Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Alison Weatherbee was standing outside the door to room 419 when Eleanor entered the hallway from the roof. “I’m glad you didn’t try to fly away,” Alison looked at the shy timid girl. “Your wings aren’t fully developed yet.”
“I don’t understand how you could have gotten in the building,” Eleanor shivered. “I heard the house-mother lock and bolt the door just minutes ago. When Rhonda Johnson finds out you’re here … when she finds out I’m back … there’s going to be trouble. She’s not a very nice person.”
“But I am,” Alison told her as she opened the apartment door, “and like I said … we are going to be the best of friends.”
Eleanor followed Alison into the apartment and winced when she heard Rhonda’s bedsprings squeak and her enraged voice boom from her bedroom. “You stupid bitch! You have a lot of nerve coming back in here after what you’ve done!”
The bedroom door was flung open with such force the door-knob dented the drywall on the opposite side. Rhonda stood in the opening glaring with both fists clenched. “You’re dead!” she yelled.
Eleanor was terrified, but Alison stood smiling casually running her fingers over a gold colored pendant hanging around her neck. Eleanor closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as Rhonda charged through the doorway like a rampaging bull. Seconds later, Eleanor hadn’t been touched let alone knocked to the ground and Eleanor opened her eyes when she heard Rhonda’s gasp. The sadistic roommate who had bullied her for a week stood back inside her bedroom, this time facing away from the door. “What the hell?” she bellowed like an un-milked cow.
Rhonda turned and charged once again out of her bedroom only to find each time her foot stepped over the threshold she was once again back inside the room she had just left. Rhonda let loose with a vile torrent of profanity. Alison smiled and with a flick of her finger Rhonda’s bedroom door slammed closed. “I’ll have to figure out a way to make her less noisy,” Alison said. “But until then … why don’t you show me around?”
The kitchen, rather the whole apartment, smelled like scorched flesh from when earlier Eleanor had found her beloved Yorkshire Terrier “Tinkerbelle” burned to death inside the microwave oven. The tiny charred body lay at the top of an overflowing garbage can. “One of your pets?” Alison asked when she saw the horror stricken look on her new roommate’s face. The sound of Rhonda’s bedroom door opening and then slamming shut again followed by her outraged cursing continued to echo through the apartment.
“I’ve had her for twelve years,” Eleanor’s helpless tears returned in a torrent. She reached out a trembling hand as if to touch the charred body that she loved so much and then pulled it back. “My mother just died … now I’ve lost everything.”
“Twelve years?” Alison mused as she turned over the burnt carcass with her fingers. “I thought squirrels only lived about ten … and I must say not many girls I know keep them as pets.”
“Squirrel?” Eleanor stopped crying. “But I thought …” She stared at her bed. The satchel purse with air vents on each end that she had hidden the tiny dog in against the dorm rules forbidding animals still lay open on the bed. There was no doubt that Rhonda had discovered her beloved pet.
“Let me out of this #%$%! Bedroom!” Rhonda screamed.
“What did you do with Eleanor’s dog?” Alison called. The door opened and closed twice more, there was a long pause before Rhonda spoke. Her voice was now quieter and under forced control. “The damn thing bit me!” she said. “Vicky Conner came in about the same time and left the door open. Somehow the mutt must have got out of the building.”
“Where did you get the squirrel?” Alison demanded.
“It was just a joke,” Rhonda said. “I wouldn’t really harm any animal. Vicky found it ran over in the street by the park. We thought we’d play a harmless prank.”
“So Tinkerbelle could still be alive?” For the first time in over a week Eleanor felt faint hope.
“I’m sure she is,” Alison said as they headed into the hallway. “But we’d better find her quickly.”
The bedroom door opened once more and although Eleanor didn’t see her move, somehow Rhonda stood glaring, but this time from inside the living room. “Clean this place up,” Alison told Rhonda just before they left. “Three of us have to live here and I hate the smell of overcooked squirrel.”
“Who are you?” Eleanor asked as they walked down a tree-lined street leading to the downtown area adjacent to the university. They had searched the campus grounds thoroughly and finally a student had reported seeing an animal control officer picking up a small dog earlier.
“I’m pretty much just a girl like you,” Alison smiled as peered along the allyways between apartment buildings, “a bit too shy and timid … and I have the same fears and apprehension about confronting people that you have.”
“What you did with Rhonda was amazing,” Eleanor gushed. “The way she was unable to come out of her room was incredible. It was almost as if you had her under some kind of a spell.”
“Do you believe in magic?” Alison asked as she gazed through grey, leafless branches at a large harvest-moon rolling across the night sky.
“I only believed in the bad things that happened to me and my mother ever since my father died,” Eleanor had been staring at the ground as they walked, now she looked up, “… until I met you.”
“My father died when I was younger too,” Alison said. “I think that’s a big reason we were drawn together. My stepfather was okay until he started drinking and then he’d beat my mom. Living in that house was hell. Luckily for me a very old woman named Melania Descombey who lived in my town took me in, and gave me a job. Most of the people in Cloverdale were convinced she was a witch and warned me to stay away. I’ve lived in a spare room of her house for the past two years and it was she who decided that I needed a formal education. I took care of her, and in return, she taught me many useful things.”
“Like how to keep a monster confined to her bedroom?”
“Belief is not just one thing in the universe,” Alison said. “… it is everything.” She again stared up at the moon. “Most all magic is just broadcasting your thoughts … projecting your emotions to others even if they are on the opposite sides of the world. Everyone does it … even you. Sometimes it’s what you don’t say that matters. It works just as well in what you write as in what you say or think.”
“I don’t believe I’ve ever had any talent for magic.” Eleanor gulped. “At least if I did … it didn’t work for me.”
“I don’t believe …,” Alison imitated Eleanor’s quiet voice in a way that gently mocked her companion. “That is why your magic failed!”
“I could tell myself a thousand times that I believe … but I don’t think it would help me,” Eleanor mumbled.
“You can’t whisper I believe and expect anyone else to accept it … let alone a practical person like yourself,” Alison told her. “Try yelling it as loud as you can … and see what happens.”
“Now?” Eleanor trembled as she looked at the dark houses and apartment buildings they were walking past; it was almost midnight.”
“I believe!” Eleanor’s voice was barely above speaking level.
“Louder!” Alison encouraged her.
“I believe!” Eleanor’s voice was a definite shout this time. She hunched her head down into her shoulders and cringed as if expecting angry pajama clad people to come charging out of the buildings.
“Louder!” Alison told her. “This time give it everything you’ve got!”
“I believe!” Eleanor screamed at the top of her lungs. There was ten seconds of dead silence and then both girls giggled as dogs began to howl in the distance. A porch light came on from a house they were passing and two more switched on across the street. “You did it!” Alison yelled as they began to run. “You performed your first magic!”
“What did I do?” Eleanor’s words came out between breathless gasps of excitement.
“You made at least three lights come on without touching them!” Alison laughed.
The city animal shelter was housed in a long cinderblock building on the banks of a wide river. Eleanor and Alison could hear the frantic barking of dogs blocks away before they were close enough to see where the sound came from. A large metal cage hung next to the building attached to an overhead rail that extended far out over the water. The barking of condemned canines mixed with the terrified howls of unwanted cats. “This is how they dispose of surplus animals in this city?” Alison gasped. “Unbelievable!”
“You don’t think Tinkerbelle could be in there do you?”
Alison was unable to give her new friend the assurance she desperately needed; an inner instinct told her something bad was about to happen. The moon had just slipped behind some clouds. Luckily, a battered pickup was parked in the lot and a light was on inside the building.
“Let’s wake-up whoever is inside there and find out,” Alison said. She pounded on the door for over a minute before a bedraggled man dressed in baggy pants and a dirty shirt with the name John Blake embroidered over a torn pocket answered; he smelled of alcohol. “Sorry to wake you up,” Alison said. “But we are looking for a tiny dog that escaped from a college dorm today …”
“A very tiny and very quiet Yorkshire Terrier named Tinkerbelle,” Eleanor added.
John Blake scratched his bald head and frowned as he looked at his watch. “One of them mouse-dogs was picked up yesterday near the college … no collar and no tag.”
“That’s got to be Tinkerbelle!” Eleanor almost cried with happiness. She tried to push past the man … but he blocked her way.
“Ain’t no unwanted animals left inside,” he said pushing her back. “We euthanize all un-adopted dogs and cats that have been held for at least a day at midnight the fifteenth of each month.”
“You call drowning a bunch of helpless cats and dogs in the river euthanizing?”
“I don’t make the laws,” the man said. “If you don’t like something … take it up with the city council!” He slammed the door in their faces.
Eleanor stared in horror at her watch as the second-hand ticked off the last fifteen seconds to midnight. They both heard a rusty groan as a crank turned from somewhere inside the building and the suspended cage swung away from the building and moved out over the water. “Do something!” Eleanor screamed.
Alison looked up helplessly at the cloud covered moon and at the golden pendant she rubbed in her hands. “All power in the universe has to have a source,” she said. “Mine comes from this ancient necklace and it, in return, receives its power from the moon. I’m afraid with opening the dorm buildings front doors and keeping Rhonda in her room, my magical batteries are a bit low!”
The cage containing the terrified animals was now suspended far out over the dark water. A loud clunk was heard when it reached the end of the rail. Eleanor shrieked when Tinkerbelle’s tiny face appeared between the woven wires. Her quiet bark of hope could be heard even over the tumultuous sounds of the others. “She’s wagging her tail,” Eleanor screamed pointing toward the cage. “She thinks I’ve come to save her!”
The metal cable attached to the death trap began to sag. When it was fully played-out a brake would be released and the cage would plunge downward into the river.
“We’ve got to find a way to keep the cage from falling,” Alison screamed. Seconds later she was running toward John Blake’s parked pickup. The door was unlocked but there were no keys in the ignition. She knocked the stick shift lever into neutral and the truck began to roll forward. “Help me!” she called to Eleanor. The two girls managed to push the truck forward until one front tire rested on the coiled cable laying on the ground. With a clunk the man inside the building released the brake but the cage fell only about a foot before it stopped … swinging wide over the dark water while the animals inside yelped in terror.
A half a minute later, the animal shelter door banged open and a furious John Blake came charging out. “I’ll have you both in jail for this!” he yelled as he shoved Eleanor to the ground and climbed inside the truck. Eleanor tried to scream when she heard the truck engine start, but her vocal cords were frozen with fear. Moonlight glistened off from Tinkerbelle’s tiny nose as he gazed at her one last time. Alison stood holding the golden medallion up to the light and furiously rubbed the back of the charm as the moon slowly moved from behind the clouds. John Blake roared the engine and jammed the transmission into reverse. “Please don’t do this!” Eleanor screamed. Her heart went into a spasm when the engine died and then turned over again as Blake tried to re-start it. The starter was spinning slower; Eleanor was hopeful that maybe it wouldn’t fire-up at all when a freezing wind blew across the water and the engine roared to life.
“Demilune!” Alison screamed. “We now have unimaginable evil blocking our efforts!”
“What is a Demilune?” Eleanor felt cold dread run down her spine when she spoke the word.
“Demilune is my mentor Melania Descombey’s nemesis … her opposite,” Alison gasped. “Her most wicked enemy, a marionette brought to life by the dark forces of this world and others!” She pointed out over the slow moving water. What appeared at first to be a small floating log, under the growing moonlight proved to be a puppet, billiard-ball sized eyes rolling in its wooden head as it paddled with swift strokes toward them . Laughter coming from its red bow-painted mouth sounded like the grinding buzz of a saw-mill blade.
“That’s all we need isn’t it?” Eleanor moaned. “As if things aren’t already bad enough!”
“Remember what I told you about a balance in all things,” Alison said. “What others see as a final blow and an end to their efforts just might be our salvation.”
The moon suddenly appeared brighter than ever before and the golden amulet Alison was holding flashed brilliantly … but Eleanor knew it was too late.
At that same time, the truck Blake was driving lurched backward and the metal cable whined as the cage, with the terrified animals in it, plunged toward the dark water.
To be continued …