Elmiryn knew now that it was her burgeoning fae nature that made her so aware of the alcohol coursing through her system. It was hot and warm and in her veins, becoming her blood, choking her brain in a fog of caprice that didn’t allow her to appreciate the bizarre circumstances of her situation. The sky rolled overhead as Molly and Julie carried her out of May’s house and over the gravel path leading to the street. The moment Elmiryn’s boots scraped the sidewalk, she could feel her alcoholic blood leap and turn. She didn’t even blink.
The world just changed.
Gone were the small homes, replaced instead with tall metal and brick buildings, the streets bloated with people and cars. Elmiryn’s eyes fluttered as she let her eyes take in this sudden and drastic change of scenery. Then she started giggling.
“Ladies, I think I’m gonna be sick!” she chortled merrily.
“Hold it,” Julie snapped on her right. She was the one who smelled like cigarettes, Elmiryn realized.
“We’re almost there,” Molly sighed on the left.
The warrior tilted her head back and blinked. Swimming through the clouds were crimson and golden fishes with shimmering scales and long pearly fins. “Sky fishes,” she breathed.
Her escorts looked up simultaneously as they gently pierced through a group of gangly teenage punks.
“Yeah,” Julie said. “They show up on Tuesdays.”
Elmiryn stared at the side of the other redhead’s face. “Thought ya’d tell me I was seein’ things?”
“What? Your world doesn’t have sky fishes?”
It took the warrior a few seconds to realize Julie was being wry. By the time she did, the moment to respond had passed and the unusual pair were guiding Elmiryn through a dark doorway that fed into a narrow hall and up a creaky set of stairs. Plastered on the graffiti walls were fliers and posters, detailing the latest shows and performances. Elmiryn recognized Julie’s face on many of them.
As they approached the third floor, the warrior had become disinterested in actually walking and laughed as the two women struggled to hold her up.
“Jesus, does she always get like this when she drinks?” Julie complained.
Molly shook her head and let Elmiryn go. The redhead collapsed to the stairs, giggling.
“This is pointless,” the brunette huffed. Looking at the walls, she stuck two fingers in her mouth and whistled.
Elmiryn pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes as she lay there lost in her mirth. Then she started to feel small, cold hands lift her up. Startled, she raised her head and looked down at her body to see the black and fluorescent people from the posters on the walls had emerged from their paper dwellings to lift her up on behalf of Molly and Julie. Stunned, the warrior looked up at the pair in question and she saw them smirking down at her.
“Look at her! I bet she still thinks she’s hallucinating!” Julie snickered.
“Uh, hey–” Elmiryn tried to move, but felt her muscles lock up. Molly’s hand was fanned open over her.
“Stay still. You’re in a time out,” the brunette said with a grin.
The small poster people, no taller than a foot, wordlessly carried Elmiryn the rest of the way. Paralyzed, the redhead could do nothing to get up or stop them. Honestly, she thought the situation was amusing, but she couldn’t help but struggle instinctually against the spell that bound her.
Finally, they stopped at a door near the middle of the third floor hallway. Julie produced a key and unlocked the door, pushing it open. The poster people paraded Elmiryn inside and dropped her on the floor without ceremony.
“Thank you,” Molly said politely as they marched back out the door. Julie closed it behind them.
Elmiryn found Molly had released her, and gratefully she sat up. “That was fun! So you guys make stuff come to life or somethin’?”
“Whatever we want to happen, we can make happen,” Julie said. She crossed the room from the door to a beat up plaid couch next to the window overlooking the street. She crossed her legs and said next, “It’s easier to do stuff within our territory, but it’s much harder if we leave it. The more universal laws we break, the harder the task tends to be.”
Molly vanished down a hallway as Elmiryn stood to her feet. The warrior looked around her.
This was supposed to be Julie’s home. For a woman who was essentially a demi-god, Julie didn’t live extravagantly. Her furniture was beat up and cheap, dirty disposable plates on the coffee table from what looked like a pizza night. The walls had a smattering of more concert posters as well as rock memorabilia and counter culture art. Elmiryn thought she could smell coffee in the air, mixed with the musty smell of sweaty socks.
“Nice place,” the warrior said, just managing to keep the smirk off her face.
Julie shrugged. “It works.”
Elmiryn shook her head, and went to lean on the wall near the door. Her head felt fuzzy and her limbs heavy. She was ready for some sleep, but closing her eyes made her feel a little ill. The vertigo from the drink was kicking in.
Fae are such lightweights… the woman thought disapprovingly.
Then Molly’s voice caused Elmiryn to look up. “Elmiryn. Here’s Hakeem.”
The redhead raised her eyes in time to see a dark skinned man with wide shoulders and a close shaved head step out from around Molly near the hallway. He was dressed in gray sweats and a white t-shirt. He had no shoes. Elmiryn stiffened and moved away from the wall. Her eyebrows rose high.
“Hakeem?” she said uncertainly.
Hakeem’s warm eyes fixed on her gaze. “Yes, Elmiryn.”
Elmiryn’s mouth hung open as she tried to find the words to say. When none came, she snapped her mouth shut and pointed at the wizard.
The man raised an eyebrow at her. When her silence persisted, he glanced at Molly and Julie, then focused back on Elmiryn with a frown. “…Fiamman, do you have something you’d like to say?” he asked archly.
“No,” Elmiryn said finally. “I thought pointin’ at ya was about as good as it gets right now.” She shrugged her hands. “The fuck are ya doin’ here, wizard? Ya know yer wife thinks your back home?”
The redhead slapped a hand to her forehead. “Shit! If yer really here, then who the hell is back there!?”
“A doll,” Molly said, behind Hakeem. The petite brunette went to sit with Julie at the couch. “Elmiryn, do you remember your last visit here?”
“You ran into people that resembled those you knew back in your home world. Those were Izma’s dolls. Soulless animatons that carry out the demon’s will.”
“So that means–”
“The thing that is back home is not real,” Hakeem said. From where she stood, the woman could see his neck muscles tighten as he clenched his fists. “It is not living. It has no soul. No conscious that is its own.”
“So the Hakeem that attacked us was a demon’s doll,” Elmiryn murmured.
Hakeem approached Elmiryn with pressed hands. “Elmiryn, I know my wife. She would not give up on me. No doubt Izma has tried to use the doll to try and hurt her. I need you to go back and destroy it!”
“Of course!” Elmiryn said with a snort. Then her eyes narrowed. “Hey hold on a minute. Are you saying–?”
“I can’t go back with you,” Hakeem said tightly, looking away.
Elmiryn batted her eyes rapidly. “But this isn’ yer world, wizard…” she said slowly.
“I told you that Hakeem said he wanted to help us,” Molly said with a shrug.
The redhead glared at her. “That don’ fuckin’ matter! This isn’ his world! What’s he gonna do here that’s so much more ‘portant than goin’ back to his wife!?”
“I just can’t,” Hakeem said crossing his arms. He glared. “It’s none of your business.”
Elmiryn returned his heated stare, her eyes searching. “What was it? Did Izma actually get inta yer head? Screw with yer confidence? You afraid, Hakeem?”
Hakeem’s lips pursed. “I’ll take you to the gate that will take you straight home. You won’t have to return to the Other Place. The others will meet you there, I’m sure.”
“But ya can’t be sure,” Elmiryn spat.
The man turned and went back into the hallway. “My decision is made, Elmiryn. Let me get my shoes. The gate is just a short walk from here.”
Elmiryn glared at Julie and Molly as the man vanished around the corner. “You really gonna let this happen!?”
“We’ve never had access to a demon’s tool before,” Julie crossed her arms and gazed at Elmiryn coolly. “Meznik may not be a threat to us anymore, but Izma is. We can make an exception for Hakeem being here.”
“And anyway, we aren’t forcing him,” Molly added calmly. “As you heard, it’s Hakeem’s decision to be here.”
“Yeah. It jes don’ make any sense…” Elmiryn grumbled.