Erica restlessly paced the concrete floor as she waited. She needed to speak with Carter, urgently. He arrived at the same time they'd agreed on weeks prior when they set the meeting schedule. The door swung open with an aged creak as he nudged it with his knee. His hands were full of books and maps, his backpack was stuffed and heavy with the ingredients he needed, plus new things he wanted to try.
"Carter." Erica greeted sternly, but with the fondness of a friend.
"Hmm" was his reply as he set his books and backpack heavily on the poor card table they'd set up. She didn't know if the zombie demeanor was from the dreams or the extensive work he seemed to be doing. Probably both, but he wouldn't talk about either.
"I've been keeping in touch with your brother." She said. Carter came to a full stop in his actions before starting up again. He took several spices and a curious pill bottle out of his drawstring bag.
"That's funny, he doesn't even keep in touch with me," Carter said stiffly. Erica sighed hard before continuing.
"Well I've been talking to him and he's worried about you."
"Where's Alice?" He asked absently.
"I told her you canceled. Your brother said—"
"Why?" His voice finally showed some emotion and shock was clear as he whirled around to face Erica.
"Are you even hearing me? I swear since we started this you've been…"
"Like a different person?" He finished her sentence with a cruel tone. One no longer meant for a friend.
"That's not what I was going to say" She spoke softer than usual. Carter stared at her for a long time. He pulled a chair out and sat in it before he answered.
"I'm sorry, I guess I've just been…frazzled." He said, pulling down his hood and ruffling out his hair. "But today's a big day and I wanted Alice to see it." He sighed.
"Big day?" Erica whispered. "What…whatcha got there?" She asked, voice tense but remaining even as she eyed the pill bottle he held. He laughed, almost smug like he was in on something.
"I know this looks weird but I've got it under control, we've been talking." Was his cryptic response.
"Talking about changing the spell without telling us?" She asked rhetorically, taking a cautious step toward her friend. Carter looked up from the bottle with surprise that turned quickly to guilt before he schooled his expression.
"I was going to," he defended, "I just thought you guys wouldn't get it."
"How are we supposed to get it if you don't tell us?" She took another step, extending a hand to take the pills from him, but he pulled back.
"I'm sorry." Was his answer.
"It's ok, Carter, this has been…" she gestured to the building, spell, coven, all of it. "It's been a lot for you."
He flinched suddenly, like the words could hurt him.
"You don't get to say that." He said slowly. "I'm fine, I've just been working on something with him–"
"You're not fine, man." She cut him off. "Look you haven't slept right in weeks, you've got pills for some reason…"
"They're for sleep." He said. Erica hesitated to respond so he continued, rolling them over in his hand as he finally addressed their existence. "My bro got them to help me but I have a plan for them."
"I'm gonna go to sleep."
There was a pause where Erica continued waiting for him to say his piece or explain further. He didn't.
"So that's it? Your plan is to take a nap?"
"A very long one." He portioned a large number of the pills into his palm and had them down before she really understood what she was seeing.
"Carter man that…that was like three doses." She said, but he just smiled.
"With me giving up willingly he can be free." His explanation was vague but the meaning was pretty clear. "We both can be."
"I…he's gonna use your… sleep?" She tried to clarify but the whole situation sounded too abstract to understand. Carter seemed to understand it clear as clouds in the sky.
"My awake, actually, he'll wake up instead of me, as me." He laid back in his chair as he explained, eyelids drifting half open. Erica's stomach dropped as she saw him become sleepier. The animal had clearly taken advantage of Carter and was using him to do something terrifying. Erica felt sickness creeping higher as she realized there was nothing she could do.
His limbs went limp and he leaned his head on the back of the chair, eyes falling shut. He'd been tired for a long time and sleep claimed him with supernatural quickness. She waited in silence and wondered, heart pounding in her chest. She wondered how long it would take before the creature opened Carter's eyes. She remembered the lifeless doll eyes of the weasel and she felt herself starting to gasp as panic gripped her. Would Carter look like that? What would the animal do with someone else's face to hide behind?
She couldn't help Carter. She couldn't stop the animal. She wouldn't be able to save the town from being put to sleep. She couldn't even picture the destruction the creature may have planned let alone plan against it.
She was powerless.
Hector had trudged up the sidewalk as he did every day after work. The air was cold and the sky was dark and everything about it sucked. He hated having to work at night, he hated never seeing the sun. He wanted to get some coffee, and maybe chat with Hunter. Possibly play a video game, and go to bed. He finally reached his house and motioned to open the door, but it was locked.
That was odd, they didn't lock their door did they? He'd never seen it locked at night before. He jiggled the handle and banged on the wood with his fist.
He tried the doorbell knowing full well it hadn't worked since they moved in. Again there was nothing.
Did Hunter go somewhere? Why did he lock the door? How was he supposed to get in?
Hector took a few steps back and started to circle the house. He had to climb the fence to reach the kitchen window, but he managed to jimmy the screen out and get it open.
"Hunter?" He called, half in and half out of the house. His brother lay on the floor unconscious, and the pot to the coffee maker sat on the floor as well. The counter beside him was sticky and brown where coffee ran directly onto the surface.
He waited for a possible eternity outside the trailer for Mesa.
Did she never leave her house? When they were together she’d been so bright and extraverted, now she was cold. Every time he showed up outside her house with no warning and waited for hours to ask her for favors, she was unbelievably cold. He couldn’t figure out why.
The door creaked open and Hector held his breath. He released it when he saw the bundled-up human that stepped out of the house was, in fact, the very devil he spoke of.
“Mesaaaa,” He drew the name out so he could continue saying it while he followed her to the car. She wisely powerwalked past.
“In a sec, I just ne…” His voice drained away as she rolled up the driver's side window. Hector pulled the door open.
“Listen to me, woman!” He laughed. Mesa rolled her eyes with an incredibly irritated huff.
“You have fifteen seconds.”
“SHit ok, um, so remember that guy? Oh, that’s super specific. The one from Denny’s who had the candles and crap, we made like—”
“AH UH uh, He did magic and I thought it was crazy—”
“—but now I need to find him so I can kill him cAN I HAVE HIS ADDRESS??!” Hector yelled the last part as Mesa slowly wrenched the door back closed.
“You wanna kill him?” Mesa realized, letting him pull the door open again a crack. Hector shoved his hand in the crack to keep Mesa from closing it again.
“Or something!” He admitted. Mesa shook her head at the ground.
“Why? He’s like…Ned Flanders.” She asked. Hector tried to open the door farther and failed. He strained and wrenched against Mesa for several seconds, but gave up with heavy breath.
“You don’t -huff- know? Crazy -gasp- Magic nonsense has -gasp- …all over town -koff- people are sleeping -huff- and now Hunter -gasp- just give me his address Mesa!” He finally whined. Mesa narrowed her eyes at him and there was a glorious moment where he thought she might actually just agree. Then she slammed the car door right onto his hand with minimal effort. Hector wanted to curse but his breath was gone, instead, he yanked his hand out of the door and used the other to bang on the window
"You've gotta give me something," he pleaded. Mesa gripped the steering wheel hard and stared straight ahead as she thought. She muttered something inaudible and reached for the center console, grabbing a pen and an open envelope. Angrily she scrawled a phone number and slammed the paper onto the glass. Hector pulled his phone out and quickly took a picture.
"Thank you, Mesa, I'll never ask for anything else." He yelled as he rushed back into the street. Mesa exhaled slowly as she watched him sprint away.