The next journal entry was Monday.
Any pretense of this being a fact-finding exercise faded into oblivion. The entry lacked the details the earlier instances did. There were no dates, times, or places. Things like that take a controlled mind, and she had lost it. Now her rage boiled over into her journal.
It was like she had been sober for years and then at the smallest sip of alcohol went on a dangerous bender just because she could.
I assume this went on for days. The ink in her journals shifted periodically. There were line gaps but no dates. Assuming she continued her discipline of writing every day, it would have been four days. But I suspect it was more before she was able to regain some control.
The next dated entry, she complained about the pains she had. Almost like she was hungover. Shortly after that, it all went to hell when she decided that she needed to know whether the locks on her home had been changed.
She drove out to her old home. Where Henry and the children lived. Under the control of the Gwenhwyfach. In the house fit for a magazine cover and a two-acre lot.
A brief hope sparked when her key fit in the front door lock, but her relief crumbled when the key wouldn’t turn.
Maybe the frequency of the garage door opener had not changed. Mage used the spare opener she kept in her purse. Inside, she found the door to the house unlocked. The mudroom had never had a visible speck of mud in it, and she was glad to see that it hadn’t changed. Pairs of shoes and flip-flops were all lined up against the wall, waiting for the day to be worn.
She had not come with a physical confrontation in mind, but she found one easily enough. Walking from the mudroom to the kitchen, she saw new pictures had been hung. There was one of her children with three other older children, all smiling and with their arms around each other. The frame read:
And then another frame with an elderly man, whose smile belonged behind bars.
She turned and braced herself against the kitchen counter. For the moment, the pain in her back was dulled by the pain inside herself. There were too many emotions crammed into one space, demanding to be dealt with. Nothing would get done until she started sorting it all out. She had to start somewhere, and anger seemed to be the most convenient.
Her first rational thought was whether she needed to hide for her attack. An ambush had its advantages. But on the other hand, this was her home. The nanny was the impostor, not her. She decided there were other things that needed to be done, so she told herself she’d come back to the decision after she checked the gun safe.
She turned a corner from the kitchen into the front hallway and noticed the cordless phone wasn’t in its charger.
“Dammit, Henry, you never learn.”
She couldn’t help scanning the hallway for it. It was habit. She took the stairs to the second floor, stepped into the expansive master bedroom, and glanced around the room for the phone. Not here either.
But that didn’t matter, because the object she was really after was in the safe next to her bedside. The one she had left for the nanny to defend her children if necessary. The one she had bought all those years ago with Tommy.
The safe had buttons like an old payphone. She pressed the code, but didn’t hear anything unlock. The handle remained firm and the door sealed tight. The locks to the house were not the only ones that had been changed.
Now the question was, was the gun locked inside? Or was the nanny carrying it with her?
Mage walked downstairs and sat at the breakfast bar, facing the mudroom. She had made up her mind against an ambush, as she would only be satisfied by a direct confrontation. She pulled the nanny’s payment out of her purse to check the safety. This was the one she had purchased for her apartment.
My unique branch of investigative work does not require any knowledge of firearms. They are spectacularly ineffective against supernatural attackers. You may have heard a rumor that silver bullets are useful against the undead or inhuman, but most people who make the claim have never been in a physical altercation with any creature of that nature. So, I don’t take their word for it.
In any case, I can’t tell you what type of gun Mage owned, or even describe it other than it fit awkwardly in her purse. I gather it was a weapon that left no question on intent. If a living person received a bullet fired from its chamber, then that person wouldn’t be living much longer. And hopefully wouldn’t become undead.
Mage checked her handgun while she waited. Again and again. She had second thoughts about sitting at the table, which was odd, since she never seemed to have second thoughts. She could feel conflicted at times, like during the ordeal with her sister. But feeling conflicted never influenced her decision-making. Doubting herself was not something she did.
Her focus returned at the sound of a car pulling into the garage. A door slammed, and heels clicked on the cement. When the door opened into the mudroom, she switched the safety off. In one swift motion, Mage burst up from her seat with her weapon pointed forward and rushed to meet her nemesis. A flash of pain blinded her for a moment. Her quick motions no longer came without consequence to her body. The hunch in her shoulder gave her grief. Still, from Mage’s description of events, the nanny was unprepared for this confrontation.
The nanny screamed and put her hands up. To Mage’s relief, she dropped her purse. If the handgun was concealed inside, it wouldn’t do the nanny any good now.
“Who are you?” the nanny asked. “What do you want?”
“Who am I?” Mage almost said, “I’m you,” but stopped herself. In place of those words, she said, “I’m the one who conjured you.”
The nanny tried to speak, but Mage screamed over her.
“And look what it’s done to me! Look what you’ve done to me.”
The nanny slowly kneeled down, still keeping her hands in the air, and pleaded. “Please… I didn’t…”
“Don’t act so surprised, you had to know it would come to this at some point.”
The nanny continued her pleas to be spared, and Mage found them repulsive. This creature in front of her had taken her children to meet the scumbag who was her father.
The gunshot and the subsequent hole through the nanny’s chest made it impossible for her to say anything else.
Death was not instant, but it wasn’t long. Mage put the gun down on the breakfast bar while she looked for supplies to clean the scene. She stretched out the arm on the side of her hunch without any benefit of relief. As she did, she saw the purse the nanny had dropped. Was there a gun inside? Her hunch tightened again, and this time the pain would only be relieved when her curiosity was satisfied.
Carefully, she lifted the purse and emptied out the contents. Gum and car keys fell out, but not a firearm. It had been safely locked away. Where else would it be? Henry hated the thing. He wouldn’t be carrying it.
Cracking the safe would be another thing to add to her to-do list. For the moment, she could afford to put that at the bottom. But above finding the phone.
The immediate priority was the terrible mess that needed attention.
In her inexperience, Mage had hoped the nanny, being a creature conjured from magic, would just vanish. But she was prepared in case she needed to sanitize the room. She estimated she had six hours before anyone would come home.
She retrieved the supplies from the trunk of her car and began by unwrapping a blue camping tarp, then opened a package of new rags and got to work.
Forty-five minutes into her cleanup, Henry walked in.