As the men with the big rifles moved in closer, Edmond slinked his way back to the bed behind them. "I am a pillow, right? I can be a pillow."
"Edmond is a pillow," I said. "I am not here."
Lucy never looked our way. She'd shut down the truck, and opened the door when they ordered her to and she slid out, the door open wide, and me right there where they could see me.
Only they didn't seem to notice.
"We had a report that you were traveling with a boy who fits the description of a dangerous criminal," the man in charge said. "You were seen at the truck stop."
"I was there. But I always travel alone. Take a look -- it's just me."
The men look inside. They looked carefully, but they never looked directly at him or Edmond. They didn't take long either. The man in charge, though, was determined to find his prey.
"Where did you let him off?"
"I never had a dangerous criminal of any sort in my truck," she said and started to sound annoyed. Then her voice changed a bit. "I did see a boy near my truck, though. Hadn't thought about it. Shaved head, odd cat slinking around at his feet -- the cat is what surprised me. They climbed into another truck."
"What truck? What did it look like?" the man said, anxious this time. The others stopped checking the interior, and even though one looked straight at him, he still saw nothing.
"You know, I wasn't paying much attention," Lucy said. "I didn't read the information on the door. It was red, though, with a white stripe of some sort. Looked like a private-owned rig. Odd that I don't remember any of the writing at all, as though it wasn't really there."
"Magic," someone mumbled, and others nodded. Lucy was excellent at leading the people where she wanted without ever saying the words herself.
They were let through a few minutes later. They pulled up onto the Interstate and reached speed before I finally let go of the magic and sank down into the seat. I was almost ill by then and gasped several times while my head pounded.
"You did very well, Mark," Lucy said.
"Why -- why did you take such a chance?" I asked. Edmond climbed up into my lap as well. He seemed shaken this time.
"There's been more than once already when you could have used magic to attack others and make sure you and your companion were safe, right? Instead, you have hidden from them rather than harm others."
"It's part of what I am," he said. "A protector."
"That has a nice sound to it," she said with a nod. "I'll get you as far east as I can -- but you have to tell me what's going on and convince me that I'm not just sending you into danger."
"It is dangerous," I admitted. "But because of who I am, and what I am, I need to be there."
"You know, Lucy, I think you are the first reasonable human I've ever dealt with," Edmond said and settled down to prepare for a nap in my lap. "I'm not saying the fae and others are much better, but we haven't had this much trouble finding allies in the fae lands. It's been scary ever since we got here."
"I am half human, you know," I said. "I grew up here."
"Right," Edmond said and looked up. "Now tell me being here hasn't been scary."
"Everything has been scary," I admitted.
Then I told Lucy the tale. Edmond filled in pieces. Lucy told us everything that had happened in the last few weeks, too.
"It started out in a little town called Crossing," she said as she expertly maneuvered around and through traffic. I tried not to be too obvious. "Most of us thought it must be some chemical spill or something, but then odd stories started emerging. Strange creatures -- so we thought it was some kind of lab. I don't know how long before the word magic started being used. No one believed it much, though."
"I grew up in Crossing. We always knew there was magic not far away, through the gate into Elsewhere. I would have thought others realized it as well. It wasn't like the gate was new."
"I guess for the rest of us, it was like hearing about leprechauns in Ireland. People talk a lot about them, but no one really believed it was true."
"Huh. Never thought of that," I said. "Until my trip to Elsewhere, I'd never been far from Crossing at all. But everyone is starting to believe now, aren't they?"
"Just all been too obvious to ignore," she admitted.
"But you always believed," Edmond said. I had expected him to be asleep by now, but apparently, the conversation intrigued him. He was right about one thing: Lucy was the first reasonable human they'd dealt with since they came back to this world.
"I travel a lot," she said. "Been around the world a couple times, even. I've seen a lot of things. Even so, it took me a while to accept the rumors. You don't expect to find such odd things in your own backyard when you've traveled all the world looking for it. So tell me what I should do now."
"Get us as close to Crossing as you dare," I said. "If we're caught, I'll pretend that I made you take us and you have to go along with it."
"Why?" she said with a glance my way.
"Because we need some sane humans out there in the world," I replied. "This battle is not going to end the changes, you know. No matter how this goes, there will be a lot of scared people out here. We need you out there helping everyone through this because they'll be crazy."
"Crazier," Edmond amended. "And that can't be good."
To Be Continued....