Jude is freaking out. I don’t even think he realizes it, but he’s whispering things to himself. If I didn’t know better, I would think he was just completely insane. I really hope that this Haylee chick can help us. Maria doesn’t look much better. She’s so cold that her lips are turning blue.
“Stop!” Jude yells, stopping in the middle of the stairs and grabbing his head. It’s so sudden that I jump and Maria and Hazel both shriek. He looks at us like he forgot that we were ever here. “S-sorry… just… numbers.”
What the… Numbers? “Okaaaaaaay. Let’s just hurry up and find your witch,” I say, hurrying up the stairs. Above us, I hear a door open.
“Jude?” a woman’s voice says. “Why are you yelling?” I look up and see Jude’s witch girl looking down at us. Nothing like I imagined her. She stands out against the drab surroundings, a burst of color in the middle of all this grey. Her long hair has streaks of pastel colors running through it and is in a loose braid. She’s wearing a long, gauzy purple dress and a dainty white headband. She’s almost like a modern-day hippie.
Jude practically falls his way up the stairs and then just stands there staring off into space for a minute. Haylee takes a step back, looking horrified. “You look terrible.”
“What?” Jude asks, snapping to attention.
“I said you look terrible. What the hell happened to you? Are these your friends?” She looks past him, at us, a hesitant smile on her light pink lips.
“Please tell me you have some sort of witch spell thing to knock me out.” Jude says desperately.
“Wait, seriously?” Maria says, twisting up her face at the idea. “That doesn’t sound safe at all!”
“You need a knockout? Okay. Coming right up. You look like you need it…” Haylee opens the door wider and lets us in, frantically searching through her cupboards for ingredients. Meanwhile, Jude sits down in the nearest chair and drops his head into his hands, groaning. She finally finishes mixing things together and wordlessly hands Jude a glass of greenish liquid. He drinks it as fast as he can.
“How long does it…” And then he’s out, slumping to the side and dropping the glass on the carpet.
Hazel gasps and runs over to him. “Is he okay?”
“He’s fine. He’ll wake up in a few hours, give or take,” Haylee says. “Now, does anyone wish to explain just what the hell is going on here?”
I pick up the glass off the floor and hand it to her. “It’s kind of a long story.”
“When he wakes up, is he still gonna be tweaking out like that?”
“Unless you can help us, then yes. Yes, he is.”
Haylee sighs and sits down on a super comfy looking sofa. “Okay. I’ll do what I can.”
I pull out the necklace and hand it to her. “This is our problem.” We take turns explaining all the details of our situation, and she listens closely, writing down little notes in a notepad with a fuzzy pink pen. The pen is very distracting. Who needs a fuzzy pen?
After listening to what we have to say, Haylee opens up the necklace and pulls out the stone. “Chrysocolla…” she says to herself. Then she closes her eyes and mutters something under her breath. When she finishes, she hisses between her teeth. Whatever just happened, I don’t think it was good. “Here’s the thing. I’m going to be straight with you. I can’t break the enchantment on this thing.”
Maria nearly cries. “Why not?”
“This thing is older than my grandma, and whoever enchanted it has been storing power in it since they made it. I don’t have the kind of power required to break the enchantment. Even worse, the stone seems to have transferred a large amount of that power into all of you and is continuing to do so.”
“So, we’re just screwed?” Maria asks in a shaky voice.
“Not necessarily. I can put the enchantment back on the locket to stop it from giving you more power. That fixes one problem, but that still leaves you with not being able to control your boosted psychic abilities. It seems to me like you and you are able to control them just fine,” she says pointing to me and Hazel. “Maria and Jude on the other hand… I may be able to transfer at least some of the power back into the stone. I can’t make any promises though. Also, I’ll need certain materials, that may or may not be difficult to find and or afford.”
Hazel raises her hand. “Actually, I can only control my ability while I’m awake. Kinda makes it hard to sleep. Can you fix that?”
“I could just knock you out, too. No chance you’d wake up from that for at least three hours. Maybe more if I make it stronger.” She says this so nonchalantly that I can’t tell if she’s joking or not.
“Er… no. Thanks, I’ll just stick with being tired.”
“I’m joking. It wouldn’t be healthy to do that every single night. I’ll try to figure something out, maybe talk to some of my contacts and see what I can do. I make no promises, though.”
“Can you do something to make Maria not freeze to death?” I ask, wrapping my arms around her. She curls against me, shivering.
“That, I think I can fix once I get the enchantment back on the locket. You get chills when you sense a spirit nearby, right?” Maria nods. “You’re freezing because of the stone. Based on how much power is coming out of this thing,” she says, holding it up to the light and squinting at it, “I’m guessing that there are thousands of spirits trapped inside. You’re sensing all of them and it’s overwhelming you. In the meantime, I have some enchanted rum. Should warm you right up.”
“I’ll take it,” Maria says quickly. Haylee giggles and hops up to get it. She pours a tiny bit into a shot glass and Maria drinks it. Almost immediately, she stops shivering. “Oh my gosh. I feel so much better! Thank you!”
“Hey, anything for Jude’s friends. I do owe him.”
“For what?” I ask. Haylee just grins slyly and doesn’t answer. I guess maybe I don’t want to know. Knowing Jude, it could be just about anything. “Right. So. What do you need to do all this… magicy stuffs?” I wave my hands around like I’m doing a spell in the air.
“I’ll have to write a list. Give me a few minutes. While I do that, there’s a bed in my room if you want to bring Jude in there. I doubt sleeping like that is very comfortable.”
I almost forgot he was there. Me and Maria drag him haphazardly out of the chair and carry him down a hallway. There’s a doorway with a beaded curtain on one side and a bathroom with a normal door on the other. This girl is really odd. Gorgeous, but odd. We get him inside the room and onto the most comfortable looking, huge bed I have ever seen. We aren’t even that gentle with him, and he still stays passed out.
Back in the living room, Haylee is just finishing her list of things that she needs, searching through a thick notebook filled with all kinds of drawings, symbols, and mostly non-English words. Hazel is leaning back against the couch, her eyes closed.
“Got it,” Haylee whispers. “Okay, ready?”
Hazel sighs and starts to get up. She looks exhausted. “Hazel, why don’t you stay here and rest. The rest of us will go.”
“Actually, good idea,” Haylee says. She mixes something together. “If Jude wakes up and starts freaking out again, give him more of this.”
“Now I’m on babysitting duty?” Hazel says irritably. “Fine, whatever.” Her aura is all over the place. She’s definitely tired.
“Great!” Haylee says, unbothered by Hazel’s tone. “Hopefully this will only take an hour or so. Bye!” If I couldn’t see her bright aura, I would think her bubbly behavior was fake. No one can be this happy all the time, right? How did someone as gloomy as Jude wind up meeting someone as happy-go-lucky as Haylee?
Down in the parking lot, Haylee takes one look at our van and turns around. “We’ll take my car. Your van is garbage.”
“Thank you. For insulting my van,” I say sarcastically.
“No problem! I thought I’d point it out, in case you didn’t notice.” I don’t think this is sarcasm, but I have no idea. Haylee’s aura is unreadable. She pulls out her keys and bounces toward a powder blue Prius.
“You know, when Jude said you were a witch, I wasn’t expecting… you know…” I say, gesturing at her.
She rolls her eyes and makes a tsk noise. “That boy. He knows I hate being called a witch. I prefer the term shaman. It doesn’t have the stigma that surrounds the word ‘witch’.”
The car smells wonderful. Like a soft, musky incense. “Can I ask you something?” Maria says, looking at Haylee.
“Why does Jude trust you? He doesn’t seem to think too highly of witches, but he doesn’t have a problem with you.”
Haylee bursts out laughing. “Well, when I first met him, he wanted to kill me. Maybe literally.”
“Really? What changed?”
“We met at a club. I don’t know how he got in, he was only eighteen and didn’t even have a fake id. Anyways, he was hitting on one of my girlfriends and I’m a little protective of my friends. I could tell he was a player. So, I went over to him and kinda pushed him back with my fingernail, telling him to back off. Then he gets this super pissed off look on his face. At first, I thought it was because I wouldn’t let him near Melanie, but he gets like this close to my face,” she holds her fingers about an inch apart. “He’s all like, ‘what the hell are you?’ So, Mel is all like, ‘Whoa, back the fuck up, you freak.’ And Jude just starts going off on us, screaming something about witches being Satan and all that kind of shit. So, we take off, not wanting anything to do with this psycho, but in the back of my mind, I’m wondering how he knew I was a shaman. Later that week, I ran into him again, this time at the store. He sees me and immediately heads the other way. Of course, I followed him. I bugged him to tell me how he knew, but he wouldn’t even look at me. So, I just made sure to keep running into him. Every time we met, I’d make sure and touch him in some way. I figured that’s how it worked, since he didn’t know about me being a shaman until I pushed him away. Little by little, he got to know me, seeing brief memories and thoughts every time we met. Eventually, he started getting the idea, and we actually had conversations. He would be a sarcastic jerk about everything I said, and I would ask him about his psychic abilities. One thing led to the next and… yeah. Now were friends.”
Maria looks just as confused as me. Basically, Jude was a dick and now they’re friends. It always seems to work out that way for him. I don’t get it.
“I feel like there’s more to that story,” Maria says.
“It’s not like I’m going to tell you what our conversations were about, sunflower. Those were private.”
Maria leans over and whispers in my ear, “Did she just call me ‘sunflower’?” I nod. “I thought so.”
The next hour or so is spent following Haylee around and paying for all the weird shit that she’s buying. I don’t even know what half the stuff is. There are thick liquids in small glass vials, different shiny rocks, smelly powders, dried plants and flowers, and even baking ingredients.
I spend this time staring at all the colorful auras. Being unused to seeing them constantly, it’s a little unnerving. At the same time, it’s beautiful. It’s interesting to see how people’s auras change in the span of just a few minutes. I watch one girl walking down the sidewalk, her aura pretty neutral. Then she stops and digs her phone out of her purse, looks at the screen and her aura brightens, then while on the phone, it darkens to disappointment.
A group of teenagers walk by, their auras all over the place, feeding off of each other. One of them gets excited about something and the excitement spreads to the rest of them. Fascinating.
“Having fun with your newfound abilities?” Haylee says, appearing so suddenly behind me that I jump.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” I say. “How did you know?”
Haylee giggles. “You don’t strike me as a creep, but you were staring at that girl for way too long. I figured you must be looking at her aura.”
I shrug. “It’s not like its new to me, but I usually don’t just see auras constantly, and I usually can’t make it last very long. Watching the auras change is new to me.”
Haylee nods. “How long have you been able to see them?” she asks casually, crossing things off of her list.
“Ever since I can remember. When I told my parents that I was seeing colors around people sometimes, they thought there was something wrong with my eyes.” I laugh, remembering the eye doctor telling my parents that I was probably just imagining things because I was young. Later in life, they took me to a psychiatrist who deemed me perfectly healthy, mentally. When I got older, I started recognizing that the auras coincided with people’s emotional states. My parents are pretty open about these kinds of things and believe me. They’ve also met Jude and Hazel, and they believe that both of them have psychic powers as well. If only Hazels parents were that understanding.
I realize that I’m spacing out and look back at Haylee, who is smiling at me sweetly. “You must be close with your parents.”
“I mean, yeah. As close as most people, I suppose. Aren’t you?” I blush and scratch the back of my head, looking away. I don’t tell her that I haven’t actually talked to them in months.
“I was. They passed away when I was a teenager.” She stares at her list for a few seconds, then looks at me seriously. “Can I ask you something? About Jude?”
“Have you ever met his parents?”
“No. I don’t think he’s been in contact with them since…” I stop, unsure if she knows about him growing up in a mental hospital.
“The hospital,” she finishes for me. “He just… he told me something one time. About his mom.”
I nod, fairly sure that I know what she’s referring to.
“What about his mom?” Maria pipes in.
“If you’re wondering about details, I don’t know any more than you do.” Haylee nods, looking disappointed. Despite this, her aura hasn’t changed.
“Are you somehow, like, hiding your aura or something?” I ask, slightly annoyed.
Haylee grins a toothy grin. “Oh, so you finally noticed. Yeah, I can’t have you knowing everything I feel, can I? Hazel can’t feel my emotions either. I use a cloaking charm. It works on Empaths, Readers like yourself, and Telepaths.”
“Whew, I was getting worried that you were just ridiculously happy all the time.”
Maria raises her hand. “Can I have one? I don’t like having everyone know what I’m feeling all the time.” Haylee laughs. “I’m serious.”
“Sure, sunflower. I already have the supplies for it at my place, and it’s simple enough.”
“Wait, you don’t have to kill any bugs or anything, do you?”
Haylee looks at her strangely. “Of course not. I don’t use souls for my charms, like some witches do. I pull energy from plants.” She looks back down at her list. “One more thing and we’re done.” She goes over to the owner of the small shop that we’re in and smiles at him sweetly. “Hey Cade,” she draws out his name and bites her lip flirtatiously. “You know how you love me?” The owner leans his elbows and the counter and smiles back at her.
“No discounts, Haylee,” he says with a grin. She sticks out her lip, pouting. “I do accept… alternative forms of payment, however.”
I look at Maria who looks back at me, disgust clear on her face. I really hope that this alternative form of payment is not what I think it is.
“I can make you a love potion and you can find another girl to seduce,” Haylee says, still smiling. The owner taps his fingers on the counter, deciding.
“Fine. You get 10% off if you bring it by the end of the week.”
“15, take it or leave it.”
“Deal.” Haylee sticks out her hand to shake his.
“What do you need?”
“I need the highest quality azurite that you have.”
“Polished or no?”
Haylee looks up thoughtfully and taps her lip with a manicured fingernail. “Unpolished.”
Cade looks at her doubtfully. “What in the world do you need something so powerful for?” he grunts. “Whatever. Wait here.” He goes to the back for a few minutes and comes out with a bright blue lump about the size of a quarter. “That’ll be $255.”
“What?!” Maria shrieks. “We don’t have that much!”
“That’s a steep price for that little bit,” Haylee says, her smile gone.
“Tell me what it’s for and I’ll drop it down to $50.” Cade grins wickedly. Asshole.
“Why do you want to know?” Haylee snaps.
“You come in here with some newbies, talking about auras and mental hospitals. I’m intrigued.”
“How about I just go somewhere else? I don’t appreciate being spied on.” Haylee puts a hand on her hip and points her dainty finger at him. “Shame on you.”
As she turns to leave, he stops her. “Wait! Okay, okay. $75 and the love potion. That’s all.” She turns and looks him up and down.
Finally, she says, “Fine.” Without turning, she holds her hand out for the money and I quickly dig it out of my wallet. She slaps it down on the counter and swipes the rock away. “I’ll be doing my business elsewhere after this little transaction is complete.” With that, she sashays out the door, me and Maria close behind her. Back in the car, she says, “Well that was fun, wasn’t it?”
That’s not really the word I would use. We just spent a crapload of money on a bunch of random items. This better work.