Chapter five: In which Abby becomes self-aware
by Gretchen Neal/Editor-in-Chief
Abby awoke on the concrete floor of a tiny room, surrounded by iron bars. There was a soreness at the back of her head, where she had presumably been hit with a two-by-four.
She felt for any bleeding with her fingers. There was none. “Ow,” she murmured, “I swear, there was no one in that room when I first walked in, and yet, I somehow still get knocked out. I may not remember anything about my life previous to the train station, but I feel like my life before this wasn’t so like to a B-list Sci-Fi movie.”
“I didn’t think Sharknado was too horrible,” a voice beside her stated.
Abby shot up from the floor, nearly smacking her face into the bars. She snapped her head to her left, where an old man in rags was sitting, cross-legged, staring at her from his own cell. He had a long grey beard and an overall filthy appearance. There appeared to be no one else in the prison-like holding room.
“Um, hello?” Abby said uncertainly.
“Well, hi there!” The old man was grinning with rotting teeth. “What brings you to this neck of the woods?”
“A blunt object to the back of my skull,” Abby said. “Where are we?”
“Oh, it’s just the hidden prison under Topsham’s City Hall,” the man shrugged, “They throw us trouble-makers in here. But it’s not so bad. Movie night is every Thursday!”
“Trouble-makers,” Abby repeated to herself. “What did you do to get in here?”
“I threw a balloon full of donkey urine at the mayor’s son,” the old man responded, giggling. “Oh, the look on his face, though – almost worth life imprisonment!” There was a distant look in the old man’s eye, a few seconds of silence, and then the old man giggled again and said “Yep.”
“Look,” Abby said “I have no idea who I am or what I’m doing in this town. The mayor is apparently dead, the mayor’s son has some seriously weird evil villain-aura to him, and people mentioned something about magic. Could you explain to me what is going on?”
The old man squinted at her. “Earl,” he said, slowly and seriously.
“That’s my name. No, wait. Spencer.”
“Camel,” the old man said, having made up his mind.
“Okay, Spencer Camel,” the girl said “I don’t know what’s going on around here but I’ve had enough of this day, and I really just want an explanation. Upstairs, the mayor’s son and the mayor’s brother mentioned some prophecy and magic. What are they talking about?”
The old man said “Oh, that. I guess Topsham does have a history with magic. Using magic to cure the sick, using magic to take care of crops, using magic to crush our enemies…” the old man trailed off. “And then it was forbidden. The mayor told the people that using magic was a crime punishable by death. But that was when I was a boy. There’s been several mayors since then.” Spencer was now rocking back and forth with his feet in his hands. He seemed to be a five-year-old in the body of an eighty-plus man.
“Fantastic,” Abby said, growing impatient. “That answers absolutely nothing.”
“They make you forget things,” Spencer said “If you anger them. Is that why you can’t remember anything?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
“Can you do magic?” the old man said, looking eager.
“Again, I don’t know.” Abby reiterated. She sighed and looked for an obvious exit. Noting but a barred window, above Spencer’s cell.
“What’s that on your shirt?” Spencer was pointing. Abby looked down at her clothes, now sullied from the prison floor. She realized he was talking about the symbol on her white T-shirt.
“This is going to sound repetitive, but I don’t know.” Abby said.
“Maybe it’s the secret to your powers,” the old man suggested. “Touch it, see if something magical happens!”
Abby hesitantly raised a shaking finger to her shirt. What if she did have magical powers? What if she couldn’t control them? She didn’t know if she was ready for the answer, as she slowly touched her finger to the symbol on her shirt…
“Well, it was worth a shot,” Spencer said. But Abby wasn’t paying attention to him. She had heard movement above them.
A door slammed open, and the room filled with light.