Dreamtime (Part Two)


‘So,’ Edward said, as he sat down at his desk, opposite Katie Marigold, ‘What brings you to my shop?’
The girl stirred a generous spoonful of sugar into her mug of tea, sighed, and then said, ‘A dream.’
Edward raised an eyebrow, but made no comment.
Katie wriggled in her chair. ‘I’m a hedge witch,’ she stated flatly. ‘I specialise in herbs and things like that.’ She paused, but Edward remained silent. ‘Look, I know you probably think I’m crazy, but-’
She was cut off, by a wild trumpeting coming from the shop. Her face paled and Edward patted her hand. ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the mammoth.’
Katie gawked at him. ‘What?’
‘The mammoth,’ Edward repeated patiently. ‘He’s usually asleep, but every now and then he wakes up. I should imagine he’s a bit confused as to where he is, hence the trumpeting; he’ll settle down in a minute.’

The crash of breaking crockery, along with a few more bellows, filtered into the office. We all waited until the noises at last subsided and silence fell. ‘See?’ Edward said, leaning back in his chair, ‘nothing to worry about.’
Katie gave him a dubious look, shook her head, and took a hurried slurp of tea. ‘And I thought you’d think I was crazy,’ she muttered, putting the mug back down.
Edward ignored this. ‘So, you were saying something about a dream?’
‘Yes.’ Katie cleared her throat. ‘I live out in the suburbs, Garston Village way,’ she explained. ‘It’s quite pretty, but a bit limiting for a hedge witch; it’s too near the docks.’ She drummed her fingers on the desk and gave Edward a thoughtful glance. ‘You see I was cursed by another witch, a long time ago. I was a better herbalist than her and she became jealous and banished me to this place.’
‘She banished you to Liverpool?’ Edward said. If a cat could laugh, I almost did – how ridiculous!
Katie blushed. ‘I know it’s a pretty mundane place to end up in, not when you consider all the nether hells she could’ve sent me to.’
Edward raised a hand to his mouth to hide a smile. ‘Perhaps she lacked imagination,’ he said; Katie glared at him.
‘Look, I need you to take me seriously, I want to go home. I’ve been trying for ages and getting nowhere.’ She waved a hand towards the shop. ‘I’ve read about places like this, they’re portals to other worlds, aren’t they?’
‘’Fraid not, this one’s more of a sanctuary for magical creatures who have nowhere else to go.’

‘B-but my dream!’ Katie spluttered. ‘I dreamt about you and this place. It was so real, so clear. I knew I had to come here. I’ve spent ages looking for you, worn myself out trudging around, searching,’ she added, with a touch of indignation.
Edward shrugged. ‘Sorry,’ he said.
The girl looked down at her intertwined fingers, it was clear she was close to tears. I narrowed my eyes and twitched my tail, there was something missing here, Katie hadn’t told us all her story. I say “us”, but she was, as yet, unaware of my presence. Edward glanced in my direction, where I crouched hidden behind a row of box files, then looked back at Katie.
‘You say this other witch was jealous,’ he began, ‘is that all there is to it?’
‘Yes,’ Katie replied, too quickly in my opinion.
‘Alright,’ Edward said in an even tone, ‘but I still can’t help you.’
Katie sighed, stood up, and turned towards the door. ‘I suppose I’d better go,’ she said. Her hand lingered on the handle, but Edward said nothing, neither encouraging her to stay or go. My tail thrashed wildly; surely he wouldn’t just let her walk out? She could be the one to change my life… she could be my salvation!
‘How d’you get around?’ he asked, as she pulled the door open.
She gave him a puzzled look. ‘What?’
‘When you go searching for a way home, how d’you travel?’
Katie shrugged. ‘By bus, mostly,’ she replied, ‘The number 86A, usually.’

Edward rubbed his chin. ‘I see. Well I might be able to help you there. Follow me.’ He pushed past her into the shop and I almost grinned, like the fabled Cheshire Cat, as they both went through to the shop. He was testing her. Everything depended on the next few minutes.
I trotted after them, silent as a ghost, and hid myself behind the counter. Katie watched, as Edward rummaged around in a corner. Various articles were thrown over his shoulder, as he searched for whatever he was looking for: a broomstick, a detached gnome house in the shape of a white spotted, red capped toadstool, a couple of gargoyles, who squeaked their protests at being disturbed, and finally a couple of bats fluttered up to the ceiling, their dark eyes glittering with rage at being turfed out of their cosy corner.

A final clatter of falling detritus heralded the end of Edward’s search. He straightened up, face flushed with exertion, clutching the handlebars of a rather shabby looking bicycle.
‘Here you are,’ he said, his voice and expression filled with triumph, ‘It’s on the house.’
The girl gave the bike a dubious look, as she walked slowly round it. A large wicker basket was attached to the handlebars, along with a couple of leather bags hung to either side at the back. Both Edward and I held our breath, as she walked slowly round it. All of a sudden she stopped and touched the frame with one finger, quickly withdrawing it as if she’d received a shock.
Mouth open wide, Katie gasped, and her face was a picture of astonishment, as she exclaimed, ‘This is a wiccan transporter! I’ve never seen one before, but I’m sure it is.’
A slow smile spread across Edward’s face, confirming my own belief that the girl was indeed the one we’d been waiting for… she’d passed the test, which meant the future, although still uncertain, at last held some hope.

cat-booksTo be continued…





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