Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 17

Gray! It was gray! I thought the worst case scenario would have been pink or blue, but I had no inkling that the pregnancy test spell could produce a result far worse than a baby coming along at the worst possible juncture! This outcome was much more of a nightmare than the other one- at least there I could have accepted the truth, ugly cried a little, and moved on, but with this, the wound would stay wide open for an indeterminate span! From that point to who knew when, I would ceaselessly wonder if I was about to bring another person into this world or not!

Harper posed to the adults in the room, “What does that mean? She’s gonna give birth to a robot?”

“Yes! She’s about to bring a bouncing baby bot into existence!” Laraleigh sarcastically responded to her daughter.

“Really?” Harper’s eyes widened with interest upon that pronouncement.

Laraleigh grumbled, “Of course not! Harper, can you use your brains for something besides shenanigans?”

Aidan inquired, “What does that mean?”

“It means that it’s inconclusive,” Mom illuminated him. “The magic can’t tell if the hormones in her urine is from a pregnancy or not.”

“How could it not know?” Kinsey speculated. “For real, you’re either pregnant or you’re not, right?”

I lauded her sentiments, “Good question!” I popped the bubble with venom, and I stared at the still bubbling fluid not knowing if I wanted to hurl it against the wall and yell a series of obscenities or if I wanted to simply curl into a fetal position and sob about my misfortune!

Minna suggested, “Perhaps using a child’s wand caused the ambiguity. We could test it again using one from an adult.”

“No!” I shut that idea down instantly. “I just… I can’t! I’m so stressed, I can’t do another hex tonight! I’d probably turn the entire building into a kumquat or something!”

“Cool!” Mason gazed at me expectantly as if he was sincerely anticipating this occurrence.

The fact that he was a mere kid didn’t cross my thoughts- all I could think of was everyone’s mistreatment lately! They didn’t take my reports of spotting Wade seriously, insulted the choices I made as a juvenile, criticized my research, and, to top it all off, they gleefully hoped I would mess up for their entertainment! I snatched the cup and swore wildly as I flung it against the bathroom door, and then I curled myself into a ball and started bawling! Oh, I didn’t consider that I could’ve done both possibilities when I was debating on what I wanted to do! Aidan immediately picked me up, and as I cried into his arms, I caught sight of Mason’s apprehensive expression, and a memory involving him flashbacked to me. “Didn’t you say you have to use the toilet?”

With his eyesight flickering to his lower half, Mason told me, “Nah, I’m okay now…!”

“Oh jeez!” Laraleigh huffed, and then she took her wand out and cleaned her son up.

“Maybe we should give Shannon some quiet tonight,” Mom proposed. Finally! “Do you all feel like you can do that for her?”

Willow gave her an honest reply, “No.”

Mom clicked her tongue in annoyance, and then she grabbed a mop and bucket to take upstairs. Minna volunteered, “I can take them outside for a while.”

“I dunno, it’s beginning to get dark…” Laraleigh fretted.

“The locals all believe magical creatures roam the streets at night, but I’m sure it’s all just urban legends,” Aidan opined. “Worst thing on our farmlands is probably gonna be all of them!”

The younglings all nodded vigorously in agreement. Laraleigh bit her lip in worry, but eventually she relented, “Alright! But if you see those warrior spirits or anything spooky, come back inside!”

Harper whispered to Minna, “Do we have to?”

Minna loudly stated, “Absolutely!” In a more hushed tone, she articulated to Harper, “We’ll talk out there!”

Once they left, I observed total silence until I detected the squeaking of the staircase. I glanced over, and I saw that Mom and Laraleigh had come up with cleaning supplies. They didn’t go straight over to the mess I made thought- they stood at the foot of the stairs in a somewhat awkward manner as though they were trying to cover up their evaluation of my emotional status! Mom rather clumsily conveyed to me, “Gotta get the pee out. You know, I’m not so good with jinxes, so I gotta use the slow method!”

Mom nervously chuckled, and Laraleigh joined her as they awaited my reaction. I didn’t know what to tell them that wouldn’t turn me into a total witch! They were obviously excited by the prospect of me getting into a family way, and I got the impression that they had no clue why I would feel so devastated by this development! Honestly, I had no energy to explain it to them, and I was not willing to elicit the patience required to listen to them rationalizing their actions! Furthermore, my anger inhibited me from appreciating their sympathy, so I decided to exit the conversation prior to it even initiating, “I wanna be alone!”

I pushed past the pair of ladies and bounded downwards, and seconds later, I overheard Aidan doing the same move. Laraleigh reminded him, “She said she wants to be alone right now!”

“I don’t count in that!” Aidan justified himself. “Shannon has never said no to alone time with me!”

“Gross!” Kinsey shouted from outside.

Aidan ordered her, “Go play!” He pulled back the curtain to the closet, and when he espied me sitting on the floor, he closed the curtain and mimicked my posture. After a minute or so, he noted, “Wow! We can both sit comfortably in here! This place is bigger than I remembered!” I twisted my mouth in a bid to emit a grin, but I’m pretty sure all I did was make a weird face! Aidan then asked me, “Yeah… so, what happens next?”

I answered, “I dunno! Normally, when I’m this upset, I have a giant glass of wine!” Aidan tittered slightly, and shortly afterwards, we each got a notification on our phones. I pulled mine out of my pocket, and the homescreen was lit up due to a text from Clifton checking in with us. “Oh man! What the hell do I say to him? Ugh, I’ll have to tell Agent Hearne too!”

As I buried my forehead into my hands, Aidan asserted, “You don’t have to reveal anything yet! For all we know, you’re just overly constipated! I wouldn’t mention that or they’ll enter it into government records!”

His quip made me chortle, and I actually found my disposition had gotten a tad elevated! It wasn’t so much that I enjoyed his humor, although I did in this instance since it was clever and not corny like usual, it simply lightened my spirits to hear someone at least acknowledge one of my claims as plausible! He was completely correct too- I don’t want my potty problems in any official files! It traumatized me enough when Ben got caught screwing a suspect in my first murder case and the entire police force had awareness of our marital drama! I wished it had been more of a shock to them when we got a divorce! Well, a certificate of widowship since he died and became a Fay, it was complicated! Anyways, They couldn’t know what was happening with me at the present because I wasn’t even certain about it myself! But I needed to be though… “I’ll have to book an appointment with an ob/gyn and get a more precise test done! If there’s an embryo in there, we’ll prepare for the next steps, but if there isn’t… Well, they went to medical school, didn’t they? They’d be able to prescribe me something to help me poo, huh?” Aidan and I guffawed at that concept, and then I probed, “What do we do ‘til then though?”

“We solve the mystery of where Lake Ana Wai disappeared to!” Aidan proclaimed. He then encouraged me, “Pretend like we’re on duty. What would you have us do going forward?”

“I’d take a look at the evidence. The evidence always has a logical next step to take! But… in this case, there really isn’t much to go on…” I mulled it over briefly, and then I made a stark realization! “Of course we don’t have much to go on! We haven’t even seen the original crime scene!”

Aidan beamed at my breakthrough, and he affirmed, “Alright! It looks like we got some new plans for tomorrow! Initially, we were gonna… I don’t know! Did we plan anything for Saturday? Hmm…!” We both broadcasted our amusement over his remark, and I found solace in having a productive agenda to distract me from all of my recent woes!

The next morning, Aidan woke up on our pushed together cots by himself. I didn’t see him- I merely knew this because I was on the kitchen counter with a box of donuts on my lap when everyone had been sleeping! He peeked over the ledge, and I merrily waved hello. Aidan peered at me curiously, and then he asked me, “Getting cravings, eh?”

“No!” I answered while munching on one of the delectable pastries. “I didn’t even know these were here! I couldn’t sleep, so I went down here to look for something sugary to keep me awake, and I found them!” I grabbed the last confectionary, and then I flung the box onto the floor and muttered, “I still feel tired!”

“Uh, I hope this doesn’t become a habit…” Aidan eyeballed the empty carton warily. “I mean, it’s gonna make your constipation worse, and-.”

I snapped, “Hey! I can’t go home, I can’t pour myself into my work, and I can’t drink myself into oblivion anymore- binging on fatty foods is all I’ve got!”

Aidan threw his hands up defensively. “Fine, fine! It’s fine!” I doubt he meant that, and in hindsight, he was totally correct, but in that moment, I would’ve gotten extra cranky if he attempted to take away my only source of comfort! Well, my only source other than Aidan, obviously, but he was unconscious when I needed solace, so… Aidan cleared his throat, and then he propositioned, “Well, since we’re both up, do you wanna go check out that lake?”

“You’re going to a lake?” Jackson groggily petitioned us. “I wanna go too!”

“There’s no water there,” Aidan apprised him. “It’s all dried up.”

Jackson queried, “You’re gonna visit some empty land then?”

Aidan confirmed, “Basically, yeah!”

“Boring!” Jackson commented. “Why would you wanna do that?”

“We… We’re trying to learn about the land around us,” I explicated to him, which wasn’t even a lie! I simply didn’t add why our ambitions prompted us to explore the grounds! “If you don’t picture that being very interesting, then you don’t-.” Jackson’s renewed snores caused the finish to my sentence to become pointless, so I shrugged and then communicated to Aidan, “I’m ready to go whenever you are!”

Aidan responded, “Just let me eat a quick breakfast.” He viewed me finishing up the remaining baked good, and he enquired, “Is there anything still there?”

I sardonically giggled at his joke. “Nope! I ate every single thing!” I opened the refrigerator, and for a flash, I grew anxious that I did, indeed, devour the household’s only supply for a morning meal, but then, when I opened up the cupboard on the other side of me, I breathed a sigh of relief! “Phew! There’s some muffins here! Ooh, muffins sound yummy…!” Aidan magicked them out of my palms and up to his lofty position, which offended me slightly. “Did you really believe I’d gobble up those in addition to everything I just consumed?” Aidan took a huge bite out of his repast and uttered some incoherent words to me. I shook my head, and then I slipped off of the counter in order to get dressed.

We walked by Lopaka’s ranch, and I gazed at the bovines that had nestled in the grass for their slumber. “Interesting! I always assumed they slept standing up! So, how do people go cow tipping then?”

Aidan gestured to me his uncertainty on the topic. “No clue! But if you do figure it out, for heaven’s sake, don’t disclose it to my sister’s minions!”

I snickered at that, and following soon after that, I spotted a sign that read: Aracauna Kahuna. “Sweet! We’re getting close to the egg farm! Whew! If we do this trek another day, we should drive the truck to-.” Suddenly, I stepped on a crunchy substance! I winced, and then I quizzed Aidan, “Does Hawaii have gigantic bugs that would make that sound when they’re smooshed?” Aidan indicated that he wasn’t positive, and a sinking feeling began to form at the pit of my stomach! I raised my shoe up and prayed that I hadn’t accidentally broken something of importance…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 16

It actually disappointed me not to see an emergency happening down there! In retrospect, I was glad that nobody was in any real peril, but at the time, it vexed me that they had made that cacophony for a trivial reason! Apparently, Mason had levitated the sofa in order to create a faster escape route from Jackson, who was it, and he hadn’t bothered to return it to its original position in a gentle fashion either! What floored me was that I seemed to be the only one concerned about this! I upbraided him, “You can’t just toss around the furniture like it’s unbreakable! What if you ruined it? Do you know how long it’d take for the FBI to issue us a new one?”

Mason inquired, “How long would it take?”

“Long!” I replied. “It’s the government, they do everything slow! If they moved at a reasonable speed, do you think my boyfriend’s stalker would still be with us?”

“You’re gonna have her killed?” Kinsey gasped.

I corrected her misinterpretation, “With us in this house, not on this earth! Nothing she’s done has warranted the death penalty!  … At least, nothing that I know of!”

Minna exclaimed, “Hey! It’s not like I wanted to become an inconvenience to everyone! I offered to make things easier by sleeping outside, but-!”

“Shut up! Just… shut up! I’m not in the mood to argue with your nonsense!” I snapped. “Gosh, is it too much to ask for a few minutes of quiet so we can do some important research?”

“Yes!” Harper wise-cracked. “You’re a farmer now! What are you researching for?”

I got offended not only as someone who intended to go back to my detective role as soon as possible but as a person in the agricultural field too! “Ugh! I’m so tired of people assuming that farmers have no cause to enrich their knowledge in any subject! They have interests outside of work, you know! And furthermore, they can look up stuff to help with their profession! As a matter of fact, we were trying to find something related to irrigation, so excuse us for trying to be productive!”

It made me feel slightly guilty to claim that I was attempting to assist with water supply considerations when, in reality, I had been neglecting that in order to decipher Wade’s movements, but this was equally important! I mean, if Wade ended up annihilating us all, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to aid the Hekekias’ orchard! However, the shame swiftly evaporated when Mom pulled out a bottle of wine from the cupboard and offered it to me, “Maybe you need a small break from your project!”

“No! I can’t have any alcohol!” I barked. It roiled me that instead of addressing the validity of my statement, they were aiming to dull my senses!

“Why not?” Laraleigh probed.

I hesitated in my response to her. I definitely couldn’t say that I esteemed that I needed to stay alert as much as possible because I believed that the wanted criminal that sent us into Witness Protection in the first place may have been in the area and I foresaw a dangerous confrontation! If the love of my life doubted my allegations, then surely they wouldn’t buy them either, and I was not in the proper mindset to contend that point with this rowdy bunch! But… what other plausible explanation could I have provided to them? “I… haven’t been feeling well lately, which is another reason I could use some quiet, so please give me a bit of peace!” I added that last part in a stern voice in hopes of finishing this conversation, but that’s not what wound up occurring…

Willow cried out, “You’re so mean! I hope you’re nicer to your baby!”

“My baby?” I puzzled. My perplexion over her motive in bringing this up was enough to pull me out of my heated fervor! “Uncle Aidan and I are only pretending to be married, we haven’t talked about our actual future yet! Frankly, we can’t really ‘til we understand what’s gonna happen to us here! Who said we were entering a baby into this already complicated picture!”

“She did!” Willow asserted while pointing her finger to my mom.

Mom reacted in an overly innocent manner, which instantly informed me that she was one hundred percent guilty! “Me? No, I did not! I would not, no! Not me! Never!”

Willow argued with her, “Yeah, huh! You said she had a baby inside of her tummy!”

Mom turned beet red as my jaw dropped at such an unfounded allegation! Seriously, I recognized that I didn’t have a lot of experience with that topic, but I felt positive that I would have had some clues that would rouse my suspicion on that sort of status! Wouldn’t I have noticed my body going through several changes if I had another human growing inside of me? I gave her no indication that anything out of the ordinary had been transpiring lately, so it flabbergasted me as to why she would make that kind of hypothesis! And then to spread that rumor to others was unfathomable! I gazed at Mom for a rationale, and she could discern that I wasn’t about to abandon this matter, so she apologized, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to give that announcement out before you got a chance to, but-!”

“Woah, woah, woah!” I cut her off at this line of lunacy and denied her implication, “I’m not pregnant!”

“You’re not?” Mom blinked in disbelief. “Are you sure?”

I insisted, “Um, no offense, but, duh! If I believed it was even a remote possibility, I would’ve admitted it ages ago!”

Kinsey put in, “My sex ed teacher taught us that if you have sex, there’s always a possibility of getting impregnated! … Well, for straight people anyways! Her wife couldn’t get her knocked up! Anyways, you two have made it abundantly clear that you do it frequently, so-.”

“Not all the time! We only do it when…” I mulled it over for a second, and then I switched tactics, “That isn’t significant! Having intercourse doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll get a bun in the oven! There’s things you can do to prevent that even from unfolding!”

“Oh, don’t tell her that!” Laraleigh groaned.

Kinsey reassured her, “It’s okay, Mama! Missus Lyubovpole told us that no form of protection is totally effective!”

Aidan contended, “Yeah, but we only have a one in a hundred shot at that with birth control! We have greater odds of getting into a car accident each instance we go out than getting a bundle of joy each instance we… ahem!”

“That’s sorta a bummer!” I commented.

“Yeah,” Aidan agreed. “It’s not something I like to think about when I hit the road! But anyways, what makes you all so convinced that she’s expecting?”

Mom observed, “For starters, her mood swings have been off the charts lately!”

I challenged her, “Don’t you imagine that all of the stress I’ve endured this week would warrant that?”

“True!” Mom acknowledged. “But you’ve also been pretty constipated for a while…”

“How did you know about that?” I cringed at the thought of the entire household learning something so personal to me, which made the day that Aidan and I would return to our apartment that much more appealing!

Minna reported, “You take forever in the bathroom! Originally, we were thinking you were simply hiding from us, but then we realized that’s what your hidey closet is for!”

Laraleigh added, “You’ve been more tired than usual also!”

“Fatigue is a symptom of almost every ailment out there!” I bickered. “Besides, I’ve been more run-down here ‘cause I’ve been doing hard labor with virtually no sleep!”

“You’ve been avoiding alcohol too!” Aidan chimed in, which made the ladies downstairs murmur in agreement.

I questioned Aidan, “Hold on, who’s side are you on?”

Aidan bashfully brought up, “No one’s! It’s just that… Well… How do I put this delicately? Your belly has gotten a bit bigger recently… Not that much! I only saw it since I know you somewhat completely… But, maybe it’d be a good thing to find out definitively…”

My primary reflex to this development was to take a moment to absorb the sting of my beau noticing my stomach getting larger, and I nearly panicked in fear that he was becoming less attracted to me, but then he took my hand and supportively caressed it. It registered that his sentiments hadn’t altered, but he was staring at me with eyes full of worry as though he expected me to feel scared right then. I glimpsed down to the lower level, and I beheld everyone giving me the same look, and I grew irate again! It was such a crazy notion! If I was gestating, I would have felt it in my gut! Literally and figuratively! No one believed that that I spotted a hooded silhouette that resembled Wade, and now, no one took my word about the state of my fertility! It burned me up enough that I intended to prove them wrong! I marched over to my purse and grabbed one of the small wines that I forgot to take out of my purse after that flight attendant gave it to me, and I posed to the assemblage, “If I drink this, would that drop this insanity?”

Nobody spoke. The entire facility was silent for a minute, and I paused my efforts in order to savor this bout of tranquility! As I wondered if this move would show the same success going forward, something I could save as a tool in my back pocket, Harper queried, “I don’t get it. What’s happening?”

“Liquor can hurt unborn infants,” Minna educated. “Oh, the born ones too, but when a woman has a baby in her tummy, everything she eats and drinks goes to the baby too!”

“So, pregnant women never drink that stuff?” Harper asked.

Minna answered, “Some do, but it has some terrible consequences…”

Harper’s face fell at that concept, and everyone ogled me incredulously. A part of me wanted to defy their judgment and guzzle down the alcoholic beverage, but it registered to me that if I went through with it, they’d harbor a very ill opinion of me, and the last thing I wanted to was to evoke more drama in this abode! I resentfully removed the bottle from my lips, and I petitioned the lot, “If I do a pregnancy test spell and it comes out negative, will you all accept that my bigger belly is simply from my constipation and my moodiness from stress?”

They all seemed to come to a consensus that they would, but as Laraleigh floated a cup over to me, Mom couldn’t resist squealing, “Eek! I’m gonna be a grandma!”

I rolled my eyes as I received the cup, which I opted to do instead of arguing. I got the urge to remind her that she more than likely would have to postpone that aspiration for a longer interval, but I also explicitly desired to put a halt to this discussion as speedily as possible, so I ran into the bathroom with as much haste as I could muster! I pulled down my pants and held the cup between myself and the bowl, and it felt rather strange to urinate into a glass receptacle! Midstream, I heard Mason request, “Mama, can you have her hurry? I gotta go now…”

After letting out an exasperated sigh, I set the cup on on the sink, pulled my pants back up, and reemerged into the living space. I placed the cup onto the ledge, and Jackson crinkled his nose at this sight. “We ain’t drinking from that glass again, are we?”

“Oh, hush!” Laraleigh commanded him. “We’ll wash it real thoroughly!”

“Okay, here we go!” I waved my wand over the cup, and I concentrated on the effect I wanted to produce. The substance started swirling, and each person viewed this spectacle with mourning anticipation! I was confident they’d all get disappointed by the result… until I saw swirls of blue and pink form! My heart froze! What if I was pregnant? I wasn’t ready for this stage of my life, and I didn’t reckon that I could handle the hardships that entailed this condition along with all of the other tribulations I already had to cope with! My pulse skyrocketed as a bubble hovered over the cup, and I prayed that the cycling colors would stop at white! It flashed blue, pink, and white a few times, and it landed on…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 15

“You’re free to go!” Samena relayed to us through gritted teeth. “But, just remember, if you’re up to no good, I’ll find out! I’m a detective- we’re trained to detect criminal activity!”

My blood almost curled at this remark, but I recalled that she had no idea who she was talking to! I thought I ought to have simply walked away, but her insinuation piqued my curiosity! “What exactly did you think we were up to?” I asked her.

She curtly answered, “That’s classified! Have a nice day!” Prior to me being able to query her any further, she turned smartly on her heels and walked away.

“Have a nice day!” I aped her in a mocking voice. “Oh, yeah, like it’ll be so easy to do that after getting grilled by law enforcement for no real reason!”

“Let’s go babe!” Aidan recommended as he put his arm around me and led me away from the area.

I complied with his wishes to vacate the vicinity, but I didn’t stop ranting about that interaction! “I bet she didn’t have a true cause to accost us! She was obviously bored, it’s not like there’s a lot to do out here! How many crimes get committed in this tiny town?”

Aidan noted, “Only one that I can think of, and it doesn’t look as though we’ll get any leads on it from this location!”

In my state of animosity over this contentious exchange, I temporarily forget about the disappearing lake! I hadn’t considered what our next steps should be other than getting Aidan to agree with me on what a terrible person Samena was, and now that the decision had come to my feet, I drew a blank on how to proceed in this venture! “Maybe the people on the other side of this street didn’t see that! Or talk to those small business owners who believe we’re monsters ‘cause we work for…” I  eyeballed the passersby and changed the verbiage that I originally wanted to end that sentence with, “… you know who!”

As we strolled down the boulevard, I scoped out every nook and cranny that we passed in order to espy where Wade ran off to after I spotted him. No one else seemed quite as disturbed  by the presence of a shadowy figure staring at us, but it bothered me tremendously! Did they esteem that I made these episodes up? Or perhaps they imagined that I had become delusional! Someone was out there watching us, and I wasn’t going to let that go! Since Samena wasn’t so friendly towards us, I doubted any of her fellow officers at this precinct would take me very seriously, so it was up to us to solve this mystery! I suppose it could have been anyone, like another person with the same personality disorder as Minna for example, but this looks a little too similar to a previous case to be a coincidence! I didn’t recall him ever wearing a hoodie at home, which meant he most likely only wore it when he was doing his criminal activity. Therefore, if he resumed donning the hood once more, then he had to be up to some nefarious actions this time around too…

“They’re talking about us!” Aidan asserted.

“Huh?” I fell out of my torpor and glanced around to see what he was referring to. Soon, I saw a few shopkeepers across the road pointing in our direction and whispering, which made me grimace! “Wow! Word travels fast in these parts apparently!”

Aidan lamented, “It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to gain any allies out here! So, what resources are available for us now?”

I mulled it over for a second, and then I shrugged. “The internet maybe. Well, that’s assuming the answers will get past the filters that your sister put up to try and prevent ‘Danielle’ from searching for more details on gruesome murders! But I’m willing to bet she knows how to get around those barriers!”

“You can do that?” Kinsey emerged from a shop behind us with her eyes sparkling with interest at this notion.

“No!” I denied my own statement with trepidation. I feared I may have accidentally incited an endeavor where this teen would obtain some knowledge not meant for her age level and rouse the wrath of her mother!

Kinsey didn’t seem fooled by my ploy unfortunately. “Why did I ask? You wouldn’t have mentioned it if it wasn’t! Now, how do you bypass her security spells…?”

Laraleigh exited the store with a paper cone in her hand and a concerned look on her face. “What on earth did you say to her?”

“Nothing!” I truthfully conveyed to her. “I was talking to him! I thought we were alone!”

“Weeeee!” Willow, Harper, and mason cried out as they zoomed to the streets at top speed.

Mom and Jackson went outside, and Mom cautioned the kids, “You shouldn’t play in the road!”

Harper objected, “But we’re pretending it’s the Green Lady’s canyon! She’s gonna snatch us up!”

“Boy, will she be sorry!” Aidan commented.

“Exactly!” Harper grinned mischievously.

Laraleigh shouted, “Get kidnapped on the sidewalk!” A couple passing us gazed over peculiarly, and Laraleigh clarified to them, “Not literally!”

As the youngest kids unwillingly headed away from the avenue, Jackson put the back of his shirt collar over his hair and hollered, “Oooh! I’m the Green Lady, and I’m gonna get you!”

Laraleigh winced as her little ones let out piercing screams, and Mom filled Aidan and me in, “The shave ice owners told us some legends from the island while we ate.”

“I see… Hey, maybe they would-,” I glanced inside of their property, and when I beheld them glaring at the pair of us, I recanted that supposition, “Nevermind!” I couldn’t help but feel a heavy surge of disappointment at this- they seemed very well-informed on local mythology and probably had an insightful account as to what may have occurred between Lake Ana Wai and the Mo’o, whatever that was! I sighed, but then Willow hid behind a trash can and casted a shadow, I got reminded of the other issue I wanted to figure out. I canvassed those who were not reeling from a sugar rush, “Did you guys happen to see anything strange going on around here?”

“Stranger than that?” Mom gestured towards the quirky antics of the juveniles at play.

Laraleigh took a slight offense to that. “Hey, they’re just acting like typical children! Don’t you remember how your kids behaved under the influence of sweets?”

Mom shook her head. “Not really! I only had one child, and she was sorta boring!”

“Excuse me!” I put my arms up in a manner that clearly indicated my offended stance.

“Well, you were!” Mom refused to back down from her allegations. “You mostly read a bunch of books and went searching for villains in the bushes. Of course, I don’t know how you were after I gave up custody of you. You might have became more rowdy for your father…”

I begrudgingly admitted, “Not really. My stepmom was pretty strict, so even if I wanted to misbehave, I wouldn’t have been able to!”

Sensing my depression heightening from the premise that I may have been seen as an uninteresting individual, Aidan piped up, “Don’t worry, babe! You’ve more than made up for your previous lack of a bad side during your time with me!”

“Eiww!’ Kinsey’s visage soured at a raunchy interpretation of his phrasing.

“That’s not what I meant! Although…” Aidan rubbed his chin contemplatively.

Kinsey requested to her mother, “Can we go home? I wanna rinse that picture out of my brain!”

Laraleigh started to decline that, “We haven’t been here that long! We still have a lot to-.” Her younglings frightened a man on crutches, and after blushing profusely, Laraleigh changed her tune, “On second thought, let’s leave quickly!”

Aidan and I sat in the hayloft while the youths played a very rambunctious version of tag and Minna chatted with Mom and Laraleigh in the kitchen. I buried my nose further into my laptop as if that move would drown out all of the noise! It was hard to concentrate on my countless scrolling of news sites, but I did my best to comb through all of these news sites in hopes of finding any sort of sign of Wade’s whereabouts in this jurisdiction! Lake Aopua’a was the closest locale to the farm he had gotten seen at, so I wondered where else he may have wandered to. Thus far, no reports of nearby break-ins or burglaries turned up in the papers, so I concluded that he must have wound up in a stretch where he could blend in, but where a large, smelly jerk possibly blend in around this region absolutely stumped me! 

“Hey, Shannon! I found out what a moe was!” Aidan announced as he caused me to jump while he unexpectedly hovered over my shoulders.

“Who’s Moe?” I puzzled.

He informed me, “I know a crazy cat named Moe in southern Maryland…” A kitty turned up next to him, and he remarked to it, “Not that kinda cat!” The feline insisted that he pet it, so Aidan relented, “Fine! Anyways, I wasn’t talking about Moe the caterer! This is the moe connected to the disappearing pond!”

I corrected him, “It’s pronounced mo’o.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” I contended.

“No, you said moe, and it’s mo’o,” I illuminated him.

Aidan scratched his hairline in confusion. “I don’t hear the difference.”

I decided to table that matter temporarily, “Let’s go on. What is this thing?”

He put his screen in front of me and summarized, “It’s some sort of reptile that guards bodies of water.”

“Some say they’re small geckos, and others say they’re huge dragons!” My brows furrowed upon this observation of these conflicting reports. “Wow, this one said it could be a seductive woman! How are we supposed to know what to look for then?”

“I don’t know if it matters,” Aidan reckoned. “Whatever form it comes in, someone must have angered it. Doing so makes it react in terrible ways like summoning adverse weather or other natural phenomena to punish the offenders!”

A lightbulb went off inside of my noggin, and I excitedly inferred, “Someone disturbed the mo’o of Lake Ana Wai! But how? According to this, it could stem from merely swimming in their territory or-.”

At that moment, Willow emitted a high-pitched shriek as Mason bested her in their frivolity! Meanwhile, the three ladies in the kitchen were gabbing away like nothing happened! Minna prattled on, “The cliffs  going down to the beach are gnarly, but it’s worth the magic to get there ‘cause it’s so relaxing! And when the tide is low, a sandbar opens up that leads to this really peaceful mini island! You should try it! It…”

“What have you been reading about here?” Aidan studied my computer, and I admonished myself for letting the banshees on the lower level distract me! I wasn’t ready to justify this particular research to him, especially since we assigned ourselves to work on something else! Aidan conjectured, “You must really miss doing policework!”

“I was trying to find Wade!” I confessed. “He’s in our neighborhood, and-.”

Aidan disagreed with me, “Babe, he’s not here! And if he was, we’d smell him coming like we did before!”

I argued, “But who else would be following us?”

“I…” He contemplated it, and when he came up empty, he countered with, “Well, if he was here, why would he be biding his time in getting his vengeance?”

“Um… Well, he…” I couldn’t decipher a motive for that, but prior to that instance occurring, a loud bang sounded from below! “Ugh! There had better be a damn good explanation for that!” I marched over to the edge full of ire, and when I saw the causation of the disruption, my eyes went wide…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 14

One of the men dramatically revealed, “It disappeared!”

I clicked my tongue out of annoyance. My anticipation had been mounting higher and higher as I awaited this announcement, and his response felt like a huge let down! I feared that they wouldn’t have any answers for us, but my detective experience reminded me that I couldn’t give up on potential witnesses merely because they showed hints of ineptitude, so I addressed them, “We already knew that! What we wanna know is why!”

“It’s the ‘ino’ino make! Another guy bitterly expressed to us. “The Pomaikais just had to spring for cheap labor and invite them to this region! Ever since they started coming around this part, we’ve seen nothing but trouble!” I was itching to ask them how that was even remotely possible, but then…

“You said you live near Lake Ana Wai?” The man who spoke mulled it over and then corrected himself, “Well, where it used to be?”

Each of us sensed a huge catch for confirming this, but Aidan still did it, “Uh-huh. We live in Lani Noni.”

The cashier probed, “Do the Hekekias still haunt that place?”

“Haunt is a little harsh! I mean, I know they’re technically dead, but still!” I defensively opined. They looked unmoved by my pleading, so I moved on, “Yes, we work for them.”

“Get out!” the shopkeeper staunchly pointed to the exit. “Don’t bring that poino over here!”

Initially, I thought he was joking. I’ve had plenty of  criminals and individuals with something to hide try to throw me out of their domain when I was interrogating them, but it didn’t occur to me that they would oust me in a civilian role when all I was doing was seeking information about my surroundings! Their expressions indicated their seriousness though, and since we had no legal cause to remain there, neither Aidan nor I sought to fight this decision. It was hard to do this though since they were showing hints of being able to be quite helpful to us! Plus, I still wanted to know what interest Wade had in this store other than teddy bears! It wasn’t worth it to battle five big dudes with our teeny children’s wands to obtain this knowledge however, so we left without protest.

When we were outside, Aidan inquired to a passerby, “What’s poino?”

“It’s bad luck or misery,” she replied. “Why? Did you remove one of Pele’s rocks?”

“I don’t think so…” Aidan reflected a bit just to make sure, and when he concluded we probably hadn’t, he filled her in, “Actually, it came up when we mentioned that our new bosses are Fay Folks and-.”

The woman’s face soured upon hearing this. “Your bosses are monsters!” She spat at our feet and then wheeled her stroller away from us as fast as she could.

Aidan remarked, “Okay, I guess we should stop telling people that!” I concurred, and then we went next door.

A bell chimed as we went inside, and a female greeted us with, “Did you forget something?”

“Huh?” I puzzled. We had never been in there, so it mystified me as to what prompted her to say that!

“Your clothes!” she simply stated. Aidan and I panicked and swiftly glanced at ourselves out of worry that we got hit with some sort of nudity jinx, and then the female gestured to the rack behind her. “This is a dry cleaner…”

Aidan and I instantly felt dumb, but it was too funny not to join her and her two customers in laughter! An older gentleman queried, “Are you two lost?”

I genially responded, “Kinda. We recently… bought an egg farm, and we’ve been using Lake Aopua’a for a water source, but then we heard that there used to be a pond closer to us that vanished suddenly. No one seems to be able to tell us why either!”

The backstory I concocted was pretty solid, and I genuinely thought I nailed it until the older lady asked, “The realtor didn’t disclose that when you bought the property?”

“Uh…” My spirits deflated at the loss of success that I never really had! I racked my brains to unearth a clever explanation, but all I could drum up was, “They blamed the Fays across the street, but I don’t see how that’s feasible!”

“You don’t?” The dry cleaner eyed me dubiously.

I blushed furiously at getting put on the spot like an unprepared student getting called upon by their teacher! I felt like I ought to have known this, but my mind was a total blank pertaining to the motive for this belief, so Aidan stepped in and commented, “No, we don’t! ‘Cause, yeah, they don’t seem to have any actual powers, so aren’t they pretty harmless?”

That was the wrong viewpoint to put forth evidently! The old couple gasped, and the rage of a pure offense was brewing inside of the dry cleaner! Seeing that this endeavor was a futile venture, I proclaimed, “We’ll show ourselves out!” Preceding any of them uttering a single word about our gaffe, we dashed out of the building!

Back on the sidewalk, Aidan observed, “Wow, they really hate Fays out here!”

I agreed, “Totally! From now on, we’ll have to pretend we want nothing to do with them!”

From behind us, the old man from the dry cleaner facility emitted a noise of disgust! Aidan and I jumped slightly at their unexpected appearance, and our innermost instincts had us clam up until they got out of sight… until… “Imagine that!” the elderly lady huffed. “They dare to associate with the wretches that had the audacity to offend the mo’o!”

“The what?” I had no clue what a mo’o was, but my gut convinced me that whatever it might have been, it possessed a major factor towards the reservoir evaporating! I caught up with the pair and pressed them, “What’s a mo’o?”

“You two have phones, go look it up yourself!” she snapped.

I ignored that directive and petitioned them, “Did the mo’o drain the lake?”

The old gentleman barked, “Go bug your Fay friends!”

“They’re not our friends, we just work for them!” I immediately recognized that I had erred once more, so I amended my sentence, “It’s not like we wanted to- we didn’t have a choice in the matter!”

“We’re obviously very ignorant about this stuff, you could educate us so that we quit hanging around them!” Aidan strove to tempt them into a discussion with us, but they disregarded our communication attempts and walked with a little more briskness in their steps! We would’ve taken one last stab at it, but then…

A woman with long, black hair, Sandy toned skin, small, umber eyes, and a well-fitted suit blocked our pathway! Her stance appeared rather confrontational, and I truly wasn’t in the mood for another clash, so I wanted to bypass her. I couldn’t though- she opened a leather cover and revealed a badge for the Kalahale Police Department! Aidan and I froze in our tracks! This was exactly what we were hoping to avoid! We knew it would be a complete hassle to have to sort this out with Agent Hearne or Deputy Clifton, especially if they got wind of us doing an off-the-books investigation! Additionally, even if we didn’t get legal punishment for this incident, we each dreaded having a blemish on our records! This woman spared us no pity for our plight and coldly introduced herself, “Detective Samena Tajana, HPD.”

Aidan reached into his pocket out of habit, but when he realized he wasn’t carrying his shield (for a reason!), he acted as if he meant to do that for a casual pose. “I’m Kennedy Swetinbedde, and this is my wife, Sophia. We’re farmers in the area.”

“Sir, keep your hands where I can see them!” Samena commanded.

“Okay!” Aidan promptly pulled his palms out and kept them where she could plainly view them.

She contemplated the info we provided her for a second, and then she vocalized, “Local farmers, huh? You sure ask a lot of questions for farmers…”

I retorted, “What? Are we not supposed to ever learn anything beyond the fields?” I startled myself by behaving so pertly with a fellow officer, but I got somewhat offended by her insinuation! Furthermore, it irked me that a cop was accosting us and not Wade! If he had any vision of our locale at that moment, I knew he was cackling super joyfully at this scenario!

“What exactly are you trying to learn from these townsfolk?” Samena challenged us.

“We’re trying to learn about the land from the people who know it best!” Aidan asserted fairly rapidly. He most likely sensed some more snarkiness ready to burst out of my mouth, and ultimately, I found that he did the correct action because he doubtlessly prevented an already dicey situation from getting worse, but at the time, I wasn’t too pleased with getting cut off since she was treating us with unjust antagonism! He more calmly elaborated, “We’re new here, but they’re not! They’d know better than anyone what went on out there- you can’t really trust the internet for accuracy!”

Samena stared at him like she was scanning for any mistruths to slip off of his tongue, and she seemed a tad skeptical when she detected no deception! “Why were you guys so insistent on hearing about the mo’o?”

Aidan’s cordiality didn’t prevail in this instance due to his lack of readiness to have a justification for this, and while I disliked this woman for her malicious attitude, I hardly wanted to get on Aidan’s bad side by starting strife with her, so, with as much politeness as I could muster, I commented, “You know how it is when you hear a cliffhanger ending- we simply gotta know the rest!” I chuckled, but Samena’s frigid visage didn’t budge an inch! All of a sudden, it occurred to me that this frosty rival could prove useful to us after all! “Surely, you must know what a mo’o is! What is it? A fish? A tree?”

“I do know what it is, but I don’t have a minute to spare to explain it!” She pulled out a notebook, and as she flicked her pen open, I produced a sound of derision that thankfully went unnoticed! “You told me you’re Kennedy and Sophia Swetinbedde. Is there a middle name to go with either of those?”

“Uh… No! No, there isn’t,” Aidan reported to her a smidgen too late. We could tell that his hesitation roused her suspicion, so he added, “Sorry! Police make me nervous!”

I sputtered in amusement at the irony of his quip, but when that move garnered me a peculiar ogling from Samena, I hastily summoned up an excuse for this blunder. “Did you see those bears in that souvenir shop? They’re wearing hats! And Hawaiian shirts!” I faked some hearty guffawing at that image, and she definitely thought I was an idiot at this juncture! Whatever, as long as she didn’t believe I was hiding anything pertinent from her!

Samena quizzed us, “What are your social security numbers?”

“Um, we don’t have it memorized, so can we dig out our cards and show it to you?” Aidan requested.

“I suppose…” Samena consented with an eyebrow raised. Clearly, she didn’t find our stories to be too credible, and privately, I didn’t blame her! While I was contemplating the best replies to any other inquiries she may have had for us, she took our identification and advised us, “You know, you shouldn’t carry these around with you. If someone stole your purse or wallet, they could easily use it to steal your identity!”

Slightly too tickled by the concept of a thief pilfering fraudulent ID’s, I articulated, “Oh darn, that’d be a shame!”

She furrowed her brows at my crack, but prior to her responding to it, dispatch delivered us clean results, which seemed to shock her. “Really? Alright, thank you!”

“Yeah, so we’re done now, correct?” I folded my arms in an agitated manner, and it struck me as odd to show such sass to a sister in the force, but I disliked her for her inefficiency! She wasted her efforts with us when bonafide criminals like Wade were roaming free! She showed signs of reluctance to let us go, which I wanted to sympathize with since I’ve been there before, but I couldn’t under these circumstances! I expounded on my statement, “You have no proof of any wrongdoing, you can’t hold us forever!” Her lips contorted as she displayed sheer avarice, and…

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…