9.4 Seeking (Bijoux, Pt I)

by Matt P.

The hospital, Antigone reflected, was not any less spooky with the lights shut off now than it had been over winter break. That might have been comforting, that it really had been as scary at that point as it was now, but it wasn’t; they were still in this goddamn place again with the lights off and it was making her cranky.

“So what’s the plan?” Siobhan asked, looking back to her in the red lit hallway. “Bolt for the door, go try to find a nurse we know, head for the spooky door?” She shuddered a little bit at the idea of going back to the spooky door. “Basement sex dungeon?”

“What?” Monica sputtered, shaking her head. “You know what, can we just as a rule avoid anywhere that you could conceivably label a sex dungeon? That seems like the kind of place where the black girl dies first.” That drew a startled laugh from Antigone, Scotty, and Sally. Siobhan smirked appreciatively, while Lacey looked genuinely concerned for a moment. Siobhan reached back to pat her on the shoulder.

“Don’t worry, we’ll make sure Scotty dies first if anyone does,” she reassured, before looking to Antigone. “Seriously though, is it time to have fun with freaky shit or do we keep it under wraps?” She looked more hesitant than normal, and Antigone knew that being back in the hospital was effecting her too. Antigone looked around, sighing a little bit. They all expected her to know what she was doing, to have some great insight; only really Siobhan knew what it was like to have a few dreams, some terrifying images, and to be expected to come up with something. But here they were in the nonsense again, and everyone was looking to her for a plan.

Is this what it feels like to be a hero? Is this what Dad feels like when things go sideways, everyone looking to the guy they think can bring them out of it? She thought to herself. Is that what caused Mom to leave, knowing things about the future and wondering if everyone will expect her to fix them?

“Oh hell, better to have the spooky shit ready then want them later. Like Dad always said, a pistol under the pillow isn’t worth jack when you get jumped in the bathroom,” Antigone offered with a shrug. One thing that had gotten far easier was summoning their dog, who still needed a name more dignified and less terrifying than Eisenhund. She closed her eyes and breathed out, calling the part of her that was tied to the iron clad Faerie hound, and then she felt a wet nose nuzzling at her hand.

She opened her eyes and saw Siobhan holding her Faerie sword, long and out of that strange dull metal and with the leather wrapped handle. It never looked exactly like a sword should, but it struck Antigone now that it looked exactly like lightning should if it could be wrapped in leather and dipped in otherworldly metal. And of course Scotty looked absolutely baffled, stunned at the sudden appearance of canine and weapon. Monica just nodded, and Lacey gave a little clap.

“You both got way faster, congrats!” Lacey offered appreciatively. Antigone was briefly grateful for the way their friends had adapted so well to all of the weird stuff, because it was part of what made them so valuable. There was some alternate universe where they hadn’t met Lacey and Monica, or they weren’t able to just deal so plainly with the frankly bizarre things they had been exposed to, and Antigone didn’t want to think about how lonely she would have been in that world.

“Thanks,” Antigone offered with a smile. She looked back to Scotty and grinned a bit sheepishly. “Spooky shit, sorry. She gets a magic sword, I get a magic dog; together, we fight crime. That pretty much sums it up.” Scotty, who over the course of the evening had been exposed to vampires and faeries and now the ability to summon things out of nowhere, continued to look pole-axed but nodded a little numbly and followed as they started walking again. “As for where we should go or what we should do…” She sighed and considered the things that she had seen in her weird…trance…thing. “Let’s try to quietly head toward the main entrance and see what’s happening before we do anything rash.” She didn’t know if it was the right answer or not, but it was an answer; the others nodded and they all began moving with some semblance of stealth. Tat stealth left Antigone alone with her thoughts as she padded along.

The need to get moving, to get out of the hospital room, had been the one thing that she took our of her vision. It overrode everything else, and had propelled her to movement even through the sudden onset of the headache. But now that they were moving, putting distance between themselves and the room, the rest of what she had seen seemed to be little more than a blur. There wasn’t a lot she could pick out of what she had seen besides an impression of danger and darkness, and that they needed to b…somewhere. Where that was, exactly, still eluded her. She hoped that maybe by continuing to walk along they would be able to figure out where they were supposed to be. Maybe there was simply virtue in movement, and the vision had been to force them to be doing something in general rather than something in specific.

There was a clatter of something down the hallway and they all froze in place, sharing a panicked look with one another. The sound had come from further on down the hallway—in the direction they came from. They all slunk away from the nearest light to wait and watch, and more sounds came to them.

“We’re at the room,” a voice spoke. “Lights are off. Going in.” Following that there was the sound of a door being kicked in violently, wood splintering and metal hinges being torn by the force of the kick. The kick sounded powerful, more than a human leg should have been delivering, and it chilled Antigone to the bone. As did the words that followed it:

“No one here. Everybody fan out. Find them!”