by Phillip J. Boucher
The hot, dry southern air teased Sheriff Eugene Pennifore’s face as it drifted through the open window of the SUV and hung there like a curtain. He wiped away the small beads of sweat that ran down his forehead, drying his hand on his uniform pants. He glanced into the rear-view mirror, looking at the empty road that disappeared around the bend over a mile away, devoid of traffic this Sunday morning. Pennifore pursed his lips in disappointment. He aimed the radar gun toward a tree and pulled the trigger.
“Tree’s doin’ a hunert and two,” he said, the thick southern drawl almost too difficult to understand. He aimed the gun at a rock. “Rock’s only doin’ forty.”
He tapped the radar display twice, but it never changed. He lifted his head and gazed out the front window, popping another piece of gum into his mouth.
“Just goes to show ya,” a voice from the passenger side said.
“Now what’d be that?” Pennifore asked.
“That trees is faster than rocks.”
Pennifore chuckled and offered his deputy a piece of gum, which the young man politely refused. He opened the door and stepped out, his back sore and his left knee cracking as he gently placed it down on the ground. His knee gave out and he grasped the steering wheel to catch himself, his finger hitting the switch for the roof lights. The flashes of red and blue caught his attention immediately, even in the bright morning sun.
“Can you turn that damn thing off, Davey? Too damn early to be a seein’ that stuff in the mornin’.”
Deputy David Carswell leaned over and turned the lights off as Pennifore got up and walked up the road to relieve the pain in his knees and back. He had a slight limp to the left, the result of a bullet wound to the leg many decades ago when he himself was just a young deputy. His back problem was simply the result of carrying an overweight belly for most of his adult life. But as Davey watched the old man walk, he had also seen the sheriff run after suspects like an Olympic sprinter, and take down some very violent criminals all by himself. “It’s not the outside of the man that dictates what he can do,” the sheriff had told him many times, “but the magick that’s inside the man.”
Davey left the truck and quickly caught up to Pennifore, who now stood in the middle of the road, looking around at flat ground and tall trees.
“Whatcha see, Sherf?”
“I see a whole lotta nothin’, Davey. And I also see the sky and I see the trees. I see the birds and everythin’ else that an old man’s eyes can focus on. And you know what else I see, Davey?”
“What’s that, Sherf?”
“I also see some youngin’ a comin’ up the hill there by the pond.”
Davey looked but he couldn’t see anything.
“I don’t see anythin’ at all but the youngin’.”
“You don’t see him over there right next to the pond?”
Davey squinted and focused hard on the area that Pennifore was pointing at. He still saw the boy, but no pond.
“I see the youngin’ all right, but there ain’t no pond over there where he be at.”
Pennifore gripped Davey’s head in his hands and moved it over slightly to the left.
“First, boy, you gotta look in the right spot. Then you don’t look. You see. See the pond, Davey. Look at the spot but see the pond. Practice what I taught you, boy.”
Again Davey squinted his eyes, and he tried hard to see the pond, just as Pennifore had taught him. And within a short moment there it was, large and blue and rippling very gently.
“I sees it, Sherf. I sees the pond now!”
“I sees it too. Booteeful, ain’t it?”
“Yes, sir. Beautiful it sure is.”
“See, Davey? You’ll get the hang of these special po-licin’ duties yet.”
As they both gazed at the pond, the boy’s head suddenly popped up from behind a rock as he reached the top of the hill, and he stopped, frozen to the ground, as he saw the two lawmen standing there looking at him. Nobody moved.
“Am I in trouble, Sherf?” the boy nervously asked.
“Nope, not at all, son. We was just a lookin’ at the pond.”
The boy looked and crinkled his nose.
“What pond. There’s never been a pond there.”
“My granddaddy woulda tole me if a pond a hadda been there. He’s fished all over.”
“Yes, but it is booteeful none the less.”
The boy stared at the sheriff for a long time with a look on his face that made Davey think the boy thought the lawman was nuttier than the peanut farms that graced the county.
“He’s an old man, son,” Davey said. “Reminiscin’ bout old times.”
“What old times? My granddaddy’s older than the Sherf and there ain’t ever been a pond there.”
“Sherf’s real real old,” Davey quipped.
“Who you callin’ old, boy?”
“Can I go now?” the boy asked.
“Yep,” the sheriff said. “Get yer butt outta here now.”
The boy hesitated for a moment then ran away as fast as he could. Pennifore put his arm around Davey’s shoulder and pointed to the pond again.
“You sees them birds on the water?”
“Yep. Them’s big birds. What are they?”
“Them’s is Ca-na-da geese. Came in the winter one year, never left. Sorta claimed the pond as their own. I consider that pond Ca-na-da territory. Them’s perty geese, they are.”
“Yep. If’n you can see the pond, you can see the geese. Perty sight. I’m glad you can see it.”
“Yep. ‘Member now, the less you look and the more you see, the easier it becomes.”
“I hope so.”
“Hope so? Boy, I know so! Well tie me to a tree and whip me til I bleed, boy, you sometimes frustrate the heck outta me with not trusting me in training you to see the world that exits alongside-”
“Station callin’ Sherf Penfor,” the radio suddenly crackled from the microphones on their lapels.
“Penfor, here, Tracy-Jean. What can I do you for?”
“Eugene, I just got a call from Mrs. Abertin that the noise from the Winged Sprite Bar is so loud that it’s disturbin‘ her concentration in makin’ a Healin’ Cake. Says the music and yellin’ is preventin’ the energy from comin’ outta her fingers.”
Pennifore sighed deeply and shook his head.
“Okay, Tracy-Jean, we’ll head over there and take a look.”
“Ten-four, Shef, I’ll let her know.”
Pennifore spit out his gum and popped a fresh piece in. He slowly turned and headed back to the car, Davey right on his heels.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you ever seen the Winged Sprite Bar, have you?”
“No,” Davey replied.
“You won’t like it,” Pennifore said. “It’s a fairy bar!”
“A fairy bar?”
“Yep,” Pennifore said as he and Davey entered the SUV. “It’s a bar restricted to fairies only. Non-fairies ain’t allowed in. I hate them fairies. The way they are, the things they do. Some of the things they do, I mean, it is so disgustin’ it makes my stomach upchuck into my mouth. They are the sickest things I’ve ever heard about.”
Davey was shocked as he watched Pennifore shake his head in disgust. Although he had only been a deputy for just over a year, he had never heard the sheriff utter so much as a negative word against anyone. But this display of discrimination was quite unsettling to the young officer.
They arrived at Mrs. Abertin’s house and Davey was subjected to more derogatory comments from the old lady.
“…and screams. The have the music turned up so loud and they’s be yellin’ and carryin’ on so’s that I can’t make my Healin’ Cake!” She held up her hands right in front Pennifore’s face. “See, Sherf? See? I’m bothered so much that I got no energy from my fingers. It’s not right. I thought you took care of this problem last year, Sherf?”
“Thought I did too, Mrs Abertin, but apparently they’s at it again, and I apologize for that.”
“I don’t know why we’s got fairies in this town. Especially this town. We don’t need’em for anythin’. They don’t contribute to the town’s energy and they do things that even my stories on television don’t dare to tell.”
“I know, mam.”
“Listen! I mean just listen to that racket! How’s a soul to think with that goin’ on, and imagine what sick things are goin’ on in there?”
“I hear it, Mam. It is quite a disturbance, I will grant you that, and we’s goin’ over there right now to talk to them. The noise will be gone shortly.”
“Thank you, Sherf,” the old lady said, and as she closed the door, Davey heard her say, “Damn fairies!”
“Um,” he began, “I don’t hear any music or noise, Sherf.”
“You can’t hear that? Well, hog tie me and turn me on a spit! I can hear it as plain as day comin’ from right over there,” Pennifore said as he pointed to an old rundown and abandoned bar just up the road. “That’s the fairy bar, boy.”
Davey heard nothing and saw no activity coming from the shell of a building to indicate that even rats were living in it. “C’mon,” Pennifore said as he adjusted his belt, checked his gun, and walked toward the building.
They entered and Pennifore let out an “Oh my Lord will you all shut up!” at what Davey could see was a totally empty old run down bar.
“You fairies are nothin’ but trouble in this town.”
“What is it, Davey?”
“I don’t hear or see anything here.”
“My God, boy, are you so dense that you can’t see instead of look? Remember what type of town this is and what I been a teachin’ you. See, damn it, see the fairies, boy, don’t just look. Do whatcha did at the pond! I trained you in the magick, boy. Use it.”
Davey squinted his eyes and concentrated on the bar. He told his mind to see the other world that existed alongside this one, the one Pennifore had told him and taught him about when he became a Deputy. The town of magick that they policed and protected. And there it was. The bar was filled with fairies! All kinds of fairies. And the noise! It was deafening from all the screaming and yelling they were doing, and the music was as loud as a symphony of jackhammers. He watched as one fairy came right up to Pennifore’s face in defiance. She was small and floated in the air from the beat of tiny wings going a mile a minute. Pennifore coughed hard at her but she never flinched.
“Get out, Pennifore,” her tiny high-pitched voice commanded. “You’re not allowed in here.”
Pennifore’s face was stone cold and his aggressive stance never changed a bit.
“The hell I’m not! I’m the Sherf of this town and I can go wherever I damn well please!” he said back in absolute authority.
Several of the other fairies in the bar laughed at him and about half the room, all drunk, flitted around trying to fly toward him, but they mostly flew into each other. A small group of them were able to get close and he held up his hand in defiance.
“I’m warnin’ y’all to back off.”
Davey was quite amused at the situation and decided to make a joke.
“Want my Taser, Sherf?”
“Don’t need no Taser, Davey,” Pennifore said seriously. “Not here.”
Before Davey could reply, two of the fairies held out their hands and blew on them. Dust flew up and hit Pennifore in the face, which suddenly lit up in flame and he screamed in pain. Davey jumped back in total surprise just as Pennifore raised his hands to his face and patted the flames out. His skin was red and Davey could see the anger in his eyes.
“I damn well warned you, didn’t I?” Pennifore shouted. He raised his hand and blue streams of light shot out of his fingers and hit the floating fairies who had just attacked him. Davey covered his ears as they let out the most horrid sounds he had ever heard and watched as they crashed to the ground, lifeless.
“Oh my Lord, good Lord Almighty, you killed them, Sherf, you killed them dead!” Davey cried out.
“Relax boy. If I had of wanted to kill them they’d be burnt to a crisp.”
Davey looked at them and could see they were unconscious but breathing. It was then he noticed the silence that had fallen over the bar and saw every fairy eye locked on Pennifore in terror.
“What in blazes are you two doin’?” a voice behind them asked, and as they turned, they saw the Mayor standing there.
“Beg pardon, Mayor?” Pennifore asked casually, a slight smile on his face.
The Mayor looked at them, standing in the quiet, empty, run down bar.
“Well, Sherf, I’m drivin’ by and I see yer car just a sitting outside and I wonder why is the Sherf here and I come in and I find you two in this dark empty building ayappin’ to yerselves like a couple of escaped crazies from the looney bin!”
Davey was not all that surprised that the Mayor had no idea his town existed alongside a magickal one.
“We’s just rehersin’,” Pennifore said immediately.
“Rehersin’ for what?”
“For my neice’s video. We was just a passin’ the old bar and kinda decided to make sure it was secure and while we was doin‘ it we was rehersin’”
“What the hell kinda rehersin’ is that? What kinda video?”
“Just a school project. Two coppers being weird and a talkin’ weird and she’s gonna put in some of that computer animator stuff over us and make us into monsters or freaks or somethin’ like that.”
The Mayor simply stared at them for several moments.
“You gotta do that in here?”
“Just passin’ time as we make sure the old place is locked down. You wouldn’t be a wantin’ us to be doin’ it out in the open I magin’?”
“Deputy,” the Mayor asked, “are you as kookie as this here old fart?”
“I sure as hell hope not, Mayor.”
“So do I, for yer sake, son. By the way, Sherf, you usin’ sunscreen?”
It took a moment for the Mayor’s question to register and Pennifore touched his face and smiled.
“Bought me some at the dollar store. Guess it don’t work very well.”
“Guess it don’t work at all.”
The Mayor shook his head and walked out the door. They both stood silent until they heard the Mayor’s car drive off. When Davey looked back at the bar area and concentrated again, he could see that none of the fairies had moved except for the two who had attacked Pennifore. They were back at their tables, slumped over their drinks. Every one of them was still in fear of the Sheriff.
“Now. Before I zap the crap outta the rest of you fairies I want the music turned down, the hoots and a hollerin’ stopped, and any other noise kept to a bare minimum, y’all understand me?”
Most of them nodded their heads in agreement while the rest simply nursed their drinks and kept their heads and eyes to the table. As Pennifore turned around and began to walk to the door, a soft but high pitched voice cut the silence.
“Can you be that tough with the Finder?”
Pennifore stopped dead and immediately turned around. He stared at the old fairy behind the bar who had spoken. Her defiance instantly turned to fear as she saw the anger her comment created. Pennifore marched over to the bar and was about to grab her when an old male fairy floated in between them.
“Please, Sheriff, she was just speaking out in anger.”
“Speakin’ out in anger? I think that comment was more a message.” He looked at the fairy who had spoken. “Why mention the Finder to me?” She was silent. He looked around the bar at every fairy that was in there. “What about the Finder?” he yelled, but only silence filled the room.
He suddenly turned and grabbed the fairy in his hands, pulling her to him. Davey quickly ran over and grabbed Pennifore by the arms, trying to get him to let her go, but he violently pushed his deputy back away from him and then yelled directly in the fairy’s face.
“What about the Finder?”
“Sherf, c’mon, let her go. She’s tiny and-”
“Shut yer mouth, Davey! You don’t know what’s goin’ on here. Now tell me why you mentioned the Finder. Tell me or I swear I’ll kill you all.”
“Let her go, Eugene,” Davey said. “I damn well mean it now, Sherf.”
Pennifore turned and saw that his deputy had one hand on his pistol and was ready with pepper spray in the other. Undaunted, he took one hand off the fairy and swung his arm backwards, sending a blue flash that engulfed Davey and in an instant the deputy vanished.
“What about the Finder?” he yelled as he turned his attention back to the fairy in his hand.
She shook violently and tried to speak, but was petrified and nothing came out. The old male fairy coughed and looked at Pennifore, conceding a win to the human and the release of his wife.
“He was here.”
“He was here and you neglected to let me know?”
“This was yesterday and we were all a little drunk.”
“I see.” He sat down on a chair that, in the regular world, was covered in dust and had the paint peeling from the legs. “What did he want?”
“He wants to talk to you.”
“He didn’t say. Just that he wants to talk when the time is right.”
“Really now? Now when has the Finder only wanted to talk? And when did you think you were goin’ to tell me about this? Like after I have to deal with him?”
“We’re sorry. He said if we said anything that he would kill us.”
“I’m sure he would. Well put me in a dog house and feed me kibble. The Finder. I forgot all about what’s comin’ up. Well, I thank you for the information. Why don’t we just forget this conversation ever happened and keep the noise down and let me deal with the Finder, all right?”
“Yes, Sherrif,” the fairy said, surprised by the softer tone Pennifore had taken.
“Good, good. Y’all take care now. Have a nice day.”
Pennifore stood up and walked toward the door. He came back into the real world and as he left the rundown building, entered his SUV and proceeded to find his missing deputy. It didn’t take him long to find Davey walking along the lonely backcountry road, his uniform shirt wet with sweat and a look on his face of frustration and anger. Pennifore pulled the SUV over beside him and rolled down the window, letting the cold air blast out of the cab and into Davey’s face.
“I thought you said the air conditionin’ was broken,” Davey said sarcastically.
“Lied. Thought you should learn to live without fer once, boy.” They looked at each for a few moments. “Well, son, you gonna get in or what?” Davey walked around to the passenger side and got in, savoring the cold air that turned the sweltering vehicle into a delicious walk-in freezer. “Enjoy yer trip?” Pennifore asked.
“How did you do that?”
“You never told me you had any magick in you.”
“See, Davey, now that’s where you gotta use yer po-licin’ skills. You freaked out when you learned about the magick world we po-lice but you finally accepted it. You had the magick spark in you. I knew you’d be able to see the other world with lots of trainin’ and I was right. But one of the questions you shoulda asked me was if I had magick in me. Since you didn’t, you had to learn the hard way.”
“What else can you do?”
“Other than inflict some real damage to things in the magick world, and send people to other places, not much else. I can go to places in the magick world like I sent you from the bar to here. That’s about it. I can’t even shoo away a fly from Shoo Fly Pie any more than that in this world.”
“Gee, that’s all?”
“Boy, from the look upon yer face I’d say that’s more than enough.”
“And the fairies?”
“All fine. Was just puttin’ a scare into ’em.”
The drive back to town was done in silence and they entered the station. Pennifore made coffee, bringing back a cup for Davey. He took a sip of his own black brew before he spoke.
“Anyways, it looks like we got ourselves a little bit of a problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“Seems the Finder wants to talk to me.”
“Okey doke. Who’s the Finder?”
“More ap-pro-pratly is what is the Finder? Well, it is a creature of sorts. A creature that looks like a man but has a hunger for magickal souls. Sucks the souls of youngin’s turning twelve, when their magick comes out. On Monday, and stupid me, I forgot about it, two youngin’s I’m protecting turn twelve. I just gotta keep him away from them. If I can do that then he won’t eat their souls and they won’t die. I can’t kill him, he can’t kill me. Been there, done that before.”
Davey just sat there with a look of utter astonishment and bewilderment.
“You’re effin‘ nuts, Eugene!”
“Wish I was Davey but that’s the truth and come Monday the Finder’ll be able to see me. No more runnin’, no more hidin’. I hired you because you got the magick in you. Don’t know how the magick world works or why it exists with this one. Don’t matter. I chose you to help me out cause I knew the Finder’d be showin’ up eventually. Well, boy, he’s here and I need you to help me protect my two people.”
“Really? Who are they?”
“Bobby-John and Kitty-Jean.”
“Bobby-John and Catherine-Jean.”
“Bobby-John and Cath…you mean BJ and Kit Voker?”
“BJ and Kit Voker? The Voker kids? Town clerk Voker’s kids? My Lord, Sherf, you gotta be pullin’ my chain here! Those kids are on the baseball team. They aren’t magick. Leroy and his wife aren’t magick. Whatdaya mean?”
“On Monday they turn twelve. They get their magick. The Finder needs them to eat their souls.”
“How do you know this?”
“My grandma told me and she ain’t ever lied to me, bless her soul in the ground. Now you gotta trust me like I trusted her and help me-”
“This is insane! Yer insane Euge-”
Pennifore suddenly grasped Davey’s head between his hands and stared a hair’s breath away from his eyes. Davey’s head filled with flashes of images, so many that he felt sick to his stomach. He saw Pennifore as a young child learning magick from his Grandmother. He saw a very young Leroy and Betty Anne Voker with Pennifore and several other young men and women in some type of a classroom, practicing magick, with Pennifore obviously the best skilled. He saw his parents as children also learning magick skills. He saw a tall and ugly man holding two young girls with each hand, a reddish light escaping from their bodies as they died and going into the body of the man. This must be the Finder.
The images instantly disappeared as Pennifore released his grip on Davey’s head, and the young man collapsed to the floor exhausted and shaking. It took a while for him to calm down and pick himself up back into his chair. He stared long and hard at the Sheriff.
“But why is this happening? I saw my parents. The Vokers. I don’t understand?”
“Davey, if I knew, I would know, but I don’t know why the magick world exists or why you and I are part of it, why yer parents or my grandma or the Vokers were part of it or nothin’. It just is and we gotta live in it with the real world and deal with it as it comes. Nobody gave me an explanation and I ain’t got one for you. So come Monday, you gotta take the Voker kids somewhere safe and I gotta get ready to face the Finder.”
Davey sat with his eyes to the ground and his breathing shallow and rapid. He had no explanation either but still didn’t believe it.
“I don’t got no magick. Never got it when I was twelve, never had it now.”
“Never knew you had it. Nobody ever told you you had it. Yer parents decided not to tell you, for whatever reason I still don’t know to this day. Told me not to tell you til after I hired you. But you got it, sure as hell as a bat’s got its radar, you got the magick, boy! You better believe me cause you was one of the one’s I saved from the Finder twelve years ago!”
Davey sat with his mouth wide open in awe.
Monday morning came too early for Davey as the alarm blared away in his ears. He reached over behind his head and turned it off, rolling over and sitting up on the edge of the bed. He let out a frightened yell and jumped a few inches off the mattress, then immediately pulled the covers over his naked form. Pennifore, in civvies, and BJ and Kit Voker stood there as he crawled under the covers.
“Damn it, Eugene, what the hell? I had a late night! The kids! I sleep nak-”
“I told you seven a.m., Davey.”
Davey looked at the clock.
“It is seven a.m.”
“Sure is boy, but when I say seven a.m. I mean be ready to go, not just a getting’ up. You better git yerself dressed boy, right now! Regular clothes. We’s be in the livin’ room. C’mon kids.”
Davey quickly dressed and as he entered the living room, he barely caught the shotgun that Pennifore tossed at him.
“There be an old cabin I use fer fishin’ way down yonder in Parker’s Grove. Quite secluded for sure. Take this map and take the kids there and don’t do nuthin’ til I come and get you.”
Davey took the map from Pennifore and quickly looked at it.
“It’s all backroads, Sherf! My car ain’t a gonna make it-”
“My SUV is out front. Four wheel drive and all gassed up. Yer gonna take Kit and BJ there now. Go.”
“I ain’t even had my coffee yet-”
“Damn it boy! Get it on the way. Go! Go!”
Pennifore was waving his hands at the three of them to get out of the house and without another word Davey hustled the children to the SUV. He watched as they drove away, and when he couldn’t see them anymore, walked to the fairy bar. The bar was as empty and dilapidated as always in the real world, and as he emerged into the town’s magickal world, the bar was still empty. He had made it clear that no fairy had better even be near the bar today and, amazingly, they had obeyed him. It was now just a waiting game for the Finder to appear.
The SUV bumped along the dirt road as Davey sipped on his coffee. The Voker children were content with their bottles of pop and bags of chips. He kept looking at the map, wondering where in hell in the boonies Pennifore could have placed his fishing cabin. BJ sat in the passenger seat and Kit was in the back. Neither of them had said a word to him at all and he found it quite creepy.
“How’s yer chips and soady pop?” he asked. They simply nodded their heads. He was getting more creeped out. “Do you kids even know what the hell is going on here?”
“Sure,” Kit replied after a long period of silence, her voice high-pitched but quite strong.
“Yep,” BJ said, and took a swig of pop.
Davey waited but neither of them said another thing.
“So why don’t you tell me?”
Kit piped up.
“You gotta protect us cause we’s got the magick.”
“Cause the Finder wants to kill us and get our magick,” BJ added.
“The Sherf told you this?” Davey asked with a deep sigh.
“Yep, and our parents,” BJ said.
“Yer parents. Jeez, must be nice. So, I’m to take you to this cabin and just keep y’all inside or what?”
“Yep,” Kit said. “Anyone comes after us, you gotta kill’em.”
“And what if it’s this Finder? How do I kill him?
“Well then ya can’t,” BJ said matter of factly.” Sherf says you’s just a gotta keep him away from us. Sherf’ll think of something.”
“I’m sure he will,” Davey said quite unconvincingly.
The paved road he was following suddenly turned into a very rutty dirt path, which went through some fairly dense brush, and after about a good twenty minute drive, they suddenly came upon a large log cabin situated on the edge of a small lake. It was beautiful and as Davey pulled up in front of it, he tried to focus on the cabin and see if it was real. He concentrated hard but the cabin just stood there, and he was slightly happy that it was in the real world, and not a place in the magickal plane.
He hustled the kids out of the car and found the door key on Pennifore’s keychain. They then entered a shrine of a fisherman. Stuffed fish were mounted on the wall. Pictures of Pennifore with various fish and other anglers littered the living room. And of course, the proverbial fishing vest and hat hung from a clothes hook right behind the front door. All Davey could do was shake his head as the Vokers made a beeline for the couch and fought over the television remote.
Entering the kitchen he reluctantly looked in the fridge, relieved to find that no fish resided inside, and equally relieved to find several bottles of beer, one of which he took. He sat at the kitchen table and leaned back in the chair. He could see the magickal world that existed alongside the real one, but that was only with Eugene’s training. He was sure that he held no magick of his own, and with only a half belief that any of this was happening, wondered how in hell he was going to the protect the two children in his care.
Pennifore poured himself a drink from behind the bar then took a seat at one of the tables facing the door. He removed a napkin from the dispenser and placed his drink on it. His mouth was slightly dry and even a swig of beer did nothing to relieve it. He took a piece of gum from his ever-present pack and popped it into his mouth, chewing until his saliva flowed. He then took another swig of beer which he savored together with the gum.
He waited for the Finder arrive, a creature of horrid hunger for magick packed into a human body that looked as ordinary as any human in the real or magickal worlds. A creature that Pennifore was able to keep at bay twelve years ago when he was protecting Davey, only to watch the Finder kill and take the magick from two young girls Pennifore couldn’t protect in time . He contemplated just what he could do this time to protect the Voker children. He had done his best up to this moment, trying to keep their identity quiet in the magickal realm that existed in the small town for as long as his own grandmother could remember to the time when she was but a child. However, the Finder was not only smart, but persistent. How he found the Voker kids was not the issue now. Protecting them was.
He heard the bar door open and looked up to see the familiar face of the tall man who stood there staring at him. He kept calm and looked directly into the Finder’s eyes, staring him down.
“Where are they, Eugene?”
“They’s be where you ain’t gonna find ‘em.”
“You can’t beat me, Eugene. You never could.”
“I know that, for sure, as sure as I know that you can’t beat me, neither.”
The Finder came over and sat down at the table across from Pennifore.
“You’re an old man now, Eugene. Why not just live out your life in comfort and avoid the stress on your heart?”
Pennifore smiled as he popped a piece of gum into his mouth.
“Now I may be an old man in this here a regular world I gotta live in, but in our magick realm, I’m as fit as anyone can be.”
“Enough of this. Where are they?”
“Don’t know who you be talkin’ about.”
“The Voker children. It’s there twelfth birthday and I want them.”
“I bet you do, cause they’s ain’t none else for you to get yer hands on this time. Them’s the only two, and if I keep you from them then you is just gonna wittle away to nothin’ and I’ll never need to see you again.”
“Really?” The Finder stood up and walked over to the bar, leaning back against it. “Is that what you believe?”
“That what my grandma told me.”
“Your grandmother was rather misinformed. The magickal souls I take keep me young and at top magickal peak. Even after twelve years, I’m still quite the same. And if I don’t get the Vokers, then in another five years there are always three more coming of age that I can have. At that point I’ll be a little weaker, a little older, but certainly not dead. And I’ll also be hungrier and I’ll take as many as I can get, before age, after age, it won’t matter then.”
Pennifore looked the Finder up and down. This was the first time he actually ever had a conversation with him, and found it quite annoying.
“I don’t know if they’s another town that exists in the magickal world, but if it does, why don’t you go there instead.”
It was not a question, but a bold-faced statement that he hoped would elicit some information from the Finder. He watched the creature’s face, it’s nose, it’s eyes. Nothing. And then, a very small twitch at the side of the mouth. Pennifore was well skilled at reading people’s faces, a skill he learned at the state police academy those many years ago that served him well in all aspects of his mundane and magickal life.
“This is the only one,” the Finder finally said.
Pennifore stood up and put his hat on his head, straitening it out. He then nodded.
“Then I’ll see you in five years. Y’all have a nice day, now.”
He turned and made his way towards the door, but before he could open it, he heard the rustle of clothing, a sound he was waiting for, and quickly turned with one hand held out. A blast of energy shot from his fingers and slammed into the chest of the Finder just before the creature could get him in its grasp. The force sent the Finder flying backwards to the floor. The creature shot his own blast and hit Pennifore in his other hand.. The pain seared and tingled and made his entire arm shake violently. Another blast flew from the creature and Pennifore jumped out of the way, barely missing being hit.
He tried to use his power to send the Finder to another area of town like he had done with Davey, but it had no effect. The Finder stood up and several blasts exited his fingers and flew towards the door. Two hit Pennifore and he fell to one knee, trying to absorb the energy that rattled his whole being. They fired at each other for several more minutes and both fell exhausted to the ground. Pennifore pulled himself up along the bar, his vision fuzzy, trying to find the creature. He suddenly saw the outline of some dark form in front of him and as he tried to grab hold of it, his head was grasped by two hands and he suddenly felt frozen to the spot.
“I’m not going to spend hours doing this like last time,” the Finder said in his ear. He tried to get away but was unable to make his muscles move sufficiently to do so. “One thing I get from every soul I take is a new power. Being able to hold you here is one. This, is another.”
The Finder put his hand on top of Pennifore’s head and put a thought into it. Where are the Voker’s? Where are the Vokers? Pennifore fought to control his thoughts, but though the Finder equaled his own powers in destruction, Pennifore was no match for this new one. He closed his eyes in shame as the image of the cabin entered his head. The Finder vanished. A moment later, so did Pennifore.
Davey simply looked on as the kids watched television. So innocent and seemingly uncaring that some thing was out to kill them. He took another swig of the second beer and wiped his mouth. The scream made him jump. His arm reflexed uncontrollably and the bottle few backwards and smashed against the wall. He grabbed the shotgun and ran quickly towards the tall figure that stood in front of the screaming children. Guess they’re scared now, he thought.
“Don’t move! Don’t move or I’ll fire!” he screamed.
The Finder smiled and reached his arms out towards the kids. Davey fired three shots into its chest. The Finder stopped and looked at Davey for a moment, then waved his hand forward. Davey felt something smash into his own chest and he was pushed backwards into the kitchen. The Finder examined the holes in its body for a moment before lunging at the fleeing children and grabbing them in both hands. He began to lift them off ground, but when the front door flew open, he released them as he was tackled from behind. Kit and BJ both fell on the couch.
“Get the hell out of here! Go! Hide!” Pennifore screamed as he fought to keep the Finder pinned to the ground. But the creature reeled back and shook him off, running after the children. He fired another blast of energy at Pennifore which slammed him against the wall. Just as the creature was about grab the children again, Davey put up his hand and screamed, “No!”
A bright orange blast of light, that scared the life out of Davey left his hand and hit the Finder, which enveloped the creature for a moment, and seemed to take away some of it’s strength. Davey was in shock.
“What the hell? He got the magick!” Pennifore said to himself as he tried to get to his feet.
The light faded from around the Finder, who looked at Davey with pure hatred.
“You, I can kill!” it said, and raised both arms towards him.
The Finder suddenly screamed in agony as its head became a ball of flame. Pennifore, Davey, and the Voker children watched as the entire fairy population of the town flew into the cabin and around the Finder, every one of them blowing dust at it. The Finder’s entire body was now on fire and Pennifore pulled himself up.
“Davey!” he screamed, but the Deputy just sat there. “Davey! Damn it, boy! Davey! Davey!” he screamed.
Davey finally responded and Pennifore put out his arms at the Finder.
“Put out yer arms, boy! Put out yer arms and send the energy. Send it, Davey! Damn it, boy. Do it now. You got the magick in you, boy! You seened it. Now do it!”
Davey reluctantly put out his arms and watched as the energy flew from Pennifore’s fingers and into the Finder. Davey concentrated and watched the Finder try to fight off the hundreds of Fairies blowing their dust and the energy blast of the Sheriff.
“You gotta do it, Deputy!” Kit screamed.
“You gotta protect us, Deputy, it’s yer job!” BJ added.
With all his intent and desire, Davey put every thought and every bit of his being into creating the energy again. And it happened. From his hands came a rapid succession of orange blasts which hit the Finder and wrapped around him. The intensity of the added energy from Davey was too much for the Finder to fight off and after a moment of agonizing desperation, burst into a billion little bits of light and vanished into the ether.
Davey took the gum that was offered to him and looked out across the bare field that had just recently been cleared for the autumn harvest. He spotted a small group of deer lying in the grass.
“Perty deer,” he said.
“Where?” Pennifore asked.
“Over there by them sets of trees.”
“I don’t see no deer there.”
“That’s cause ya gotta see, not-”
“I sees ‘em now. Don’t be a smartass just cause you finally got yer more powerful magick and see the magick world a bit sooner than me. You still gotta lotta learnin’ to do, boy.”
Davey simply smiled as the radio crackled.
“Station callin’ Sherf Penfor.”
“Go ahead, Tracy-Jean.”
“Sherf, just got a call bout a disturbance at the fairy bar.”
“Ten-four, Tracy-Jean, we’ll take of it.”
Pennifore squealed the tires as he turned the SUV around and headed back into town.
“I knew them fairies was lyin’ bastards! Change of heart my ass! Helpin’ to kill the Finder as a goodwill gesture to me, my ass!”
He slammed on the brakes as they reached the empty bar and Davey had to run to keep up with the old man. Pennifore stormed in and looked around the dark, empty, dilapidated building, focusing his eyes into the magick realm. As soon as he saw it, his mouth fell open.
Davey made his way to the bar as Pennifore looked at the balloons, streamers, and cake that were on display just for him.
“Sherf,” Davey began, “this here’s a real goodwill gesture from the fairies to you.”
“Yes Sheriff,” several of the fairies said. “We’ve changed our ways,” one continued. “We now understand how you felt about us and that we encouraged it. We’re mischievous by nature. We took it too far.”
Pennifore took a beer and piece of cake that were put on the bar for him by Davey.
“Oh, you did, fer sure. Why did you help with the Finder?”
“Well,” a young fairy said as she flitted in front of Pennifore’s face while looking at Davey.
“I talked to them,” Davey said.
“You talked to them?” Pennifore asked.
“Yep. Told them that they was behavin’ wrong and that they should change and help you with the Finder. You get more stuff outta people, or fairies, with sugar than you do with vinegar.”
“You do, huh?”
“Yep. Intimidation don’t work, Eugene. Kindness does.”
Davey waved his hand over the cake and the candles suddenly burst into flame and flickered.
“Now don’t you get all high and mighty now cause you got yer magick, boy!” Pennifore said harshly. “Though that magick is quite strong in you.”
Davey blushed as he ate some cake.
“In fact, I think that maybe I should make this a retirement party for myself.”
“Thank, goodness!” one fairy shouted.
“Finally,” another said.
“About time,” a third one said.
“See?” Pennifore said. “See. That’s why I don’t like ‘em!”
Everyone was in shock until Pennifore started to laugh, and they all joined him, knowing that he had also changed his ways with them.
The mayor stood in the doorway watching his two deputies sitting in the dark at the dirty rotting bar, pretending to be drinking and eating and laughing hysterically. He turned and made his way back to his car, shaking his head all the while.
“Stupid school projects!” he said out loud.No tags for this post.