I peeked over Eve and Dichall’s heads and watched Josh open his door to the supposed terror that his sister Morgan was so worried about. Emerson climbed atop my head to look, too.
A beautiful young woman, who looked a bit like the titular character of Lola Rennt, smiled broadly, threw her arms wide and embraced Josh Stout with a high-pitched squeal of glee.
He embraced her back, holding for a good five seconds before releasing. “Madison! You look fabulous!”
Indeed she did. Very well put together for this time of morning. I glanced at the wall clock. We’d been asleep about twenty minutes. Waffles Ribeye is still out there in the cold…
The two humans exchanged some pleasantries, and Josh put some coffee on. They sat on the couch together and were soon kissing.
“Let’s see what this woman’s made of.” I concentrated and turned on my magical sight.
The world shifted as my body created a version of itself in the Interstitial manifestation of the room. Colours brightened. I glanced around quickly to make sure there were no faeries or other dangerous denizens close to me. Dichall and Eve would be safe, but I was vulnerable to anything in the Interstitium as long as my magical sight was active. But there was nothing, so I glanced back at the kissing couple.
Madison was no human.
Instead of kissing a comely woman, Josh’s lips were firmly pressed to the mouth of an alien faerie being. Her skin was a translucent pearl, revealing fine bones beneath as though her body was lit with a cold, interior light. Long, ashen hair flowed in the air behind her head as though subject to water currents. Her arm held his shoulder, with each finger ending in three tiny tendrils, grotesque fingers of their own. Her thin body drank something from Josh as they kissed, and I’d have bet by last breadcrumb it was his health. His new girlfriend was a pale soulseeker, if my memory served.
With a bit of effort, I shut down my magical sight. It took several seconds this time. “It’s a faerie. A nasty one.”
Eve looked at the woman, harmless-looking in the Mundane World, and her jaw dropped.
I motioned the two back behind the books. “We have to let his sister know what her brother is involved with.”
Eve twisted her mouth. “How are we supposed to do that?”
“I have an idea.” Dichall put a calming paw on Eve’s back. “Maybe we can find a raccoon with a cell phone.”
It was a good idea. “Ja, let’s get some cat food to bribe one with.”
Eve looked from me to Dichall, clearly not getting it. “Uh, right.”
I brought her to the edge of the books and pointed at the cat. “See if the cat will give us a few kibbles. Raccoons tend to love collecting human technology. Sometimes they have phones.”
Josh was still absorbed in kissing his monstrous girlfriend, so we figured it would be safe to drop to the floor unnoticed. The cat noticed, of course.
Eve waved her closer. “Madison is a faerie creature.”
The cat looked over at Madison and turned back to us, a disgusted look on her face. “I knew it!”
“Can we take some cat food? We want to help, but we need some food as a bribe for a raccoon.”
“Absolutely. He keeps my bowl full, and I’ve put on a little too much weight…” She gestured at her size with her tail.
“Oh, no!” Dichall smiled at her. “Not at all! You’re a gorgeous cat!”
The cat beamed at Dichall with a bright, fanged smile. “You flatterer… Okay, I’ll be right back.”
A minute later she dropped a mouthful of cat kibble at our feet. I put them in my backpack. “We might not see you again. Best of luck.”
The cat told us where we could find a raccoon and bowed her head to us. “Thank you for caring for my human.”
We scampered up to the crack in the window and into the cold outside.
Waffles could see us from the warm place beneath the dryer vent and came running. “Took you long enough!” He sniffed the air eagerly. “Is that cat food?”
I backed up. “It’s not for you! We need to find a raccoon and make a phone call. There’s one living in a basement nearby. The cat gave us directions.”
We walked about a half a kilometre to a large, old house. In the woods beside it was a hole.
Waffles started going inside. “I’m freezing out here! If I can fit in a warm raccoon den, then I’m coming!”
Eve shrugged. “Fair point.”
What you see of a Pomeranian dog is mostly fur. Press that down, and they’re not that big, by dog standards. Once snow was cleared from the entrance of the hole, Waffles fit easily. We followed him in. The smell of raccoon was strong.
When we estimated we were halfway to the basement, Waffles let out a low howl: “Excuse me! You have some visitors!”