Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 35 – by lostandwhatever
Continued from Chapter 34.
Wednesday, July 4th, Morning
Candice rode in the back seat of the embassy car on the way to the airport. She would have preferred the anonymity of a taxi, but it was clear that the embassy did not wholly trust her to get on the plane on her own. They had sent the same elf girl from before in the car with her. Candice checked her ticket. After a transfer in Winnipeg, she was flying to Resolute Bay. From there, the elves would bring her straight north via flying sleigh, and that would be the end of her time with the humans.
She was surprised at how depressed that made her feel, just thinking that she would never be with humans again. Although the circumstances that had brought her to them had not been great, she had found some friends among them. They had made her feel welcome when she was an outsider, and now she had to leave them, having failed to finish helping them. It left a bitter taste in her mouth. Now, her eyes stared out at the city of Washington DC, draped in red, white, and blue, savoring her last opportunity to observe human civilization.
The elf girl said, “Your flight is leaving in a few hours, but I’ll keep you company until then.”
“Thank you,” Candice said with a clear lack of gratitude. “How nice of you.”
“I can understand that you’re upset, but you’ll feel better when you’re home again… eventually, at least.”
Candice did not believe that at all. She looked down at her breasts and long legs and already felt herself mourning the loss of them. Soon, the glamour would be reapplied and her body would be as small and flat as the body of the girl next to her, cast back once more into eternal childhood. It felt like a death sentence. She found herself empathizing with Mary again, which only depressed her even more.
She yawned and hoped for an opportunity for a nap before the flight. It had been a struggle to go to sleep last night, her mind not willing to give up thinking about finding Mary. Hoping to tire herself out, she had started tinkering with her magic tools. Because she had been feeling a bit exposed with her elf ears showing, she had gone ahead and created a new pair of glamour glasses to make her ears appear human. This time, feeling a bit adventurous, she had used a pair of sunglasses. She had even spontaneously added a charm to change her hair from red to blonde. It was only after she had finished that she realized she had been creating a disguise. Maybe subconsciously she had been planning an escape from the elves. The glasses were still secretly waiting in her travel bag although she doubted she would ever use them.
Candice’s phone rang, and when she saw who was calling, she hesitated a moment before answering, maybe out of fear of what she would hear. Eventually, she answered.
“Hello, Carol,” she said.
“Hello,” a squeaky little voice replied. “How are you? Have you left town yet?”
“I’m fine. I’m actually on my way to the airport right now. How are you? How’s the family?”
There was a sigh. “I’m fine, I guess. I think I’m about three now, if I’m doing the math right. Chris and the kids seem to be taking the situation well. They’re going out of their way to help me out. We’re trying to spend some quality time together, you know, playing board games and telling stories, but I can tell they’re all worried, even if they’re trying to act cheerful for my sake.”
“Honestly,” Carol said. “I’m feeling kind of terrified right now. It’s like I’m melting away into nothing, like warm ice cream. Of course, I’m not going to show that in front of them, but I needed to say it to someone. I’m scared that this is never going to stop, that I’m just going to disappear.”
“I’m so sorry, Carol,” Candice said. “I wish I could be there for you. I really wish I could fix this.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I wish you were here too. I’d feel a lot safer with you around. You haven’t had any big breakthroughs about Mary since we last spoke, have you?”
“No. Nothing. I’ve been thinking over the whole case, but nothing new has come to me.”
“Yeah. I’ve been doing the same. I still have no idea what we could have missed but…”
“There must have been something?”
“Yeah. It feels that way,” Carol was quiet for a moment. “What about the ring?”
“What about it?”
“Well,” Carol said. “It’s extremely powerful. I’m sure that Mary would want to use it to its full potential. If she only used a little of its power, then the Elves would track her down before she could use the rest.”
“So,” Candice said. “Mary would want to use all the power of the ring at once. One big spell.”
“Yeah. How would she do that? That might be a way to find her.”
“She would need a huge circle to form the spell.”
“Hundreds of feet wide, maybe thousands.”
“Something that big would probably show up on a satellite. You think she might try drawing one out in the desert somewhere or something like that?”
“That might work,” Candice said, but the idea did not seem like it would be Mary’s style. “Though, it would be a bit obvious.”
“I’ll pass on the word to some friends at the FBI. Tell them to get in touch with our satellite people to start looking for new strange markings in open spaces. Worth a try at least.”
“Yeah,” Candice said.
Candice heard another quieter young voice from Carol’s side of the call. “Mommy,” it said. “Are you done yet?”
“Almost,” Carol said.
“Okay,” Carol said. “I’ll be there in a minute. I’ve just gotta make one more call.”
“Sounds like you’ve got to go.”
“Yeah,” Carol said. “God, I wish I could focus more on all of this, but most of my attention is with my family now. I need to be here with them.”
“Well,” Candice said. “I’m going to be waiting in the airport for a while. I’ll keep thinking it all over, at least until I have to board the plane.”
“Than you,” Carol said. “Even if you don’t come up with anything, it sets my mind at ease to know that you’re out there still working on the case in some way.”
There was the sound of a young voice in the distance and Carol said, “I think I need to get going. The kids need me to look at something they made for me.”
“I understand,” Candice said. “Good luck, and I promise I won’t give up on you.”
“Goodbye,” Candice said and listened to the sound of children’s voices until Carol ended the call.
Candice sat waiting at her gate, staring out the window of the terminal, watching planes taxi by.
“One more hour,” said the elf girl sitting next to her.
Candice sighed. “I feel like I need to get a book or something.”
The elf girl pointed to a small shop at the end of the terminal. “You can go poke around in there. I’ll keep an eye on things here.”
“Thanks,” Candice said, knowing that the elf girl meant she would be watching more than Candice’s carry-on bag.
Candice walked up to the shop, while ignoring the looks her ears were getting from the humans around her. Inside, she started looking around at the wares for sale, which consisted mainly of souvenirs of the capital. There were some paperback books and tourist guides to DC which she considered for a moment.
She was not sure what she was looking for. Maybe she just wanted to surround herself with human things for a little while longer. Then, she noticed a poster on the wall, a print of an old planning map of the city. Her eyes traced the grid-like streets and the angled avenues that crisscrossed them, discovering patterns and shapes.
Then, in a moment of inspiration, she saw it.
“No way,” she said. “It can’t be that simple.”
To test her idea, she pulled a road map of DC off of a rack and grabbed a souvenir pen. Then, she unfolded the map and set it on the floor of the shop. Ignoring the curious looks she was getting from the store clerk, she began to sketch out lines on the map of the city.
When she was done, she looked over her work and said, “It could work.”
She had managed to form a magic spell from the lines of the roads. There would be no actual circle, but the grid of roads aligned to the cardinal points along with the other diagonal roads could be used to form a magical shape. It would be an enormous spell, and it would require an incredible amount of magic to power it, such as the amount of magic one would find in an ancient, overcharged ring.
“Oh my God,” she said. “That’s it! Mary’s going to use the streets of DC to cast her spell.”
“Um, ma’m?” the clerk said. “You’ll have to pay for that map, you know.”
“Sure,” Candice said as she stood up and handed some cash to the clerk.
“Did you find everything you were looking for?” the clerk asked as she rang up the purchase.
“Yes,” Candice said. “I most certainly did.”