Mark, sweetheart, a light just went on in cabin 8. As far as i know, the couple who rented that one checked out three days ago. Would you walk over and see what’s going on? Take Martha with you. She didn’t get her walk today.
Where has my husband gone? Guess pup and i will walk over ourselves.
Come on, Martha. Martha is our beautiful chocolate lab. She’s three and loves to go for long walks. Tonight, though, we’re only walking to 8. I get my flashlight, my coat and gloves and we’re off. Martha doesn’t need a leash. No leash law twelve miles from the closest town.
My husband, Mark, and i own the Pink Rose Inn. It’s made up of a tiny one bedroom cabin where Mark, Martha and i live, and fifteen cabins that we rent in summer and winter. It’s not a lot, but it’s ours. Tarling, our housekeeper lives in cabin 12. Mark and i have sort of a paying hobby on the side. Maybe i’ll fill you in sometime. I’m sure there are those who wonder how we can live all the way out here. Quite a few have said to me, Julia, don’t you get lonely way out there with only Mark and your dog? I smile and respond, nope. The reason for that is our hobby/side occupation, but i don’t tell them that.
We get to the door of cabin 8, and there’s definitely a light on in the small living room. Martha sits patiently by the door. Should i knock? Why should i knock? We own the cabin, and there’s not supposed to be anyone in it. There are two windows in the front on either side of the door. I peer into the one on the left. I feel like a peeping tom. This is ridiculous. I go up the two steps and try the knob. Not locked! I open the door fast and go in. Martha follows and barks twice. No one in the living room and no one in the kitchen in the back. What about the bedroom to the right? I cross the room and look in. No one. The bed hasn’t been slept in. Then i realize that we’re not in cabin 8. The layout is the same. Every cabin is laid out the same way. Only the furniture, which is spare in each, is different, and each has a different color scheme. Number 8 has butter yellow walls and spruce green furniture. The furniture is spare, but it’s quite expensive. This couch in the living room is different. I know i’m in 8, for goodness sake! I go back and look at the outside of the door. Yes, there’s a brass 8 and below it a painted pink rose. I look again at the couch. It looks like it’s from 1975, and it’s orange velvet. Not pale orange, but a burnt orange shade. The walls are barnboard panelled. The coffee table is pine and there’s a tall black vase in the center filled with orange calla lilies and red amaryllis.
Martha jumps up on the couch and makes herself comfortable. I think, none of the fifteen cabins is decorated this way. I mean, none is, right?
I sit next to Martha on the couch, lean back and massage my forehead. I’m not dreaming. I’m a witch. Okay, i wasn’t going to tell you that. Mark and i have been married for fourteen years, but he has no idea. I love him. He’s very intelligent, but he has an absent minded professor kind of personality. Anyway, what’s happening now is real. I know a spell when i see one. But who cast it? I’m the caster of spells around here! I don’t like having it done to me. And what is this spell’s purpose? I’ve made a few foes in my past. After all, i’m four hundred and twenty two years old. Another fact Mark doesn’t know. I suspect Martha knows. Dogs are so intuitive.
So, where has this spell sent me? I look around the room for clues. I feel weak. I’m not used to this. I look at the coffee table. Then, a cat comes out of the bedroom and jumps up. A tuxedo cat wearing a red collar. Martha perks her ears but otherwise doesn’t move. I see a gold heart shaped tag attached to the kitty’s collar. I reach out to read it. It says, hi, i’m Lyle. On the other side, i see five numbers. I read them out loud. 59347. Then Lyle says, hello, Julia.
I start. Lyle talks. So he’s a familiar! But whose? He says, do you remember me, Julia? From 1977? You must remember. That was quite a night we had, back before i became a cat.
I feel dizzy and queasy. Yes, i remember. How could i forget? 1977 in Copenhagen. And i say out loud, Daire de Seckcee.
Daire chuckles. Don’t worry, Julia. I’m only here to warn you that Fate knows what you’ve been up to since your marriage. There are two people on their way here, Alicia Dunning, my human, and my little brother Dante. You need to watch out for them. Be careful, my love.
Why did you change the appearance of this cabin, Daire?
Just to make things interesting for you, my dear. It’s very 1977, don’t you think?
And who changed you into a cat?
Well, that will stay my secret for awhile. I need to figure out how to change myself back. Now, it’s time for me to get back to Alicia. Remember my warning! And one more thing, watch out for Tarling. She’s not who she seems. You know that tourmaline ring she wears on her right ring finger? It’s special. If you can, try to get your hands on it. Use a spell if you have to. You’re great at that. I can’t explain right now.
My head aches. I close my eyes for five seconds then open them, and Daire is gone. I say, well, Martha. What now? I merely get her beats me, Mom, look….