So engrossed she was in the chapter that she didn’t notice when her relief came in. She waved to her, and then headed for he last class of the day, Mass Communications. Here they would talk about TV and what it meant for Western culture. Though she didn’t like to watch TV, she had to pick one day to watch and one channel to watch and write in a journal about each episode. She had picked Sunday prime time, watching A&E. It was not exactly her cup of tea, but it was either that or PBS.
After that class, she got on the bus to head home. About halfway down Commonwealth Avenue, she remembered something. It tugged on the edge of her consciousness, making her look through her notebooks to find something she wrote down. She found on the back of her Comp notebook, the words, “Black duster.” She remembered the boy with the brown duster in her Algebra class, but couldn’t remember anything else.
She decided that she needed new music, so she got off the bus at Fry’s, a local CD shop. They usually had the college alternative music that she found herself growing to like, but they also had a good selection of country, which she had been brought up with. She went inside, and started pawing through the used CD rack, looking for old Loretta Switt or the Sex Pistols.
Someone came up to her side, and she looked up, startled. It was the young man in the black duster from the bus. “Hi,” he said, and plucked a CD from the rack.
“Are you stalking me?” she demanded.
“I want to apologize for earlier.”
That memory came flooding back. “What were you doing?”
The young man pocketed the CD.
“You are a thief!”
“Shhh. Do you want to draw attention to yourself?”
“You’re going to walk out of here with that, aren’t you?”
“Maybe, maybe not. I wanted to show you what I found.” He went in the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a woman’s silver ring with dark blue and light blue stones in it. “This is what drew that man to the store, time and time again. It was his favorite piece.”
She looked at the ring. It looked simple enough, split in half down the middle with the two stones set inside. “Why?”
“Why do you like the music you do? Who knows.” He pocketed the ring. “Once I cleansed the ring, he was able to go to his final rest.”
“Let’s go get some coffee, and I promise to explain everything.”
“I was planning on eating dinner – ”
“Then I’ll take you to the pizza place right next door.” He smiled. “It’ll be a date.”
“I don’t date thieves.”
He sighed, and put the CD back. “Spoilsport. C’mon, my treat. And I’ll explain everything.”
She crossed her arms in front of her and regarded him for a minute. “What’s your name?”
“Daniel,” he said. “Will you come with me?”
She frowned, and followed him.
They walked out of the CD shop and next door to the pizza restaurant. He ordered four slices of pepperoni, though she had often eaten a large pizza all on her own. He got her a Pepsi, though she preferred Diet Coke, and they sat across from each other in a booth.
“First of all,” he said, after biting into the pizza, “I told you I’m a mage.”
“Yes,” she said, eating the pizza ravenously. “You make rabbits pop out of hats.”
“No, that’s a magician. I’m a mage, which means I do all sorts of magic. I would have gotten that CD for you without setting off any alarms. You do know that they put anti-theft devices in those CD’s, right?”
“I kind of thought they did,” she said, finishing up the first slice of pizza. He still hadn’t finished even half of his. She drank soda to cover up how hungry she was. “What do you mean you ‘cleansed’ the ring?”
He sat forward, warming to his subject. “When ghosts are around, it’s usually because they’re tethered here because of something or someone. Ghosts are people’s souls, who have something here they have to finish, or do, or like or love. Loved ones can have other souls follow them for life; sometimes they’re stuck in a certain place because something happened to them there. Or, like this ring, it’s something that they loved and wanted to be tied to forever.”
“That man was doing that forever?”
“I don’t know how long ago it was, but that store’s been closed the last thirty years. It was a jewelry store in the 50’s, then a pawn shop, so it could be that he’s been doing it since the 50’s, or since he died. That ring has been there since then.”
“What are you going to do with the ring?”
“Sell it at a pawn shop, probably.”
“Where do you live?”
Daniel ate some pizza. “Ah, that’s where we get into some nitty gritty details, and especially how I know your name.”
“You said you’d explain everything,” she said, starting in on the second slice, forcing herself to go slow.
“Yes,” he replied, “and it’s probably going to blow your mind, so don’t freak out until I’m done, all right?”
“Okay…” she said, and ate pizza while he told her:
“I am a fairie. I live with my prince in his castle over in Longwood. Many of us help humans, at least those of the Spring Court like myself. The ones of the Fall Court do not, and the ones of the Summer Court could care less, since they are forever entertaining each other. The Winter Court are all dead. Regardless, what we do in the Spring Court is try to keep humans unaware of what happens around them, and we try to help them against the Soul-stealing Vampyrn that exist. That’s where you come in.”
She had stopped eating her pizza after the first sentence. He paused to eat his pizza and she asked, “Are you done?”
“Nope,” he said, taking a drink of his soda. “What you do is you see the souls of people, and you can see whether or not someone is Vampyrn. Vampyrn wear other people’s souls like cloaks, and hold onto those souls; that is what gives them power and strength.” He ate the pizza, saying, “Okay, ask away.”
She had set her pizza down, leaned back in her chair and said, “You expect me to believe that?”
“It’s the truth.”
“You don’t look like a fairie.”
“You’re thinking I’m a pixie. Pixie and fairie are two different things.”
“What’s this about Courts?”
“It’s how we align ourselves. Spring Courts are usually helpers of humans, and most of the fairie who walk among human kind are of the Spring Court. Fall Court fairie also walk among humans, but they cause sickness, mental illness, and all sorts of maladies. Summer Court fairies live in the woods, like Longwood Mall, and are very close to the Spring Court.”
“The Winter Court is dead?”
“It’s where dead fairie go. They sometimes have some impact on humankind, but it’s mostly in the realm of nightmares and dreams.”
“What are these Vampyrn? I’ve never heard of them.”
“That’s what’s supposed to happen,” he said, “You’re not supposed to know about them.”
“Well why are you telling me?” she demanded.
“Because if you’re going to help, you need to know what they are.”
“Who said I was going to help you with anything?”
Daniel tilted his head, and tried to give her a pleading look. She got that look from her brothers when they begged her for something, so it didn’t work on her. “Please? I’m asking for not only the fairie, but for you humans.”
“Are there Vampyrn here? Like now?”
“I don’t know. You would be able to see.”
“You’d look at a person and see their soul.”
“Look,” she said, pushing the pizza away, “I’ve never had this happen to me until I saw you. For all I know, you’re doing this to me, you magician.”
“I’m not a magician – ”
She got out of the booth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t want to see you again.”
Daniel got out of the booth, leaving his food there. “Please, look, I’m begging you. Don’t go.” He stood in front of her.
“I’m not helping you with your crazy scheme. And get out of my way.”
Daniel sidestepped, and she pushed past him. She felt a little bad for him, being delusional at such a young age, but she couldn’t see herself doing anything to help a thief. Fairie. Vampyrn. What the hell was this guy thinking she was, some hick who fell off the turnip truck? She wasn’t going to “help” him; next he was going to ask her for money, or some such things. No, she wasn’t falling for any of that. She wasn’t born yesterday.
She got back on the bus and headed back down Commonwealth Avenue to her apartment. As she got closer to her apartment, the whole thing seemed like a dream. She pulled out her comp notebook and under the Black Duster, wrote down what had happened, using the words “fairy” and “Vampirin”. She would search the Internet for these terms later.
Kate got home and it was still light outside, as she walked past the four buildings. At the frat boy’s building, someone tossed beer over the upper porch just moments before she walked in that direction. She ducked close to the house to avoid any more falling debris and found her way back to her house.
She had no class tomorrow, so she decided to buckle down and study. She went into her room and pulled out her comp book, ready to write a compare-contrast essay for two books that she had read over the summer. Unfortunately she didn’t have the books with her, so she had to rely on her memory, which was pretty shoddy these days.
She opened her Comp book and turned to the back page, seeing what she had written. She fired up the computer and got on Dig-It, her Internet search site of choice. She looked up fairy, and there, in bright colors, was what she had imagined: a little girl in a gossamer gown with wings. There were different kinds of wings, from pretty thin little paper wings to thick angel wings. Vampirin didn’t show up as anything.