The trip TO Hidden Springs wasn’t as bad as I was worried it might be. Lumie and I, stuck in the back seat of Aunt Mira’s car together, fought plenty and Papa and Aunt Mira argued quite a bit but we all managed to get to the ferry in one piece after a looooooonnnnnggg drive that started at like 4am. We had stopped for breakfast, and picked up lunch on the run (not complaining about that, fast food burgers and fries were always so delicious!) and now we were getting the car onto the ferry for one of the final rides (cause it was late afternoon already) around the shore to the Springs.
Lumie and I were leaning against the railing, pretending this was a cruise ship. We had seen pics of our dads’ cruise ship trips before we kids were born but had never really gone on them. So we could at least pretend, and so yeah. We did. It was almost two hours anyway but finally the ferry docked and we all got off, and got back into the car.
I had thought we’d be at a hotel but Papa had gotten a tiny cabin for us. We picked up the key and then drove out to the little place. “It’s so cute!” Lumie insisted, pressing her nose (or lack thereof) against the glass. >I heard that, you jerk,< she added and I quickly put my shields up, giggling like a little kid.
We piled out of the car, dragging in the more important stuff. I tripped partway to the door, blushing furiously as I picked myself back up. I didn’t feel so bad since Papa tripped too, when we had gone back for some more of our luggage. We managed to get the rest of our stuff into the cabin without any more mishaps and then Lumie and I took a tour, arguing loudly who got which room since the girls were gonna have one room and the boys in the other. Finally Pa settled the matter by letting Aunt Mira choose, since she had done all the driving. She picked the nicer one and I glowered at Lumie as she happily bounced into the room.
“We have a better view,” I decided, dumping my stuff on the smaller bed. “Can we have pizza for dinner?”
Pa laughed. “Maybe. I need to call your dad first.”
I tapped mentally until Lumie’s shields dropped. >HEY! Ask Aunt Mira for pizza,< I told Lumie as I examined the small wardrobe. Lumie agreed that that was a great idea and between the two of us we got the adults to agree.
Papa talked to Dad a long time though. They were rarely apart for long periods of time so I knew Pa was a bit sad about having to be away from Dad for a few nights. I left him to have some private time and then went outside to look around the area. Hidden Springs was super pretty. I could see why people would want to be here. I knew there was some sort of healing power mystique to this area. Soon Lumie joined me and we just sorta stood there, staring at the scenery.
>We should go on hikes,< she told me. >Think we can get Pa into one?<
I shook my head, grinning at the thought. >He barely made it into the house–<
>Shut it!< But I couldn’t help a smile since it was true. >Does this place feel a bit li–<
>–ke Moonlight Falls?< she finished with me and we exchanged looks. >Yeah. Every place I’ve gone to feels different. But I think this is one that is fairly close to home…< She didn’t need to ask what I thought on the matter, since she already knew. I felt it too. Most places either of us had been had this very weird vibe. Except Hidden Springs was less weird than most. Not the same as home, but not as different as most.
>You’re right,< I told her when she struck on the idea that maybe this place was one of the magically concentrated areas Dad talked about sometimes. We knew Moonlight Falls had a heavy concentration of magic or whatever the heck it was, and everywhere else… well, didn’t. But Hidden Springs had a sorta… like… well, it was like if Moonlight Falls’s concentration was sticking your hand in Jell-O, and everyone else was sticking your hand in water, this was like sticking your hand in pudding.
>Is everything food to you?< Lumie cut off my thoughts.
>Always. I like food. I want pizza. Where’s pizza. Pizza pizza pizza p–<
“Ugh,” she said and went back inside.
“ANOTHER POINT TO ME!” I shouted after her before going in as well.
We did have pizza that night and then didn’t do much since the adults were tired from the drive, and Papa didn’t want us going too far from the house on our own. Lumie and I complained but mostly silently to each other. When it was time for bed I pretty much hit the hay right away but Pa stayed up a bit late, mostly just standing by his bed and staring at it.
“You all right?” I asked, peering out from under the thin blanket.
“Yeah,” he said not very convincingly.
I closed one eye and then rolled over, yanking the pillow over my head. “Watcher, Pa, it’s only a couple nights and it’s not even been a day and you talked to him earlier.”
He sniffled slightly then I heard creaking as he got into bed. “Yeah.”
If I ever get all piney for someone like that, I hope someone smacks me, I thought to myself. Unfortunately as I wasn’t really concentrating on keeping my sister out, she heard that and responded with, >Don’t worry about that. You’re a complete dork, no girl would want you.<
I glared at the wall that separated the bedrooms. >Wow. Thanks. You’re so nice. Like any guy would want you, Voldemort.<
>HEY!< she screamed in my head and I had to smother my laughter. >I have a date when we get back anyway.<
>WHAT?!< Now it was my turn to yell. >Who?! Saul?< I continued since she started thinking about him. >A date? Seriously? Does Pa or Dad know about–<
>No, and they won’t find out, please don’t say anything to them. It’s not even a real date, we’re just going to–No I am not going to go outside, Aunt Mira’s wide awake and I figure Pa still is too.< I squirmed, wanting so much to just talk to her in person about this ridiculous… ridiculousocity. >It’s not ridiculous!< she protested.
>It is. Dad’s gonna be maaaaaaad.<
>Which is why he’s not gonna know. Promise.< I didn’t reply to that. >Promise! Zaid, please. It’s just pizza and a movie and–<
>Fine, I promise. Goodnight.< I angrily put all my shields up and ignored the tap-tap-tap. I put my head back under my pillow. It wasn’t that I thought she shouldn’t date but really… I didn’t trust Saul. There was something about him that rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I’ll talk to Villy about it when I get home, I decided before going to sleep.
In the morning we headed into town. There was a lot to do, namely trying to find Uncle Kay. Pa had e-mailed him about our trip but of course there was no response. We weren’t a hunnnndred percent sure how to find him but asking around was probably best. Bookstore probably was the best one, but ew. Noooo thank you.
Pa agreed with me so we sat on a nearby bench while the girls went into the bookstore. “Think they’ll recognize Aunt Mira?” I asked as I messed with one of the holes in my jeans. Aunt Mira was a semi-famous author of children’s books. About a ghost. Named Charlie. Apparently based on Pa. I dunno.
Papa laughed. “Won’t she just love that,” he said as he swung his legs. One shoe had become untied and the laces were dragging along the pavement. I rolled my eyes. Seriously sometimes felt like he was more of a kid than me. “I don’t know if they’re still here…”
“I know,” I said, pushing my hair from my face. “What will we, uh, do if we can’t find him? I mean…” What if something happened? I was beginning to wonder how fruitless an expedition this really was.
“I know they used to move around a lot,” Pa said absentmindedly, legs still swinging. I bent down so I could tie his shoe since it was bugging me. “It’s been a long time. They could have moved… though he didn’t mention anything. Thank you,” he added when I finished the shoelaces. I moved to the side a bit, slumping down on the bench, messing with a strand of hair. “I hope you still like the trip even if–if we don’t find him.” I shrugged and made a ‘iehheuh’ sorta sound. “So any big plans when we get back home?”
I rolled my eyes at him. “I don’t know. Maybe. I guess. Why?” He just shook his head, not answering me at all.
I had the feeling I knew what it was about though, it was probably the whole baby-of-the-family thing. His kids were growing up, and he was getting all emotional and nostalgic and I wondered if this trip was only to look for Uncle Kay. I looked at him out of the corner of my eyes. “You know, no matter what, you’ll always be my Pa.”
I swear if ‘???’ could be translated, it’d be the look on his face (though that, too, was something that happened a lot. Look up ? as a phrase and there’s my papa’s face). But then he settled back smiling. “Yeah, I know. And you’ll always be my–…. er, my son.” I knew he was trying not to say ‘little boy’ and I felt happy about that. I even sat up and leaned over, touching his shoulder with mine as a sorta non-hug-type’ve-hug. Then I slumped back down, messing with my hair till the gals came out of the store.
Lumie said, “We talked a bit to the clerk and she said she knew who we were talking about! She said she remembers them, cause they were in the store a lot. She said the female twin was often bringing the male twin in here, and she remember them since she always thought the female looked so cold and stuck-up but she always seemed so gentle with her wheelchair-bound brother.”
Papa perked up. “Did she say if they’ve been in recently?”
“It’s been a few weeks,” Aunt Mira answered. “The clerk says she thinks they might have moved away. But to talk to someone named Emmaline Rhoen.” With that Aunt Mira waved a scrap of paper around, which had an address on it. “Did you want to check it out now or do some more sight-seeing around here?”
Pa looked a bit lost at that and I suspeeeeected he wanted to go, but didn’t want to say. So I piped up with, “Let’s go check it out first then we can come back here for lunch.”
Off we went in search of the house and it took a while, but finally we found the right place. There was a small sign in the yard that said Rhoen’s House of Healing. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end as we approached the door. I felt like someone was watching me with a tonnnnnn of intensity (like boring holes in me type of thing). I began to feel uncomfortable and glanced around, wondering if it was someone in the house or outside?
I hurried to the door since Papa was knocking, and we were all shocked to see a green-skinned woman answer. “Yes?” she asked, narrowing her eyes. “Do you have an appointment with Madame Rhoen?”
“Um–we didn’t know we needed an appointment,” Pa said. “I just had a question–“
“Are you here for healing, or a psychic reading?” she inquired.
>Psychic?< Lumie’s voice was strong in my head and it was all I could do not to laugh.
“Um, well, I have some questions about someone who was in Hidden Springs and might have talked to you…?” Papa wrung his hands as he spoke.
The woman… Madame Rhoen, I was guessing, shook her head. “Doctor-Patient confidentiality. You understand.”
She started to shut the door, but Lumie stuck her foot in the way. “Nothing private, just looking for them. Do you do that sort of…psychic reading?” >I can’t believe I said that,< she added to me.
>I wonder how psychic she really is. My guess is nooonnnnne!<
Madame Rhoen, however, let us in. The air felt heavy and oppressive, and there was a scent in the air that made my throat feel all itchy. There was an elaborately embroidered cloth with a deck of cards, pot of tea, and a few tea cups lying on top. I was a bit surprised not to see a crystal ball on strings or something. It just had that sorta vibe to it. Lumie mentally agreed with me as we all found seats on the couch.
‘Madame’ Rhoen stood before us, carefully sweeping her long hair behind her shoulders before saying, “I expect to be paid before I give the reading.” And then she told us her rates which weren’t too terrible but still.
“Considering it’s information we want, and not just ‘you’ll meet a tall dark stranger’ isn’t that a bit ridiculous?” I asked before anyone else said anything.
Madame Rhoen shot me a look. “I know you’re too young to understand the importance and mysterious ways of the psychic world.”
I tried to be nice. I did. But with that I just burst into laughter and within seconds Lumie was laughing too. Pa put his head in his hands and Aunt Mira covered her mouth. “Kids, be nice,” Pa said with a slight smile.
“Sorrrrryyy!” I wheezed, clutching my sides.
“I do not appreciate unbelievers in my house, you ruin the aura,” she said in a freezing tone, and of course Lumie and I just began laughing even more. We couldn’t help it. We tried to stop, but it was hard!
>We’re ruining her aura!< Lumie shrieked.
>For shame on our non-believing selves,< I added and then we both lost it again.
“I’m sorry about them,” Papa said loudly. “We’re looking for a set of, uh, twins, they probably moved here about seven years ago–really smart, scientists, black hair, green eyes, glasses, one boy and one girl…?”
“Oh yes, I know of whom you speak of and I shall answer you. After the non-believers will please step outside on my porch,” she said.
Lumie and I looked at each other and we both wanted to say it so bad, but she thought we should just be quiet. I, on the other hand, could not in a million years keep quiet. “Ma’am, if you’re as psychic as you claim to be, you’d know you called the wrong people ‘unbelievers’.”
Aunt Mira groaned, Papa put his head back in his hands, and Lumie figured there went any chances of getting information. “I am most certainly psychic,” she hissed, “and your aura of unbelieving is pulling this house down into a dark place!”
“Unbelieving?” I stood up. “Madame, I’m psychic. I don’t know how much you are but I can pretty much guess none.”
She looked me up and down and then laughed. “You? Child? Psychic? HAH! You are a presumptious little child with as much link to the psychic world as… as… that sofa!”
“Oh Watcher, and that’s that,” Papa muttered.
“Child?” I snapped. “CHILD?! Look, lady, I can prove my psychic ability probably a LOT better than you could ever prove yours!”
Up went her nose. “By some sort of card trick I suppose?”
I bristled with anger at the condescending tone in her voice. “Tell you what. You write down anything on a piece of paper, anything–lyrics to a song, a recipe, a random set of numbers and letters–and show it to those three while I am outside and I can come right back in and tell you.”
“I don’t think–” Aunt Mira started, but Madame Rhoen asked, “And when you cannot tell me what I have written?”
I shrugged. “I’ll pay you double your rate,” I decided, since I had enough pocket money for that. “And if I know what you’ve written, you give my pa the information for free.”
She smirked, little simoleon signs popping up in her eyes. “Very well. You will go in the bathroom and wait there.”
“And you show them, and don’t change a thing,” I said and allowed myself to be led to the bathroom. Lumie was practically yelling at me but SORRY I couldn’t HELP it the way she looked down at us and all the things she said just made me so mad. I stewed in the bathroom as she shut the door, and fished a pen and bit of paper out of my pockets.
Lumie of course fed me each word. Some words were real, some were just gibberish, some had numbers, and it was almost to the point of not being able to fit on my scrap of paper when she was done. I put the pen and paper down then smiled when Madame Rhoen opened the door and brought me back into the living room.
“Is it the ten of spades?” I joked. Madame Rhoen raised her eyebrows. “Fine, fine. A-hem.” I pulled out the bit of paper. “Dandelion wine, moopie doopie, 494221dashSWT99, the goddess Miner–“
I didn’t finish since she snatched the bit of paper from me, staring at it then staring at me. “How did… how…. this is impos…impossible.”
I folded my arms and raised my eyebrows right back at her. “Now then, where are the Ro… Rrrrr… errr, the twins?”
“How did you manage this?” Her voice sounded different now. Not as deep and without the slight accent she had before. “You are no wizard or warlock.”
“No. Just psychic.”
“Nonsense, all true psychics have been–” She stopped, staring at each of us. “None of you are… So how is such a thing possible?”
“I’m sorry about my son,” Papa said, getting up. “His temper can be a bit… like his father’s sometimes, but please, all we really just want to know is about Professor Kay R–Rosso? If that’s the name he went with here. I’ll still pay–“
“PA!” I yelped. “She agreed to help us for free if I did what I just did.” I waved my hand at the paper. “Don’t pay this quack.”
“I am–” She stopped and straightened up, looking a bit defeated (hehe). “I am not exactly a quack. Maybe I do fib a bit about… psychic readings… but I am no quack! I am a healer. And I do sense things, and I did not sense magic from you.” She was still staring at me with a really confused look (heh).
“Well, I’m not magic,” I said. “Just psychic.”
“That is not–“
“Look lady, ya gonna help us or–“
“Zaid,” Lumie cut me off before I could continue. “That’s enough.”
I looked at my family who all had the same face on. I stepped back a bit, folding my arms, going quiet, in a sulk. I had just been trying to… okay, fine, show off. Show her up. But she totally deserved it, the jerk. I tried to get Lumie to agree with me silently but her shields were up. Now she was mad at me. Why was everyone mad at me? Hmph. I was just wanting to help. And show off. But help. We weren’t even needing a ‘psychic’ reading so it was unfair of her to try and sell us information, especially information she might not even have.
But now Madame Rhoen was giving me a funny look. Not one she had before. “What did you call him?” she asked, looking at my twin.
“Zaid?” Lumie said, spreading her hands out. “That’s his name.”
Madame Rhoen stepped back, staring at me once more then at Pa. “Wh–what did you say your name was? Your–your full name?”
“Um, Chance Danevbie-Greyson? I didn’t say–“
“Get out.” There was stunned silence. Madame Rhoen backed up even more, looking panicked. “Get out!” she snapped again. “If I had known–if I had–no, no! Remove yourselves from my home this instant.”
“Excuse me, I think you’re being a bit ridiculous about all this,” Aunt Mira said. “I am sorry for what my nephew did but–“
“This has nothing to do with that, I just cannot have him in my house. It’s too dangerous.”
Now we were all looking at each other, puzzled. “I’m not dangerous,” I said.
“Not you! Not–oh, just please. Go. Please. I’ll give you the information you want just leave!” She shook my head wildly, hair swinging all over the place. “The twins no longer live in Hidden Springs, they did move here around seven years ago. They came to me for my healing ability, or so I thought. They lied to me about their reasons. To help him walk again was my understanding of the situation but she lied to me, she truly just wanted to steal my so-called ‘technology’. At first she acted as if all was fine, but as the years passed she grew more and more agitated when I used naught but my own hands to try and heal him. They only came about three or four times a year as my ability can be slow in working, and the last time was a few months ago. She yelled at me, saying I was–a hoax. A scam. A liar. I did try to heal him…” Madame Rhoen looked at my pa as she said this. “But he was beyond my ability. I told them to seek a colleague of mine. Whether they did or not, I do not know. Four months ago was the last I saw of them. I believe they moved away after that.”
“To where?” Papa asked.
Madame Rhoen shrugged. “I do not know. I can’t help you. I’m sorry. Now please, leave.”
We did leave, me grumbling very loudly with how rudely we’d been treated. Pa looked really upset and Lumes was trying to comfort him. Aunt Mira shook her head and had a few choice word about Rhoen once we got in the car. I had a few choice words too but I woulda probably gotten in trouble if I had said them.
>Guess you really pissed her off,< Lumie said to me.
I gave her a mental shrug then blocked her out so I could think. Had that been all? The way she talked, she really sounded scared of me being in the house. It probably was just… just because I showed her up. But the… ‘dangerous-not dangerous’ thing kinda threw me off. She had said I was dangerous and when I protested she said it wasn’t me, which made ab-so-luuuu-tely zero sense. Erf no she said ‘it’ is too dangerous, I realized. But what was ‘it’? The fact I was psychic and she wasn’t? (and okay so I did trick her a bit with that, but she deserved it.)
That night I had nightmares. I usually didn’t so it was really strange I did. I was in a dark woods running-running-running from something, some shadowy creature that was chasing me down. It was getting closer and closer then leapt out, tackling me to the ground. I was about to feel claws rip in me when–
I woke up. I nearly fell out of bed but juuuust managed to hang onto the other edge with one foot to stop myself. I pulled myself upright then got up, rubbing my back. The dream had felt like, completely real. I could still feel the creature on me. About to rip into me.
I looked at Pa but he was sound asleep, clinging to a pillow and snoring in the weird way he snored (it sounded like little whimpery sighs every now and again). Then I checked the clock. Almost 3am. I did NOT want to go back to bed so instead I went to get a little midnight snack. Well. 3am snack. CLOSE ENOUGH! I got into the fridge and was about to search when there was a sound outside. A yelping sort of sound.
I jerked in surprise then went to the window. There was a figure not too far off. On the land I was like, 89 percent sure belonged to this cabiny-house. I put my hands on the counter and leaned forward, rolling onto my tiptoes, craning my neck to see and not doing a good job. The person was all shadow-y and dark, I couldn’t make out any features except they were wearing pants (or no pants at all).
Then I blinked and whoever it was disappeared right before my freaking eyes like THEY WERE LITERALLY GONE and I sorta screamed in my head because there was no cover nearby they couldn’t have just run. My mental scream woke Lumie up and she was trying to get a coherent answer from me. I threw on shoes and got to the door as she was stumbling out of her room.
>You were still dreaming,< she suggested sleepily, rubbing her eyes.
“I wasn’t!” I protested. “They disappeared. Like. BOOM! Gone.” I grabbed my phone from the table and went outside. I turned on my cell for some light and went to where the person had been standing.
>If some mass murderer pops out of no where and kills you, s’not my fault,< she grumbled. >You’ve seen horror movies.<
>Yeah and I’m the sexy lead guy who makes it alll the way through, you’re the annoying whiny girl who dies.<
Her thoughts were not polite at all. She threatened to lock me outside but was still in the doorway when I reached the spot where the guy had been standing. There was an awful smell in the air. Like a reeeallllly bad smell. “Ugh!” I covered my nose and mouth, shining the light for any signs of… well, anything. Except that smell which was starting to smell familiar. It was… metallic-y… and…
“Oh. Watcher.” I had shined my phone downward and found the grass was soaked in blood.