Chapter 7 Darn Muck Demon
I hear a truck going by and I open my eyes. Lying there I take a deep breath. Wait!! I sit up and look around. I run over to my closet and take out the shoebox full of stones. I dump them out and look at each one. Putting them one by one next to my heart. It’s not working. Why is it not working?!? I don’t remember dreaming last night. I feel my head. It doesn’t hurt. Maybe this was all a bad dream. Was Miles and Mrs. Simpson even at my house last night? I look around to see anything resembling my mother’s doing, like incense sticks or extra stones lying around. Maybe I’m dreaming still? Maybe I’m just stressed out from school. I feel kind of sad. It was a cool dream. Being a prophesy of a secret land. But Miles? But what about Miles?
I pick up all the stones and put them back into the shoe box. I put the box up on the top shelf and see a dress my mom bought for me. It’s cute. It’s off white with splattered colors on it, mostly pastels and it’s not bright which I like. I’ll wear it to make her happy. I put it on with my jean jacket and cute brown knee high, tie up boots. I put my hair up in a ponytail and put on some lip gloss my mom got me. Oh, my God, what am I doing?? I wipe off the lip gloss. And grab a Chapstick, hmm orange sherbet. That’s better. It smells so good. I grin at myself in the mirror and walk downstairs.
“Mom,” I yell, “where are you?”
There is a packed lunch on the table and a fruit cup. There is some toast with melt-in-your mouth, honey. I reach over to take a bite. Eeuww, it smells funny. It looks fine. I take a bite anyway, eeuww; I spit it out. There’s something in my mouth. It’s a fly, ewe. I spit up in the garbage. There are flies everywhere.
“Mom, mom!” I yell walking around the kitchen to the living room.
I go over to the porch where she does her readings. I swing open the door.
“MOM!!” I yell. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I say.
She is on the porch doing a reading. It’s the nurse from the school.
“Hello, dear,” the nurse says in her southern drawl. She has her pediatric scrubs on so I figure she must be on her way to work. There are flies all around her head.
“Opal, sweetie, are you ok?” my mom asks as she gets up, waving a few flies away. Putting her hands on my cheeks, she kisses my forehead.
“Yes, Mom, I’m fine. I just didn’t know where you were.” I say, monitoring the nurse.
“You look beautiful and refreshed; that dress is so pretty on you,” she says, looking so happy.
“Thanks, Mom, forgetting it for me,” I say. “It fits fantastic.”
“Oh, you’re welcome,” she says.
Then she looks at me really closely, gets all worried again, and puts her hand up to her mouth.
“Are you sure you are ok to go to school?” she asks.
“Why wouldn’t I be ok to go to school?” I say. “I’m fine.”
I hear a knock at the door.
“Besides, that must be Violet. I have to go.”
“Ok, sweetie, if you say so. Just take it easy today, love you.”
I give her a hug and she holds me so tightly. I look up and notice the nurse looking at me strangely. She has this mean look on her face. She must be angry that I interrupted her reading. Oops.
“Bye Mom, love you,” I say as I run to the kitchen to grab my lunch and fruit cup.
I go to the fridge to get a few carrots for Horizon. I really want to stop later and tell him about my dream. I dump the toast and honey into the garbage and put my plate in the sink. I’ll have to tell my mother she got a bad batch of honey. I put an apple in my pocket and my lunch in my bag. I open the front door to a tall boy standing there, its Jon.
“Hello!” I say.
“Hey, Opie,” he says as he turns around to face me.
He looks me up and down; his face blushes and I can feel mine beaming red.
I put my head down and push a piece of loose hair behind my ear.
“Wha, what are you doing here?”
I walk out the door and close it behind me. Jon is taller than me, taller than I remember, by about six inches. So, I have to look up to really see him. The morning sun is hitting my face and my eyes, so I put my hand on my forehead to shade my eyes so I can see his face. I see stars twinkling.
“AHH,” I gasp. “I remember.”
“Remember what?” asked Jon.
“I remember a...... a dream.”
I look around, scared and lost. I grab Jon’s hand and want to run. As I do, he stops me and gently holds my back with one arm and touches my face with the other. He looks into my eyes. His eyes sparkle like thousands of starry nights.
“Am I interrupting a moment?” I hear Violet say.
Jon and I both look at her, embarrassed, and Jon says, “Shall we, girls?”
He walks ahead.
Violet looks at me and giggles. “What was that? You both looked like you were ready to kiss each other.”
“I don’t know,” I say. Trying to change the subject, I ask, “Do you like my dress?”
“Oh, we’ll get back to this later; but yes, you look nice.”
She laughs and walks ahead to talk to Jon. I take a deep breath and think of everything that’s happened. Is this real? Am I from Omynora? I feel faint. Oh no. Not another dream. Every time I feel faint, I fall asleep and go to Omynora. I am walking in broad daylight.
I open the fruit my mom made for me and take a bite of a strawberry. Maybe I just need something in my stomach.
“Opal, come on, we’re crossing,” yells Violet.
I run to catch up. We cross over to the zoo. I can hear the animals. I can hear them, really hear them. I can hear the elephants talking to each other. I can feel the monkey’s feelings. They are scared. I hear Horizon; he knows I’ll be to see him later. OMG, I tumble over a crack in the sidewalk and try to catch my breath.
“Opie, are you ok?” asks Jon, all concerned.
He and Violet helped me up.
“I’m ok,” I reply. “I just tripped over my own feet. I think I might just need to eat something.”
My fruit has spilled all over the ground. Violet picks it up and puts it in the garbage. Jon takes his lunch out of his bag and gives me an apple.
“Here, this should help,” says Miles. He appears out of thin air and puts his hand on my head. A white light shines from his hand and suddenly I feel fine. Like nothing happened.
Jon and Violet look at each other and walk ahead like they noticed nothing.
“I remember.” I say to Miles.
“It’s going to be ok. The dryad elves worked a spell so you can remember. It might come all at once.” He says, putting his arms around me holding me up. “Pretend you don’t remember, it’s too soon. Someone will notice.”
“But Clear to...” he puts his hand on my mouth to shut me up.
“Opal!” says Violet, pretty annoyed now. “Let’s go. We’re going to be late.”
She rolls her eyes. Jon waits until we catch up.
“Ok,” I say. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re fine, I’m here for you.” says Miles. “Keep quiet.” He walks up with Violet. Ignoring Jon.
I give Jon back his apple and take mine out of my pocket. We smile at each other.
“Ah good thing, bad thing?” he asks.
“Hmm, well, we both like apples,” I say, blushing. “I guess I feel a little out of it today, you?”
“I like that we both like apples, and I’m also sad that you don’t feel well today.” He puts his arm around my shoulders. I look up at him and give my half-grinned smile, even though I know my face is super red.
“I can’t even be with you guys, just walk behind us,” yells Violet and she turns up her music on her headphones and puts her arm in to Miles’ arm. Miles looks back at me and nods his head. Letting me know he is taking care of me.
We all walk silently and slowly up to the school. Dany is waiting by the door again, flipping through her phone. Then she glances up and notices us. She gives a fake smile to me and Violet and doesn’t even notice Miles as she reaches for Jon’s arm.
“There you are,” she says. “You keep disappearing on me.”
Jon stares at her with a blank face and turns to me and smiles.
“I’m helping a friend today,” he says. “I’ll have to talk to you later, Dany, ok?”
She acts furious, and I can’t help but smile. She looks me up and down. I don’t want to look at her. I’m still annoyed about what she did to Violet. So I just ignore her and follow Jon’s footsteps. He walks me all the way to my locker and then into my homeroom. Then he meets me at my locker and walks me to all my morning classes. When we get to math, he walks me right into the classroom and over to my desk. I look up to see Mrs. Simpson. But she isn’t there; there’s a substitute. Oh no, I think.
At the end of fourth period we have announcements before the lunch periods begin. I don’t know why, no one ever listens to them.
“May I have your attention, please,” says the person making the announcements. “Bla bla bla, homecoming dance bla bla bla.......”
My mouth drops open. Homecoming, I sink in my chair a little. Great. I’m sure Violet will want to go. I wonder if Jon has thought about going. I really don’t care to go at all. But I guess if Jon asks me, I would want to go with him. The announcements go on about volunteers and dressing up and a theme. Argh, not for me, I think. Every year the town puts on a huge homecoming benefit for the zoo with a parade of floats at the football game before the dance. Each team makes a float and you buy tickets and put them in the baskets then they make the float into a statue at the front of the zoo and it stands all year. Each team of about 6 to 10 students makes a float. Then everyone who attends the game gets to vote on the float they like the best. People buy tickets and put them into the basket for the float they want to win. The cheerleaders made last year’s winning float. It was an elephant. It was cool, but the wind blew it over after two weeks. I giggled to myself.
I like that the money goes to the animals, but I never have really gotten involved. When they started it, it was usually only for the seniors to do. But this year they needed more money so they are reaching out to all the grades in the high school. There are three floats for the younger grades and six for the seniors. Wow, that’s fifteen floats in all. That’s a lot.
Looking at the clock, I sigh. I want to go to sleep. I want to go to Omynora and find out what to do. I leave the classroom and Jon meets me in the hall.
“Opie, are you ok?” he asks.
“I’m fine, just exhausted. Thank you so much for being so nice to me and walking me around today. I really feel much better,” I say, looking up at him.
“It was my pleasure.” he winks at me and as he goes to take my arm, Dany appears out of nowhere and grabs his arm again. She must have snuck up on us when we weren’t looking. As soon as she grabs his arm, she whispers in his ear. I look right at her and roll my eyes. What am I going to do with her, I wonder? Jon tells her again to leave him alone.
Fifth period is study hall. I can’t focus on the work I have to do so the period just drags on until the bell finally goes off. I look around for Jon outside the door. He isn’t there, so I walk to my locker alone. I wait for a minute, then I get nervous. What if Danica has gotten ahold of him? What if she knows I know? All she needs is one stone to get powers here. She cannot find those stones.
I run. I run all the way down the hall, bumping into anyone in my way. I turn the corner and BAM I bump right into the nurse.
“In a hurry, dear?” she asks. She pulls her shirt down to straighten it out. Flies still buzzing around her head.
“Oh, my. I’m so sorry; I’m late for, for my next class,” I stutter.
She gives me the same mean look she gave me this morning. It gave me the shivers then, and it gives me the shivers now. I turn down the hallway and there in front of me is Jon. he pulls me into an open closet.
“Hey, stranger,” he says, smiling. He’s so cute. I giggle at myself. “Something funny?” he asks.
“Oh, sorry, just that creepy nurse. I bumped into her by accident. She wasn’t thrilled.”
“Oh, she’s harmless,” says Jon. “She’s my neighbor. When we moved in a few weeks ago, she came over with many welcome gifts. Honey buns and jars of this honey that is so good.” He smiles at the thought of it.
I look out of the closet to see if she’s still there. She’s staring at us, arms on her hips. I look down and grab Jon’s arm and pull him into the next room.
“We’re not safe here,” I say, looking around and peeking out the door. “We need to go.”
“Opie, it’s ok.” Jon puts his arm around me again and pulls me close.
“I don’t know why, but I can’t stop thinking about you,” he says. He looks at my lips and then back into my eyes. Oh, no, he’s going to kiss me, I think. I don’t even know what I’m doing. What if he thinks I’m a horrible kisser, and then it’s all over?
“I thought I saw you two come in here,” says Violet barging in. “I can’t even with you two.” She throws her hands up, annoyed we were about to kiss. Violet punches Jon in the shoulder and yells. “Homecoming!! What am I going to do if you guys go together? I was hoping Opie would go stag with me.”
She looks down, embarrassed, and she looks sad.
“Well, I can’t pass up a date with the two most beautiful girls in the school,” says Jon. “How about we all go together?”
I smile. He is so perfect, thinking of Violet’s feelings. I don’t mind at all. I don’t even want to go. But if we all go together, it could be a lot of fun.
“That would be awesome! Miles too, he is coming too.” I say.
I look at Violet. She is smiling so big and it looks like she has tears in her eyes. Jon pulls her over and gives her a noogie on her head. She just laughs and pushes her glasses up on her nose.
“Alright, stop. My hair looks hideous enough,” she says. “What are we doing in here, anyway?” Violet peeks around the corner.
I grab my Chapstick and put some on my lips.
“Hmm, what flavor?” asks Jon, leaning in to smell it.
“Orange, orange sherbet.” I smile.
“I can’t even.” Violet turns around fast. She looks terrified.
Just as she does, Jon grabs her arm and pulls her into his arms before the nurse can grab her.
“HEY!” Says Miles. “What are you guys doing?” Miles slips in right under the nurse’s legs.
I look at them with my half-grinned smile and peek out the door. My forehead almost bumps with the nurse. Her face is starting to decay and flies are everywhere—her mouth is opening wider and wider and her teeth are growing. There’s brown slime dripping from her eroded gums. Big flies are opening up from holes in her gums where teeth used to reside, and she is shaking like something is taking over her body. I step back slowly into Jon. He holds on to me and peeks out of the door.
“Um well?” He says calmly, his face turning pale.
“Do you see her?” I say, my voice trembling with fear and disgust. He just looks at me. Staring blankly, I peek around the corner. She’s still there. Miles peaks his head slowly. He darts his head back, looks at me, winks, then quickly morphs his body into a slider fairy. His mechanical wings speared fast through his shirt, ripping it as they lunge out into the lockers on each side of the hallway. They leave a scratch and a spark on each locker as they get larger and send a loud scraping sound like nails on a chalkboard pulling the paint from the lockers. He pulls an arrow from his backpack and his ankle knife forms a bow. The arrows are crystal shinning like the ones Dave and I found I squint my eyes a few times to be sure. Violet peaks her head around to see.
Miles, locks of dark, gorgeous hair, flies with his head as he whips it fast, spinning the bow through his arms like a wheel. He points the crystal arrow at the nurse. Fly’s still around her head and coming out of her mouth, folding themselves in and out of the brown slime, coming from her disgusting lips. Miles pulls back the bow and shoots the arrow right into the nurse’s forehead, just as the nurse is about to lunge at him. The nurse’s skin melts around the arrow into nothing. Until there is a brown splat on the floor. A few flies still sticking to the yucky muck on the floor.
Miles winks again and smiles.” It’s safe now.” His magnificent mechanical wings fold into his back and his bow folds into itself and he places it back in its holder around his ankle.
“Ok, she’s gone, it’s safe let’s go.” I look at Jon and Vi.
“Showing off a little?” I whisper to Miles. He just grins at me.
I make them run out of the school. We just run and run until we are at the zoo.
“Ok, what was that Opal?” Yells Violet. She coughs like she is going to throw up. I pat her back as she lets out her lunch. Miles keeps watch like he is waiting for another whatever that was to come out and get us. When Violet is finished emptying her stomach on the pavement, we all run again.
“Let’s go,” I say. “We’ll be safe in here.”
Jon gives me a worried look and Violet gives up and says, “Fine, but hurry. My lunch period is almost over.” She screams, tears coming from her eyes. I shake my head and look at Jon with a pleading look on my face. He puts his hand behind his elegant head of hair and scratches his head like he has a thought, but is unsure of it.
“I’m not sure what is going on, but this is a little weird Opiee, what was that thing?” He says.
I look at them both blankly. I don’t even know what that was. I look at Miles.
Miles rolls his eyes. “Its was a muck demon.”
“Just tell them already.” I hear him say, but he didn’t say it.
“Yes! I did, it was me, just listen to me.” He is looking at me but nothing is coming out of his mouth but I can hear him talking. I look around my shoulders, then back at Miles. “They are in danger, you must warn them. Remember what Clear said to you.” He’s right, they are in danger and I dragged them into it.
“So, guys, I um-am, well, it’s hard to explain, so-um-I...”
“Opal is a princess of another land and the Hollow is trying to hurt her by hurting the ones she loves so the both of you are in danger and maybe your family’s too.” Miles turns away, looking around, making sure no one is around.
They both look at me with squinted eyes, then both laugh out loud.
“Seriously?” says Violet, shaking her head.
“Yes, seriously! We have to protect her, she is the prophesy she will save Omynora.” Miles tells them.
We pass to the fence of the zoo and a huge elephant trunk pops down, offering its services. I sit on it and it helps me over the fence. The rest join, with Miles last, to get a ride over the fence so he can keep watch.
“The elephants will keep us safe.” says Miles.
“Um- who are you? And did anyone notice him turn into a Dragon or whatever it was he did?” Yells Violet. She seems furious, staring at Miles, like he has betrayed her trust.
“I am not a Dragon. Dragons do not have mechanical wings like mine.” Miles corrects her.
I’m staring at Jon because he’s staring at me.
“HELLO! Love Birds,” says Violet.” Isn’t all of this a little strange to anyone but me? Did either of you see him morph into a whatever it was, shooting crystal arrows from his back and killing nurse demons, I mean really? I’m getting out of here. See Ya! Good riddance!” Violet gets up, leaving. And we all hear a loud hammer on the floor of the elephant den.
“No one may leave!” says an old, shaky voice. There is a cough behind it. Walking towards us is an old ape with a wooden stick. He has a small orange monkey on his shoulders, he is so small. Violet falls right over and faints the elephant that helped us across the fence, breaks her fall with his trunk and gently helps her to the ground.
The little monkey jumps on her chest, checks her breathing and then jumps a few times on her heart. He puts his lips to hers like he is giving her CPR.
Violet wakes up startled and coughs and wiped her mouth and spat. She screams and the elephant puts his trunk around her mouth, keeping her quiet.
“Ok, ok, I’m fine.” She says, calming down. “Did that monkey talk to me? Did you hear that?” She points at me. I just give my famous grin. Not sure what else to do.
The little monkey jumps on Jon’s shoulders and waits for the same reaction. But Jon just says “HI buddy.” And pats him on the head. “You’re so, cute.” The little monkey pulls Jon’s ear. “Ouch!”
The older ape slams down his wooden cane and everyone is quiet.
“Shut it!” he says to Jon harshly.
“I am Red, ruler of the monkeys and king of the zoo.”
“Princess, what is this about?” He stares at me.
“Um-I’m not sure. We were just almost impaled by a demon nurse, so I took us to the safest place I know. The zoo.” I say quickly to get it all out.
Everyone is just staring at Red, wondering what to do next. He coughs and then slams his stick to the ground again. Tiny jumps off of Jon’s shoulders and on too Reds. He looks at us, each carefully scanning us. When he gets to Miles, he motions to him and 2 large Apes jump down from behind a tree and stand on either side of him.
“No funny business here slider.” He says angrily.
“I’m here to protect the princess. My mom is the Dr here.” Miles reassures him.
“Hmm, that makes total sense! Um, can I go now, I have to study for a French test.” Violet pleads.
Red slams his stick again and Tiny jumps over to Violet. Violet tries to get him off of her. He scurries around her arms and finally ends up on her head. She gives up and crosses her arms in front of her.
“We need to find the crystals to form the amulet.” Red demands.
“I know but, I don’t know where they are, I don’t know where to look.” I say, almost crying.
“Look around, my dear princess.” Red waves his stick in the air. As he does, tiny jumps from Violet’s head onto my chest and holds my face to look up.
As I look up and around, I see the zoo. All around me are animals and enclosures with writings on them, and some have stones underneath them. My eyes get wider.
“Your father, the king, was here many times as you grew. He myself and Horizon were the best of friends. He would bring you here and we would let you ride Horizon in the dark. He brought light from the moon down on you and you would ride so free. You were so happy. And such a cute little prin--ce--ss.” Red coughs. He almost falls to his knees, coughing so hard. Tiny jumps on his back and pats his back as hard as he can.
“ARG..enough.” Red growls at Tiny. And he slams his stick down. The stick helps him to stand up straight. Red wipes tears from his eyes. I can’t tell if they were from coughing or if he was crying because of the story he was telling? Maybe he missed my father?
“I’m so sorry, Red, I didn’t really know my father, I, I ..don’t remember him.” I say, ready to cry myself.
Red slams his stick again and waves at the elephants. I can hear them talking to each other. The elephants are keeping watch and the coast is clear for us to leave.
“Princess, come.” Red holds out his arms and I walk over to him. He hugs me tight before he coughs again. “You must go now. Find the crystals. Go at night when it’s dark I’ll wait for you here.”
“Wait, we can’t yet. I have to tell you something.” Miles steps forward. He holds his head up high and holds onto his arms that are crossed in front of her. He looks at me first.
“After your father went rouge and took 4 timesman worms. The Dryad elves and slider fairies thought they had to protect themselves, since their leader had vanished. Each second elf and fairy in charge took the throne but separately. Omynora was divided. The sliders went into hiding in the coal city and dryads in the forest of light and dark. With all the fear of the divide, the sky has fallen to a red color. Demons see this as an open window for them to come into Omynora and steal its power. As you saw, the nurse turned into a muck demon. She is by far the least of our worry’s but there are worse demons out there waiting to get to Opal and the crystal amulets. We need you, Opal, to bring our two worlds together again and heal the red sky. I am here to protect you and everyone you love.” He turns to Red. “I am not here to hurt anyone only to protect.”
“I’m so sorry that you all have to protect me. I still do not understand what is going on and why this is happening, but I will listen and do whatever it is I need to do to protect and find the crystal amulets.” I quickly give Miles a hug and hold his hand, then hold out my hand to Jon and Violet so we are all finally holding hand in a circle.
“Let’s make a pact.” I lift my head and say, “We protect each other and look out for each other.”
I look at Violet first because I can tell she isn’t having any of this. But she just has her head down, not saying anything. Jon is so positive, of course he is smiling and excited about this new quest. Miles looks very serious, like he has a lot to risk and a lot on his shoulders.
“So, its settled? We meet here at midnight!” Miles says.
Everyone agrees, and we let go of each other’s hands. We all look at Red waiting for him to yell at us, but he doesn’t. He looks proud. Tiny jumps to each of our shoulders and hugs our heads, then jumps to Red’s back. Red waves his stick and nods his head.
“Until midnight.” He says, then turns and walks away with his two large apes next to him. The elephants help us back across the fence and we all walk silently back to school. It’s so hard to concentrate on school now.