Lance was off once again, flying away into the night before returning with a chipped concrete garden gnome the size of my head. This too he tossed into the air.
“Destroy!” Lance shouted.
I fired once, blowing the gnome’s head into pieces. Two more quick shots and the rest of it went the way of the head. Lance laughed in delight.
Some of the other fairies had broken off from the circle to watch. Nona, with her orange hair, was among them.
Lance zipped away once more. Within seconds he was back, this time with a small, portable stereo. Up it went, and as with the others, I shot it to pieces.
All the fairies cheered.
This went on for some time. Lance zooming off to return with an object he’d acquired from the nearby farmhouse. A basketball, then an outdoor light bulb, a bowl of some sort, and then finally, a small dog.
Lance tossed the dog into the air. The dog howled as it rose.
“Shoot it!” Lance shouted.
I didn’t move.
“SHOOT IT!” Lance screamed. “SHOOT IT NOW!”
“I—I can’t.” It was true. I couldn’t move. All I could think about was Trinity, the three headed dog I’d found a few weeks back in the Brotherhood’s labyrinth. I’d grown quite attached to her, though we’d only spent a minute or two together before she’d disappeared.
“You CAN’T?!” Lance looked as if he was about to stamp his foot on nothing as he hovered there at eye level, small clouds of smoke puffing out from his tiny ears.
A few of the other fairies booed and hissed as the dog fell from the sky. I’d noticed that Nona wasn’t among them. She was there, sure, but she was quiet, her face turned to the ground.
“I’m sorry, My Lord,” I said. And I was. A part of me anyway. There was something inside tugging at me, urging me to shoot the dog. And I wanted to. God help me I did. But I couldn't make myself do it, try as I might.
Lance caught the dog, holding it there for a moment, his eyes doing their best to bore holes straight through me before he casually dropped the frightened thing into the grass below.
The dog ran.
"You're wasting my time, Norman Oklahoma," Lance said, his voice descending to a dangerous volume.
"I'm sorry, My Lord," I said again.
“All of this was for nothing if you aren't going to cooperate," Lance said. "And I don't like doing things for nothing."
I didn't know what to say.
"Why do you think I took the boy in the first place?” Lance said.
"I don't know." I really didn't. None of this was making sense.
“Because, Norman Oklahoma, I knew that the moment I did, you would come running.”
“You didn’t want me?” Jake was suddenly there next to me.
“Of course not, stupid boy,” Lance said before spitting. “What would I want with a useless child? You were bait. It was Norman Oklahoma I wanted. Not you.”
“But,” Jake said, his eyes filling with the beginnings of tears. “I thought I was your friend.”
Lance screamed in frustration. More smoke puffed from his ears. And I'll tell you, it wasn’t at all cute as one might imagine. No way, it was near to one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen, and I’ve born witness to many a frightening thing in my day.
“GROSS!” Lance shouted. “A HUMAN FRIEND!? YOU ARE A STUPID, GROSS, STUPID, GIANT BOY!”
Then, quite suddenly and as if from nowhere, a song began to play. From the first note it was as if the clouds had parted and I could see clearly for the first time. Furthermore, I recognized the song. Tumbling Tumbleweeds by Sons of the Pioneers, the 1946 version.
It was then that the fairies began to scream.
To be continued ...
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