We crossed the dining room and entered the lounge; Uncle Roddy and Auntie Gene were waiting, sitting in two comfy chairs. Auntie Gene stood and we ran to her.
The demon saw her and transformed into his Paganini-vampire form, radiating the most charming visage of which he was likely capable;
Auntie Gene responded with a “come hither” smile I thought completely out of character.
The Paganini-vampire smiled in return and slowly approached her.
To my horror, the two embraced and kissed deeply; then softly, unexpectedly, she brought out a crucifix, pressing it gently into his forehead.
Paganini-vampire let out a single howl of pain, fell to his knees and changed back into the score to Caprice 24.
Uncle Roddy picked it up, straightened the pages and beckoned Rashmi and me to come closer. As we did, he drew a vial from his pocket and upended it, covering the score in a strange glue, plastering the pages together. “Ya didn’ think y’Auntie Gene an’ ol’ Uncle Roddy would let ya down didja?” he said to me with a smile.”
With that, he took out a white cotton handkerchief, appending it to the score with some of the glue easing its way out from between the pages.
In a flash, the score burst into flames. Paganini arose from the score, screaming as the flames enveloped him. I watched, frozen, at once shocked, relieved and horrified. I let out a gasp.
The lounge grew dark, and the burning Paganini disappeared. So did Rashmi.
Only the flames remained, but they were in the fireplace where they belonged, not in the middle of the room. I lay on the couch, perhaps two meters from the fireplace inside Grammer’s lounge, a pillow beneath my head, my body wrapped in a pair of blankets, my jacket off, my arm back in its sling.
“We’re home, lad,” Uncle Roddy whispered, tousling my hair. “Sleep tight.”
Auntie Gene kissed my forehead. “Sweet dreams m’special chappie, and thanks ever for such a beautiful birthday.”
With that, the two tiptoed – rather unnecessarily –upstairs, as I layback to watch the fire and drift off.
Then, I thought I heard a scurrying sound, unsure if it was coming from the kitchen, the dining room or the entry way. The doll-girl was in front of me just out of the shadows, looking as she’d looked the moment I’d first entered the mirror.
“Don’t forget me, Reggie,” she said. “We can still be together.”
Lucy Gill stood up from behind the sofa, staring sternly at the doll-girl. “I fink y’yav caused beef ’nooff fer ’un noight.”
The doll-girl looked hurt. “Why can’t we be friends?” She asked in a slight whimper.
Lucy grew in height until she was nearly six feet tall – her hair grew nearly to her waist, her skin took on the tan of a California surfer girl. Her face had become as beautiful as that of a model or a movie star. But most startling of all were her eyes, which now glowed in the dark, a radiant blue-green.
“Leave him alone,” she said; her voice was soft but commanding, her speech and accent no longer Brum, but American, from Southern California.
The doll-girl shrank into the shadows.
The surfer girl with the glowing eyes looked down at me. “Go back to sleep, Reggie.” With that, she, too, faded into the shadows.
I pinched myself – hard. It hurt enough to let me know I wasn’t dreaming. I snuggled down, scared, rattled, relieved, content, overwhelmed. I gazed into the flames in the fireplace and – eventually – drifted off to sleep.
© 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) and Walking Backward for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall are each now available from Amazon Books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is expected to be available shortly. The next novel of the series, By Good Angels Tenanted, will be available later in 2018