Web of Deception, Chapter 5: Grimalkin
|Blog Entry - Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
||Add / Read (4)
NOTE: This is a continuation of the "Web Of Deception" round-robin story. If you're late to the party, please start with Chapter 1 on Ben's site and go from there. You can also follow the RSS feed hosted at http://www.andthentheboilerburst.com/WebOfDeception.rss.
After dinner that night, Callie examined Mike’s leg again. He had calmed down from the afternoon's excitement, and didn't seem to think much of Callie's story about the strange little man in the garden. She wasn't sure whether to be pleased or upset that he dismissed even Dufay's sneaking down the driveway. On the one hand, it meant Mike wouldn't get in her way – he was just as enamored and blind as he'd been from the start. On the other hand, it might've been nice to have some help for a change.
Still, he'd been getting progressively cranky all afternoon and when she put her hand on his leg she understood why – his leg was burning with fever. What had seemed like mere scratches that afternoon were deeper than they had looked at first and the wounds had not closed at all, but were still oozing slightly. She shook her head, worried and wondering, fingering the piece of black wool that she still had in her pocket.
"Callie, it really hurts," Mike muttered. "Do you think we should go to a doctor after all?"
"Well, if we can find one who can help, maybe we should," Callie replied, washing his leg with witch hazel. She was thinking quickly now and wondering how to try something without completely freaking Mike out. "Why don't you let me finish bandaging this and I'll go to the pharmacy to see if that strange Mr. Dufay can recommend a clinic nearby. You just rest here, drink your beer, and read your book, er, Schmoops." As she spoke, she turned slightly away from Mike's gaze and pulled the wool scrap from her pocket. Reaching down to pat him reassuringly on the leg with one hand, she let the wool fall onto his leg with the other, leaning forward to kiss him and block it from his view.
"Well, that sounds ok – although maybe you should ask him what he was doing in the yard and running off like that. You're no just trying to get me drunk to take advantage of me, are you?" he teased in reply, pulling her down to deepen the kiss. "You're sure you can find the way on your own?"
"There's not enough beer in the house get you inebriated, my wee laddie," Callie laughed back at him, lapsing in the soft burr she spoke with when she wasn't paying attention. She frowned at the piece of wool, which had looked fragile and had now shriveled even smaller, and lightened in color, turning grey while she watched. Smiling grimly at the one, tiny healed spot on his leg, she nonchalantly scooped the wool up with one hand, kissed Mike again, and promised to bring him another pint before she left. "I just have to find a few things from one of my boxes, first, and I'll make sure you're doing alright before I go."
She pulled her black sweater out of a box in the back bedroom, and, looking furtively around, although she knew Mike was still on the sofa, she also pulled out a blue velvet pouch, and sniffed to make sure its contents were still fresh enough. "They'll do, if they must," she grumbled to herself, "but I really have to get a garden started here soon. I got out of that city just in time."
Pocketing the pouch and slipping the sweater into her knitted bag, she picked up her keys and dropped a fresh pint off next to her sleeping husband. "Oh, aye, you'll sleep for a wee while, then, won't you? The healing will do that, and just as well; you won't worry if I'm gone for a while."
Quietly, Callie slipped out of the house and, grateful that the recent equinox meant that the days were long enough that it was still light out, walked down the path toward town. Slipping her sweater on and keeping one hand in her pocket, she whistled a peculiar tune and, although she appeared to be paying no attention to her surroundings, listened intently for noise in the brush. "I know you're out there, grimalkin," Callie whispered to herself.
"Of course I'm out here." The cat was riding the woman's shoulders, looking for all the world like a very old, very filthy, witches' familiar. "But knowing how to call me doesn't change anything. For you or that bloody fool fence post you live with."
"Are you sure of that, then?"
Startled, JC thought fiercely to himself, "Damn certain I'm sure. You smell like them, you sound like them, you look like them. I don't trust you. You can't be her and you can't help. You'll only be in the way." What he said was: "He won't heal." Then he started to jump off her shoulder. He found his claws stuck in the webbing of the coarse black sweater she wore and started hissing and cursing. "Damn you, you...fae, witch, whatever the hell you are... I..."
"Not so fast, grimalkin." Callie almost purred at the snarling cat who was hissing and spitting, back raised with the instinctive anger of a cat, although she guessed he'd prefer to be yelling at her in his own form. "I won't hurt you now, grimalkin, unless you make me."
"What do you mean 'now'? And stop calling me grimalkin. You called me, I'm here. My name's JC; not grimalkin. I'm warning you, stop arseing around with me before I get really mad."
"Well, now that you've told me your name, why don't you tell me why you attacked Mike, and why you're here – with all those others." Silence, and then more hissing came from her shoulder. She fingered the now fragile piece of wool. "Perhaps you'll also tell me why that fool Dufay is providing Web
to that little... what is he anyway? And why in Mab's name are you going around as a cat?"
"Hrmph. Say 'in Loki's name' instead and you'll be closer to the mark. Bastard was trying to help Freya – she needed a new cat to pull her coach after one had an accident. I suspect Loki caused the accident and was trying to cover it up, but either way, I'd been a bleeding idiot and trusted him after...well, never mind. So, here I am. Stuck working for them. Of course, you could tell me how you managed to even smell different." The cat grumped a bit, hissed, and tried again to either claw her or retract his claws. Sniffing, JC said, "I know you've got some."
"I do. Can you handle it?" Suddenly standing straighter, she said quietly, "Someone else is out there, but I can't tell who. Can you?" There was no noise from woods – not even birdsong or the sound of the brook – as she sniffed the air, continuing to walk toward town.
"Hm. If you'd let me free I could go check, you know. I guess it is a bit too silent, but it's not Dufay; he said he was going to –." The cat broke off, moaning and growling low in its throat. "It's her..."
A few notes: A grimalkin is a cat - but not a completely normal feline: it's usually old and evil-looking, grey, and associated with demons, witches, or fae. Freya is a Norse goddess, associated with fertility, sensuality, and love, who is often also connected with elves and faeries. She is reputed to drive a carriage that is pulled by two large cats. Loki is a Norse god - most often a shape-shifter who likes to play pranks of varying degrees of cruelty.
I now pass the torch or baton or whatever it is, somewhat the worse for use, to the extremely talentedJohn Vaughan, aka Jonvon, with the somewhat evil request that he include the word epigamic in his installment, despite the fact that the Notes dictionary doesn't recognize it as a word.
Author: Libby Ingrassia
Posted at: 06:50:34 PM