Chapter 3 - Theo, I'm a witch.
“Have you talked to Mitch’s family?” Amy asked as the car turned out of the Shady Acres driveway.
“Not yet, that was next on my list. I wanted to see the crime scene first” Theo responded as he frantically fumbled to untie the striped noose around his neck.
“Well, they didn’t have a good relationship with Mitch. I can only remember them coming to Shady Acres once, to drop him off” Amy offered. “Although, some of his more distant relatives would sometimes call to check on him. Which makes leads me to wonder, who hired you for this job?”
“Dorris told me that it was someone from his extended family, a grandmother I believe.” replied Theo.
“Yes, she’s my secretary.. or boss depending on who you’re asking” Theo grinned.
Ignoring the information she’d deemed inconsequential, “Ok, so I guess the next step would be to go and talk to his grandmother, but first I need to change out of this uniform and get some supplies for the road. Let’s stop by my house on the way out of Crescent. Take the next right.”
The car obeyed Amy’s instructions and eventually pulled into the small driveway of an even smaller cottage. The house was nothing notable, it was the garden that took Theo’s breath away, just as the garden at Shady Acres had. He realized that many of the same plants grew here as in the facilities gardens, and asked “did you do all this?” motioning towards the lush greenery.
“Yes” Amy shrugged without any further explanation and continued to walk towards the small house.
“And the gardens at Shady Acres?” Theo asked, catching up to her.
“Yes” Amy stated, stopping abruptly in her tracks almost colliding with Theo. Then she looked into his eyes, searching for something that made him somewhat uneasy. It was the first time that he’d really been able to look into her eyes, and he realized that her dark eyes weren’t a normal blue or brown or even green. They were a very dark purple, almost indistinguishable from her pupils with brighter violet streaks that seemed to be moving. The streaks sped up, definitely moving. Theo couldn’t look away it was as if he were looking into time.
After a few moments that felt like decades, she seemed to decide something then blinked, releasing Theo from his trance. She waited a few seconds, then squaring her shoulders she confessed, “Theo, I’m a witch”.
“A.. what?” he replied, not knowing how to take this information. Was she pranking him, or maybe she was as crazy as the patients she cooked for at Shady Acres?
“A witch. You know, magic.. spells.. potions?” Rolling her eyes “Well, that’s what the humans of this world know about us anyway” Amy clarified.
Trying to stay calm next to this lady who’d just gone insane, Theo slowly explained “but, witches aren’t real”.
“Oh we’re real, we just don’t come to this world much, you humans are kind of a bore.” then once again realizing that she was being rude, she seemed to internally scold herself and added “not to offend or anything. I just needed to tell you because I felt something when Mitch died that made me believe that someone in the magical world had something to do with his death, and the sooner you come to terms with this information the sooner we can find out who did this and why.” she replied.
Theo gaped at her dumbfounded and at a loss for words.
“Come inside, you can let it all settle in the AC while I pack” then she walked into the cottage leaving the door open for him.
As he entered the house he had to stop to take in the eclectic decor. Nothing went together, there was no theme that he could identify, but that somehow made it all strangely work.
Above the small fireplace he saw a golden bust of a fox wearing a monocle next to what was definitely a voodoo doll purchased from a tourist shop and more candles than he had time to count. How did she have time to light them all, he puzzled. Then as the sun set, it was as if the house changed personalities, during the day it seemed like an ordinary home with some strange decorations, but as the sky grew darker the decor changed into something that Theo had only imagined while reading fairy tales in his youth. A mix between the princesses room in the castle and the witch's cabin in the woods.
The hardwood floors were covered with colorful overlapping mismatched rugs, with only a few places to sit atop them, she obviously didn’t have company very often. He chose a comfortable looking chair, plopped down, and looked around in amazement still trying to take in the scene around him. It wasn’t messy or even cluttered, but no one would ever mistake her for a minimalist either.
There was an extensive amount of paintings and tapestries covering every inch of wall space in the living room, all of which looked like nothing he’d ever seen, classical portraits of monsters and landscapes of hot pink rolling hills. Every shelf, table, and available horizontal surface had stacks of books ranging from the history of the universe to Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction and everything imaginable in between.
He could see the small kitchen from his seat, with worn in pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and a large black pot on the stove simmering something that smelled heavenly. Wait, that wasn’t a pot. It was large, rounded, and iron, was it a cauldron? Did witches really use cauldrons he wondered. Wait, was he actually starting to believe her? That seemed a bit quick, but he’d seen enough to at least be open to the idea of magic and monsters, and it sure would explain a lot around here. Theo thought as he took in every hidden clue he could find.
Amy emerged from a hallway on the opposite side of the room from the kitchen with a small bag. It was the first time that Theo had seen her out of her cooks garb and tight bun, which wasn’t surprising since they had just met a few hours ago. But it looked like she was a different person. Her hair was still bright red, but instead of a tight bun it looked like it had exploded into a colossal tangle of curls down to the middle of her back, emulating a bonfire. Her clothes had changed from a drab white uniform to tight black pants, and a simple black tank top exposing her pale arms.
On her arms were tattoos that looked like they were from a spell book or a video game, or maybe both. Black symbols that swirled around her upper arms cascading around colorful words that didn’t make any sense to Theo. Her figure had also changed, the bland uniform that covered up the few curves that Amy had was now gone and the pants that she’d donned showed that she was very small and frail looking, although Theo was sure that he was as wrong about her frailness as the people in this town were about Amy.
“You’re in my seat”
“Get up, find another chair. That one’s mine” She repeated as she made her way to the occupied chair.
Theo jumped out of the chair as if it was on fire and moved to the small couch closest to him. Amy sat down only taking up about half of the chair.
“So, are you done?” Amy asked.
“Is that a cauldron?” Theo blurted out, not being able to think of another question than the last one on his mind.
“Yeah” Amy shrugged. “We actually don’t use them where I’m from, but then I heard your worlds stories and thought, why wouldn’t I use the best tools available? So I made one. It’s pretty awesome.” She smiled as she looked at her handywork.
“That makes sense” Theo sat on the couch silently, not knowing what to say next.
“So you believe me?”
“I don’t see any reason you would be lying to me, and it certainly makes the cookies make more sense”
“Good, that will save us a lot of time.”
“So you said you felt something when Mr. Walcott died?”
“Yes, it’s a feeling I get when I am in the vicinity of evil deeds.”
“What does it feel like?” He leaned toward Amy, unable to mask his interest.
“Like a pull in my chest, it’s the reason I came to this world and have tried to keep a low profile. I’ve barely felt anything in years, then when Mitch died it brought me to my knees.”
“Does that mean that someone from your world came here to kill Mitch? Do you think Mitch was connected to your world? Why would they choose a mental patient in this small town?” He wondered aloud, the questions erupted out of his mouth like a geyser.
“Those were my thoughts as well, but I don’t know what anyone from my world would want with a patient at Shady Acres, which is exactly why I chose this place. I think the first step is to talk to Mitch's family and see if there are any connections to my world”. Amy responded “But first let's have some dinner before we hit the road, I have a feeling we have a long trip ahead of us.”
As they made their way to the dinner table, soup in hand, Theo asked “So what’s your last name?”
“Tell me yours first” Amy responded, not wanting to give any more information without reciprocation.
Theo sat his bowl down and put his hand out to shake Amy’s “Hello ma’am, my name is Theodore Aide, I go by Theo. What may I have the pleasure of calling you?”
With a small almost undetectable smile Amy reached out to shake his hand, “Nice to meet you, I’m Amythyst Quinn, but you can call me Amy”.