Halloween

So Wednesday night I went to bed alone.

Yesterday morning I got up, stumbled around and walked smack in to the naked chest that was Ben. Startled, because I thought he was staying at his place the previous night, I opened an eye and looked up at him.

“You don’t look like the walking cup of coffee that I was dreaming about.”

He laughed. “No, I’m not a cup of coffee, but I do happen to have one.”

He handed over the mug in his hand and steered me to a chair. I sniffed the cup and let it linger under my nose until the smell woke me up enough to risk a sip. I opened an eye while sipping the bitter liquid and got a shock. It was not the master bedroom in Ben’s house, it looked like my house and his has run at each other and smashed together. There was my blue paint color mixing with his browns and golds in giant swirls all over the walls. Pieces of my furniture had replaced his but there was a  good mix of both. Wrinkling my nose because none of the furniture worked together I looked up at him.

“Last night. I woke up to it this morning. Looks like the houses decided they were tired of waiting.” He said after seeing the quizzical look on my face.

“Well, I can’t say I’m not surprised. We have had trouble deciding whose house to be at lately.”

Ben’s lips quirked with a  smile. “At least now I don’t have to talk you in to moving in with me.”

“Maybe I wanted you to move in with me.” I said to him as I took another drink of my coffee.

“Is that so? You never said anything.”

“You were too busy wiggling a promise from me to move in with you. As much as I like your castle, it’s a little big, don’t you think?”

“Not really, with all the family I’ve got under the roof right now.”

“Family?” I eyed him closely as I said that. Something was up.

Ben sighed. “Denver kicked Miles out two weeks ago. He didn’t want to say anything to you because you had Mark. He asked me and since Miles is a known neat freak and I’m not, I agreed to let him move in for a while.”

I sighed. I knew something had been up with Miles the last couple of days. Getting up to pace with my coffee, I was feeling very hemmed in all of a sudden. Things are weird here, I knew that. I’d been here six months. I set the cup down and paced faster. Ben moved his legs out-of-the-way so I’d have more room to walk.

“You do know that nothing bad is going to happen because the houses moved together and moved you in, right? They’re just a version of, what’d you call them again? Shippers? They’re like that when it comes to the people who live in them.”

“You know, that actually makes sense and I’m a little scared by it, because the shipping thing can go too far.”

“Says the woman who binge watched an entire series last month while she was stuck at home.”

“The Gilmore Girls is a great show. I didn’t see you complaining when you got sucked in to the story and sat with me.”

Ben didn’t say anything, just closed his mouth and crossed his arms. For some reason, that little pout of his did not seem so cute today. I was tired and frustrated that I’d been circumvented by a damn house that thought it knew better than I did when it came to my welfare and I’d had enough.

So I screamed.

I startled Ben so badly he fell over and took the chair, both cups of coffee and the pot of clover he gave me for our fifth date. He landed in a heap, covered in coffee with one leg sticking out and the other laying across the arm of the chair and a very awkward angle. I edged forward and peeked over the edge of the chair. Ben was staring up at the ceiling, looking stunned and annoyed at the same time.

I started giggling. I couldn’t help it, he looked so cross and covered with coffee; it was adorable.

“It’s not funny.”

“It is, a little.”

“No, no it’s really not. That coffee was still warm and stung.”

“You want me to kiss it better?”

“No, I want to know what the hell that was about.”

I sighed. “Well, I’m tired. I’m also pissed that my house decided it knew better than I did when it comes to what I want or need. I’m a big girl, I took care of myself after the accident. I can do it now without my house interfering.” The house itself rumbled and the floor shook. “What was that?”

“The houses are still merging and they don’t like what you’re saying.” Ben said as he reached up and took the hand towel I handed him. He rubbed the coffee off his chest and looked up at me.

“Well too bad for them. I’m not sorry. I really can take care of myself. I’ve been doing it longer than it has.”

“You’re not alone anymore, Marlowe. You have family around you now, including me.” That last part seemed more like a question than a statement.

“You might be family, but I can still take care of myself. I don’t need a house or someone who I love telling me that this is the best path for me! Maybe I wanted it to be the other way for once. Maybe I wanted to be the one to have someone move in with me!” I shouted at Ben.

Ben pulled himself upright finally and shouted back; “Maybe I wanted that too, but you always shut me down when I asked you to move in! If you’d said what you wanted I would have been happy to move in with you!”

“Maybe I didn’t want another Timothy!” I shouted and then gasped and immediately felt the color drain from my face.

“For the last time, I’m not Timothy! I’ll never be him! He’s dead and gone and can’t hurt you anymore.” The pain of what I said to him was seeping in to his eyes. “I’d never trust myself with you if that’s who you’re thinking of when you see me. I know he messed with your head, you told me that. So did Miles when I started pestering him about you. He didn’t want to tell me about Tim. I don’t blame him for not wanting to talk about it either, but I needed to know.”

I couldn’t go to him. I’d hurt him badly and I saw it in the way his shoulders slumped. “I’m afraid of having that again. I didn’t want to rush in to things and get to where I would be driving home with a drunk in the back who thought it would be funny to grab the wheel from me.”

I saw Ben about to speak and I stopped him. “Don’t. I know you don’t drink like he did and you’ve never said the things that he said to me, but I’m still healing. I still have my issues and moving in with you had to be my decision. It had to be what I wanted. I didn’t want another decision to question the way I questioned everything when I was with Timothy.”

I hugged myself as I looked at Ben.

“I don’t want you to regret anything that we’ve done or will do. That’s the last thing I want. I just wanted you with me. I didn’t want to be alone anymore. In five years, I’ve never thought about having anyone else. Until you. This house just isn’t a cold castle for a sad, wanna be lord anymore. It’s a home. Especially when you’re here and it scares the shit out of me.”

“You scare me.” I sad. He looked startled and then sad and hunched his shoulders tighter. “I’ve never said that to anyone. Not even Timothy. You scare me and may the stars help me, I actually want to be scared with you than scared alone.”

Ben got up from the bed and came over, pulling me in for a hug. He kissed the top of my head and sighed.

“You terrify me. You make me want the things I ran from in New York.” He tightened his arms around me. “So yeah, we can be scared together.”

I sniffled a bit, wrapping my arms around his waist and burying my face in to his chest. I hated when we fought. It always started out with shouting and ended with the quiet, sad talks. I hated the silence that hung over us.

“Ben?”

“Yeah, Lowe?”

“You owe me another clover.”

He laughed, which was what I wanted. I smiled up at him.

“I’ll plant a damn field of it out back if you stay.”

I laughed. “Then get to work.”

Ben grinned. “Later. Right now I’m taking a shower and you’re coming with me.”

He pulled me in to the master bath, laughing.

I thought it was going to get better, but I would soon find out how wrong I was.

 

-Marlowe

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Missing!

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.

-Marlowe

That Old Black Magic

So it’s October and I’m pretty sure that Miles never bothered to mention what my house does on the first on purpose. I woke up this morning to my entire house – and the block- decorated for Halloween.

I’m serious. I freaked a little. I remember getting home from the shop late and there were no decorations. I woke up to go in to do more paperwork, that’s all I can do with my broken wrist, and my entire house was all Spooky. With a capital S. I ran out into the yard and panicked a little until I got a good look at the tombstones. Yes, tombstones. There were things like:

“Here lies the body of Anna,

Done to death by a banana.

It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low,

but the skin of the thing that made her go.”

I laughed, okay? That one made me laugh. So did this one:

“Here lies the body of Jake.

Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

I might have sniggered at this one too:

“Here lies the body of last years Trick-Or-Treater.”

While I was out front laughing at the graveyard my house put in and poking at all the decorations, Ben came over to check on me. That’s when I got a really good look at his castle decorated for Halloween.

He wasn’t lying. The damn thing really does come with a moat. He just didn’t mention that the moat gave off this eerie ass smoke from the water. Or the alligators. He didn’t mention those either.

“So, I notice that you didn’t mention, all those weeks ago, the alligators or the smoke.”

He had the good sense to blush at that. “Well, would you have believed me then?”

He had a point. I probably wouldn’t. I had a hard time believing I was actually seeing a lake beast when I met Bessie.

“Probably not.” I replied.

Ben got a good look at the graveyard that was now my front lawn, complete with caskets that opened and zombies that were trying to get out of the ground.

“So, a graveyard, huh? I wouldn’t have figured you for that kind of girl.”

“What can I say? Graveyards have always fascinated me.”

Ben chuckled as he checked out my tombstones. “Oh yeah, these are you. I’m glad to see the house settling on your personality. I was afraid it was going to fight you.”

“They do that?” I said as I looked at my house. I could feel the faintly Gothic vibe that it was beginning to take on. Aside from the decorations, it had also sprung up another story and added two turrets and a widow’s walk. I was pleased with those.

“Depends on the personality of the person living there. There’s been a couple of bad matches before. Not this time, apparently. It likes your style. Otherwise it wouldn’t have tried to please you this Halloween.” Ben said as he pulled me into his chest while we both took in the view of my house and his. “I like your Halloween style, Lowe.”

I smiled. It felt good to be liked for who I was, even if I didn’t have a choice when my house showed it to the whole neighborhood. “I like yours too, even if the alligators make me nervous.”

“You’re fine. They’re fake.” Ben said as he kissed my temple. “I’m off to work. If our houses are decorated, that means the Murphy twins will have their hyenas again and they’ll need to be seen.”

I paused. “Hyenas. Right.”

Ben laughed. “They’re fine. Blueville, remember? Nothing is ever as it seems.”

“Right. Dinner tonight? I’ll make stew.”

Ben eyed me for a moment. “I’ll make bread and bring it over.”

“Okay, but first -” I grabbed his shirt front and tugged him down for a kiss. I was pretty sure that when I let him go, we both walked away with a smile.

I do love a man who can bake.

-Marlowe.