Also by MD Fryson
Hall of Souls & The Book of the Fairies (#1)
Fairy Nymphs & The Demon Court (#3)
Keepers & The Soul Key (#4)
The Demon Chronicles
Nevoc & The Necromancer
Lahash & Black Moon Lilith
The air was crisp and cool as it danced around her face and through her messy raven hair. With a quick stop to investigate the window of the restaurant, she paused at the reflection staring back at her; Meridian did not recognize who she was. Her disheveled look was unflattering, and her dark and ominous wardrobe gave her the appearance of someone heading for a funeral, a fan of Johnny Cash, or on the other end, a lover of all things gothic. Wincing, she turned away from the stranger in the reflection and continued to walk down the street that she had once known in another life. Meridian had no idea where or who she was, or how she had arrived in such a state. With overwhelming emotions raging inside, the flush on her face gave color to her pale face, and her eyes appeared even more piercing with the complement of the blush in her cheeks.
As she walked down the street from Aiden’s old school, her mind scrambled with thoughts. Her face devoid of movement, like a statue, it would not have been hard for any onlooker passing by her to see how lonely she felt. All Meridian could remember was Aiden and a distant memory of a name, Talon, but she was not sure why these names came to her and what the importance of these names was. The more her mind obsessively ran over thoughts of things she didn’t understand, the quicker her pace became as though she was running from something. Maybe she was running her way back to, in the very least, a clue that would brim with familiarity.
Meridian passed a few shops and a small bar that were out of place amongst the administrative offices and city hall. Meridian was unaware though; she wouldn’t have known what was out of place in this world. She stopped outside the bar, looked in the windows, and did not see anyone there. Moments later, she heard voices from inside as the door came open. A woman dressed very strangely was saying goodbye to the owner of the bar. “I will see you later, Stephanie!” she yelled out to the bar owner.
There Tallulah stood, looking at Meridian, adorned with jewelry of Celtic and Wiccan symbols. Her light brown hair was long, but strategically swept up in a messy bun atop her head and looked as though it had not seen a wash in a couple of days. Her clothes hung loosely on her large curvy body giving it a boxy appearance, her feet were hidden by the overture of her long dress, and she smelled of patchouli. Although Meridian was not sure what the scent was, as she had not encountered it before, it somehow gave her a sense of knowing and comfort. Meridian stared at the woman as she was trying to put together this feeling of familiarity. Tallulah waved her arms in sync with her exchange with the woman inside the bar, her large and gaudy bracelet chiming with every move of her hand. Meridian could not help but stare at the eccentric lady as she spoke to the other woman.
“Sure thing. Come by for a chat soon,” Stephanie answered back as Tallulah closed the door and took notice of Meridian’s stare. Tallulah’s smiling face quickly changed, and the twinkle in her eye disappeared as she looked at Meridian. Meridian’s expression struck Tallulah; as a psychic, she was too sensitive of a person to just walk on by.
“Hi, how are you?” Tallulah asked with concern.
Meridian stood with her arms crossed barely making eye contact. She kept her head down, kicking a small pebble on the ground as though that it was more important than Tallulah engaging in conversation with her. After a very long pause, she allowed her deep and mesmerizing green eyes to look up and quietly answer, “I am okay.”
“You sure you are okay? Are you looking for someone?” Tallulah asked.
“I really don’t know. I mean I do not know if I am okay or not, and I am looking for someone, but I do not know how to find him. His name is Aiden,” Meridian quietly explained, keeping her voice down as passersby continued to stare.
“Aiden? Hmm, I do not know anyone by that name. Are you from around here?” Tallulah inquired further.
“No, I am from out of town, and I do not know anyone here.” Meridian realized how she must sound to the stranger she was speaking to. She worried that this somehow familiar woman would see right through her, and in Meridian’s mind, there was no telling what that would entail for her.
“How did you get here? Do you have any parents or family? I see many people in my line of work, but I get the feeling I know you. Have we ever met before?” Tallulah was a little taller than Meridian, and she was bent at the waist just low enough to try to peer into Meridian’s eyes that were still locked on the ground. Her questions though innocent felt invasive to the lost and castaway spirit guide.
“What is your name, sweetie?” Tallulah pressed on after receiving no reply, “I am sorry I am asking you so many questions. Where are my manners? In a small town, we all try to help one another; we are all like family. I didn’t stop to think about how that may come across to a stranger.” Tallulah looked away from Meridian.
Meridian stopped kicking the pebble and looked up to the woman who had now stopped trying to make eye contact. “Meridian, I think. I am not sure. I can’t really remember things.” Meridian looked around seeking any clue to remind her of who she may be, but nothing was ringing any bells. As she heard herself speak, it left her feeling even more vulnerable and embarrassed.
“What happened? Were you in some sort of accident? I can call someone for you or take you somewhere if it would help you out,” Tallulah explained as she fumbled through her big purse digging for her cell phone. After several minutes of digging through a seemingly endless purse, Meridian put her hand out to Tallulah.
“No, no, it is fine, really. I don’t need you to call anyone for me. I don’t know what happened to me exactly. I just know I woke up in the high school parking lot, and I went into the school. The Principal called the authorities, but while I was waiting, I asked if he knew where Aiden lived, and he said that he lived in a farmhouse off a county road outside of town. That was where I was headed when I stopped here,” Meridian said.
“Well, there aren’t but a few county roads around here in this small town. How come you didn’t wait for the authorities?” Tallulah asked further as she looked back at Meridian.
“I don’t know. I don’t think I have done anything wrong, I just had this name in my mind, and I wanted to find him.” Meridian paused. “I don’t even know him... I don’t think I do. I just…” Meridian stopped herself. She did not want to say anymore or mention Talon’s name.
“So, you do not remember anything but this Aiden’s name, and you do not know him, and you don’t know what happened?” Tallulah’s eyes were dark and soulful, like deep pools of water that were still and quiet. “I do not want to push, so I am going to get back over to my shop. If you change your mind, I would be happy to call someone for you. I do hope you are okay. Here is my card.” Tallulah had managed to pull an old bent up business card with her information on it and handed it over to Meridian. Tallulah began walking away across the street and back to her place.
Meridian took a glance at the card, and then she looked around at the street at all the people walking around. She looked back at Tallulah who had just made it to her door, and she was again digging through her big purse looking for her keys.
Meridian dashed across the street. “Right, but the strange thing is you seem familiar to me too, but I don’t know how,” she said.
Tallulah smiled as she pointed at a sign on the door that read ‘Psychic readings by Tallulah’. Meridian glanced up at the sign while Tallulah unlocked the door and walked in, leaving the door open for Meridian to follow. Tallulah went through her living area straight to the kitchen and set her things down. “I am the town psychic, and perhaps you came to me for a reading? I know that you seem familiar to me as well, but I have done so many readings that I cannot always remember each person.”
“Maybe I did. That could have happened.” Meridian walked in and took a look around. Tallulah had an old light brown carpet on the floor that looked as though it had been well maintained. Her walls were an old wood paneling job that were decorated with paintings of country fields and purple coneflowers. Scents of lavender were heavy as Meridian continued toward the kitchen. Tallulah’s table was small and decorated with a cheap linen cloth with red stripes and a centerpiece of large crystal quartz, set on a mirror with a crack in the center.
“Would you let me take you to the hospital to be checked to make sure that you are okay, at least? I can try to help you find your friend, and maybe he can help you find your parents and family. I am sorry I am not more help; I am uncertain what else I can do for you.” Tallulah filled her teapot from the sink and moved over to heat it up on the stove.
“Hmm, I do not want to go to the hospital right now. Is there something else I could do? Do you have any more suggestions?” Meridian dropped onto Tallulah’s large couch. Sitting down, she scooted all the way to the back of the couch where her feet dangled off the ground.
“Sure, I could give you a reading on the house? I may not be good at many things, but I am good at a reading - or so I am told.” Tallulah’s eye’s twinkled in the light coming in from her large picture window.
Tallulah led the way into her favorite room - the reading room. There were crystals placed throughout, and smudge sticks sitting on a shelf for customers to purchase. A red curtain separated the living-waiting room from her small and private area for clients. The charm hanging from the ceiling fan switch was two half-moons on either side of a moon with a Witch’s pentagram in the center, and Meridian walked over to the fan to reach up to touch the charm.
“That is my wind chime. I bought it while I went on a trip to Salem, Massachusetts… you know, for Halloween weekend. I always did enjoy going to Salem. I have plans to go back this year.” Tallulah attempted to hand Meridian a cup of tea, however, Meridian had not pulled her eyes away from the charm, barely taking notice of what Tallulah was sharing. Her thoughts were interrupted by a divine scent that immersed through the air as Tallulah stood next to Meridian holding her tea.
“What is that wonderful smell?” Meridian looked into the cup and inhaled the steam floating away from the cup.
“Oh, that is chamomile tea. I thought you would want a cup to warm you up. Fall is certainly in the air. I love to have my teas,” Tallulah said as she sat down at her table putting away her tarot cards. “Now, what can you remember about yourself?”
“I truly do not have a clue about my whereabouts or even where I come from. Judging by the way I am dressed, I look like I am going to a funeral, I guess?” Meridian looked down at herself and opened up her arms as she explained herself. “Well, maybe not a funeral. I am sure I would wear a sweater over a shirt like this.” Meridian pulled the end of her sheer black shirt that showed through to the black bra she was wearing underneath. The only thing she had on over her tawdry shirt was a black leather waistcoat that barely zipped up over her large breasts.
“Well, you look like maybe you like gothic style, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s all right to be proud of your body. I mean, as long as you are comfortable with that kind of attention. I see a lot of that with my clientele. This little town is a wonderful place away from the bigger cities. It is small enough that most people who have lived here a long time know each other. However, it is growing, so we do see new faces more frequently. If you like the beach, we are just about an hour away, and there is plenty to do down at the boardwalk.
Meridian looked right at Tallulah. The psychic had jumped from her comment on Meridian’s wardrobe right into her sharing information on the area, but Meridian got hung up on Tallulah’s remark about her outfit. “Attention? I don’t understand.” Meridian took the seat across Tallulah’s reading table.
“Oh, now you have to know what kind of attention that you get. I am sure all the guys must look at you. I mean you definitely have the body to pull off your look well. Don’t be ashamed.” Tallulah didn’t give the raven beauty any time to respond, and she moved right on to what she knew she did best. “So, let us do a reading and see what I can help you out with.”
Tallulah closed her eyes. Soon she began to see images flash through her mind of Meridian and what she looked like as a guide. She had platinum blonde hair and a glowing tattoo on her wrist that represented Infiniti. She caught a glimpse of her own self and the woman she was reading back when Meridian, Relic and Caius came in to talk with her. She remembered that day and how odd it was to have spirits talking to her in the way they were with their strange requests. Tallulah could not get any more on Meridian, but she did see a glimpse of Aiden driving down his grandparent’s long dirt road to their home. With his window rolled down and his rock music blaring, his long blond hair blew around with the wind and his bright smile spread across his face. Tallulah opened her eyes, and she looked at Meridian with some confusion. She remembered the names of the guides, and it startled her that one of the spirits she had spoken to had the same name.
“What is it, Tallulah? Can you tell me anything?” Meridian’s excitement did not give Tallulah another moment to collect thoughts any further. She was leaning in and studying Tallulah’s face.
“Well, I got a flash of you, but you looked different. Can I see your wrist?” As Tallulah examined Meridian’s wrist, the tattoo was there, but it was not glowing white like she saw in her mind, it was just a simple black tattoo of the infinity symbol. Tallulah’s face showed her confusion, and Meridian was becoming just as confused. “Meridian, did you dye your hair? Or was it another color before?”
“What? I don’t think so.” Meridian walked over to the mirror on the wall as she looked at herself. “I would think that I have always had black hair and green eyes.”
“Well, in my vision I see you, but your hair is platinum blonde, and you still have green eyes, but they are a very light translucent green and they are very, well… deep would be a good word to describe them. They do not look like any green eyes I have seen before, and the tattoo was glowing and a silvery color, not black like it is now. The mark on your wrist seemed like a hologram that floated above your wrist, casting a dark silver or grey shadow, but it isn’t a shadow. This is all very different, compelling, and strange. I also saw a vision of a boy and wonder if this is your Aiden. He had blond hair, about shoulder length, and he was driving a black truck down a dirt drive to a farmhouse. That house looks like the one I pass on the way out of town, and I think this must be him. This is very strange,” Tallulah repeated as she questioned herself.
Meridian continued to study her reflection. Long, flowing jet-black hair and piercing green eyes. Her eyes were the only thing that made sense to her, but she still remained puzzled with her fuzzy memory, in contrast with what Tallulah said. Meridian’s delight left, and her statue-like expression returned - accompanied by the slump she had carried when she and Tallulah had met on the street. She plopped back down onto her seat at the table and put her head in her hands as she stared at Tallulah.
“Meridian, I was doing a reading last year for a client of mine, and I had to ask her to leave because I was getting some spirits making strange requests. They spoke to me, and I could hear them, and their names were Caius, Relic and…Meridian.” Tallulah stopped as she saw Meridian’s face light up. “They were Spirit Guides that watch over humankind.”
“Are you saying I am her? I am Meridian the Spirit Guide?” Meridian’s voice drifted as she pulled a strand of her hair in front of her eyes, for a closer look. “This makes no sense; how can I be a spirit and be here talking to you?”
“I don’t know, child. This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me, and trust me, I have had some strange experiences. They were asking me about a Fairy Quartz stone and how to locate the family or persons who had it. I never truly answered them; I asked them to leave. I knew where the stone was, but I was afraid to say anything.” Tallulah took pause as she waited for Meridian’s reaction.
Meridian stood with her hand over her wide-open mouth, the shock evident in her expression. “Tallulah, I think I am her. I remember… I remember being here and seeing you and the stone, but I have no idea why I needed it. I am so confused, but this seems more like a dream I had. Nothing that would be realistic.” Meridian walked over to the couch and sat down in disbelief of her own thoughts. “Maybe this is a dream, and maybe I don’t remember because I was in an accident or something? I mean isn’t this backwards? Shouldn’t it be a human goes on to the spirit world, not the other way around?” Meridian looked to Tallulah for some semblance of comfort, but as she looked at the psychic, she did not find what she was looking for. Instead, Tallulah appeared to be just as confounded as Meridian.
After much urging from Tallulah, the pair went down to the hospital for a full work up, and to make sure there wasn’t anything that they could find to piece together Meridian’s circumstance. Tallulah had taken on quite a bit, and she questioned herself as to if this was really something she should be involved with. After the hospital checked Meridian, and they saw no signs of trauma, Tallulah felt better knowing that at least physically, Meridian was okay. The pair sat in the waiting room as they waited on more test results coming back from the lab.
“What else do we need to have tested?” Meridian was impatient as she sat drumming her fingernails on the magazine that lay on her lap.
“Well, I have never had this happen to me either, but I think it makes sense that we have you checked out. The next thing we will look at doing - if we can’t locate your family - is finding a place for you to stay. There are shelters here for folks who have nowhere to stay.” Tallulah sat with her large purse in her lap digging for her wallet, so she could get a drink from the vending machine. Meridian raised an eyebrow and smiled as she watched the digging.
“Why don’t you get a smaller bag?” Meridian elbowed Tallulah gently and laughed.
“Why should I? I like having what I need. It just takes me a while to get it!” She popped back at her new acquaintance. Tallulah made her way to the vending machine, and as she was putting her change in, one of the doctors who had seen Meridian for her checkup approached with a clipboard and some papers. Meridian stood and watched the pair visiting. Tallulah appeared confused as she shook her head several times and shrugged her shoulders as she responded to the doctor’s inquiries. After a few more moments, the doctor, alongside Tallulah, walked over to where Meridian was sitting in the waiting area.
“Meridian, I have the results of another set of labs we ran, and I am troubled by some of the results we have uncovered. It appears that you do not have a blood type. No matter how many times we rechecked for errors, the results are always the same. The strangest thing is, you seem fine, and there are no indications of anything that could be wrong with you. I have no reason to hold you here, except by you volunteering to run some more tests. Maybe there is something else that is going on with you that we have yet to uncover. I seriously think you should come back for some additional testing. If you don’t want to do it now, you can go to the front with an order, and they can schedule it.” Dr. Jones walked away leaving Meridian and Tallulah with an order to take for an appointment.
“I don’t want to do this!” Meridian shouted at Tallulah.
Tallulah paused and looked around struggling with what to do. “Okay, okay; calm down. You and I both know that there is more to you than we can share with just anyone. I am happy to know for the most part you are all right. We can hold onto the work order for now. I have some friends that may be able to help you, but you have to promise me that if for any reason we can’t uncover what we need to in order to satisfy your mystery, that you will come here and allow the staff here to take care of you.” Tallulah’s tone was forceful.
“Well, it doesn’t sound like you are giving me an option. I will only do so if they do not have a clue how to help me. It sounds to me as I am being volun-told,” Meridian acquiesced with a guarded endorsement. They left the hospital and found a shelter that Meridian was welcomed to stay in. Tallulah left Meridian there while making a few calls to help her out. One of those calls was back to her dear friend, Stephanie. Tallulah was hopeful she could put Meridian to work while they worked out the young woman’s perplexing circumstance.