Halloween 2020 Part Seven: Out of the Woods

It had to be this day. It wasn’t enough to simple prevent it, the killer had to be found, and punished. But what if the date was different? The thought gripped me as I walked across the porch. I knocked on the door and wondered if it was going to make anything better. This was the only way to find out if anything was going to make sense now. I had followed the same path I had taken before, become a deputy, and now I was standing at the front door of the Kems’ residence, in uniform, wondering if I could change the future any more than I had. It had been five years, and the first engines were anchored to the rock, forcing it to change direction, albeit slowly, it was working. 

“Yes?” Mrs Kems said, smiling and I nearly wept. I had arrived on time. 

“Mrs. Kems, you don’t know me, but my name is Wanda Alexander, I’m a deputy in Thomas County, may I speak with Travis?” I said in a rush. 

“Oh my, has he done something?” Mrs. Kems said as she opened the door. 

“No, nothing like that, I assure you,” I said and watched as Travis came down the hallway and saw me. 

“I know you,” he said, “don’t I?  It wasn’t a dream, was it?”

“Maybe, but I have a present for you, here,” and I gave him a thick book of drawing paper, and a pencil set. “Your teachers say you have a talent, an amazing talent for art, I need someone to do police composites,” I was lying, really lying, but it was going to be worth it. “Want to give it a try?”

“I’m not that good,” Travis said, but his face was alit with the idea someone might like his work. “But you’re the lady, from the dreams, aren’t you?”

“ Dreams are very strange things, Travis, but my plan for your art; it’s a long range plan,” I told him, “here’s the card of a woman I know in Quitman, she’s a retired art teacher, she said she’d love to help.” 

“I really like to draw,” Travis stared at the pencil set. “Thank you.”

“Is there someone with you?” Mr. Kems came to the door and looked out behind me. A strange car pulled in, and then pulled out again. 

“No, I have no idea who that was, but let me call in the car, and get an ID,” I said and I stepped back out. “Brooks Dispatch,” I said into my shoulder mic, “this is Thomas County, I need a stop of a white Toyota, 2005 driver unknown may be armed. Pauline Church Road, heading north.”

“Roger, Thomas County, we have someone close,” Deputy Sheffield was out there waiting. He had no idea why I wanted him on that road, but he agreed to it. 

“I’ll go see who it was,” I said. “Travis, keep in touch, okay?”

“Yes ma’am,” and he smiled. 

By the time I got there, Sheffield had the man down, cuffed, and stood over him. 

“Damn, Wanda, look at this!” There was handcuffs in the truck of the car, a gun, and rubber gloves. And a bloody sheet wrapped around what looked like a body. “I think this one is up to no good at all,” Sheffield looked at me hard, “how’d you know?” 

“Long story,” I said. “You get the capture; it’s your county.” 

“I’ll call the state boys, they’ll want to look at this one. I think we just got a serial killer here.” The past was undone, it hurt me that it was undone for me, but for Travis and the rest of the world, it was a better place. 

Two years went by, and Travis was turning into an incredible artist. I was thinking about not running for Sheriff. Steven Morrison was famous, worked with NASA, but now that the danger was growing less by the day, had slipped into obscurity again. I stopped trying to keep up with him. It made things worse, not better. 

One of those electric cars cruised past me doing seventy in a fifty-five zone so I lit him up. The car was a rental, and when I walked up to the window the man smiled at me, “Sorry, deputy, but I’m not used to this thing yet.” 

“License, please.” I said. 

“Yes ma’am, hey I’m not going to argue with you; I was speeding. You’re right to give me a ticket.”

“Mr. Morrison, of NASA fame?” I asked, trying not to grab him. It was Steven. He was staring at me. 

“Yeah, but, hey, you look familiar, we’ve met, haven’t we?” Steve asked. 

“It’s possible,” I said. “You in Thomas County for long?” I asked. 

“I’m actually looking for a job, either in Valdosta or Thomasville, I always wanted to teach high school, engineering, I kinda fell into the NASA thing, got lucky looking in the right place at the right time, it was a miracle, actually.” Steve said. “Are you local? Maybe you could show me around?” 

“You like Jazz?” I asked my heart pounding. “There’s a great little place in Valdosta that has live Jazz music on Thursdays. Good food. Good wine.” 

“You, uh, married or anything?” Steve asked, just like he did the first time we had met. 

“No, I’m single,” I said, “I’m Wanda, Wanda Alexander. Here, I’ll give you my number,” and my hands were shaking hard. 

“I love Jazz,” Steve said. “Are you sure we haven’t met? Never mind, I’m positive I would remember you” 

“Some people,” I said, trying not to lose my composure, “are just meant to meet one another, don’t you think so, Steve?” 

“Yeah, hey, it’s Thursday, let’s go to listen to Jazz tonight, is that too soon?” Steve said, and he gave me his best and most charming smile. Oh my god he still had it. 

“Sure, why not,” I laughed. “Seven sounds good, okay?” 

“I know a great little Italian place, they’ll even overcook your garlic bread if you like it that way,” I walked away, knowing Steve was watching me, and it had begun, again. 



“So you are telling me that we were married before, you were Sheriff before, and we saved the world from an alien invasion with the help of your friend Travis?” Steve took a hit off the joint and held it. A moment passed and he released a cloud of smoke then said, “Travis does grow some really great pot, doesn’t he?” 

“It’s legal now, so why not?” I sighed. I knew we would have this conversation one day. I knew he would believe me, but he didn’t not quite yet. 

“And how come you and Travis remember this? He doesn’t remember the things you do, does he?” Steve put his hand on my thigh and I hoped I could convince him before he totally distracted us both. 

“I’m not sure, but he went back from an adult to a kid, that might be it, and he got his folks back, too. They likely influenced him to think it was a dream, if I was him I would have run with it.” I said. 

“So he’s teaching art in New York now? Or is he still in Canada?” Steve asked. 

“Canada, his job in the city start next month,” I stood up with great reluctance, “here, I have you show you something, Travis drew this,” and I got the drawing out. 

“What the hell?” Steve wasn’t amused. “This is us having sex on a sofa? I mean it’s good, wait, how old is this?”

“Travis drew it for me right after he and I reconnected, before you and I met again, Steve,” I said and smiled. “The date is at the bottom.”

“It is real, this did happen,” Steve whispered. 

“You and I are remarried, sweetie,” I laughed at the look on his face. “I’m both your first and second wife!”

“How long were we married the first time?”

“Four years, about half the time we’ve been married so far,” I replied. 

“Where do you think they are, these Peacekeepers?” Steve asked. 

“Somewhere out there, looking out for us,” I laughed. “But don’t we have better things to do now?”



Halloween 2020 Part Six: Lost Souls

Steve and I went over to Kems’ place and found it totally dark. Travis had inherited the house from his folks after they were murdered, and a lot of people thought he might have killed them.  He claimed a stranger had come in and just killed them both. I never believed he did it. The man had a drug problem, not a violence problem. Travis was a soft spoken and shy young man, barely twenty-one, but he had a lot of issues related to the death of his family, and more demons than most. I had picked him up twice for possession, drugs not demons, but rehab hadn’t helped him at all. He lived alone in a massive two story house that had been built one hundred years ago, when building houses was an art. 

We knocked but there was no answer. Then the door swung open just a bit, and we heard a voice. 

“Come on in,” Travis said, “I’ve been expecting you.” 

Travis lit a candle and it revealed his face, unshaven, gaunt, and yet oddly clean. 

“How could you know we were coming?” I asked but Travis said nothing, and instead lit more candles. 

“Jesus,” Steve whispered. Covering the walls, from one side of the hallway to the other, extending past where we could see in the light, pencil drawings, life sized pencil drawings of the Peacekeeepers, covered every inch. 

“Travis, what did they tell you?” I asked. 

“They told me you could choose,” Travis said, “but I don’t think it means what you think it means. I think we’re getting a weak signal, someone or something is trying to tell you, me, us, something, but it has nothing to do with what we think we’re seeing.” 

“Tavis, they showed you something, what was it?” I asked. 

“The two of you having sex on the sofa, and wine, red wine, and that led you here,” Travis said. He pointed to a drawing of our living room. The detail was disturbing. 

“But you know about the Peacekeepers, all these drawings, when did it all start?” Steve asked. 

“Right after my parents died, I started smoking a lot of pot, doing mushrooms, and having nightmares, they came to me, and told me they were trying to help, but it kept being horrible, they did things to people, but none of it was real. As long as I was drawing, they stayed away.” Travis lit a joint and passed it to Steve. Steve looked at me and I nodded. 

“Imagine if you will, Wanda,” Travis began, “someone one hundred meters away, on a windy day, trying to tell you something, or trying to get you to do something, but they only have ten or fifteen minutes a day to try. If the two of you don’t speak the same language, then maybe that person draws pictures and sends them on paper airplanes. I think that’s what’s happening here. The violence and the gore is so you’ll remember it more clearly; trauma causes focus.” 

“But they do speak English,” I insisted. “I’ve spoken to them.” 

“I think the vision of them speaks to you so you can interpret the message they are trying to send.” Travis said and he picked up his pencil. “I think they are actually trying to help us.”

“That’s why we need a really smart person,” Steve said. 

“What?” Both Travis and I said at the same time. 

“According to your original vision, Wanda, all of this started with them telling us an asteroid was going to hit Earth in a year. Now that we know some of the things they’ve shown you is true, we need someone with a telescope and some brain power to try to spot the object they said is heading our way. I was an astronomy major before I went into engineering.”

“That’s part of it, Steve,” Travis said, “but I think at the end of the day, we have to think it’s too late to stop it. Even if we told NASA what was going on, and then they believed us, and the whole world decided to join forces to solve the problem, it would very likely take a hell of a lot longer than a year. By then, the world isn’t going to be wiped out, but if it’s the size they’ve told me it is, there’s going to be a city sized hole somewhere on Earth, maybe bigger. It’s going to mess up the climate for a while, kill a lot of people, but we’ll survive it. What we have to do is have time to prevent it. I think they’re offering us that.” 

“That’s not possible,” I said. “How can we get more time?” 

“By choosing loss,” Travis said. 

I fell backwards. A void opened up and swallowed me. 

“Good,” the Peacekeeper said. “You choose now, you can see.”

“Why me?” I asked. “You have to tell me that.” 

“I show you already. Your world ruined. Peacekeepers step in to save some, you choose some, but you choose time, we can help. But you lose.” The Peacekeeper said. 

“Lose what?” I asked, and I knew I would hate the answer. 

“Peacekeeper does not know, just know loss. Now, you know you choose. Many others choose, too. Your loss or lose all. I,” it stopped speaking. “I have no time now. You have less. Permission from you or not. It is now time to choose. Ask Peacekeeper to help. I ache for you, Wanda Louise Alexander Morrison, I wish some other choice. But now, only now.” 

“Please help us,” I whispered, and a roaring sound took the world away.

I woke up and was in the most familiar place I could have been, but it was as alien as the Peacekeeper’s world. Everything, to the very smallest detail was the same, as I remembered it, had lived it, but it was ten years ago. I was back home in my parents’ home. 

“Hey Lazy,” Karen walked into my room, “you smelled like beer last night when you came in.” 

“Karen,” I whispered. She was fifteen, still just a kid, and wearing that cast when she fell and broke her wrist. 

“You got to see this,” Karen said as she picked the remote up and turned the television on. “The world is ending, or is going to.” 

It was a surreal scene on the television. NASA was having a press conference, and the President was there. They had just discovered a large meteorite, a small asteroid, and it was heading for Earth. We had nine point seven three years to find a way to stop it.

“And this has been confirmed by several other countries, but as you know by now, the original sighting was made by a senior at Georgia Tech,” the announcer was saying. 

“Steven Morrison,” I breathed. “Oh Steve.”

“Steven Morrison, who used a telescope, he was logged onto remotely of course, in the ISS to see around the planet Jupiter,” the announcer continued. 

“We know Steven Morrison?” Karen asked. 

“Facebook,” I said, and I knew what I had lost. How many other people’s lives had been changed by this shift in time? How many others had made the same deal? Did Steven remember me? Did he remember us? No, I was betting only those the Peacekeepers spoke to were in on it, and I had just lost my husband. The man I married, loved, planned to have children with, wanted to grow old with, and have my ashes scattered in the same place in the mountains, was gone. 

End Part Six. 

Halloween 2020 Part Five Connections

Steven and I had been married for four years. He was against me running for Sheriff, and I regretted it deeply as soon as I put the uniform on. Brooks County was a small, lightly populated, very closed little county. But the people liked me, I liked them, and the retiring Sheriff supported me. I thought the fact I knew the job better than anyone else, I had been a deputy in Thomas County for five years, would mean something. I thought they would accept someone who worked hard and was honest, even a woman. 

            Was I losing my mind because of the position? Was the job stress killing me? It certainly wasn’t helping my marriage. Now this, me coming and going in some alternative world where aliens were attacking Earth, yes, in fact, I was losing my mind, I had to admit it. 

            “Steve, I need help, I’m hallucinating, passing out, seeing things, hearing things, and I’m going to have to resign from the county to take better care of myself,” I blurted this out over spaghetti and red wine. 

            “I have to admit the episodes are a little strange,” Steve said more nonchalantly than I could have under similar conditions. “But don’t bail on your job until a doctor tells you there’s a reason. Or not a reason. But what have you been seeing and hearing?” 

            “Okay, remember you asked,” I replied, drained my wine glass, refilled it, drank half of it, and told Steve everything. I didn’t leave out a single detail, but the man didn’t interrupt me or flinch. 

            “Let’s do this,” Steve began, “okay, this sounds insane, but at the same time you have no history of anything like this. Let’s try a simple experiment.”

            “Okay, what?” I wondered if he meant an MRI or some sort of scan.

            “If none of this is real then there shouldn’t be any connection between the other world and this one. If there is a connection that means you aren’t crazy, which I think might actually be worse.” Steve poured more wine and smiled at me. I felt better. 

            “What do we do?” I asked. 

            “Call Harlow, tell him to meet you at the office first thing tomorrow morning. And then do your job given the evidence of a crime, Sheriff.” Steve had a way with words. I picked up my cell and called Harlow. 

            The next morning, I felt strange and surreal. What I was about to do was going to alter my reality, one way or the other, and neither felt good. Harlow had Ronnie Rogers in the conference room when I arrived. I sat down and hit the record button on the video without so much as a good morning. 

“Deputy Rogers, this interview is being recorded, you’ve been read your rights, and at this time, would you like to have a lawyer present?” I asked. Rogers was sitting across from me with Harlow beside him. 

“I don’t need no lawyer,” Ronnie snarled, “I ain’t done nothing.” 

“Okay, you have waived your right to have a lawyer present. Both Deputies Spells and Clarey have filed complaints about you. They charge you drugged my water bottle in an attempt to discredit my office. At this point you are going to be charged with two felonies, assault upon a peace officer, and possession of an illegal substance with the intent to harm, other charges will follow, I am sure. Do you have anything to say?” I asked and leaned back in the chair. 

“It was a joke, that’s all, listen, I didn’t mean to hurt nobody, I like you, I think it’s great you got the job, I was just playing a trick on you, I swear it,” Ronnie was sweating. 

“You’ve been protecting some of the pot farmers, and they paid you to come after me, didn’t they?” I asked.

“I ain’t done that!” Ronnie was scared now, and it showed. 

“You know what’s going to happen to you in prison, Ronnie?” Harlow asked. “You got a purty mouth, boy.” 

“I ain’t, I ain’t done nothing with no pot farmers, listen, I done wrong by you, I admit that, but I’ll make you a deal; I’ll quit, I’ll quit right now.” Ronnie stood up then sat down again. “I’ll turn in my certification.” 

“I want the names of the people who were backing you, Ronnie, and if you don’t give them to me, then you are going prison. But one question, what did you spike my water with?” I tapped my foot on the floor and it seemed very loud. 

“That angel dust stuff, just a little, I swear I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Ronnie began sobbing. 

“You are under arrest, Mr. Rogers, stand up, put your hands behind your back, please,” Harlow said and he reached over and took Ronnie’s gun and handcuffed Ronnie. 

“Harlow, let’s bring Spells and Clarey in, I want to know how deeply involved they were in this,” I said.

“Wait!” Ronnie said, “you mean, they ain’t told you nothing?”

“No, we knew you’d fold up so there was no need,” I said sweetly. “You really ought to study the handbook on interrogation more often.” 

Later that day, I was with David, drinking wine, yeah again, to celebrate. Arresting a deputy meant the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would come visit us, but I felt like the case was strong enough I didn’t have to worry. 

“There’s a problem,” I said to Steve. “Now that we know.”

“No, there’s only a solution,” Steve replied. We were both naked on the sofa, having not made it to the bedroom. 

“If all of this is a drug induced hallucination, then how did I know about the plot?” I asked. 

“It’s not just a drug induced hallucination, Baby, it’s all too real,” Steve said. “I thought that from the beginning.”

“What? Why?” I asked. 

“Because you were in uniform when we found you on the floor the other day, you had left for work, were gone for a couple of hours, then you were back here. If you hadn’t gone to work then the note I left on your windshield would still be there. I checked. It was gone.” Steve slipped beside me and poured more wine. “Somehow, you went to work, but then you were back home before you left. That’s something that is deeply strange and has to involve something out of this world.” 

“You believe there’s aliens who call themselves Peacekeepers and they’re out to destroy the earth, and all you’re doing is pouring me more wine?” I sat up. “Now you’re the crazy one.” 

“Wanda, let’s look at what’s happened so far,” Steve said. “You were given a pretty strong drug, one of your prisoners has committed suicide, and you’ve had serious interactions with some sort of force that messes with time and place. Yet given all this, nothing and no one has really been hurt, except for Dernmond hanging himself, that was real. But the school bus incident didn’t happen.” 

“I called Mental Health services to go talk to Travis when I realized it wasn’t real,” I said getting up and pacing. 

“I think I have an idea that will end this,” Steve said, “but we’re going to have to find someone with some real smarts. But first we’re going to see Travis Kems. He’s a serious drug addict. I’m betting if we get to him quick, we can save the world next.  

End part Five. 

Halloween 2020: Part Three: To Dream

“You okay?” the voice was vaguely familiar but slurred as if an old friend had called me on a three day bender. 

“Yeah,” I replied and my own voice sounded like that of an old-fashioned telephone, deep in a well, far away and faint. 

“Let’s get you up,” and I realized Steve was helping me off the floor. I looked at my hands and realized there was no blood, there was no blood on my body, and for that, I was thankful, but I wasn’t sure to who. 

I was still in my uniform, still at home, and I felt curiously light, dizzy, as if I wasn’t quite back yet. 

“What happened?” it was a woman’s voice, my sister, Karen, and I almost cried. They knew about her, knew my family, but for anyone I loved to be in the same area code meant they would use that person against me if they could, and they could. 

“What do you remember?” asked Steve

“I was here, I had just gotten dressed,” the memory was perfectly clear now, and I told them about it, “then I was gone. I was awake, conscious at least, then I landed somewhere, not anywhere around here, you can bet that. There was a circular table, and I was standing with other people in the middle on an island in the middle. There were dozens, maybe a hundred of the creatures, all bulky and dressed in that black shimmering stuff, I don’t think it’s their real skin, but they were all talking, speaking some alien language but I could tell what they were saying. It was food, all about food, not food because they were hungry, but food because it tasted good, like when you eat junk food, or go out for pizza.”

“But pizza is real food,” Steve protested. 

“Hush!” Karen told him. 

“And they seemed happy, delighted to see me and the other people in the island. I recognized Peters from Lowndes, Berry from Cook County, and Jimmy Stiles from Thomas, a a few others, but there were people there I didn’t know. We were all terrified.” I felt the world spinning but had to keep going. 

“One of the creatures came through the table, floated through it as if the table wasn’t real, it wasn’t either and stood over us, leering and drool started coming out of its mouth.”

“You, Sheriff Wanda Louise Alexander Morrison,” it said, “you choose one of these, or they choose five from their districts. Go!” And with that it waved it’s hand in the air and screens appeared. 

            “Wanda?” Steve asked. “What in the hell are you talking about?” 

            “Sis, are you okay?” Karen put her hand on my forehead. 

            “Yeah, they didn’t hurt me,” I replied, “but it’s going to get a lot worse from this point on.”

            “Baby, what was the last thing you remembered?” Steve repeated.

            “They somehow got me out of there, and then I woke up on their ship,” I said, and something wasn’t right.

            “Who?” Karen asked. “What ship?”

            “The Peacekeepers, they took me . . .” I tried to stand and couldn’t. 

            “Peacekeepers?” Steve asked. 

            “Sis, I’m calling Doctor Smith, I think you might have had a stroke or something.” Karen raced out of the room before I could stop her. The room spun and I blacked out.

            “Wanda?” It was Steve. The room was a hospital room. There was a flat screen on the wall that showed a photo of the president talking about the latest fire in California. 

            “Steve, what happened? Do you know?” I asked. The news switched over to the World Series, where a game had been cancelled because of the fire.

            “We found you on the floor,” Steve said. “Then when you came to you were babbling about a dream you had.”

            “It wasn’t a dream,” I said, but Harlow was there, looking at his cell, and he looked up and smiled. 

            “You okay, Sheriff?” he asked. “We’re talking about baking a cake for you but no one at the office can cook worth a damn.” 

            “Give me the remote, please,” I asked and Steve handed it to me. 

            “You know, you have that thing on the rail you can use now,” Harlow offered. “Don’t have to raise your head, hey!”

            I got out of the bed, trailing the IV tube behind me and scrolled through the channels. There was a fishing show, a movie, another news channel with a video of a storm in the Midwest, and the weather show that was saying it was going to be the hottest year on record. But nothing, not one mention of the Peacekeepers, or what they were doing.

            “Wanda?” Steve asked. 

            “Hey, go back to the fishing show!” Harlow said. 

            “Take me to the office, I have to go there right now,” I remanded, and ripped the tube out of my arm. 

            It was a surreal scene back at the office. The door was in its rightful place, the walls were undamaged, and everyone was happy and smiling, I mean, as much as they always might have been. 

            “What’s the status of Dernmond?” I asked Harlow, who treated me as if I might fall to the floor without warning. 

            “Uh, didn’t want to upset you but he committed suicide yesterday, I was headed to your place to tell you when I saw the ambulance. Hung himself with a sheet.” Harlow said and he turned red. 

            “Suicide watch means you make sure they don’t not make sure they do, Harlow,” I snapped at him. 

            “You know damn well we’re better off with him dead, Wanda,” Harlow replied, and I couldn’t help but stare at the wall. It was whole and in one piece. How could this be? Why was there no blood on the ceiling and wall? There was no way it could have been cleaned up, much less repaired in that sort of time. 

            My cell went off.  A call about a shooter in a school bus with a gun. We rushed out, Harlow with me, riding shotgun, and when we got to the bus it was Travis Kems. He had taken the whole bus hostage. I walked in to see rows of terrified children with the driver dead in his seat. That was old man Sears, who had driven a bus forever. 

            “Peacekeepers sent me Wanda,” Travis said, “they say you left the party early.” Then Travis put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and blew the top of his head off. 

End Part Three

Halloween 2020 Part Two: Peacekeepers

 “District Manager?” I asked. Before I did anything this thing told me to do, I wanted to know why I had been appointed to a position I knew nothing about. But my god, whatever it was, it was ugly. It had to be at least eight feet tall and its head brushed the ceiling. The head was narrow and pointed, like an armadillo, but the ears looked wolf like, and stood up. If it had eyes I couldn’t see them. The body was a massive thing, all bulk with arms that seemed too small yet the hands danced in the air as it spoke. In a second of stillness I saw there were seven fingers, and each of them with a long shiny claw. If I had to guess, and I did, it looked like it was made of some sort of metal, and not really alive. 

“First, here, I help you,” the creature waved a claw in the air and a screen appeared from nothingness, six feet tall and three feet wide, maybe, and a list of the men and women we had in jail began to scroll. 

“Impressive,” I said, but before I could speak again it interrupted. 

“You choose one or I choose two,” it said, nodding its head. Its mouth opened and I saw row and rows of teeth in its mouth, like a shark’s. “Bring your worst, or I take a speeding ticket.” 

“I’ll go get Dernmond,” Harlow said, but he couldn’t get out of the office as long as the creature stood in the doorway. 

“You don’t choose, District Manager chooses,” it cocked it’s head at me and grinning, its teeth glowing white, “insubordination, yes?” it asked. 

“No, not at all, he’s just trying to help, but he’s right,” I motioned with my hand, “Harlow, bring Dernmond here, please.” 

“I move,” it said and crunched in part of the wall as it stepped to the side. The blocks in the wall crumbled like sandstone and the ceiling shook, too. Whatever it was, the slugs from my Glock wasn’t going to hurt it. Harlow slipped past and I wondered if he was deserting. I would have. 

“You have twenty-three inmates, the city holds twelve more, this is correct?” it asked. 

“Yes,” I replied. “How am I to address you?” 

“Oh, I forgot human manners! I am clumsy when I move and when I speak human. You are to address any of my kind by the title ‘Peacekeeper’ just as all of your occupation are called ‘peace officers’ is this not correct?”

“Yes Peacekeeper, but where are you taking Dernmond?” I asked. I heard Harlow bringing him down the hall. 

“I show you!” Peacekeeper said and smiled. The teeth looked as if they were moving, and I felt my stomach turn. 

I got home early and stripped down at the washer, and dumped everything in. I tossed a pod in and set the washer for one hour. The shower took a moment or two to warm up, but I stood in the cold water anyway. I wanted to feel something, anything, no matter what it was, other than what I was feeling. I sat down on the floor of the shower and threw up twice, and then turned the water as hot as I could stand it. 

“Baby?” Steve was home. I could tell by the look on his face he had heard. He helped me out of the shower, dried me off, and led me to the bed. I watched the light coming through the windows turn to shadows, and felt like I could speak. 

“What happened, Wanda?” Steve asked. 

“We’ve been given our orders, Steve,” I began, “they aren’t here to keep the peace, that’s not why they’re here. I wasn’t sure they were alive, but I think they are now. But I’m the District Manager, which means I get to choose, or they choose, if they chose, I get chosen. So I’ll be doing a lot of that, I think.”

“Baby?” Steve asked, “What happened? Is it true?” 

“Harlow brought Dernmond into the office; he’s the guy who raped his six year old son and posted the video on his ex-wife’s Facebook page.”

“Yeah, I know the name,” Steve said. 

“The Peacekeeper wanted our worst, so we brought Dernmond into my office. The Peacekeeper put one hand on him, pinned him to my desk, and then took a claw of his other hand and sliced Dernmond’s belly open while he talked to us. Dernmond was screaming and flailing and blood was going everywhere. It ate Dernmond’s intestines right there in front of us, while telling us that we were to bring him our worst every day, one today, then two every day after that,” I said and closed my eyes as I spoke. 

“Oh God.” 

“It did something to Dernmond, injected him somehow, caused the pain to go away, and Dernmomd just lay there and whimpered. It ate his stomach, his liver, his kidneys, all while Dernmond watched until he bled out.” I nearly puked again. 

“Fuck,” Steve said. “What the hell are we going to do?”

“I’m being taken to see his people tomorrow,” I said. “We’ll know more if I don’t wind up on the menu.”  

End part two

Halloween 2020 Part One: Thrown Rocks

I listened to the  message sent to most of the leaders of the world and it was one that left nothing to the imagination; surrender or die. The next message was equally blunt; it was the coordinates of an asteroid the size of a shopping mall. It was going to slam into Earth, somewhere, unless the demands were met. The list of demands seemed fairly benign for the people of Earth. The list included the dismantling of all nuclear weapons of any size, every aircraft carrier was to be taken into deep water and sank. Submarines were to be sank. All ballistic missiles were to be decommissioned. Land mines were to be outlawed and those deployed were to be deactivated. Fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, and battle tanks were on the list of the next items to be destroyed, provided the first list was completed on time. The asteroid would hit in one year. 

NASA was able to confirm there was an object coming in from beyond Jupiter, nickel and iron in composition, heading right towards us. The message, sent in various forms, using wireless technology, was untraceable as to its origin. Unknown to most people on Earth, and actually known to only a few dozen, there were plans to protect the planet from just such and event, as far as an asteroid was concerned. The message was less than twenty-four hours old, and the confirmation just a few minutes from being made, when a rocket lifted off from Russian, with a probe to investigate the incoming object. 

What happened next was as sudden as it was horrible. Much smaller meteoroids, some the size of basketballs, and others the size of houses, began to slam into cities. For a week, hundreds, and then thousands of objects came streaking out of the sky and pounded the most heavily populated areas on Earth. There were stories of aliens coming out of the objects and killing people with weapons that made no sound and produced no light. There were stories about diseases running rampant, and even one about robots landing and killing people. But the truth was much more horrible. Nothing we did anywhere stopped what was happening. On the seventh day, the carnage stopped, with nearly every city on Earth with a population of one million or more, still smoking from the damage. Millions of people were killed, many times that number were fleeing, and the wounded were being lined up and treated in the streets. 

The next message was brutal in its simplicity. “Begin work on the list. We will evaluate your progress in seven days.” 

The next few days were filled with images of huge ships of war sinking under the waves, missiles being cut into pieces, and nuclear weapons being dismantled. But there was something odd about television and the internet now. It seems to be afterimages on the screen, as if a person stared long enough, there was a face, or faces, staring back behind the screen. The reports of robots and aliens did come from usually reliable sources, and those sources denied having ever broadcast those reports. We knew our communications had been hacked and were being manipulated. Accounts on social media began to post comments that read, “This might be the best thing that ever happened to us, maybe we should demand the governments do more to save us!” What they were doing was very clear. Who they were was not as clear. 

The video of an American submarine sinking with its hatch open was hard to watch. My family had more than one relative to serve underwater, and it was personal to see an undamaged ship, paid for with my tax dollars, to simply be destroyed for unknown reasons to an unknown entity. Yet the “Peacemakers” as the social media groups were calling those who were doing this, were not talking to us very much. 

“Good progress, but more should be done quickly, we shall help in our own way, if more progress is not made,” was the message and everyone knew how they planned to assist us in destruction. 

I wondered why they didn’t. Was there a reason they warned us about a rock big enough to cause catastrophic damage heading our way, yet reacted with violence at the launch if a probe? Surely, if they were interested in peace they would have killed one million people in one week, and left thousands homeless and wounded. It was clear they were manipulating social media, random accounts, fake accounts, government accounts, millions of them every day, but to what end? No one knew. I certainly had no idea, but the problems that had begun to mount up when all of this began, threatened to overwhelm me, and my office. 

As the first female sheriff in Brooks County, I knew damn well I was going to have problems, even before the aliens, or whoever it was, started throwing rocks at us. I actually had planned to ride it out, not run for reelection, and move to a place not named for a proslavery Senator who neatly killed a man on the floor of the Senate because that man spoke against slavery. My deputies treated me like I was just passing through, and the Board of Commissioners were useless when it came to trying to discipline my own employees. 

A month after the first message, I was in my office trying to figure out what the hell to do with a budget that allowed me to pay nearly everyone in uniform, and keep gas in most of the cars, and hey, maybe even buy everyone a bullet or two, when the only deputy I could truly trust, Harlow Cox, walked into my office and told me there was an alien in the parking lot. The thing had asked for a meeting in my office in a few minutes. I could hear it coming into the building because it tore the front door totally off the frame. 

Harlow stood behind my desk, beside me, and I wondered if anyone was going to be stupid enough to shoot at it. 

“Good morning, Sheriff Wanda Louise Alexander Morrison,” the thing said, “congratulations, we have appointed you District Manager. In your jail, who is your worst offender? Please bring him to me at once.” 

End Part One.  

Take Care,


Halloween 2019 The Flood. The End


They found the apartment complex three blocks away. It also had not been repaired, yet not demolished. The front door was open, as if someone was expecting them.

“Sixth floor, right turn at the top of the stairs, we used to race up the stairs trying to beat the elevator, Daddy carrying us both, but Mom always got there way ahead of us,” Ana said.

“I don’t remember that.” Bella said.

“Let’s go find out if Michael does,” Paula suggested, and they entered the building.

The stairway was totally dark and the sisters walked up the steps first, holding hands. Paula walked behind them and said, “Nothing that speaks to you first will harm you. They are weak and can only frighten you. Do not allow them inside your mind!”

The sisters closed their eyes and counted steps. Eight steps, turn, eight steps, turn, eight steps, turn, with a larger flat area at each floor. They heard voices, the voices of children now, screaming at them, “Go away!” the voices yelled, “You abandoned him!” “You left him alone!” but the sisters kept going, and they heard the steps of Paula behind them. There was nothing else but the sound of the voices and the blackness of the steps.

“This is the sixth floor,” Paula whispered as the sisters stopped. Ana put her hand out and pushed the door of the stairwell and it swung open.

The doors to all the apartments were open, allowing light to flood into the building. The women blinked at the brightness. “Which one did you live in, Bella?” Paula asked.

“This way,” Bella whispered. “Something is wrong here. This place. I remember it. But something is wrong.”

“I feel it,” Ana said.

“Here,” Bella said. “This one.”

“Is this the apartment where your parents lived?” asked Paula.

“Yes,” Bella said and she went through the door. Before Paula could move or speak, Bella closed the door behind her, and Paula heard the click of the lock.

“Come, we have to do this,” Ana told her, “we lived next door.”

“Bella?” Paula asked,

“Michael is here,” Ana said. “and this is the way it has to be done. Come, the apartment next door is where we have to be.”

The apartment was stripped bare, to the concrete walls and floors, and there was nothing inside. The only light was from the open space of the balcony where a glass door might have once stood.

“We have to go out on the balcony,” Ana said. “You have to do as I tell you to do.”

They went out on the balcony and saw Bella walk out on the balcony of the apartment next door. There was a gap between the two balconies, maybe two or three feet, and Paula felt her fear of high places taking over.

“That rail,” Paula said, “it’s corrupt, the metal rusted, it will crumple.”

“Stand there, please,” Ana said and she pointed to a point neat the edge of the balcony, close to the rail closest to the other apartment’s balcony.

“I understand now why we have the same memory, Ana,” Bella called out.

“Yes, I see it, too.” Ana replied.

“What?” Paula looked down and saw the drop of seventy or eighty feet. Her head swam.

“The night of the flood,” Ana began, “we came out here on the balconies, Bella was standing right there where she is standing now, and she looked over to this balcony. I was standing where you are standing now, Paula. We were tiny children, no more than three years old. But my memory is of seeing a child, an infant, and Bella’s memory is the same. I always assumed we remembered each other. But Bella’s memory is of me being picked up by Michael, and my memory is of Bella being picked up by Michael. Both of our memories are of Michael, picking a baby up, someone standing where I am right now.”

“I don’t understand,” Paula said.

“Michael was my brother,” Bella called out. “And we both loved Ana. I remember this, but there was something else.”

“Neither Bella nor Michael were born of the same blood as I,” Ana said, “but Michael always loved is both equally.”

“Because he loved someone else, much more,” Michael said as he walked out on the balcony with Ana and Paula.

“I’m surprised you made it this far,” Michael said. “I’ve done terrible things to buy the allegiance of many creatures. They should have gotten to you before you left Georgia.”

“Those who helped us did so out of a need to help others,” Paula told him, “that cannot be bought.”

“You had to be taken,” Michael said, “for the ritual to work. You could not come here freely. And the ritual would be worthless unless you were both adults. It’s Halloween night, and if I cannot bring her back tonight I must wait another year. I am tired of waiting.”

“Who?” Paula asked.

“My sister,” Ana replied. “My twin.”

“Yes,” replied Bella. “I remember now.”

“The night of the flood we were told not to come out on the balcony but we did anyway. The rain had stopped, but the waters were rising ever faster.” Ana said.

“We were afraid,” Bella said, “we children, that we would be separated. Ana and I shared a bond, even then, and we both shared that bond with…”

“Dana,” Michael snarled. “Only Ana refused to share her with me. Ana did things, even as a small child, to keep Dana and I apart.”

“You were six,” Paula said, “and she was three?”

“I felt it,” Michael said, “we were meant to be together, even at birth I waited for her.”

“Dana knew Michael’s jealousy was toxic, even as a small child.” Ana said. “And the night of the flood, as our parents made ready for our escape from the flood, Michael took Dana.”

“I thought I was taking you, she pretended to be you,” Michael screamed. “I threw her off the balcony to get her for myself. But she pretended to be you.”

“You all were little kids,” Paula said, “there’s no way you had these feelings and memories.”

“We were always different,” Bella said, “we were always more in tune with the world around us than other kids, or even other adults.”

“But now, if I kill you both, and of course, you too,” Michael grinned at Paula, I can bring her back. She will live in Ana’s body, and the rest of you can wander or leave this earth, but…”

“I never left, Michael,” Ana said. “It’s me, Dana. I’ve had to stay hidden all this time, I didn’t want anyone to know what you did. The night you accidently murdered me, I took over Ana’s body. You have no idea how hard it’s been to stay hidden from you, but we have to get rid of everyone who knows. Our parents still believe I was simply lost in the flood, but now, even they won’t be able to stop…”  Ana stepped towards Michael and pushed him hard. Michael’s arms windmilled, he reached for Ana and missed.

All three women rushed to where the rail had broken. Michael’s body lay on the ground below, motionless.

“He’s dead,” Ana said.

“Yes,” replied Bella.

“And now, his spirit will pay the price for summoning those he used to hunt us.” Paula added. “I think we better leave.”


A little more than three years later, Paula scrolled through her phone, looking at potential renters. The sisters were graduating in a couple of weeks and would be gone. Then again, Paula felt that any other set of tenants might be. . . boring. Perhaps, yes, maybe, it was time. The witch had offered her a place in her house, and the two of them were getting closer to being friends than she had ever hoped.

“You want to move to the river, Dana?” Paula asked the large black cat that she had picked up after Brody died last year. Had Dana, the dead sister,  haunted her sisters, and Michael all these years unnoticed, or had Dana returned to the right place at the right time? Or had Ana been faking it until she could get Michael to let his guard down. She might not ever know. They had never spoken of it again.

“Let’s go down to the river, cat,” Paula said, “and see if we can be of some use to the living there.”




Halloween 2019 The Flood Part Seven


It took four long hours to get to New Orleans, but somehow, they lurched and sputtered their way until they reached the city. All three women were slightly seasick from the effort.  They took a very long lunch and decided to keep to the back roads, and out of sight as much as possible.

“Where are we going now?” asked Paula.

“We really don’t know,” replied Ana, “we have to make it back to the apartment building where we once lived. We can sense it, almost smell it, but at the same time, until we are actually standing in front of the place it all began, we won’t know that we’re there.”

“Let’s take a right at the next light,” Bella offered.

“The last time we were there we were infants escaping from a flooded city with our parents, in rubber boats. There were so many people trapped by the water, and so many people who lost their humanity and some who lost their lives.” Ana said.

“Stop!” Bella said loudly. “I remember that building.”

The edifice was a decaying monster at the edge of town. Windblown and battered by storms, it had never been repaired and never been torn down. The windows were boarded up, but the barricade that shuttered the front door had been removed by the homeless people in town.

“We sheltered in the third floor of that building until the Red Cross came. There were many people who were there, and some never left. They thought it was safe, but the water rose.” Ana whispered.

“I remember,” Belle said.

“Then we are close?” asked Paula.


They entered the lobby of the building as rat scurried away and pigeons cooed overhead. The first three floors of the building had collapsed into rubble, and going further meant climbing over the debris.

“Something was wrong,” Ana said. “When we arrived here. Something was wrong. Someone was missing.”

“I remember,” Bella said.

“Our parents where here, Michael was here,” Ana looked around. “We stayed on the fourth floor, it was crowded, people were screaming and crying, and it was dark. Some people had flashlights.”

“Yes,” said Bella.

“You should not have returned to this place,” a man’s voice called from above. “You should have forgotten everything, and stayed away. This is New Orleans. The dead are buried above ground to keep their souls from leaving. Everyone who dies here stays.”

“Lies,” Paula called back. “Lies and more lies. You cannot frighten us. If you had more than your voice you wouldn’t bother to speak.”

“I was shot in the head while trying to get my baby’s clothes out of our apartment. They called me a looter. I was thrown into the water and my family never heard from me again.” The man said, and they could hear him making his way down, jumping from floor to floor. “Now people like you who have lost so little return to find what? Justice in some fashion? The pieces of a puzzle?” the man stepped out into the light and all three women recoiled. The top part of his head was missing.

“Why are so many trying to stop these girls from coming here?” Paula demanded. “Why is it so important for them to stay away? Who is afraid of what they will find? What will they find?”

“’Lies and more lies’” the man laughed. “You know what they’re looking for. They know. Everybody knows why they’re here. The dead don’t leave this city. The drowned don’t drift downstream. You brought them here to find out the truth, but what is the truth? I got shot trying to steal a widescreen, or I got shot trying to help my people. What makes you think the dead are more honest than the living?” He stepped back into the shadows and backed away.

“You girls go on back home now,” he called as he slipped away. “You know the truth. Live with it. I got to live with the idea that my people won’t know what happened to me. You don’t go back to the living once you’re dead, you know better than that, over here. They got to move on, and I know I should too, but there’s something I ain’t done, maybe this is it. But I was helping my people, I was getting clothes for the baby. I was doing right, but after I got all I could there was more just sitting there. I heard the voices of those that didn’t make it telling me I could have it. They knew where the snipers were and led me into the sights of those Army rifles. Yeah, yeah, most people that linger are trying to make things right but how they see the world set right ain’t like it ought to be, and I’m dead proof of that. You don’t belong here. I don’t either. Maybe if you leave I will, too. But you know the truth. You know why this is happening.” The man stopped speaking and they were about to turn and leave when he continued.

“Don’t hold up living because you remember the dead,” he told them, “that’s why we never go back. That’s why you ought’a leave now.”


They made their way back to the car but Ana stopped when she got to the door. “I think we should walk from here. It’s a few blocks, but we need to let them know we aren’t afraid. We go into this fearless and it will make them leave us alone. I’m through running. I’m done being scared of what was and what might happen. Let them come. Let’s face them. Let’s go find out why this is happening, and who is behind it all.”

“Okay,” Bella replied. “I’m with you.”

“I think it’s a mistake, but from what I’ve learned today, not going in like this might be worse.” Paula replied. “Let’s roll.”


End seven.


Halloween 2019 The Flood Part Six

Sadie took a branch from the fire and held it over her head.  The words she spoke were loud, echoing, and harsh. The sisters flinched at the noise, but Paula noticed that Sadie was not done. The witch thrust the stick into the river and steam rose from it, as if the water was boiling. Sadie withdrew the stick and fog issued from the river like blood from a wound. The fog boiled out, thicker, heavier, and Paula saw there were many places in the river now, all of them getting more and more dense.

“I have asked for help,” Sadie whispered, “there are answers to my call.”

The fog totally enveloped the river, and the land surrounding the bank. Neither the sisters nor Paula could see anything.

“Come, it is safe to travel in this now,” Sadie said, and from the stick a low light appeared, glowing red like a coal. The cat lead the way, and the dog followed.

“We’re walking on the river?” Paula asked, and immediately wished she had not spoken.

“The river is carrying us,” Sadie replied. “Do not speak to anyone you see! Do not answer any voice! Do not cringe from any act that is shown!”

They heard screams, of men and of women, and they heard children crying. A man splashed through the water, his eyes wide, his face contorted, but something dragged him back to the bank. There were the sounds of people singing, Gospel music, and they saw the glow of a fire, and a body hanging from a tree near it, they saw a bridge, and watched as a body fell from the bridge but there was no sound of it hitting the water.

“Look!” whispered Bella, “under the water! I see people down there!”

And indeed, when they looked down under their feet they saw a crowd of people, unrecognizable, faceless, blurry, yet still human, as if the people were just a few feet underneath where they stood.

“Those are the lost ones. The souls who refuse to rest. Murdered, abandoned, wronged in their own lives, they seek not revenge, no, why would they do that? They seek to ease your passage, and prevent more wrong. They seek to thwart evil. Will our quest be enough? Will your lives, if saved, offer them solace? Do not ask! Speak no more!”

The fog roiled and swirled in front of them but total blackness followed. Sadie cried aloud, strong and powerful words, and there were many answers from either side of the river, now totally hidden from view. The sisters clasped hands and closed their eyes, and when they opened them again, the fog was totally gone.


There were lights, city lights, and there was the smell of salt air. Sadie was gone, as was the river, and the sounds, and the fog. Instead, a young man stood in front of them.

“Welcome to Africatown,” the man said.

“We’re in Africa?” Paula asked.

“No, Mobile Alabama,” the man replied, “you were brought here by many who deemed your lives worthy of saving, for those who oppose you are very evil. It is here that the last slaves to be brought to America settled, and have lived for many generations. But you cannot stay. There is a truck waiting. From here you will be taken to New Orleans. Those who have pursued you now realize they have underestimated, uh, the situation. That mistake will not be granted to you again. You must hurry. At this point, you are far ahead, but there is no guarantee that you will gain the shores of the Mississippi before you are caught.”

The man led them to a truck, old and dilapidated, and helped them get into the back. He pulled a tarp over the back of the truck and tied it down. “There is food and water aplenty,” he told them, “your next stop will be in one hour, after you are safely on the road. After that, there will be little time for rest. Bella pulled the tarp back in time to see the first ray of sunlight come through the clouds, and the man disappeared with the light.

“Mary Turner was black, the man who helped up onto the truck was black, do all black people become ghosts or something?” Bella asked.

“No, Bella,” Paula replied, “those who have died in the cause of injustice may or may not linger. Mostly, those who are treated harshly by those around them are the young, the old, and the poor. The poor are mistreated for most of their lives, and many suffer in silence, and most of those leave this realm as soon as they can. But the voices from the shores of the river, those under the water who carried us, mostly they are the very poor who have lived in this land, and who were abused by those with more power. The last slaves of Mobile clearly heard of us, and reached out to bring us here. Mary might have spoken for us, or they might have had reasons we cannot know yet. But the forces that follow us are powerful, and it is usually the very poor, and the very weakest, who will give the most of what they have to save strangers, while those with power, and those with much, horde their wealth, and will punish any who stray near it. It has always been so, as long as there is money, there will be greed. There will always be someone with the power to hurt others, and they will.”

They rode in silence until the truck stopped and they were allowed to walk around a bit, and stretch their legs. Their driver did not speak to them but as they stood watching, he disappeared as if he were made of smoke. Paula got into the cab of the truck then called out.

“Can either of you drive a stick shift?” Paula asked.

“No,” replied Bella.

“A what?” Ana asked.


End six



Halloween 2019 The Flood Part Five

The trio set out for New Orleans, from Savannah, at dawn. The sky was ablaze with gold and red.

“Red in the morning, Sailors take warning,” Paula quipped.

“I doubt we’ll be doing much sailing today, or any other day.” Bella countered wryly.

The road lead south, down I-95 to Brunswick, and then west, on US 82, to Waycross, and then continued west on US 84. There were pine trees and cypress swamps, but not much traffic. They took turns driving, with one of them able to stretch out on the backseat of the car to nap, but no one could sleep.

“We need gas, and I could use a bite to eat,” Paula said to no one in particular. Bella had been daydreaming. They had come into the town of Valdosta, and she had wondered about the old brick building downtown, and how they came to be built.

“I have to pee,” Bella said and Paula pulled over to a convenience store with bright lights and four rows of gas pumps. There was a smoothie shop there, as well as a fast food joint. It looked like a miniature strip mall. Bella went in and discovered the whole store was awash in commercialism. There were signs screaming about sales and specials and two for one deals. The bathroom was all the way in the back of the store, of course, and Bella knew this was no accident. Thankfully, the bathroom was clean, well lit, and smelled of recently maintenance. Bella opened one of the stalls to find a woman standing behind the door. She was a young black woman but she was covered in blood. There were bleeding wounds all over her body and blood gushed from her stomach.

“I’m Mary,” the woman said as Bella took a step back and stifled a scream. “I see you know me as I am. We have to talk. They’re waiting for you by the river, but I can get you past them.” Suddenly, Mary’s body was whole, and there was no blood anywhere.

“Okay,” Bella managed to say, but she really had to pee now.


“This is Mary Turner,” Bella said as she and Mary got into the car, “she was killed over one hundred years ago.”

“Murdered,” Mary corrected.

“Lynched, I believe,” Paula said as she looked back from the driver’s seat. “No one was brought to justice for your death, either.”

“Or that of my husband or my son,” Mary said, “but right now the three of you are in danger.”

“Is it more immediate than the danger behind us?” asked Ana.

“They’re waiting for you up ahead,” Mary said. “They know what path you’re taking and hope to cause some sort of traffic accident and kill you once you’re on foot.”

“Do you know a way around them?” Ana asked.

“Yes, those who oppose you are strong, but they cannot reach out against you inside the River Witch’s domain. We’ll pin them down by allowing them to know you’re close. Then we’ll confuse them as to where you’re headed next.” Mary explained.

“And we can trust you how?” Paula asked.

“Because if they wanted to ambush us they wouldn’t have sent anyone to lead us into where we were already going.” Ana said.

“Mary feels right,” Bella said at the same time.

“I drifted downstream after what happened to us,” Mary told them. “I took up at the bridge because I felt the witch there. She led me in, and asked that I leave, to find rest, but I wanted to help, in small ways if I could. They people started calling it “Spook Bridge” because good things happened, and that scared people. “

“Can we cross Spook Bridge?” Paula asked.

“No, it is not travel worthy,” Mary told them. “The witch will take us to the Spring, down in Florida, and you will be given safer transportation.”

“Why won’t they follow us?” Paula asked.

“They cannot,” Mary said with a smile. “They realize the witch calls the river home, but the road on the other side belongs to a Druid. He will hinder them as he can, and he can. They will sense the trap, certainly, but to go around is to lose much time, and they will.”

They drove down a paved road that looked all but abandoned, and turned off another than looked worse. That road led to a dirt road, which eventually turned into a path, and that path led to a small house, with odd sculptures in the yard. The sculptures were of wood, and represented animals; there was a large cat, a wolfish looking dog, an eagle, and an animal that resembled a snake, but it had small legs. They then saw a small person tending a fire near the edge of the river.

“Do not speak to the witch!” Mary warned. “The spell she casts may require silence. When she speaks do not interrupt. She is a kindly soul, but this is a trial for her, and she will demand only silence as payment.”

“Will you introduce us?” Ana asked, but Mary had disappeared.

They turned the car off and approached the fire, silently, Ana and Bella holding hands, and Paula walking behind them. As they neared the fire they could still make out no features of the witch, if she was young or old, black or white, or anything, but she was a small person, as if she were a young teen. They heard voices swirling in the wind, but there was no one else there. A large dog, furry yet well groomed came out of the woods followed by an orange cat that beside any other animal would have looked huge. The witch then spoke:

“My cards tell me your protector reaches out to you, and that those who would harm you feel that reach, and they mean to stop you from your path. Evil needs no reason, it despises reason, just as it despises love, but your protector is not without friends, and acts out of love. That is a call many will answer for no other reason that it is what we do. The Earth needs humans who love, and there are so very few who do.”  The witch turned and suddenly her face was clear. She was a very pale woman, who might have been thirty, or eighty, for even though her face was lined, she wore a large smile. “My name is Sadie. I am the witch of this part of the river, as it allows me to be. I will help you. You need food. And you need rest. Before the sun rises you must be on your way, and before noon tomorrow you must be on the road again, and travel fast. Those who hunt you know your destination, and they mean to murder you.”


End five.