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The Lifeline

Tepic knocked on the door of Books home and was let inside to see his friend.  He was slightly surprised to see the changes from before.  They had talked about setting up a maze of netting, but they had only finished today it seemed.

Once he was through he congratulated them on a job well done, but Maddox was the only one sitting with Mr. Arnold.  “It was erected while I was catching up on my sleep.  Was this your idea?”

“It’s a maze, Miss, supposed ter stop the birdy.” Tepic giggled ingeniously, “So… how’s the patient, whichever one is around just now.”

Maddox stopped smiling.  She tried to catch him in the eye, “Tepic, I have some things to ask you.”

Tepic went on the defensive, “Errrr…. we haven’t got a still.  That’s a rumour?”

Maddox smiled, very softly, “That has nothing to do with my questions.” She gazed down at her comatose friend. “Tepic, he’s gone quiet. There’s no Id, no Arnold.  No nothing…Is there any way that you can find him in there? Like last time?”

“Depends, Miss, don’t it?” Tepic replied grimly. “Can yer feel Mr Arnold, yer know, like he’s somewhere?”

“It happened Friday past midnight. A werewolf broke in downstairs through a window.”

Tepic nodded, “Yep, heard bout that, Miss Book were a real hero…”

“Yes, Book shot it, but during that, Arnold went quiet.”  Tepic bristled, but calmed a little as Maddox continued, “It wasn’t the bird.  His soul is still there, I assume. I can feel him there… I never thought Id would go quiet as well…”

“So what were different then?”  Tepic asked, arms folded and frowning.

“No one knows… He just… He just went quiet and no one knows why…”  Stress, and loss, made her unable to stop tears from forming.  Tepic turned away and down at Arnold’s still form.

Taking a deep breath, he screamed right into his ear, “You in there, Mr Arnold?!”

There was no physical response from Arnold, though Maddox flinched slightly.  Tepic was about to shrug, when there was a tug on the string between Mr. Arnold and Maddox, the same string Tepic had once used to find the cat last winter.  It was vague and weak, but there.

Maddox gasped in surprise, “I felt a tug. A small tug. He’s there, Tepic… Buried but there.”

“‘Well, ‘e’s still there then, just a long way off…..last time we used the mirror thingy, cus he were somewhere else….but the thread goes from you to Mr Arnold just there, faint, but I’m sure that’s it….” Tepic looked on and then nodded to himself, “Must be inside himself then, always did kinda look inwards a bit….”

“I know…” Maddox looked down at her friend miserably.   “But what can I do, Tepic? I can’t just go into him to look. People come in and out of here all day long.”

Tepic waved his hand, “Don’t recon yer should go anyhow Miss, yer the other end, so yer gotta stay here or both ends get lost….”

There were several more tugs, which felt more urgent than the first.  “It feels like Arnold and…two other people are tugging!”  The pulls continued unstopped now.  “And he’s still tugging!”

“Sounds like trouble….. errrrrr…. would yer like me ter see if I can find him?”

“I have to ask you how to summon the raven first, and just how dangerous it is!”

Tepic blinked, shocked, “The birdy? Dunno how to make that arrive, cept knockin someone off, an that’ ain’t a good idea….”

“We won’t do that.  I am willing to be bait, Tepic. I simply want the thing away from Arnold.  He… he deserves his soul, contrary to what he thinks.”

“Don’t yer worry, Miss, we will work it out… hopefully…”  He assured her, and then was struck by a memory tugging at the back of his head.  “There were a lady I heard of, a Miss Foxhouse or something….she ain’t a fox, mores pity, but I heard as she knew bout one of the dead men before she were told, or somethin like….a new lad told me bout it.  Could be a good idea ter look her up?”

“A clairvoyant?”  Maddox asked, surprised. “Yes. Maybe I should.”

“But… fer now, recon we should see ‘bout Mr Arnold….”  Tepic placed a finger and thumb around what seemed thin air, and just as he did the tugs ceased.  “Now…. yer stand back over there…..”

“He’s stopped pulling at me!”  Tepic waved to calm her down, showing that he was ready to go.

He turned and stood there, not moving for some time.  “Err….Miss?”


“Errrrr……..can yer close yer eyes an promise not ter look…can’t do it with yer lookin..?”

Maddox shook her head softly, and made her way out of the tiny maze and waited outside.  “Just call out to me when you find him…”

She went and sat outside of the netting for hours and didn’t hear anything…

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