While I rewrite the stories that appeared in my 2014 book, The Green Crystal Stories, I’m offering the original stories here in chapter-by-chapter installments.
2012 is winding down and the murdering entity of the green crystal that Vree Erickson found in a sinkhole in her backyard still possesses her. Determined to rid herself of the entity, she returns the crystal to the sinkhole.
But when she magically passes through her mirror to her friend Dave Evans’s bedroom, she knows the entity is still alive inside her and wants Dave dead.
Now Vree finds herself standing up to the entity powerful enough to destroy her and everyone she holds dear in life.
“In the Meantime” is a short story and the fifth installment of the Ridgewood Chronicles and The Green Crystal Stories—a riveting story propelling Vree and her friend Lenny Stevens deeper into mystery.
In the Meantime
We choreograph the crystal’s dance of light and color to mirror the dance of Creation.
Chapter 1: December 31, 2012
The vengeful entity’s name was Angelina. Her goal was to enact vengeance on those people marked in green. She who had possessed Vree Erickson had been born from mysterious magic power of a green crystal found in a sinkhole in Vree’s backyard. The crystal’s power had saved Vree’s life — her mother’s, too — but it had also used her to kill. And for everyone Vree saw cloaked in a green aura, she feared for their lives.
Angelina’s power over Vree was strongest when she possessed the green crystal, which is why she had thrown it and the smaller one that she had taken from Uncle John into the sinkhole in her backyard. And now, after a geological inspector had authorized her parents to fill in the hole, Angelina’s presence inside her had quieted, hopefully gone altogether and back inside the crystal it had come from.
Filling the hole three days after Christmas had also stopped the electrical disturbances from inside the earth affecting cell phones, wireless internet service, and satellite TV on Myers Ridge. Even cars and trucks were able to travel the ridge once more without stalling. Life seemed to have returned to normal, but the nightmares for Vree continued. Angelina had made her nothing more than a machine harboring a virus programmed to persecute and kill people guilty of petty crimes such as arrogance, disrespect, injustice, and deception. Not being in control of her mind and body still terrified Vree.
“This has to be over,” she said, taking a last look at the fresh earthen cover before hurrying away through the melting snow, away from the filled in grave of something so very cruel, and set her sights on the front porch filled with sunlight. An unseasonal end-of-December thermal day heated her black T-shirt and prickled her bare arms as she loped up the porch steps and took to the swing. There, she listened to the joyous sounds of boys and girls and adults playing a winter softball game behind Dave and Amy Evans’s place. The farmhouse was a quarter-mile up the road, and even her parents were there, playing a game that Mr. Evans had started when his children were seven years old, a game that brought neighbors, friends, and relatives together on the last day of the year.
Lenny was one of the many players, and he had called that morning and invited Vree to come and play.
Her cell phone rang and she saw that Lenny was calling again.
“You should be here,” he said. The joyous sounds at the farmhouse were clearer on the phone, but she wasn’t ready for any social life until she was certain Angelina was gone.
“A lot’s going on right now,” she said to Lenny’s pestering. “Sorry.”
“Is it because of the crystal?”
“I threw it in the hole when the gravel crew was here. It’s buried … gone for good.”
“What? Why? What were you thinking?”
“It isn’t normal. She … it made me do things I didn’t want to do.” She held the phone in a death grip. “I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.”
“But you could do magic.”
A memory flashed in her mind.
~ ~ ~
“I can do magic.”
She stood in Amy Evans’s blue bedroom at the farmhouse, pushed up her sweatshirt sleeves, and twirled her hands in front of her, saying, “Abracadabra, hocus pocus, alakazam,” three times. Then she reached behind her back with her left hand and brought forth a black top hat, from which she extracted by the scruff of its neck, a white rabbit with pink eyes.
Amy stopped reclining on her red beanbag chair, sat up and called out, “Hey, Dave, come quick. You gotta see this.” Then to Vree, “Do it again.”
Vree handed her the rabbit as Amy’s twin brother entered, looking annoyed.
“What? I was reading the new Batman. What’s so important?”
“Don’t look,” Amy said while she tried to return the rabbit to Vree. “Put it back in your hat and show Dave,” she whispered.
“I’ll do a different one,” Vree said and stepped back.
“A different trick?”
“A different rabbit.”
She stood facing brother and sister, tossed the top hat on the floor, and said again three times, “Abracadabra, hocus pocus, alakazam.” Again, she reached behind her back and brought forth a hat — this one a brown bowler, from which she extracted a black and white mottled rabbit with blue eyes.
“Cool,” Dave said as she handed him the rabbit. “I’m gonna call it Magic, if it’s okay to keep it.”
“All yours,” Vree said. “Merry Christmas.”
“You mean if Dad says it’s okay,” Amy said. She ordered Vree to turn around. Vree smiled, put the hat atop her head of long blonde hair, and pirouetted.
“How did you hide two rabbits behind your back?” Amy asked.
“A magician never reveals her secrets,” Vree said.
“That’s so awesome.” Dave grinned at her as a green aura cloaked him like an emerald fog. An aura only she could see, and one that marked him for death.
~ ~ ~
“I said to drop it,” Vree said as the memory of practically fleeing Mr. Evans’s farmhouse faded.
“Sorry,” Lenny said. Then, “You’re right. I’m glad you threw the crystal away. You haven’t been yourself since finding it. I can come over and we can spend time together,” he added. “I don’t think Dave will mind if I miss the game this year.”
“No.” It may not be safe yet. “I need to be alone,” Vree said before promising Lenny to see him before school started again in two days.
She closed her phone and sat rigid, staring at the road and seeing nothing but memories of her life at school. Other than Dave, she had run into no one during the past two months destined to die, which was odd. Arrogance, disrespect, injustice, and deception ran amok at Ridgewood High. And some students picked on her for being forefront in art and music and creative writing, calling her names like geek, professor and Mozart, although Boulanger — as in Lili Boulanger — would have been more appropriate.
Although no one had been marked, Angelina had taken over her mind during those times of ridicule. Luckily, she had killed no one. Even Craig Coleman, that empty skull who had failed two grades and poked fun at her for knowing answers to multi-variable calculus problem had gone unscathed. Well, except the time Angelina weakened his neck muscles for five minutes during lunch so he couldn’t control his head.
Vree smiled at the memory.
And there was the time Angelina had zapped Frank Bunce and Kathy Montefusco into Lenny’s iPad.
Funny and mean.
Vree stopped smiling. “It’s over,” she told herself. “Angelina’s gone.” She took a deep breath and felt her body relax for the first time in several weeks.
The sun tried to lull her away. She would have welcomed the slumber but a sudden wintry breeze raised her from her seat and sent her dashing indoors and up the squeaky wooden stairs, past family photos and her dad’s giant Buddha tapestry from an Indian client he helped win a corporate lawsuit five years ago. Although he had to leave that distinguished occupation after lightning struck him almost two years ago, she still closed her eyes to the reminders of a more estimable past.
Her bedroom was square, sparsely furnished with bed, bureau, TV, office desk and rolling chair, and tidy, but still a teenager’s storage and catchall room for dolls, stuffed animals, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. They cluttered every desk and bureau surface.
She threw herself on her bright aqua bedcovers, and then rolled off restless and plopped herself down at her desk. She drummed her fingers with a kinetic energy of vernal discontent, leafed through a sketchbook of pencil drawings, and finally settled to study her face in a wall mirror propped in front of her. She wasn’t gorgeous, but she was pretty, which made her almost smile. Mrs. McCarthy, her art teacher, had told her she had a talent drawing faces. She took up pencil, found a clean page in her sketchbook, and attempted to draw her face in an exact likeness.
The composition soon soured when she tried to draw her eyes, so she started again on a new sheet of paper. This time, she saw herself more clearly in the mirror. Her hand, eyes and mind worked together. She remembered the rules of size and proportion and positive and negative space. Her portrait seemed to draw itself, and she finished it within minutes. Beaming at her accomplishment, she looked at her face in the mirror. Beyond her mop of blonde hair in the reflected image, she saw a closed wooden door where her window’s chic and cheerful aquamarine and white curtain panels should have been.
The door was honey stained oak and had a bright, faceted glass doorknob. She turned from the mirror and looked at the window. In the mirror, however, the door loomed large and mysterious.
Fascinated and a little frightened, she lifted the mirror from its propped up position and crossed the room slowly until, facing the window, she held up the mirror and studied the door in it, now just inches away. She reached out to where she knew there was an aquamarine curtain panel, and watched in the mirror as her fingers touched cold wood instead.
She yanked her hand away and blew on her fingertips; they felt as though they had touched ice.
When her fingers were warm again, she lifted her hand to the window and found the faceted doorknob as cold as the door. She blew on her fingers again, took a deep breath to calm her excitement — now was a moment of mystery and great curiosity — and grasped and turned the knob.
The door in the mirror opened toward her. She let it swing open and saw a hallway with a wood floor just as polished as the door. Across the hall, a large painting of the prettier side of Myers Ridge hung in an ornate gold frame on a white wall. The painting was bright and colorful and well executed, and she shivered when she recognized its artist and the place it hung at.
She pressed a palm against her bedroom’s woven curtain and the hard, cool window glass behind it. But when she looked in the mirror, the tactile sensation disappeared. In the mirror, her hand touched nothing as it passed through the doorway.
She kept her gaze fixed on the mirror, leaned her shoulder against her widow, and watched herself enter the hallway.
The crossing yanked the mirror from her grasp. She spun and saw it land flat and face up on her greenish blue and white carpet. The glass did not break, and she felt that it was important that it stay intact.
She stood at a full-length doorway that looked into her room and knew that it somehow occupied the same space as the boy’s bedroom that should have been there. Down the hall and outdoors, cheers erupted. She entered Amy Evans’s bedroom and peeked out a window at the softball game playing out next to the barn. In leftfield, the green glow still shrouded Dave.
While she watched him catch a fly ball and run to the infield, the scene changed to a green, smoky vision of a small boy, perhaps six or seven years old, who stood at the far end of Ridgewood’s town’s park and told a smaller girl who stood about ten yards away to pitch him the baseball she held. Beneath a summery sun, the little girl underhanded a pitch that bounced twice in front of the boy before he rolled it back to her and told her to step closer and try again. She did. The second pitch made a perfect arc to the boy and cracked off the bat when he swung. The girl staggered backward, clutching her chest and falling.
A man bolted from a park bench and rushed to her, put an ear to her chest and pressed fingers against her neck. Then, after rolling her on her back and placing one of his hands on top of the other and interlacing his fingers to compress her chest, he performed CPR. Over and over, thirty compressions and two rescue breaths, even after the boy still clutched the murder weapon in his left hand and sobbed and yelled at the girl to get up. Over and over until the vision ended.
“She died,” Angelina said in Vree’s mind. “Now he must give back.”