“Oh! You’re back! Marge and I have been so worried.”
Miles had been going down the stairs and had practically run into Dragon, who had been on the way up.
“Why should you be worried, Master Miles?” Dragon arched an eyebrow and gave Miles a bemused look.
“Well, let’s see. Maybe because you’ve been gone for more than five weeks?” Miles frowned. “Or maybe because of the things that have been going on here. Marge had no way of knowing if any of you were behind the strange events.”
Instantly, Dragon snapped to attention. “Strange events? What strange events?” She paused, frowned, and held up her hand in a stop gesture before Miles could answer. “Wait! Five weeks? We have only been gone a few days!”
Miles shook his head emphatically. “No, it has been five weeks. You left for your illusory trip on January 4, and it is now February 9.”
Dragon scowled, and dark smoke drifted from her nostrils. “I must have lost track of time. It certainly did not seem that long. My sincere apologies. Now what is this about strange events?”
Miles detailed to Dragon the events that had started shortly after Dragon and her fellow characters had departed for their illusory trip. “Marge felt as if someone or something was watching her. She said she kept catching movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned to look, no one was there.”
Dragon scoffed. “That is curious, but hardly worrisome.”
“That was just the beginning.” Miles’ voice was grim.
Dragon’s eyes narrowed. “Go on, Master Miles.”
Miles then described the three times his wife had seen giant eyes, first on the bedroom ceiling, then on the computer monitor, and finally on the French doors from the living room to the deck. “I saw the last pair of eyes myself. They were staring right at us, then they quickly disappeared. Marge and I thought maybe one of you was trying to contact her, that maybe you were in trouble. We also considered the possibility that her Arrogant One was up to some mischief. Either way, the longer you were gone on your trip, the more worried she became.”
“It was not the Arrogant One.”
Dragon and Miles both jumped at the sound of a new voice. The Bounty Hunter was leaning against the railing, just a few steps behind Dragon, studying his fingernails. “The elf was enjoying the trip too much to engage in such antics. And, to the best of my knowledge, none of us were trying to contact Mistress Writer. We had no reason.”
Dragon locked eyes with the other character for a few moments, but the Bounty Hunter seemed unperturbed. Finally, the big beast turned away from the man and looked around. “Where is Mistress Writer?”
Miles shrugged. “She’s not here today. She received an invitation to an afternoon tea at that New Age store.”
Dragon’s eyes narrowed. “Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store?”
The giant reptile growled. “I am so disappointed I did not receive an invitation from Christine and Talia as well. I guess I am just going to have to . . . what is the phrase you use? Crash the party?”
And she was gone.
* * *
I screamed and pointed.
As my legs turned to rubber, Crawford and Griff grabbed a nearby chair and positioned it for me to collapse onto it.
Christine and Talia whirled around to see what was causing my hysteria. An ornate pair of eyes hovered in midair.
Talia seemed rooted in place. Her mouth moved, but no sound emerged. She seemed unable to do anything but stare into the huge eyes.
Christine was close to hyperventilating. She clutched her throat, and her eyes grew almost as large as the disembodied ones that were slowly disappearing. “That can’t be good!”
“No, it cannot!” Dragon, in her customary guise of an elf maiden, strode in, glaring at Christine and Talia.
* * *
Still . . . very still . . . silent and motionless . . . barely breathing . . . watching and listening, always watching and listening.
My skills, so necessary for my profession as bounty hunter, grow ever sharper. I knew the dull-witted human inhabitant of this world would never notice me as I crept up on him while he conversed, as I listened to every word of the exchange. I knew I would remain unnoticed, as if invisible, to that one. But imagine my surprise and my elation when the scaly beast also startled at the sound of my voice. It took every ounce of self-discipline and control to not grin like a fool, to remain nonchalant, as if I had no idea I had just snuck up on them unnoticed.
* * *
The eyes blinked. Watching . . . watching . . . always watching. Yes! I must be watching! But I must be more careful. I have, more than once now, come too close to being exposed. But I will remain vigilant. I will discover their secrets . . . eventually.
Who is watching, and why? What does my Bounty Hunter know about it? And what is Christine and Talia’s involvement? Will Dragon be able to figure it all out? Be sure to come back next week. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.