I didn’t throw up. I still wanted to.
The attacker was completely frozen, sword upraised. The hands were suspended by him, in mid air. Suspended, severed hands. Ralph stood, staring at the stumps of his wrists, where bone and tendon and nerve were all neatly cut and mysteriously cauterized. I didn’t really want to look that hard. Rex had the smart idea to grab the severed hands. I should have, but I was, frankly, scared. Anyway, I’m glad someone did. Clockwork stuck them in his pockets. Even writing that makes my stomach churn. Clockwork (his real name is Michael) got us all (and the frozen attacker, who was manhandled a bit in the process – I am sure I heard a fingerbone snap) bundled into Rex’s mustang, and we ended up at some little place, I guess it was a bar. There was a woman there named Elizabeth, who took Ralph out back (we watched from a distance) and magically re-connected his hands, somehow. (No other word fits any of this. Magic.) She looked at some cards first, and traced a glowing blue pattern that had something to do with the large flat stone on the ground by them. Glowing blue like the blue that came from the book. Glowing blue patterns seem to be a theme here, because when Ralph came back, there were glowing blue patterns all around his wrists where the hands had been connected. “Magical duct tape” Rex said.
Surprisingly clever for Rex.
Michael was out there, by a tree, smoking, and asked me about what I had done with that book. I told him that I had no idea. I still have no idea. He told me to find the bell, to keep the book safe (or words to that effect, it was a long night) and to learn more about who wrote the book. He said it was written in the “First Language”. I don’t know how I managed to pronounce a page of “First Language” but I didn’t read it with comprehension, that’s for sure. But I told him – and it was true – it was like the page wanted to be read. It was the only page I could have read. I didn’t like the idea of taking the book to begin with, but now I don’t want to let it out of my sight.
We went inside the bar, and reconnoitered, and eventually met for breakfast the next day – including Michael. The woman that stabbed Jay showed up and threatened us right in the restaurant! And then Rex pulled a big gun right in the restaurant. I don’t think ANY size tip would cover that. The woman is named Melisande, and she knew Michael, and apparently they are on “opposite sides” of whatever this conflict is, but they didn’t physically kill each other in the restaurant. She said that she wanted the book and candle, and then she would release our parents. Our parents? What? If I were being logical I should have given the book back right there, to ensure my parents’ safety. But I am hoping (against hope) she’s bluffing. I mean, I don’t see my folks every day so I didn’t assume they were gone. It all happened so fast I hardly had time to react – especially because Rex was pulling out a gun. Melisande said “Paris will be Destroyed” but I don’t know what she meant by that. She pointed at Rex and said something in another language. And vanished, fortunately before anyone got shot. She sort of, how do I put this? Turned flat and winked out of the dimension. It wasn’t like you’d expect from watching movie special effects. I guess there is no reason that movies would get it right, anyway. But we got out of there before anyone realized that, yes, we had pulled a gun on a crazy woman in a restaurant.
Michael told us to look for the bell, he would look for the idol, before the “Children of the Dragon Cult” could get it. I didn’t know what idol he meant, at the time.
Jay got out of the hospital and met us somewhere in here. I shouldn’t have waited so long to write this down, but I had to give it some mental distance before I could face it.
So Ralph and Chet (I decided I should stop calling him “Weedy” in my head) and I went back to Willoughby to look into the bell’s history, and Rex and Esteban went off to contact Jay. I think.
In WIlloughby we went to the Historical Society, which led us to the estate that belongs to Petunia McGinnis, last remaining grandchild of the Van Gorders. She was very hospitable and sweet, and let me rummage through her attic boxes looking for the sales slip from the estate sale back in the 50s, and gave Chet all the lemonade he could drink. After a couple of (genuinely interesting) hours, I found it had gone to a Professor Arthur Chubblewit (must remember that name later, when looking for novel ideas) at Cleveland State U. Dept. of Antiquities.
So we went over there. Even though it’s a Sunday, there was an off chance we’d catch him. Providentially, he was – but he wasn’t pleased to see us investigating the bell. He gave us a stern “don’t stick your nose into this, it will ruin your life, it contains forces you cannot control” sort of speech, about it opening a portal to another world (wait, what? I had no idea!), if you had the book and candle (I did NOT produce the book or candle at this point) and he looked sincerely concerned about it. When I told him that it might cost our parents their lives, and Ralph pointed out that it had something to do with his family history, well, the good Professor grudgingly gave us some information, and a scrap of paper with the translation of the bell’s inscription. He said it was in “First Language” too. The bell was hidden in a fake idol and sold to Dean Brothers art supply company, to try to get it out of harm’s way.
Well I forget what happened here, to be honest, but we ended up reunited with Jay here, if we hadn’t earlier (sorry journal) and Esteban and Rex. We were downtown, at Jay’s office/warehouse/club. I started asking if we could use his phone to find Dean Brothers, but he wouldn’t let me, because, wait for it – he had a shipment from Dean Brothers right there. Someone had been in earlier asking about it. In fact, it was Michael.
Then “even more hell” broke loose, because Michael showed up and told us “they’re coming” to fight. I, for one, was not really sure what that meant, but then Melisande showed up, with a horde of actual monsters. Some came right through the walls like ghosts.
I hope we win.