Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Two Hundred and Seventy : On air

Chapter Two Hundred and Seventy

On air

Katy opened her eyes but saw nothing.

She closed her eyes again to make sure that when she opened her eyes she was really opening them. She waited a moment with her eyes closed and then opened her eyes really wide.

Darkness surrounded her.

She listened and heard nothing. Her ears stretched out to the edges of sound.

There was no sound.

She sniffed and sniffed again. She couldn’t smell anything. Not one smell. She touched her nose to make sure she still had one.

She did.

“Paddie?” Katy whispered.

No words came out.

“Naomi?” Katy used her mind to call her grandmother to her. For the first time since Katy was two years old, Naomi didn’t come.

“Celia?” Katy used her grandmother’s other name. Celia didn’t come.

Katy remembered the tiny, blue-taffeta-dressed fairy who had come to help her.

“Edie?” Katy whispered.

No fairy. No grandmother. No Paddie.

Katy was alone.

“I have to be brave,” Katy said to herself. “I have to be . . .”

She let out a soft sob.

“I’m five now,” Katy yelled against the dark silence. “I’m supposed to be brave!”

She had never been so afraid in her whole entire life. She hadn’t been this afraid when she saw the dragon, or the demon, or the serial killer, or when her old daddy tried to steal her, or when her old daddy screamed and hurt her mommy, or . . . Katy nodded to herself.

She had never, ever been this scared.

She did the only thing she could think of . . .

“Mommy!” Katy whispered.

Just saying the words made her feel better. That’s right, black darkness, she had a mommy.

A mommy who loved her very much.

A mommy who loved her even though she was getting brothers today.

“Mommy?” Katy whispered.

Katy thought of her daddy. He was pretty great and strong and had special skills like she did and was funny but . . .

“MOOOOMMMMMYYYYY!!” Katy yelled at the top of her lungs.

~~~~~~~~

“Katy?” Jill sat up from the birthing table.

“It’s okay,” Sandy grabbed Jill’s hand. “Listen to your heart. Katy is okay.”

“They are looking for Katy,” Camille said. “The police put out one of those AMBER Alerts. Someone will see Katy, and she will be home in no time.”

“They will find our girl soon,” Tanesha said. “Promise.”

“Now lie back, and . . .” Camille said.

Jill allowed Camille to help her lie down again.

“It’s time to have these babies,” Camille said. “We are almost there, and . . .”

“Katy?” Jill was sure she had heard her daughter’s voice.

“What is it?” Sandy asked.

“I hear her,” Jill said. “She’s very frightened . . .”

Jill felt herself fade.

“Tanesha!” Sandy yelled. “Grab her other hand!”

“Oh no, you don’t,” Tanesha said. “You’re not going . . .”

Jill disappeared from the table.

“What just happened?” Camille looked at Sandy and Tanesha’s stunned faces.

“No idea,” Tanesha said.

~~~~~~~~

“Where is my Manannán?” Queen Fand asked Jacob.

“We believe he is circling the island,” Jacob said.

“We need to awaken his army,” Gilfand said.

When the queen gave them a disinterested nod, Jacob looked at Gilfand. His eyes were on his queen.

“I must check on my fairies,” the queen said. “I’ve been away from them for a very long time. They need me.”

She disappeared.

“What the hell was that?” Jacob asked. “My daughter and wife are in danger. Lives hang in the balance and she . . .”

Queen Fand appeared right in front of his face.

“I am a queen, young man,” Queen Fand said. “My first duty is to my people.”

“This is what I meant by manipulating situations for their own agenda,” Celia said.

Queen Fand smiled at Celia.

“I won’t be long,” Queen Fand said. She gave a little wave and disappeared.

“I have to . . .” Gilfand gestured to where Queen Fand had disappeared. “Sorry.”

Gilfand disappeared, as did Liban. Jacob looked up.

“Will you help me?” Jacob asked.

One by one, the fairies disappeared, taking their light with them.

“Won’t any of you help me?” Jacob asked.

The fairies were gone.

Jacob screamed with rage. He used his capacities to press against the walls of the monolith. He couldn’t get out. He was trapped.

“Mom?” Jacob asked.

Celia was gone. Despair overcame him, and Jacob fell to his knees. He dropped his head in his hands. He’d known this would happen. The fairies had used him to solve their problems and left him when he needed them. He felt something nearby. He looked up.

A tiny spark lay on the path down to the monolith.

And he understood.

He had to choose.

If he was a fairy or even fairy-humankind, he was a member of the fairy world. He was one of Queen Fand’s people. His people were Queen Fand’s people.

If he was human, he was not a part of Queen Fand’s world.

It was up to him to choose.

For the first time, Jacob realized that this struggle, this quest to free Queen Fand and break the curse on the fairies, was actually about him, Jacob Marlowe. He closed his eyes for a moment.

He truly hated having “powers.” He couldn’t count how many times he’d wished to not be this way. He wanted to be like his father, his amazing father. He used to try to reason with God or spirit or the universe—I’ll give all of this up to be like my father and I’ll never ever miss it. As a teenager, before his mother got sick, he and Delphie had red-faced arguments, when he would scream at the top of his lungs.

“I’d rather die right here than have to live one more day like this!” Jacob had screamed.

“Most people would kill to be like you,” Delphie said.

“They can have it! I don’t want it!” Jacob had screamed.

Just Monday, an actual mythological creature, a dragon no less, had laughed at him and told him he had more power than he knew.

“You never needed me,” the dragon said. “You only needed to decide you were in the game.”

“Do I have to give up being human?” Jacob yelled at the walls.

Gilfand appeared in front of him.

“No,” Gilfand said. “You have to stop rejecting your fairy nature, and take your spot in the fairy nation.”

“Why?” Jacob asked. “Why do I have to do this? I will still help you raise the ghost army and find Manannán. Why do I have to be a fairy?”

“Because your daughter needs you to be her father,” Gilfand said. “Your sons will need you. More than anything, you need to be whole—for all of the men who came before you and weren’t whole, and for yourself.”

“But I want to be a father like my father,” Jacob said.

“He is wonderful, isn’t he?” Gilfand nodded. “He’s one of my favorite humans—of all time. Wait until you meet Manannán. He and your father will be the best of friends. But you?”

“I’m fairy-kind,” Jacob said. “Is this what happened to Kirk Maughold? Uh, Machaoi?”

“Yes,” Gilfand said. “He also rejected his fairy nature. He went to the brothers to have it tortured out of him. Then they sent him to destroy us, and in many ways, he succeeded. We can’t go through that again.”

“I need to be whole to complete this,” Jacob said.

“You need to be whole for yourself,” Gilfand said. “And . . .”

The gargoyle’s voice faded out.

“And?”

“It is true that we manipulate things to our advantage,” Gilfand said. “We needed you to be human to retrieve Queen Fand’s body and place it here. We now need you to take your place among us.”

“Why?” Jacob asked.

“So that your children, their children, and truly all fairy-humankind can breathe a little easier.”

“Oh, come on,” Jacob said. “Like I can do that. Please.”

Gilfand gave Jacob a kind smile.

“What?” Jacob asked.

“You’re right,” Gilfand said. “It’s not just about you.”

“Then what?” Jacob asked.

“This is what you do,” Gilfand said. “You dance around the edges of all your beauty, power, and skill with cynicism and doubt, rather than meet yourself head on and thus use your abilities to the fullest.”

“Which means?” Jacob asked.

“What does it mean, Jacob Marlowe?” Gilfand asked.

Gilfand reached out and grabbed Jacob’s sleeve. In the blink of an eye, they were standing on the top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

“Why do they watch?” Gilfand gestured to the gargoyles. “Why are they modeled after fairies?”

In a flash, they were back inside the monolith.

“What did the dragon say?” Gilfand asked.

“I have to decide that I’m in the game,” Jacob said. “But . . . if I join the game, this fairy thingy, whatever, . . .”

Gilfand raised his eyebrows at Jacob.

“How does that help anyone?” Jacob finally came up with.

“Try it and find out,” Gilfand said. “I will make you one promise, Jacob Marlowe: I will mentor you. I will guide you. I will not leave you or your children on your own to use your capacities to wash dishes and decorate holiday trees.”

Jacob turned away from Gilfand.

“Or I will disappear from your life forever,” Gilfand said. “A month from now, you will cynically wonder who that monkey-looking guy was, anyway.”

“Monkey?” Jacob asked.

“You have to choose,” Gilfand said and disappeared.

Jacob dropped to his knees and surrendered to the dark.

~~~~~~~~

“Katy?” Jill whispered to the dark. “Katy-baby?”

She groaned at the contraction. Jill felt the darkness spin around her.

“Katherine Anjelika Roper-Marlowe,” Jill said in her sternest voice. “I know you’re here.”

Her desperate love for her daughter formed a mental bridge through the dark. Jill could hear Katy’s thoughts. Her daughter was very frightened.

“Katy?” Jill asked the dark. “Whoever is doing this, whoever has stolen my child and her Paddie, you do not know who you are dealing with.”

Jill felt a well of power rise from her very core.

“I am Bratva, if that means anything to you,” Jill said. “And if it doesn’t, my father is Perses. He will eat your living heart if you injure me or my child.”

Her feeling of power diminished.

“Shit,” Jill said. “I thought that was going to work.”

She took a step forward and felt another contraction.

“Katy? I hear you, Katy-baby,” Jill said. “I hear you. Hang on. I’m coming.”

Jill looked around her.

“Please,” Jill begged. “Whoever has my Katy, please bring her to me. She’s just a little girl. She needs her mommy. I know she’s lots of different, amazing and powerful things, but she’s a little girl, my little girl, and she needs me.”

Nothing.

Jill scowled. What had made her powerful before?

She wasn’t fairy-kind like Jacob and Katy. Outside of her fairly random healing capacity, she wasn’t magical or special in any way. She had great friends, but that was really about Sandy, not her. Jill scrunched up her face and thought about Sandy and Tanesha. Heather had to go to the hospital to check on the baby after having been drugged. Jill thought Heather would be all right, but it was good to check, especially since Blane was out at the site.

Jill felt better just thinking about her friends.

“Now what?” Tanesha’s voice came from somewhere near her.

“Tanesha?” Jill said at the same time she heard Sandy say, “Tanesha?”

“Jill!” Sandy and Tanesha said.

“Oh, this dark has got to go,” Tanesha said.

Jill heard Tanesha fumble in the dark. She saw a pinpoint of light about thirty feet away.

“There you are,” Tanesha said. “I see you, Sandy.”

“I’m right here!” Jill waved and groaned.

There was the sound of feet slapping stone, and suddenly Sandy and Tanesha were at her side. They hugged each other tight.

“Where do we think we are?” Tanesha asked.

“No idea,” Jill said. “But Katy’s here. I can feel her.”

“Paddy must be here too,” Sandy said.

“Gosh, I hope so,” Jill said.

“Let’s find our babies and get the hell out of here,” Tanesha said.

“Do we have another light?” Jill asked.

“You’re the magic one,” Tanesha said. “Why don’t you just say ‘let there be light’ or whatever?”

“Let there be light,” Jill repeated in a dull tone.

The lights came on. But that was almost more horrifying than the dark. They were standing on air. There were no walls, no floor, and only the night sky above.

“Where’s Katy?” Sandy asked.

“Call her,” Tanesha said.

“I did that,” Jill said.

“In the voice?” Sandy asked.

“You mean the voice that makes her do things she doesn’t want to do?” Jill nodded.

“Hmm,” Sandy said. “Is Katy why we’re here?”

“Or me,” Jill shrugged. “I miss her so much that I . . .”

Tears seeped from Jill’s eyes.

“Okay,” Tanesha hugged Jill. “Let’s find our girl.”

“She’s here,” Jill said. “I know she’s here. I just . . .”

Jill bent over with a contraction.

“Did you try that whole ‘I’m going to kill you’ thing you used to do with Trevor?” Sandy asked.

“Mentioned Perses and Bratva,” Jill nodded.

“Shit,” Sandy said. “Did you try begging?”

Jill nodded.

“Wait,” Tanesha said. “Why can you see us?”

“Because I love you,” Jill said.

“Sure,” Tanesha said. “But you love Katy a lot more than you love us.”

“No idea.” Jill shook her head.

“Can the boys help?” Sandy asked.

Jill shook her head.

“Let’s think this through,” Tanesha said. “We’re here in this cloudy place.”

“It was really dark when I got here,” Jill said.

“How’d you get the lights on?” Tanesha asked.

“You told me to say ‘let there be light,’” Jill said.

“You commanded it,” Sandy said. “Not because of your dad or grandfather.”

“Seems like you’re in charge here,” Tanesha said. “Go ahead.”

“I want my daughter, Katy, here right this instant,” Jill said.

“And Paddie,” Sandy whispered.

“I demand that my daughter, Katy, and our friend Paddie appear right here,” Jill said.

Katy and Paddie appeared on the ground in front of her. They seemed to be fast asleep in a small compartment. Jill saw a tear roll down Katy’s face.

“Katy?” Jill asked.

“Mommy!” Katy sat up. “Mommy? I can hear you, but I can’t see you.”

“She can’t see us,” Tanesha said.

“I’m here, Katy-baby.” Jill went to her daughter’s side. She reached to touch her but only hit air.

“She can’t see Paddie either,” Sandy said.

Jill’s knees gave out and she groaned. Jill gritted her teeth and stood up.

“What do we do?” Jill asked.

~~~~~~~~

Deep under the meadow in the King’s Forest on the Isle of Man, Delphie skidded to a stop. James and Valerie ran ahead in the catacombs’ rock hallway.

“Hold up!” Sam yelled from behind Delphie. James and Valerie ran back.

“She’s not here,” Delphie said. She dropped her sledgehammer onto the ground.

“Who’s not?” Sam asked.

“Katy,” Delphie said. “She was. Paddie too. She’s not here now.”

“What?” James asked.

“What do you mean?” Valerie asked.

“He slipped them out from under the fairy’s nose,” Delphie said. “He’s . . . We’ve . . . Oh God, Katy.”

Delphie dropped her head into her hands and cried. Sam wrapped himself around her. Valerie put her arms around her father. James looked down the hallway.

“There’s a blue light there.” James pointed. He looked at them for a moment, “No matter. I’m a tough MI-6 agent. I’ll go.”

He jogged down the hallway to where he saw a blue dot. He kneeled down to be at her level.

“There’s a fairy here,” James said. They looked up at him. “It looks sick.”

Edie threw up.

“He took her,” Edie said. “I . . . couldn’t fight him. He’s too strong.”

James picked up Edie and stuck her in the front pocket of his shirt.

“Let’s get out of here,” James said. “There’s something not right here.”

Valerie, Delphie, and Sam gave him numb looks.

“NOW!” James pushed them apart. “Sam, put your mask on.”

Sam put his mask on. Sam helped Delphie with her mask while James helped get Valerie.”

James pointed to Delphie and Sam nodded. Sam picked up Delphie. James threw Valerie over his shoulder in a fireman’s hold. They made slow progress to the top.

“We’re lost,” Delphie said through her mask

James pointed down a long hallway and to a flight of stairs. Sam and James lumbered up the steps. Near the top, Sam stopped walking and pulled off his mask. James ran into him. James pulled off his mask.

“What are you doing?” James asked.

“There’s nothing here,” Sam said.

James pushed passed him. He was standing in some kind of white room. There was low hanging fog or clouds on the ground. There were walls and an empty open sky above. He set Valerie down and gestured for Sam to join him.

“Where are we?” Sam asked, and set Delphie down.

“Do you know them?” James pointed. There were three figures near the edge of the room.

One of them crumpled and moaned.

“Why, that’s Jill!” Delphie exclaimed. She took off toward the women. She ran for what seemed like an hour.

“Jill!”

“Do you hear something?” Tanesha asked.

“Sounds like Delphie when she’s talking to herself in the kitchen,” Sandy said.

“I can’t make out what she’s saying,” Tanesha said.

“Sandy!” Delphie yelled. Sam, James, and Valerie caught up to her. “They can’t hear us.”

“Or see us.” James waved his hand in front of their faces.

“Look it’s Katy and Paddie! We found them!” Valerie pointed through the fog to two figures lying on the ground. “Katy! Paddie!”

The little girl blinked and jutted her chin out in defiance. Tears ran down Katy’s face, but didn’t respond. Paddie seemed asleep. James plucked the fairy out of his shirt pocket and held her up in front of his face.

“What is this?” James asked.

Edie looked at him and then looked around.

“Oh, this isn’t good,” Edie said.

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