A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 3c: OF LYCANS AND PROPHECIES
Melissa’s response to my confusion was a shrug. “It’s like I said that night your parents brought Amy over the first time. Before your graduation. My parents were hoping to have you over for dinner this upcoming Saturday in May.”
“You never told me that,” I protested.
A pause. “I was sure I did.”
I ran back through that night in my head, and managed to hit on something. “You said you’d wanted to talk to me about something relating to parents when you went to get my dad his water. You never specified what.”
“Oh.” Melissa rubbed her nose. “Well, I’m specifying now. You good with that?”
There was no point arguing about the circumstances. This was Melissa’s way. In fact, it felt strangely reassuring to think that things were going back to “normal” so fast. Honestly, my only hesitation was over the fact that I’d never met her parents before.
But after everything Melissa had needed to handle with my parents, doubting her supernatural connection, it seemed only fair that I give hers the chance to give me the once-over as well.
She half smiled at my acceptance, and with that, I realized just how much I had missed her. I reached out to brush some of her hair off of her face.
“A-HEM,” Trixie said, clearing her throat incredibly noisily. I realized that face had moved in to within an inch of my former (current?) girlfriend’s, and so I quickly pulled back. Melissa did likewise.
“I’d say get a motel room, but I’m worried you’d kick me out to use the one we’ve got,” Trixie said, hands moving to her hips. “Also, Missy, dinner what now? You never mentioned that to me.”
“Oh, good, so you won’t be offended now that you’re not coming,” Melissa said, raking her fingers back through her rumpled hair.
“No, but I’m wondering if you told your parents we’re dating,” Trixie remarked. “We’re related you know, so that’s a bit twisted.”
Melissa’s face seemed to get redder. “I only told them I might not be able to bring James. This wasn’t a matter of coming with a date either, they wanted to know who I was associating with at work. But you know, even if we weren’t related, your attitude is such that I would NEVER –”
“I think we’d best check on Amy now,” I said, hoping to prevent an argument. I attempted to clear my throat afterwards and just sounded raspy, so I turned and stepped towards the motel room door, reaching my hand out for the doorknob.
Trixie blinked. “Oh, wait, James, I put up –”
As I touched the door, I felt an electrical jolt, which not only knocked me off my feet and onto the pavement a good foot and a half away, but which left my fingers twitching spasmodically for several seconds.
“—some protective scrolls.”
“Now who’s an idiot?” I grumbled back in her direction.
“Well, it stood to reason, didn’t it?” Trixie countered. “You told me to keep her safe, and what did you think those little papers were for? Idiot.”
I glowered. This caused her to switch tactics, clasping her hands behind her back as she pushed her chest out. Despite her maturity, she looked remarkably cute, to the point where it almost felt cruel to remain upset with the freckled witch. “I sowwy,” Trixie cooed.
“Oh, I… uh…”
“Cut that out, Trixie,” Melissa grumbled, moving to stand between us, blocking my view. “He’s working with our Agency again, so he’s off limits to your nonsense. Also, let us into Amy’s room, I need to sit down.”
I saw Trixie stick out her tongue at Melissa as she walked closer, right before winking at me. That said, she then deactivated her scrolls without causing any other arguments.
At this point, per Amy’s request, we explained to her exactly what had been going on while she’d been asleep. Of course, some of it she already knew, through me. But Melissa’s account of the lycan was new to both of us, and I also had to fill in some information about Amy’s dream world for the witches. Without going into quite the detail I did above with respect to Amy the Genie, to be sure.
After all, while actual “Jinn” are supposedly neither angelic or demonic, there is an association in folk tales with more evil intentions. Sleep paralysis is also associated with Jinn attacks. I didn’t want to send the witches off on a tangent.
Oh, for the record, I did make contact with Amy again before setting this account down. She’s okay with you knowing more, given the time lag and what this managed to lead up to. It was also during this motel room discussion that Trixie hit me multiple times for failing to understand women. Couldn’t argue either, particularly being the only guy in the room.
“At the risk of sounding self-centred,” Amy said when it was all over, “What exactly is going to happen with Charlie Halko? Is he still going to be stalking me, even without that vampire’s presence?” (She really couldn’t get the hang of elongating the ‘i’.)
“Halko was never stalking you,” Trixie reminded. “That was a dream scenario. And from all the electronic data I went over, I don’t think he was necessarily interested in you, per se. His initial fascination was with lamps, he’d started buying them even before your show existed.”
“I agree you shouldn’t worry,” Melissa added. “I suspect it was the vampyre’s compulsiveness that drove Charlie to monitor you to the degree that he did. You were a wedge he could use. Charlie’s now liable to be a bit hazy about the last few months of his life, plus he’ll probably associate your videos with fear and horror. So let’s classify him as mostly harmless.”
“Ooh, Missy, are you quoting Douglas Adams?” Trixie asked her cousin, expression brightening.
“What?” Melissa asked tiredly as she turned back to the redhead.
Trixie’s expression became a pout. “Sorry, for a moment there I thought you had culture.”
“Though, one more thing, speaking of lamps?” Amy broke back in. From where she sat on the bed, she gestured at the old style lamp on the night table.
The one that had formerly been a knife.
“Yeah, now, that should not have happened,” Melissa admitted.
She stood up to go and examine the object once more. Trixie immediately took Melissa’s place, sitting in the only chair in the room. I continued to lean against the wall.
We had gone to the effort of rubbing the lamp, by the way. No genie.
Melissa turned the lamp around in her hands a couple of times, then shook her head. “Still no signs it’s going to revert. The current supernatural balance is obviously even more out of whack than I previously believed,” the brunette witch concluded.
“Maybe the knife’s transformation has some connection to this Prophecy?” I suggested. “Between that and the three month window that the vampyre alluded to, perhaps we’ll start seeing more of this kind of thing.”
“The lycan mentioned a prophecy too, but I have no idea what it’s about,” Melissa said, starting to sound frustrated. “Trixie? You turn up anything yet?”
“Nopers,” Trixie said with a shrug. She’d done some online searching for it during my earlier dream explanations, and had come up empty. “But remember, I’m a techno-witch. If it’s not published on the web, I can’t find it. You’ll need to research dusty old books in the library with James. If you can keep your minds on research, that is.”
“This isn’t funny, Trix,” Melissa snapped. “Can’t you try the so-called dark web or something?”
Trixie’s grin vanished. “Geez, Missy, I didn’t say I was giving up. But you can’t just call me in and expect me to fix all your problems overnight.”
“Tell me about it. It took you two weeks just to pinpoint Halko,” Melissa grumbled.
“Which is not that long given what little I had to go on. You should have called me in a week earlier, before you started following false leads.” Now Trixie was sounding defensive.
I exchanged a quick glance with Amy, who smiled tiredly and shrugged. It wasn’t just me then – the working relationship between the two witches wasn’t as amicable as the one that had existed between Melissa and I.
I coughed. “You know, we could always talk to other witches, see if they have more information,” I suggested. “Maybe they’ve heard supernatural beings talking about it too.”
“Mmm,” Melissa said, nodding her head in agreement as she put the lamp back down. “Maybe see if any other witches are also seeing a rise in supernatural incidents, or magick forced on the unwilling, that sort of thing. Good thinking, James.”
Trixie rolled her eyes, but said nothing, which at least didn’t create more problems. As far as the Agency goes, I like to think I compliment Melissa’s analysis and Trixie’s tech with a little human interaction.
“Um, about that,” Amy put in. “If I’ve understood James correctly the last couple weeks, weren’t you breaking your own rules tonight? By attacking the vampire, using your magic to contain the wolf when he didn’t want to be trapped, and that sort of thing.”
Melissa turned to look at Amy. “No, because we were up against beings who knew we were witches, and thus expected spells. Moreover, when someone attacks you, they’re implicitly opening themselves up to be attacked back. Passive acceptance.”
“Besides, our spells were basically for self-defence, and we’re allowed to protect ourselves without a backlash,” Trixie added.
“Ah,” Amy said dubiously. “I guess real magic’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.”
“There’s special evening courses you can take,” Melissa offered. “Though you’d need a sponsor, you have to show some natural ability, and all the participants tend to be of high school age or less. Well, occasionally first year university.”
Melissa glanced my way. I vaguely recalled her talking about it with me once, but I had been more interested in my journalism goals at the time.
“Ugh, tell me about it,” Trixie moaned. “If I hadn’t had to take all those extra magick courses, I’m sure I could have graduated regular high school two years early.” She grinned at Amy. “Say, have I mentioned my IQ?”
Amy raised her hands, palms out, and waved them back and forth with a wan smile on her face. “Never mind, it’s fine, I think I’ll leave the magic to the professionals.”
“That’s probably best,” Melissa said dismissively. I suspect that I alone had sensed the disappointment in Amy’s tone. Maybe it was time to clear the room, to give Amy some peace and quiet.
I pushed away from the wall, stretching my arms above my head. “Well, at the risk of being rude, it’s something like 3am, and I think we could all do with at least a bit of uninterrupted sleep.”
“3am?” said Melissa in surprise. “I thought it was midnight.”
She gestured at the motel’s clock radio, which had been reset at some point and was flashing twelve.
“Yes, Missy, it’s been midnight for the last three hours,” Trixie said. She rose from the chair and headed over to her cousin, grabbing her by the arm. “Don’t you worry, James, I get it. We’ll get out of your hair, leave you to say to Amy whatever it is you need to.”
Melissa humphed. “Don’t get coy, Trixie. James knows not to hint with me, if he needs time without us, he’ll say so.”
“What he needs is for you to pretend to understand relationships,” Trixie said, pulling Melissa towards the door. “Honestly, you two idiots are made for each other.”
Melissa gave Trixie a look of annoyance, and me a sort of a confused shrug, but didn’t otherwise resist being led out of the room. As Trixie pulled the door behind them, I fired off a grateful smile her way.
Trixie’s response was to meet my gaze, and give me a wink while making a kissing motion with her mouth. I couldn’t tell if the redhead was making an allusion to “kissing Amy goodbye”, if she was trying to give me her own kiss goodnight, if she was simply trying to annoy Melissa, or something completely different.
Trixie was definitely harder for me to read than her cousin.
Only once the witches had left and closed the door did I go to sit on the side of the bed near Amy. It was time to end this particular chapter of my life.
Little did I realize that this would be less like ending a chapter, and more like concluding an entire book – before launching into a new volume, one that had me in a relationship with the Chosen One of a Prophecy.