All of a sudden, Moe cried out, “There are my flowers!”

With our intrigue peaked, Aidan and I whipped our heads in the direction that Moe was staring at. Just a bit distant from a few smaller rock formations, a mostly bare mass came into view with a ray of sunlight shining down at the grassy knoll, and in the middle of this terrain stood a modest bush with red flowers consisting of a bunch of tiny spikes in each bloom. It took a considerable stretch for it to register to us that seeing these blossoms signified that we had located our long awaited objective, but once it sunk in, I joyfully regarded Minna, “Yeah… so, I was obviously just kidding about firing you! Let’s go!”

We all ran down the sandbar, and Minna wondered, “Wow! If I had simply gone a bit further, I could have been cured of my disability while I was still alive?”

“Try not to think about it!” I advised her. “Like I’m not gonna think about the fact that if Aidan or I cared about getting some color to our pale skin, we could have found this locale several days ago!”

“Uh-oh! We’ve got company!” Aidan notified us. We gazed in the direction that he gestured to, and we beheld Wade and Jera in a tiny rowboat oaring their way to the Island of Death! “Huh! What are the odds that we’d all stumble across this joint at the same time?”

I exclaimed, “We can’t let them touch that site!”

Minna lamented, “If my wand hadn’t morphed into this teleportation headband, I could’ve magicked us over there!”

“We don’t need a spell! Climb on my back again!” Moe lowered himself down for us.

“Oh, you can swim?” Minna enquired.

Moe reacted rather indignantly to that, “Can I, a water guardian, swim? Is that a serious question?”

Minna lied, “No!”

We all mounted the immense lizard once more, and as he dog-paddled towards the spot, Wade and Jera increased their speed! The pair of them got ahead of us, and while Moe put more haste into his movements, it appeared inevitable that the dastardly duo would reach this destination before us! We got within inches of his vessel, and Wade taunted us, “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah! I’m going to stop myself from dying, and then I’m gonna kill you!”

“Oh, the hell you are!” I shot back. I pulled Minna and Aidan into his craft, linked arms with both Wade and Minna, and then ordered Minna, “Take us to the Ploutonion!”

“No!” Wade growled. As Aidan linked arms with Jera and Minna, Wade pulled out his wand and threatened Minna, “You try it, and it’ll be the last thing you’ll ever do!”

Minna defiantly differed, “No, the last thing I ever did was sing out to this puff of mist I thought was the Night Marchers! I’m dead, obviously death threats don’t scare me! God, why does everyone try to do that?” She closed her eyes and concentrated as much as she could. Wade let out a cowardly scream, and we were instantly sucked out of this dimension!

It had been two years since I last visited the Ploutonion, and I almost forgot what an uncomfortable experience it had been! Traveling between voids felt like getting sucked into a narrow tube and being squeezed out the other side! It was worse than trying on skinny jeans! We landed on a surface as smooth as glass and as cold as ice, and I couldn’t see any of the fog because my face had planted into the ground! Or was it technically sky, I had no clue! I mumbled to Aidan, “Remind me again why this was a smart idea!”

“I dunno… Weren’t we trying to prevent him from going here too?” Aidan raised his dizzy noggin in an attempt to assess the situation.

“Wade? Brother, speak to me!” Jera shook a very limp body.

Aidan recanted his statement, “Nevermind! You got him killed, this plan was brilliant!” Wade started muttering incoherent phrases, and Aidan’s visage soured. “Damn!”

Wade marveled, “I got into Heaven? I knew murdering those imbeciles was the right thing to do!” He glanced up, saw us there, and changed his tune, “Oh, you’re here, so I haven’t arrived in an eternal paradise yet!”

“That’s okay though! You wanna become a Fay too and rule the new society!” Jera reminded him.

“Oh, yeah! It’s all coming back to me now!” Wade held his arm up so that Jera could aid him in gaining an upright position.

Jera grabbed his palm, and he strove to get him up, but he couldn’t budge him an inch! “Dude! No offense, but you need to lose some weight!”

Wade snapped, “I did! I’ve lost sixty pounds since I became sick! I’m not the problem! You need to gain some muscles!” He picked himself up, and when he espied the bemused smiles we bore, he sneered, “Go ahead, enjoy yourselves! I’m closer to the exit, and that leads to… Oh, crap! We were right by Moku Oka Make this whole time? Ugh! It’s fine, it’s fine! I’ll just go get completely healed, and then we can come back here to kick their-!”

“Cuff him!” I instructed my wand. A pair of silver shackles shot out of it and flew straight towards him! He ducked, but I still stared at the wand with a fresh realization. “They’re voice activated! No wonder it was so hard to get them to work in the usual manner!”

“Great! We’ve lost the element of surprise!” Aidan griped.

Wade brandished his weapon, but he lost some of his swagger when I pointed out, “You’ll use the last of your strength killing us, and then no one will be able to destroy humanity!”

Hope swirled within me upon seeing his bluster crumple, but then he broke out in a devilish grin that made my inner alarm bells fire off on all cylinders! He maliciously leered, “I’ll see you on the other side!”

“On the other side of what?” Minna queried, which annoyed me at first. Once I thought about it, it morphed into an excellent question! Our addlement only heightened as he aimed his wand to the sky, or whatever was above us in this instance, and suddenly, a poof of smoke billowed out! Prior to any of us having the ability to take action against him, a cloudy haze enveloped the entire vicinity!

“Well, if we can’t see, he can’t either, right?” Aidan posed to me.

I heard scuffling in the near distance, so I directed my wand, “Shine a light!” Once the space around us was illuminated, we discerned that Wade and Jera were gone! My initial theory was that he had gone to Moku Oka Make, and I mentally prepared myself to hex him the instant he returned, but when I heard his raucous laughter on the opposite end of the portal, I presumed, “He’s in the maze! He’s going for the Fate Particle! I doubt he’s strong enough to do the job, but we better go get him just in case he can destroy it!”

Aidan recommended, “Let’s search for the backdoor this time!” 

We spread apart and each felt around the structure in front of us. Minna eventually announced, “I found it! But it’s locked!”

“Not a problem! Aidan went to the entrance and bade his wand, “Unlock it!” The handle jiggled, but it didn’t become ajar. “My voice activation is busted!”

“Only I can access the backdoor! It’s a spell!” Wade shouted to us. 

I glanced at the entryway to the labyrinth, and I sighed, “We gotta go through this again! And once again, I’m in my sweatpants with no bra!”

Aidan encouraged me, “We got through this before, we can do it again! Let’s go outsmart some monsters and save the earth! But let’s pray he croaks faster than we can get there… just in case!” Minna and I nodded, and then we took a deep breath as we set foot into the intricate passage!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 34

“Who’s there?” Mother fretfully wondered. She glanced around at her obsequious Fays, and they all shrugged in bafflement. She turned to us in our treetop enclosure and grilled us, “Is that one of your friends?”

“No,” I told her truthfully. “There were only two other people out there with us, and technically, they’re your friends!”

Mother didn’t seem very reassured by my pronouncement of a possible ally being the perpetrator of the bushes’ shaking. She pointed her wand at the shrubs and depravedly ordered, “Show yourself or I’ll shoot!” No one emerged, so she decreed, “Fine! You leave me no choice!” She ejected a green light at the foliage, and after the entire plant got enveloped with the jinx, it disappeared into the air, which made Mother smirk. “There! No one can survive that! Whoever is in there is dead as a doornail! She returned her focus to us… for a second! She gazed back at the site of the spell with an expression of uncertainty. “Someone go check!” 

Nobody volunteered. After a bout of anxious silence, Adrian piped up, “I don’t wanna meet the guy that can survive a hex like that!” 

“Or it could have been a girl! Just saying…” Minna spouted indignantly.

“Do you know something about this?” Mother stationed her wand in a threatening manner towards Minna.

Minna coolly responded, “No. But even if I did, you don’t scare me with that thing! I’m dead as a doornail! By the way, what does that mean? Are doornails ever really alive?”

Merripen asked Minna, “Aren’t you afraid of leaving Earth without making up for your sins?”

“I don’t care if I don’t go to Heaven,” Minna answered. “I don’t deserve to go there for all of the trouble I’ve caused!”

“But you’re mentally ill- that’s not a crime!” Aidan contended.

Minna enlightened him, “It is if you purposely don’t take your medication! I have a degree in psychology, I knew the effect my actions would cause and did it anyway! I made people miserable for completely selfish reasons, that’s why I became a Fay Folk! Actually, I’m kinda surprised I didn’t go straight to Hell! What good have I done for anyone?”

Aidan strove to come up with something, “Aw, that’s not true! You… Sometimes, you… I… Well…”

“Enough of this nonsense!” Mother redirected the conversation to her original purpose. “Jera, you’re clearly hiding from your duties, so your cowardice has merited you with this unpleasant task. Go check who I killed.” There was no reply, so Mother repeated her command, “Jera, go check!” When she discerned no movement from him, she shrieked, “Jera! How dare you disobey me!”

“He isn’t here,” Merripen reported.

Mother’s face contorted into confusion. “He isn’t? Oh no! You don’t think…?” All of the lackeys grew worried about this grim possibility, and Mother bit her lip in guilt. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t have said something to me though! … Will somebody please check?”

I volunteered, “I’ll do it!” I didn’t believe she would actually release me for this venture, but hey, it was worth a shot! I suppose I should have been apprehensive about getting hurt too, but the rustling started after we got trapped, so I sort of figured whatever it was had shown up out of a fidelity to us. I hoped that this ally was still alive, unless it wasn’t an ally! If Wade had stashed himself there, then her lethal activity would have done the entire planet a gigantic favor…

“Yeah, right!” Mother acted disdainfully to my request. “Did I give you the impression that I’m easily fooled?”

“Yes!” I grinned mischievously. “Especially after we heard your bought into the ploy of a manipulative convict, Selene!”

The Fays all gasped at my audacity, and Mother looked a bit shocked to get called by her actual name! She quickly collected herself, and then she barked, “Hama! I’m picking you to do this, and if you don’t, I’ll-!”

Hama begrudgingly agreed, “Okay, okay! But if something happens to me, I-!”

“Nothing is gonna happen to you!” Mother asserted. Hama appeared skeptical, but he heeded her wishes. He tiptoed to the bush, slowly moved a branch aside, and… WHACK! Something slapped him hard enough that he flew across the clearing and into a nearby tree! “Oh, I guess I was wrong!” Mother casually wrote that incident off.

“What’d you see, Hama?” Adrian queried to Hama, who hadn’t moved or breathed since the violent impact. Mother rolled her eyes in a fashion that clearly indicated that she was about to call him a moron, but prior to her opportunity to get that harsh phrasing out, the ground beneath Hama opened up! A vortex that echoed a ghoulish scream sucked his body in! Once the atmosphere shifted to its normal self, Adrian pondered, “Wait, did he die?”

“Moron!” Mother muttered without any attempt to shield her mean opinion from the object of her scorn. Preceding Adrian getting a chance to respond to that though, Mother snapped, “Go see what did that!”

All of the remaining Fays vehemently protested, and Merripen frightfully remarked, “Absolutely not! I want to make up for my wrongdoings before I meet my maker!”

Mother let out a frustrated howl, and then she growled, “Fine! I’ll do it, you big babies!” All of the Fays scooted back in anticipation of the negative consequences of this decision, and I could tell that everyone expected Mother to imperil herself into the shrubbery, but instead, she brandished her wand once more. Her cronies ogled at her in disbelief, so she justified her behavior, “What? I need to conserve my energy to deal with our enemies, including these do-gooders!”

“Is do-gooder supposed to be an insult?” I inquired cheekily.

“Keep talking, it’ll be your last words!” Mother replied in an exasperatedly irate tone. She grew even more agitated by my beam of pride at a successful jab at her, and she faltered in getting her mind off of that as she swiveled towards the greenery. She concentrated on the effect she meant to produce, and after a minute, the plant got lifted away from its roots…

All of the apocalyptic worshippers fled as the floor shook tremendously! Something large ran in our direction, but not a soul could see what it was! Mother seemed at a loss on how to proceed, and she took too long to do something- whatever it was picked Mother up and flung her to the farmhouse in the distance!

Once the vanishment of the threat had sunk in, Minna posed to us, “So, are we saved or not?”

“By the time we bust out of this cage, Wade probably will have found the Island of Death! He’ll be in the Ploutonion faster than we can say rescue!” Aidan lamented.

“Rescue!” Minna exclaimed. “Is he there now?”

Aidan shook his head but chose not to verbally acknowledge her antics. He alternatively opted to bring up, “Even if we do free ourselves will we even be safe? Is… whatever that was on our side or simply against all humans in its territory?”

I morosely held up my wand and dismally articulated, “If that… thing-a-ma-bob has left, Mother will most likely revisit this scene and finish the job. Or she croaked, and since we didn’t have a single friendly person witness this event, nobody knows we’re here! We’ll rot inside of this cage all ‘cause we can’t get these stupid wands to just freakin’ get us out of here!” Right after I spoke, magic came out of my wand, and the bottom of the structure disappeared! We fell onto the dirt, and I puzzled, “How did I do that?”

“Yay! We’re saved!” Minna rejoiced. All of a sudden, a salamander almost as tall as the trees appeared in front of us! It looked like a gentle orange with black stripes reptile whose yellow eyes stared at us curiously, but its sheer size was enough to cause an urgent alarm in us! “Or maybe not! Do you eat humans?”

“Why are you talking to it like it can understand you?” Aidan pressed Minna. “It’s a wild animal!”

In a firm but affable male’s voice, the creature spoke to us, “I don’t know about wild! I can act civilly when I need to!”

I gasped, “Holy smokes! It can talk!”

“He can, and yet he isn’t!” Minna observed. “Are you gonna answer my question?’

“I’m not going to eat you,” he assured us. “You two are the only humans I can trust.” He gestured towards Aidan and me, and then he addressed Minna, “I’m leery about you because these two don’t have full confidence in you.”

Minna looked offended, so I apologized for that hurtful honesty, “Sorry!” Minna was miffed, but I didn’t feel that assuaging her was the biggest priority at this juncture! I turned to the creature and asked, “What do you want with us then?”

The creature answered, “I want you to stop those two kanaka ino’s from destroying Kāne’s great lands!”

“Oh! You’re the moe of Lake Ana Wai, aren’t you?” Aidan realized.

“Correct,” he confirmed, “but it’s pronounced mo’o.”

Aidan requested, “Listen, I have trouble saying that word for some reason. Can I just call you Moe?”

The creature made a somewhat vexed visage, but he assented, “Fine.”

“Thank you for your assistance in this quest!” I cordially regarded Moe in an attempt to stay in his good graces. “We’re honored to have gained your trust! I take it humans have not been very kind to you!”

“Not lately!” Moe grumbled. “For years, human beings respected me, and I respected them for taking care of the earth! Then, one day, a selfish man took my flowers! They were merely a small bunch, but I got them at Pele’s wedding! It was special, I never get any prizes like that! Maybe it didn’t mean much to Kaleo, but it meant a lot to me!”

I reacted in shock, “Kaleo? Kaleo stole your gift?”

Moe affirmed, “Yes! Apparently, he wanted to punish the Pomaikais for hiring Fay Folks by upsetting me and causing destruction to the region! He thought he and his wife could atone for that atrocity by taking care of the farm, but I’m still furious! I mean, he stole my flowers! Who does that?”

“We can get them back for you,” Aidan offered. “We gotta go to the Island of Death anyways to prevent those doomsdayers from getting cured and, well, doomsdaying us!”

“If you can obtain them throughout the course of your work, I would appreciate it!” Moe pleasantly vocalized. “But your first priority should be to thwart this catastrophe!”

I pledged to him, “You can count on us! We’re ready!”

Minna echoed that sentiment, “Yeah!” She reached for her wand, but then she recalled, “Hmm…. Can you give me a sec to remember how to do hand-to-hand combat?”

Aidan slapped his forehead in frustration, and Moe forewarned her, “We don’t have time for that! We must get going immediately!” Minna frowned as we all got up to prepare for this undertaking. Aidan and I exuded pure confidence to Moe, and Moe proudly smiled at us! It was a gratifying occasion, but once a considerable stretch had elapsed, we all started to grimace. Moe eventually broached us, “So… Where are we going?”

“You don’t know where the Island of Death is?” Aidan catechized.

“If I did, do you imagine I’d leave my flowers there?” Moe riposted, which Aidan couldn’t argue with.

I recommended, “It’s somewhere off the coast of Kai Lawai’a. We can head there and just search for the two world-ending pricks! Whether trekking Moku Oka Make or taking a leak, we’ll detain them and bar them from continuing this travesty!”

Everyone concurred with my logic, and Moe lowered himself down for us. “Climb on!” It felt strange mounting a giant lizard, but after we were on him, it didn’t feel that different from riding a horse. Once we positioned ourselves on his back, he stood up, which caused Minna to fall. He annoyedly placed her on him again, and as we took off towards the east, I speculated about the orange hues in sky, wondering if its presence was purely a coincidence or if we were already too late to halt the collapse of society as we knew it…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 33

“I’m dreaming! This is a dream! It has gotta be dreamt!” Aidan stammered while his widened eyes stared at the horror that had appeared before him.

“This is the kind of thing you dream about?” Wade snidely remarked to him. “Wow, that says a lot about you! Don’t you think?”

I defended my boyfriend, “Excuse me? You’re judging him? You’re a bonafide serial killer! You’re standing by the corpse of one of your victims now!” I indicated to Minna, who laid motionless by the wheelchair that had been slammed against the house.

Wade disputed, “That was an accident! I was just trying to move her out of the way so I could -.”

“Murder us?” Aidan guessed.

“No!” Wade claimed. Aidan didn’t believe him, so Wade went on, “Seriously! I came to this property to talk to someone! Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do you in if I could, but I can’t touch you while you’re in that building’s perimeter. See?” He stepped forward and crashed into an invisible fence.

Aidan scoffed, “Oh, so it’s a mere coincidence that you were visiting one of your friends who happened to live adjacent to where your enemies live?”

Wade insisted, “Yes! I came to Hawaii ‘cause I read about the Island of Death from the prison’s internet, and I’ve been trying to find it so I could cure my heart failure. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw you at the airport in the same gate as me!”

“Well, it’s lucky you survived so that you could die at your self-inflicted apocalypse!” I sarcastically regarded him.

“No, I shall be reborn as a Fay!” Wade asserted. “I’m doing humanity a favor, so I won’t truly leave this earth! I-!”

Aidan interrupted, “Hold on a second! How were you on the same plane as us? The FBI screened the passengers thoroughly!”

Wade laughed, “They didn’t check the dog carriers in the luggage area! I wanted to ride in the cabin, but the flight attendants made Jera check me…”

“Jera?” I reacted incredulously. “He’s your contact here? But I would’ve noticed if a bright orange Fay was on board!”

“My foster brother was still alive when we got here,” Wade enlightened us. “He had… a little accident!”

Aidan theorized, “You killed your foster brother?”

Wade spat, “Of course not! I needed him! When we were sneaking around the rainforest, he tripped and hit his head pretty hard! Thank the stars he became a Fay! Actually, that worked out better than I hoped since he found this cult! Before our influence, all they did was pray for the end of the world! Now, Selene can recruit more people for my magnificent army to guard my palace when humanity is wiped out and I take over as the global emperor!”

“If your lackeys are the only ones who are left, why do you need an army?” I questioned him.

“Shut up!” Wade barked. “Okay, are we done with the interrogation? I’ve got things to do…”

I held my wand up and commanded him, “Don’t move a muscle! We’re not gonna hang back and allow you to destroy the planet! We’re lawfully detaining you!”

Wade snickered, “Oh, you got those sticks to function?”

“Shit! That’s right! He’s been watching us,” I grumbled. 

“You say that like it’s not a huge bombshell!” Aidan noted. “A deadly adversary was here this whole time, and that doesn’t freak you out?”

I contended, “No. I said he was here ages ago, didn’t I?”

Aidan bickered, “Couldn’t you wait ‘til after we foil the bad guy to throw that in my face?”

I shot back, “You brought it up! I-!”

Preceding the completion of my sentence, I espied Wade conjuring up a folding chair watching our banter in amusement. When he saw our attention shift sway, he taunted us, “Please, go on! I have all night!”

“You just said you have things to do!” Aidan pointed out. 

“Whatever!” he huffed. “I do have urgent business to attend to, but I gotta take care of you two meddlers, don’t I?”

I retorted, “No, you don’t! You really don’t! You could let us live- it’s been working out this entire duration, why mess with a good thing?”

Wade conjured up a snack bag, and as he munched, he relayed to us, “If I assassinated you earlier, everyone would’ve known it was me, but now that you know the truth, I can’t let you leave!” He maniacally laughed, and then he added, “You gotta leave that territory sometime! Or you could try facing me now and see if your twigs match my lovely, police-issued wand!”

“A wand you stole!” Aidan exclaimed.

“Psh! I’m already facing seven billion life sentences for my attempt to wipe out humanity! What do I care if they tack on another misdemeanor? Ooh, don’t you miss it?” Wade taunted us. 

Aidan and I wanted to have a private discussion, but we also didn’t want to let Wade out of our sight, so we resorted to whispering while he goaded us. “Maybe we can jinx him while he’s stuffing his face,” Aidan propounded.

I considered that notion briefly, but then I concluded, “If our spell didn’t work, then it would only take him seconds to grab Officer Pálido’s wand and take us out! We can’t risk leaving any of the others alone with him- they could get hurt!” Aidan glanced over at Minna’s body, and I iterated my argument, “Exactly!”

“What if one of us distracts him while the other attacks?” Aidan suggested.

“Hmm… Yeah, maybe! Maybe we could spread out a bit- he couldn’t get both of us at once!” I determined. “So, how do we distract him?”

Aidan recommended, “You should flash him!” I gave him a reproachful stare, and he stuck by his idea, “What? You have a nice rack- who wouldn’t get enticed?”

Prior to delivering a biting remark to that atrocious submission, I noticed someone else standing there from the corner of my eye. I swiveled in that direction, and it was Jera! He had an overly excited but dumb expression planted on his visage, and when he finally caught onto our focus on him, he commented, “What? I was waiting to see her go topless!”

Aidan’s mood soured at Jera’s ogling, and I was too furious to highlight the consequences of his terrible plan! I aimed my wand at Jera, and Aidan strove to stop me, but I was too quick! A flurry of sparks flooded his vision, not what I meant to do! He was able to wipe them from his scope fairly easily, which annoyed me at how far off my magic’s desired effect was! Aidan beseeched me, “Let’s not waste energy on perverts!”

“Jera! Come join me for the show!” Wade pulled out “his” wand to conjure another seat.

“If we’re gonna find that island, we gotta move!” Jera advocated. “You could kick the bucket before we stumble across the remedy to your illness, then how are we gonna demolish the wall around the Fate Particle? A Fay couldn’t do it, and I don’t know any magian with the balls to do it! Earth may wind up going on like usual- what happens then?”

I badgered them, “Then we’ll live our lives while you two go to Hell where you belong!” They both became affronted, but I ignored them as I posed to Aidan, “How did Agent Hearne let this idiot on the plane when he obviously has a connection to that prick?”

Jera filled me in, “I was a paralegal for his prosecutors. As far as they knew, I was a dedicated man of the law! They had no clue I’ve been helping my foster brother all along!”

“You have?” Aidan responded in shock. “Then how come I’ve never heard of you?”

“Um, ‘cause I didn’t wanna go to prison! Duh!” Jera sneered. “Everyone was so fixated on the murders, no one ever paused to dig into who made the drugs that funded his operation!” Aidan and I exchanged nov-verbal words of bafflement, and Jera directed Wade, “Come on! We’re wasting precious minutes here! In a few hours, I gotta make those morons do agriculture stuff!”

Wade argued, “We can’t leave them here! They’ll foil our scheme! They always do!”

Jera differed, “They can’t escape this compound! ‘Mother’ made sure of that! Now, let’s go!”

As they walked away, Wade turned around to bid us farewell, “I’ll see you later! Or maybe I won’t!” He guffawed thoroughly at his own joke throughout the course of their departure.

“Are we really gonna do this?” Aidan petitioned me as we watched the dastardly pair grow distant.

“We have to!” I persisted. “We can’t let him get healthy and obliterate the human race!”

Aidan reluctantly agreed, “That’s true! But still, I wish we had decently performing wands to stand more of a chance of winning! Or at least living!”

I debated that, “We don’t need wands! Remember how our first face-off ended? We won without magic!”

“Uh, I’ll have to take your word on that- I was unconscious throughout most of that confrontation!” Aidan articulated. “Okay, let’s-!”

“Hey, guys!” Minna popped back up as a purple Fay. “What’d I miss?”

Aidan muttered, “Wonderful timing, as always! We’ll be back, so watch over-.”

Minna stated, “Oh no, I’m coming with you! That guy murdered me, and…” She noticed feeling had returned to her legs, so she tested her mobility, and when she stood up, she proclaimed, “I don’t need a wheelchair anymore! It’s a miracle! I’m so blessed!”

“And you’re also dead!” I denoted.

“We’re gonna lose him! We need to hurry!” Aidan conveyed to me. We ran towards the wooded area behind the farm, and Minna tagged along too. Aidan told her, “You can’t come! It’s dangerous!”

Minna shrugged. “And? I’m not technically alive anymore, so…”

Aidan still seemed hesitant, and my initial thought was to leave her behind, but then another thought occurred to me. “If Wade goes into the Ploutonion, we’ll need to follow him in somehow…” Aidan growled, but he didn’t object any longer, which Minna and I took as consent. The three of us bolted for Wade and his cohort…

…For a few seconds! When we got to the edge, Adrian entered onto our path and blocked us from moving forward! “Get back to your home!” he snarled.

“That’s what we’re trying to do!” I riposted. I picked up a handful of dirt and threw it into his eyes. While he winced over his misfortune, we marched towards the exit of that land. “That was easy!”

“Mother, we have a code gray!” Adrian spoke into a walkie-talkie.

Minna inquired, “What’s that?”

Aidan replied, “Let’s not stick around long enough to find out!” All of a sudden, we were surrounded by various colored, rough looking Fay Folks, and Aidan shouted to Minna, “You had to ask!”

“Where are you going?” Merripen probed.

“Nowhere! We love it here!’ I sardonically uttered. They advanced towards us, so I whipped out my wand and threatened, “Don’t even think about it!” Aidan gawked at me in startlement, so I quietly communicated to him, “They don’t need to know it’s crap! And who knows, maybe I’ll produce more than sparks! I’ll do to them what I attempted to do to Jera!”

Aidan pondered, “What exactly was that?”

“We outnumber them! Grab it!” Merripen ordered.

“Hey! Isn’t anyone gonna mention my death?” Minna canvassed the lot.

She pouted as they ignored her and aggressively approached us. Aidan brought out his wand, and we stood back to back in order to get a 360 view of everyone. Theri guerilla tactics failed, and they were baffled on how to act next! I grinned, and then I instructed Aidan, “Let’s move sideways, and-.”

Suddenly, we felt the floor beneath us lift up, and we got enveloped by metal bars! This confused us until “Mother” came strolling up to our vicinity. “Nice try! Except that it wasn’t so nice ‘cause now I have to kill you!”

Minna verbalized, “Too late!”

“Mother” raised her wand, and for a moment, I feared we were done for! I wouldn’t let the transpire willingly though! Prior to enacting a fast defense, I observed the bushes beneath us begin to shake…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 32

“Yes! We’re saved!” I rejoiced. Aidan and I cheered as we hugged each other in celebration of this discovery.

“What’s that?” Willow inquired as half the household peeked inside of my hidey closet out of intrigue of our suddenly festive demeanors.

Aidan reacted in aghast, “You don’t know what a landline is?” The younger kids stared at us blankly, so Aidan somewhat irritatedly educated them, “It’s a phone!”

Mason presumed, “Oh good! We can go on the FBI’s FriendBook page and get help!”

“No, you dummy! It’s too old for that!” Harper upbraided her little brother. “All it can probably do is text!”

“Uh, no! It-!” Aidan couldn’t finish that sentence due to how flabbergasted he became from their ignorance on the subject.

I deduced, “This closet must have been a phone booth in the past! It costs fifty cents. Hmm… who collects the money from here? Oh well! Someone hand me my purse!”

Laraleigh used her wand to magick my handbag to me, and after gazing at it for a second, I sighed, “This just isn’t as pretty as the purple one in that shop!”

“Focus!” Aidan reminded me.

“Right!” I dug out a couple of quarters, and my pulse quickened at the prospect of calling Agent Hearne and getting out of this abyss! I joyfully envisioned the expression of shock and defeat on “Mother’s” face when the federal government raided her illicitly acquired home, and I hoped we could get our mobile devices back prior to that glorious moment so I could get a picture and savor it forever! I put the change up to the slot with a huge grin on my face, but it rapidly got erased when something occurred to me. “Crap! We can’t do this!”

Mom asked, “Why not?”

I answered, “I don’t know Agent Hearne’s phone number! I don’t know anyone’s phone number! All of my contacts are on my cellphone!”

“Can we call information and get them to transfer us to him?” Laraleigh probed. “Is that still a thing?”

“They’re not likely to connect us to anyone who’s under top secret protection,” Aidan pointed out. “And it’s not like we can call 911 and make them send a SWAT team either! We’re lowly farmers to them, they won’t simply take our word for it that we need that sort of service! And if we told them an evil cult bought our shoddy land to hold us captive in order to assist them with ending the world! They’ll think we’re nuts!”

From a distance, Minna brought up, “To be fair, it doesn’t seem like they have a solid plan for that! They really want it to happen, but they… Hold on, why am I being fair to those jerks?”

Kinsey suggested, “We could call 911 and tell them we’ve been kidnapped as our real identities. If Wade hears that, he’d come here, and the police could round him up and we could take care of both problems at once! I know it’s risky, but Wade couldn’t take on the entire organization singlehandedly, right?”

“Wade almost took our entire apartment building in his attempt to kill us,” I countered. “He’d burn this entire estate to the ground if had to! But, more than likely, he’d befriend ‘Mother’ and hide somewhere on the property to ambush us. Plus, if the entire law enforcement community in Hawaii knew the truth and they didn’t catch him, we’d have to get whole new aliases and move again! This time it could be somewhere even further from home too! What was next on your list, Aidan? Wasn’t it in southern Mexico?”

“I’m pretty sure it was Tahiti,” Aidan conjectured. “Maybe in the next round, we could at least get better names than Swetinbedde!”

After clicking my tongue in annoyance, I insisted, “We’re not going through this drama again! I don’t wanna run anymore! Except for running away from The End Is My Friend! We have to find someone trustworthy to contact Agent Hearne! But no one could just look him up in yellow pages or anything! Ugh! Too bad we aren’t expecting a visit from the Department of Agriculture soon! We know we can trust Clifton to talk to Agent Hearne for us!”

Jackson conveyed to Minna, “It sucks that you were never able to flirt with those Night Marcher dudes! It would’ve been nice to have a friend deliver a message for us!”

In that instance, I got struck with a jolt of inspiration! “That’s it!”

“No, it’s not!” Aidan disagreed. “Minna never saw those mythological men! And who’s to say they’d do us any favors like that?”

“How do you know I never succeeded?” Minna challenged him.

Aidan responded, “Oh, please! If you did, you’d never shut up about it!” Minna indicated that his assessment was valid.

Mom queried, “How did that give you an idea?”

“It didn’t.” As I dug through my purse, I explained, “The friend part did though!”

“But we don’t have any friends out here!” Laraleigh balked. “If we did, I wouldn’t have sent that coconut to myself! Oof, ‘Mother’ ain’t likely to give that to us, is she?”

Prior to anyone reacting to that, I finally found it! I held the business card up in the air, and I declared, “We’re gonna call Samena!”

Aidan objected, “But she’s not our friend! In fact, I’m pretty certain she hates us!”

“But she’s a detective!” I argued. “She’s a fellow in law enforcement, we can trust her to deliver a message to Clifton!”

“Won’t that be kinda confusing for her as to why we’re trying to talk about a hostage situation with someone from the Department of Agriculture?” Kinsey questioned.

I assured her, “No! Not when we give her the real story of what’s going on!”

Jackson fretted, “Didn’t you say it was bad to tell cops who we really are? Aren’t we gonna get in trouble for doing that?”

“We’re in trouble now!” I retorted. “If we don’t, she’ll get the impression we’re drunk or crazy! Or both! Besides, we were ordered not to reveal our names to anyone who would put it into the police system, but this is her personal cellphone, so she can keep it secret.”

“But will she?” Aidan wondered. “What if she believes we’re pranking her and turns us in? I mean, we’d get some officers over here, but then Wade may go after us in whatever sanitarium they inevitably throw us in because we stuck to our outlandish account!”

I considered this notion, but instead of debating her trustworthiness further, I decided to pose to him, “Do we have any other choice but to take the chance? What else are we supposed to do? Dial a random number and hope the person on the other end calls for help?”

Harper remarked, “Hey! That sounds like fun!”

“We’re not doing that!” Laraleigh informed her, which prompted Harper to pout. I was almost positive Aidan’s reference to pranks caused this backlash and not her desire to desperately plead to strangers for assistance.

“Oh, there’s a phone number on the old pizza boxes!” Mom recalled.

Minna delighted in that possibility, “Ooh! We can call my romeo, and he’ll come to our rescue because he loves me too much to let me carry on with such a terrible fate!”

Mom surmised, “Oh, I gave a stupid suggestion, didn’t I?”

“Let me get you that box!” Minna did a spell and sent the trajectory towards the closet. Her overenthusiasm caused her to miss, and after it bounced off of the wall, it hit Mason. “Oh gosh! Mason…” Mason glanced up in expectation of an apology, but instead, Minna requested, “Can you hand that over to Shannon?”

I appealed to Mason, “Please don’t! We’re not contacting her quote en quote romeo!”

Laraleigh instructed Mason, “Put it back in the recycling.”

“Okay…!” Mason agreed with a devious smile and stance that clearly demonstrated his objective of “accidentally” missing the bin. Laraleigh snatched the box away prior to that occurring though!

“So, we’re all agreed on calling Samena?” I petitioned the group. In unison, Minna made another bid for the pizza guy and Harper advocated for calling the randoms, and once I had enough of that cacophony, I cut them off, “I wasn’t mandating a unanimous decision! Samena it is!”

Their antics had pushed my patience close enough to the limits that I no longer felt anxious about the call. I put the coins in the slot, dialed the number on the card, and held the receiver so that Aidan could hear the conversation too. It rang on the other end, and my anticipation went through the roof! I couldn’t wait to speak to someone who could put the wheels of rescue into motion! All of a sudden, Samena’s voice stoically articulated, “Hi. You’ve reached Detective Samena Tajana with the Kalahala Police Department’s Investigation Bureau…”

Once I perceived a pause, I took a deep breath and introduced myself, “Hello, this is-!”

“I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now,” the outgoing message continued. “Please leave a detailed description of why you called, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!”

“Son of a-!” I didn’t complete my vexed venting since the voicemail indicated that it was about to beep and allow me to record a communication for that number, and I had to swiftly forget my grievances for this momentous task! With a firm, professional tone, I verbalized, “Hey, Detective Tajana! This is Sophia, and I’m with Kennedy. You know us as the Swetinbeddes, but that’s an alias issued to us by the FBI. Kennedy is Aiddan Maddox of the Anaknock Undercover Unit, and I”m Detective Shannon Vidette of the Slygow County P.D. We’ve been kidnapped and forced to remain in Lani Noni against our will! We need to you to relay this  to Clifton Bartlett in the Department of Agriculture so he can contact Agent Hearne and take action against a hostile-.”

The automated service attached to her number interrupted, “Thank you for calling! Goodbye!”

It stunned me to have gotten dropped at such a critical juncture, and following my full process of what transpired, I huffed, “She said to leave a detailed message! They don’t give you much time to do that!”

“I think you got the important info out,” Aidan determined.

“So, now what?” Kinsey pondered.

I shrugged. “Now, we wait! Either she’ll use the number this showed up as on her Caller ID and return our call, or she’ll research our claims, see it’s legit, and we’ll get reinforcements.”

Jackson catechized, “Okay, but what do we do ‘til then?”

For a minute, we all stood in silence from the uncertainty of how to proceed. I expected Aidan to pipe up with another one of his famous motivational speeches, but instead, Mom asserted, “Now, we eat! What does everyone want for dinner?”

“I’m kinda craving pizza again actually…” Laraleigh admitted.

“Great! Let’s call my romeo!” Minna chirped.

Aidan commented, “There’s no way we can afford a tip large enough for the delivery person who braves a dangerous cult to give us our food!”

That night, I didn’t expect to get any sleep, but I previously thought that this eventuality would have stemmed from angst over my surgery the next day, but right then, I grew fearful from not having the opportunity to do that! My senses stayed on high alert in hopes of hearing the telephone ringing, but everything was unusually quiet! I glimpsed at a nearby clock, and I saw that we were due to report to the field in mere hours! I couldn’t stand the notion of forgoing a vital procedure in order to do unwilling labor for that conniving witch, and Samena was taking too long to respond, so I decreed that we needed to tackle this dilemma ourselves immediately! 

As soon as I flipped up my blanket, Aidan warned me, “Don’t you dare!”

“What? I was just going to the bathroom…” I feigned innocence. Aidan didn’t buy that at all, so I contended, “I can’t sit by and do nothing! What if no one is coming?”

“They’re expecting you to act out,” Aidan opined. “If you behave too rashly, you’re playing right into the enemy’s hands!”

I quarreled, “But if we don’t do something, we-!” Preceding my completion of that dispute, a huge thump banged against the side of the building! It was a blow of enough strength that it forced everyone to wake up in alarm! Aidan and I felt our peace enforcement instincts brimming, so we grabbed our wands and raced to investigate!

We tiptoed along the side of the dwelling with our weapons out as the cold wind carried an eerie echo! We discerned movement on the lawn, so I figuratively crossed my fingers that we’d stumble across something as innocuous as Anela again! When we rounded the corner, we beheld something that was a much bigger problem than a pesky goat…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 31

Lightning cracked somewhere behind us, and we all jumped before we could put the key in the lock of our abode! After a booming clap of thunder blared above us, the children winced, and Willow spat, “Stupid, scary storm!”

“Be thankful that it’s here!” Laraleigh advised her as Mom opened the front door. “Otherwise, we’d still be in the field!”

“I wish I wasn’t so talented at gardening!” Mom bemoaned as she threw herself onto the couch. “That made them force me into extra vegetable raising, and all that non-stop planting makes me wanna replace my garden with a rockbed! Well, when we finally get out of this hellhole anyways!”

Aidan grumped, “You mean if we get out of this hellhole! Clifton’s tracker will show us never leaving the farm, so he’ll have no idea that anything is wrong! Not ‘til Agent Hearne tries to contact us…!” 

This line of thought made Aidan feel hopeful until Kinsey differed, “No, I’m almost certain they’ll have someone answer it and pretend it’s one of us. That’s what so many murderers do, and the police don’t think anything is wrong ‘til it’s too late!”

“Wow! That’s a very accurate assessment!” Aidan noted.

“Uh, yeah! I’m training myself to become a criminal analyst, so I have to be accurate! What? Why else did you think I’ve been studying all of those stories about killers?” Kinsey posed to us. No one responded because none of us wanted to admit that she had us worried for quite some time!

Mason brought up, “You know, I wasn’t doing my homework all year ‘cause it seemed so hard, but this is hard! When we go to class again, I won’t complain and I’ll thank my lucky stars I get to do that instead of this crap!”

Harper griped, “Mason! You swore! Mama!”

“I don’t care!” Laraleigh huffed as she plopped onto a chair in the dining room. Harper looked offended, so Laraleigh expounded on her decision, “What? What do you want me to do? It’s not like I can ground him or take away his internet privileges- ‘Mother’ already did that! Besides, I wouldn’t be tattling on anyone if I were you! He probably has a ton of dirt on you, Miss Troublemaker!” Harper grew sheepish and apparently opted to withdraw her grievance.

“Isn’t there some sort of law against child labor?” Minna queried.

I finally joined the conversation by bellowing, “Yes! It’s also mandatory to provide schooling to minors under sixteen! But those are minor offenses compared to the multiple felonies they’ve garnered from kidnapping us! Yes, we were sent to live here, but they can’t force us to stay here! Except they can ‘cause nobody knows they’re doing it! And why are they doing it? So we can help them collect money for them to recruit more people into this cult! ‘Mother’ and her goons are taking advantage of individuals in vulnerable positions! She’s making Fay Folks believe that they can get into Heaven by doing this, but really, they’re henchmen to an evil organization! All of those poor souls out there have no clue that they got fooled! Not that knowing the truth has done us any good! How can they justify taking away our lives? How can they still maintain their assumption of getting into Heaven? My fibroids are only gonna grow since I can’t go to my surgery tomorrow! Do they care that they’ll make me suffer? What if something happens to the rest of you? We can’t let them push us into harm’s way! We have to do something!”

Thinking about our dire circumstances got me so steamed up that I nearly marched straight out of this house to give them a verbal reckoning, but then Jackson piped up, “You can’t just go and fight them all! You don’t even have a wand!”

“You could use these!” Minna reached out of the rear window and held up the faulty wands that the FBI issued us.

“Don’t encourage her!” Mom admonished Minna.

I grasped onto these wands like I found buried treasure! They didn’t take all of our weapons away… “These will work!”

Aidan disagreed, “No, they won’t! That’s why we gave them to the kids as punishment!”

“You got that toolbox to levitate!” I argued. “They can work, and they have to! I won’t support their demonic efforts a second longer than I have to! I’m ending this today- with or without anyone’s help!” Luckily for me, the storm calmed down a lot when I chose to go out there- I got so riled up that I made a beeline out of there without considering the consequences! Aidan exasperatedly groaned, but he tailed me pretty closely.

“You two be careful! I do want grandkids one day!” Mom shouted to us prior to our departure.

I stood in the middle of the deadened grassland that “Mother” earmarked for elderberry bushes, and I glanced around for one of her minions lurking about! I finally saw a big Fay patrolling around the perimeter by some leafy trees, and Aidan whispered, “Shannon, no!” I was in too foul of a mood to listen to reason, and I hid behind a scarecrow to shield myself from the Fay’s view. I aimed my trajectory, and…

Desperately beseeching the wand to perform, I encouraged it, “Come on!” He disappeared from the clearing, and I muttered, “Damn!”

Aidan breathed a sigh of relief and attempted to guide me back to our dwelling. “Good! Now why don’t we spend the rest of the evening relaxing to prepare for- oh!”

I slipped away and snuck into some brush. I crouched low, and I concentrated as much as I could! My heart beat wildly as he inched closer and closer to my proximity, and my anticipation heightened as I pictured myself achieving success in this ambush! Soon, we could use his freshly incapicitated state to get out of this nightmare! I couldn’t fathom anyone in the closest town who would be willing to overlook our unfavorable reputation and let us use their phones though! I supposed that if I told them about all of the wickedness that the Fay Folks were involved in out there that they’d be more prone to assist, but then I realized if they did comply, I wouldn’t know how to get a hold of anyone- I haven’t memorized a phone number since the nineties! I shook my head and resolved to figure that out later. The guard was right there, my opportunity arrived! I raised my wand, and…

“No!” I growled as he passed by without me producing even a spark! Actually, my outburst propelled a couple of sparks out of the wand, but it didn’t lift my dampened spirits whatsoever! I felt very tempted to throw that twig out of my sight, but I didn’t want to alert any of the other underlings to our proximity, so I kept it. Plus, the wands in our hands were the only ones we had access to, and I didn’t want to lose it. It had to operate properly sometime– Agent Hearne wouldn’t have issued them to us if they didn’t, right?”

“Ready to go home yet?” Aidan inquired.

I emphatically replied, “Yes! I’ve been ready to go home since we arrived in Hawaii! What I’m not ready for is to go back to the shack!” I buried my face into my palms, and I lamented, “He was right there! I could have gotten him if I had my normal wand! Ugh! I would’ve been better off trying to trip him with this stick!”

Aidan put a sympathetic arm around my shoulders and consoled me, “We’ll find a solution eventually! At the moment, we’re too emotional to make any rational decisions, so let’s pause for a stretch and-!”

“We can’t pause though!” I cried out. “We’re in jeopardy, we have to tell the authorities! The longer we wait, the worse it’ll get! I already had two weeks of my life stolen from me, how much more do I have to give up?” The very notion of enduring this torture for a significant stint made my breath grow short, and Aidan was about to tend to me when, all of a sudden…

“Hey!” a male’s voice boomed, causing us both to flinch! I was already panicky about one dilemma, and now I had another! I felt positive he intended to deal us a severe punishment, but then he amusedly regarded us, “No hanky-panky out here! Return to your residence!” 

For the second instance that month, Aidan and I were in the midst of a secretive expedition only to get interrupted by somebody assuming we were making love! And just like on the plane, we let them maintain that misconception in order to keep our true mission clandestine! I spent the entire jaunt hoping to persuade my magic to emerge, but unfortunately, we reached our territory with nothing to show for that effort except possibly some salacious rumors amongst the staff!

All I wanted to do when we went inside was go into my hidey closet and forget that this spectacular failure ever happened, but shortly after we set foot in the habitation, the Fay hollered, “New rule: everyone has to keep their pants on outdoors!”

The others all looked as incredulously, and Aidan snidely articulated, “Oh yeah, like we were actually doing it during monsoon weather in the middle of our kidnapper’s stomping grounds!”

“So, did you create an escape route?” Jackson eagerly petitioned us. Aidan and I gave him a peeved stare, but he didn’t get the hint… “Is that a yes?”

“Jeez, Louise! No wonder you’re flunking everything!” Laraleigh slapped her forehead and shook it out of frustration.

Willow asked us, “So, what do we do now?”

I couldn’t answer that because I had no inkling on what to do! Aidan confidently assured her, “We’ll think of something! Hang tight, we-!” I didn’t share his optimistic sentiments, and I couldn’t bear to listen to his rosy outlook at the pinnacle of my despair, so I dashed into my safe haven before he finished his speech!

Assuming that he would follow me in momentarily, I scooted up to the very back of the space. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for Aidan to join me. I turned away from him though since I knew what he intended to say, and I had no patience to endure it! “Don’t tell me everything is gonna be alright!”

“But it will be!” Aidan insisted.

“No, it won’t!” I argued. “Not without a solid plan anyways! We’re outnumbered and essentially wandless, we can’t do this on our own!”

Aidan mulled it over for a moment. “Well, there’s always fire! If burn up a building with large enough flames, it would have to get the attention of the authorities!”

I chewed on  that concept for a flash, but then I had to shoot it down, “If any emergency workers visited this area, ‘Mother’ would simply pretend all is well while simultaneously preventing us from leaving or speaking with anyone. Besides, how would we create a huge blaze without magic?”

“I bet Harper has something up her sleeves!” Aidan reckoned.

“Heck yeah I do!” Harper confirmed.

I yelled, “No fires!” Her disappointment was quite audible, and I was too malcontent to satisfy my curiosity on what some of those methods might have been. Instead, I opined, “We need an ally from the outside to give us aid! Somehow, we gotta work out a technique of communicating without getting our adversaries attention that doesn’t involve magic or mobile devices.”

Harper proposed, “We could do smoke signals!”

“No fires!” I repeated. She exhaled in exasperation.

“We could try to get these wands to run…” Aidan adduced.

It beleaguered me to envision myself spending the night waving these wands around in vain, and the fact that this was our only avenue maddened me! I banged my noggin against the surface I faced from sheer disgruntlement… a little too hard! I produced a small hole in the wall! “Ow!” I pulled myself up, but preceding Aidan’s inevitable words of comfort, I spotted something in that chasm… “Woah!”

Aidan probed, “What is it?” I didn’t respond; I immediately tore off pieces of the structure, and he must have recognized that I wouldn’t have done that without a valid cause because he participated in this endeavor too. When we removed enough debris to get a full grasp of what existed there, we both gasped! The remedy to our predicament may have been in this edifice all along…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 30

“This seems so sudden!” Aidan remarked as we emerged from our cottage and headed towards the front of the property.

“Yeah! I’m so curious who was desperate to buy a farm with very little crops and a broken aqueduct!” I was glad to hear that Aidan shared my suspicions about this hasty purchase! We didn’t get a chance to discuss it last night because, well, you know- the usual chaos ensued! No one else seemed particularly worried though! I guessed that they assumed that the new owners would abide by the same routine, but I had a feeling that this entailed more than a mere change in management…

Mom scoffed, “You guys are too untrusting! Why can’t you just hope for the best?”

I countered, “I’ll hope for the best when the evidence takes us in that direction! This transaction is too strange for optimism!”

“It is pretty weird!” Kinsey concurred with our argument. “Usually, this is the part of the story where everyone gets murdered!”

“See? We’re not that pessimistic!” Aidan pointed out to Mom.

As we neared our destination, I lowered my volume as I posed to the others, “Doesn’t this make anyone else nervous?”

Jackson piped up, “I’m a little anxious about skipping some of my classes…”

“Why? You afraid of getting an even lower F?” Laraleigh probed.

“Welcome, dear friends!” A woman walked outside wearing a long, white dress and bare feet. Her curly, blonde hair was adorned with a crown of blue and white flowers as well as green leaves, and her sapphire eyes gazed slightly above our heads as though she was staring deep into the sky. Her appearance gave off the impression of a total bohemian, but something about her aura gave me a sickly sensation at the pit of my stomach! “Are we having a rough morning?”

With big, goo-goo eyes, Jackson responded, “I forgot!”

The woman giggled in a very doll-like tone, a quality that didn’t normally make me edgy… “You can forget all of your previous troubles for I am creating a blissful paradise for you to reside in! You may call me Mother!”

“Can we not?” I shot back. Everyone but Aidan stared at me in shock of my curtness, but I didn’t care! First of all, I wasn’t about to use the term “mother” for someone who must have been at least ten years younger than me! Second, and more importantly, it is not normal to go by an alias like that! I couldn’t put my finger on why it was yet, but to me, this move proved she was up to no good, and I resolved to prove it prior to anything drastic happening!

“Ah, I can see you need my assistance more than anyone, Sophia Swetinbedde! … The previous owners of this land had files on all of you.” She added when she beheld the baffled expression on my face. “I know all about my new tenants!”

With the knowledge of our true identities on my mind, I grinned slyly and cracked, “Oh, I doubt that!”

Mother eyeballed me as though she were trying to scan my brain to gain the information I hid, but eventually, she let it go and announced, “Let me give you a tour of the premises and share my vision with you! Merripen! Jera! Adrian! Come, let’s journey through the grounds!”

I fully expected three similarly clothed men to emerge and keep guard of their mistress, but to my startlement, three Fay Folks came out! The fire orange one stood to her left, the crimson one stood to her right, and the mantis green one was tall enough to be seen as he stood behind her. They were rather buff, and not one of them smiled, so they stood in great contrast to Mother! And yet nobody else’s apprehension seemed to heighten! Although I was certain Aidan’s law enforcement instincts must have been setting off alarm bells! His cool visage didn’t give away any of his qualms though, and Mother didn’t grow skeptical of him as her observed, “Your roommates are all Fays!”

“We are all one community here!” Mother spoke in ethereal vocalization and put her hands together as if in prayer, and I was glad that she missed me rolling my eyes! “We are all brethren, we share the same space. Speaking of the space, allow me to show it to you!”

“Allow her! Psh! Like we have a choice!” I muttered under my breath as one of the Fays opened the gate leading to the front yard. One of them glanced behind him as if he was trying to detect who had committed a grave offense, and I struck a nonchalant pose so I could avoid castigation. I had no idea what these potential adversaries were capable of, so I committed myself to biting my tongue going forward!

Mother spread her arms proudly to display what laid in front of her on the dirt road. “Ta-da!”

Harper noted, “It looks the same.”

“Temporarily, yes! But feel the spirit! Doesn’t it feel different?” Mother petitioned us. None of us understood enough about this subject to feign interest to humor her, so we sort of hung out there awkwardly and shrugged.

“What? What’s happening? What are we looking at?” Minna shouted to us from a distance.

Mother broke from her cherub-like demeanor and puzzled, “Who’s that?”

Aidan filled her in, “That’s my stalker. Since she’s forced to work with us, they put a restraining order spell on her, which prevents her from going within ten feet of me. I guess they thought it’d make things tolerable, but it hasn’t helped much!” Mother seemed uncomfortable with that concept, so Aidan offered, “I can have the police come and remove it if you want.”

“No!” Mother refused with more intensity than she meant to. She swiftly smiled and continued in a more sing-song manner, “That won’t be necessary. We can work around any challenge!” As soon as she turned her back, Aidan and I exchanged vigilant glances. Mother then directed us, “Follow me, my children!”

“Wow! You have a lot of Fays working for you!” Mason remarked as we neared the old egg farm and saw numerous Fay Folks doing reconstruction.

Mother illuminated us, “We are a colony dedicated to rehabilitation of the recently departed! We provide an environment for them to grow morally and spiritually so that they can get into Heaven.”

Mom nudged me. “Hey, Sophia! That sounds right up your alley!” I grinned while I was in Mother’s scope, but I wiped that away as soon as she wasn’t.

“This sector is devoted to worship,” Mother went on. “We hold services each day, but you are permitted to enter the premises during your free hours to pray if you’d like.” She traversed a bit further, and we stopped outside of the cave where Lake Ana Wai used to exist. “I have assigned a special team to research how to restore these waters.”

“Can Kennedy and I get placed on this team?” I requested.

Mother denied me, “No!”

Aidan whispered to me, “Thanks for being so snarky with her!” I felt a twinge of guilt over that, but I withstood greater angst picturing myself sucking up to her so we could gain access to this project! I had no inclination of divulging any of the intelligence we gathered throughout our unofficial investigation, but I was certainly curious as to what, if anything, they learned about the mo’o’s disappearing gift!

When we all turned around, Minna espied our movements and assured us, “I can roll backwards, it’s cool!”

“This will be our source of income,” Mother elucidated. “We shall harvest the livestock and a select few shall deliver it to the market for sale. That few have already been chosen.” She indicated to me, which didn’t phase me in the slightest. Unless Lopaka stashed something in his old territory which related to our case, I could have cared less about entering into this territory!

“I wonder if he at least took Anela!” Mom fretfully checked over the animals to make sure that this particular goat hadn’t gotten left behind. It would have been pretty heart-wrenching if he was willing to abandon a beloved pet, but I had no inkling on where he went from here, so I didn’t know what we could have done about it if he had committed that misdeed!

Mother guided us back to the Hekekias’ previous abode, and she relayed to us, “This shall be the marketing headquarters as well as mine. Soon, our community will grow by the hundreds, maybe even the thousands! We’ll all live and work together until that sweet day we meet our maker!”

Minna hollered, “Holy smokes! I thought our quarters were crowded before you all came!”

I cringed at the notion of sharing our lodgings with dozens of individuals we didn’t know! My only sense of hopefulness came from the idea that the kids would create an uncomfortable enough experience that no one would want to stay! To my surprise, Mother was cringing too! She begrudgingly told us, “We are not permitted access to your residence, so it will remain solely yours!” It relieved me to hear this until she threw in, “I still expect you to report to the fields at dawn!”

“Dawn? Why on God’s green earth would you make us wake up at such a hellish hour?” Laraleigh reacted in aghast. I was thankful she said it and not me- I imagined that if I had done it, I would have had to go through some kind of horrible punishment for my pattern of back-talk towards her! Furthermore, it alleviated me that they were starting to grasp onto the fact that we were not in an optimal situation at the present! I crossed my fingers that we could return to our dwelling after this tour so I could convince everyone to pack their bags and hightail it out of here! I was sure that Agent Hearne would have understood our motive for doing so once we described the details of this bizarre interaction!

“Every minute is precious! We cannot waste the daylight!” Mother reasoned.

Adian strove to uphold a significant level of politeness with her as he argued, “Listen, I’m guessing your files portrayed us as skilled farmers, but we actually suck at it! We would prove to be better assets for your organization if we took on a role more of our style. We’re more of the intellectual types…”

Willow unexpectedly discerned, “Wait, an F grade is bad? I was thinking we were at the top!”

“Grades aren’t always indicative of genius!” Aidan struggled to smooth that out. “Look at Einstein, he-!”

“I wouldn’t worry about school anymore,” Mother advised. “You won’t be going anymore!”

Laraleigh speculated, “What, did they just flunk them and say to try again next semester?”

Mother announced, “No. I’m turning off your internet.” All of us gaped at this development, but prior to any of us protesting this, she sweetly reckoned, “Well, I can’t have you communicating with the outer world, can I? No one can until you’ve attained a momentous degree of trustworthiness! Oh, that reminds me- take their devices and wands!”

Merripen, Jera, and Adrian encircled us in addition to several of their colleagues, and I considered breaking protocol to fight them off, but I couldn’t have possibly executed a spell with an enemy at every angle! Regardless of where I aimed, someone out of my range of sight could have easily knocked my weapon from my grip! If I did a hex to harm them all, I would have risked injuring one of us in the process! I very reluctantly handed over my wand and cellphone, and my insides began twisting around in knots- there was no escape from this place!

“You can’t run away now!” a Fay leered to Minna as he stole her wand. 

“Is than an ableist joke?” Minna retorted as she gestured to her wheelchair.

The entire group was frozen from bewilderment, and I couldn’t resist spouting, “I told you! Is anyone else scared yet?”

Mom disdainfully regarded me, “Is this something you wanted to be right about?” She had a valid point, so I buttoned my lip.

Mother smirked, and then she ominously bade us, “All hail The End Is My Friend!” As some Fay Folks unveiled the new sign, I pondered how we were going to get out of this jam!