Unpacking your clothes, keepsakes and family pictures can be done a little at a time over the course of some weeks. It makes you feel you’ve moved on however still very attached to the suitcase and what it represents, a home that you once knew. It didn’t even feel foreign to Sandra until she flipped through channels on the television and realized she didn’t understand anything they were saying. She had chosen to stay indoors mostly because exploring the small military post just seemed like an exhausting and lonely task.
Her oldest daughter was in kindergarten and she was accompanied throughout the day by Mia, who had recently learned to walk and was now tackling running without really bending her knees. Soon it would be lunch hour, where most of the soldiers in her husband’s unit would go home and enjoy lunch with the family. “Mia, almost time for daddy!” shouted Sandra. This would excite Mia and they washed their hands from whatever messy playtime Mia and her mommy got into.Like clockwork, Sandra’s husband Andrew entered the door.
Lunch was filled with the television as ambiance, Mia on daddy’s lap and Sandra asking about his day so far. Andrew stayed limited to speak about work except telling her what new assignments he’d been placed on. When Andrew journeyed upstairs, his tone of voice changed to annoyed.
“Mia did you go into daddy’s closet and put jelly on my uniform? ” Mia heard the change of tone in her father’s voice and scattered into the kitchen. Sandra ran upstairs to see what secret bad thing had Mia gotten into again.
“I’m so sorry. I guess she got into it when I was doing the laundry. I’ll wash it, babe.”
“No, don’t wash it. It has to be dry-cleaned only but I don’t get off work in time for the cleaners. Hey, could you take it for me today, I’m gonna need it for tomorrow? I can pick it up in the morning.”
Sandra hated to think about venturing into the depths of the post. The look on her face must have made her husband pretty upset.
“Look Sandra, you can’t just stay inside the house all day. I know Germany is a long way from home, but you have to mingle a little. Everyone else is a long way from home too. It’ll do you guys some good, stretch your legs, get some air, see some new sights. You can’t stay cooped up in here, it’s not healthy!”
Sandra agreed, because she knew her husband was ultimately right and rightfully angry. “No problem, babe, Mia and I will run this errand and take in the sights, right Mia?” Mia made clanging sounds in the kitchen indicating she’d found something of interest to take apart. The family passed around goodbye kisses as daddy had to return to work.
“Thanks Sandra, I’m glad you’re trying for me.” Once outdoors, Andrew put on his uniform hat and was gone again. Sandra picked up the uniform and looked at Mia then let loose a groan.
“Well Mia, we can do this!” Mia ran to her mother with chocolate hands and a spatula from the kitchen table.
Since Sandra didn’t refer to herself as domestic, when it came to doing chores, running errands or even cooking she thought this was the first step to her ‘June Cleaver’ lifestyle. She wore her comfortable shoes, put Mia into an umbrella stroller, put his uniform underneath and off they went. She saw soldiers everywhere and Mia was pointing at each one saying, “Daddy!”
“No Mia, not daddy, but a soldier like daddy.”
They took in all the sights along the way and finally arrived at the dry-cleaners. It looked almost vacant and had a bell that rang when you entered. Sandra waited for a moment then she called out, “Hello, anyone here?” Just then she got a tap on the shoulder that startled her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to give you a scare. How are you and what can I do for you?” The voice Sandra was hearing was coming from behind her. It was a woman in her fifties dressed in civilian clothing, with a heavy German accent.
“Oh yea, I was dropping this off and my husband would be in tomorrow to get it.” The lady looked it over and began to write.
“You new here, huh? Is that your baby?”
“Um yea well, I’m not brand new I just don’t come out so often I guess.” Sandra looked startled to find out the woman would know who was new or not with all the people who must come and go on post. The lady ripped off a piece of paper and gave it to Sandra.
“This is the receipt for when your husband comes in to pick it up. He has to have this and it cost five dollars. Where are you living?” The lady didn’t show many facial expressions and didn’t try to make funny kid faces with Mia like so many adults did.
“We live in the duplexes down the road. Mia and I walked up to see some sights. Like I said, we don’t get out so much and my husband thinks it would be good for us. It’s just I guess I hadn’t felt up to getting around much.”
“You like what you see in Germany? You have been here before, yes?”
“Actually this is my first time in Europe. I’m just here with my husband until his tour is over.” Sandra looked at her watch. Well we have to run, I don’t wanna take too long to see sights, and I have start dinner soon.” As she turned Mia’s stroller to go out the door, she heard the strange older woman say something.
“You are not new to this country.” However when she cracked the door to ask the woman what it was she meant by that, she had disappeared into wherever she’d come from in the first place.
Sandra shrugged off the awkward feeling the old woman had given her. She just thought she was being weird because she had not submerged herself into the culture and didn’t know what to make of their customs. As she strolled off the post, she followed a long, narrow street that lead into a small town. The names of places seemed as if someone had scrambled all twenty-six letters of the alphabet across each store. There was a cathedral that had such beautiful architecture that she felt obligated to investigate it.
When she went to the steps of the church she leaned back and looked at the top where there was a large brass bell. The look of the cathedral made her heart race and Mia started to cry. Sandra gave Mia a few travel snacks and turned to explore other places along the cobblestone streets. As she was walking she got the urge to sometimes run, or look over her shoulder as if people were watching her.
“I really need to get out more, I’m going crazy.” She strolled Mia into a corner store and thought she’d get something that resembled bottled water. The man at the cash register looked at Sandra in the strangest way, as though she was familiar. She gave him five Euros for the water she’d gotten and then decided to say ‘thank you’ in German.
“Danke.” The man quickly gave her the change for the drink and never muttered a word to Sandra. He picked up a phone and dialed quickly as though Sandra had done something wrong. She decided that she’d had all the tourism she could have in one day.
Everyone seemed odd and the scenery made her feel uneasy. As she walked with Mia who was now falling asleep, she noticed a trinket shop. What better way to show her husband she had actually went out and discovered new things than to buy him a German novelty item.
She saw so many beer steins and ceramic animals and people. She thought the perfect gift for Andrew would be a nice beer stein which symbolized her new adventure in a new world. As she was checking out an old woman glared at her as she wrapped the stein and put it into the bag.
“Why did you come back?” The woman’s tone had changed and she looked very serious.
“I don’t know who it is that I look like, but I am not German nor have I ever lived or visited here. There must be someone who looks just like me is all. You have a nice day.” Then she exited as fast as possible.
The woman walked to the glass on the inside of the store and watched Sandra leave. Sandra looked at her watch and it was about an hour before she needed to pick up Sparkles from kindergarten. She swiftly walked back onto post. Every now and again she would look behind her. Though she felt slightly safer being back amongst Americans, she still had an uneasy sensation.
Out the corner of her eye was a midnight, black cat. The cat seemed unusual to follow her of all people. Sandra thought cats knew she didn’t care for them. She thought they were lazy and she was highly allergic. She bent over to pick up a rock to throw at the cat and then she tossed it as hard as possible. The cat did the strangest thing; it started to follow her faster. She could not believe she was running from a cat while pushing Mia in the stroller. Soon she turned onto her street and fumbled with the keys. The cat sat across the street hissing and glaring at her. Once she was inside, she looked out of the window only to see the cat staring at the door.
“Get a grip Sandra, cats do not chase people.” She took Mia upstairs and laid her in bed then prepared dinner. In a little while it would be time to get her oldest daughter from school. She thought she’d rest and things would be fine. However, even in rest Sandra experienced some bizarre encounters. While she napped, she had dreams that featured snapshots of a woman that looked like her running through an old town, she was frantic, sweating and in a long, ragged dress. A man was pursuing her relentlessly and in the darkness of an alley and pulled her to the ground. The tied her with a rope.
She woke up suddenly coughing and grabbing at her neck. She ran to check on Mia who was just waking. Sandra turned on the bathroom light then put water on her face. When she gazed closely at her neck she saw red markings. She looked at her watch and realized it was five minutes past time to get Sparkle from school. There was no time to analyze her lucid dreaming, with Mia in hand she ran out the door. Unfortunately she did not see that the black cat was lying on the porch and she tripped and skinned her knee.
“Damn it!” The cat didn’t move very much and though she disliked the creatures she never wanted to hurt one. She saw that Mia was ok and then she looked over at the still animal. She slowly put out her hand to stroke it hopefully an indicator if it was okay. The cat moved ever so slightly and purred as she rubbed its fur. It stroked its fur against her hand and came closer to her.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you fur ball, but you can’t hang out here it’s not safe. I gotta go get Sparkle, how bout if you’re still hanging around when I come back, I’ll give you some milk?” When she arrived back home with Sparkle, she noticed the cat had not gone anywhere, it was as though he understood what she promised.
Sparkle was excited, “Ew, mommy a kitty, can we keep him?”
“He might belong to someone Sparkle and besides cats make mommy sick.”
No matter the forewarning, Sparkle and Mia fed the cat a saucer of milk inside the duplex. Sandra was finishing up dinner yet keeping an eye on the mysterious feline. She didn’t know why she ran away from such a non-threatening animal as this. The more she stared at the cat and how it played along with the girls, the less she hated it. When Andrew walked in the door she immediately told him about the day’s events.
“Well, aren’t you gonna say something?”
“It’s a lot to take in Sandra. People who say they know you, cats that chase you and weird dreams. I’m just glad you got out and about today.”
“Sandra was angered that the only thing he thought about was her leaving the house. She knew everything had fallen on deaf ears. Night was soon there and Sandra did her nightly check of the house. Mia and Sparkle were in bed sound asleep. As she was picking up toys here and there, she noticed the tail of the cat she’d forgotten was there. She let it stay underneath the chair and turned off the lights. Later after getting in bed she had a bit of a bad attitude. Andrew tried to touch her arm playfully, but she turned over.
“Sandra is this about dinner? I was listening I just don’t know what you want me to say. I mean let’s look at the bright side; you found the one cat that you’re not allergic to right?” Though she didn’t want to agree with her husband she recognized he was right. She thought about what she needed to do in the morning. The chore of putting away all the dishes seemed exhausting but she would definitely get to it. Also she wanted to get to the bottom of the dream.
The early morning came and her husband had silently gone out the duplex to take part in his unit’s physical training. He would return an hour later and so Sandra stumbled to the kitchen to make breakfast and then she would need to wake Sparkle to get ready for class. Rubbing her eyes and switching on the light, the odd, midnight black cat jumped off of the kitchen counter and curled at her feet. This caught Sandra off guard and she clutched her chest and swore.
“Damn it, I forgot to throw you out of the house cat. You got a freebie last night.” When Sandra looked up she had an amazing surprise. All of her cabinets and drawers in the kitchen were opened and all of the dishes that were in the boxes were now in their proper places. She looked in amazement. Sparkle was now downstairs opening the refrigerator for her morning water routine.
“Ew, pretty momma. It’s so clean!” Sparkle was admiring the neatly stacked dishes.
“Sparkles, daddy was busy, huh? I didn’t even hear him clanging things. Good job for daddy.”
The morning continued, Mia and Sparkle asked for permission to leave breakfast earlier than usual. Sandra granted their wishes, not so pleased that the motive was to play with the fur ball that they now had named ‘Midnight’. She knew that he would need to leave so the girls wouldn’t become attached. Andrew had returned and kissed all the ladies of the house. He then rushed upstairs to shower. Mia was put into the stroller and they walked up the street to drop Sparkle at school. While she returned she saw a neighbor.
“Hey, Sara how are you and the little one?” A lady dressed in a sweat suit, hair in a ponytail and jogging greeted them most mornings. She never got their names correct.
“We’re doing well and you?” Sandra really didn’t like this lady very much. She only known of her for the six months she’d lived in Germany but for some reason she didn’t like her much.
“How is Andrew? Tell him not to work so hard and come over sometimes, we love company!” She never remembered their names but always recalled her husband’s name and that added to the dislike of the ‘jogging lady’. The conversations were short and she usually added some sarcastic remark before smiling and waving bye.
“Andrew is Andrew, well we gotta run…”
“Ah but you aren’t literally running that would be me! Did you start working?
Um no, haven’t settled in yet I guess.”
“Oh what are you waiting for? It’ll get you out of the house and you even could work with me! I’ll see what’s out there for you and let you know. Just shoot me a resume to get started. I’ll see you!” Then she ran a little faster than before until she was out of sight.
As she arrived inside her home and unstrapped Mia from the stroller, she heard her husband had arrived home. She surrounded Mia with toys and quickly ran upstairs to see Andrew. He was putting on his boots and was already in uniform. They gave each other the morning kiss and she hugged him tightly.
“Wow, what a change from last night, I do something good?” Andrew asked intriguingly.
“You didn’t have to put them away all by yourself, I was gonna do it eventually, but thanks!”
Andrew looked confused as he stood to look over his uniform. “Put what away? I haven’t done anything, I wish I had now though.”
“Stop kidding I know you put away all the dishes and stuff in the kitchen last this morning.”
“You must have done that, baby I was running late this morning. I overslept, the alarm didn’t go off. Got yelled at by my squad leader. You just forgot is all. It happens.” He kissed her forehead and ran down the steps to kiss Mia. Sandra felt dizzy and she her eyes where wide. She closed the door behind her husband and locked it. She then stood in the kitchen and looked at the dishes. Realizing that she must have done it, they were all in places she would have put them, even if her husband had done this there was no way he would put them where she wanted without asking her.
“I must be losing my mind, I must be sick with some German flu. I think people are following me, people seem to be gawking at me strangely everywhere I go and a cat that I’m not allergic to chases me. I must be insane or dying.”
She quickly strapped Mia into the stroller and was headed up the road to the troops’ medical clinic. She wanted to be certain that she was fine. As she exited, she saw the wife of the soldier next to her duplex sitting on the porch watching her son play.
“Hi it’s Sandra right?” The bubbly neighbor smiled. Sandra had seen this female on more than a few occasions and she actually thought she seemed kinder than the rest of the annoying folks she had met around the post.
“Um, yes that’s right. Your name is Mary?” Sandra dropped her keys as she fumbled to quickly lock the door.
“You okay? I don’t see much of you guys.” She picked up the keys and handed them to Sandra.
“Oh, I’m just going to the clinic, I might be coming down with something.”
“Yea, it’s a new country, new things to get sick from. I hope you feel better soon.” Sandra noticed the lady was shuffling through a deck of tarot cards. Mary seemed very matter of fact and laid back and always had a smile or kind words. She felt badly for not staying to talk to her more, but Sandra always feared letting new people know her.
“Well, thanks Mary, I’ll see you when I get back.” Then Sandra quickly walked down the street.
At the clinic after she described her symptoms, the doctor ran a few tests that kept her for hours, but they came back negative. She had a slight ear infection and was given antibiotics, but she was referred to a German doctor for the loss of time she seemed to be experiencing. The doctor’s office was about two miles from the post and since they only had one car she would need to walk. Of course her adventures in town so far had not left her with the best impression.
The doctor had an assistant to come in but once they started to talk then he waved his hand to the assistant to leave. After talking with the six foot three, blonde haired, green eyed doctor in his early forties, there was no evidence of a psychological disturbance so there were no further referrals to any other doctors or tests.
“Well, Miss Jackson, there is no evidence that would suggest any real problems. I will prescribe you sleep medicine. The lost of time is possibly due to the stress you encountered with coming to a new country and finding your way. However you are doing well. I don’t like it when the Americans do not want to learn our language.”
“Okay well thank you.” On the way home she wondered what the strange doctor meant to say she was doing well and he didn’t even know her. It was not as though she did not want to learn the language it just seemed hard. She had picked up Sparkle and was heading back to the duplex and again she saw the neighbor, Mary.
“So, how’d it go? You gonna croak from some weird European disease?” she laughed.
“No, they sent me to Dr. Adler, off post. Then he said take some sleeping pills and I’m fine, so basically its stress or all in my head.”
“His assistant is funny. She translates English wrong at times so it may be psychotic meds, who knows, it’s all in German.” Mary started to pick up toys that surrounded her front porch.
“Well there was an assistant, but she left. Then it was just me and Dr. Adler, his English is pretty good though.” Suddenly Mary looked at Sandra in the strangest way.
“What is it?”
“Well I’ve been on post for at least a year and I don’t recall Dr. Adler ever being able to speak English. He always has an assistant to translate. The assistant said he’s too stubborn to learn to speak English.” Sandra started to listen but knew that Dr. Adler must have been pulling Mary’s leg. She shrugged her off and started to read the medication bottle. Mary took the bottle out of her hand.
“Ah ha, I knew it. You little devil, I didn’t know you could speak German! You should have told me there are some shops that I want to get stuff from but things are so twisted when you sound it out from an English to German dictionary.”
“What are you talking about these words are English, I don’t speak German. My kindergartener speaks more of the language than me!” Just then the jogging lady was trotting down the street and toward the two of them. She peered over at the bottle Mary was now holding.
“My, goodness! Are we having a meeting of the minds? You willing to share those darling little pills, don’t tell my husband but I used to be quite the pill head.” She started to giggle. Sandra held the bottle up to the woman’s eyes.
“You can read this right?”
The jogging lady pulled out an electronic device. “Oh, well now if I could speak this forsaken language I wouldn’t need this handy little pocket translator and of course I would know which pills to ask for from that twisted tongue of a doctor.”
“Yes, him. All he does is spout gibberish and look at me in such a harsh and demeaning sort of way.” Suddenly Mary was escorting the jogging lady off the porch.
“I’m so sorry but Sandra was gonna let the kids play this new game I bought Timothy before the guys get home so, bye. We’ll talk later.” She then grabbed Sandra’s hand and lured the children inside her duplex with the promise of snacks.
Mary had a look on her face like she had just discovered a meteor rock. “We have got to read your cards Missy. I believe something is going on with you. You didn’t know you knew German and you’re neck and that rash and all.” Sandra took off her scarf and saw the rash that resembled a rope really did exists outside of her bathroom mirror.
“Its that damned black cat!” shouted Sandra in a tired and raspy voice.
“Shhh, keep the bad words down. Kids remember? Now what cat? The one that was sleeping on your porch?” Mary poured her a glass of lemonade from the fridge.
“Yes. Well, every since I got to Europe really. I felt like I just really would burst into tears when the plane landed and then sometimes I feel so much anger I think I could hurt someone. I got ghosts in me or demons. I don’t know if it’s cause I’m homesick or just sick, Mary.”
Mary shuffled through her deck of worn tarot cards. She looked very serious and then when she finished she asked Sandra to cut the deck and then she meditated, even over the sounds of three tiny kids playing in the kitchen.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like? I’m washing dishes. I’m getting a read on you. Just be quiet.” Within minutes the room seemed to have fallen silent and the table sort of shook, but Sandra didn’t know if it was the table or her trembling knees underneath. She was about to get up and drag her kids away from this weird and nice lady’s home when Mary started to speak.
“You’re not from this time, you’re from a long ago faraway place and you need to finish what they started. They know you. They’ll come until they take you back.” When Mary opened her eyes three cards lie front side up on the table.
“Whoa! You’re fast I didn’t see you pull from the deck!”
“I didn’t is why. This is the card that tells me something bad is coming but you can stop it. This one tells me you’re powerful but don’t know it and this card, means you have a guide.” Mary’s eyes were darting all over the place. She went to the fridge and pulled out some liquor and poured two glasses. They both drank it and sat there.
“I would say you’re full of horse manure but something you couldn’t have known is that everyone I met yesterday in town said they recognized me. I’m telling the truth when I say I don’t speak German, I haven’t the slightest clue what a ‘guide’ is and I am freaking out! I feel like taking my kids and passport and boarding the next flight to Anywhere, USA!”
Mary gathered the cards and looked at the clocks. “We got two hours before dinner is supposed to be ready, we can throw together something at my place. I know someone who can help us determine what the heck is going on. Grab up the kiddies, meet me at the van.”
They rode the autobahn, as it was referred to in Germany, until they came to another small town with a street filled with shops. Mary parked and they entered a hazy filled shop that contained strong incense and low lighting with a gentle, slow music playing in the background. Sandra held tightly to Sparkle’s hand and Mia’s stroller handle.
“Where are we? Better yet how did you come across this place?” Sandra felt peculiar at best and it seemed as though someone would jump out at any minute and try to sell them a Mogwai.
“Well, I’m a Wiccan. So this is a place I lucked up and found one day when I was lost. Now I think I wasn’t lost, maybe I just hadn’t located you yet.” Mary smiled in her corky way and rang a tiny bell at the checkout counter. An old man came through a narrow hallway and greeted Mary with a heavy German accent.
“Frau Mary und what can I help you with today?” He looked at the children and then over at Sandra. He took off his glasses and peered into her eyes.
“I look at the kinder and then I see you.” Sandra was very uncomfortable with his starring.
“What is it? Why are you searing through my flesh with your creepy old man stare? Mary what is with this guy?” Mary asked the old man what was so interesting.
“Well it looks like I have lived to see the day that Agna has returned. Tell me Frau Mary did you find the guide?” Sandra looked at Mary as though she had not understood a word the old man was talking about.
“I read the cards, the spirits mentioned a guide, but I’m afraid I’m not that far along yet in my studies Herr Schulze. I thought you could help her, she seems to have repressed memories, like she was here before.”
Sandra was feed up with the entire evening. She had folded her arms and raised one eyebrow. “Look, my name is Sandra, not Agna. Agna is an awful name, no sex appeal. Also the only guide I’ve seen is the one for the television shows that make no sense to me. Someone better make the dots connect or I am on the next train to Babenhausen.” The old man started to mix some powders inside a mug and stir them vigorously and then he plucked a hair from Sandra’s head and put it inside the cup.
“You have so much fire inside you, true like Agna, all you have to do is drink this and it will help you remember. You were once a powerful person and our Earth was at peace, but then the others burned alive many of the good ones like you. In the end, they won and built a cathedral in semblance of their victory. Our town is now under those conjures and has been for hundreds of years. Agna’s final conjure was cast before she was slain. She would just return again to reclaim what the others killed for.” Mary’s eyes were widened. She moved in closer to Herr Schulze.
“You mean she used the Lomari conjure? I thought in order to use that you had to not only be a bad ass, but it had to be granted to you.”
The old man smiled and then handed the mug of horrid smells to Sandra. “Bad ass? I assure you she was not evil and yes, the conjure had to be approved and obviously it was. Now drink this and it will all come to you.”
“You must’ve been drinking to think that I’m drinking some unidentified powder and to top it off my hair!” Mia had started to cry and rocking the stroller was no longer doing her any good. It was also a countdown to dinner and Sandra’s ‘I’ve had it’ levels were off the charts.
“Sandra look, you’ve had a crappy past few days and if this could help me understand myself I would drink it too. What do you have to lose at this point? Just drink it down and we can get going.” Mary had a stern and convincing point. How could things get any more confusing? She held her nose and drank the entire vile of nasty concoction. However she waited a few minutes but felt no difference.
“We have to get back now Mary. If I’m to keep any sanity, let’s leave.”
The old timer turned to Mary as the kids were being ushered out of the door by Sandra. “The guide can be any living thing. It travels with her and will warn of danger, you must locate it. Once she is aware you will have little time to stop what is coming. Und Frau Mary you have done well in your studies. You will have to help the new Agna. She will need your help. Go now and bring peace.” As they loaded the van she noticed that Sandra was very silent and the kids were contently playing in the backseat. She seemed tired and she was perspiring heavily.
“Sandra are you okay, you don’t look so good.”
“I think that stuff your crazy friend gave me was laced with something. I think I might be high.” Mary laughed at Sandra’s remark and thought about Herr Schulze using illegal drugs. The thought of it made her laugh out loud.
“We’ll we get something on your belly and you’ll feel tons better. I also think I know who your guide is,” she smirked while she merged onto the autobahn.
“Really, who? Is he cute?” Even serious Sandra laughed to that.
“Well he’s cuddly, dark, and pretty easy to get along with, quiet, cute, green eyes, flexible and likes you a whole lot.” She saw the anticipation in Sandra’s eyes.
“Really dang this guide sounds too hot to be true! Who is it?”
Mary giggled and said, “I believe you two are already acquainted. You know him as Midnight.”
“You are so funny Mary. Ha, Ha. When I get home Midnight shouldn’t be hanging around, I don’t have cat food, the guys are going to be home before we get there and they don’t have any food either.” When Mary looked at the clock on her van’s radio she realized her husband in particular was going to be in a rotten mood if dinner wasn’t on the table and the house was found in disarray.
When the two women pulled up in front of the house, Mary nudged Sandra and then they both unloaded the kids from the van. One car underneath the carport indicated that Mary’s husband was home. Mary then told Sandra that she would knock on her door once dinner was ready.
She took her son and they disappeared behind the duplexes’ brown door. Sandra wanted to just plop onto the sofa and close her eyes for awhile. She put out snacks and toys on the floor next to the sofa, then she turned on the radio for a nice calming atmosphere and then she drifted off to sleep on the arm of the couch while her two girls played.
About an hour later she was awakened by a large thump. Sandra rose up quickly to look for the girls. Mia had fallen asleep on a pillow with a cheese stick in her hand and Sparkle was talking in the kitchen.
“Sparkle who are you talking to honey?” She went into the kitchen to see that Sparkle was carrying on with Midnight, their new pet by way of default. He was on the kitchen table. She picked him up and put him onto the floor.
“Midnight, keep off the tables, that’s unsanitary.” A knock sounded at the front door. She looked at the time and wondered why wasn’t her husband home yet? She ran to look through the peep hole and on the other side of the door stood Mary and her son.
“Hey guys, man I must’ve been tired. I feel brand new after a quick nap. How’s dinner coming?” Mary and her son came inside. Her son quickly played with some toys from the floor and Mia woke up to join him. Mary handed a letter over to Sandra.
“It’s all done. Here, this was sticking in your door when I knocked.” The black cat’s back suddenly arched and he hissed. When Sandra opened the envelope, inside was a tiny piece of folded paper. Though written in German, Sandra was able to read the disturbing message. It read:
Come to the town square or never see Andrew.
She almost fainted. “Oh my God, Mary someone has Andrew. They want me to come to the town square!”
“Should we call the MP’s?”
“No, I’m going to handle this on my own first.” Without hesitation Mary gathered the children and took them into her duplex. She asked her husband to watch them because she needed to run a last minute errand. Mary, Sandra and Midnight loaded into the van and headed into town. It was almost vacant in the town square. Sandra stood in the middle of the cobblestone intersection and looked up toward the cathedral, the bell was ringing and a dark cloud covered the skies. Just then a man arrived dressed in a long dark brown coat, long black boots and a black hat.
“You did it Agna, you actually returned like you said you would. It doesn’t matter. I killed you once, then you can die again.”
“Where is my husband? Where is Andrew?” The man walked closer and then pointed to the cathedral’s tower.
“Your Andrew is up there. You remember don’t you Agna? It’s where I hung you until kicking until your last breath and then burned your body. Everyone feasted well that night.”
“Look I may have used to be that person but I’m not anymore, she really did die. Whatever beef you had with that Agna person is over okay? So let my husband down.” People glared out of the store windows and turned over signs to reveal, ‘CLOSED’. The cat arched his back and hissed, the wind suddenly picked up blowing leaves all over. The cloud had blocked out the sunlight and a chilling air made Mary rub her hands together.
Sandra whispered to Mary, “If you can do anything with that hocus-pocus stuff can you please do something now?”
Sandra needed Mary to distract this mysterious, miserable stranger so that she could run into that cathedral. Mary stepped up and gulped, she had been studying for a moment like this but never thought one would come. She curved one hand over the other and concentrated on the man who was about twenty-feet in front of her.
“From bad, let it turn into grace, from grace let the energy turn into power, let the power overtake havoc, let me rule over havoc.” Mary’s hands started to sweat from an intense glowing light that shot from her hands and knocked her off her feet. The lights burst into the man’s abdomen and then turned into flowers that each contained piranha like teeth. The menacing man wrestled with the tiny biting plants.
Meanwhile afraid of heights, Sandra crawled up a winding staircase that lead up to the belfry where Andrew was dangling over a fifty foot drop. His mouth was gagged and hands tied. She saw that the rope was tied around a lever that was used to sound the bell. Perspiring heavily, she tried to untie the knot. Below Mary pulled to her knees, exhausted and then slapped herself for making such a lame conjure.
The man then balled his fists and hit the ground and the flowers burned and crumbled to the ground. He stood and dusted his jacket. “Is this what you called power? Humans. That was nothing, power is not a cartoon that amuses you or scary little bumps in the night that make you afraid to open the closet. Real power is the air you breathe. Once you control the elements, you will know power.” As he told this to Mary he walked closer and held out his left hand as if he were reeling her in to him. She was gasping for air, but none came. She clawed at her neck and fell to the ground looking for at least one deep breath.
Sandra was lowering the rope slowly to the ground, but the rope slipped and started to fly around wildly and lowered her husband who was now unconscious on the cathedral floor below. She was dangling at the top of the belfry. She was terribly frightened of falling. From the top of the belfry she could see her friend was clutching her throat and moving on the ground slowly. Sandra needed to get down there but it was too far to swing her body toward the other side without the chance she could stick the landing. Meanwhile her husband was moving below, a good sign he would be okay.
Just then the old man from the shop they had visited earlier arrived in a ragged little Volkswagen. He got out of the car and waved his left hand, then made a fist and blew his breath over it. A strong gust of wind followed by a small funnel cloud formed out of thin air and attacked the man in the long coat. Mary was able to breath and crawled out of the funnel’s way. The old man helped her to her feet as she coughed and took in shallow breaths of much needed oxygen.
The man’s long coat was then torn and ragged but he managed to split the tornado in two and pushed it toward a shop in the town square. The shop crumbled and the funnels dispersed. The man dusted his hands and started to laugh.
“So you’re the puppeteer, huh old timer? You’re as tired as that last conjure and if you’ve been teaching this American, then you might as well put a bullet in her head because she’s as dead as you are.” The old man stood in front of Mary and he balled one fist.
“You do not touch this girl. She has nothing to do with your evil. This is not your town or time, you need to move on Ryszard! This town will not go into another century of bullying and cowering from you.” This made the man angry and he stepped closer to the old man.
“This world belongs to me. You’d rather side with the people who would rather see our kind hung from the belfry, set on fire and then they go and pray as though a god would answer to heathens? You are like a foul disease to our people and their ways, you don’t deserve to live..”
“Not all of them are that way, you took powers and ruined their ways of life and thinking. You tortured them and killed them for what? Revenge?” The man’s fury seemed to have elevated the amount of darkness in the skies and now lightening was also an element. Sandra’s hands were slipping and her husband had freed himself of the ropes and gags and was looking for a way to help his dangling wife. The man in the ragged coat put both hands toward the sky and the lightening reacted to him.
“It is no surprise you would want to be one of those monkyes, you married one of the humans. You want to smell like them, talk like them, but you are not them! Our people were born with better destinies. My Sasha is dead and you did nothing! Well do nothing now Schulze.” Ryszard shot lightening from his hands into the belfry and the rope was severed. Sandra fell to the ground below. Mary let out a piercing scream and wanted to run to her but the old man held her back consoling her as she cried.
“You didn’t have to kill her! You and your stupid revenge because someone you loved died. She doesn’t know who she was, she’s not like you anymore!” Mary continued to cry.
“She helped kill my Sasha! She is a murderer of her own kind and I handed her the judgment she deserved…” The old man was furious.
“Sasha was evil and you know it! She and you planned to kill an entire people just because it suited you! Because you became this planet’s judge and juror! You had no right…”
“I had every right and I would do it all over again, in fact I will, starting with precious American Mary and her weak conjures!” The ground started to shake and then a narrow crack in the pavement ran beneath Ryszard. Molted lava bubbled out of the crack and he jumped to the side before he fell into the depths of scorching heat. Out of the cathedral’s doors sauntered Sandra. Her husband ran behind her.
Sandra had a new demeanor, she walked to the man who had started all the troubles and looked at only him. Mary was excited to know her new friend was okay. The old man noticed a new Sandra and he called out to her amongst the chaos.
“The one and only. Mary you can keep calling me Sandra, I rather like it better anyway. Ryszard why is it every time I’m looking down the barrel of a gun, you’re the one at the trigger?” Ryszard stood up and looked more enraged than he had been in a while.
“Agna, the bitch lives? I knew you would try to make an appearance. Murderer of our people, treacherous whore…”
“Get over it! Your wife was accused of genocide and I sat as head of the tribunal council. You were supposed to be banished from this planet that you so hate, but instead you wanted to play, causing all sorts of harm to its inhabitants!”
Ryszard rebutled with a thunderous anger in his tone, “So you kill her? That was your immanent solution? These people called us witches and burned our brethren….”
“They were frightened people thinking their world was coming to an end! They didn’t understand. Sasha was sentenced more than a century ago and then you felt the need to gain revenge through killing me, but I am Agna, head of council and daughter of the House of Rille. Now it’s time you were sentenced.”
Andrew felt the ground tremble and quickly ushered the old man and Mary out of Ryszard’s vicinity. The black cat followed suit. Agna’s hand gathered a ball of light and then it shot out from her palm and filled Ryszard’s body with a heat that expanded his body.
“I have come back to tell you that Earth doesn’t want you anymore, time to go home and serve that time!”
The light imploded and his body vanished into the air. The crack in the ground filled and the lava was sucked back inside the dirt. The cobblestone was still again, each dark cloud dissipated and the sun tried to make its way into the town. The group ran over to Agna and Mary jumped up and down ecstatically.
“Sandra are you still in there or is it just Agna now?”
Sandra laughed. “A little bit of country and rock and roll I guess. I think we won’t see him for a while. I sent him home to be sentenced for all his crimes. The tribunal will no doubt party.” Her husband looked at her and held her hands in his.
“So you are Sandra, but with some new person inside of you too?”
“Well its like I was uploaded with a lot of memories from my past life. I’m still me though.” She looked over at Midnight. “And this is my pet. I don’t know how I could forget you!” Midnight cuddled around her legs. The old man came to Sandra and bowed.
“I am glad you remembered. You have a lot of work to do. We’ve been waiting Agna, I mean Sandra.” He smirked.
Her husband asked a question as they walked toward Mary’s van. “So you’re like a bounty hunter for another planet? You’re not human?”
“Thanks to the Tribunal on our planet, I was sent back to do my job. There are others just as hateful as Ryszard and one by one, they’ll make their debut, I’m sure. I’m still the same person you married Andrew, that hasn’t changed. My memories were dormant for a while.”
The old man said his see you later’s and Mary, Andrew, Sandra and Midnight all got into the van. Sandra owed a lot to her new Wiccan friend.
“Mary, thank you if it had been for your weird ways I….”
Mary interrupted, “Don’t thank me silly, just teach me better conjures.”
Sandra laughed, “Yea, that plant thing was pretty sucky!”
“Well I guess that when you said you got out and did some sight-seeing in town, you weren’t kidding!” Andrew laughed and kissed his wife. The three knew that new and perilous expeditions would soon be a part of their everyday lives.