Chapter Two Hundred and Seventy-five
Don’t let go
“NO!” Celia appeared out of the ether beside the battle of the spirit armies in the fog. Celia’s spirit raced through the protective bubble to where Jill held Kirk on her lap. Jill’s and the boy’s eyes were closed. They seemed to be in a still trance. Her voice dropped to a whisper, “No.”
“Where have you been?” Delphie asked.
“I don’t know,” Celia said. “I’ve been . . . detained, I think. I . . . I don’t know. I was there and then . . . I was . . . nowhere.”
“Fairies,” Delphie said with disgust.
Celia knelt down to Jill.
“What . . .?” Delphie started, but realized she didn’t know the question to ask. “Celia?”
“This is what we do,” Celia said. “Do you remember, Delphie? When I was having Jake? I wanted to . . .”
“ . . . heal the boy.” Delphie’s voice came out in a gasp. “I’d totally forgotten. Was it this boy?”
“Yes, this boy,” Celia said. “You argued with me. ‘Save Jake,’ you said over and over again. ‘Save your boy first.’ This is . . .”
“ . . . how they kill the mothers.” Delphie kneeled down and tried to yank Kirk off Jill’s lap. He seemed to be rooted in one spot.
“You can’t,” Celia said.
“Will he . . .” Delphie sucked in the end of her question so as not to have to say it out loud.
“He will kill her,” Celia said. “And the babies too.”
Delphie touched Jill’s shoulder.
“Look,” Celia said.
Jill snorted a laugh, and then laughed again. She didn’t open her eyes, but she didn’t seem to be in pain.
“Do you remember laughing?” Delphie asked.
“No,” Celia said. “I was too scared.”
“Then maybe . . .” Delphie started.
Delphie waded into the stream and sat down behind Jill, her knees were on either side of her. She waved for Celia to join her. Celia sat near Jill’s feet and wrapped her spirit body around Jill’s legs.
“We’re here for you, Jill,” Delphie said in her ear. “Draw from us or ask for what you need. We’re here for you.”
Jill’s head went up and down in a slow nod. She became very still.
“Don’t let go,” Celia said.
“Don’t let go,” Delphie repeated.
“Here we go,” Jill repeated to herself.
The moment she closed her eyes, she felt the ground slip out from under her. She felt as if she were on a roller coaster racing through time and trauma. She saw past the beginning of this century and beyond the druids’ arrival in the world.
When the scene settled, she was standing on the beach next to this seven-year -old boy. She was wearing the formal dress of a queen, with a golden crown on her head.
“You must go,” Jill whispered as the boy’s mother. She did not choose the words. She was clearly acting out something that had happened before.
“I won’t leave you!”
The boy ran back to her and threw his arms tight around her waist. Taller, darker men wearing the armor of light infantry wrenched the boy from her. As the boy kicked and screamed, they dragged him across the sand.
“Prince Kirk,” the men in a skiff floating offshore said to the boy.
“I won’t leave her,” the boy said.
“You must go,” Jill said. “Seek your life, son. Away from this.”
The men dumped him into the boat. They took up the oars, and the skiff made its way across the flat surf of the Isle of Man. The skiff was a hundred feet from the shore when two men forcefully tied Jill’s hands behind her back. They picked Jill up and carried her to a stack of wood.
“Kill the witch!” A crowd appeared out of nowhere. “Kill the witch!”
Jill found herself on top of a stack of wood. The men tied her to a long pole sticking out of the top of the stack. The crowd was growing in size and fervor. A ripe tomato hit Jill in the face. Her eyes flicked to the skiff before she dropped down to her knees. The crowd cheered at what seemed to be her demise.
She wasn’t sure why, but she felt calm and capable.
“This scene?” Jill said to no one in particular. “It would be a lot scarier if I thought it was real.”
“Oh, it’s real!” a man yelled from the crowd.
“Yeah . . .” Jill nodded.
She leaned back so that her hands touched the wood.
“If this were my first fairy rodeo . . .” Jill whispered. She closed her eyes and focused her healing ability into the wood and into the crowd.
“Witch!” the crowd screamed. “She’s doing witchcraft!”
The louder they became, the more she focused on transferring their energy into healing. She could feel the crowd jostle in front of her, smell the subtle mix of filth and fear on their bodies, and hear the disdain in their words. When she opened her eyes, she was alone.
She snorted a laugh.
Her hands were still tied behind her back. She pulled on the twine and her hands broke free. She laughed.
“Dreams,” Jill said.
The boy was standing in front of her.
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” the boy said.
“Why not?” Jill asked. “It wasn’t real.”
“Everything is real,” the boy said a booming voice. “Nothing is real.”
“I am going to help you,” Jill said. “Whether you like it or not.”
“They all say that,” the boy said.
“Who all?” Jill asked. “There’s no one here.”
“All the mothers of all the boys, but they all die.”
“I guess I’m not like all the other mothers.” Jill shrugged.
The boy scowled, and they slipped through the fabric of time again.
Rodney looked over at Honey. They were filthy, exhausted, but also excited. Together with their tiny fairies, they had helped rescued six men and four women from the water, mud, and methane. The military team across the pit had sealed off the water leak and were on their way out of the pit. MJ and Colin had taken the last of their rescued patients to the medical bay.
“You’re filthy,” Honey laughed.
“Takes one to know one,” Rodney said. “Any ideas why we got picked for this detail?”
He was asking Honey, but he’d kind of hoped his fairy, Abi, would respond. She gave him a sly look, but didn’t say anything. Nor did Honey’s tiny fairy, Mari.
“No idea,” Honey said. Always direct, Honey looked at Mari and asked, “Why were we picked?”
“Because you can see us.” Mari nodded.
“You know great loss,” Abi said. “Great pain. You can help others with the same experience of loss and pain.”
“Gee,” Rodney said. “That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really answer the question, does it?”
“Rodney!” Jerry yelled from above. “We’re ready to pull you out. They’re closing up here. We’re going home!”
“Home?” Rodney looked at Abi. “Is that true?”
“Military’s taking over,” Abi said. “All the people are rescued, so the civilians can go home.”
Rodney looked over at Honey. Her eyes were on MJ’s rising form. When she looked at him, Rodney knew the truth.
None of this was real.
They weren’t down here to save people. They were down here, tucked away, because Jake or Sam or someone they knew and loved needed them. Rage flushed through Rodney.
“Take me to them,” Rodney said between his gritted teeth.
“You don’t know what you’re asking,” Abi said. “Really. You need to stay here.”
“Why?” Honey asked.
“Because . . .” Abi looked at Mari.
“For your own safety,” Mari said.
“I demand that you tell the truth,” Honey said.
“Yes,” Mari said.
“Who benefits if I’m down here?” Honey asked.
“Everything stays the same,” Mari said. “Everyone benefits.”
“And if we join whatever is going on?” Honey asked.
“Everything will change,” Mari said.
“Who else . . .” Honey started.
“Blane.” Rodney’s voice came out as a whisper. “Have you noticed? He and Aden are the senior Lipson people at the site. Have you seen him?”
Honey shook her head.
“Take me to Blane,” Rodney said to Abi.
“NO!” Honey yelled. “Take us to where we are most needed.”
“You are where you are most needed,” Mari said.
“No,” Rodney said. “We are where you need us most. Take us, and Blane, to where we are needed most.”
“You will be in danger,” Abi said. “I promised my master that you would never be in danger.”
“Your master?” Rodney asked.
Abi’s tiny cheeks blushed.
“Yvie,” Rodney said. “Yvie told you to come here and take care of me. And Honey?”
“Honey is much loved,” Abi said.
“Take us to those who need us most,” Rodney said. “And keep us safe.”
“How hard is that?” Honey asked. “You’re fairies, for God’s sake!”
“Yes, we are,” Abi said in a low tone.
As if it were in the center of a tornado, the mud pit began to spin.
“Hold on to my chair!” Honey yelled to Rodney.
Rodney grabbed the arm of Honey’s chair. They spun in a circle for what seemed to be an entire life time. When the spinning stopped, they were underground in a long, dark tunnel cut from stone. Bodies lined either side of the walkway. Somewhere up ahead they heard voices.
“Where’s Blane?” Honey asked.
“Where he is most needed,” Mari said. “As you requested.”
“Hello!” Rodney yelled.
“Rodney?” Sam yelled from somewhere up ahead.
“Dad?” Tanesha yelled.
“Sam!” Honey said, and took off down the hall. Rodney ran behind her.
They met Sam and Tanesha in the hallway. Tanesha hugged her father.
“Tell us everything that’s going on,” Sam said. “We’re making bombs.”
“Can I help?” Honey asked.
“Perfect.” Sam smiled. “I was just saying that you know a lot about this kind of thing.”
“We sure we need bombs?” Rodney scowled.
“There’re two spirit-armies above us who’ve been fighting each other forever, Dad,” Tanesha said. “Jake and Val are fighting with them. They are the only ones who can die.”
“You can die,” Rodney said.
Sam, Tanesha, Heather, and Sandy turned to look at him.
“If you use this for a bomb, you sure will,” Honey said.
A smash and a cheer filtered down from above them.
“How long have these armies been fighting?” Rodney asked.
“Since the dawn of time,” Sam said. “But Jake . . .”
“Where’s your fairy?” Rodney asked.
“We sent the lying maggot to her masters,” Tanesha said with a sneer.
“Lying maggot . . .” Rodney scowled. “No, Miss T. They don’t lie. They’re just very loyal, and not necessarily loyal to us. Abi?”
The tiny pink fairy came out from behind Rodney’s ear.
“Mari?” Honey demanded.
Mari, the tiny blue fairy, came out from under Honey’s collar.
“Get big,” Tanesha ordered.
“Big?” Rodney looked confused.
“They are only this size when they’re on duty,” James explained. “Please grow to your usual size.”
“You have to command them,” Heather said under her breath to Rodney.
“I command you to return to your non-work size,” Rodney said.
Abi grew into a tall, thin, athletically built woman with rich brown skin. Mari grew into a medium-sized woman with dark curly hair, dark eyes, and pale skin.
“I know you,” Tanesha said to Abi. “You’re a friend of my mother’s.”
“I’ve been your mother’s friend for many years,” Abi said. “She asked me to help your father.”
“Can you change out of the slut clothes?” Heather asked.
“You look silly,” Honey said.
They changed from their fairy costumes into human clothing. Abi wore workout capris, running shoes, and a short top. Mari wore a thin cotton dress with wool socks and clogs. Mari pointed to James, and Abi nodded.
“What was that?” Tanesha asked.
“Nothing,” Mari said.
The fairies gave each other a knowing look.
“What is going on?” Honey demanded.
“Our friend likes Brigid’s son,” Mari said. “That’s all.”
“Edie?” James asked.
The fairies giggled.
“That’s all well and good,” Tanesha said. “What do we need to do to save our friends?”
“Jill too,” Sandy said.
“They can’t tell us,” Honey said.
“Maggots,” Tanesha sneered.
“No, Miss T.” Rodney said. “They don’t have any idea how to save our friends. We have to figure it out.”
“How?” Tanesha asked.
“I’m going to go watch the battle,” Rodney said. “Give me a few minutes.”
Rodney jogged down the hallway and up the stairs. Heather shrugged, and they went back to work with the bombs. A few minutes later, Rodney came back down the hallway.
“Well?” Tanesha asked.
“What do we need to do?” Sandy asked.
“I need to think,” Rodney said.
Blane woke up standing next to a tree. He closed his eyes and opened them again. He shook his head to try to clear his confusion. Somehow, he was in a weird bubble in a forest. There was a historic reenactment going on outside the bubble, and some sort of ritual happening right in front of him. He took a step on weak legs. He dropped onto a knee, before catching himself. Looking across the bubble, he realized he knew the women in the stream.
“Delphie?” Blane asked.
“Blane!” Delphie jumped to her feet and ran to his side. The other woman seemed to float over to him.
“Where am I?” Blane asked.
“You’re on the Isle of Man,” Delphie said.
“I was driving home when I heard about the earthquake.” Blane nodded. “I turned around and started back, I think I got there . . . and . . .”
He shook his head.
“What is . . .?” Blane gestured. “Celia?”
“Hello, my dear Blane.” Celia smiled at him.
She hugged him. Blane’s face flushed bright red and his eyes welled with tears.
“I have so much to . . .” Blane started. He swallowed hard and started talking fast. “Have you seen my baby, Mack? We’re having another. And Heather, she’s made the little house a home for me and our family and . . . Heather is amazing, and my life now . . . and . . . oh God.”
Blane cried into her shoulder.
“I’m so very proud of you, son,” Celia said.
“Why am I here?” Blane asked.
“I would guess to help Jill,” Celia said. “She’s in a trance.”
“We think this is what kills Marlowe mothers and their sons,” Delphie said.
“Kill?” Blane rushed to Jill’s side. He slipped his hand around her right wrist and then around the other. He shook his head and scowled. He touched her forehead.
“Can you save her?” Delphie asked.
Blane looked up at Delphie and then at Celia.
“She’s . . .” Blane nodded. “Oh, I see it now. I don’t know. How long has she been like this?”
“Five minutes?” Celia looked at Delphie, who shrugged. “Ten?”
“Good,” Blane said. “Not too long.”
“Do you have what you need?” Delphie asked.
“I should.” Blane started humming.
“Can you check on the child?” Celia asked.
Blane leaned over to the boy.
“He’s dying,” Blane said.
“If he does, he’ll take Jill with him,” Delphie said.
“Good to know,” Blane said. “Is there any food here?”
“Jill can eat?” Celia asked.
“No, I’m starving,” Blane said.
“I’ll see what I can do.” Delphie’s words were lost on Blane. He was deep in thought looking at Jill. Delphie touched his shoulder. “Blane?”
Startled, he jumped and looked at Delphie.
“I had a dream,” Blane said. “Just like this except . . . Heather?”
The ground shook, and the entrance to the catacombs appeared.
“Blane?” Heather’s voice came from under the ground. “I swear I heard Blane.”
“Heather, we’re up here,” Delphie yelled.
Heather peeked her head out.
“You guys!” Heather shouted to the people below. “They are right here.”
Heather ran to Blane, and they held each other.
“Sam?” Delphie asked.
Sam ran up the stairs to her. He hugged Delphie and Celia at the same time. Sandy and Tanesha ran to Jill. Rodney appeared with Honey on his back. He set Honey down and went back for her chair. Once he returned, everyone was staring at Jill.
“What’s going on?” Rodney asked.
“Jill’s in trouble,” Sandy whispered. “I can feel it.”
“Can you help her?” Heather asked Blane.
“We can.” Blane smiled. “Do you have your supplies?”
“Right here,” Heather said. She held up her backpack.
“Is there anything to eat?” Blane asked.
She dug through the backpack until she found one of his special homemade, chocolate protein snacks. He scarfed it down.
“Let’s get to work,” Blane said to Heather.
He told her what he needed, and she started making the Chinese herbal remedy. He’d placed a dozen acupuncture needles by the time she’d finished making the liquid. Together, they forced Jill and the boy to swallow the liquid.
Sandy and Tanesha went to get Katy and Paddie. When they returned everyone was sitting in a circle with Jill in the middle. Delphie was leading them through a meditation. They sat down with the children on their laps.
As the war raged outside the dome, everyone turned their attention to the battle Jill was waging right in front of them.
“Now we wait,” Blane said.
“This is the fiftieth situation,” Jill yelled at no one in particular. She was standing on a platform where a hooded executioner was sharpening his axe. “I’m still not afraid of you.”
The crowd sniggered and someone threw a tomato. Jill ducked this time, and it hit somewhere behind her. Jill sighed. The executioner towered over her. When he touched her, she healed him. He stood in a daze beside her.
She kneeled down and touched the guillotine. Placing her hands on the wood, she worked to relieve the pain and suffering in the device, and in this place.
“I’m just getting so tired,” Jill said.
The scene spun in place, and Jill rushed through time again.
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