Today is the final day of this week long Dreamwalker: The Second Plain extravaganza and the sale ends today, too. I hope you’ve enjoyed the excerpts and have picked up your copy on Amazon.
Hunting High and Low – Chapter 79
Dusk fell on the tree-lined streets where people, drinking iced coffees, sat at tables with large red-and-white striped umbrellas. Children whooped and hollered as they jumped through the water streams of the fountain. Toad, Twig, and Stretch approached.
A little girl staring up into the dense branches of a tree, said, “Kitty, kitty, come down, it’s OK.”
Twig entered the alley and was greeted by the putrid stench of urine. Covering his nose and mouth with his bark-encrusted hand, he didn’t notice the shadows intensified the further he went.
Ahead stood an open door emitting brightness the room contained without allowing a beam of light to exit into the alley. The room was filled floor-to-ceiling with neatly stacked boxes, and shelves lining the walls filled with toys.
Crossing the threshold, Twig scanned the interior. At the other side of the room from the door, a brown-and-orange floral sofa sat with a tall, slender clown marionette resting in a welcoming pose on it.
A fuzzy mechanical dog whirred into life, barking over the click and grind of gears hidden in its guts running in circles. Startled, Twig turned, and kicked the toy, launching it away to crash into the wall near the door.
As he returned his attention to the clown, a red-and-yellow propeller shot at him, which he batted away as he advanced toward the sofa. In a few steps, he was halfway across the room, and no further toys came forward to show their protest of his presence. Twig’s eyes searched the room but didn’t see anything requiring his assistance.
As he began to turn back to the door, the marionette bounced on the sofa, then rose slowly on invisible strings, staring with unblinking jovial eyes at him. Its long gangly arms and legs jiggled nervously. Glancing above, Twig couldn’t see its lines or crossbar.
With one slow bouncing step after another, the clown approached. Matching its movement, Twig moved backward, but he found resistance against the boxes. Raising its arms, it shrieked, “You hurt my friends, now I hurt you!”
As the clown continued its approach, the boxes Twig leaned on shifted backward came done in an avalanche to the floor taking Twig with them. The marionette stood over him, bending, reaching for him, and finally touching his shoulders. They vanished.
Toad and Stretch returned to the street corner.
Observing the details of the street only showed them the people at the tables, and the girl pleading for the cat to come out of the tree.
“Have you seen our friend?” Toad asked, glancing into the branches he saw two golden disks hovering in the branches.
A look of disgust covered the girl’s face. She didn’t speak but pointed toward the corner. They moved their gaze over their shoulders to see where she was pointing, missing her evil smile.
Returning to the corner, they decided to go right rather than crossing the street, again passing the people sipping their coffees and gossiping with each other, giving the duo distasteful glances as they passed.
In front of the mercantile, they stopped, climbing its red-brick, high front with their eyes. Toad entered the chaotic layers of merchandise, assessing the clutter in the half-light.
“Toad, over here,” Twig and Stretch called from outside.
They stood at the corner, rain spitting softly around them. Shaking his head, Toad grumbled how he hated travel in the Second Plain. As he crossed the threshold back onto the wet sidewalk, they turned the corner.
“What the hell, assholes? Can’t you wait for me?” he said, trotting to catch up with them. He passed the now empty umbrella-covered tables, Stretch and he walked by moments before. As he closed the distance between him and the duo, he realized they weren’t Twig and Stretch after all, and continued past them.
“Where the hell did they go?” he complained, stopping near the tree where the little girl had tried to coax her cat from.
“They’re gone,” a mewing voice said above his head.
Toad stared at the small black cat with a little star of white on her throat, returning his gaze without blinking her bright, golden eyes.
“I’m sorry,” the cat continued, moving to a limb closer to him. “That nasty, little girl trapped me up here, and I couldn’t warn you about the trap.”
“Where are my friends?”
“I’m so sorry. I wish I knew.”
The cat glanced at the approaching couple. Her eyes darkened with the dilation of her pupils as she arched her back, and hissed her warning to Toad of the danger the people coming toward him presented.
Turning to face them, Toad hadn’t prepared any defense. They touched him on opposite shoulders, and the trio vanished, leaving the cat alone in the dampening evening.
Her eyes darted from side to side, searching for anyone else in the vicinity, especially Great Pig, but seeing no one, disappeared.
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