Chapter 25: Song

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I stood steps away from the window, heart racing. The bright music had brought me here. I doubted what happened next would be half so bright.

The shadow before me stirred, and I was reminded of the magician. Had the music been some sort of an illusion to get me here? I looked around uneasily. No. I really was alone with whatever was sitting on the window.

A cold chill shivered up inside me. Whatever it was, it was looking at me. As I stared back into its reflective black eyes, the most irrational feeling entered into my being. I suddenly felt like I should do something.

I shook off the thought almost before I could think, But what?

It propelled itself forward- into the air- towards me.

I stumbled back, already pulling out my knife. But it just landed on the floor and tilted its head curiously.

"What kind of creature are you?" I whispered. For I was sure it was a creature (It was covered in soft black and seemed to be breathing). All that remained to be seen was whether it was an animal or a magical creature.

It blinked.

"Right. Well." I cleared my throat and started slowly backing away. "I'll just, um. . ." It took a few hops toward me.

"No," I said. "You just stay there." Who knew what this creature could do? Maybe that hard black thing was a razor-sharp spike it used to stab people. And if it was magical. . . I tried not to think about it.

The creature took another few hops. It seemed innocent enough; I mean, it was tiny. I was probably overreacting. My nerves were just on edge.

Almost as if in response to that thought, the creature opened what I now assumed was some sort of mouth, not a spike, and issued a few light notes. And as it hopped right up to my gray boots, I had the sneaking suspicion that I knew exactly what it wanted from me.

"Uh uh. Not happening."

It continued staring up at me.

At which point I just turned on my block heel and walked away. It didn't seem to be dangerous, and in any case, there was no way I was singing. So there.

However, I could not ignore the feeling of being watched. I stopped and glanced over my shoulder. And there it was, hopping in my wake. I shook my head. Whatever. Jack had gotten captured. I needed to focus on things that actually mattered. Now what had happened to that duffel? I dimly remembered letting it slip off my back so I could run faster, a memory that prompted more guilt than I'd have thought, judging by the fact that he'd gotten injured and dumped it on me.

I turned and felt a slight weight on my shoulder. Guess who. The creature was almost entirely black, with white tips on its sides, and soft as the blanket I'd left at my haven.

"Get off," I said irritably, and went to swipe it off. It rose into the air, then regained its position on my shoulder when my hand was again resting at my side.

It made the noise again, and honestly, it most sounded like the honk of a car's horn, only it was much higher-pitched. I tried to swat it one more time before sighing and giving up. This was getting me nowhere.

The creature twittered incessantly in my ear the entire way back to Jack's duffel. Several times I forgot that I had given up and tried to shoo it away. Eventually, it became slightly less annoying, and more like the song that had originally drawn me to it. Maybe after a while I would be able to tune it out.

Once Jack's duffel was back on my back, I figured it was time to do something. I finished tracing my tracks back to where I had given up chasing Jack's enormous captor. Then I continued, barely glancing at the shelves on either side of me, until I came to the door identical to the one he had come through to snatch Jack in the first place (which he had of course shut behind him).

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