Friday, March 17, 2017
Flash Fiction # 242 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 26: Closer
We were well away from the soldiers before I began to relax. Then I relaxed so well that I went to sleep. It had been a long time since I felt safe enough to really rest. Edmond curled up in my lap. I didn't think Lucy minded. The couple times I lifted my head and glanced her way, she was humming away to music only she could hear. My mother did that sometimes. Maybe I'd get a chance to see her after I helped take care of Darman.
We got closer by the hour. I could fell the edge of magic growing, even while I slept and eventually I could no longer ignore it. I woke up to find a road sign saying we were only fifty miles for Crossing. Home, I thought, with a little pang of hope, even though I knew that home had changed and it wasn't
safe. I knew this area, though. We'd gone this far on family outings.
Centered. I knew this place better than I had anywhere else.
"Sorry I slept," I said and ran a hand through my hair. Edmond was awake as well, and looking out the window, watching for danger. He could feel the magic as well. The night was dark, but he had the feeling of dawn not far away.
"You looked like you needed it," Lucy said with a glance my way.
"This was the first time I felt safe in -- I don't know how long," I admitted. I told Lucy about our adventures, from finding the monster Tommy had become to trying to travel with the others back to fight Darman. She kept glancing my way and shaking her head now and then. I knew it all sounded incredible. "And then you found us," I finished.
She remained silent for a moment. "I thought you looked a bit worn and ragged, but I had no idea," she admitted. "And you better get ready to go out on your own soon. We're getting closer to Crossing, and there have been more National Guard and Army vehicles on the road."
"I wonder what they think they can do," I said. "They have to know by now that magic will counter most of what they can throw at the enemy."
"So, you'll fight magic with magic," she said, and I nodded. "Makes sense. There's a rest stop just a couple miles up the road. That's as close as I dare go or we'll draw attention whether they see you or not."
"That's close enough. We're only about five miles from town, and the rest stop is right on the edge of the woods." He smiled when she looked his way, surprised. "I really did grow up around here, you know."
She pulled into the stop and gave him a worried look. "You be careful, Mark."
"Thank you for everything," I said as they pulled into the stop. Edmond even climbed over and rubbed against her arm, purring. "If I do anything that helps here, it'll only be because you got us here. Thanks."
"You take care. Both of you."
She'd pulled up with the rest of the trucks. I slid out of the truck and grabbed Edmond, draping him over my shoulders. The night was cool and damp, and if felt as though the mist held magic in every drop. I headed straight into the shadows of the trees and then made my way to the back fence. I looked back and could see Lucy's truck still there. She probably needed some rest. If I went back, I didn't have any doubt that she'd take us on with her.
Darman would find me eventually. What harm would he have done in the meantime? Whom would Darman have harmed that I might have protected?
The place under the fence was still clear. It had felt like years since the last time I'd been here, but I realized it couldn't have been more than a few months. Bushes were blooming, so it must be spring or early summer. We'd missed the winter. Edmond went through first, and then I followed. I looked back and wished for that calm and protection again. I couldn't go back, so with a sigh, we headed into the woods. I had a job now. Sanctioned Protector -- the feeling came on stronger than ever before. Others were in danger somewhere not far away and not just fae. There were humans caught up in this mess, and I felt an equal draw to protect them as I did any of the fae caught in this mess. I wondered if I could find my father out there -- or my uncle, I supposed. I didn't think of Darman as a relative.
I could not face this trouble alone. Walking towards the magic gave me a clearer impression of what was out there. I had the feeling of big and dangerous, which meant it was probably lots of creatures. I could not distinguish one side from the other, so I had to be careful before I reacted.
"A lot of magic," Edmond mumbled at my ear. I wore him like a collar again. "I get the feel of a battle, but it's been a few days."
"I wonder who won?" I said.
"Neither side," he answered. "If one side or the other had won, everything would be calmer, and the overlay would be that of the winning side."
"Can you tell one side from the other?"
"Not yet. Maybe when we get closer," Edmond said. "I'll know Maggie's magic. And Lord Cayman's for that matter."
I nodded agreement. We were already well into the woods and heading over the hill. A little stream led the way down the far side heading towards town. I wondered if there was any hope of finding help there, and decided not to try.
It maybe would have helped if I hadn't walked straight out of the trees and found myself in front of the army.
To Be Continued....