With some hope in his voice, Drew asked, “Can those Scribes assist?”
“No, Lieb, said Anton. “Scribes may only travel in the Here and Now. There is no Time Travel for them. We must deliver our own message.” Then softly, he said, “Let us pray for them.”
“Is that the best you can do?” Drew asked.
“I caution you again, Lieb. You must be careful with your words. You are being disrespectful.”
“You think that’s disrespectful?”
“Do not say a word…yet,” his Opa commanded. “When your son calls, we will answer, though he will hear and see only me”
Over what time remained, Oona and KC completed their secret plans separately. Oona’s clarity, or rather her lack of clarity during the final days of her preparations, was evident. She tinkered aimlessly around the house or engaged elsewhere, single-mindedly, with her burgeoning libido in all its debilitating intensity.
KC arranged for an indefinite stay with the Tooey family. Annette Tooey promised to set-up the children’s home schooling (while KC most privately waited for the eventual outcome of Oona’s adventure). As planned, KC and everyone would hope for the best, and return to Westbridge in two weeks’ time. If Oona’s plan worked, they would pick up their lives where they left off, and put the entire affair behind them forever. If not, KC planned to return to the Tooey’s farm for a longer stay, possibly much longer, and set out to build new lives somewhere else for herself and her children.
When the true stroke of midnight standard time arrived, Saturday, March the twenty-sixth, the van was already packed and ready for the long drive west to the presumed safety of their faraway refuge.
Oona had advised KC against air travel with Pi Gran Liv, a measure of common sense over an evil and powerful witch who would stop at nothing to get her ghostly hands on Pi Gran Liv’s withered pages. Oona, despondent yet determined, asked KC to be left alone with Gran Liv to invoke the Trick. “Under no circumstances may you enter my room before 1:01AM (It was daylight saving time in North America), regardless of what you hear.”
Thankful and her mother sat nervously in the kitchen. They feared that anywhere else they would fall asleep. Then the two went downstairs and entered Oona’s suite at exactly 1:01AM, Saturday morning, just as instructed, one full minute after one. Oona was nowhere to be seen and the room looked as if it had been struck by a silent tornado. Everything was disturbed, save for Pi Gran Liv which rested on her hope chest, still opened to the Time Trick.
“Good news,” KC supposed.
Thankful picked up the Great Book with her small hands. It was the last item to pack, and together with her mother, Thankful dashed frantically from Oona’s quarters, out the ground level entrance, and into the warm van where the boys and Stinkly awaited.
KC packed tons of books and DVDs for a long ride in the van. The Book – that cursed thing – was to be held by her just-six year old daughter and guarded by herself and her sons. KC would leave her house secure and locked against physical intruders, with some lights, timers, and the home security system fully engaged and operational. And with barely a word to the neighbors, the family would depart with KC certain of how totally insecure the whole scheme was. She would follow a transit plan which zig-zagged from arbitrary place to place across the eastern half of the country, and which would hopefully end at a small pig farm sanctuary in southern Minnesota. KC believed her kids would love it…for a while and, more importantly, KC did not want a route plan set in her mind, only to be read by the evil witch.
Where is Louis?
“Where’s Louis?” his mother shrieked.
“I dunno,” said Charley. “I thought he was with you.”
KC shrieked again. “Stay here!” she commanded. And as quickly as she had entered the van, KC left for the house, from where she could already hear small rumblings from within. As she attempted to enter her home, KC was blasted with a searing heat, invisible though thick in its intensity. Lucia is back! KC was unable to go any further; she could barely breathe. The instructions from Oona were absolutely clear: get out of the house with the Book quickly. “Do not look back, and ‘Go’,” she had said.
“The Witching Hour is a time when witches’ powers are greatest and, assuming I succeed with my Trick, my absence will be just as quickly known to the Evil One,” Oona had told her. Now KC was paralyzed with panic, torn between two children in a waiting van and one child who had gone missing. Then, Charley’s loving embrace forced KC away from the house and back into the waiting vehicle.
Louis had been in and out of the house and assiduously picked and packed additional items of interest. During what was to be his last visit to his room, a strange feeling overcame him. The boy turned in the direction of his window and through the black reflection he saw the face of a beaming old man.
“Opa?” he asked.
“Yes, mein Lieb. I only have a moment to speak.”
Opa. Thank you. Thank you!” The boy was elated.
“Mein Lieb: Go and tell Oona that the Witch Lucia will be hanged on Thursday.” Anton looked over to the boy’s father and continued, “And John Proctor and Mary (Goodberry) Dalyber can be trusted. Go now and remember the two names and Thursday, just as I said them. Now, Hurry!”
“I will Opa,” Louis said. Then he quickly asked, “Can I write it down?”
Opa nodded with a reluctant smile. “Drawn from our official death records.”
Louis carefully printed the words on a scrap of old school paper. And when he looked back at the window, Opa’s face was gone. He tucked the paper into a front pocket and, as he headed out the door of his room he noticed the time was nearly midnight. He had no idea it was so late and he rushed downstairs to Oona’s quarters.
The portal was closed! And as if by the pull of a magnet, Lucia burst into the witch Oona’s private quarters. The Book’s wafer-thin pages rustled and the Dark Witch could see the spell quite clearly. “Midnight!” It all made sense. Lucia looked in horror at the fluttering pages of the Time Trick. “The witch has traveled, or has attempted to travel in the only direction the Trick points – back in time. To defeat me?”
“So you shall fail; of that you can be certain,” Lucia scolded Oona. “Only the child-witch matters now.” Though formidably guarded by magick and charms, Lucia observed her beloved Great Book. Though only a few feet away, an invisible and protective shield defended it from her. Lucia was unable to consummate her title to Pi Gran Liv Maji without the hands of the Willing Witch. But she carried no doubt the Great Book would be hers again. “My resettlement in this present Time shall be conserved.”
As she screeched out of her own driveway, with two kids and her dog, KC prayed, “He must be safe; He must be safe; Louis must be safe!” I had to take the two and run. “You shall never be forgiven,” she heard clearly in her mind. As KC reached the entry to their cul-de-sac, her van in reverse, her forward view captured what looked like a fireball which advanced toward them, down the driveway. KC fishtailed out onto the usually quiet dead end street and sped away to get out onto the highway.
By whatever powers could drive her, Lucia continued toward them steadily down the streets and roads of Westbridge. The Evil One kept an unsteady pace after them, and slowly drew nearer as they approached Route 24.
“Make sure you have your seatbelts on,” KC commanded the kids. She took a quick turn as if to throw the fireball off course. It failed though she continued to out speed the ghastly spirit she knew was Lucia.
“The damned book,” she cursed. I’d throw the fucking thing out the window and let her have it. “I wish I never met her.” KC lamented Oona’s arrival in October, then quietly conceded her own daughter’s witchly powers and those of her missing son Louis.
The specter approached within only a few car lengths when Charley lent over to shield his sister from imminent catastrophe. A calming effect descended. KC took another sharp turn, and speedily swerved off the dry road and into the parking lot of Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church. There she drove up two shallow steps and straight into the vestibule.
“Get out of the car,” KC screamed. “Take the dog and that god damn book too!” Over the din of the burglar alarm and still falling shards of painted glass, she shouted, “Into the church! Go!” They all entered the nave, where KC commanded, “Go and hide the Book in the sanctuary!” Thankful led the way, KC and Charley followed her. KC scanned her eyes around the nave of the church and saw no sign of the monster, while her daughter dutifully hid the Great Book on a discreet storage shelf near the tabernacle. Now, even the alarm bells were drowned out by the pulsing wails of police sirens.
“Kids, please let me do all the talking,” KC pleaded. “Please,” she pleaded, and the three of them, plus a shaken Stinkly, walked down the center aisle toward the shattered vestibule and an unknown fate beyond.