Penny stares dumbstruck at her husband then looks at the two teens. Her mind struggles between expecting a gunfight and two kids asking questions. The girl and the boy glances at each other. They turn their attention to her.
“Penny?” Joseph asks carefully.
“What is going on?”
“They want to know what happened when… with Chloe.”
Her heart squeezes tight. Penny’s eyes glance over at the photos on the nearby wall. A heartbeat later and she hears the gunfire again. Penny sees the Ty on the ground, blood surrounding his lifeless form.
The woman looks up at her husband’s face. She doesn’t remember sitting down on the stairs. Joseph looks at her with concern.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” She answers. “Just. Just bad memories. Now, why do you want to know about… About Chloe?”
“Maybe I should explain.” The girl says.
Joseph raises a hand, “Let’s get out of the doorway first.”
The boy nods his head. It is then that Penny notices neither teen have taken their focus off of her. The boy appears to be studying her while the girl seems to be mesmerized. Joseph guides them down the hall and into the kitchen. Without being asked, he begins boiling water for tea. The teens remain standing.
“You were saying?” Joseph asks quietly.
“Yes.” The girl finally turns her attention away, “We come here because we must.”
The utter vagueness of her answer drives Penny to the stool. She rubs her head as a headache begins to form.
The boy glances her and she flinches. Then she frowns and the boy shrugs. Finally, the teen turns back to Penny.
“We know something happened to she who you call Chloe. We came to discover what happened and to save her.”
“Save her? She is dead.”
“According to who?”
“The police.” Joseph answers, “They said they found her body among those in a bus crash. Badly burned but dental work…”
“Impossible.” Talon answers, “They would have no records to check against.”
Penny stares at him in shock. She stands up and takes a step forward. Beside her, Joseph stares at them in open shock.
“How did you know that.”
Again the two teens exchange a glance. But it is Ash who answers.
“We also know that Chloe has no medical records, no list of known allergies, and she has never, ever been sick. She doesn’t sunburn and cold weather affects her terribly.”
“We used to call our little reptile.” Joseph says, the water forgotten, “But we never told anyone that she didn’t get sick.”
For the third time, the teens look at one another. A furious exchange of changing facial expression. She looks back and forth. Finally, Penny looks to her husband. He is just as bewildered by the silent argument they are having.
Finally, Talon closes his eyes and nods his head.
Ash takes a deep breath and says slowly.
“Because she wasn’t human.”
Hannah stalks her office. Situated in the tallest building in town, she has the perfect view of the town she is in charge of. Not as famous as some other tourists destination, her small domain was slowly growing. Her father would have been proud.
The small woman flips the television on.
“In recent news, the disappearance of one Chloe Ziegler is still under investigation. The Mayor maintains that the young girl’s death was a tragedy but an accident. Penny Ziegler, mother of Chloe Ziegler, continues to seek answers. The town has become divided over the tragic accident. Many want to put the tragedy behind while others demand answers from the mayor about the accident.”
With an angry snarl, Hannah turns the television off.
But things were falling apart. Just when she finally had an handle. A knock on the door interrupts her thoughts. With a sigh, Hannah remembers the reason why she is at her office late at night. For a moment, she gathers her thoughts and to calm herself.
An older man with a large pot belly enters the office. His eyes scan the office. Satisfied that there is no one else, the man drops into a chair. He stinks of sweat and cigarettes. Hannah’s nose wrinkles at the smell and sight.
“Make yourself at home.”
“Thanks. I will. Got anything to drink?”
“This isn’t a social call.”
“To business then.” He leans forward, barely able to prop himself on his elbows.
“Hannah.” He says with a grin.
She suppresses the urge to shiver at that cold smile. It reminds her of a shark’s smile. It looks friendly but it is a lie.
“What news do you have?”
“You were right. The shooting definitely involved with the Chloe girl. And her husband has put out some feelers now. Asking questions through email to friends in the criminal history and other places that suffer from… disappearances.”
She turns from the man and stares out the window. Her little domain seems so perfect and peaceful during the night.
“What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to put a stop to this. It was bad enough that she was asking questions. Now I got her husband and those two kids asking questions as well.”
He raises an eyebrow, “That Talon and Ash? I backtracked them. They are just kids from the east coast. Got family and friendships going back ten, twelve years for sure. Why are you worried about them?”
“Don’t you worry about they why. Just worry about the fact you have to worry.”
“Hannah.” His voice changes, “What is going on? You brought me in three disappearances ago. I thought you were just some paranoid politician. One that either made those people disappear or were somehow involved.”
She laughs weakly, “You thought that, huh?”
Hannah turns back to him, “You are not wrong. I am involved but I am doing this to protect this town.”
“Which is why I am helping you.” He flexes his right hand, “I still can’t believe it.”
“What do you want me to do though?”
“I am not sure.” She sighs. For a moment she thinks about the events that have transpired, “I need to find out why things have changed. This year has changed and I need to know why if we are to head it off.”
“I understand.” He heaves himself out of the chair, “But no promises.”
“I understand.” Hannah replies.
Sal reaches the door to her office, “This isn’t going to end well. Is it?”
“No. I’m afraid not.”
With a nod, he leaves the office.
Hannah turns her attention once more to the window. The sleeping town has lost its peaceful feeling. To the mayor, every shadow was a deadly trap ready to swallow her up. If she wasn’t careful, and if she didn’t tie up the loose ends, she’ll be lost in those shadows.
A knock at the door interrupts her thoughts.
With a frown, Hannah glances at the door.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me. Sal.”
“Enter. What did you forget?”
The round man squeezes through the door. Hannah is surprised as an icy ball of fear settles into her stomach. Her skin crawls and she has a sudden urge to run. The man’s hands disappear into a pocket. His eyes are strangely blank and focused on her.
“Sal. What are you doing?”
Sal’s hand reappears, holding fast to the object held in his pocket.
“Sal. What is that?” Hannah retreats, her mind desperate to find a weapon, “Sal!”
Sak walks towards her with his arms outstretched, “This is done in the name of the contract. This is done in the name of peace.”
Hannah screams as Sal lunges towards her.
Penny steps back as her head reels from the statement. Joseph laughs lightly but it dies on his lips. Both teens stare intently at them.
“What do you mean she wasn’t human? She is as human as we are.”
“No.” Ash replies, “We’re not.”
At that, Talon holds out his right arm. For a moment, nothing happens. Then bright red lines begin to glow. Interlinking circles form along the length of his arm. Rings encircle his forearm. Red vapor begin to sheaths his arm on a glove of vapor.
A few seconds later, the light vanishes, leaving only the vapor. A moment later, the vapor vanishes all together.
“What was that?” Penny asks quietly.
“We are not human.” He answers, “We are Fae.”
Without missing a beat, Joseph says, “Aren’t you supposed to be short at at the north pole working on toys?”
The teens groan at the statement. Penny slaps Joseph’s arm. He winces. He offers an apologetic smile and shrug.
“Ignoring my husband, what?”
“We Fae avoid humanity. We do not live in this world, merely pass through it. However, we pass quietly and carefully. One such path through your world lies in this city. However, in recent years those traveling through this passage has come to a halt.”
“What?” Joseph asks.
“Ty.” Penny answers, “He said that the people disappearing were strangers. People who would not be noticed if they disappeared. They were Fae?”
Ash nods her head, “We saw their bags. Though humans do not see it, our bags are marked. In case of emergency and we need aid from another. Those who have disappeared have all been Fae.”
“So why are they disappearing?”
“We don’t know.” Talon growls in frustration, “Which is why we were sent. To find out why and put a stop to it.”
“But what does this have to do with Chloe?” Joseph says, “She never just disappeared from us. We always knew where she was.”
“She is one of the few Fae who decided to stay here. However, recently she has ceased sending letters to us. And our people are not returning from this passage. And this is a critical passageway. And we suspect there is foul play.”
“Do you know who?”
To Be Continued…