“The police are coming,” said Kayla hastily, looking from the medieval man to the man on the floor
The goon began cackling. “Think that’ll stop us?”
Kayla’s face turned into an angry, closed, shape. To me, she turned and said crisply “Get another shirt on. Wipe that blood off your face.”
The sirens were getting closer.
“Go!” she ordered. I ran.
Over the unconscious men, I raced up the stairs, then into Kayla’s bedroom. It felt like an eternity as I dug out a shirt, raced to the bathroom, and wiped my face down. Then, I changed.
When I ran back downstairs the goons had been moved out of view of the door, stacked into the living room. They were all unconscious now.
I skittered into the kitchen just in time to see Kayla wipe the blood off the counter. Blood I had drawn with the knife that was now in the sink, water running over it to wash it clean. The medieval man was nowhere to be seen.
Knock knock. The police had arrived at the door.
Kayla turned around “Where is he?” she whispered.
“He’s gone,” I said, looking around.
Frowning and not understanding, Kayla went to the door. There she put on her best smile and opened the door.
“Nightmares,” I heard her say. She gestured me over, and I glumly walked near the doorway. The police officer was blonde and blue eyed, and had a big frown on. Kayla began going on about how my mother had had this accident and I was staying with her for now.
The cop left, frowning deeply.
Kayla kept that smile on, marching into the kitchen. Out came the vodka, and the green man was at the table now.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ!” hissed Kayla at him. “Do you always disappear like that?” She poured out a glass of vodka and drank it straight. Then she eyed him, looking around the kitchen. “Where did you go?”
“In Gwenevarnia,” he said stoically, hands resting on the table. His eyes flickered from Kayla to me, and I sensed… apprehension. Like he was looking at something dangerous. Kayla? No, me. I was the dangerous one.
“So,” Kayla set down the vodka. Then, rethinking things, she offered it to the man. “Want some?”
“No thank you,” he said softly.
Kayla poured herself another drink. Then, she sat at the table. “I want to know what’s going on,” she said.
I joined her at the table. Oddly, the man was on the right, Kayla on the left… and I had taken the head of the table. It felt prophetic somehow.
Indeed, the man looked heavily at me. Then, he turned to face Kayla squarely. “How much do you know? You are the girls guardian now, I suppose?”
Kayla nodded. “And I don’t know anything.” To me, she turned. “Do you know anything?”
I didn’t answer. I stared from her to the man. What was I supposed to say? Was he worthy of trust? Was he – would he cause more trouble? Was it betrayal to mother and father if I told him of the board game?
My silence took too long. He returned to looking at Kayla. “There is a board game.”
Kayla glanced to me. “Wasn’t that – you were talking about that once?”
The man nodded. “She ate a very important card.”
Kayla frowned, nodding. Again, she glanced to me. I waited in silence, hands folded in my lap and back straight. I silently dared the man to say something new. Tell me something I didn’t already know.
The man hesitated. Again he looked to me. “How much do you know?”
I held my silence. Instead I tilted my head to the side. He wanted to be sure not to tell me more than I already knew? Well, two could play at that game.
“How much do you know?” I asked tartly.
He smiled in a flicker. “How much did your parents tell you?”
I held my silence again. He looked to Kayla. “There was a boardgame.”
“So? She ate the fucking card, it’s over with! What more do they want?” Kayla burst, her words slurring slightly. She ran her hands through her hair, messing it while trying to smooth it back.
The man frowned. “It was a very important card. It possessed – powers.”
Kayla squinted at him. The man let out a breath. “The boardgame was magical.”
Kayla squinted some more, tilting her head to the side, like one of them was a chimpanzee doing a magic trick. The man looked to me. “You ate something very precious.”
“Sue me,” I snapped.
“Yeah, well, okay. She did. So now what?” Kayla reached for the vodka bottle. The man took it gently from her grasp and set it farther away.
“Now, is entirely up to you. You are her guardian. She can come with me, into my world. I could keep her safely,” and he hesitated. “Until the situation calms down somewhat.”
“What situation?” asked Kayla. “Who are these people – who would hurt a kid over a fucking card?”
“A precious card,” said the man.
Kayla shook her head. The man continued. “You need to take her somewhere safe. They are after her. She will have inherited the cards’ powers.”
“Powers?” Kayla had dropped her head into her hands and was now peering out of them at him. She looked at her rope’s end.
The man looked to me. “You feel different, don’t you? Since eating the card?”
I didn’t answer. He raised his eyebrows. Then, reaching under his cloak, he drew my rabbit out from his side. He presented it to me with a smile.
I glared. I’d purposefully left that rabbit upstairs when the goons arrived. How had he gotten it?
Kayla caught her breath. “The rabbit on the front door. Was it you or them?”
“Me,” the man said calmly, adjusting in his seat to face Kayla again as I hugged my rabbit.
Kayla looked at me, her face crinkling in disbelief. “How did you-” she looked at him. “Do you work with the police?”
The man smiled. “I’m from Gwenevarnia. Not the police.”