The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 30

the man who wasnt thereUnfortunately, the freak storm did have one casualty. Chase’s father, Cliff, was killed when something in the backyard exploded. Chase has gone to the hospital with his parents. His little sisters have been taken to Brian’s house.

“Is Mommy coming back?” Lucy asked.

“Of course she is, honey.”

“And Chase?” Katie added.

“Yes.”

“But not Daddy?” Katie continued.

“No, honey. Not Daddy.”

Katie’s lips trembled and tears fell. She and Lucy clung to one another and cried. Maribelle did her best to comfort them. With Jordan’s help, she got them calmed down enough to watch a movie.

Miles drove up a few minutes later, carrying overnight bags for both girls. Heath pulled up a few minutes later, bringing food. No one felt much like eating, but it was comforting to adhere to the routine of life.

The girls got ready for bed around 8:00. Jordan and Brian read them stories and sang to them until they fell asleep. Once they were settled, the teenagers and their parents gathered in the kitchen with coffee.

“What happened?” Brian asked. “It looked like someone stepped on the clearing.”

“As near as we can figure out, Cliff was working on something and it went awry,” Heath replied. “We think that whatever it was took off for the school.”

“It wasn’t moving from that direction,” Brian said. “It came from the northwest. Chase’s house is south of the school. And no whirlwind in the world did that to the shed. That as something else entirely.”

“Crush damage,” Jordan said.

Brian nodded.

“I don’t think it was Cliff that caused it,” Jordan said. “He wasn’t the type of man to try something that dangerous on his own with his girls in the house.”

“I think he was trying to stop something,” Brian speculated. “But it was too powerful for him to control by himself.”

Heath and Miles exchanged a look. They knew their children were right and it pleased them to see the logic that went into their conclusions. It might not explain what had happened to Cliff, but it was a start.

“I want to know more about what happened in 1713,” Brian said suddenly. “How can I find out?”

“Cliff was the historian,” Miles said with a sigh. “He had all those files in his shed.”

“Who else would have them?” Jordan asked, suddenly alert.

“The historical society. Why?”

“Where’s it located?” she asked, standing.

“The old post office building. On Main Street. Oh….” Heath said.

“Oh? What’s oh?” Jackie asked.

“The historical society building is northwest of the high school,” Heath replied. “I want to see if it’s still standing or if it got flattened too.”

“I’ll stay with Maribelle,” Jackie said. “You go.”

“I’ll stay here too,” Miles said. “I don’t like the idea of all the girls alone.” He held up a hand to quell the feminist protests from the women. “I know you’re fully capable of taking care of yourselves. But there are three children here, too. Give me this moment and indulge my protective streak, okay?”

They laughingly agreed. Heath took Brian and Jordan downtown. They rounded the corner leading to the historical society. Trees lay in the road, uprooted and thrown around like toothpicks. The power lines were down, the ground churned up until a few feet from the building. Then the trough turned sharply southeast and headed for the school.

“What the hell? A tornado doesn’t change course like that,” Heath said.

“It does if it’s suddenly attracted by a hex bag,” Brian replied, kneeling by the trench.

Jordan explained about Marissa’s accidental hex bag. Heath chuckled.

“Harold’s incompetence might have saved the records we need.”

“They’re closed, Dad,” Jordan protested as her father walked up to the building.

“So?” His eyes twinkled as he wiggled his fingers over the locks. “Never stopped me before.” He magically unlocked the door and pushed it open.

The lights were out, but that didn’t deter Heath. He closed the door and conjured a little ball of flame in his palm. He told Brian and Jordan how to do the same. Together, they wandered around the small, cluttered room, looking for the right files. In a dusty volume, Jordan found the first mention of the Harvest Ball. The book was on display because of the upcoming event. Further exploring revealed a display devoted to the Harvest Ball, the witch trials and the Peddler. Rather than trying to look at it all in the dark, Heath suggested that they take it with them.

“Aren’t they going to miss it?” Jordan asked.

“Bizarre, random destruction due to the storm,” Heath said, shrugging. “If they notice at all, which I doubt.”

They loaded the books into boxes and carried them out to the car. Heath locked the door behind them with another wiggle of his fingers.

“What if someone saw us?” Brian asked.

“No one saw us,” Heath replied confidently as he walked to the car.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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