So I woke up this morning to Winston freaking out and someone pounding on my door. I got up and shuffled my way to the door, opening and sticking my head out side. It was Mark. He was frantic.
Max was missing.
I’d be frantic too if Ben was missing, so I tossed some clothes on and put my hair up into a ponytail. We drove out to where the Business Park had located itself last Friday, near Pinks Pumpkin Farm, but it wasn’t there.
I should probably explain the Blueville Business Park further before getting back into what happened.
You see, the Business Park moves itself every Friday. Normally, it’s to one of seven or eight different locations. This time however, the Park had managed to move itself to an entirely new location and everyone was out looking for it because their loved ones hadn’t come home.
There are other things that happen in the Park too. Like people disappearing for years at a time and coming back looking exactly the same as when they left. Jack Higgins is one of those people. He’d been missing for nearly 40 years before coming back. By then, his children were grown and his wife had died. That was a sad day when he showed up at Miss Maggie’s. I thought she was going to have a heart attack when she saw him. According to her, he looked exactly the same.
So Mark and I drove around trying to find the park when Ben called and told us that he and Justine, his assistant, had found the Park. It had moved itself to just outside the campgrounds off of Green Arrow highway, south off the Blue Rabbit junction. That surprised everyone because that spot had never been one of the Park’s previous spots. That’s when we knew something was wrong.
So Mark and I drove out to Camp Street, where the Park was at and when we got there it was covered in police and local authorities. Mark panicked when he spotted all the ambulances and was out of the car before I could stop him. I parked my car on the side of the road and made my way over to Ben, who was talking with the Sheriff. Ben spotted me and started making his way over to me as well. We met and I immediately slipped my arms around his waist and buried my head into his chest.
“I’m okay, you know. It didn’t happen to me.”
“I know. I feel better now though.”
“Really? that’s weird, so do I.”
“That’s good. I’d have been sad if you hadn’t.”
Ben tipped my head up and kissed me. “Not a chance of that, ‘Lowe.”
“Tell me what the sheriff said.” I said as I slid around to his side and we walked down the road away from the scene.
“Well, apparently someone inside the building turned everyone in to scarecrows.”
I stopped dead and looked up at him. I studied his face and found that he wasn’t joking. “How bad is it? Are they still alive?”
Ben sighed. “Some of them are, but they’ve got to call in a specialist to turn them back. Something about a Priestess.”
“Max?” I asked and I looked up at him.
Ben shook his head and rubbed a hand over his face. “They’re not sure.”
I didn’t have anything to say so I put my arms back around Ben and held on. I didn’t cry either, I didn’t think that I could. We stood like that until Mark came walking back up the road. From the slump of his shoulders I knew the news wasn’t good, but neither Ben nor I asked him anything. We just opened up our hug and tucked him in, holding on as he cried. I looked up at Ben and he nodded. As Ben slipped away to go talk to the Sheriff, I managed to walk Mark back to the car and sat him down on the hood. I didn’t care about the paint at that point.
All I knew was that my friend was hurting. I sat there with my arm around him as Mark buried his head in to the side of my neck and cried. We both rocked back and forth, until Mark started babbling the story out. He was allowed into the Park to see if Max was one of the ones they’d declared dead. He searched through every row of scarecrows until he’d gotten to the second to last row. Max was the third one in, marked with an orange X on his trouser leg. They’d checked and he was gone.
They’d just gotten married. Ben and I were at their wedding. At that moment, I was angrier than I’d ever been and I’d wanted something to be done. I looked up at Ben as he came walking back with the sheriff and he spotted the look on my face. His skin went pale and I could have sworn he’d made a sign against bad juju on his leg. I murmured to Mark that I needed to talk with the Sheriff and to stay on the car, that I’d be back in a minute. Mark was reluctant to let go, but eventually did.
I stormed over to where Ben was talking to the Sheriff and planted myself in front of both of them.
“Any news? Anything at all for Mark?” I demanded.
“Still the same. We’re still waiting for the specialist.”
“What about the dead?”
“They’ll need to be transformed back before they can be claimed. I’m sorry, Marlowe.”
“Who did it?” I asked, brushing aside the Sheriff’s apology.
“We don’t know just yet. That’s why we’re still waiting for the specialist.”
I huffed out a breath. I was angry with no place to put my anger.
“If I can talk Mark into going home and getting some rest, can we take him?”
The Sheriff nodded. “We’ll call you if we need him back here.”
“Okay.” I said as I stormed off, fully prepared to badger Mark in to going home and catching a couple of hours of sleep.
Ben caught up with me and kissed me, pulling me in for a hug after and murmured that he’d be over as soon as he wasn’t needed. Apparently, the reason why he’d been out to the Camp was to treat the dragon that lives in the woods behind cabin six or seven. That was fresh news to me, I didn’t know Blueville had a dragon resident. I told Ben I’d see him at my place later and browbeat Mark into the car and going to my place for a shower and food. I didn’t want him to be alone.
As I’m typing this up, I’m watching Mark sleep on my couch with Winston covering his legs. Poor man. Married and widowed within two months. I can’t imagine the pain. My heart sinks thinking if it was Ben in that Park and I don’t really want to think about it anymore.
I’m going to go try to make bread. I’m terrible at it, but maybe forcing myself to think about the steps will help me keep from worrying about Ben. He’s still out there at the site and it’s been hours since we left him there with the Sheriff.
I just want him to come home.