Chapter Twelve

“Oh! Mon amour!”

I rush to Pierre’s side as he hits the ground, head thumping hard against the concrete floor of the garage. I momentarily panic at the thought of it breaking open like a soft melon. But it doesn’t—people, it would seem, are sturdier than I remember them—and I cradle his head in my lap. Or, more specifically, the lap of my front hooves. I stroke his hair off his forehead, which is warm and much too moist, and lean my face close to his to make sure he’s breathing. When I feel a small exhalation from his nose, I give a sigh of relief and look over at his friend.

“He’s not dead!” I tell him excitedly.

“Well, that’s a minor relief,” the old man drawls—Bert? Ben? I don’t really care, he’s not my love—unenthusiastically, petting the excited dog that keeps jumping circles around him and the dragged workbench. “But that still leaves us with a siren all over the back wall of the garage and the kid on the floor.”

“I can move him!”

I stand to my feet, Pierre’s head slapping against the floor one more time, and begin pulling one of his arms with all my might. He slides forward a bit, but not nearly enough.

“What‘re you tryin’ to do? Rip his arm off?”

“To put him on my, uh, mon dos,” I say, patting my back as I struggle to remember the English word for it.

“Here, let me help.”

He moves in front of me and picks Pierre up with seemingly relative ease, cussing a bit only as he lifts him onto my back, and then motions for me to exit the garage and head to the porch.

“Non, it’s faster this way,” I say, pointing to the door near where the workbench used to stand.

“Uh, meaning no disrespect, but you might, uh, fit better through the front door.”

I open my mouth to say something, but unable to find the words, I begin pushing my way through the garage to the inside door. Sure, he’s right, but now I’m determined not to let him know that. I place a hand on Pierre’s body to keep him steady and make my way inside, hips (and hooves) awkwardly banging into everything that cramps the already tight space. I move a bit faster as I approach the door, trying to gain a bit of momentum, and force myself through it. I’m surprised there isn’t a loud pop when I finally make it through and into his even smaller kitchen. Eventually—after knocking over three chairs, some china, a lamp, two photos, a vase, a pile of books, the television, and a small table—I toss him onto the couch in the living room and take a seat beside him on the ground with Macie and Bill. (Bart?)

“Do you think he’ll be okay?”

“Suppose so, once he gets over the siren mulch in the garage.”

We sit in silence for a while before the man turns the television on and watches cable through the cracked glass. A few episodes later the front door bursts open and the little wizard comes running into the room, eyes bright with panic, hands glowing red.

“Mon dieu!” I shout, “What are you doing? Are you on fire?”

The sorcerer looks back and forth between the three of us in the room for a long while before he sighs.

“Oh thank God, I thought one of the sirens got you. Did you know there’s blood all over the garage?”

“You don’t say,” the older man says.

“Yeah, it’s fucking all over the place. It’s—oh, you were being sarcastic. Okay, well, I’m happy to see you’re not dead yet.”

“Nope, still around and kicking. Bit curious why you threw a ‘yet’ into your sentence though.”

“Because the sirens are attacking.”

Bob and I freeze, staring up at the greasy haired immortal, and my heart begins to hammer against my ribs.

“Excusez-moi?”

“The sirens. Are. Attacking,” he repeats, slower for me this time. “I was at work when my manager started talking about Nickelback being catchy and by the time I realized what he was saying I could hear the music faintly coming from the edge of town. And let me tell you, it was getting really loud really fast by the time I got in the car and began blasting AC/DC.”

My heart sinks in my chest. The thought of more sirens, like Nancy, coming to take Pierre away from me fills me with a mix of rage and terror.

“How’d you find us?” Brian asks, getting to his feet and putting himself between Francis and I. “How’d you know we were here?”

The little magician holds up his red hands and takes a step towards us, his hands getting darker and more scarlet. “Mystical hot potato… although I’m really not sure how to undo this… Oh maaaaan, you don’t think I’m going to get stuck with red hands, do you?” he asks desperately. He pushes past the old man and throws himself into the old armchair, huffing and puffing over the state of his glowing skin.

This won’t do.

This won’t do at all.

I get up onto my hooves, nearly hip-checking Bren into the wall, and begin to make my way through the house to the front door.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

“Into town to see the sirènes for myself. Neither of you can go without turning into lovesick imbéciles, but we need to know what’s ‘appening.”

Brad opens his mouth to tell me something, maybe to object, but a smash from the mirror I just broke cuts him off, and before I know it I’m already out the door, galloping towards town.

*****

It doesn’t take me long to see that the small town has already begun to descend into chaos. Well, chaos is a bit of a strong word, but what else do you call seeing an old man, with more fur than a bear making out with a woman who’s one-third his size and age?

Nobody’s immune to the call of the siren, and I watch as one of them approaches a man walking his dog and, sensing his preferences, turns itself into a blond haired twink. Another nearby shifts into a chiseled hockey player and begins wooing two old women on a parkbench.

If Pierre’s faithfulness to me wasn’t at stake, I’d almost be impressed. But it is, so I’m not.

Before one of them can spot me I head back into the woods, my hooves hammering against the hard dirt as I fly through the dense leaves. The cold air feels good on my skin and my lungs burn as I push myself to gallop faster than I ever have before, twigs snapping and underbrush cracking in my wake. I see my love’s farmhouse fast approaching, but instead of heading towards it I head further into the woods.

It’s no longer the time to report and hide.

It’s time for war.

I only hope my father, and the other piaffhommes, agree.

 


 

Photo Credit: Flickr

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