Cassandra on the Island: Red Jasmines

The following is the fifth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Red Jasmines

“Tell it to me again, mommy.”

“Lucy, you need to sleep. I won’t let you go Trick-or-Treating unless you take a nap. You know how you get without a nap. You’ll be asleep by Wilson Avenue.”

“Just tell me and I’ll sleep.”

“You promise?”

She nodded her head.

“Well, I thought your dad was late.”

“But daddy is never late.”

“That’s what was bothering me. And I was looking forward to the date.”

“Did you try calling him?”

“Yes, I left message after message. I was going to go out looking for him, but I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“You know that, my silly little girl.” She reached down and tickled the sides of Lucy’s arms.

She giggled.

“He showed up at the door in a tuxedo. And he had me close my eyes. He led me to the side of the house. And through my eyelids I could see we were moving towards a bright light… a bright gold-like glow. He had covered the gazebo with Christmas lights, hundreds and hundreds of Christmas Lights. As it began to rain… just a little rain, not much. He looked so handsome, the rain and the lights. It was all so perfect.”

“Then what?”

Telling this story always made Cassandra tear up (It was one of the reasons Lucy loved to hear it. There is beauty in the vision of seeing how much your parents love one another). “Well then, he got on his knee and proposed.”

“And you said, ‘Yes?’”

“Back up! Back up! Repeat what you just said.”

“I love you, Cassie. Marry me.”

Cassandra looked left and right. “Are you sure you’re talking to me?”

Jonathan laughed. “Yes! Of course, you, yes.”

“What… What do I say?” She asked stunned.

“I hope yes,” He replied. His smile was starting to show a little fear. She noticed it quickly, grabbed the sides of his head and attempted to kiss that fear away. When they stopped kissing, he asked. “That’s a yes, right?”

“Yes, I said yes. We were married two months later. And then a year later, Peter arrived. And four years later you did.”

“Can we decorate the gazebo again like that?” Lucy asked.

“When the time is right,” Cassandra smiled. “Now you promised to take a nap.”

“I know.”

She kissed her six-year-old daughter on the forehead and then her favorite stuffed toy (Aslan), smiled and slowly shut the door.

“Why do I have to take Lucy along?” Peter moaned. He stomped around the room in a way that only an eleven-year-old could.

Cassandra crossed her arms and then uncrossed them.  The determination on the face of the little pirate in front of her was a sight to behold. She tried to hold back a smirk. It was hard to take anger seriously in that get-up.

“Mom, you have to understand,” Peter said (He is trying to explain things like Jonathan. Like father, like son). “I have my two friends Robert and Steve with me. They don’t want a six-year-old girl along.”

“She’s almost seven, Peter,” Cassandra said.

Peter threw up his hands. “This is just gonna ruin my Pre-Halloween.”

Pre-Halloween?

Pre-Halloween? Royal Carlton Island is a very superstitious island. And because of that fact Halloween was always celebrated on October 17th.

“It’s too dangerous,” Miss Ross, the librarian, once explained to Cassandra. “Picture it, Dearie, you send your kids out and Satan confuses them with one of his tricky devils. And, Poof!, where would you be? One child less, I’d say… Or what if Peter was dressed as superhero and he walked past the bank while it was being robbed. A bank robber would see the tights and the cape and, Bang!, ask questions later.”

When Peter was seven and Lucy was only two, Cassandra actually allowed Peter to try trick-or-treating on Halloween against Jonathan’s warnings with disastrous results.

“Go away demon boy!”

“My soul is clean! My soul is clean!”

“Satan spawn be gone!”

“Take my husband, don’t take me!”

For a seven-year-old boy it was a very confusing night and he didn’t get a single piece of candy.

“Well, you did dress him up as a devil,” Jonathan laughed that night. Cassandra only smiled and went back to reading the goodnight book to her little sleepy demon boy.

On October 17th each year though there is nothing like pre-Halloween on Royal Carlton Island. There is no other day like it on the island. Actually, it’s a wonder just how the island bended to the whims of their superstitions and the horrors. The town almost became an image as grotesque as nightmare stolen from the greatest horror stories. Up to the age of four, Cassandra was hesitant to even let Lucy go out and look at the town.

“I don’t understand,” Cassandra complained to her husband once. “How can they be terrified of the actual Halloween and still go to such an extremes like this on October 17th?”

Jonathan’s explanation was a standby he had for many questions people had about the island: “Well, when you have a large group of people separated from normal civilization, they take on habits.”

Cassandra nodded in agreement. She was lucky, this time he didn’t start listing his examples (Like the Salem witch trials and others).

“Of course, Peter wants you along,” Cassandra said to her little girl. God, she looks just like Dorothy Gale with those pigtails, Cassandra thought.

“Are you sure, Mommy?” Lucy asked. He certainly didn’t look like he wanted her along to her.

“Yes, he does.” Cassandra looked in her son’s eyes. “Right, Peter?”

Peter sighed. “Yeah, Lu. Whatever.”

That was enough for Lucy! She grabbed her stuffed dog (Toto) and ran away down the stairs.

Peter pointed after her. “Does she have to bring the stuffed dog along with her?”

Cassandra frowned.

“Okay, okay,” Peter moaned. He turned and followed Lucy down the stairs to the front door.

Cassandra went to the end of the stairs and shouted down after them. “And remember, don’t take candy from strangers. Be smart!”

-An hour later-

“I don’t think mom will think this is smart,” Lucy whispered, “we’re supposed to be trick-or-treating.”

“What’s wrong, Lu?” Peter sighed. “Your bag is full. This is gonna be a riot. Trust me.”

“Here he comes,” Steve said pointing. “Just like clockwork.”

Precisely like clockwork. Vampire Hooper was probably the most time-obsessed fake vampire in the world. And this was the time for his evening constitutions, what island children liked to call his undead excursions.

“Peter, I don’t…” Lucy tried to say. She didn’t get a chance to though. Peter grabbed her and pulled her behind the bush with Steve and Robert.

Lucy did not like this. She did not like this one bit. And she was having a good time tonight too. Granted, Peter’s friends didn’t seem too thrilled to have her along, but she was getting a lot of candy and she was seeing the spooky town. And there was no town like Royal Carlton Island on Pre-Halloween! Her favorite so far was Monster Street. An entire street of people dressed as monsters!

But this… Lucy didn’t take Vampire Hooper seriously either. And like the other children she would laugh at him when glanced on the street, but she would always feel guilty about it later. This though was different than laughing and pointing, they were going to jump out from behind a bush and scare a seventy-nine-year-old delusional man.

“Almost time,” Steve said in a whisper. He held his finger up to his lips. His finger could not hide the smile that was behind it.

The footsteps were getting closer.

Lucy instantly was overcome with a feeling of dread and guilt. She wanted to walk out, warn Vampire Hooper, tell on the boys. Peter would’ve killed her after, but that was still better than scaring someone who was almost a complete stranger. However, before she could even decide whether to go that route it had already happened.

“Now!” Robert said and jumped up. And without a moment of hesitation all three boys were jumping in the air around the old man.

And…

Vampire Hooper grabbed at his chest with his right hand.

Vampire Hooper fell to the ground.

Vampire Hooper didn’t move.

And…

The boys stopped dancing and shouting.

They looked at each other, they looked at the body of Vampire Hooper, they looked at Lucy, they looked at each other again and they looked at the body again.

Robert was the first to speak. “Run!”

And that was exactly what they did.

Lucy never knew she could run so fast. For the first five minutes she was like the wind; or something close to it, as much as she could tell. A good portion of the time her eyes were closed and really she had no true idea where she was going.

All she knew was that she was running.

Peter and his friends were not even near her. She didn’t even see which direction they went when Robert shouted “Run.” If she had taken a second to think she probably would have followed them. But this wasn’t a time for thinking, this was at time for running!

She probably would have kept running at that frantic pace too (right to the shore and onto the ocean) if it weren’t for the crooked pavement. Lucy tripped.

Her knee. She looked down at it, it was all scraped up. It hurt. Her first instinct was to cry out, but it was then that she noticed she didn’t know where she was. So instead she just sat up, held her knee close to herself and looked around.

Lucy was lost.

“My mom is gonna fucking kill me!” Peter moaned. He looked at Steve and Robert. “You seriously didn’t see where she went?” Peter was nervous, very nervous. He had already asked that question six times. It was only the last two times he added the zing of the swear word.

Robert was out of breath from running. If he could have put words together he would have had a stinging reply to Peter’s badgering.

“We still haven’t tried the main square,” Steve said.

“No way, no way,” Peter retorted. “My dad is in Town Square.”

“Then I don’t know where else we can look, man,” Steve sighed. “Unless she went to someone’s house.”

Suddenly an evil smile crossed Peter’s face.

“Hi, Alisha,” Peter said. He smiled… He smiled wide. He smiled as wide as an eleven-year-old boy with puberty approaching could.

“What a cute costume!” Alisha laughed. “You’re a pirate, Petey!”

“Yes, I am.” Peter blushed.

“You’re not going to make me walk the plank, are you?” she asked playfully.

Peter was not prepared to be thinking… which was his usual reaction to being around Alisha. “Never. I mean, yes. I mean, if you want to.”

“You’re so cute, Petey,” Alisha laughed again. She kissed his cheek.

Peter turned a bright shade of red.

“So did you boys come by for some candy?”

“No,” said Steve and Robert together.

“Yes,” said Peter.

Steve punched Peter in the arm. Peter got to the point. “We were wondering if you might’ve seen Lucy. You know, around here. She is dressed like Dorothy… from Wizard of Oz.”

“Oh, that sounds so cute,” Alisha said. “If I knew that I would have dressed up like the Wicked Witch… So where is she?”

“So you haven’t seen her?” Peter asked again.

It was then that Alisha could tell something was up. “No, I haven’t seen her.” Her voice was more serious this time.

Peter was nervous, sweating. The jinx was up! “It’s no big deal, honest. You don’t need to call my mom or anything. We’re just playing a game. And we thought she might have been cheating by coming here. Because your lawn was off limits and all. And you know how Lucy hates to lose at stuff and all. So I guess you didn’t see her?”

“No,” Alisha crossed her arms.

“Well, good,” Peter said quickly. “Then she’s not cheating. So we’ll get back to our game.”

“Okay…”

“Goodbye Alisha.”

“Goodbye, Petey. Goodbye Petey’s friends.”

They started walking away.

“Just a minute, boys,” Alisha said. The boys all froze in their spots. Here it comes. “Don’t you want some candy?” she asked.

Sigh… A sigh of relief. “Sure.” “Sure.” “Sure.”

Alisha handed out the candy quickly and the boys walked away.

“Petey?” Steve asked. “She calls you Petey?” Robert joined in with his laughter. Petey punched both of them in the arm and took off running to find his sister.Back in the house though, Alisha was picking up the phone.

It was said that night that the flames of Hell that covered the town square could have been seen 12 miles out to sea. “Hell is not brighter,” the Mayor said proudly to Jonathan.

Jonathan could smell the Mayor’s breath. He was drunk. Accounted for that smile, Jonathan thought. The Mayor was dressed as Satan and he was stroking his fake black goatee as he showed Jonathan all the safety precautions that weren’t being followed.

“But isn’t this a tad dangerous,” Jonathan said motioning to the square. A recreation of Dante’s Inferno was intriguing, but all the flames were too much for even a literature lover to brush off. “I mean look at Rick over there playing Dante.” Jonathan said pointing. “He keeps reaching over to touch the boiling water and the flames.”

“He is getting into the character.” The Mayor said with slurred words. “He’s got to look impressed.”

“But isn’t it dangerous?” Jonathan asked slowly.

The Mayor laughed and slapped Jonathan’s back. “You know, I bet it is! Did you know he memorized the original text in Italian just to perform the part? I guess it was impossible to order food from him for a week in the restaurant.” He laughed and then tried to look at Dante (Rick). He squinted his eyes. “Oh, Virgil is leading him to my part. I’ve got to go.” The Mayor walked over to the set he had of fake ice and slid his body in.

Jonathan sighed… Well, it did appear impressive. It looked like classic Hell. Jonathan looked around taking it all in. Was this was he warned about from his pulpit? Really this? Being surrounded by the flames and terror now, it almost felt more cartoonish than a real fear and yet…something caught his eye! Was that Lucy? but when he looked back she wasn’t there… I’m probably just seeing things.

It was at that moment that his phone rang.

“Alisha didn’t know, Jonathan!” Cassandra was frantic. She sounded frantic. Jonathan could tell all that even with their bad connection and the sound of flames and Hell surrounding him. “Peter was looking for her and she wasn’t with them.”

Jonathan was beginning to quickly look around the location where he thought he may have seen her. He didn’t know what to say. The idea of his daughter lost on Pre-Halloween night scared him. People drank on Pre-Halloween. People did a lot of stupid stuff on Pre-Halloween. And his daughter was lost out there. Dressed like Dorothy Gale with a stuffed toy dog in hand. It just screamed tragedy waiting to happen.

“Jonathan, I need you to say something! Are you there?” Cassandra demanded. It sounded to Jonathan like she was now running.

“I’ll… I’ll start asking around. I’ll get people to help us look. There have to be some people around here who are still sober.”

“Good,” Cassandra said. She stopped running. She was in the middle of Haunted Lane. All the houses on that street were made up to look like Haunted houses. Decades ago there used to be a judging that would go along with Pre-Halloween, but soon the judges quit because they wanted to take part too. Now it was just the horrors that owned the nights, no awards needed but fear.

The silence of the Haunted Lane was eerie. Cassandra knew they were waiting for her. They definitely did a good job this year with the Lane. She couldn’t help but be impressed. There were still people on the street somewhere. Cassandra would find them. They were probably the ones with sheets over their heads.

“Call when you hear something… Okay…. Bye.” Cassandra said and hung up. Everything across the street was covered with cobwebs. Candles were the only illumination to behold and they were lit in what seemed to be in selected locations. It was a wonderful illusion of a town populated by spooks. She put her phone in her pocket.

If she was here, she could be anywhere. “Lucy! Lucy!” Cassandra began calling.

“No Lucys here,” an accented eerie voice said from behind a bush. “Just us ghosts and poltergeists and evil…”

“Shut up, Marshall!” Cassandra interrupted. “My daughter is missing.” She cupped her hands to her mouth and shouted with all her vocal strength. “Lucy!”

Lucy had never really known horror like this before. Even when her mother disappeared during the hurricane, she wasn’t afraid. Then, she knew deep down her mom was going to be okay. She only cried once then and it was because of the lights going off and the noises of the storm outside, but they were more tears out of shock. But now she was experiencing fear and that was accented by the fact that she was alone.

She was truly alone.

Throughout her short life there was always someone else there. Mother, Father, Aunt Alisha, Peter, or even a friend, there was always someone to fall back on, to rely on. Not today. She was alone and it was dark out and she was truly afraid.

The costumes and decorations that made her laugh before didn’t have that effect now. Skeletons and fake gravestones all now truly represented their final goals. Death, the end, pure silence, alone, nothing. Not even her stuffed dog gave her that much comfort.

She was in “The City of Dis” on the outskirts of the Town Square. After all her running she only ended up closer to the center of Hell. The city of the demons with the flames of the fake Hell was a grotesque sight to behold… and a mind-numbing one for a little girl about to turn seven. From windows she could hear screams, moans and other sounds of terror. People, when she thought she truly saw a person, had horns, a tail and their skin was red like it was licked by flames.

“Do you want some candy?” a demon with a long tongue asked. He was stirring a big pot in the middle of a lawn. He began to laugh wickedly while beckoning her forward with a long-nailed finger.

Lucy gasped and took off running.

“I guess she didn’t want any candy,” the demon said quietly to himself. He reached into his big pot and took our a few pieces of chocolate. “Too bad.”

“I tried calling Mr. Monty like you asked,” Alisha said. “But he can’t help. All his cameras were covered earlier today. By some high schoolers he believes.”

Cassandra kind of figured as much that that would happen (Heck, she wished she thought of doing it herself years ago), but she was still hopeful. She stopped in the street (She was near the church, she had a thought Lucy might have gone there… no luck) and cupped her ear to the phone.

“But he did say he would do everything in his power to find her,” Alisha said. Her connection was bad. “He said something about a helicopter and…”

Cassandra allowed herself one grin. Mr. Monty had been waiting years to find a way to pay Cassandra back for saving his life. “Tell him if he hears anything to call, that will be enough. I don’t know what he hoped to see in a helicopter. And with the flames, it would be too dangerous.”

Alisha sighed. “What are you going to do?”

Cassandra looked around one last time and sighed. “I’ll head to the Town Square and see what Jonathan has found out.”

Cassandra was utterly terrified, but she tried to hide that fact from herself. And, for some reason, she couldn’t stop thinking about her mother and how she lost her. First my mother, and now my little girl The problem between Cassandra and her mother started a year before she was lost in Europe. It began with the sex videotape her angry ex-boyfriend sold to an adult film website. Cassandra’s mom learned of the tape soon after Cassandra did.

Cassandra didn’t know who gave the website link to her mom, or what their aim was in doing so, all she could tell you was the result. The yelling. Weeks of arguments… One evening of acting young and silly, was the final nail in the coffin of their relationship. Cassandra had spent years analyzing and analyzing why her mom was so upset and so disappointed. She now believed that her mom was living vicariously through her more than she had ever imagined- Her lonely mom in her wheelchair watching her daughter flaunting the freedom of being young and free. Was it that that led to all the bitterness? And now. nothing? I don’t even know if she is still alive. That is odd, right? She had to get away from her mother. At the end of her final semester she made her trip to Europe. It began as such a dream… until the money ran out.

It was then she heard her mother’s voice for the last time. It was a short call. Cassandra, holding back tears, explained that she was in Amsterdam, she was out of money, and she didn’t know how to get home. “Mommy, I need your help.”

Silence.

“…Please… I need money…. I don’t know what to do… I don’t have the money to get to the airport… I missed my flight… Please… Mommy… I need money.”

It was then that her mother spoke the last words Cassandra would ever hear her say… The words that would haunt her entire time while in Amsterdam, each and every single night there. “Maybe you should fuck someone,” her mother said, “I bet you can make money that way.”

Her mother hung up and disappeared into her dreams and her passing thoughts… gone.

The moment Cassandra knew that Lucy was a girl growing in her body, she promised herself, she promised Lucy, that she would never leave her like her mother left her. She would not lose her. Never. And yet, this night she was feeling like she had already let her daughter down. I can’t think of anything beyond shouting her name.

“Lucy!”

“Lucy!” Jonathan shouted. It was useless. There was no way he could scream over the sound of those loudspeakers. His was just another voice of fear and terror in the night air. Just the voice of another tortured soul. “Lucy! Lucy!”

The Mayor came up to him. “Now remember, I’m a little drunk.”

“I remember,” Jonathan said with a little moan.

“I just want you to remember that fact because I might talk slow,” the Mayor said. “The stereo is about to be turned off. And we have people in groups starting to go out and look. I made sure to give them your number.”

“You have my phone number memorized?” Jonathan asked. He was surprised.

The Mayor was taken aback. “Well, they have a number.”

Jonathan sighed.

“If they find either Peter or Lucy they will bring them here.” The Mayor counted some points on his fingers as if he had notes written there (I’ve never seen him this drunk, Jonathan thought). “Oh, yes, we might have had a possible Lucy sighting.”

Jonathan was excited. “When? What did they say? Where was it?”

The Mayor was not ready for that much excitement and was clearly taken aback. “About ten or so minutes ago. In our City of Dis. But she ran off.”

Jonathan mentally punched himself. He should have moved when he saw that shape that looked like her earlier. It probably was her.

“They are looking around that area. If she is around there still they will find her,” the Mayor said, “don’t worry.”

Jonathan nodded his head. And began calling out for Lucy again. “Lucy! Lucy!’ Until the stereo with the screams was turned off it was useless. Useless, utterly useless

Lucy hated Pre-Halloween now with all her heart. She was enjoying it ever so much just an hour ago. She had a bag full of candy, she was hanging out with her brother and his friends (something they never let her do) and she was having fun. Now, she was lost, no candy and everything in the town was dark and scary.

A hundred haunted houses. Thousands of deformed looking people and monsters.

All she could do was hold her stuffed dog closer to herself and try and remember where exactly her home was. It was frustrating. She would go biking with her father all the time through the city and she never got lost then. Everything looked so different under the light of day. The Town Square was the worst. She couldn’t stay there long, she wouldn’t dare. All those bodies, and the flames, it was like something out of a nightmare. She brushed the images out of her mind.

She had to find her way home. She was done allowing herself to be scared. A street, another street. They all looked the same.

Then it dawned on her! She felt stupid, she didn’t think of it before. She pointed herself in one direction. Straight, she told herself, just keep walking straight. Sooner or later you will hit the water.

Cassandra found Jonathan in the Town Square. The sound effects were off, but the flames were still burning bright. “The Mayor thinks the flames may draw her to the square,” Jonathan explained.

Cassandra just nodded her head but had a sinking feeling that giant flames of Hell may drive a young terrified girl away. “Have you heard from Peter yet?”

Jonathan shook his head. “Not yet. We still don’t even know what happened.”

“Excuse me,” a voice with a fake Transylvanian accent said behind them.“I think I may be of service.” It was Vampire Hooper and he was carrying Lucy’s bag of candy.

Peter couldn’t take it anymore. After two hours straight of waiting for the hand of God to beat down on him, he couldn’t take it. He sat down on a swing (they were in the playground of the elementary school) and did something he had not done in two years. He wept.

“Jesus, Peter,” Steve moaned. “I’m sure she’s around here someplace.”

“I shouldn’t have left her. I should’ve made sure she was with us when we ran. I left her there. What the hell was I thinking?”

“She didn’t follow us,” Robert said. It was the only excuse he could think up.

Peter stopped. “This was your idea!’ He turned on Robert.

“What?”

“It was your idea to scare Vampire Hooper!”

“So? You could’ve said no.”

Peter angrily brushed the tears off his face. “He’s probably dead and who knows what’s up with Lucy and this is all your fault. We’re in so much trouble and this is your fault.”

“Hey!”

Steve got between them. “Your sister is smart, Peter. She’ll be alright. Let’s just keep looking.”

“No,” Peter stood up. “I’m telling my dad.”

“What?”

“They need to know,” Peter began walking away from the swing set. Soon he was running. He was pointing in the direction of North/Northeast- Town Square.

Steve shrugged his shoulders and chased after him. Robert sighed, took a deep breath and then followed them. “Hey Peter,” Robert asked when he caught up. “Do you think your parents will say something to my mom?”

“I’m going to make it my purpose to call both Robert’s and Steve’s parents when this is over,” Cassandra said to Jonathan. She looked at the group wandering around and back at Jonathan. “How could they not see her?” Cassandra demanded. “She is dressed like Dorothy!  Look at this town! She had to stand out from these demons and monsters! She is the one hero here!”

“Cassie, I’m sure it’s going to be fine”

This was exactly what had to be said to push Cassandra over the edge. “Fine? Fine? Jonathan, people are drinking tonight! She could be hit by a car! You know there is a crazed car over in the Stephen King area, right?” Her mind raced back to Amsterdam and the hints she would always hear about ‘other’ more questionable houses with dark rooms in the back. No one would think of things like that here, on her island, right? She gripped Lucy’s bag tighter in his hands. For some reason, it didn’t feel right to let the bag go.

Jonathan took Cassandra’s hand (I had those thoughts too when I first heard, he thought). He tried to sound calm for her. “I know, I know.”

“How can you stay calm? Our baby is out there alone and…”

“Cassandra, you need to stay calm. Getting excited won’t help the situation.”

“Why aren’t you out looking?” Cassandra said bitingly.

Jonathan forced back a frown. She is just frantic, he thought. “Cassandra there are over forty people looking and if they find her or Peter they will contact me here. I don’t know what I could do better than those people. And Peter knew I was here. When he’s ready, he will come here.”

Cassandra let go of Jonathan’s hand. “I’m sorry, you’re right. Stay here. You need to stay here. I need to get back and look.” She started walking away.

“Cassie! Wait,” Jonathan said. He ran up to her. “Maybe it would be best if you went home.”

“Home?” The idea was incredibly foreign to her.

“The kids might aim for there. One of us need to be there.”

“Not me,” Cassandra shook her head. “I can’t just sit at home waiting.”

“Cassie,” Jonathan said, “Lucy or Peter could be there now and we don’t know.”

This does not feel right at all. Cassandra paced back and forth in her living room, now and then taking a second to peek out the window shades one more time. This does not feel right at all.

Oh, she trusted Jonathan and she knew he was doing his best (she did feel a little guilty now for yelling at him and she promised herself she would apologize to him later), but her place did not feel at home. Her little girl was out there. She grabbed Lucy’s bag off of the table and headed for the back door.

She walked outside and down to the beach. She looked out past her deck to the sea. She turned around and looked back to the town. The flames of Hell in the Town Square were still bright.

She looked up and down the beach side. It was at that moment that her brain decided to work again. She took off running down the beach.

“I found something Reverend, you may have been missing,” Mr. Reginald said. In front of him were Peter and his two friends. “I found them over by the high school football field.”

“I was walking here, honest.” Peter wouldn’t make eye contact with his dad. He wasn’t ready for it. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

Jonathan got on his knee in front of his son. “Peter, when was the last time you saw Lucy?”

“It was near Vampire Hooper. We all took off running. I thought for sure she was with us and… Holy shit!” Peter froze and pointed at Vampire Hooper. “What the Hell is he doing alive?”

Jonathan had to fight from letting out a laugh. He attempted to look at Peter sternly. “Son, watch the language.” He turned to Vampire Hooper. “Do you mind telling the boys what happened, Mr. Hooper?”

“Sure,” Vampire Hooper said. He walked forward and flared his cape up in his hands. “The only way to kill me is with a stake through the heart!”

Jonathan sighed in frustration, but the three boys believed every word Hooper spoke.

When Cassandra heard the singing her heart began beating again and breath returned to her lungs. It was Lucy’s voice. She opened her phone and called Jonathan.

“Yes?” Jonathan asked quickly.

“I can hear her in the singing cave.”

Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. I’ve got Peter. I’ll call off the search.”

“Thanks, hon,” Cassandra said and hung up the phone. She stuck it back in the pocket of her spring jacket. She slowly walked into the cave.

It was Lucy. Eyes closed. Singing.

Lucy’s voice always amazed Cassandra. Cassandra had very little musical talent and Jonathan could only play the piano. But that voice! It was so pure, so natural.

From the first second Lucy started singing she couldn’t stop. She would practice for hours a day. Even though the parents loved the sound, the brother had some other opinions of it after a few days, and it was then that Lucy went out and found the Singing Cave. It was about a quarter of a mile from the peace cottage in the side of Monty’s cliff and the acoustics in it were incredible.

The cave became Lucy’s second home. She had decorated it with her things almost as much as she had decorated her bedroom. Toys as well as her CD player (with a pile of dead batteries nearby), numerous CDs (many probably that belonged to Cassandra) covered the floor and posters of singers lined her walls.

Whenever Lucy discovered a song or a style of singing she liked, usually the family knew they could kiss that CD goodbye. It would be in Lucy’s cave a little later that same day, never to be heard again. Numerous fights had begun and ended with Peter over the practice. Lucy saw no evil in the action. As she always put it, “You’ll get it back… someday.” The word to emphasize was ‘someday’ because for many CDs, that day never came.

Cassandra didn’t want to interrupt the song. She was so relieved to be hearing that voice again, relieved to be seeing her girl again. She just slowly and carefully walked in.

Lucy opened one eye and smiled. She got up and ran into her mother’s arms.

“I said I’m sorry, Dad,” Peter sighed.

Jonathan was too stunned by his son to think of just letting an ‘I’m sorry’ answer everything that happened that night. “Peter, how do you think it looks?”

“I know, Dad.”

“You’re my son. You’re supposed to set some kind of example. Instead you scare an old man, lose your sister…”

“I know.”

Jonathan looked at his son and then back at the road (I sound just like my father, he thought). It was slow driving that night. Traffic was backed up by ghosts and ghouls and numerous streets were closed off. Jonathan turned back to his son. “Give me a piece of candy.”

“What?”

Jonathan frowned. “You think you can say no right now?”

Peter sighed and looked into the bag. He grabbed a piece of candy and handed it to his father.

Jonathan opened the wrapper and frowned. He looked back at his son. “Do you think it’s wise to give me a piece of candy with coconut in it right now?”

Peter sighed and dug into the bag again.

“A year doesn’t go by when some kids try to scare Vampire Hooper,” Cassandra explained. “I think he likes it. First time I ever heard of him faking a heart attack though.”

“That is sick,” Lucy said.

“You won’t get an argument from me, silly girl,” Cassandra said. She ran her hands through Lucy’s hair. “But he did give you your candy back.” She held the bag out for Lucy.

“I don’t want it,” Lucy said. She didn’t even want to think about candy at that moment.

Cassandra smiled. “Oh, good,” she said evilly, “then I guess I get to keep it all to myself.”

Lucy looked at her mom, stunned. She wouldn’t dare!

Cassandra reached into the bag and took out a piece. A caramel. It was a square of caramel! Lucy liked caramel. Everyone knew she liked caramel. Cassandra smiled and pretended to almost put it in her mouth until Lucy couldn’t take it anymore. “Give me that!”

Cassandra laughed. “Nope!” Cassandra ran out of the cave onto the beach with Lucy close at her feet.

“That’s my candy!”

“You said you didn’t want it!” Cassandra laughed.

Lucy ran into the cave and came out holding the bag. “Fine! But I get the bag!”

Smart kid, Cassandra thought. “Give me that!” she shouted.

“No, it’s mine!” Lucy laughed and ran away down the beach with her mom close at her heels.

It was midnight across the island and the demons and flames were starting to disappear from the crevices and the corners. In six or so hours, stores would once again open and citizens would once again begin cleaning their yards, complaining about the mess as if someone else, or something else, possessed them to make it. But those facts and assumptions were far from the mind of Cassandra as she playfully chased after her little daughter on the beach.

They would be running and laughing for the next hour and the beach would belong only to them.

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