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Chapter 2: Meeting Meeko.

Learning the difficult way that small-town life starts early, at least at their grandparent’s house it does. By eight in the morning both Cece and Litha are already washed and dressed in light summer clothing, stomachs full from a classic English breakfast, where they were promised a trip into town under one condition.

Ready to start with the first itinerary on the list. Reorganizing.

Cece opens the sliding door and it glides to the side, enough for them to pass through. They emerge on top of a slight elevation, potent sunlight steeps into their skins, beginning to simmer from within.

A scented summer breeze winnows through the grass as they saunter down the short slope to the standalone storage shed. Litha’s eyes explore their surroundings: The shed up ahead, the virescent green lawn around them, and the enchanted blue of the lake beyond the fringes. The pier on the left-hand side is aligned with the back of the house.

On arrival, Cece pushes down on the corroded handle of the discoloured metal door. It doesn’t budge, sealed close like something on the other side is blocking the entrance. She pushes harder, her face warping with visible effort.

“Take your time, sis, I’m really enjoying being roasted by the sun.”

Aggravated, she shoots back and tosses a hand in its direction. “Give it a go then, heartbreaker.”

Litha ambles forward to take her stead. Holding the handle down, he thrusts his shoulder into the door and it swings open, unveiling a tall door frame of black. Litha strolls inside. Cece walks in after him, her hand gropes the wall for a few seconds before she flips the switch. The light from the one hanging bulb sends the darkness fleeing to the shadows in fright.

The storage shed is the size of a small bedroom with extensive metal shelves that line the walls, teeming with worn-brown cardboard boxes, neatly arrayed. The only evident clutter is the boxes on the steel worktable straight ahead of them, that appear as if they have been purposefully taken from the ones in formation. Boxes randomly placed and were clearly disturbed with piles of books and open albums on the table amidst the boxes.

“How subtle,” Cece remarks.

They both walk to the worktable and inspect each box for themselves, sifting through the albums that sit open as if on display just for them.

“Check it.” Cece holds up an album and her finger taps to an old photograph in the bottom corner.

Litha slants forward and his eyes zoom in on the family portrait. Two tottering kids, each on a parent’s lap. A much younger version of gramps and gran standing behind them, pulling wild faces at the camera.

A wistful look softens his face by a degree. Already fading, his expression hardens into an austere look. He turns away and starts to pack other albums into the adjacent box, shoving them inside with unnecessary force.

“That was a long time ago.”

Cece purses her lips to the side, she carefully closes the album and joins in on the packing. An interval of silence ensues, although short. It seems to stretch infinitely with every unspoken word.

“Is this what our whole vacay will look like? Filled with nostalgia and…” he does a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree scan of the shed, “reorganising?”

“What did you expect, Coachella vibes? This is LakeShore, the epitome of a kid-friendly town. At the end of the day, we’re here for the fam.”

Litha scoffs. “And for the ‘reorganising’.”

Cece laughs and looks at him. He glances back at her, his gaze slips and for a split second a blue blaze kindles on the earthen floor. His eyes revert, narrowing on the minuscule spark of light. His smile is stripped into a grave line, he walks past her, creeping to the corner. He crouches low, his head banks deeply to one side, peeking under the last shelf at something burrowed away.

Both of them know that Litha is not the curious one between them, but this time it is different. Something inside of him thrums with raw longing.

“What are you doing?”

“Something’s down there.”


Litha reaches out, fingers venturing until he seizes a slender wooden rod. He crawls back, drawing it out and into the exposure of feeble light. He ascends to full height and the staff in his hand rises with him.

“Whoa.” Litha ogles, wide-eyed. “This is a really cool walking stick.”

“It’s a staff.”

Hey,” Litha sternly scolds, “making futile corrections is grandma’s thing.” His eyes unable to part from the staff in his grasp, the way it unexplainably feels like his fingers perfectly fits with the unmarked grooves of the staff. His eyes examine its tall wooden body, sculpted from fine wood with a strange ornament on its head. A pale blue crystal, oval-shaped, crowns the top with thin fingers of vines twining around the crystal in a veiny siege.

“This staff looks… out of this world.” His chuckles with awe. “Think it was part of a costume ensemble from back in the day?” He begins to theatrically sway the staff like a sorcerer casting spells. “Maybe gramps dressed up like a character from the Lord of the Rings?”

“I don’t think they even know what that is,” she says and returns to her place, resuming her packing.

Litha persists his fanciful quest, moving the staff in full orbit turns around his body and a few twirls in front of him.

Cece fires him a cursory glance and shakes her head. Three book packs later, she picks up one that not even she can avoid. Her curiosity unable to shirk off the alluring feeling. Heavier than she expected, it is neither a book nor an album but a tome. The binding is incredible, glided with stark golden etchings along the hard-umber cover with no words written on it. Only gold-plated designs. It doesn’t look an ornamental but something far more significant, ancient even.


He glances at her and his gaze is drawn to the gilded tome in her hands. He inches closer to her, inspecting it from over her shoulder. Cece slowly opens the tome, sifting through the papyrus pages, time-worn but still intact.

“I don’t get it… it’s totally empty.” His eyes investigate the tawny blank pages.

She stands still. With a meticulous eye, she looks over the pages inscribed with phantasmal engravings, written as if someone had written it with a clear white fluid. Appearing almost transparent but marginally still visible. Somehow clear enough for her to witness the words she has never seen before, runic symbols that she does not understand. The tome contains various multi-complex drawings and depictions sprawled across the chapters, with every flick of a page.

“No, there is something… it’s just so light, like someone wrote with a translucent pen or something.”

A frown puckers Litha’s forehead and he steps closer. Anchoring down the staff, he stomps the foot of it on the earthen floor and that is when it is triggered. A familiar blue spark haunts his periphery.

Litha’s head whips to the side, watching a small ball of light glow inside the crystal. A growing ball of flickering, lurid blue light expands to fill the inside until the crystal itself is a beacon of luminescent light. Since even the dimness they had before has completely thawed, the darkness returning from the shadows. However, it only powers the light in the crystal to shine even brighter.

“What the…” he dawdles off, eyes darting around the crystal feverishly, the light mounting in strength to the point that its brilliance reflects in his eyes. His dark pools alight with a blue hue.

Cece’s eyes are locked on the open tome. Glowing blue light floods through the inscriptions like a surplus of water in a river, gushing through every letter, symbol and drawing. Although all of it is foreign. It is now lucid to her vision, bare and unmasked for only her eyes.

“Litha look.” Eyes still watching the blue light flow from corner to corner, enlightening each etching. “Look!”

“No, you look. Look!” He shakes the staff in his grasp frantically. “This magical, harry potter staff is literally glowing!”

“I know!” She says with twin panic. “But look at what the staff… what the light thing is doing to the book…”

Litha finds it in himself to rip his gaze from the crystal that burns with a dominant blue. His eyes flit across the pages and he only sees what he saw before. Absolutely nothing.

“You’re insane.” His voice easily scales the high length of frenzy. “I see nothing.”

“Are you joking?” She looks at him with eyes exploded wide, and to her surprise. He looks back at her with a look of true bafflement.

He really doesn’t see it.

“Even for me, this ain’t a time for jokes.” His gaze is lured back to the gleaming crystal. “Not a… not a joke,” he repeats dazedly, trying to reattach his mind back to reality.

Panic spuming in her core, Cece drops it down on the table with a loud thump. She probes through the pages speedily, the same foreign lettering, words and sentences clustered on the page as if whoever wrote it had too much to say, and too little space and too little time to document it all.

Her eyes skim over the drawings, each one more foreboding than the last. Bestial figures of otherworldly beings and some unmistakably wild and unknown beasts like something out of a fantasy-horror novel. Despite the heavenly blue glow that brightens the etchings and drawings. It still does not overshadow the formidability of the creatures drawn inside.

“Litha… be serious, you’re telling me, you don’t see.” She pauses to examine the page on the right with a drawing of a demonic-looking fiend with too many angles, delineated out of blue inky splashes and drawn with jarring eyes.

This.” Her index finger stabs the sketch.

Litha stares back at her like she’s speaking in mandarin. Finally, he blinks and out of consideration, his eyes peruses the page around her finger, and he shrugs exaggeratedly.

“I don’t know what to tell you….I don’t see anything.”

Cece takes a moment to asses him and through their bond and simply years of mastering the art of lie detecting in one another. To her misfortune, her sisterly senses detect no lie to be found..

“Can we please take a sec to focus on the mythical staff, please,” he urges. “Just—shining out nowhere!”

Litha gawks at her. Gradually, concern pleats through his face and sees her bewilderment to be genuine. That she is truly seeing something that he cannot.

“Sis… that’s… this is impossible… like movie-level impossible.”

Cece’s lips part as if to speak but they instantly seal back close. Both of bristle, heeding to first; a distant echo.



Their heads snap to face each other with a mirrored expression.

Gramps waits at the top, gazing down at the storage shed, waiting for them to respond to his call.

But they never do.

Taking matters into his own hands. He walks down the slope with purposeful strides. The door of the shed: a hair’s breadth ajar, he pushes it fully open and stands in the door frame.

He flares a brow.

Cece spin on her heels, facing him with a flustered face, eyes a clear white. She shuffles to the left to protectively stand in front of a particular box. Litha stands beside her with tweaking fingers and conceals them by shoving his hands into his pockets.

“Uh… are you two finished? Your grandmother—” pronounced with all the bitterness he can muster, “—she said that it would be best if I take you into town now, let you sightsee a bit then fetch you when lunch is finished. That is, if you are done... reorganising.”

Cece and Litha trade looks, nodding to each other. Gramps’s brows furrow with suspicion, but waves it off obliviously. He shrugs and soon disappears out of view. The siblings follow him out. On the way, Litha casts a lingering glance off his shoulder to the staff that lays hidden where it was found. To his surprise, his heart mourns to separate from it. He frowns, shaking his head as if to shake off the feeling.

Journeying up the slope, around the flank of the house, then walking straight ahead in front to reach the standalone garage. The side door is already unlocked, gramps enters first, his hand fishing in his trouser pocket.

Litha emerges into frame and halts abruptly.

Whoa.” He places both hands on top of his head. “Grandpop got a hot ride though.”

A 2018 sleek black Chevrolet Camaro with engine and transmission: 6.2-liter suparcharged V-8 - six-speed manual, ten-speed automatic. Power: 650 hp/640 lb-ft. The car’s midnight coat is polished to a shine with a lower front apron with a big front lip, the hood decorated with two sporty bands of white stripes. With an eleven-centimetre ground clearance at the front splitter, a catalytic converter, only ninety-millimetre room above the floor. In the back, a big wing is fitted to the trunk.

“Camaro ZL1,” Litha breathes out in sheer awe, eyes roaming around the hood. “With a V8 engine, right?”

Gramps looks back at him, unable to mask his surprise. “Paired with a Tremec, heavy duty, six-speed manual. How do you know?”

“I’m a gamer.” Litha instantly goes for the driver’s side, but gramps swiftly blocks his path.

“Where do you think you’re going, boy?”

He claps his hands together, shaking it in a begging motion. “Grandpop, please, please. I will do anything to drive this beauty, I will reorganise anything you want. Name your price.”

Gramps looks away for a second, as if taking a moment to consider the offer. “Thought of it. I have no price. Get in the back.”

Litha huffs and slips around to stand behind him.

Gramps shoots an accusing finger at Cece, who's still frozen in the doorway. “And you, I’m no-ones Uber driver, so you will ride in front with me.”

She nods curtly and makes her way to the passenger side whilst gramps opens the driver’s door. He manoeuvres to slide the seat forward, giving Litha enough space to crawl into the spacious backseat. Once he plops down, gramps reverts the driver seat back to its former position. Cece secures her seatbelt.

Promptly, the garage door grumbles with a roiling sound, echoing effort. It ascends, unleashing an invasion of brilliant light, flooding the garage. Gramps drops the garage keys unto his lap.

Litha sniffs the air dramatically. His voice reaches an uncomfortable pitch. “It still has a new car smell.” Marvelling the black leather, sport-bucket seats. Gramps’s pristine white golf shirt is a direct contrast.

“You two only have one car and grandmama let you buy this one? I didn’t know she was that into cars.”

Gramps shakes his head with a champion grin. “Oh, no, she can’t stand this car. She calls it my. End-of-life crises. But let’s just say that she lost a bet.”

He inserts the car keys into the ignition. Turned on. It rumbles out a powerful roar.

After a transient trip to the CBD, the heart of the hub; an ever-bustling hustle. Fortune on his side, gramps locates an open parking spot on the margins of a regularly active road. Docking on the kerbside, he climbs out and releases Litha. On the other side, Cece walks around to stand on the sidewalk. Car door left open behind him. Litha steps up and stands beside her, and gramps stares at both of them for a brief moment. The engine’s purrs melding with the all-around buzz.

“Okay, you two are grown and I don’t need to give you the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ speech.”

Litha shakes his head vigorously. “You really don’t.”

“And I’m sure you don’t need any pocket money either?”

Litha bops his head from side to side. “Well, we’re not that grown.”

Gramps laughs wholeheartedly, one that comes straight from his belly. He swivels and moves to gradually slide back onto his seat and peers over at them for one last time.

“I’ll fetch you right here, at this very spot in two hours, you hear?”

Litha flashes a thumbs up for the both of them.

Gramps closes the door, unable to see him behind the tinted windows. Shortly the exhausts blasts an awe-evoking rumble and the Camaro does a three point turn. Then it races down the same direction that they came from. Its roar still heard in echoes until it fades into the clamour of other vehicles.

“Was grandpa always this cool?” Litha asks. “For some reason, I remembered him differently.”

He looks back at Cece, standing beside him in the flesh, but obviously her mind is oceans away. Litha waves his hand and snaps his fingers in front of her face.

Awakened and irritated, she slaps his hand away from her. Suddenly, she turns to stroll down the sidewalk as if allowing her thoughts to lead the way. Steered by multiple feelings stirring inside the bubbling cauldron of her emotions.

Frowning, Litha catches up to her. “What is up with you?”

Cece looks back at him as if he had struck in the face. Backhanded her. “Don’t do that.”

“What.” Brusque.

“Pretending that what happened.” Her fury rises, but she forces her volume to decrease into a hostile whisper. “Didn’t happen, because it did.”

Litha’s hands explode open. “Maybe because I don’t know or even understand what happened and neither do you.”

His retort silences her for a few thoughtful moments. They both weave in between and past people with practised ease.

“So, what… should we just ignore it? Pretend it didn’t happen?”

Litha lets out an exaggerated exhale, amplifying his annoyance.

“I’m saying… lets just take these two hours to chill and process. Then figure it all out when we get back, there’s no use in freaking out about it now. In public,” he points out.

Cece looks forward. Though she says nothing, her dismay radiates off her in palpable waves.

Clenching his jaw, he drags the words out by their ends. “We can even take a—” he mumbles the word under his breath, hoping to the living God that she didn’t hear it. But by the excitement that lights up her eyes, highlighting the golden flecks. She heard him.

“Did you just say a selfie?” She slaps a hand on her round mouth then removes it. “You? Volunteering to take a picture?”

Litha chops down his hand, motioning for her to reduce the melodrama. “Overreact one more time, you can forget I ever said anything.”

“Okay, okay,” she says, conceding.

Cece surveys their environment in a search for the perfect shot, and for the first time. She sees the town. It’s very construction is designed with aesthetic precision. With a complex of stores that accommodate a catalogue of options that occupy the urban expanse. The speciality stores in one long strip and opposite the street are the department stores, sidewalks accompanied with Narnian-looking lamps at every spaced interval.

The colour palette of the town is one that is pleasing to the eye. The buildings’ coats are all a wide range of pastel colours: from baby blues, sunshine yellows, pretty pinks and gentle greens. Even the precinct that resides on the horizon is a creamy white. The townspeople, LakeShore-bred go about their lives as they normally do, a melodious uproar from the populace that flow in and out like an unending tide. The atmosphere is saturated with booming laughter, loud nattering and riotous children. The anthem of hometown happiness.

Litha’s scours the town under his scrutiny, searching for flaws. The walls: a plethora of hues, all are pristine and untainted by any kind of vandalism. Everything from the one-dimensional blueprint of where everything was erected; in faultless symmetry. With each neighbouring structure was created to have a picturesque outlook, a snapshot of a postcard brought to life. Even the geographic location of the town that sidles the Azura, with most neighbourhoods amidst its empyrean waters.


Cece directs her brother, guiding him by his wrist, reaching a corner. They both move to stand at the verge of a sidewalk. A network of lanes behind them with cars constantly zooming in and out of view. And the background perfectly portrays the essence of this picture-perfect town.

From the loose pocket of her high-waisted skirt. She slides out her phone and goes into camera, holding it landscape. A light amethyst library makes it in the backdrop with a few other coloured-in buildings and a mini billboard with a picture of a family. Parents standing over two kids playfully wrangling each other, all with award-winning smiles. The picture is captioned: LakeShore, A Forever Home.

“You better smile,” Cece warns. With the might of a full sun shining down on them, she expertly powders on a camera-worthy smile, deliberately closing her eyes in the one shot. Litha stands beside her, lips curdled in an inimical scowl, enduring the sun stabs in his eyes.

After a few taps, she withdraws her arm and takes a few seconds to review them.

Sensing an imminent outburst. He braces himself.

Uh.” Eyes still on the screen, she whacks his arm in reproach. “Your frown literally gets worse with each photo.”

Litha shrugs innocently. “I said we could take a selfie. I never said I would smile in it. Consider yourself blessed that you even have one with me.”

“Perhaps I can help.”

Cece’s face lifts up, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand. A tall masculine frame approaches them, enveloped in golden beams. As he nears ,the light recedes and his features become clearer with each step. A young man with voluminous, silky black hair which rebels against the milky cream of his skin. Dressed in a simple patterned shirt, buttoned up to his neck, short-sleeved with royal blue three quarter shorts that are rolled up at the ends.

Cece’s eyes soak up his facial features, searing it into her memory. His almond-shaped eyes, irises dappled with a million different hues in just one colour: the sombre wood of a bough, earthy soil kissed by summer rains. His sharp cheekbone taper down to a chiselled, triangular-shape jaw.

She inhales a deep breath, all her former qualms melting into triviality.

“If you want, I can take a picture of you both?” He offers. His voice, velvety and bewitching, yet sensuous and deep.


Cece’s jabs her elbow into Litha’s side—his breathing hitches.

“No, we would definitely love that,” she finishes for him. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” He exhibits a multi-billion-dollar smile, two rows of straight pearly whites.

Cece goes back into the camera, handing him her phone. She steps back to realign herself with Litha, forcibly grabbing him by his shoulder with a threatening grip, reeling him to her. Litha complies, under duress, and places a lame hand on her back.

Observing through the camera, holding the phone portrait. “Utterly beautiful,” he remarks.

An interlude of silent photo-taking ensues, neither comfortable nor tense. Abnormally neutral.

“There you are.” He steps forward to return her phone and she pockets it.

“Thank you so much….” She trails off to allow to him to fill in the blank space.

His face brightens with a lightbulb expression. “Oh, my name is Meeko and you are?” By the excellence that resounds in his accent. He might live in Lakeshore, but Cece deduces that he cannot be hometown grown.

“I’m Cece,” she introduces, “and this is my brother, Litha.” She pokes his arm with a finger and instantly regrets it.

“Pleasure to meet you both.”

He extends a formal hand and Cece accepts it with an eager shake. One that lasts too long.

Meeko offers the same kindness to Litha and he stands immovably still. He glances down at his hand then looks away disinterestedly. Meeko’s smile thins into a terse line as he awkwardly retracts his hand.

Cece’s eyes are glued on Meeko, silently hoping that her slowing dying on the inside is not showing on her face.

“So, are you two from out of town?” he asks, and his gaze shifts back onto Cece.

Her brows quirk and she manages a smile. “That obvious, huh?”

Meeko nods and the lustre in his smile returns. “Pretty much. The only people who take selfies in town like they’ve never seen it before, are usually tourists. And we don’t have many of those around here. LakeShore is the world’s best, well-kept secret.”

“We?” Curiosity piqued. “Are you from here?”

He tilts his head to one side and looks away momentarily. “Yes, and no. I was born and raised here, but as soon as I was old enough, I was sent to boarding school abroad. Ended up liking it so much that I begun my tertiary education there, too. I only came back for the summer for some...quality family time.” A tincture of disdain stains his tone.

Cece nods attentively, blissfully taking it all in.

“And you two, what’s your story?”

“One that does not include you,” Litha throws in. Although he is much younger than Meeko, Litha glares at him straight in the eyes. Almost the same height.

“I apologize on behalf of my brother.” Cece loops her arm with Litha’s. “He asked our gramps for MacDonald’s money and grandpa said no. So he's still a little sore about that,” she says, feigning a sad pout.

Meeko chuckles; the sound of soft rolling thunder, the kind that billows across dark skies on a stormy night.

Litha wrenches his arm from her hold.

“So, Meeko.” She ambles forward in the direction that he had walked in, initiating a stroll. “Since you know the territory best. Where are the best places in Lakeshore?”

As if accepting an invitation, he smiles and sidles her flank as they saunter onwards together. Litha throws up his hands exasperatedly, without a better choice. He grudgingly follows them at a distance, hands shoved in his pockets.

“Well LakeShore has a lot to offer, it has an abundance of activities, and spots for sightseeing to take Instagram worthy pictures.”

The reference earns him a giggle from the one sibling, and an excessive eye roll from the other.

“Here in town, there’s Carley’s café and Donny’s diner—”

Litha’s mock-drenched laugh cuts him off. “Wow, how cliché can this town get? What’s next, Bob’s bar?”

“Of course not,” Meeko says over his shoulder. “It’s Brandon’s bar.”

Both of them break into a light-hearted snicker. Litha shakes his head. Meeko halts and it brings them both to a stop.

“Well tourists or not, you need to taste the seafood at Oceana. A restaurant on the waters, overlooking the Azura, absolutely breath-taking. I guarantee you will both love it,” he pitches.

Litha’s face steels with an impenetrable look, ready to deny the offer. But fate beats him to it. Meeko’s phone suddenly vibrates in his back pocket, his generic ringtone beckoning for his attention.

“Sorry about that.” He yanks his phone out, he revolves and walks away and only when he's out of range does he answer his phone.

“What is wrong with you?”

Cece gawks at Litha, dumfounded. “Excuse you?”

“Nah uh, don’t give me that. So this is what you do when I’m not around? Out and about with your friends, acting like a complete thot?”

Her eyes swell to an animated size. “What the hell did you just call me?” Her voice mounts with budding anger.

“Playing the dumb game never worked for you, sis. You out here acting like a dam fool, giggling like when have you ever giggled? Your laugh sounds like a hollering hyena on crack and now you're all like.” He places the tips of his fingers on his mouth and forces out the most irritating, feminine, high-pitched giggle that he can conjure up.

Cece’s mouth strikes wide in offense. Before she gets the chance to retort, she notices Meeko walking back to them.

“He is the only reason you’re still breathing,” she whispers acidly. She rearranges her face and fixes on a fool-proof smile.

“Actually, can we do a rain check on that? I just got a call that I’m needed again.” His in-depth regret casts a pall in his eyes.

“Works for me,” Litha says too enthusiastically. “How about the thirty second of this month?”

“Sure, anytime works for… us,” she says carefully.

Meeko grins, he wakes the screen and taps once then turns the screen to face her, the dial screen on display. “For informative reasons, I think I should have your number. You know, to make sure what time on the thirty second—” He flicks a mischievous look at Litha, “—we should meet up. Things like that.”

“Uh.” Cece gently takes his phone into her grasp and inputs her number. “Strictly business.”

“Strictly business,” he echoes.

Litha nods. “Yeah, like business hours in a strip club.”

Cece chokes on her own spit and quickly hands him back his phone. “It was so nice meeting you, Meeko. Hope to hear from you soon.” She grabs Litha’s bicep and hurriedly drags her with him, leaving Meeko in their rear view.

“That was so embarrassing,” she says frenziedly. “You would think that my brother would have my back, but nooo. He's too busy stabbing it.” Feeling her already warm cheeks heat to a maximum. She lets go of him.

“Embarrassing yourself, you did that all on your own. You basically threw yourself at his feet, acting like an idiot,” he rants. “Hope to hear from you soon. So your his lecturer now? Worst part, he was acting just as stupid.”

“What? You’re such a—” she cuts herself off. “Wait, he was acting just as stupid?”

A foul snarl distorts his face. “It was disgusting, somehow he was clearly into you. Even though his light years out of your league.”

Cece glares at him askance. “Such a prick.”

Not long after, the petty resentment between them dissipates and jubilee bourgeons. Both filled with an odd sense of wanderlust and homecoming, embarking on their own tour of the town, travelling from place to place; from tacky gift shops to antique stores. The siblings lose themselves, drifting to wherever desire calls them.

For a sweet time, forgetting the uncanny that the morning ushered in. Unaware of the powers that they have ignorantly awoken. And the insurmountable peril that will soon follow.

Once the two-hour interval makes its full revolution. Gramps waits for them on time, exactly where he said he will be, and chauffeurs them back home.

“So did you two have fun?” Gramps asks. He glances at Cece next to him then tosses a glance at Litha through the rear-view mirror.

“For the most part,” he answers cryptically.

The rest of the short trip is just playful banter between them, mainly Litha versus gramps. Once they arrive home and the car descends to park inside the open garage, the door closes behind it. Caging the black beast. Diverging, gramps makes his way back to the house and the siblings take an immediate detour to the storage shed out back.

Presently, they stand before the tarnished metal door. Neither of them eager to make the first move.

“We got this,” Litha says in his gym, pep-talk voice. “We can do this.”

“Litha, we’re not about to go do a hundred sets of burpees. We’re dealing with something that we don’t know...or should even know.”

He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment, jaw ticking. His eyes blink back open. “Yeah, well being a pussy about it won't help either. Would I prefer that what happened, didn’t? Hell yeah. But it’s too late for that now. You were right, we can’t just ignore it. How can we?”

A swollen lump in her throat, strenuously, she tries to gulp it down.

Inhaling a deep breath. She nods consent.

Litha treads forward until he stands right in front of it.

He pushes the handle down and with brute force, ramming his shoulder into the door.

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