Chapter 12: Who Uses a Bubble?
By: Whitney Emeigh
“What happened?” Karl lifted himself onto his paws. Adette’s eyes slid back and forth. A farmer sat atop a full cart that was slowly being powered toward them by an annoyed bull. No one was heading out of the gate at the moment, but Adette didn’t trust it to stay that way.
“Not here. We need to get somewhere people won’t be able to hear you talking. It’s bad enough that I need to figure out a way to solve this situation without people seeing my magic. I don’t need to add a talking dog into the mix.” Adette scooped up the leash and began to trek down the road. She walked at what felt like, at that moment, a glacial pace. It wouldn’t do to seem out of sorts, even to the strange farmer. Who knew what he’d say once he got into town.
After agonizing, slow moments, the farmer and his cart squealed past without so much as a “how d’you do?” Normally Adette would have been offended, but today she was glad not to be stuck in a pointless conversation. Once there seemed to be no one else on the road, she darted off the road and under the low hanging trees beside the road. Getting through the brush was annoying and prickly but once she was past it, she knew they couldn’t be seen from the road.
“Ok, here’s what happened. I was standing in the middle of town when a boy collapsed. Nothing seemed amiss until I got closer. There was a strange tendril that seemed to be snaking its way into the boy’s mouth. It was almost impossible to see. Do you have any idea what kind of creature would do that?”
“I might have a better time thinking with something in my stomach.” Karl lowered his fluffy dog butt into the pine needles and stared pointedly at the soiled loaves of bread under each of Adette’s arms.
“Really? At a time like this?” Adette stared at him, “Fine.” Adette took one of the loaves, tore a sizeable hunk from one end, and tossed it to Karl. He caught it deftly in his teeth. Adette watched in amazement as the food disappeared. “Did you taste it?”
“Of course I tasted it, but we’re in a hurry. Now what color was this strange thing?”
“I’m not sure. It was nearly translucent. It may have been a bit of a smoky grey color. The boy fell over with his mouth gaping open. He didn’t move or make a sound until it had disappeared into his mouth.”
“Oh, that’s not good.”
“What’s not good?” Her eyebrows furled together. Karl didn’t respond. Adette turned to look over her shoulder. Coming through the underbrush was a strange flickering bubble. It bounced on the breeze like any normal bubble, except that any living thing it touched quickly began to whither.
“Well that’s just over doing it a bit don’t you think?” Disapproval dripped from Adette’s words. Sparkling lights flitted and sparked across the space within the bubble. As it approached the two of them, it began to slow. When it reached a space a few feet in front of them, it stopped. Sparking and oozing toxicity, it hovered, looming over the two of them.
“Well, what have we here?” A booming voice came from within the bubble, and as it spoke, the sparking lights inside became more agitated.
“It talks,” Karl said flatly.
“I can hear it, Karl.” Adette stared into the strange lights, looking for some sign of a face or any features that a talking creature might have.
“You’ll not find a face, young witch. This lovely little thing is merely a construct, a method for me to speak to you without you knowing any pesky details about me,” came a slightly masculine voice from within the bubble.
“And why do you need to know anything about me?” Adette’s eyebrow lifted. She managed to look both wary and annoyed. Karl had slowly backed away from the bubble.
“One does like to know a few things about the competition.”
“Perhaps competition isn’t the right word, but it will have to do. You’ve destroyed some of my creatures, and that has me feeling a bit distressed. From the looks of it, you don’t seem likely to cause me any kind of real problem though. Enjoy playing with my creatures while you can. I’ll be watching on with pleasure.”
“Move!” Karl barked. Adette dove backwards as the bubble burst with a pleasant sounding pop. She landed in the pine needles with a jarring thump. Liquid remnants of the bubble splattered all around them. She smelled more than heard some of the liquid splatter onto her dress and the back of her hands.