When Leda was a child, she was taken to a land of glitter and soft voices and told she was there to stay. In a rush of confusion, a creature appeared and demanded that she and others be handed over.
In the blink of an eye, she is back in her bed, but she remembers the creature, she remembers being taken, she remembers everything.
The day her nephew went insane, she had her suspicions, and when she ran a test, she knew. He had gone naughty right before the holidays, and she was the only person who knew why. She had a mission. She had a goal. She had to go talk to a monster known for abducting children.
Leda parked outside of her sister’s house and tried to see a visual sign of the turmoil that was occurring inside. Nothing. It was a perfectly arranged home with neat Christmas lights and a cheeky inflatable snowman in the front yard.
Phoebe had been at her wit’s end when she called. Liam was in a state, and nothing she could do would calm him down.
The timing was too coincidental, but Leda had to see for herself.
She checked her pocket and verified that the coin was still there. It was stupid. Silly. She was probably being paranoid.
Leda unbuckled, turned off her car, and got out, standing on the walk and composing herself before heading inside. She really hoped she was wrong.
She knocked on the door and then rang the bell. Footfalls warned that her sister was approaching, but nothing was enough notice of what she saw when the door opened.
Phoebe hadn’t just been crying; her eyes were far too red for that. She had been sobbing.
“Leda.” She lunged forward, and Leda was caught in a hug that nearly strangled her.
“No, it isn’t. I don’t think it is ever going to be okay again.” Phoebe sobbed against her neck.
Leda frowned and said, “When did it start?”
Her sister blubbered herself into some kind of control as she thought back. “We had just come back from Uncle Hector’s place in Germany.”
“Tony is still out of town on business?”
“Yes, he is out opening a new hotel.”
“What does he think of this?”
Phoebe blubbered again. “He doesn’t want to be around him.”
Leda nodded. “I will help as much as I can, but I actually need to talk to him.”
“I don’t know what you can do.”
“Let me try something, and then, I will have to find a consultant if it is what I think it is.”
Leda pulled away from Phoebe and headed into the area where the sound of crashing was echoing from the playroom.
She eased the door open and smiled at Liam. “Hey, sport. How are you doing today?”
He glanced at her with a narrow-eyed glare. “I am playing, Aunty.”
“Well, your birthday came and went while you were in Europe, so I thought I would give you something.”
She dug in her pocket and pulled out the exceptionally shining coin, an unlikely glittering medium grey.
Liam looked at the coin, and he smiled. “For my collection.”
“Indeed.” She held it out and kept her breathing normal as his fingers closed over the coin.
The shriek that he let out as he dropped the object was nearly beyond human hearing.
She scooped her coin up and put it in her pocket, looking at him and acting concerned at the burns on his fingertips. “What happened?”
“It burned me, you bitch!” He snarled, and she saw a hint of fang.
“How is that possible? I have been carrying it my pocket all day. It is barely warm.” She stood. “I’ll call your mom. She can put something on your fingers.”
“What did you do? It still burns.” He sobbed, and she picked him up.
“It is just an antique coin, Liam.”
He snuffled, and she carried him to his mother. “Here you go, Phoebe. He is calmer now and will be for a few days. I am going to meet with that consultant and see what I can do.”
Her sister had tears in her eyes as her son snuffled softly and laid his head on her shoulder like he used to. The hellion of the last few weeks was gone.
“He will be himself for now, but this isn’t a permanent solution. I will be in touch.”
Phoebe held her son tight. “I... thank you, Leda.”
“I will be in touch.” Leda smiled, patted her sister’s arm, and left the house, breaking into a sprint the moment she was out of their house.
The clock was ticking, and she didn’t even know where to find the cogs. She was going to have to go over her research and really hope that the creatures and beings she had met along the way were still there.
She stilled her shaking hands and buckled up, putting her car in gear the moment that it revved to life.
It was going to take her hours to reach the first of her destinations, but this was for Liam and Phoebe. She would drive as long as it took.