The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 4

the-man-who-wasnt-thereBrian and Jordan go out for a snack and meet up with Chase and Marissa. Chase tells them that 300 years ago, the town came under attack of a group of evil witches.

“How do you know all this?” Jordan asked.

“Because my dad is an amateur historian who belongs to the historical society here. He also lectures about it all over the country. It’s kind of his thing. He even discovered why the town was called Miracle.”

“Oh?” Jordan couldn’t help being interested. She leaned toward him.

“Yeah. Cause it’s a freaking Miracle anyone believes the story you, Brian and Annie just told,” Marissa interjected. “Don’t listen to him,” she cautioned. “It’s just an old wives’ tale.”

Chase flashed her a disgusted look. “Just because you choose not to believe it, doesn’t make it any less true. It’s called Miracle because of The Tin Man.”

“Like The Wizard of Oz?” Jordan sounded dubious.

“No. It’s what they called this peddler who traveled around selling pots and pans,” Brian replied. “Dad just told us about this a couple days ago.” He nodded to Chase. “Go ahead, you’ll tell it better.”

Chase winked, huddling closer. Some of the things they talked about these days would scandalize the rest of the town. “This Tin Man, or more appropriately, Peddler, no one knows his name, came into town when things were at their worst. Those that weren’t strung up to die were dead or dying from hexes that the witches had set on them.”

“There were real witches here? Like—us?” Jordan whispered.

Not like us. We were fighting them. More like—you know,” Chase tilted his head from side to side, not saying a name.

They understood completely. He meant like Gavin. Deidrich, whom they called Mr. D. He was a formidable enemy on his own. If he’d come against them with others, the events of the prior year would have been quite different.

Jordan shivered. Brian put his arm around her, holding her close. He didn’t waste his breath telling her it was okay and that they had nothing to worry about. They both knew differently. Deidrich would be back and this time, he would probably bring friends.

“There’s something special about this one,” Chase mumbled. “This is the three hundredth anniversary of the last, epic battle with the witches. They almost won. If it hadn’t been for the Peddler, they would have. He came in and rallied our people and saved the day.”

Marissa swallowed hard. Jordan shivered again. Both girls reached out for the other. Though they hadn’t started out liking one another, circumstances had made them friends.

“You’re just saying that to scare us,” Marissa said, sniffing.

Jordan bit the inside of her cheek. She knew better, so did Marissa. This couldn’t be a coincidence. The year before, Deidrich had come against them, testing their resources. They’d beaten him, but barely, and only because of Brian.

Jordan’s blue eyes riveted on him. “You be extra careful over the next few days. No risks, no stupid stunts. You don’t go out without at least one other of us.”

Brian frowned, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. He might be the Dreamer, the official prophet of the bunch, but Jordan’s hunches were rarely wrong. Not only that, his dreams had been tumultuous of late. He couldn’t get a firm fix on them to record. Though he mumbled some in his sleep, nothing definitive presented itself. If Jordan told him to be careful, he’d follow her advice.

“I promise.”

“Good.”

He gave her a quick, gentle kiss. She hugged him violently, dragging him close.

“You be careful. I mean it!”

“I promise! Sheesh, Jordan. Can’t breathe!”

Chase eased her arms from Brian’s ribs. Marissa watched, wide eyed herself. She took Jordan’s hand and tugged her to the restroom. The boys didn’t question. They knew this wasn’t just a girl thing. Marissa had something important to tell Jordan.

“Why doesn’t she just tell us all?” Brian asked as he watched the girls walk quickly away.

“You know Riss. She’s shy and straight laced. If it’s the least bit—” he blushed, ducking his head.

“Sexual,” Brian supplied, nudging his friend’s ribs.

“Yeah, that. She won’t say it in front of us.”

“So, no action on that front?”

Chase’s ears turned red. “As if I’d tell you anything. But no. I don’t see that changing until she has a ring on her finger.”

Brian clapped him on the shoulder. “Sucks to be you, my brother.”

A knuckle punch to the ribs got Brian’s attention. Gasping, he clutched his side.

“Like you’ll get any further with Jordan.”

“That’s not the important thing right now,” he replied soberly. “The most important thing is learning all we can so that when he comes back around—and he will—we’re ready for him.”

“That gives us five days, Brian.”

“Yup.”

Brian sipped his cola slowly, eyes traveling the room. Any of the people here was a possible weapon against them. Had Deidrich recruited more witches like he had before? And who was this mysterious Peddler? Could they summon him? Would he help again?

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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