But before Rashmi could answer, Uncle Roddy ran up, carrying my reflection, who was coughing, gagging, a rope still about his neck, but alive. It had been severed at the end.
“They made the rope too long,” he said. “I cut him down as soon as he fell through the trap, He’ll be okay, but they’re hot on my heels, we have to get away.”
The doll looked up; a small smile drifted across her face, as if she’d found a way to redeem herself. She stood and, within seconds, turned into a butterfly, and flew away. I ran after her, the others following right behind.
At length, we came upon what appeared to be the town square; she flew into my face for a moment. When she pulled back she’d turned into a minute, elaborate Victorian fan, moving a bit like a bird to maintain altitude.
As she drifted away, she grew in size until, by the time she touched the ground, each of the segments was a good three meters long, with a scarlet, intricate, lacy border on top that spanned nearly a meter.
Each segment had a life size drawing of a dancer upon it, and in a span of less than 30 seconds, each drawing became three-dimensional and alive, jumping off the fan, dancing in the square, as new drawings emerged to replace the departed ones.
These, too, became three-dimensional and alive, leaping off the fan and joining the others in the dance. So on it went – not, in its way, unlike how gallows victims had materialized on that cold March evening within Warstone Lane Cemetery – until an entire dance company was performing in the square.
Yet even as they did, I saw the authorities and their enforcers gathering on the other side of the square – they’d seen us and were looking for a means to reach us. Some were already slowly, arduously, wending their way across. There was a wall fairly nearby, only about five or six meters away; but I’d already looked over it – the top only came up to my shoulder. It would be easy to jump the wall if we had to, but it was another five or six meters to the ground below. What were the chances of all of us making it over and hitting the ground without being injured?
Just then, a yellow carpet of gorse poured from each section of the fan, flooding the square, followed, in turn, by an immense expanse of stone, shrub, sedge and forb, like some amalgamation of numerous hedgerows that, left unattended for centuries, had merged with one another. It was colonized by a multitude of flowers of every size, color and variety, and it seemed each of them was doing its best to reach out, radiant, towards the sky, until together they seemed a colossal painter’s palette, a gigantic rainbow streaking across the square.
I realized that now we couldn’t physically reach the authorities, even if we wanted to, nor could they reach us.
As the flowers touched the dancers, they each turned into life-sized wooden statues, save the tallest few, who turned into humanoid vines, new growth emerging from the tops of their heads that climbed up and over the nearby wall. In the distance, the sun reflected from the highest turret tops – still another rainbow refracted amidst bright golden rays.
Everyone in the square grew silent, awestruck by the sight before them.
© 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