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September 26, 2022

When Fairy Tales Come Alive 17

By Lydia Manx

Ruby was a good hostess and actually supplied a notepad and pen next to the lamp on the nightstand in the guest bedroom. I simply wrote, "Thanks for being there. Hope it all works out for you." I picked up the loaded backpack and sighed.

No signature was needed. No more words because anything I wrote would be used against her or me. She knew I'd find her where I and when I could. I decided not to use the front door, and left from the dining room through the backyard. I popped over her back fence -- not exactly an expected path. With the fog it was damned creepy, walking slowly along the back fences of her neighbors. From the feeling of the dirt beneath my feet, I knew that it was the same dirt path that deer, coyotes and illegal aliens had carved out over time. I used it and let the fog fold me inside its oddly wet warmth. The sound of the sleeping neighborhood was muted by the weather. Noises filtered into distant echoes of cars, people and animals, but nothing I could see was close to me as I walked. I didn't over-think where I was going, but knew I'd chosen correctly. I couldn't see it all ending well for me but I didn't care, I kept walking. The darkness coupled with the fog made the hike through the canyons not too bad.

I paused for a break roughly around ten or eleven beneath a large oak. I was pretty much guessing on what time it was because I was bone weary and had been running non-stop it seemed like a decade. The exotic-looking manzanita bushes and other chaparral gave off a comforting odor of nature, but I caught whiffs of skunk spray so I was careful how I traveled. Sipping one of the bottles of water I'd snagged before I'd left Ruby's, all of a sudden I felt eyes on me. My skin was prickling and the back of my neck itched. An ebb and the fog cleared briefly; it was then I saw the eyes. I tightened my whole body while trying to see what creature was staring at me.

I resisted giggling as the shape came closer -- it was a cat. Not some fierce huge feral cat but what looked like a half-grown kitten. The cat was a short haired muddy brown and gray male cat. It came directly to me and meowed pathetically, weak and gasping at the end. Looking at the water container in my hand I hazarded a guess and poured a drizzle of water into the cap. He purred and lapped up the meager offering. I cautiously cupped my palm and poured more into my bowled hand. He purred even louder and I felt the raspy tongue brushing my hand as he emptied the water from my palm. Soon the bottle was equally as empty and the cat simply jumped into my lap, turned a few times, and curled up and fell asleep.

Stunned, I looked down at the peaceful creature. He slept soundly without twitching on my lap. I softly petted his head and wondered at the trusting nature of the small animal. I never had animals growing up, due to the whole dead parent thing and all. And once I began training for the hunter job, I had no time to care for one properly. It was weird to have this little cat decide I was safe ... I hadn't thought of myself as safe. I continued to stroke the purring sleeping cat and wondered what the procedure was to move a sleeping cat from my lap, without hurting him or him clawing the crap out of me. As if the cat could hear my thoughts, it looked up at me with his huge gentle eyes and stood on my chest and nudged me under my chin. Purring all the while, the cat was trying to tell me something. Still petting his head I said, "You want to come with me?"

Another nudge and then the cat hopped off my lap and gave a large meow.

I guessed that was an affirmative. I stood up and continued to walk out of the canyons. To my utter amazement the cat followed. Soon I was hiking up a huge hill. Something about the structure above me called. It wasn't yet close to dawn and I found myself at the wall of what looked like a school. There was a hole in the fence and I wiggled through and the cat followed. The grounds were well tended, and I kept exploring. Soon I found that there was a cluster of older buildings, and nuns in the distance making their way between them. I was on some sort of church grounds, but nobody seemed to see me and the cat. I found my way to a small chapel; the door was unlocked. Without a thought, I went inside. It wasn't very large, but I could feel the weight of time. The cat stopped at the entry and gave a very loud meow. I stopped and looked around me. There was a musty odor that tickled my nose, and it took me a minute to figure out it was the scent of burning candles mixing with what was probably decades of incense that had leached into the wooden pews. I could smell the oil that was rubbed into the hard wooden floors. It all rolled over me with an odd force.

Energy coursed across my skin, and the cat pushed towards me and sat right in front of my feet. He wasn't happy. His fur was puffed up and he was growling softly. I wasn't sure why he was acting so, but I'd only just met the cat an hour or so ago. I wasn't wearing a watch but I figured it was either around midnight or so. Just then I could hear bells above my head in the belfry of the chapel. The cat hissed and shot off away from me, further into the small church. I didn't think the priests and nuns who used the place of worship would appreciate me leaving a live animal inside, so I followed, whispering softly, "Here kitty, kitty."

Lame I know, but I hadn't gotten the cat's name.

A meow pulled me towards the front of the church, where I found the cat in what looked like a room for private prayers right before the altar. Ignoring my whispered calls, he just sat with huge eyes staring out while curled into the far corner. There was a wrought iron stand and candles in red votive glass containers next to where he was, some -- maybe half of the candles -- lit, illuminating a small kneeling spot at the base; I could tell that many folks had spent time praying on the padded surface.

Hoisting my backpack over both shoulders, I reached for the cat while the bells stopped ringing. I stumbled as I picked the cat up and fell into the wall and through it. In that instant I wasn't sure if I'd struck my head or what, because the bells seemed to be ringing again.

I felt fuzzy and words raced over my brain and I wasn't anywhere and I was everywhere. Words pounded out as if I was telling some private secrets to unseen people. The cat was purring loudly as I found myself talking in my head to some council. I was defenseless yet defending my right to be.

So yes, all because I am a supernatural bounty hunter these things happen. I am not a babysitter or a lawyer. When I am called upon by Sam or another like Archie from Amber Consulting Firm, I clean up the messes that humans never see or realize exist. Think of the movie Men In Black but with little old me not in a pricey black suit. I wear black but never tailored suits with white shirts and dark glasses. Oh, wrong I do wear dark glasses, all the time when I can get away with it. I am not a nice person. Hell, I don't think I am even human anymore.

Then a question is asked where I came from that rang through me and I again found myself answering in my head. I pulled up a pamphlet I had in my memories and read it:

A must-see destination for locals and adventurers alike is nestled down south in beautiful Southern California. Most mistakenly think of San Diego as a sleepy little border town little more than the gateway to the thrilling country of Mexico -- true, but it's absolutely so much more. The flavor of Mexico still within California can be easily found and savored -- no need to have a passport or pesos. Just a willing spirit and a car and the world comes alive.

If you are a day-tripper the coastline tempts and promises many exciting activities. With the sun-drenched seashore there are a wealth of opportunities to get out and find the perfect beaches, quicksilver waves or fine dining. To enjoy surfing, kayaking, sailing or just soaking up the rays in the subtropics with plenty of sand and blue water available, head down to La Jolla and explore. Visit the Birch Museum or take a walk through Torrey Pines State Park while in the area and you won't be disappointed.

Meandering down the walkways of the upscale La Jolla, there are many elegant restaurants with breathtaking ocean views, exquisite shops with designer clothes and unique one-of-a-kind places that will stay with you long after you go home. A taste for international delights or just a fish taco, it's all there for the taking.

Afterward, wander down to the Cove and watch the waves wash ashore on the sandy beach of the protected marine sanctuary that's the jewel set into the stunning La Jolla coast. Shop til you drop at one of the local stores and make sure to visit the shell shop at the top of the Cove. The shelves overflow with the exotic sea treasures and pretty sparkling stones.

Those with more time, and the desire to get to the nitty gritty of San Diego, head out of the city and find where nature relaxes. Hiking throughout the East County can be invigorating and informative. Make your way through the antique shops and restaurants up in Julian. Slice a fork into a wedge of apple pie or have a glass of cider from the local farms while poking through the historic downtown. If time permits, head out to the Anza-Borrego desert and soak in the trails where the real Wild West ended. The grooves imbedded into dirt from decades of wagon wheels making their way West help bring the old West alive once again.

After a nice dip in the ocean or the pool before getting ready to head out and dance your way through the downtown night life, make sure to catch the sunset as it sinks into the Pacific Ocean. There is no finer view than from the balcony of one of the fine hotels that line the shore.

The unseen council wanted me to explain where I had seen that information. Again I recalled were I'd found that tidbit and visualized for them to 'see.'

I tossed down the pamphlet on the bed and wondered if I should laugh or cry at the lighthearted look at the town. I'd been here long enough to see a far different side of the 'scenic downtown' -- or whatever rot was used -- it ought to say, 'Hey, it's not a hell hole really, just ignore the trolls and demons prancing down the road looking for a tasty meal.' But then if I had written the drivel my way it would never have been published much less handed out to the tourists. They'd be better off trying their luck in Mexico. Most of the horrors there were predictable and easily seen. A drug lord driving a fancy car with his gun-toting entourage was avoided, while a troll masquerading as a cute little old man wasn't.

Some nights I hated my job.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2015-02-09
Image(s) © Lydia Manx and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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