Chapter Ten Tauna
Sunday, 19 July 2020
Earth, Jupiter and Saturn 8*
"You said 'merge' like you understood what happened last night." Hugh winced as that came out way too confrontationally . . . but dammit . . .
Delphi eyed him coldly from behind a towering armful of magazines. She stepped around him and dumped the heaping pile into the SUV. Her shoulders lifted as she took a deep breath, then turned to confront him. "Officer Barclay . . . How strong was that punch? I . . . thought I saw something odd. But that would be insane."
A flick wind whipped a cloud of dust down off the hill.
The light dimmed under heavy cloud cover; the smell of rain overrode the dust.
Crumbling concrete ruins.
He really is a demon.
Del blinked, shook her head trying to shake a weird feeling, shock perhaps . . .
Del? What kind of name is that? I'm Tauna Hedsty.
She tried to keep her attention focused, to take advantage of any opportunity to escape. She glanced over her shoulder. Dead end. No place to run. I should not have gone exploring in the ruins on the gods' day. No one else is out of the camp. She eased back a pace. There was only the one man, not two, as she'd thought for a moment. And she knew this one. Or she'd thought she knew him. But the horns curving up from his skull above the ears . . .
"So, what are demons, actually? Am I talking to Roy, or the demon? Have you taken over Roy's dead body, like the stories claim?" How can you have horns now, but not always?
"There's no demon." He hesitated, verbally if not physically. He was close enough to touch her again. "Well, depending on how you define demons. But there's no dead body. I'm very much alive. Honest."
"Right, and next you'll tell me you don't drink blood." Tauna took another step back and flinched at the sudden contact with the wall.
"No we don't drink blood. Most of the silly things you hear about us are false." He put one hand on the wall beside her head and leaned closer.
Tauna tried to become one with the wall.
"Except the part about us being fascinated by human women. That part is true." He kissed her forehead, then stepped away.
"Well, why do you look so human if you're not?" Tauna tried, and failed to make her body leave the support of the wall. He was leaving? He was letting her go?
"Oh, this is hardly the time for a long lecture on the Demon culture and history, don't you think? Why, we barely know each other. Yet." He slipped into the ruins as the rain started pattering down.
Hugh was walking out onto the road . . . he spun around.
A dozen feet away Del fell flat as the supporting wall disappeared. "Oh. My. God." She scrambled to her feet.
He felt his head carefully. No sign of the Viking helm style horns he'd . . . thought he had, for just a minute there. "You know, it would be really comforting, to think that was just a hallucination."
They both jerked around at movement. The horses across the fence, next door, galloped away, bucking and kicking. A half dozen coyotes slipped through the barbed wire fence and loped down the road. They turned for the parkland, diving into the unkempt brush around the old dairy barn.
"Yeah." Del touched her forehead, where he'd . . . where that demon had kissed Tauna.
"That's the third time something really weird has happened to me." Hugh watched her carefully.
"Second, for me. Or third, if you count watching the sheep thing last night." Her eyes narrowed in thought. "One of the . . . imaginary people I talked to said it was stress from Jupiter and Saturn being so close to lining up—and now the Earth was entering the region where reality is stretched, and things can leak through the weak spots. She said the Full and New Moons would be dangerous, possibly for years if the strain from the alignment weakened the borders."
They stared at each other.
"Tonight is the New Moon."
Del swallowed. "But it was just a dream."
Chapter Ten Earthquake!
Monday, 20 July 2020
Earth, Jupiter and Saturn 7*
Monday, the Mayhews arrived in force.
Prissy bounced into the house. "We're going down to the river, to swim. You want to come with us?"
"Yay! Monster House!"
"Wayne! Don't you go anywhere!"
Del thought about swimming in the river with this crew, and shuddered.
The house shuddered.
The lights went out. The house was still quivering.
Del scrambled to keep her feet. "Earthquake! Out!" Because this old house . . . She staggered out the front door . . . And froze on the porch.
Her car was gone. The Mayhew's green monster SUV was gone.
The ground was furrowed. No road. No driveway.
Del edged over to the steps and looked out. The furrows were eroded and sprouting weeds. They continued under the porch . . . and the weeds sank into the wooden support posts and climbed up to the deck, melded to the wood . . . Merged with the wood.
"Where did Mom go?" Prissy sounded frightened.
"Whoa! We've been abducted by Aliens!" Wayne crowded past.
Del grabbed his collar as he tried to leap off the porch. "I think you need to stay with the house until everything comes back. Or the House goes back to where it belongs. Or . . . whatever."
"Oh, man! No fair, I want to be lost in time and space!"
Prissy grabbed the boy's arm. “It felt like an earthquake. I didn’t think Reilly Creek got many.”
The house shivered again.
"Stay away from the trees! Stay right here, or better yet, in the green monster." Angelina was shoving two children, pulling a third . . .
"Look! The house came back!" Guadelupe bolted for the porch and grabbed Prissy. Tugged at her. "Get away from that house!"
Angelina turned, and froze.
Wayne shrugged off Prissy's grip and sauntered down the steps. "We were transported to another dimension. Beat that."
Guadelupe hauled Prissy down the steps by force. Del stepped down after them.
Angelina reached out tentatively and touched Prissy. Then grabbed her and pulled her into a hug. "You were just gone. the whole house disappeared." She turned abruptly and started grabbing kids. Into the Monster. Right now! We're leaving!"
The driveway and road were bumpy, and on close inspection, looked to be badly broken up, as if they had crumpled trying to match furrows. Del looked at the wooden porch post under her hand. Where weeds had tried to become one with the wood. There were traceries of green, vertical leaves.
Del patted her pockets, pulled out her own car keys, and joined the exodus.
Del was unnerved enough to drive out to the diner. They had wifi and she surfed while eating lunch.
The news was . . . ordinary.
In Southern California, two office buildings had collapsed, due to the series of moderate quakes that had hit the region. Authorities appealed for calm while they assessed the damage.
Nothing about earthquakes northeast of Sacramento. The US Geological Society site was down.
But the web chatter was a bit odd.
A new Apocalyptic cult, formerly confined to San Francisco, looked to be going viral. And splitting into sects. The Harmonic Convergence was going to trigger the End of the World. No, the Return of Christ. But wasn't the return of Christ a sign of the tribulation? So maybe both.
Have they been experiencing the odd things I've seen? Old witches, dancers, demons and . . . people merging with people from . . . somewhere else?
There was rioting in Haight-Ashbury. It had all blown up unexpectedly. Police in Golden Gate Park, trying to keep peace in the End-of-the-World crowd there, had been over-run, as thousands of people heard about miracles in Haight-Ashbury and all of them tried to move a few blocks east. The street cams showed wall to wall people; how they could possibly find room to riot or fight was beyond her understanding.
A Born Again Revival group was talking online about the coming rapture, and gaining believers at astounding rates. Del shook her head. But if they are experiencing anything like . . . this weird stuff . . . maybe it's understandable.
According to the news sites, the rioting in LA wasn't related to the quakes. And it was more than just the usual Bloods vs Crips, Hispanics vs Blacks, MS16 vs cops. All at once. And rumors about all the modern bad guys raping/looting/pillaging their way through a widespread Spanish area were not helping. No doubt there were drugs involved, as gang members raved about the farming and fishing families. About the unfairness of the local Indois being the grunt labor and servants of the Spanish.
"The Mayans Knew about It. The archeologists got the year wrong."
In Europe where it was already late afternoon, there were reports that vampires and werewolves had roamed the streets last night. There was much chatter about finding and killing the vampires before the sun set again.
"Tomorrow I'll just laugh my head off." Del shot a nervous glance out the window at the street. Perfectly normal.
On line, China was ranting about Western influences corrupting the Chinese people.
The usually worst woowoo sites out of Russia were being dismissive, and not believing this nonsense.
From Japan, several reports of sword wielding terrorists, or possibly just one, with multiple reports of varying accuracy.
Del drove back to the house.
The dining room was still empty of everything but the three rickety chairs. The sliding glass door to the back porch seemed fine. Doesn't metal merge with weeds? Is it just like to like, or at least close enough? She spotted the bull. Apparently the fences disappeared during merges, or perhaps they were pulled down and merged with dirt. It was standing in the middle of the garden, chewing on something.
She walked out and examined the wires. Rusty old barb wire. She shrugged and swung the gate open. "In case you want to go home." The bull eyed her, then abandoned the garden and walked past her.
Well, that was easy. Now if the rest of the World will just get back to obeying common sense rules . . .
A wave of fine dust rolled down the hill. It is dust, right? Small dust devils danced around. This time the bull didn't run away. It paced into the nearest whirlwind.
Del retreated, checked carefully out the front door. The rental car was there, the road, everything looked normal.
"There's no news, everything is normal, except for the weirdos who think the world is ending tomorrow. Or next week, or, well, soon, really. Pack of . . . people experiencing weird stuff. It's worse than the nonsense about the Mayan calendar. All the old hippies have gone to Yosemite and Yellowstone to party. And San Francisco, of course."
If she wished really hard and clicked her heels three times . . .
She walked back inside, and told herself it didn't smell at all dusty.