The Material World: Part 8-Starlight

The Material World: Part 8-Starlight

Exercise Your Imagination!  Do you like stories with mystery and suspense? Well, if you do, keep reading and enjoy Eggcentricsagas.  If you are just joining Eggcentricsagas, start from the beginning: A La Mano: Part 1-The Treasure

The dark-haired, bearded man grinned at her. Penelope was confused by this facial expression as it seemed insincere and ill-fitted to her situation. The girl didn’t know what to do. The red-haired policeman (her enemy, or so she thought), Claude (her friend, or so she thought), and Émile (who she wasn’t sure about at all) were all there. Why was her enemy with her friend? What were they doing here? Who to trust?

Trapped, she had to make a choice. Penelope felt pulling on the leash. Heedful, she saw Pepe getting anxious. Scared that he would bark and alert the men outside to her presence, the girl picked him up. Then she quickly ran up the stairs as she needed time to think.

Penelope ran into her old bedroom and left the door open only a crack to hear what was going on downstairs. She heard Émile answer the door, but the men’s voices were indistinct. Wanting to hide at the landing to listen to what they were saying, she dared not. Émile had not invited them in, and they stood on the doorstep talking. Finally, the girl closed the door, leaned back on it, and tried to think. Pepe jumped up on the bed, sat down, and watched her. What was going to happen to her? Having an urge to pace, she refrained so as not to make any noise. Penelope didn’t want to stay, but she couldn’t leave. What to do?

Brooding, the girl considered consulting her cards but dismissed that idea. Then she thought of Madame des Plumes’ turban. Why did she leave it? Why did she place it in my dresser drawer? Did she know that I would find it? Émile had said that his aunt thought Penelope would return. Did Madame leave me a message in it? Penelope went to the drawer and opened it. She picked up the turban and stuck her finger under the folds of fabric. Touching something, she dug in deeper with her fingers, grasped the edge of a card, and pulled it out. The Star. The seer had left one of her cards from her Lenormand deck. It had to be a clue. But what did it mean?

Penelope racked her brains about the meaning of the card; a new path, a wish, guidance, finding your way and believing in it. Scratching her forehead, she thought, Okay, so how do I proceed?  There must be something else to tell me what to do. Placing the card on the bed, she put her finger back under the fabric and poked around. There was another piece of folded paper! Breathless, she pulled it out and unfolded it. The young seer read the line: Put on the blue hat to find guidance.

What does that mean? Penelope thought before shaking her head and tossing the paper next to the card. Is this a magic hat? Full of doubt and disbelief, the girl placed it on her head. As she pulled it on, she could feel something scrape across her forehead. Taking off the turban, she explored the inside of it with her fingers. Sewn into the lining was something firm. Scissors! She needed scissors!

There was a pair in a box inside her closet. Pepe jumped off the bed and followed her in. Setting the turban down, she began to look around the shadowy interior. While his mistress searched the shelves looking for the specific box, Pepe first sniffed the turban, and then each item she moved onto the floor. Where is it? Where is that box? It was here I know it was, she thought. Somebody has moved things around.

Searching the floor next to her shoes, she noticed something odd. There was a small suitcase pushed into the corner behind the hanging dresses and footwear. It seemed as though someone had hidden it there. Pulling it out, Penelope opened it up, and inside was the dark blue velvet curtain that served as the door between the rooms. The very one that she had used to hide behind during Madame des Plumes’ oracle readings. It was not neatly folded but rather rolled up into a bundle. How strange. What on earth is it doing here like this? The girl pondered before taking it out and unrolling the material. Her eyes flew open when, in the dim light of the closet, she found a long, sharp knife hidden in the folds of the fabric.

Penelope drew in her breath sharply. According to Claude, the murder victim had been stabbed in the stomach. This thought sparked a memory, the scenes replayed in her mind. She remembered the day that Monsieur Le Blanc darkened their doorstep. Penelope remembered what Madame had said; bad money, gambling, quarreling, a fight, bloodshed, murder. She had predicted it. Another image flashed into Penelope’s mind. The Cloud card: The King of Clubs. A dark-haired, bearded man. Her jaw dropped when she thought of smiling Émile. Could he be the murderer?

He could not find her here like this! She had to get out of the apartment and fast! Her pulse racing, Penelope rapidly rolled up the curtain and stuffed it back into the suitcase. Shutting it, she pushed it back into its former place. Then raced to put everything back the way it was before picking up Pepe’s leash. Ready to leave, she focused on the turban. She had to take it with her. Tucking it under her arm, the girl emerged from the closet and closed the door just as the door to her room swung open.

Émile stood at the threshold. As usual, he had a fake smile on his face. “Your friends, they had a lot of questions. I told them that I had not seen or heard from you. They are gone and, at present, we are alone. This is what you wanted, oui?”
It was not what Penelope wanted since perhaps a murderer stood in front of her, but she answered, “Uh, sure. Oui.”

It certainly wasn’t what Pepe wanted. Hackles up, he was growling again, his teeth bared at Émile. Now Penelope fully sensed what Pepe had seemed to know about Émile immediately.

The man tried to soothe the dog by talking to him. “Je suis ton ami, Pepe,” Émile said and stepped inside the room. Far from placating Pepe, this action provoked the dog. Pepe lunged forward snapping and barking savagely. Émile backed off.

Penelope saw that Émile was intimidated by Pepe, and this gave her courage and reassurance. She held the leash but this time didn’t reprimand her pet. Instead, she reinforced Émile’s fear by saying, “He doesn’t like strangers. He has been known to bite.” Penelope knew that she had to use Pepe’s protection, devotion, and loyalty to her full advantage. She also had to use her wits to get them out of this mess and find Claude. Whatever he was, he wasn’t a murderer. Penelope thought of Madame des Plumes and then reflected upon the cards in her dream. The Path, Fox, and Clouds. The Fox card. Clever. She had to stay sharp. Looking him in the eye, she told Émile, “He doesn’t like to feel trapped. We should go downstairs and talk. He will be better there.” The girl pointed at the door. “After you.”

The smile faded from Émile’s face, and he repeated, “Fine, if that is what you want.”

Turning, the man started towards the stairs. Penelope followed after him at a careful distance. They were halfway down when he turned quickly and lunged toward her. Before Pepe or she could react, Émile grabbed the leash and yanked Pepe towards him. Then kicked him down the rest of the stairs. Pepe yelped and tumbled over and over till he reached the bottom. The dog remained immobile at the foot of the stairs whimpering in pain.

Penelope screeched and started to run down the stairs to her pet, but Émile stopped her by clenching her arms. The force of his squeezing made her cry out again. The turquoise blue turban dropped from her grasp and fell the same way as Pepe. Looking at Émile, Penelope no longer had a doubt. He was unmasked. The evil staring back at her were the eyes of a madman.

Next: The Material World: Part 9-The Rider

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About J Fremont

Author/veterinarian J. Fremont has created Magician of Light, a novel about famed glassmaker Rene Laliqué. Exercise your imagination. Enjoy!