It was a nightmare! No, actually it wasn’t. It might have been better if it was.
Marisol had pointed at the illusory horses, and a carefree afternoon of birdwatching had come to an abrupt end. Mace and Gloria had seen the horses. They had also seen Dragon in her true form. Gloria had screamed and fainted, and Mace was currently yelling into his cell phone. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/07/28/i-see-a-big-problem-here/
I caught a few words as Mace frantically hollered at someone on the phone . . . police . . . situation . . . When I heard him give my address and heard the word dangerous, I rounded on my Old Dwarf. “Go! Grab my Foreman and the lads and get out of here!”
Immediately grasping the urgency of the situation, the dwarf hot-footed it for the shed, grabbing the other three as he ran.
I turned toward my remaining two characters. “Dragon!” I got no response. The befuddled creature was standing there, a very blue version of her true self, with smoke bubbles dripping from her snout at an alarming rate.
Cleric tried to help. She jabbed her friend in the side. “Dragon! Dragon!” I could hear the panic in Cleric’s voice, but there was no response from Dragon, who continued to stand there dripping smoke bubbles and staring off into space.
“Dragon!” I grabbed the beast’s scaly arm and shook it. Slowly, Dragon seemed to come out of her muddled state. She blinked and looked at me.
I shook her arm again. “Dispel the illusions. Eliminate the horses and barn! And change from your true form. Quickly!”
It took a few minutes before Dragon’s brain caught up with my instructions, but by the time a sheriff’s department car roared into our driveway, sirens blaring and lights flashing red and blue, the yard looked normal and Dragon was no longer in her beastly form.
County Sheriff’s deputies Melody Whitewash and Dustin Dawg, whom we knew from previous dealings, raced into the backyard, guns drawn. “Everyone stand where you are. Put your hands in the air. Now!”
I wasn’t completely certain which deputy had growled the orders, but I wasn’t going to argue with either one of them. Apparently, Cleric and Dragon had also decided discretion was the better part of valor. We stood as still as statues on the gazebo, barely breathing, with our hands raised high.
After looking around and seeing no immediate threat to themselves or anyone else, the two deputies lowered their weapons, but did not go so far as to holster them. Deputy Whitewash kept a close eye on everyone, as Deputy Dawg stepped forward.
“Okay, put your hands down . . . slowly.” Deputy Dawg glowered at me and my characters.
Deputy Whitewash gave us a disgusted look. “Every time there’s trouble in this neighborhood, we know who’s going to be in the middle of it.”
Her partner nodded. “So, what seems to be the problem this time? Dispatch said it was a dangerous situation, proceed with extreme caution.” He glared at me.
Deputy Dawg frowned. “Who called it in?”
“I did!” Mace was standing next to the gazebo, propping up his wife, whose legs were still too rubbery for her to stand unaided.
Deputy Dawg nodded curtly. “Mace! Good man. So, what’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you what’s going on!” Gloria somehow found enough strength to pull herself away from her husband’s support. She staggered but managed to stand on her own two feet. As soon as she was stable, she started shrieking. Her high register and extreme decibel level could put my Arrogant One to shame. “They have horses here again! A whole herd of them! And there was a huge creature here, too – some kind of weird lizard with blue scales and smoke bubbles pouring from its snout!”
Deputy Dawg and Deputy Whitewash both snickered and rolled their eyes at Gloria while they holstered their pistols.
“Gloria, have you been . . . imbibing?” Deputy Whitewash said it gently, but with an unmistakable undertone of scorn.
“I have not!” Gloria put her hands on her hips and glared at the deputy, who backed off, raising her hands in apology.
“Well, how do you explain it, then?” Deputy Dawg was not so gentle. “You’re staggering around making wild claims . . .
“Wild? Wild?” Gloria scoffed.
“Wild.” Deputy Dawg scowled. “Where are the horses? Where’s this big, blue lizard? There are serious penalties for making a false report to law enforcement authorities, you know!”
“There were horses.” A small voice drew the attention of the deputies. Marisol stood between the deputies and the gazebo, looking very solemn.
Deputy Whitewash knelt next to the child. “And who are you?” She smiled and appeared to be trying her best to seem unintimidating. I thought she needn’t bother. The child seemed pretty hard to intimidate.
“My name is Marisol. I live with my mommy, over on the next street. I came here to see if I would be allowed to pet the horses.”
“Horses?” Deputy Whitewash tilted her head. “I don’t see any horses.” She gestured at the yard, where the only animals in evidence were birds, rabbits, and chipmunks.
“There were horses.” Marisol stomped her foot and scowled at the deputy. “Just not a whole herd, like the hysterical lady said.” The little girl raised her hands and put air quotes around the words whole herd, and she crinkled her nose at Gloria.
Gloria gave Marisol a withering look, but the child ignored her and continued speaking earnestly to the deputy. “There were just three horses. One was a big, powerful-looking horse, the color of ob . . . ob . . . obsidian.” The little girl struggled with the word. “I think he may be a Friesian. The second horse was a black-and-white pinto. That one looked like a Gypsy Vanner with long, feathery hair on its legs. And the third one was a small, saucy-looking chocolate palomino pony.”
“My, my, my!” Deputy Whitewash raised an eyebrow at the child. “Such vivid descriptions! You certainly seem to know a lot about horses!” She stood and walked back toward her partner, her mouth twisting into a sardonic smile.
Marisol smiled widely. “They’re my favorite animals. Except for dragons.” The child turned toward Gloria. “The creature you saw wasn’t a lizard. It was a dragon. It was her.” She pointed to a very un-dragonlike Dragon, standing quietly on the gazebo with an angelic look on her face. “She can change colors, too. She’s much prettier with red scales than with blue.”
Everyone looked at Dragon. For a split second, the beautiful maiden seemed to shimmer. For a split second, a large dragon seemed to be standing next to Cleric, morphing from blue to red. That split second felt like an eternity to me. Then just as quickly as it began, the shimmering stopped, and Dragon was back to her customary guise, with just a hint of surprise on her delicate features.
Mace, Gloria, and the two deputies did a double take. A small shriek escaped from Gloria, and Mace made a noise like he had just had the wind knocked out of him. Deputies Dawg and Whitewash blinked rapidly, rubbed their eyes, and gaped at Dragon for a long moment.
Finally, Deputy Dawg shook his head and snorted. “Okay, little girl, that’s enough of your preposterous stories.” He turned back to Mace and Gloria. “I don’t know what your game is, but we don’t have time for this nonsense. Call us out again for something outlandish like this, Mace, and you’ll be the guest of the county for a good, long stretch.”
The two deputies turned as one and marched in perfect cadence back to their vehicle, mumbling and grumbling. They backed out of our driveway, tires squealing, and took off down the street, quickly disappearing around the curve.
Once the protection of the armed officers was gone, Mace and Gloria lost no time exiting the yard toward the safety of their own house. Wide-eyed and shaking, they gave me and my characters a wide berth as they raced past.
“Well. That was exciting.” I collapsed onto a chair.
“What happened to the horses?” Marisol’s little face crumpled. “I really wanted to pet the horses.”
Cleric and Dragon stared at the child. “What are you, child?” Dragon murmured, as she narrowed her eyes and studied Marisol. “How do you do what you do?”
So, what is Marisol? How does she do what she does? Join us again nest week as we explore this troubling mystery. We’ll leave the lights on for you.