Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 13

Aidan exclaimed, “Oh no! You’re gonna ask for a divorce! No, wait, were only pretending to be married…” 

I assured him, “I don’t wanna break up! Thank goodness! I can’t imagine being stuck with an ex during Witness Protection!”

“Yeah, it’s not fun!” Aidan huffed.

“Aidan! Are you coming in?” Minna called out to him. “I’d like to know when to go upstairs… So, are you staying outside, or…?”

Aidan sarcastically told her, “No! I’m gonna camp out here from now on!”

Minna complimented him, “Good choice! I wish I could do that!”

Aidan shook his head at her ineptitude, and we heard my mom’s muffled voice address her shortly afterwards, so we could only assume she was getting informed on the correct situation. Meanwhile, I still needed to discuss something with Aidan. “Listen, about these pranks…”

“You’re not enjoying them?” Aidan gazed at my expression and made an inference, “That’d be a no! I’m sorry, I’ll stop doing them!”

“Why did they start in the first place?” I petitioned him.

Aidan shrugged. “I dunno! Once we got a hang of the planting, I got so bored! I’m used to masterminding schemes to thwart bad guys’ plans, and now I have all this pent up energy and, like, I just needed to outsmart somebody!”

I sympathized with him, “I understand that! Initially, I kinda liked it ‘cause it’s a very peaceful activity, and I can see why Mom loves it! It was a nice break from this chaotic household too, but maybe it’s a bit too peaceful! I’m used to constantly engaging my brain in order to solve crimes, and this job they have us doing really isn’t challenging enough! I’ve tried to subtly interrogate Kaleo and Kalani about that disappearing lake, but they always find a reason to separate themselves from me! I can’t tell if they’re onto us or if they simply don’t like me!”

“We can always investigate the issue tomorrow when we visit that desert town,” Aidan suggested. “Maybe someone out there saw something, or maybe they picked up on some rumors that can help us get a lead! Yeah, maybe if we spend the weekend working on this case, we won’t feel so burnt out with this farm work!”

“That’d be good!” I chirped. “Let’s get it out of our system before Monday!”

Aidan agreed, and then he inquired, “Was that all you wanted to talk about?”

I replied, “Basically! Your jokes were a little annoying, and more importantly, they were a terrible influence on the kids! Like they need more ammo to cause trouble!”

Aidan chuckled, “True! Alright, shall we go join in whatever trouble is presently brewing in there?” He indicated towards the abode, and while I didn’t detect anything too precarious, I still dreaded going in and enduring whatever chaos might ensue for the night! I nodded and braced myself for the worst as Aidan announced, “Entering!”

When we came inside of the building, I expected to see everyone hastily shifting to various different behaviors as though they hadn’t been attempting to eavesdrop on our conversation-  I didn’t anticipate all of the occupants staring at us in avid curiosity! I canvassed the group, “Uh… What’s going on?”
“Don’t you two have something to tell us?” Mom asked.

“No…” Aidan and I answered with heavy confusion in our tone.

My mom genuinely appeared surprised by this! “Oh! Okay, I’ll go get dinner then!”

I guessed, “Were you all expecting an update on the case?”

“Doesn’t matter!” Laraleigh asserted. She held out what looked like two of her children’s wands so that we could see it clearly. “You can use these! Mason and Harper’s punishment for the water balloons is using the crappy sticks Agent Hearne gave you!”

“Awesome!” Aidan jovially reacted. We handed her our old ones and took theirs very eagerly! Aidan test drove his new wand by procuring a bouquet of flowers for me! “Perfect!”

Harper defiantly spat, “This isn’t gonna change a thing! I can cause mayhem with whatever wand I use!” She strove to create a spell on my old twig and fell thoroughly short! She pouted mightily, but the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief! While we waited for dinner to be ready, I thought that perhaps living in this hovel would become slightly more bearable going forward!

In an old pickup truck, I sat between Mom and Aidan as Aidan drove the vehicle with an overly dour mood. My mother peered at her phone and then directed him, “Turn left here.” Aidan heeded her command and went left on the small, dusty road we were heading to. “Oh, the other left…” Mom corrected him.

“I did go left!” Aidan barked.

“Oh, you’re right! I meant to say right!” Mom conceded.

Aidan growled and made a u-turn. Concurrently, from the truck bed, Jackson went up on his knees to get a better view of the sandy cloud that Aidan’s maneuver created, and Laraleigh cautioned him, “Sit down and pretend like y’all have seatbelts! We don’t wanna get pulled over by a cop!”

Jackson retorted, “You could’ve left out the ‘by a cop’ part- who else is gonna pull us over?”

“Other people can pull us over, but cops are the only ones who can do it legally,” Kinsey pointed out.

“Back on those true crime sites that I blocked?” Laraleigh questioned.

Kinsey denied that allegation, “No, I saw that on tv! There’s a whole channel dedicated to murder shows! Did you know once some dude killed his gardener by taking a hose and-?”

Laraleigh cut her off, “Can we hold off on the gruesome subjects? This is supposed to be a happy occasion!”

“Talking about murders makes me happy though!” Kinsey stated.

“Don’t worry, she doesn’t show any real signs of benign a serial murderer,” I reassured Mom.

Mom didn’t seem too bothered by her remark. “Sweetie, do you forget who I was married to? Of course, when we were together, I didn’t see the signs…”

Aidan piped up, “Speaking of seeing signs, do we turn at this intersection or go straight?”

“Straight… I think…” She squinted at her screen, and then she confirmed, “Yeah… no… yeah!”

“There’s a sign there that says Kauhale Maloo is two miles ahead.” I gestured to the post on the side of the street.

Aidan grumbled, “You can’t see signs anywhere! Why did we put you in charge of the navigation?”

Mom grew sullen at that slight. “For whatever reason, I’m the only one who got a decent signal out here! And at least I got this hunk of junk that stayed unused in the Hekekias’ garage for years to run!”

“How did you manage to do that?” I wondered. “Usually, you’re not very good at spell-work!”

“I had to know how to repair cars ‘cause Wade had a habit of buying clunkers. He prided himself in getting amazing deals, but in reality, he just got sold lemon after lemon! Why was he smart in killing victims and dumb everywhere else?” my mom griped.

Kinsey’s ears perked up at this. “Did I hear someone mention something about killers?”

All three of us responded in unison, “No!” She didn’t appear to believe our claim, but oh well! We weren’t about to talk about this terrible topic with a teenager! 

When we got to the small village, we parked in a tiny lot beneath some shade trees in front of a twenty-four hour pharmacy that was inexplicably closed. Aidan noted, “Well, it’s lucky none of us are sick!”

As if on cue, Willow leaned over the edge of the truck and hurled! Laraleigh begrudgingly notified us, “It’s alright, I’ll get it!”

That episode made me slightly nauseous, so I got out of the pickup and glanced around at my surroundings in order to distract myself. We stood below a giant banner that read “Welcome to Downtown Kauhale Waloo,” and from what I could gather, the entire sector consisted of a single boulevard! The antiquated buildings all seemed to be built with outdated wood, and the gray slabs that made up the sidewalk all had cracks with red dirt between them. A variety of inhabitants roamed the avenue, but no one acted very pleased to have a presence there! I was about to comment on the lack of enthusiasm from the visitors around us when I saw him- the hooded figure from the reservoir! I couldn’t see his face, but I got the impression that he was grinning maliciously as he held up a couple of plush animals as if they would terrify me! What in the world did that mean? I had no time to contemplate this- I had to alert everyone! “He’s here! He’s here!”

“Who is?” Kinsey queried as she mimicked my focus.

“There! The person over-!” Prior to me finishing that sentence, he disappeared from my view! “He was there a second ago! He had teddy bears!”

Before anyone could delve into what I had been referring to, Mom’s phone rang. “Why is the IRS calling me? … Oh!”

I attempted to advise Mom, “Maybe you should go some-.” It was too late, she accepted the call! “Whatever!”

“Hello?” My mother greeted the person on the other end.

“This is Agent Hearne. Are you somewhere private right now?” Agent Hearne wanted to know.

Mom gazed around the perimeter, and when she didn’t observe anyone other than us within earshot, she reported, “The coast is clear!”

Agent Hearne informed her, “I just wanted to let you know that we had a potential sighting of Wade Toonella earlier today.”

We all listened intently to this development, and Mom enquired, “Where was he?”

“An anonymous tip had him in a hospital in Oklahoma,” Agent Hearne revealed. “My team is still trying to substantiate this claim, but if he has been admitted for serious care…”

“If you’re calling me to say he’s on his deathbed, tell the doctors that I’m his legal wife and I give them full permission to pull the plug!” Mom asserted.

A group of locals happened to pass by when she said that, and they stared at her quite quizzically when they overheard this! I recommended to Mom, “Maybe you should take the rest of this call in the truck.” She acquiesced as Agent Hearne began expounding on how they had to verify the identity of the possible suspect prior to anything else commencing, and after Aidan handed her the keys, I propositioned, “We should go check out these shops…”

Aidan concurred, “Yeah! We need to get to the bottom of this whole lake thing!”

My mind was speeding down a single track at that moment, so I completely forgot about that issue! “Huh? Oh yes, definitely!” I wasn’t lying, but I also intended to investigate the area and see where Wade was hiding and, possibly more importantly, why in the heck he had been holding up those cutesy toys! Aidan strolled to the locale with the brisk bounce that accompanies the onset of pursuing a juicy lead, but my heart was pounding as I contemplated a potential battle with our adversary using a child’s wand!

When we went into this souvenir shop, a few characters were engaged in a lively chat, and they fell silent upon our arrival! They gawked at us in total awe, and then one of them blurted out, “E! We actually have some tourists!”

“We better get back to our stores!” another proprietor affirmed.

“Hey! Please don’t go!” Aidan beseeched them. “We were hoping to ask you some questions.”

The man behind the counter briefed us, “The restroom is closed to the public.”

Aidan waved that off. “No, no! We’re fine there! Although… Nah, I can hold it! We were interested in finding out about an odd event that took place near our new home…”

As Aidan talked to this lot, I spotted a bin full of teddy bears with flowery shirts and sunhats on! I examined the stuffed creatures, and nothing about them seemed very remarkable! So, what could have conceivably drawn Wade to purchase these items? Or steal them, who knows!

“Do you mean Lake Ana Wai?” a tradesman pondered.

“Yup!” Aidan confirmed. I set the toys aside and gave this response my utmost concentration! The men glimpsed at each other unsuredly, and…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 12

With a slightly shaky voice, Kalani responded to me, “Fay Folks with the power to make a large body of water disappear? I never heard of that! I may be new to this whole undead thing, but last I could tell, we only have one power, and that is to go into the Ploutonion! I never do though! Well, not anymore! It’s a dreadful place! It could be really nice with the peaceful clouds covering the floor, but the other Fays let all sorts of riffraff in there! It’s supposed to be our chance to appeal to the Fate Particle to get into Heaven, and here some Fays want to bring in monsters! Can you imagine?”

In unison, Aidan and I uttered, “Yes!” We both vividly recalled facing off with Wade as he tried to destroy the Fate Particle’s seal and doom all of humanity, but we certainly couldn’t admit that to the Hekekias! We both laughed it off, and while we did so, I racked my brains on how to unearth a new route to veer back to the original subject of the vanishing lake. The apprehension that this topic created for Kalani and Kaleo was practically tangible, and I had to figure out what information they were hiding in relation to this! Unfortunately, prior to me coming up with anything…

“How did you guys die?” Kinsey blurted out.

“Danielle! It’s not polite to just ask people about their deaths!” Laraleigh chided her.

Kaleo assured her, “No, no! It’s fine! I was on my way to work one day, and I got attacked… I ran into a pack of… feral pigs!”

I cried out, “What?” With the manner in which he built that story up, I was expecting a pack of gangsters or perhaps some sort of formidable creature that I wasn’t familiar with, but not this! The idea sounded so implausible! “Aren’t pigs friendly animals?”

“They can get very territorial!” Kaleo defensively asserted. “It was the last time I took the scenic route to my job! Literally! Then Kalani went looking for me, and she ran into the same pack!”

“It was awful!” Kalani recalled. “Then when we became Fays, no one wanted to visit our general store anymore! Everyone views our kind as bad luck, so they vacated the premises faster than they quit going into the feral pigs’ rainforest! We couldn’t afford to keep our shop or our home anymore, and we wound up here! That’s how I went from a pampered housewife to a farm girl in a matter of months!”

Based on the timeline established by their narrative, I deciphered that they arrived at Lani Noni sometime after the pond evaporated. So, why were they behaving in such a guilty fashion then? I aimed to delve into that, but then Jackson brought up, “Y’all seem so nice! Why’d you turn into Fays?”

Kaleo rather uneasily explained, “I did some bad stuff when I was younger, stuff I probably shouldn’t mention in front of kids…”

“Oh, please! I’m sure we’ve heard worse on social media!” Kinsey asserted. “I saw this post once where there was this dude that cheated on his wife- she killed him by taking his mistress’ curling iron and shoving it in his-!”

“Don’t you dare finish that story!” Laraleigh warned her. She sighed and added, “We’ve gotta monitor your browser history more closely!”

Kaleo went on, “Well, let’s just say I pulled tricks on men and women that I thought deserved it but probably didn’t in reality.”

Jackson remarked, “Hey, Uncle Kennedy! That’s like what you do when you…” He beheld our drastic expressions, and when he realized he was about to reveal something about Aidan’s true identity, he amended his sentence, “…when you play that life simulation game…”

“Oh yeah, I love that game! Too bad we don’t have a gaming system here…” Aidan went along with the scenario his nephew developed, but it was obvious that he wasn’t happy about it.

“So, Kalani, why did you become a Fay?” my mom casually asked with the intention of switching the discourse in this conversation.

Kalani answered, “Honestly, I was just a huge bitch! Apparently, it is a sin! Who knew!” Kinsey opened her mouth to contend with that, and Kalani accurately inferred what she was about to say. “Oh right, you’ve seen worse profanity on the internet!” Kinsey nodded, and we all chuckled. 

The planting we spent our shift doing was difficult, but we had so much fun getting to know our new bosses! We all left the field that day in good spirits… until it dawned on me that we never got back to Lake Ana Wai disappearing…

When we got home, we cautiously crept up to the front door so we could gauge whether or not we would be walking into as much chaos as yesterday, and what we discovered was that while they weren’t manufacturing any booms or bangs, they did an extensive amount of shouting! Aidan and I cringed, but Laraleigh reassured us, “Don’t worry! This is a good sign ‘cause we know where they are! If we went into complete quiet, then we should get worried! We indicated that we accepted her reasoning, and then Aidan made his announcement of his entrance for Minna and we went inside.

“Marco!” Mason called out with his eyes closed and his arms straight out in front of him.

“Polo!” Harper and Willow each articulated with a giggle.

They repeated this chant a couple more times, and then Laraleigh pointed out, “That game is meant for the pool!”

Willow petitioned her, “Okay! Can we go swimming?”

“Where do you expect to go swimming at? The vanishing lake?” Laraleigh retorted.

“Cool! I wanna play!” Jackson avidly expressed.

At that moment, Mason turned towards him but then accidentally tripped over a chair leg at the dining room table, which made him grab onto the tablecloth as he tumbled! This action propelled the vase in the center to collide with the ground, and the loud crash of glass breaking spooked the cats enough that they all zipped out of the perches and ran indiscriminately throughout the building! As Mom was fretting about her pets, I decided I couldn’t take this mayhem anymore and declared, “That’s it! I’m going in my closet!” I paused and invited my boyfriend, “Aidan, you should go too!”

Kinsey grimaced at that notion. “Gross!”

I corrected her misinterpretation, “It’s not like that! I just wanna talk to him about something, something totally innocent!” She appeared skeptical, but I let it go since it wasn’t as though I had to appease one of the younglings! Aidan’s intrigue over my request piqued, so he willingly followed me into the closet.

It was fairly cramped with both of us in there, and with my mind reeling so rapidly out there on other stuff, I hadn’t entirely calculated the consequences of this choice! I wrinkled my nose and commented, “Ugh! You could really use a shower!”

“Hey! It’s not like you smell like a bed of roses!” Aidan shot back.

“Touché!” I acknowledged as I got a whiff of my underarm. “Well, anyways, that’s not what I wanted to chat about…”

Aidan deduced, “Obviously! You would’ve sent me straight to the bathroom if that were the case! I’m guessing you wanna discuss Lake Ana Wai.”

I confirmed this, “Uh-huh! As vulgar as Lopaka’s views on Fay Folks is, is there any validity to his claim that they doomed everyone in this area?”

“I didn’t believe it ‘til the Hekekias reacted so nervously when you told them about it. They know something about that incident!” Aidan stated.

“When I asked Kalani if it was possible for Fays to effectively drain a large body of water, did you notice how she didn’t say no?” I queried.

Aidan affirmed, “That’s true! It’s very suspicious! But, the only issue here is how could they have been involved in a crime like that? It’s not like they can pull out a stopper and let it all go down the pipes! I could picture a jerk like Wade pulling a stunt like that, but it would still take forever for a magian to hex the lake dry! Somebody in the neighborhood would’ve seen them do it and would have put a stop to it! So, it doesn’t appear likely that they witnessed this atrocity. But then they must’ve been privy to some sort of knowledge on how it all went down if they’re this on edge about the whole circumstance!”

I ardently advocated, “We need to do some digging! For clues, not dirt! I’ve had enough of doing that! Somehow, we gotta get them to confess to their involvement!” Aidan clearly agreed, but before he could air his opinion on what to do next, we overheard Minna getting shocked from above us! I exasperatedly exhaled, “Let’s get out of here!”

“Out of the closet or out of Lani Noni?” Aidan kidded.

“Both!” I joked. Kind of. When we exited that room, we observed Kinsey still standing in our proximity, so I told her, “We didn’t do anything!”

She didn’t act very concerned. “I know! It’s not like the walls of the closet are thick enough to soundproof what you do in there! Besides, I doubt y’all could get past each other’s stench right now!”

I wanted to argue with that, but as much as I craved his touch, I couldn’t deny the odor would have turned me off! Aidan instantly decreed, “That’s it! I’m bathing immediately! Minna, I’m going upstairs!” As Minna jinxed herself down, she got into the path of the children’s game and made Jackson fall over! With the renewed pandemonium afoot, I let out another exasperated exhale and retreated to the closet.

“Woohoo! We managed to finish the week by planting the last sapling!” I celebrated as I placed the last tree into the ground.

“Great! Now you can help us with this shit!” Jackson suggested as he spread a bag of fertilizer around some crops.

Laraleigh scolded him, “Joey! Watch your language!”

Jackson protested, “But that’s what it is!”

“Manure is more than just poop!” Laraleigh argued.

“Oh yeah? What else is in there?” Jackson challenged her.

Laraleigh mulled it over and then concluded, “It’s good for the earth, that’s all that matters!”

Jackson nudged Kinsey and snickered, “It’s poop!”

“Oh, come on! It’s not like there’s only cow dung in there!” I contended. I second-guessed myself and then whispered to Mom, “Right?”

“Actually, it kinda is!” Mom discretely informed me.

Jackson probed, “What’d she say?”

I glanced around for a distraction, and eventually, I spotted something in the dirt and exclaimed, “Oh look! Worms!” 

“Neat!” Jackson dove to retrieve it.

“No! Don’t move it!” Kalani pleaded. “They’re beneficial to the soil!” 

Jackson pledged, “I’ll put it back!”

When he brought it out, it unexpectedly began to grow and change into a yellowish green color! “What the heck!” I shrieked. I started studying it, and fairly soon after I made that decision, it shrank back to its original size and returned to its typical hue. “What in the world?” It quickly registered to me what had transpired, and I seethed, “Aidan!”

Aidan emerged from behind some trees chortling quite heartily! “That was great! Though not as great as it should have been! I was trying to turn it into a ten foot gummy worm!”

“Spectacular! It’s a genius equal to the shovel you tried to make into a tap dancer or making the rock Kinsey was attempting to sit on migrate! “ I sardonically conveyed to him.

“Ah, well, I didn’t wanna do that! It was supposed to morph into a bean bag chair! I thought it’d be funny to watch her sink in, but then she’d benefit from having a more comfortable seat!” Aidan justified himself.

Kinsey avowed, “You’re gonna pay for that as soon as Mama gives us our wands again!”

I begged everyone, “Oh, please don’t instigate a prank war!”

“I agree!” Aidan concurred. “It wouldn’t be a fair fight ‘cause these wands don’t work very much! That’s punishment enough!”

“That’s it!” A lightbulb went off in Laraleigh’s head. “I know how to punish your siblings for the water balloons now!”

Kaleo rather concernedly enquired, “Water balloons?”

Laraleigh fibbed, “Something they did in Kentucky!”

“Oh, alright…” Kaleo didn’t seem to buy her assertion, but he didn’t appear to have the energy to investigate it either. “Okay, how about we call it a day, huh? Go enjoy your weekend, and report to the fields on Monday!”

“Yay!” Kinsey and Jackson sprinted towards the cottage like kiddies scampering to the playground at recess.

The adults very much shared their sentiments, but our bones and joints ached too greatly to speed our gait even a little bit more! When we reached our stoop, I pulled Aidan aside with a somber expression on my face. Aidan grew somewhat frightened and questioned me, “Is something wrong?”

Mom put in, “Ooh, I know what this about! Let’s give them some privacy!”

“What’s going on?” Aidan fretted.

“We need to address a recent development…” I relayed to him.

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 11

Aidan gazed at the hilltops before us, but he didn’t see anything significant up there. “What was it?”

I began to respond, “It was… There it is again!” I exclaimed as a hooded silhouette peeked out from the mountainous crag once more! This was no false alarm like the stupid goat’s knocking or a supposed coincidence like the near plane crash- someone was definitely watching us! I had seen this mysterious character before in the security footage of my serial murder investigation, and the culprit turned out to be Wade! My heart pounded as panic started to set into my chest! As much as I wanted to confront that scoundrel, I couldn’t do it with this lousy wand making me so woefully unprepared! Actually, a weaponry disadvantage would have been the best case scenario in this instance- if we contended with a powerful magian when we were ill-equipped and alone, we most likely wouldn’t live long enough to tell Agent Hearne what a terrible idea this was! “He’s here! He’s here!” I couldn’t muster anything else to communicate to Aidan other than to ensure he got the message through repetition!

“Who is?” Aidan whipped his head upwards to investigate what caused such urgency in my voice. I dug into my pocket to grab my cellphone because if we couldn’t match our opponent’s skills, I at least wanted to document our downfall! Or unexpected victory, whatever ended up happening! “Who was it?” Aidan asked me.

“Was? He is W…!” In the exact moment that I put my device in the optimal position to take a picture, the object of my operation had gone out of sight again! “Okay, fine, it was Wade!”

Aidan’s eyes widened upon hearing this development. “Wade? Are you sure?”

I asserted, “Of course I am!” I mulled it over a bit, and then I recanted my statement, “Well, I didn’t see his face, but who else would wear a hoodie in this tropical environment?” Doubt flickered across Aidan’s visage, so I told him, “A person was definitely there, and if they’re concealing themselves, then obviously they’re up to no good!”

Aidan relented, “You’re right, that’s fishy! Let’s go check it out!”

We drew out our wands (Not that it would’ve benefited us much, but any potential adversary wouldn’t have known that!), and we crept up towards the rocky slope. I prayed that our sudden presence would startle Wade enough that we could gain a split second advantage when we ambushed him since it would be potentially disastrous if he blitzed us, and I willed our substandard sticks to uncharacteristically pull through for us in this endeavor! We heard some pebbles crunching on the other side, so we took cover behind the tall terrain. The sound of movement grew louder and louder, and I readied myself to display a show of force! When we sensed someone within our range, we emerged from our hiding spots, and…

“Oh, for crying out loud!” I hollered once my adrenaline petered down. That same goat from last night emerged and bleated at us!

“This is what you were seeing?” Aidan very heavily questioned me.

I clicked my tongue in frustration. “Of course not! This was definitely a person, and… they can definitely hear us talking now!” We got serious again, but when we made another bid to traverse the grounds, the goat nipped at me! “Leave us alone!” I hissed. It stuck its tongue out at me, and I ranted, “Quit it! We need to see what’s around the corner! We’re trying to help you, you little sh-!”

All of a sudden, a slender man whose tawny skin bore a citrine undertone as the sun glowed off it popped up over the horizon! His narrow, almond eyes gazed at us apologetically, but prior to any remorse getting uttered, I noted that he wore a colorful polo shirt, and while his long, pulled back hair somewhat resembled a hood, nothing about his appearance indicated that he had been the man that I espied a minute ago! To me, the suspect remained at large, but if Wade had, indeed, been lurking in the ridge where this gentleman had just passed through, wouldn’t he have eliminated a potential witness? I mean, I was glad the guy was alright, but why did Wade spare him?

“E kala mai!” he relayed to us. When Aidan and I gave him blank stares in return, he translated his words, “Sorry! I always bring an animal with me for protection when I go out here, and Anela got a little defensive!”

“Is it very dangerous out here?” I gazed towards the direction where I spotted the obscure person, and I wondered if I had been incorrect in assuming that only Wade would don that sort of getup! Quite abruptly, a mosquito flew towards my forehead, and my initial instinct was that a threat had invaded my space, and I battled it with more veracity than necessary!

The gentleman assured us, “Nothing lethal really. The menehune show up every once in a while, but they’re more annoying than dangerous… They’re mischievous elves.” Once Aidan and I bore expressions of comprehension, he went on, “They’re very industrious too though! I almost let them fix your aqueduct, but I didn’t realize people were living next door to me, so I thought I’d be a good neighbor and do the repair for you.”

Aidan graciously regarded him, “Thank you! I left my toolbox back there ‘cause we thought… Hey! How did you know we were your neighbors?”

“Who else would be out here right now?” the gentleman reasoned. “The Palekanas sold their egg farm a year ago shortly after the Pomaikai family died, so I’ve been myself out here up ‘til recently. Though, to be honest, I may end up selling my place too if Lake Aopua’a goes the same route as its sister…”

“What sister?” I hadn’t gotten the impression that any other water source existed around this area, and I grew curious as to why no one was using this for their hydration supply.

The gentleman illuminated us, “Lake Ana Wai was inside of a cave down the road from us. All three farms used to source it, but then one day, it was empty! The Palekanas decided to retire early and let their birds fly off before jetsetting to the Kohala coast- I wish I could’ve followed suit! But it’s not like I could do a simple spell to allow my herds to fly off like that! … Anyways, in case I decide to stay, my name’s Lopaka.”

He extended his hand, and we shook it, but I couldn’t move on from this subject as hastily as he did! Total evaporation of cleared up why the Hekekias weren’t using a closer wellspring, but he moved on from that story as though it was totally normal for a large pond to just disappear like that! I decided to speedily introduce ourselves and then get to the bottom of this! “I’m Sophia, and this is Kennedy- nice to meet you! So, how in the heck did Lake Ana Wai vanish so fast?”

“The Fays made it go away!” Lopaka claimed. “As soon as the Pomaikais employed those degenerates, things were never the same! I warned them against using Fay labor, but did they listen? No! They doomed us all!” Aidan and I didn’t react to his slander. I’ve experienced individuals allege that they were criminals constantly causing trouble, but I hadn’t gotten wind of anyone asservating that Fay Folks had an apocalyptic nature! Oh sure, a few of them did assist with a plot to destroy humankind, but that was only because Wade had tricked them into believing in an all Fay utopia following this cataclysm! Some Fays resorted to lawbreaking due to their frequent poverty, but most were fairly ordinary citizens simply striving to make amends for their misdeeds! I couldn’t comprehend how Lopaka had reached such a drastic conclusion, but I didn’t want to cause a rift between someone who we shared a border with! Plus, he seemed like a skillful resource for mechanical stuff, which may have come in handy for us since I doubted that Aidan or I could have mended whatever was wrong with the aqueduct, but he didn’t struggle with it at all! Probably, he didn’t say how long the fixing took! “For a while there, I was worried that the Fays I saw hanging around Lani Noni had taken hold of its ownership, but they were probably scavenging the joint! Thank goodness I have regular humans next to me!”

“Uhh… They’re still there!” Aidan hesitantly informed him. “We actually work for them!”

Lopaka’s demeanor changed completely upon receiving that pronouncement! “You’re supporting their… Well, see you around!” He summoned his goat to tail him back towards his ranch, and Anela had to shoot us one last dirty glance before departing!

I chided Aidan, “Why did you have to tell him that? Now he hates us!”

“He would’ve found out eventually!” Aidan pointed out, which I had to admit was probably true. He went on, “Besides, him disliking us was fairly inevitable ‘cause  my sister’s goblins will eventually pull off some kind of prank on his cows!” I tittered at his quip, but really, I don’t think he was completely kidding! “Come on! Let’s try and convince the Hekekias to hose off all this sweat before it sets in and leaves yellow stains on our outfits! I know they’re not really our clothes, but still! We gotta wear them for-.”

“Shouldn’t we double check the mountains and clear the proximity first?” I brought up. I lingered by the hilltop and eyed the territory uneasily. I recognized that Lopaka had exited the vicinity without an incident, but that didn’t convince me that Wade or any other sinister personage hadn’t stuck around these quarters!

Aidan vied with that proposition, “If any shady business was happening out there, I’m pretty certain that Lopaka would have forewarned us! You know, prior to his knowledge of our affiliation with Fay Folks! At the very minimum, I would be willing to bet that Anela would have gone after them and not us!”

His logic seemed solid, but my stomach tied into knots with the mere consideration of leaving this scene without studying it thoroughly! If Wade was up to something out here, we could have potentially walked away from vital evidence! “What if somebody shifty is here and we miss out on the chance to prevent them from acting out their evil deeds?”

“What if we do confront them and our crappy wands crap out on us?” Aidan countered.

“I…” Didn’t I come up with that same conclusion minutes ago? I couldn’t admit it to him, but I wasn’t prepared to give up on this concept either! “Yes, we aren’t equipped to get into any altercations at the present, but maybe we should report what I witnessed to the local police…” I pulled out my cellphone again and nearly dialed the number when a cognition instantaneously struck me… “Oh, but what would I say to them? Even if a person is lurking around these parts, that doesn’t signify that they’ve broken any laws! Unless they made that lake disappear…”

Aidan agreed, “And if it turns out that this subject has a warrant, then they’d probably have plenty of time to flee prior to any squad cars getting to this location!” Aidan caught sight of my crestfallen mood, so he motioned as though he was intending to give me a hug, but then he beheld something in ahead of us that swayed his focus! “Hey! That bird is stealing the tools! Put that down!” The hawk flew from our locale preceding either of us getting close enough to stop its pilfering!

Kaleo probed, “Precisely what did the bird steal?”

“It was a yellow plastic gizmo with, like, a small screen or something…” Aidan described for him.

“Was it a stud finder?” Kaleo guessed. Aidan shrugged.

Kalani remarked, “I suppose I was wrong about you two being mechanically inclined! Although, you did do a great job fixing the aqueduct!”

I opened my mouth to correct her on that incorrect assessment, and Aidan nudged me to keep quiet. I had an extreme aversion to lying, but there didn’t appear to be a lot of validity in the premise of informing them that Lopaka helped us when he wasn’t likely to ever repeat that favor! As we joined in the planting efforts, I conversed, “I can understand why our neighbor brings a pet with him when he goes out there! It would’ve been nice to have a critter with us so it could have fended off that hawk!”

“You spoke to the neighbor?” Kaleo petitioned me, which made me cringe! Seconds ago, I came up with the judgment that Lopaka shouldn’t get introduced into our chat, and yet that’s what I did anyway! “Did he spew out a bunch of nasty comments about us?”

“Not about you, but he wasn’t too fond of the previous farmhands that worked here…” I opted to mimic my boyfriend and exercise the truth since they were bound to discover this eventually. I would’ve felt worse if they fell under the false notion of his friendliness to their kind and attempted to bond with him! It saddened me to espy the hurt on their faces over this prejudice though, so I strove to offer a smidgen of consolation to them, “I wouldn’t worry about his opinions! He doesn’t seem totally stable to me! Seriously, he believes that Fays have the ability to make an entire lake vanish!” Immediately following that sentence, Kaleo dropped the shovel in his hands, and the pair of them looked totally fretful! It was apparent that I had spooked them, but why? “That’s not even possible… Is it?”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 10

“Who’s at the door?” Aidan queried as he peeked down at the scene from the loft.

“They didn’t say! They just keep on knocking!” Minna reported. Aidan became very overtly annoyed, so much so that even Minna’s usual obliviousness couldn’t prevail in this instance! “Okay, I’ll answer it!”

Aidan commanded, “No! Don’t do that! We don’t want someone that angry entering the house! See who it is first!”

Mom chided him, “Aidan! How do you expect a woman in a wheelchair to look out a window that high?”

“Oh, please! Unreachable windows never stopped me from doing what I wanted to before!” Minna asserted, which made my mother raise her eyebrows. Minna used her wand to draw open the curtains on the glass at the top of the backdoor, and then she did another spell to raise herself up to see what was outside. Despite my misgivings, I couldn’t help but feel impressed by her stalker skills being put to good use! “Woah!” Minna exclaimed when she espied what was causing the voluminous banging on that entryway.

“Who is it?” I tentatively inquired. The renewed knocking made my apprehension return, and I feared that my accidental jinx had summoned the worst person to show up at our abode right then! If Wade had materialized while we possessed such faulty wands, I was certain that we would not fair too well in this battle!

Minna squinted her eyes and studied the subject as she replied, “I don’t know his name…” My heart skipped a beat- it seemed impossible to me that her response could signify anyone other than Wade at our patio… Or did we have patio space in our backyard? I hadn’t scoped out that section of our territory yet… “Oh, maybe it’s a she…!”

My eyes blinked in confusion. I didn’t estimate that Wade would dress in drag, but that definitely would throw investigators off of his trail! “Can you describe their appearance?” I interrogated her.

“I see long, white hair, beady, little eyes, and gray horns…” Minna described to me.

“Horns?” Up until that specific detail, she had me convinced that the perpetrator truly was Wade! “Wait, it’s a goat? Why didn’t you say that sooner?” 

Minna folded her arms and pouted, “Well, you didn’t ask me whether or not they were human!”

I growled in frustration. Yes, I was relieved that our nemesis hadn’t resurfaced, but it irked me that her graceless deliverance of this fact had evoked unnecessary panic! My muscles grew less tense, but I didn’t like that I had to go down there and deal with this issue! I pressed myself against the window and shouted to it, “Get out of here! Yeah, you! Get out!” It made a strange face at me prior to its departure, and I puzzled, “Goats can stick their tongues out at people when they’re mad?”

“Cool! I wanna see!” Jackson ran to the door with excitement in his step.

“It left,” I revealed to him. He peered through the window to confirm this, and his expression doured. I continued to study our surroundings, and I observed, “Gosh, all we have around this property is a flimsy wire fence! This is supposed to keep us safe from Wade ambushing us?”

Kinsey quizzically responded, “I thought the point of all this was that we’re somewhere where that dude can’t find us!”

I opined, “Uh, yeah, that’s true, but we still need some protection in case he does turn up!”

“I don’t see how he could possibly figure out that we’re at this random farm on the complete opposite side of the country, but if he did somehow, then we’d simply have to call the police to come get him,” Laraleigh saw Aidan and I about to speak up on this subject, so she added, “The Hawaiian police! You two aren’t cops anymore- you’re agricultural workers!”

“We’re still in law enforcement!” I differed. “Once this is all over and we’re back home, we’re going right back on duty!” That sinking sensation of envisioning a bleak future that contradicted my sentiment kicked in, and I wistfully wondered how much validity my argument had!

Mom attempted to comfort me, “I know it’s rough letting other officers do your job, but…” She didn’t have a way to finish that sentence, so she switched to petitioning the group, “Who wants dinner?”

I didn’t have a cheery reaction to give her, but prior to me feigning anything, water dripped off of my clothes and sprayed the same cat from upstairs! To avoid sharing in everyone else’s mirth, I excused myself, “I’m gonna go wash up!” As I ran into Aidan on the upper level, I could tell her wanted to offer me some encouragement, so I cut him off preceding this occurrence, “I know, I know!’ I grabbed some dry clothes, and after I marched into the bathroom, I determined that I was less interested in hearing that it would all be fine someday and more gravitated to how to get to that status!

With so much on my mind, sleep seemed like an impossible feat for me, and yet, throughout my endless reel of anxious thoughts, I must have fallen asleep because I found myself waking up to the sounds of loud whispering! “We have to be quiet, everyone’s still sleeping!” Harper cautioned her siblings.

“How are we supposed to have any fun if we can’t make any noise?” Mason probed.

“You leave that to me!” Harper instructed them. “Now, Willow, go get the matches, and-.”

Laraleight shot straight out of bed and bellowed, “Uh-uh! Absolutely not!” She snatched the matches away from her, and as we all groggily roused ourselves from our slumber, we all saw that Mason was holding a box of firecrackers! Laraleigh shrieked, “Where did you get those?”

Mason tried to fib, “I dunno! It’s not like we snuck into the storage shed and saw them covered in dust!”

“You broke into the Hekekias’ property?” Laraleigh hollered.

“No! I said we didn’t do that!” Mason countered.

Aidan posed to them, “How exactly were you expecting to get away with using these? You don’t think we would’ve heard you using those?”

Harper got slightly affronted by this insinuation. “You insult our intelligence with that question! We weren’t gonna use them in here! We were gonna throw them over the fence and wake up the neighbors’ cows!”

Laraleigh grimaced, and then she vociferated, “You wait ‘til your father gets home, I-!” She cut herself off when she recognized the error in her phrasing, and then she quickly spouted out, “You’re grounded!”

“We can’t leave the perimeter though!” Mason pointed out.

“Actually, we were gonna explore a desert town this weekend, but you’re not going!” She mulled it over and then reconsidered, “Oh, but that means one of us can’t go ‘cause we’d have to have someone watching you while we’re gone! Hmm… well… You’re gonna get punished eventually! Mark my words!”

The youths stared at her blankly, and then Willow enquired, “What’s for breakfast?”

Laraleigh threw her arms up in exasperation, and I attempted to assuage the situation by articulating, “Breakfast isn’t a bad idea! We’ll need all the strength we can get for another shift in the field!”

Everyone groaned at the prospect of repeating that arduous labor, and Mom optimistically put forth, “Maybe it won’t be so bad! It’s a bit drafty in here, so the weather’ll probably be cooler at least!”

It wasn’t! In fact, it felt more hot and humid than the previous day! Kaleo and Kalani joined us outside, and Kaleo canvassed the group, “Ready to do some work?”

“No!” Jackson shook his head vigorously.

“Before you plant some more trees, we gotta water the old ones first. Any volunteers?” Kalani glanced at each of us, and nobody raised their hands to do an extra task. I didn’t have a lot of patience to stand around and debate this dilemma in this heat, so I put my palm in the air as well as Aidan’s. “Thank you!” Kalani chimed.

Aidan didn’t appear thrilled that I forced him into this assignment, but he trudged over to the spigot without objection. I aimed the hose for the initially planted sapling, which still had charred leaves on it. I don’t know why I expected it to have returned to its green form so instantly, and it disappointed me to see that reminder of my blunder! In the midst of this musing, it dawned on me that water hadn’t come out yet! It irritated me that Aidan was being so slow, but I didn’t want to needle him further by commentating on his speed, so I very sweetly asked him, “Babe, are you gonna turn it on?”

To my astonishment, Aidan answered, “I did!”

Fear flowed through all of my veins! Had the children’s escapade really depleted their water supply? I was already blaming myself for this transgression even though I admittedly couldn’t decipher a logical basis for doing so! I was out working in the field when it happened, but nonetheless, I felt as though I ought to have done something to prevent this incident from occurring! Kaleo and Kalani didn’t appear half as worried as I did, which made no sense to me! This affected their livelihood and their lives, so I couldn’t comprehend why they weren’t flipping out until Kaleoassessed, “Oh, lapuwale! There’s a break in the line! I’ll be back!”

“Hold on, Kaleo! Why don’t we have these two go fix it while we get started on the planting?” Kalani suggested as she referred to Aidan and me. She caught our eyes, and she conciliatorily addressed us, “I imagine you’re more mechanically inclined than physically, and we can save time by doing the saplings while you repair the aqueduct… unless you’d rather do the digging…”

“No, no!” Aidan declined. “Where’s your toolbox?”

As we walked across the gray, rocky terrain, I wiped yet another waterfall of sweat off of my forehead! I didn’t even pay attention to what Aidan was doing, I was too exhausted to care! At least until he excitedly proclaimed, “Yes! I did it!”

Without looking at him because I didn’t expect anything significant, I hazily questioned him, “You did what?”

“I made a jinx appear out of this crappy wand! See?” He avidly indicated to the effect he created. I took a glimpse of what he had been so keen on, and I didn’t see anything until he let go of the toolbox. It floated in the air next to him, and he proudly affirmed, “Ta-da!”

“You spent this entire trip trying to get your magic to function properly?” Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad for volun-forcing him to assist me with the hose! And here I was thinking of what I could do to make it up to him!

Aidan’s mood dampened by my lack of enthusiasm over his accomplishment. “Not the entire trip! This thing got heavy, and I wanted to make this ordeal a tad easier!”

I sighed, “So, I’ve been the only one searching for the break in the line?”

“Hey! This is a major leak! I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t miss it!” Aidan disputed.

“Pretty sure? What if it’s a minor problem causing the shortage and we wasted a lot of energy walking here when we could quit somewhere far behind where we are now?” I pressed him. “And now I’ll have to mend the breakage by myself  due to you exhausting your stamina on trying to make the tools float!”

Aidan contended, “I didn’t try, I succeeded!” I gave him an aggravated stare, and he opened his mouth to debate the topic, but instead, he dropped the toolbox and made much of the contents of that vessel fall out! “Sorry!” he mumbled while we picked the items up.

I wanted to get vexed with him for causing a hellacious delay, but as I gazed at the ring of mountains that contained the embankment of our destination, something occurred to me. “This whole journey might’ve been a quagmire- the minions most likely sucked the last drop of hydration dry! This farm is completely doomed! No wonder the previous owners abandoned it!”

“Shannon, do you really believe the Hekekias would have bothered with this acreage if it was so poised to ruin?” Aidan challenged me.

“Aidan…” I strove to interrupt his pep talk.

He wouldn’t allow this to happen! “No! Fays have a limited lifespan on this earth, so they’re not gonna attach themselves to anything so futile!”

I more urgently tried again, “Aidan!”

“There’s hope here!” Aidan insisted. “They must have seen something that-!”

“I just saw something!” I gestured towards the hills with a frightened expression! I considered that perhaps the humid sun made my mind play tricks on me, but I was fairly positive that I was not wrong on this one…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 9

As the poor little sapling burned, Jackson announced, “I know what to do during a fire!” He then proceeded to roll around on the dirt!

“You idiot! That’s what you do when you’re in flames!” Kinsey scolded her brother.

“Don’t call me names, Danny!” Jackson bickered.

Kinsey corrected him, “It’s Danielle!”

Jackson argued, “No, it’s not!”

I spotted a nearby hose, and while I was grabbing it, Aidan found the spigot and turned the water on. I doused the enflamed plant during Laraleigh’s attempt to persuade her kids to stop feuding, and during this process, I hoped that I had redeemed myself from that atrocious blunder at least slightly! It was hard to tell- Kaleo and Kalani had a lot to take in at that moment!

We all gazed at the charred leaves, and I felt so guilty for harming a living thing like that! I had no intention of doing such a terrible act, but that didn’t quell my anxiety over hurting it! Mom must have sensed my disquiet over the matter because she confidently assessed, “It’ll grow back! As long as it’s got strong roots and enough hydration…”

“I’m not quite so certain about that last one,” Kalani remarked. “We’ve scaled back on our water usage as much as we could due to the drought. Oh, I wouldn’t take any long showers if I were you!”

“I didn’t even consider that!” I commented. “With one bathroom and nine other people needing to use it, i just didn’t seem like a remote possibility!”

Jackson probed, “Isn’t this island surrounded by water?”

Kinsey edified him, “You can’t use ocean water for crops!” She mulled it over for a second, and then she asked, “Can you?”

“The salt would kill the soil,” Kaleo answered. “Believe me, we tried! Lake Aopu’a is drying up, but there aren’t any other water sources close by! We checked every corner that we could! But even if we could use seawater, we’d never be able to get an aqueduct that long! The closest shoreline is over an hour drive!”

“That would be an expensive permit!” Aidan noted.

Kalani bore a look of surprise on her face. “Oh, that hadn’t even crossed our minds! We built the one going to the lake ourselves, and we have enough issues keeping that running! We were hoping that you could use your magic to repair it…”

I assured her, “We’ll work on honing our magic! It won’t always be like this!” I really meant that! I was a skilled magian, and this was so out of character for me! I felt determined to prove my worth… unless they caught Wade and let us go home quickly, then… oh well!

“Great!” Kaleo chimed in a tone that signified that he didn’t seriously buy our claim of accomplishing that in the near future. “Until then, I’ll give you all some shovels.” He went into a small shed by their cottage and handed out spades to each one of us. “Do you guys know how to use these?”

“Of course!” Aidan smugly stated. “I mean, it’s a shovel, how hard can it be?” He shoved his into the ground, but he couldn’t pick anything up- the shovel wouldn’t budge! When he let go of it, the spade fell down! “This is why I always paid someone to do my landscaping!”

Kaleo instructed him, “Don’t shove it in like that! You gotta do it at an angle, and use your feet to give it some leverage.”

Jackson gasped, “Oh, it’s like digging for fishing worms!”

As he eagerly used his spade, he made debris fly everywhere, and Kinsey opined, “I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to make it spray all over people!”

“Why don’t we pair up to do the planting?” Kalani proposed. Aidan and I each gravitated to each other, and Kalani gingerly told us, “Uh, it would probably be best if the skilled and unskilled diggers paired together.” Aidan and I wanted to protest, but when we deliberated it, we saw that she had a valid argument and complied.

“This is wonderful! I’ve been trying to get you to garden with me for years now!” Mom rejoiced as she linked her arms with mine. I gave her a thumbs up, but I couldn’t feign any enthusiasm over this task.

Mom and I picked up the burnt tree, and Aidan and Jackson took the one behind it, which had some ash on it that they brushed off. As Laraleigh and Kinsey went for theirs, the Hekekias retrieved some spades for themselves, and Laraleigh observed, “Wow! Y’all have a whole bunch of shovels!” They gazed at her peculiarly, and she apologized, “Sorry! I didn’t expect to see that ‘cause I assumed the farmhands who came before us were good at spells!”

Kaleo explained, “They weren’t- the old owners employed Fays! After the drought started, they weren’t harvesting enough nonis to pay them, so the Fays all left. The owners got sick for a long time and didn’t touch the place, so all of their stuff remained where they always stored it. Well, not all of it- some of it got stolen, and wandering livestock ate a portion of it…”

“Dang! You guys did a lot of research on this land!” Aidan noticed.

“Yes, naturally…” Kalani agreed with his assessment, but I sensed a hint of ambiguity. I began to wonder if they were hiding something about how they acquired this farm…

At the end of the day, we all trudged back to our abode sore and tired! “How many trees did we plant today?” Jackson posed to us.

Kinsey informed him, “Sixteen.”

“How many trees are still there?” Jackson pondered.

“A lot more than sixteen!” Kinsey groaned, and Jackson followed suit.

I wearily articulated, “I can’t wait to go inside and rest!” From the exterior, we heard a cacophony of laughter and banging, so I changed my tune, “I wanna go back to the field!”

Aidan knocked on the door and shouted, “Entering!” He paused a minute, and then he opened the door and went inside.

We walked in and saw Minna backing into the dining room area while wearing soaking wet clothes, and prior to any of us voicing expressing our curiosity on how that spectacle came to pass, Harper commanded, “Fire!” A series of water balloons flew over the ledge of the loft and onto the main floor!

I’m pretty sure that we all wanted to scold them for this mischievous action, but Mom beat us to the punch, “What are you heathens doing? You’re gonna give my babies a heart attack!”

“Minna said it was okay for us to do this!” Mason justified their behavior.

“No, I did not!” Minna firmly denied that accusation. “I said, ‘Go ahead and see what happens!’ I really thought that’d get them to listen! Man, none of my professors ever covered how to deal with this type of situation!”

Without intending to say my opinion out loud, I astonishedly reacted, “You have a college degree?” I covered my mouth after those words blurted out! I hadn’t meant to act so rudely towards her, and I fretted over what repercussions might ensue this slant! I couldn’t bear to add a tiff with an unbalanced person to the list of stressors that haunted me each day!

Thankfully, Minna didn’t air her tribulations over the incident! “I got my masters in psychology. I finished an internship at a counseling center, and I was planning on getting my Phd so I can open up my own clinic…. And don’t even try saying how odd it is for someone with a personality disorder to do that!”

“I wasn’t going to!” I lied. I couldn’t fathom how somebody who made a living fixing people’s mindsets could possess such an irrational decorum with men she found attractive! I weighed whether or not I should have reported her to the Kentucky medical board, but then I opted to table the issue and shifted my attention to the more grievous development, “You all need to quit wasting so much water! This region is experiencing a drought!”

“What’s a drought?” Willow enquired.

I tersely educated them, “They’re running out of water.”

Harper disputed that, “That can’t be true! We’ve been running the faucet all day, and we haven’t had any problems!”

All of the adults winced at that concept, and I dreaded to picture what would occur if we ran out of such an essential supply! Unless we could pilfer more powerful wands, I had no inkling on how we would repair their aqueduct! And I didn’t conceive the notion to delve into how much water was lingering in that lake when we were interacting with the Hekekias! If I hadn’t been sweating for several hours, I would’ve chosen to skip my shower tonight out of an abundance of caution! My head commenced in throbbing like crazy, so I exasperatedly regarded the children, “Go play downstairs! I’m gonna lie down!” 

They were set to tote their box of balloons to the lower level, so I snatched them away and requested to Minna, “Can you destroy these?” She aimed her wand at the crate, and her jinx obliterated its contents. Unfortunately, it drenched me, which made the youths erupt in cackles! I gritted my teeth, but then I reasoned, “Well, I don’t gotta worry about bathing tonight!” I dashed upstairs without listening to their response.

“Don’t tell me everything’s gonna be okay!” I barked at Aidan as soon as I sensed him coming in.

“Why not?” Aidan rejoined as he sat down on the cot next to me.

I rationalized it for him, “I know it’ll all be okay eventually, but when? What if they don’t catch Wade for months?”

Aidan disagreed with that premise, “No way! Not gonna happen! He’s not that clever!”

“He got away with his first crime spree for months, and I was living with him for part of this duration!” I contended. “Wait, was that months or weeks? It felt like months… Anyways, he’s a master of disguise, and he might slip right under everybody’s noses!”

“Speaking of noses, they’re probably on the lookout for a horrible stench, so all he would have to do to hide himself is take a damn bath!” Aidan mused.

I iterated my point, “Exactly! This could be our lives for a really long while! Imagine all of the cases not getting solved without us around! Plus, Ben will be in charge of the low income rehab and the Center for the Recently Deceased! I couldn’t even count on him to run our finances when we were married, and now he’s running two non-profits?” A cat jumped onto my bed to offer me some comfort, but when it saw how sopped I was, it crinkled its nose and hopped off. “Instead of helping our community and finishing the day at home in our nice, cozy apartment, we’re sleeping on hay and planting trees that probably won’t even grow ‘cause the last of the water apparently went into entertaining the bratty pack! I miss our home! I know it sounds superficial, but I liked all of our stuff, and I want it back!”

Aidan related to me, “It’s not superficial! We worked hard for our stuff! And it bums me out to imagine all of the citizens we would potentially assist going without! But it makes me feel better to maintain the belief that we’ll get out of this mess soon! It drives me nuts to not have any say-so on how I sort out my routine, however, I keep thinking about the weekend and the chance for us to go on an adventure! Maybe that’ll make this whole ordeal worthwhile!”

“I hope so!” In the back of my brain, I still didn’t accept any optimism regarding this expedition, but I would have to keep reminding myself of his wisdom to trick my thought-waves into generating enough plausibility to get to the other side of this debacle!

“Now, let’s get you out of these clothes!’ Aidan proffered with a wry smile.

Immediately after that suggestion got put forth, a chorus of young voices echoed out, “Eiww!”

Aidan’s face fell, and he canvassed the juveniles, “You heard that?”

“Uh, yeah! There’s no walls in this building, remember?” Kinsey shot back.

“Oh, sweet crap! We’re not gonna get any opportunities to get lucky while we’re here, are we?” Aidan lamented.

I didn’t want to confirm that assessment and be the individual who stole the sunshine out of such a perky man, so I gave the abstraction some serious consideration. Eventually, I produced a rather implausible potentiality, “We could try sound-proofing my closet.”

Aidan furnished his wand and stared at it with a fairly inauspicious frown. “With these things? Although… We do have to get them to function sometime…”

I brought my wand out, and I recommended, “Let’s practice! We can start with a really simple hex like clearing out some of this straw so our allergies stop going into overdrive!” Aidan nodded, and we both concentrated as much as we could, or at least he did! I instantly recalled that I ought to have used the blowdryer on my hair or changed into dry clothes preceding this venture! I sincerely strove to clear out all of my woes, but they kept returning to my focus over and over again! I grew frustrated, and then I espied some sparks flying out of my wand…

All of a sudden, a series of loud knocks boomed from the backdoor! I shifted around in a distraught manner… What exactly had I invited over?

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 8

I queried the Hekekias, “There’s only one bedroom?” I could see the area clearly, so it’s not like I had any confusion on the layout of the structure. Really, I was just hoping that what my eyes perceived had somehow been wrong! Only one door rested on the other side of this loft, and otherwise, the entire upstairs consisted of several inches of hay and a dozen cots. If there was merely a single chamber with any privacy in this place, I was prepared to fight tooth and nail for it! I would’ve trampled over the small kids, I didn’t care! I wasn’t about to spend the entire duration of this venture without a tiny iota of sanctuary! If it was a few days in a hotel, then I wouldn’t have complained, but who knew how long we were going to remain there!

“There aren’t any bedrooms,” Kaleo informed us.

“WHAT?” Almost everyone incredulously reacted upon hearing this.

Laraleigh inquired, “Then what’s in there?”

Kaelo replied, “That’s the bathroom.”

“There’s only one bathroom, and it’s upstairs? Oh man, this is gonna be rough on my knees!” Mom commented.

“How’s that gonna work with, uh, Anna?” Aidan probed.

Kalani complimented him, “Aw! That’s awfully sweet of you to show such concern over your cousin! Even though you have a restraining order against her, you still tend to her special needs!”

Aidan differed, “Uh, actually, I wanted to leave her at the airport! I was thinking that it’d be impossible for her to get through us to use the bathroom- she’d wake us up with shocks!”

“I don’t think she can get up here in a wheelchair…” Kalani concernedly opined.

“That’s what I once thought! But it turns out she’s good at spells that transport herself to spaces she normally wouldn’t be able to reach! It’s an aptitude she acquired in order to stalk me!” Aidan folded his arms in an irate memory of these instances.

From outside, Minna confirmed this, “It’s true! I did that a lot! I also learned to sleep outdoors if that’s helpful!”

Kaleo denied that proposition, “No, no! I don’t wanna be liable if you get attacked by the Night Marchers!” He saw our blank visages, so he clarified, “They’re ancient warrior spirits that roam the earth. If you make eye contact with them, you’ll get sucked away into the spirit world!”

“But if I’m sleeping, I won’t be making eye contact with anyone!” Minna argued.

“Don’t be ridiculous! You’re sleeping inside!” Kaleo decreed. “We’ll set up a cot in the dining room. Then, if you gotta use the bathroom, you can-.”

Minna guessed, “Go outside?”

While Kaleo gritted his teeth, Kaleo observed, “Oh, your luggage was already sent here! That was awfully presumptuous of them! What if we had refused to accommodate any farmhands?”

“If you wanna send us back home, we’d totally understand!” I expressed to her with a gleam of hope in my vision. It was my last shot at getting out of this mess, so I had to take it! If the Hekekias dismissed us, then Agent Hearne would have had to send us home! Or at least closer to our hometown! Or, even if we had to stay in Hawaii, we could have gotten sent somewhere with better accommodations! Sharing a space with ten people and no walls sounded like a nightmare, and I truly thought that the universe would send us into a better situation- this seriously seemed too terrible to be our reality!

“Oh, we would never do that!” Kalani assured me.

My spirits plummeted when I heard that! “Are you sure?”

Kaleo instructed us, “Well, take the day to get settled in. Then tomorrow, report to the field at nine… in the morning!” He added that last tidbit for Minna, who grew crestfallen at that directive.

Kalani concluded this orientation, “Aloha and e komo mai! Feel free to contact us if we can assist you with anything! I don’t know what a couple of aging Fays could do for a group of well-versed magians, but… Well, we’ll certainly do all we can!”

As they left, Kaleo pushed Minna into the building, and her chagrin over this action was written plainly in her body language! I didn’t understand that at all! I mean, wouldn’t she have wanted to have been closer to the man she was obsessed with? I didn’t broach the subject though because, quite frankly, I wasn’t positive that I wanted to know her rationale behind that! Besides, we were all too wrapped up in absorbing our new surroundings to pay too much attention to her oddness! Everyone stood in silence for a moment as we soaked in this unfamiliar scenery and really processed the fact that we would be occupying this abode for quite a while! It was strange to me that twenty-four hours ago I had just wrapped up a vandalism case and whisked Aidan away from our posh apartment to a fancy restaurant, and now I was due to sleep on straw and do menial chores! It was like I got thrown into some horrible reverse Cinderella story! I had my happily ever after, so why didn’t my fairytale end right there?
“Well, I dunno about y’all, but I’m fixin’ to see what they supplied us with!” Laraleigh declared. She and the kids began rifling through the baggage that had gotten sent here.

“We probably won’t be here that long!” Aidan took my hand and squeezed it gently. “Let’s make the best out of these circumstances!”

I didn’t readily accept his argument since I wanted to leave immediately and it was fairly obvious that this desire would not come to pass for us, but after I chewed it over for a bit, it occurred to me that Wade could get caught at any second, so our stay in this shanty may not last for the length I feared it would! I decided to push my anxiety aside and do all I could to enjoy myself! “We probably wouldn’t have gotten called into the station on a Saturday anyways! WE may not be home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relax…”

Right as I laid myself down on one of the cots, Mom set down her cat carrier and sympathetically spoke to her pets, “Oh, my poor babies! You’ve been in there so long! You can come out now!”

The eight kitties cautiously crept out of their confinement, but they didn’t get very far when a loud crash emanated from the bathroom! All eight felines sprinted in different directions, and Minna apologized, “Sorry, I had to pee, and-!”

As she poked her head out, she evidently got within ten feet of Aidan and received some electric shocks! This freaked the animals even further, and the five youths all hooted and hollered at the spectacle their panic had created! This was all too much for me, so I shouted, “That’s it! I need some alone time!”

I dashed downstairs and glanced around. I didn’t anticipate discovering an unbeknownst hideaway, but I had to find one section of this hovel that I could claim as my own and visit when I needed seclusion! With the state of things at that juncture, I predicted I would wind up in that area very frequently! All of a sudden, I noticed a door under the stairs! I opened it, and the door came off of its hinges! A purple curtain with silver stars was right behind it, which definitely seemed different than the other decor of this property! Curious, I pushed the drapes aside, and…

“It’s a broom closet!” I identified as an assortment of cleaning supplies tumbled out. I gazed at the pile in disappointment. How could such a mystifying shroud conceal something so devastatingly ordinary?

“What were you expecting to see?” Aidan questioned.

I shrugged. “I didn’t have a clue what would be there, but I supposed I was hoping for something baffling so we’d have a nice mystery to solve during our stint here instead of… whatever this is!” I gestured to the chaos ensuing above us.

Aidan chuckled slightly as he related, “I know! I miss doing policework too! Yeah, we would’ve taken this whole weekend off to celebrate my birthday, but since that’s out the window, I would’ve preferred to-.”

Minna abruptly appeared downstairs and immediately got electrocuted! As Aidan scolded her for getting herself into that predicament by not giving him any warning on what she intended to do, I shoved the junk that this bizarre storage room held out, closed the curtain, and sat criss-cross on the floor. I could hear Minna and Aidan yelling, the little ones getting overly amped up, and the cats zooming around, but it was a tad more muffled than if I was in the main part of the cottage! It was perfectly pleasant, although I wished I had brought something to do while I was there! Still, I favored a slight boredom in that spot instead of the pandemonium everywhere else, so  I relished my small period of solitude! I closed my eyes, but I couldn’t fully repose… I kept wondering if this would be enough to get me through the entire stretch of this ordeal!

“How come Scott Junior, Sarah, and Vanessa get to stay inside?” Kinsey moaned.

“Yeah, how come we can’t let Anna watch us too?” Jackson whined.

While we trudged our way to the top of the field, Laraleigh chided them, “You two griped about needing a babysitter before, and now that you gotta do some work, y’all wanna be considered young enough to need a sitter again?”

Aidan added, “Besides, you don’t wanna spend an entire day with Anna if you can help it! Trust me, you’re getting the best end of the bargain!”

We parked ourselves near some potted saplings, and then Laraleigh lectured the juveniles, “Your complaining isn’t gonna make the problem improve- it just makes your woes a little louder! No one wants to do hard labor, but that’s what happens when you get older, so you learn to stuff your feelings and deal with it! You don’t hear me groaning about it, do you? Though I do gotta question why they would start our schedule on a Sunday…”

“Actually, we thought you’d like to have Friday off to explore the island a little,” Kalani told them as she unexpectedly appeared before us, which made Laraleigh jump in fright!

“We’re allowed to leave the property?” I puzzled. I assumed that the Witness Protection Program would have had us totally isolated, so the probability of doing some touristy activities seemed out of the realm of possibility for us! I was so certain she had misspoken right then!

Kalani challenged me, “Well, of course! Why wouldn’t you be able to?” I simply threw up my hands in confusion since I couldn’t come up with a decent reply. I presumed that Agent Hearne or Clifton would’ve imposed restrictions for our movement in this territory, but if I couldn’t unearth a logical explanation for any limitations, they most likely couldn’t either! This unlocked some new opportunities for me! Perhaps I could escape often and find a means of doing significant investigation into Wade’s case…

Kaleo instructed us, “Okay, all you need to do is plant these trees in a row!”

“Okey dokey!” Mom cheerily responded. She was the only individual who didn’t seem daunted by this task! “Where are the shovels?”

“Shovels?” Kaleo furrowed his brows. “Wouldn’t you rather use your wands?”

My mother’s expression fell at that prospect. “Oh, we’re using magic? The thing is… I’m not so great at doing spells…”

I contended with her, “You did fine with hexing the cat carrier!”

“I know! And I’m still exhausted from pulling that off! I’ll try though…” She took out her wand and concentrated hard on moving one noni shrub in particular, and after several seconds, she nearly fell forward from overexertion!

“Let me take a whack at it!” Laraleigh aimed her wand at the same plant, and it wiggled slightly, but then she grew out of breath shortly afterwards.

Aidan and I exchanged doubtful glances, but we knew that we had no other choice but to give it a go with the cruddy wands Agent Hearne issued us. We focused on producing the effect we wanted to occur as much as we could, but once a minute or so elapsed without anything transpiring, I got frustrated and inwardly snapped at this misfortune! I think my emotions had an influence on my jinx because sparks flew out of my wand, and for a brief instance, I believed that I achieved success! It instantly became apparent that I had not! Everyone gasped in horror at the outcome of my error, and I wondered if I would ever be permitted back onto the force following this ineptitude…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 6

“Wow, that’s a real big pond!” Mason exclaimed as our van drove past a luminescent, briny expanse.

My mom gently corrected him, “Actually, that’s the Pacific Ocean!”

The kids all gasped and gawked at the glistening sea. Aidan squeezed my hand as I stared out at the road ahead of us, and when I looked over in his direction, he kindly brought up, “Do you see where we are?”

“It is beautiful, but…” I trailed off as I caught a glimpse of the beach, and it really was breathtaking! Everyone on the shore seemed to be having such a great time too, so my heart softened a little. “Hmm… Maybe it won’t be so bad here…”

“I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not going  to be living here in Hilo,” the gentleman driving our vehicle notified us.

Everyone in the van moaned in disappointment, and Laraleigh hopefully remarked, “Well, I’m sure wherever we’re going has a coastline that’s equally as nice!”

The gentleman somewhat remorsefully relayed to us, “Uh… you’re going to the one region of Hawaii that’s nowhere near the deep blue. In fact, you’ll be living closer to the state’s only desert!”

“WHAT?” we all cried out pretty much in unison.

“Hawaii has a desert?” Aidan pondered with an overtly boggled mind.

The gentleman confirmed, “Yes, it does! This island has a desert and a rainforest! Isn’t that fascinating?”

Completely unimpressed, I responded, “Yeah, that’s riveting. Um… So, is there a reason we’re going to this dust bowl or…?”

“You’re not heading to the desert, although you should visit it sometime, it’s gorgeous!” He glanced back at us through his rearview mirror, and when he espied my less-than-amused expression, he cleared his throat and went on, “You’ll be residing in a small farm called Lani Noni!”

“Oh, I bet Hawaiian farmlands are pretty too!” Aidan optimistically conjectured.

The gentleman hesitated a little. “Yeah, some of them are quite lovely and attract lots of tourists… This is not one of those farms! It’s a desolate, fairly barren piece of land that the previous owners abandoned. Technically, the current owners are squatters, but… eh!”

I asked him, “Why are we going to this godforsaken place?”

“Fair question!” the gentleman acknowledged. I nodded in agreement, but I thought that he had better have a good explanation for sending us to what sounded like a total hellhole! “The farmers who homesteaded this property requested assistance, so we figured we could partner with the FBI and bring the Witness Relocation subjects where they’re needed most- you know, kill two birds with one stone. And by that I mean we can save your lives and their livelihoods at the same time- no killing involved! Hopefully!”

“Wait, you’re not from the FBI?” Laraleigh puzzled. We all made that assumption, so to discover he wasn’t made us all nervous! I recently observed that it felt like we were getting kidnapped, and once we made this realization, I started to speculate that this insight may have had merit!

The gentleman let us know, “I’m Clifton Bartlett, head of acquisition for the Big Island’s Agricultural and Conservation Service.”

We all stared at him blankly, and Willow confusedly stated, “Mama, he stopped speaking English!”

“I’m from the Department of Agriculture,” Clifton clarified.

“Oh!” most of us reacted in comprehension. Aidan iterated that point to his niece, “He helps plants and stuff.” She and a couple of the other younger ones grasped the subject more easily.

Mom inquired, “The FBI isn’t gonna watch us out here? How’s that safe?”

Clifton assured her, “I’ve been fully trained on surveillance measures to make this program work. It cost a bundle, but it’s worth it to benefit both governmental agencies and the people we serve!”

“And the bureaucrats save money with free labor,” Kinsey insightfully put in. 

“How did…?” Clifton almost veered off course at the abruptness of her acute observation. “My, my! Aren’t you smart?”

Kinsey probed, “Why does everyone act so surprised when they say that?”

Aidan queried, “So, we are getting exploited for free labor?”

“I wouldn’t phrase it like that!” Clifton contended. “I’d say it’s more of a mutually beneficial endeavor! And it’s not like you won’t get paid! Agent Hearne will be sending you a stipend for you expenses. Plus, I’m certain you can get share of the farm’s profits once they get some!”

“Yes! Not only are we missing school, but we’ll get ourselves some money too!” Jackson rejoiced.

Laraleigh scolded him, “Jackson! I mean, Joey! You still gotta get your education!” She considered this concept for a second and then added, “Right?”

Clifton certified her conclusion, “They’ll be learning remotely. And try not to use your true identities anymore. No one else knows your real names, and we’d like to keep it that way!”

You  don’t even know who we really are?” I felt baffled at this notion- He was supposed to protect us, but he didn’t even know who he was truly looking after! 

“Nope. It’s a vital security measure,” Clifton enlightened us. “If the suspect in your case ever captures me, he can’t torture me to gain any intelligence. I can’t give up data that I don’t know!”

Harper pointed out, “But you heard Joey’s real name!”

Clifton denied that, “I didn’t hear anything!”

“Mama, can we get a new plant guy?” Mason requested. “This guy is deaf like Uncle Kennedy.”

“Seriously! My age hasn’t affected my hearing!” Aidan irritatedly refuted her claim. “Forty isn’t old!”

I petitioned Clifton, “So, if you don’t know our true identities, does that mean the local law enforcement hasn’t been briefed either?”

Clifton told us, “They have no idea you’re even in Hawaii!” Aidan and I grew alarmed by the lack of police involvement in our situation, and Clifton reasoned, “We couldn’t communicate any sensitive information to any cops or detectives due to the compromise in the system!” We didn’t seem totally confident in this decision still, so he supplemented that with, “Wade Toonella is still a wanted criminal! If he shows up in Hawaii, they’ll obviously go after him! If you see him, you can call nine-one-one and get him arrested! Just make sure to give them your aliases ‘til he’s behind bars!”

“So, if we talk to the authorities, we gotta lie to them?” Harper wanted to know.

“Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with them much!” Clifton affirmed.

With a wry smile, Harper disagreed, “That’s what you think!”

Clifton’s brows furrowed, but then he decided to ignore that statement. “I can magick us to your new domicile. I wanted to use this opportunity to address your concerns while we have this privacy, but it seems like you’re well informed now. If you need anything, Agent Hearne put my number on your phones- I’m listed as Folk Music Fan Club. Any questions?”

“Will there be any animals on this farm?” Willow wondered. Right after that sentence, the cats in the carrier began screeching at each other. Mom sheepishly lowered the crate as if Clifton couldn’t hear them at a lower proximity.

“I imagine there’ll be a few…” Clifton grinned. “Okay, everyone ready?”

I wanted to say no; even after a long flight and a short drive, I hadn’t fully prepared myself for this next step! A part of me believed it was all a colossal joke, and even if it wasn’t, I held on to the aspiration that Wade would get arrested almost immediately. Coming to this phase meant that I would be forced to accept this new reality, and I couldn’t mentally adjust to it because my brain hadn’t accepted that we would truly have to leave our old life behind! I didn’t want to give in to these dire circumstances, but I had no choice- Clifton pulled out his wand, whipped up a portal, and took us out of there in a flash!

We landed on a dirt road, and it wasn’t a particularly smooth one either! Instantly, I understood why the joint didn’t attract any tourists! The ride was so rough that it became difficult to observe my surroundings! Once I got used to this turbulence, I peered outside and found more greenery than I had been expecting! Between the patches of sepia soil rested several palm trees and leafy shrubs, and as I watched some small, colorful birds frolicking around, I considered that perhaps the struggling farm we were destined to wind up at wouldn’t turn out so badly… At least, I did until I saw the dilapidated sign for Lani Noni! I groaned, and Aidan offered me words of wisdom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

A house came into our scope, and it had the look of an abode that was once top of the line but fell victim to many years of neglect! It had two stories, somehow,  and with the state of the wood, it surprised me that it supported the habitants furniture or even the roof, which had several loose shingles! The panels were obviously meant to be white, but with all of the dingy spots spread throughout it, it almost bore a gray hue! It had a lot of thriving flora beside it, but I imagined that was due to natural growth since none of it was situated in a methodical order! I folded my arms and opined to Aidan, “Sometimes the cover tells a lot about the contents of the story!”

While we unbuckled, we heard the occupants of this establishment emerge from that shack. Clifton exited the vehicle first, and he merrily greeted them, “Aloha, Mister and Missus Hekekia! Your assistance has arrived!”

“Oh, thank the heavens! We really need…” a male’s voice started to celebrate until he beheld us piling out of the van. “What is this? Who are these howlies?”

“What did you just call us?” I demanded. I would have greatly preferred to not have a presence in his home, but if we had to spend significant time with the Hekekias, I certainly wasn’t about to get insulted! I was close to unleashing my fury over this whole ordeal on him, but a jolt of shock stole the words right out of my mouth! The Hekekias were Fays! Mister Hekekia’s jade skin and his wife’s fiery rose complexion weren’t unusual in the Fay realm, and I had dealt with far more vivid colors before this juncture, but because I pictured encountering humans that hadn’t undergone this undead transformation, I got completely thrown off!

Clifton reassured us, “Don’t be offended! It’s not derogatory- Howli is simply a term for anyone who isn’t a native!”

Aidan challenged him, “How do they know we’re not from here?”

“Dang, the air feels so heavy!” Mom expressed as she gazed at the sweat dripping off of her body. “Is this normal, or did I catch something on the plane?”

“Nevermind.” Aidan retracted his enquiry.

Missus Hekekia spoke up, “Oh, I’d never allow my husband to say something vulgar to our guests! You’re all most welcome here, but… Well, forgive me, sir! We got the impression that we’d be receiving monetary relief! This venture would cost us enough to bury us in debt!”

Kinsey snidely articulated, “That ain’t gonna happen!”

Clifton promised Missus Hekekia, “Their salary is on us, ma’am! So is their food and clothing. All they need is lodging and work to do. I trust that you won’t run out of tasks for them to complete!”

“Definitely not!” Missus Hekekia laughed.

“You all would tell me if I had a serious ailment, right?” my mom entreated everyone.

Clifton chuckled, “Of course! Oh, but that reminds me- if a medical problem does come up, we’ll take care of the bill! Try not to get into major trouble though!” He tittered at his own quip, but no one else joined in his mirth. Sensing a sliver of angst from both parties, he slowly stepped back towards the driver’s seat. “I know you’re all eager to get acquainted, so I’ll get out of your hair…”

Mister Hekekia requested, “Hold on, there’s been a recent development here that… well… can you lend a hand with it?”

“It depends on what it is, but I’ll do my best to aid you with whatever you need,” Clifton obliged.

“Not that long ago, we noticed some eyes on us!” Missus Hekekia explained. I listened with intrigue- surely, this would prove I was correct about Wade’s immediacy to our vicinity! “We constantly feel someone or something staring at us, and… Oh! There’s something in the bushes there!”

The leaves of a bush moved in a particular manner that could only have come from a person, and the law enforcement officer in Aidan and me ached to investigate, but Clifton commanded, “Stay here!” We watched with mounting anticipation as he approached the locale with his wand drawn out. He peeked behind the shrubbery, and…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 5

“We’re gonna crash!” I exclaimed as the plane went into a nosedive. We were plummeting straight to the ground, and the aircraft showed no signs of slowing down!

“Oh my god! Everyone’s gonna die!” the surfer man bewailed. “This so isn’t the drop I wanted to make on this trip!”

Everybody around us began to panic, which prompted Aidan to stand up and urge them all, “Stay calm! The crew has procedures for thai sort of thing! Where are our flight attendants?”

We glanced around and spotted the steward who gave me the wine curled up against a wall and weeping, “We’re doomed!”

The airplane made an abrupt jerking motion, and while we were no longer hurling towards the Yellowwood Forest, we also hadn’t gone upright again either! The pilot got onto the loudspeaker and very measuredly announced, “Folks, this is Captain Morgan…” Laughter erupted from the cabin, and Captain Morgan paused for a minute before continuing, “Now, we’ve been over this! I have no association with the pirate or the liquor! Anyways… We’ve run into a bit of technical issues, but we should have it repaired shortly. In the meantime, please fasten your seatbelts. If you need any assistance, please page a flight attendant!”

“Are you using this?” That male flight attendant grabbed the barf bag out of the nearest passenger’s seat pocket and hyperventilated into it.

“I told you Wade was up to something!” I quietly asserted to Aidan. 

Aidan puzzled, “What are you talking about?”

I posed to him, “We smelled the stench of foul sewage, and then we ended up in a near death situation- you can’t say that’s a coincidence!”

“Yes, I can!” Aidan disagreed. “These two events had nothing to do with each other!”

“Oh, they’re connected, alright! And I’ll prove it!” I unbuckled myself, and I checked to see if anyone would stop me from walking around. I saw several people trying to aid our steward with his anxiety attack, so I esteemed that I’d be safe and darted into the lavatory.

The stinky odor had gotten eliminated from the aisleway, but it lingered inside of the bathroom! I put my shirt over my nostrils, and I scanned every inch of my surroundings. I wasn’t sure how, but I felt certain that this guy who recently used the facilities did something to tamper with the mechanics of the plane from here! As I combed through everything, Aidan opened the door and inquired, “What do you expect to find in…? Oh, bleck!” He pinched his nose to avoid the unpleasant aroma.

I replied to him, “I don’t know what I expect to find, but I do expect to find some type of clue in the area!”

“Babe, you know I normally try to encourage you in all your endeavors, but I can’t this time! You’re not gonna discover anything in the toilet that would cause the-.” Aidan started to cast doubt on my hunch.

“I found something!” I declared. He peeked in with intrigue as I indicated to the innermost part of the commode. “There’s a shiny object down there!”

As I put my head and shoulders into the lid, Aidan cautioned me, “Shannon, please be careful!”

I waved his concerns off, “Oh, come on! What could happen from-?”

Just when I discerned that the glossy item was a penny, the surface beneath me disappeared! It’s funny- my first instinct was to save the coin and not my own self! I nearly got sucked out of the restroom and into the sky! Luckily, the bottom half of me had been too big to fit into the hole! The floor closed back up, but when I tried to get out, I realized I was stuck! Aidan attempted to use his new wand to magick me out, but he couldn’t produce a potent enough spell to do the job! “Wow, these things are terrible!” Aidan noted.

“I told you!” I triumphantly reminded him. I never would’ve pictured feeling victorious while jammed inside of a john, but at this juncture, I took whatever small win I could get!

“How many times are you gonna say that today?” Aidan asked as he stowed away his wand and wrapped his arms around my legs.

I answered, “Possibly one more.” I couldn’t fathom how a mere cent could have proven my theory, but my instincts suggested I’d get proven correct about this!

Aidan initiated my rescue by pulling my limbs upwards. He faced a lot of resistance, which prompted him to do a lot of grunting as he strove to shimmy me out. Being upside down became really uncomfortable, so I exhaustively cheered him on, “Harder! Come on, hurry! Do it harder!”

“Open up in there!” a voice of authority commanded at precisely the same moment that Aidan got me out of my potty pitfall. We were both trying to recover our breath still when the door became ajar, and it dawned on the two of us that the sounds we made coupled with the fact that I had been somewhat bent over while Aidan’s trunk was pressed against my body portrayed a very different image than what actually occurred! It was too late for either of us to give off a different perception too! “Aha! Caught you in the act!”

“It’s not what you think!” I refuted his insinuation. “I know it looks bad, but we-.” After I turned around to face our intruder, I recognized the individual as the man who last used this water closet! I was now convinced he deduced that our olfactory system had led us to his allegiance to Wade, and he likely intended to prevent us from completing this investigation! I knew we were cornered, and with inferior wands, our defense would be weaker, so I went on the offensive and raised the treasure I procured in the air and proclaimed, “We figured out your little secret!”

He stared at me with total confusion. “Is that piece of money supposed to mean something?”

I shot back, “I dunno! You came in here, dropped the penny in the fountain, and then-!”

“Oh, I thought my sandwich tasted funny!” The man twiddled his mustache in reminiscence. I still held onto the belief that Wade attached some form of dark magic to this trinket, but knowing that it had been through someone’s tract made me chuck it into the wastebasket in disgust! The appeared fairly perplexed, but he decided to let the issue go, shook off his befuddlement, and informed us, “Listen, I’m Troy Osmond, US Air Marshal…” He showed us the badge he had inside of his pocket.

“Oh, you’re in law enforcement?” Well, we…” Aidan automatically reached for his shield, but once he remembered that we couldn’t bring them on this expedition, he lamely finished his sentence with, “… are in sales…!”

Troy raised his eyebrows at us. “You’re an odd pair! And you broke the rules! That usually comes with a penalty…”

My pulse raced rapidly! As a former police officer and a current detective, I prided myself in having a clean record, and I feared the repercussions of having a blemish in my background! Or putting a stain on Sophia Swetinbedde’s! Suddenly, a thought struck me! “Oh no! Are we gonna be banned from entering into Hawaii? Gosh, darnit!” I stated without an ounce of sincerity.

“Actually, you technically didn’t break any laws,” Troy assured us. “I could report you to the airlines and have you barred from using their services, but under the current circumstances, I’m sure they’d be willing to forget it. I know you were scared of dying and wanted one last caper before your demise, but we need to free up these quarters to let other passengers relieve themselves! Many already did during that dive…”

“Right… So, we should go return to our seats and spend our final minutes sitting upright with our safety belts on like good-little citizens?” Aidan hadn’t meant to come off that snarky, but when his words had merited us a slight glare from Troy, Aidan bashfully regarded him, “Bye! Thank you!” as he grabbed my hand and made a beeline for our chairs!

When we stumbled back into the cabin, we noticed a lot of eyes flickering towards our proximity! We hadn’t done anything wrong, but it’s not like we could have denied and revealed the truth of our activity in the powder room! I no longer suspected that Troy had a hand in the incident, but that coin didn’t wind up in his food by accident! If the perpetrator was in the vicinity, my accusation could evoke a confrontation, and until I got a better weapon, I wanted to avoid that possibility from taking place! I reckoned that we had no choice but to fake like we were busted in the midst of joining the mile high club, which isn’t something I truly relished, but oh well! Kinsey, who sat diagonally from us, groaned, “How often do we gotta hear about you guys doing that?”

I felt terrible for creating another awkward instance between me, my boyfriend, and his nieces and nephews, and while neither occasion was my fault, I harbored guilt for it anyways! Preceding my ability to apologize, Captain Morgan spoke into the loudsystem, “Attention folks! This is Captain Morgan again…” I could practically see him roll his eyes as some people still hooted and hollered over his name. “It seems as though there was a malfunction in the spell conversion unit, and it is now fixed! The good news is we’re all going to live, but the bad news is we can’t use the part ‘til it’s been inspected, so we can’t magically enhance the speed of our flight. It’ll take about four or five more hours for us to get to Hilo now!” The crowd all booed at this news, and I put my chin in my hands and anticipated a very tedious journey!

“Aloha, passengers! Welcome to Hawaii!” a female flight attendant, who glimpsed at her male counterpart resentfully as he remained blissfully passed out, addressed us as cheerfully as her weariness would permit her. “I’m gonna rest my eyes, so tap my shoulders if you wanna get lei’d before you get off the plane!” A few people casted Aidan and me funny looks upon hearing that last part. Neither of us responded out loud, but privately, I prayed that none of these judgy jerks would turn out to be our new neighbors!

“Yay! We’re finally here!” Jackson exclaimed as he and his siblings ran into the Hilo gate.

Laraleigh yelled at them, “Will y’all slow down? You don’t even know where we’re going!” She mulled it over for a second and then remarked, “Wait, I don’t even know where we’re going! What do we do now that we’re here?”

I let her know, “We’re supposed to meet someone by baggage claim that will transport us to the new… home.” I hesitated dubbing our next accommodations with any moniker that would imply a permanent residence, but I couldn’t figure out what else to call it! I was hoping to get down to the luggage area and learn that they’ve caught Wade and we can all go to our actual homes! I would have endured another nine hour flight if it meant that I could return to our beautiful apartment without ever considering this region as my habitation!

“For the last time, I don’t offer that sort of service!” a gentleman in a suit snapped at some rather robust dudes who gazed at his “Swetinbedde” sign in befuddlement. As the red-haired man held his fist below his goatee, we gingerly approached him in case he blew his top over our abrupt appearance. When he caught sight of our arrival, be cautiously petitioned us, “Are you the Swetinbedde family, or are you also misled by what you think this sign says?”

“Why is our last name baffling everyone?” Mason wondered.

The gentleman breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh, thank the heavens! You’re finally here! I thought for a minute you’d never get to the island!”

I joked (but not really), “That’s what we were hoping for!”

“Yes, well… Let’s get you all to your dwelling!” The gentleman beckoned us to follow him.

“Hold on, where’s Mi… I mean, Anna?” Mom scoped out the perimeter and didn’t behold her anywhere.

Aidan kidded (kind of), “Oh darn, we lost her! Eh, I’m sure she’ll do fine on her own! Let’s just leave!”

The gentleman enlightened him, “I had to send her off by a transportation spell.” He gestured towards a section designated for individuals who wished to use their wands to get to their destinations.

“Because she’s in a wheelchair?” Harper presumed.

“No, ‘cause she’s maddening!” the gentleman vociferated. “She wouldn’t quit hitting on me even after I said I was engaged! What is her deal?”

Aidan quipped, “Scientists have been trying to work that out for years!” Laraleigh gave him a light smack, and Aidan challenged her, “What, am I wrong?”

I felt a bit curious about this development since I got the impression that she was obsessed with her ex, but I refrained from bringing this up due to our adjacency to the public. The gentleman led us outside, and Willow enquired to her mother, “Mama, I thought you said not to take rides with strangers!”

“He’s not a stranger, he’s…” Laraleigh searched for the proper label to give him, but because she truthfully had no inkling who this associate was, she settled on, “Oh, hush and get into the van!” As we all climbed into the vehicle, a part of me agreed with Willow’s assessment- it did feel as though we were getting kidnapped! I logically knew that this wasn’t the case, but while we were heading towards the highway, I couldn’t help but speculate on what dangerous zone we would wind up in!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 4

“Now remember, as far as anyone is concerned, we’re a completely normal family!” I whispered to Laraleigh and her children as we stood in the airport terminal. “Don’t mention any of the weird stuff that’s happened lately! Any questions before we board?”

“How come no one can catch Wade?” Harper queried. “It doesn’t seem like he can run very fast!”

Mason tacked on to that, “Couldn’t they just smell him out? He wreaks like grandpappy’s outhouse!”

The kids all giggled, and I muttered, “Okay, we’re off to a bad start!”

“Don’t talk about Wade!” Aidan hissed. “Don’t talk about the police or the FBI either! We’re a regular group of people moving to Hawaii for no real reason! Got it?”

“No!” Jackson shook his head.

Laraleigh instructed all five youths, “How about y’all shut your pie-holes and don’t speak to any strangers!” They obeyed her order, and then Laraleigh asked Aidan and me, “Where is Trudy? I mean… Elaine? Elizabeth? What’s her name again?”

I suggested, “Why don’t you make it easy on yourself and just call her Mom? She is supposed to be your mother-in-law in this scenario! No, she’s Aidan’s mother-in-law, and she’s your… whatever! I’m sure no one will find it odd if you call her mom too!” She shrugged, and I cringed slightly picturing this event transpiring! I mean, I liked Laraleigh, and I always figured she would become my sister-in-law one day, but it felt so bizarre to have this discussion with her prior to Aidan and I even getting engaged! Plus, it still bugged me that I even had to go into this Witness Protection relocation plan at all, and I dreaded envisioning anything that involved my future in this calamitous situation! Initially, I blamed the Feds for forcing us into this stressful plight, but really, it was all Wade’s fault! He was a menace in the beginning of this saga, but I truly believed that him going to prison and his failing health would have made him less of a nuisance, not more! It infuriated me how much he was probably enjoying the misery his actions caused us!

“I have a question!” Minna attempted to roll over to us, but when she got too close, a series of electric shocks coursed throughout her body! When they stopped, she changed her tune, “It can wait!” 

“Sorry I’m late!” my mother apologized as she joined us. I noticed that she seemed more lethargic than usual, and she was holding a cat carrier that hadn’t been in her possession when we arrived. “I told Agent Hearne that I had no one to take care of my kitties, so he allowed me to bring them along!”

My eyebrows furrowed at that claim. “Why did you tell him that? Aubrey lives next door to you and wouldn’t likely object to… Hold on, you have eight cats! Obviously, you chose some of them to fend for themselves ‘cause that carrier could only transport one!” Mom shifted guiltily, and I didn’t need to use any of my detective training to know she was up to something! I peered into the cage, and I beheld eight felines sitting comfortably in a cage that was bigger than it seemed on the outside! I gave her a discerning stare, so she confessed, “I figured he’d say no if I said the actual amount, so I lied and pretended I only had two! I had to- I couldn’t leave any of my babies behind!”

I pointed out to her, “I’m your baby, and I’m coming with you!”

“Whatever! I’m too exhausted to argue! I’m not used to doing magic very often, so it was an ordeal transporting them all here and then wrangling the cage to fit them all! Do I have time for a quick nap?” Mom pondered.

“Flight thirteen-forty-four, non-stop service to Hilo, is now boarding Section A,” a ticket agent announced over the speaker system.

With her face planted on a nearby column, Mom posed to us, “Is that us?”

Aidan confirmed for her, “Surprisingly enough, it is! We got the tickets a couple hours ago, but somehow, we got the best seating selection!”

“Come on, guys! Let’s go!” Laraleigh ushered the youngsters.

“We’re a normal family!” Willow proclaimed to the employee at the gate. I slapped my forehead in frustration, and I prayed that he wouldn’t delve too deep into her statement! He raised an eyebrow, but thankfully, he didn’t pursue that subject much!

Mom peeled herself off of the post, and as she headed inside of the plane, at least three of her cats started fighting! I rubbed my temples and strove to calm myself down. Aidan grabbed my hand gave it a squeeze, and reassured me, “Everything’s gonna turn out fine!”

Minna aimed to go next, but she received another shower of shocks! I retorted, “What makes you so positive?”

“I’ll catch up to you!” Minna shouted to us.

“Because it has to be!” Aidan responded to me as we boarded. “When everything appears at its bleakest, that’s when you gotta be the most irrationally optimistic!” I didn’t say anything as we entered onto the aircraft. Amidst the sea of colorfully clothed tourists and happy chatter, I sensed something foreboding in the works that left no room for his rosy philosophy!

During the middle of the flight, I grew so anxious that I started rhythmically tapping my foot and drumming the tray in front of me. Quite unexpectedly, a flight attendant came up to me and gave me a small bottle of alcohol. “Here’s your wine, madam!”

I politely notified him, “I didn’t order this.”

“I know,” the flight attendant acknowledged. “It’s courtesy of the flight crew. Your nervous twitching is driving us crazy, and we hope this will help you enjoy your travel a little more! Aloha!” 

“Unbelievable!” I grumbled as he walked away. I ceased my anxious movements, but I flung the pineapple clad label into my purse.

After a minute or so of me simply glimpsing out into space, Aidan inquired, “You’re not gonna drink that?”

I replied, “No! I wanna keep my wits about me for when…” I lowered my voice and continued that thought, “… for when Wade shows up!”

“Babe, Wade isn’t here!” Aidan hushedly told me. “If he was, we’d all know it! He’d be offending all five senses of the passenger, and everyone seems fine! Like, if he was here, we’d all smell something disgusting, and we…” A toilet flushed from behind us, and once the passenger returned to his seat, Aidan amended his sentence, “Well, there’s nothing that compares to his indecent odor! Anyways, Agent Hearne promised to do a thorough check of all the passengers here, and I’m confident security checked every nook and cranny of this… Ugh!” Aidan sniffed the air and crinkled his nose. “These seats stink! How come Minna gets to sit in first class?”

“Well, it’s not like anybody can make a parplegic sit in the back! And since she has to come with us, they most likely wanted to make certain you two stayed separated,” I theorized. The stench from the lavatory began to bother me, so I pulled out my new wand and targeted the source of vileness. I couldn’t produce anything! I did several attempts, and I couldn’t create even the smallest spell! Once I gave it a significant amount of concentration, I managed to draw out a smidgen of magic, but it wasn’t nearly enough to quell the unpleasant aroma! I growled as I pressed the call button, and I complained, “I hate this thing!”

Aidan put his gentle but firm hand on my shoulder and encouragingly expressed, “Shannon, don’t forget two years ago, you managed to draw out a powerful hex with only your fingertips! The instrument you use doesn’t matter- you got it within you to…” He gagged slightly and then returned to his original sentiment, “Sorry! You have it within you to do great feats- you gotta relax your mind and… Where the hell is that flight attendant? This is so bad!”

The flight attendant popped up right at that moment with another container of liquor in his hands. “More wine?”

“Fine!” I grabbed the booze and then grumpily barked, “Now, can you do something about the stinkiness?”

“Of course!” He pulled out his wand and did a quick jinx. “Can I assist you with anything else?”

I sourly articulated, “Probably not!” He gazed at me peculiarly and then ambled away. I tossed the bottle into my purse rather aggressively, and when I caught sight of Aidan’s focus, I anticipated what he would communicate to me and acquiesced, “Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’m gonna chill out now! If I don’t collect myself, I’ll never be able to catch Wade at-!” I cut myself when I realized how loudly I had uttered that phrase! Aidan’s eyes grew wide at my error, and we glanced around to see if anyone had heard that. Within seconds…

The young couple ahead of us swiveled around, and the gentleman in front of me petitioned us, “Did I hear you say you’re gonna catch some waves?”

“Yes! That’s totally what I was talking about!” I lied with as much enthusiasm as I could muster to make them buy into my assertion.

“Far out! We intend to do some surfin’ too!” he merrily conversed. “The water in these shores are pretty gnarly, but we’re so aggro, bro!”

The woman next to him asked, “Are you two on your honeymoon too?”

Aidan and I gave her blank stares. While we sat in police custody waiting for our plane’s takeoff time, we all practiced our made-up backstories for when we run into this exact event, but I no longer had the foggiest notion on what Aidan and I settled on! My apprehension over traveling as well as what I was affirmative was Wade’s imminent attack both taxed my brain tremendously, but since Aidan and I didn’t get any sleep the previous night, neither of us could recall anything we went over! It felt like I sat down for a test I hadn’t studied for! And here I was worried that one of the minors or Aidan’s unsophisticated ex might ruin our cover! It became extremely evident that Aidan was experiencing the same dilemma as me because he blurted out, “Yeah, we got married last night!”

Outwardly, I smiled at that remark, but inwardly, I was grimacing! I couldn’t provide the chronology we landed on, but I knew it was longer than one day! That wouldn’t have been such a problem if he had relayed that to some passing strangers, but I had this feeling that they would… “Congrats, dude! When we land, let’s hit up a tiki bar and celebrate!” the surfer man jovially invited us. My mind reeled on what excuse to give them that would seem valid enough to opt out of this social opportunity without offending anyone, and then…

“Sophia! Sophia! Sophia!” my mom called out to me from across the aisle and a few seats up. It took a beat for me to recognize my alias! I swiftly gave Mom my attention, and then she held up a magazine where I could see and avidly brought up, “They have flowerpots shaped like palm trees! Do you imagine we’ll have room for a few of these at our new place?”

“I dunno, we’ll find out when we get there!” I had no clue what sort of abode we were heading into, but if Aidan and I didn’t end up getting private quarters, I knocked on wood that we wouldn’t have an area for her ghastly decor!

The surfer’s wife probed, “Uh… Your mother came on your newlywed vacay?”

Aidan hastily fibbed, “We’ve postponed that. We gotta get straight to work.”

“Bummer! What do you all do?” the surfer man wondered.

“Sales,” I lamely put forward. Truthfully, I had no inkling what they had in store for us, but whatever industry we were going to win up in, I guessed that I could tie it to a marketing or business aspect to it if we ever crossed paths with these Hilo honeymooners again!

The surfer wife sympathized, “I get it. When you rely on commission, you gotta put in the extra hours sometimes just to break even!”

That line fared better than I foresaw it would- it made sense as to why we had rushed from our vows to our job! Though it still would have been much simpler if Aidan had given them a lengthier span! Why was this so difficult? We both did undercover work as part of our career duties! At this juncture,despite the setbacks, it appeared as though we had this interaction under control, but then the surfer man canvassed us, “So, how did you lovebirds meet?”

“We met at a party!” Aidan elaborately narrated, “Our eyes met from across the room, and I knew I had to speak to her! The trouble was that she was with another man, so I had to find an excuse to befriend her and then woo her enough to go in my direction! I found out that she needed a plumber, and I claimed I was one even though I hadn’t done pipework ever in my life! I literally searched how to unclog a toilet minutes before I went over! It took longer than usual to get it done, but she didn’t care! We ended up talking, and by the end of the evening, we realized we should be together!”

“Wow! That’s a beautiful story!” the surfer wife sincerely complimented him. I was glad she liked that yarn because I found several plotholes in that anecdote! She shortly conveyed to us, “We met on a dating app.”

Aidan lamented, “Aw, man! That would’ve been so much easier to say! I wish I had… met my wife in such an uncomplicated manner…!”

The Hilo honeymooners gazed at us quizzically, and Aidan fretfully chuckled in hopes of smoothing over his blunder. The pair didn’t laugh back, and for a flash, I esteemed that we had blown it! I speculated on whether or not I ought to try and do a memory spell on the lousy wands the FBI issued us, but then, all of a sudden, it became clear that this awkward misstep wouldn’t prove to be the biggest conundrum we would have to endure…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 3

Even though I felt sure it was wrong, I conjectured, “Wade passed on and we can all go home?”

“We can’t go home ‘til the damage is repaired,” Aidan pointed out.

“You’re right! Looks like we’re getting a hotel! Ooh, this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip!” My eyes sparkled at the concept of retreating somewhere relaxing after this strenuous ordeal!

Agent Hearne gingerly articulated, “Well, I’m glad you like traveling…”

Discerning a huge catch to his statement, I babbled, “I never used to enjoy going anywhere outside of Anaknock, I was always too afraid, but after meeting Aidan, I’ve learned to love it! Long journeys used to make me scared, but I realized I’m in control of the journey, so I got over my anxiety! I no longer mind becoming a bit lost ‘cause I know I can always come home again if things go wrong! Our house is rock solid! … Or it was! But still, once it’s fixed, we-.”

“Shannon, you can’t go back to your apartment for a long time!” Sandra blurted out. “It’s not safe!”

“It shouldn’t take the magian construction crew long to rebuild it!” I reasoned. “You could have Fays do it, it’d be a nice gesture, but we-!”

Chief Mazarine interrupted me, “You can’t return to your domicile as long as Wade remains at large! And don’t make a joke about his weight!” I had opened my mouth to do just that, but upon receiving that directive, I zipped my lips! Normally, I would never disparage someone for their appearance, but I sensed some truly ominous news in the works, so I got really nervous! Also, he did try to kill me, so of course I was a little salty about him!

Aidan queried, “So, we gotta stay in a secure location while we handle the case?”

“You two can’t working the case!” Agent Hearne revealed to us. That was disappointing enough, but we could have gotten over it if he hadn’t added, “You can’t even stay in the city!”

“What?” Aidan and I reacted incredulously. It sounded so outlandish to me that I was quite certain that I hadn’t gleaned that tidbit properly!

Agent Hearne broke it down for us, “Wade obtained a police officer’s cellphone, so he has access to our information system. That’s how he found your address! This means every second you spend in this… Yes?”

Aidan had raised his hand like a schoolboy, and once Agent Hearne acknowledged him, he asked, “How did he manage to steal something from an officer from his prison cell?”

“He wasn’t in a prison cell,” Sandra answered. “Well, he was ‘til they did a health screener and saw that his heart was failing. Officer Pálido got put in charge of escorting him to the hospital unit for tests, and apparently, she fell in love…”

“What?” Aidan and I cried out in unison again. 

Chief Mazarine assured us, “Don’t worry, she’s been fired! No one wants someone with judgment like that on the force!”

I puzzled, “Who would fall in love with someone so physically and personally vile?”

“Didn’t your mother marry him?” Agent Hearne probed.

“Yeah, but that relationship was more about dependance than romance!” I contended.

Agent Hearne went on, “Anyways… Today, as she cuffed him to the bed, he began stroking her back seductively…” Aidan and I gagged at the picture he painted, so he let us know, “Calm down! They didn’t go that far! If Wade did have any intention of doing sexual activities, he couldn’t have done much because his heart is weak and couldn’t get enough blood flow to his-.”

I cut him off, “Look, I’ve been through a lot tonight, and it sounds like I’m about to go through some more- don’t add the torture of that image haunting my dreams to the pile!”

“So, he used this, I’m assuming, desperate officer’s credentials to bypass security measures and escape?” Aidan surmised.

“Yes,” Sandra confirmed. “You wouldn’t think that dying man would be so dangerous, but within five minutes of him gaining freedom, he incinerated a building and nearly murdered ten people! It’s so bizarre! He has months to live, but he wants to make sure you go down first?”

I reckoned, “Maybe he still believes he’ll turn into a Fay! I wonder if he’ll try and destroy the world again! Like if he can’t live in it, no one can? Seriously, I doubt he broke out of prison simply to kill us! It’d be a pretty short-lived goal!”

Chief Mazarine put in “The Ploutonion is monitored internationally now, so if he did go for it again, he wouldn’t get very far.” His logic was sound, but somehow, I doubted that these measures would have stopped him if that was what he really wanted to do!

“A-hem!” Agent Hearne made a bid for our attention.

“Is your throat dry? We could get you some water,” Sandra offered.

Agent Hearne politely declined, “I’m not thirsty! Actually, I am, but we don’t have time to spare for that! And we don’t have time to analyze the case either! As long as these two are in Anaknock, everyone around them is in danger!” Chief Mazarine subtly distanced himself from us when he mentioned that, but Agent Hearne ignored that gesture as he handed Aidan and me a wallet. “Our labs have issued you new identities. We have to keep you hidden until Wade has been caught! Or he dies, whatever comes first.”

My face fell, and I lost all of the color from skin as the reality of the situation sunk in! Everything in my life was about to drastically change! “So, we might be gone for months? For months, I’ll be away from my home and my friends? For months, I’ll have to leave the job I’ve waited a lifetime to get? For months, I’ll have to go by Sophia Swetinbedde? Really?”

“I like it!” Aidan snickered at the naughty allusion attached to this moniker until he opened his wallet and saw his identity. “Oh, I’m a Swetinbedde too? Kennedy Swetinbedde, no thanks! Can’t I go by something classier like Kennedy Jagger or Kennedy Hendrix?”

“Babe, those rockstars are bad-ass, but they’re not…” Prior to me completing that sentence, I made an astute observation. “Wait, you gave us the same last name?”

Agent Hearne explained, “It makes more sense for a married couple to get a house big enough to accommodate their relatives.”

Aidan’s eyes grew wide. “Hold on, we gotta get married? I definitely want to someday, but not today! I mean, we can’t even have a true ceremony ‘cause Wade might off our entire guest list…”

“You don’t have to tie the knot, but if you do want to, I am qualified to wed people…” Agent Hearne apprised. 

“The FBI isn’t given that power!” Chief Mazarine objected.

Agent Hearne clarified, “That’s correct. My colleagues can’t do it, but I myself can since I got certified in order to perform at my buddy’s wedding.” He glimpsed our terrified expressions and concluded, “Okay, so you’re not on board with that proposal. Well, you still have to pretend to be a married couple ‘til this situation is resolved. We have some clothes ready to go, and you’ll have some food stocked when you arrive at your destination.” He viewed the tension we felt multiplying, so he tacked on to that, “I understand we made a lot of decisions about your life, and that’s probably pretty overwhelming…” Aidan and I nodded vigorously. “We’re willing to consider your wishes on where you’d like to go next. You can go anywhere, the only stipulation is it can’t be close to here or anywhere where your family or close friends live.” We remained apprehensive, so he added, “Your downstairs neighbors are set to do a nice holiday in Europe. This adventure could wind up being really romantic for you! Well, as romantic as it can get with your mom, sister, nieces, nephews, and cousin tagging along…”

Aidan inquired, “Cousin? Neither of us had any cousins at our house recently, so who… No! You can’t have Minna living with us! I have a restraining order against her!”

“Really? Shit! … Well, we can put a spell on her so that she can’t go within ten feet of you!” Agent Hearne strove to appease us, but we groaned at what a disaster this expedition threatened to become! He slid a couple of pieces of paper towards us as well as some pencils, and he instructed, “Get your thoughts off of the stressful aspects of everything by envisioning where you wanna go! Write down your top five choices, and i’ll send you all somewhere great! Oh, your family has their choices done already!” A group of documents suddenly appeared on the table in front of him, and we stared at them with appall. Clearly, neither Aidan nor I relished participating in this odyssey, and it shocked me that they were willing to partake so quickly! They didn’t even seem to take a moment to carefully consider the matter! It alarmed me how easily they were willing to leave their entire lives behind! I had no inkling to do the same! I strongly preferred to plant my roots further and defend my homestead against that monster! Was I alone in that? “…Unless you would rather rely on your family to make this decision…”

“No!” Aidan and I responded simultaneously. 

We grabbed our sheets, and Aidan began jotting something down immediately! I ached to see what he wrote, but somehow, I got the impression that Agent Hearne wouldn’t allow that to transpire. He didn’t express any rules, but he had the demeanor of a strict teacher administering an important test, so I refrained from conferring with my boyfriend about this subject! I mulled over where I would have been willing to go, and I came up blank! It would have been different if we were picking a vacation spot, but I couldn’t envision myself settling anywhere that didn’t have my loved ones close by! Plus, I had been hoping to informally investigate whatever Wade was up to. I knew he possessed an unyielding yen for vengeance against, well, mainly me since I prevented him from wiping out humanity, but did he really lose the desire to do the goal that landed him in lockup in the first place? Whatever he was up to, he would be keeping it a secret from Sandra, Chief Mazarine, or anyone else they assigned to the case! He would be lying low from the authorities… except for me! I was positive he would resurface wherever I ended up to complete at least one of his missions, so I stood the biggest chance of thwarting his efforts! I had to go where he stood the greatest chance of locating me! With that on my brain, I scrawled a few ideas down…

Agent Hearne took a minute to pore over our picks, and I could no longer tell whose document was whose! I kept my fingers crossed he would opt for a suggestion of mine, and my anticipation climbed higher the longer he took! Finally, he appeared to have settled on something! “Alright, Aidan! Hawaii it is!”

My jaw dropped! Hawaii? That was the furthest possible state from Maryland! I’m guessing, I never calculated the math on that geography! I gave him an incredulous stare, and he seemed equally baffled. When he espied my betrayed glare, he defended himself, “Babe, I put that down as a joke! My top pick was ‘Whatever Shannon wants.’ Show her! Please!”

“He’s right, he did put that!” Agent Hearne confirmed as he laid down Aidan’s paperwork.

“See!” Aidan indicated to the beginning of his sheet, and I recognized he was, indeed, telling the truth! He penciled down his preference to do as I desired first, and Hawaii had been number two! Number three was Tahiti, four was the Bahamas, and five was Cancun, Mexico! Aidan justified his actions, “I put down the rest to be funny! I didn’t seriously believe they would send us to any of them!”

I bickered, “Why not? The Anhulsyns are vacationing in Europe!”

Aidan countered, “But they’re from Europe!”

“They weren’t allowed to go near their family!” The reference to family brought up another issue I had with this plan. “Why can’t we all go separately? Send Laraleigh and the kids to Hawaii! Then Aidan and I can do one of my choices!”

“And Minna! Send her to the other side of the country too!” Aidan beseeched him.

Agent Hearne told us, “Virginia is within walking distance of Anaknock! West Virginia and Pennsylvania are short drives from here, Delaware is still too close, and Aidan has an uncle in Ohio.”

Aidan quarreled, “He lives in a trailer! He could just park his home somewhere else for a bit!”

“No, we’re not displacing anymore individuals,” Agent Hearne declined his proposition. “It was enough of a pain in the ass scrambling to file the reports needed to get you all new identities in a hurry! That’s why you’re stuck with Minna! At least for a while; I’ll work on moving her, but I can’t guarantee how long that’d take since it’s not considered an emergency.” Aidan and I grew very crestfallen at the finalization of this agenda, and Agent Hearne squirmed in guilt as he requested, “Please hand over your cellphones and wands.” I nearly fainted after he uttered that, and to prevent an outburst, he quickly went into further detail, “Wade has access to your GPS, and you can’t reveal that you’re with law enforcement by using police issued wands! Once this is over, you’ll get them back, but until he’s apprehended, we’ve issued you new ones.”

“We can’t even communicate with our loved ones?” A lump rose up in my throat. I spent years developing a social life, and suddenly, I had to throw it all away! And I couldn’t even check in with my family going forward! It was so surreal that I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t in the middle of a horrible nightmare! “Ow! This is all real!”

Agent Hearne apologized, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through! Your family will get my info, and I’ll keep them updated on your case. You have my number too, so if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! It’s listed as IRS in case anyone gets their hands on your device. No one will be tempted to call that contact!”

I gazed at the outdated phones and puny wands he passed out to us, and my stomach tied itself in knots! I dreamt of becoming a cop since I was a little kid, and it my dream career got taken from so unceremoniously! It wasn’t fair! I wanted to resist, but I knew that wasn’t an option! I slammed my cell and my wand onto the table and positioned myself to get them out of my sight! If I hadn’t peeled myself away right then, I knew I’d lose my nerve! Sandra threw her arms around my torso and consoled me, “Don’t despair! We’ll arrest Wade and get you back before you know it! And you’re going to freakin’ Hawaii! It’s gorgeous there! I’m sure you’ll have a ball during this stay!” As she said this goodbye, I couldn’t share any of her optimism for this hellish journey!