The ride home was quiet and awkward for Bill at least. The girls chatted a little about the movie and Julie tried to explain what was going on in her books but there were too many characters to keep straight.
When they pulled into the driveway Julie was out of the car almost before it stopped and inside, turning on lights. Heather took her time gathering their purchases and carried them inside, followed by Bill.
Julie shoved a formal looking letter into Heather’s hands, making her almost drop the books. “Looks like they’re taking the initiative this time. Guess they know better than to make us wait.” Julie took her books and tromped upstairs while Heather opened the letter.
“Well, Mr. Esler, it looks like they are indeed contacting us first. We have an appointment Monday at four. Julie will have to come straight home from school and then she can take you. Nice and easy.”
“What the hell is going on?” Bill asked, as nobody else seemed to want to address the elephant in the room.
“Oh, right. Which part do you want an explanation on first? There’s quite a lot.” Heather tossed the letter on the kitchen table and sat down in one of the chairs.
“The thing at the theater? Your sister? Nobody else saw?”
“Starting from the beginning… the thing was just a wandering beast. They’re feral but usually harmless. They can’t interact with humans normally. You’re not protected by your body right now though, so it probably thought you were an easy lunch.”
“It was going to eat me.” Bill phrased it more as a statement than a question, but she nodded anyway.
“They’re just mindless beasts, it was nothing personal. Julie and I can see and interact with them but they’re usually able to tell we’re a threat and leave us alone.”
“Your sister? The fire?”
Heather actually chuckled a little, “Yeah, she calls it ‘Burning Hands’. It’s her go to attack spell when she has the energy for it. The coffee helps but if she gets too much caffeine in her system we get the occasional small fire in the real world.”
“Well that’s the term most people use for it… there’s no words of power or anything silly like that though. I always liked to think of it more like spiritual power, something innate. We’re both practitioners, like the company usually recruits. Except we’re both free agents.”
“Nobooooo-” Bill could feel himself losing focus, overwhelmed by the new information, and he took an unneccessary breath, “How is this not in the news tomorrow?”
“Well partly because I took us and the area we were in out of time for a moment so Julie could let loose… and partly because people really don’t like to see crazy stuff like that. They just look past it instead.”
“Out of time?”
“I’m going to be frank, Mr. Esler. You’re clearly having a hard time with all of this. I recommend you just don’t worry about it for the time being. You’ll go to that appointment Monday, we’ll get you back in your body, and you won’t remember any of this.”
“But…” Bill started to protest but Heather shook her head at him.
“Just relax, you’re safe with us and that’s all you really need to know. Here, why don’t you read a book and relax for the rest of the day.” She pulled a copy of the hardcover he’d been looking at out of her purse and walked across the room to set it beside the easy chair by the window, “Best chair in the house for reading. I’m going to go work on some mending I’ve been putting off.” She ducked into a door tucked behind the stairs he hadn’t noticed before, and Bill sat down, pushing open the cover of the book carefully. It took several tries to turn just one page at a time, but he was soon working his way through the book at a steady pace.
Julie reappeared as the sun set and sprawled out on the floor with a large collection of books from the same series as she’d talked about earlier and the two of them read silently until long after Heather had gone upstairs to sleep.
Julie yawned and shut the final book, stacking it in an unstable pile next to her, “I’d better hit the hay, Billy. Enjoy your book though.” She got up and stretched for a bit before heading upstairs.
Bill looked up long enough to wave a bit before going back to his book. It had been a long time since he sat and read something that wasn’t work related.