Moon took the small vial and datasheet from the grieving man. His knuckles flushed with colour again after he let go.
Turning to hold the vial to the light of the artificial gas lamp in the room, Moon swirled the crimson liquid. Vital, life’s blood. Moon’s ears pounded. A chill clawed up her spine. His breath on her ear, Mine.
“Please, Miss Laceter,” the father’s voice dragged her back to the room and the job at hand. “You are the only person who has even returned our call. The police think she’s just run away again. But this time it is so different.” His words were jagged.
The datasheet glowed with the 3D image of a girl not that much younger than Moon–maybe 16. She was cute, but not beautiful. She looked happy but not carefree. Moon wondered if she questioned the father more, would she find the reason for the girl’s troubled eyes? No matter, she had work to do. She could try to figure out more, if need be, later.
“I’ll do what I can. Please leave your details with John and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Oh, I can keep these, yes?” She lifted the vial and sheet.
The father nodded as John walked in. Moon exited the comfortable sitting room and walked into her study.
Thick drapes blocked out any hint of sun. The room smelled of wood oil, musty books, and the myriad of dry concoctions in the jars that lined the bookcases. Moon pulled down a copper bowl; the inside polished to a mirror finish. She poured crystal drenched water from a jade jug into the bowl. Then she retrieved a few herbs and powders from her shelves.
Preparing herself, she lit a candle beside the bowl.
“Goddess of enduring light, know the girl I seek.” She added a few pinches of matter to the bowl. They floated in on the top before moving by unseen forces into a slow spiral. “Goddess of enduring light, show me the girl.” She unstoppered the vial.
You are mine. That is mine. His voice again. The cold shiver of his hand on her.
It’s just his memory, she reminded herself. He is not here. He left, never to return.
Moon added a few viscous drops from the vial into the witch’s brew. The blood swirled and the girl from the datasheet appeared. “Goddess of enduring light, take me to her.” And she placed her hand on the water.
There was a pull on Moon’s soul. She felt compressed and elongated. Her hearing became swampy and her breathing stopped. All she could see was the girl’s face. All she could hear was His breathing. And then, as suddenly as it had started, the sensation was over. Moon stepped from the reflective glass of the cheap, older mirror.
The girl sat, back to Moon, bound to a chair in the middle of a dingy studio apartment. Thankfully, no one else was in the room. The only sounds a soft whimpering and a dripping tap.
“Rosy?” Moon breathed.
The girl’s head rocketed around. Seeing the young witch, the girl struggled.
“Help me. They will be back soon. Please…”
Moon strode forward while she pulled her long knife. The girl struggled uncomfortably, on the edge of frenzy.
“Please no. I promise to be good. I promise to do as I am told.”
“Calm down, Rosy. I am here to help you, not harm you.” Moon had little time for female hysterics.
She made quick work of the ties on Rosy’s wrists and ankles.
“Follow me. Be silent. Move when I do and listen to what I tell you. I will explain once we are safe but for now, we need to move.” Moon’s left no room for negotiation. Commanding statements often made targets easier to handle.
“Gracious goddess send a messenger.” An orb of deep shadow materialised before her, floating in the dim of the room. “Go forward and check it is safe for us.” Moon voiced the words though the umbra did not need them to understand. It popped through the door. Moon waited.
The shadow seeped back into the room from under the door. Images of the corridors outside the door flooded Moon’s mind. The coast was clear.
Opening the door to the hall, Moon flipped into spirit sight. Nothing. She grabbed Rosy’s hand and drew her down the three flights of stairs to the street level of the building. Cracking the door, Moon looked out onto the afternoon street scene. She wasn’t certain of her location within the city. It was the main drawback to travelling through reflection. But Moon was more concerned about the lack of opposition they had encountered.
The way is clear, my love. His voice invaded her head again. I have seen to that.
The cool tremor that always accompanied his voice shot through her. It was disconcerting having the disembodied voice. But, she reminded herself, it was just in her mind. He was gone. She was safe. Whatever ‘safe’ meant.
Rosy shook behind her, shifting from one foot to the other.
“It’s okay, Rosy. We are almost clear. You are safe with us.” Moon slammed her teeth closed. “Me. You are safe with me. Now, act casual.”
They stepped out of the door and into the crowd. The VR signs on the corner read 188th St SW and 44th Ave W.
Lynnwood. At least Moon knew where they were now. She tapped the speed dial in her VR feed.
John’s hazel eyes captured her as he picked up his phone and his image invaded the overlay of the virtual world over the real.
“Hey doll.” A neutral tone.
“I’ve got her. We need extraction.”
Her words drew him into action. She could see the movement of his image even if it stayed still in the frame of her vision.
“Lynnwood. I will be there as soon as I can. You going to keep moving? Do you need backup?”
“We are good. Odd lack of opposition.”
John stopped. His eyes searched hers. “What happened?”
“Wish I knew, but now’s not the time.”
“No, he’s gone. But something. We will keep moving. Track us.” And Moon disconnected the feed.
Moon lead Rosy down the heavier trafficked streets, breaking towards downtown Seattle.
“Rosy, our ride will be here in about 15. Until then we keep moving. I will guess that you have a tracker on you. Anyone with enough knowledge to get you would know to at least do that. We will deal with trackers in the van.”
Rosy’s mouth gaped open liked a landed fish.
“Come on.” Moon quickened their pace.
The silver van pulled up and the side door slid open.
“In,” Moon almost threw the young girl into the vehicle before following.
Moon grabbed a bug scanner and swept the girl. The display glowed and beeped. “Sure enough. Rosy, did they give you those pants to wear?”
The girl nodded. “Mine were ruined when they took me.”
“Take them off.”
The girl blushed and hesitated.
“Now,” Moon channelled her alter-ego. “You have nothing we haven’t seen. Not that anyone is looking.”
The girl removed her jeans and Moon handed her sweatpants. The girl grabbed them greedily and put them on. Moon handed the jeans to John, and he ditched them out the window as he continued to drive.
One more scan and Moon sat opposite the girl. She rested her forearms on her knees and leaned towards the girl.
“Your father sent me. You okay with that?”
“How, how did you find me?” Rosy’s shaky response caused Moon’s eyes to narrow. The girl drew back.
“A scrying spell to find you and then I walked through the mirror.” Moon’s words made it just a boring, everyday occurrence. So much so, it hardly seemed reasonable to continue the conversation.
“You okay with being returned to your dad?”
“Sure. I have little choice. No place else to go.” The girl hugged herself.
Moon sat back. “There are other options. I know people if you are not safe at home.”
The girl laughed. “No, it’s not that. Dad’s good enough. I want more.”
Moon nodded. She knew the need for more. And that need often lead her down dark paths in dangerous places.
The door to Stephen’s house burst open when they pulled into the driveway. Moon accompanied Rosy to her father.
“Daddy,” the girl clung to the man. “I am so happy to be home.”
“Thank you, Miss Laceter,” the man said over the shoulder of his child after he secured her in his arms. “I owe you more than I can repay.”
Moon shrugged. “Just doing my job. John will invoice you for the expenses. Best of luck.”
She watched the reunited family as they backed onto the road.
“Want to talk about it?”
“No. He’s gone. His voice is in my head.”
“Okay, but no opposition? Doesn’t seem reasonable. And a voice in your head can’t clear out a room of bad guys. Right?”
“I said, I don’t want to talk about it.”
Moon’s meticulous lettering graced the page of the diary. She outlined the rescue, her spells, the outcomes, and His voice. Then she cleared away, cleaned, and returned the items she had used to find the girl. As she turned from placing the copper bowl away, she looked at the table which now only contained the small vial. She picked it up. The stopper was closed on the empty bottle.
Mine. You always will be.