How it all began…
It was a strange Halloween day in San Francisco. The tule fog was so thick upon the ground that one could not see to the corner of the block.
True to the post-office motto, the mail carriers left the sorting station with their arms heavily loaded to deliver the day’s mail. Sonja’s mail cart was unusually heavy this morning. She huffed and puffed a little as she pushed it and began her delivery route. She smiled as she passed the Little Red Schoolhouse where the children, all in costume, were having the traditional Halloween parade, marching in a circle around their teacher dressed as the wicked witch.
After delivering to the first block on her route, she came to the block she disliked above all the others. Each house had 16-20 stairs to climb to deliver the bills, ads and small packages for each postal customer. Dutifully, Sonja climbed the stairs of the first two dwellings but as she turned to descend the stairs of the second house, a dog barked and she lost her footing tumbling down the stairs and landing hard on the cement sidewalk. Immediately, she fell into a state of unconsciousness. Hidden by the fog shroud, she was not visible to her co-workers or travelers on the street.
Sometime later, Sonja awoke to feel a sharp pain in the side of her head. Fortunately, she had no broken bones, so carefully, she began first to sit upright and finally to stand. So thick was the fog that she could see nothing of her surroundings. She could not see where to go! Sonja noticed that she was no longer wearing her uniform! Instead her attire consisted of jeans, a black turtle neck sweater and a beautiful silver necklace with a large attached heart. The worst thing of all was that her mail cart was missing. She could be fired for this loss. Sonja began to feel panic in the pit of her stomach. How long was she out? Where should she go and what should she do?
Slowly, she turned her sore head to the left side and felt some pangs of relief when she saw the hint of a light through the fog. She started walking toward it. She walked and walked. Again she began to panic, for she felt she was walking, but making no progress. Sonja was about to turn around when she noticed the tunnel. It seemed as though the light was brighter at the tunnel’s end so she proceeded in that direction. Onward she walked with her eyes wide open, her head hurting and her heart pounding.
As she stepped through the distant opening of the portal, she could not believe what lay before her eyes. The fog had receded somewhat and she was able to read a sign which read, “Welcome to Spirit Hill Square- the Finest of shopping for witches, wizards, mystics and those with psychic leanings.”
Shaking and suddenly very scared, Sonja saw a postal person riding a bicycle. She yelled out “Can you help me? I’m lost and can’t seem to find my postal route. I’m from San Francisco, California. You know the Golden Gate to the Golden State!”
The postal delivery person looked at Sonja very strangely for he had never heard of San Francisco or California. However, genuinely wanting to help Sonja, he replied, “If you come with me on my route through the square, I will introduce you to the shop keepers and one of them should be able to help you find your way.”
“Hop on the back of my bike. You look a little shaky. By the way, what’s your name?” Rousting up all her bravado, she said, “My name is Sonja. What is yours?” She got on the back of the bike while he told her that his name was Lebec and that he was new on this route. Off they went: he to deliver the mail, she to find a way home.
Igor’s Midnite Market
The first stop on Lebec’s route was the grocery store or Igor’s Midnite Market owned by the ever so creepy, Igor G. Orlok. The two-story operation with an upstairs bakery is located next door to the fabulous Dragon Myst Produce which is managed by Elphaba, an experienced produce grower aided by Igor’s son, Junior, who appears to be really good for nothing but moving boxes from one place to another. Just about anything from mushrooms to pumpkins could be found here.
Sonja and Lebec left his mail bike at the curb and went inside. Sonja looked around to see the butcher, Doc Cal Igari, serving customers and cats while the evil Igor worked the register. His yellow eyeballs brightened at the site of Sonja and he listened intently to her pleas for help in getting home. “I’ll do anything to get home” she cried. Igor offered, “How about I help you get home and you give me that necklace? ” Somehow, deep inside her, she new that the necklace was something she desperately needed to keep. So she screamed at Igor “Not even after my dying breath would I give up this necklace, fella. You can forget that payment idea. ” Needing to finish his route and unable to stay longer, Lebec wished her a good trip home for he was confident that Igor would get her there. He left to finish his work obligations.
At this point, Igor told her the following. “My dear child, I can help you get home but the price is very, very high. In order for me to assist you in your endeavor to return home, you must bring me the following items:
1. Two black roses
2. A bottle of Wulff Manor Wine
3. A chocolate frog
4. A dragon egg
5. A jester’s mask
6. The head of the devil
“That’s impossible stuff for me to find! I’ll never get home this way. Never, Never, Never, ” she told Igor. She started to cry as Igor suggested that she visit the shops in the square. “Most of the items can be found around here. Don ‘t fret my pet. You’ll get home before long, ” Igor yelled after her as she ran out the door.
She sat on the bench outside the market, frightened and crying over her situation. Suddenly she noticed three blind mice next to her on the bench and another mouse begging for help on top of the newspaper rack. They were so cute that she reached out to them. They, too, were concerned about her state of mind.
She told them she was lost and what Igor had demanded of her to help her get home. The mice were amazed at the list of items Igor required to assist Sonja but having begged outside his store for years, they knew him to be an evil person. He often shooed them away from the door with a big threatening broom.
The mice helped Sonja wipe away her tears and tried to convince her that Igor was the only game in town and that she had to find the items he wanted. So, off on her journey she went, feeling somewhat alone because Lebec had left her to finish his mail delivery and the mice could not come with her because they would have slowed her down. She thanked them and set off in a hurry to find all the items and get home. Sonja wondered, “How can anyone not know San Francisco or the Golden Gate?” She smiled at the two dogs playing with a string of sausages someone had dropped in front of the market.
Her next thoughts scared her a bit, for she really wondered where she was and just what was Spirit Hill Square? She was especially scared as she noticed a witch at the end of the block wearing the traditional pointed hat, but carrying items which appeared to be for sale such as baskets on her back.
On the corner of Spirit Way and Cauldron Court, she spotted Frankies Flowers and decided to begin her search for the items on the list there. What fabulous flowers he had both outside and in the window, so she entered. “Hi there,” he called out as she entered the front door. Sonja was startled to see that Frankie was none other than Frankenstein, who was a rather frightening character, due to his size. “Are you looking for poison orchids or man-eating plants? I have both upstairs in the conservatory. I also have a large variety of roses down here. There is a sale out on the back patio, too.”
Sonja asked Frankie if he had black roses, to which he replied “Long or short stems?” Sonja had no clue as to what Igor wanted, but decided to take the long stem ones. “I’ll take 12 of the long stem ones, sir. I am trying to get home to San Francisco. Igor Orlok told me he would help me if I brought him the items on this list. I am so happy that you have the black roses.” She didn’t even notice the black robed vampire at the counter. Frankie wrapped up the flowers and told Sonja that she owed him 12 pendracles as the roses cost 1 pendracle each. “Oh, no,” she cried out. “I have no money. Now what will I do?” Large tears started to fall from her eyes. Frankie was particularly susceptible to tears as they invoked the gentle side of his nature. So Frankie told Sonja, “Okay, my dear, you water the flowers for me upstairs in the conservatory and then out on the street, and I will give you the twelve roses as payment for your service.” Sonja agreed that this sounded like a fair arrangement, so she shook Frankie’s hand and began to ascend the circular staircase to the conservatory. Climbing up the stairs, she again heard Frankie’s warning, “Watch out for the man eating plants and the poison orchids. Water them but don’t get to close. It could be very dangerous. You’ll find the watering can down by the orchids.”
As she reached the top of the stairs, she saw the large section of man-eating plants off to her far right. They looked so menacing that she walked straight ahead searching for the watering can. Right where he said it was, she picked up the can, and as she began to pump the water Sonja realized just how sore and tired she really was. Barely able to hold the can filled with water, she began her chores: light spray for the orchids along with a drenching for the other plants. Use all the water in the can. She turned to refill the watering can but before she could pump the water, the long frond of one of the man-eaters grabbed her from behind. She screamed as it drew her closer and closer to its mouth. Instinct had her grab for her necklace, and when she did, the frond released its hold on her. If she released her touch on the necklace, the frond grabbed hold again. So, she now knew the secret of how to water the man-eaters was “Hold on to your Heart”. The side of her head was so painful that she rubbed it with her hand, and while she did that, she failed to notice the woman in the next aisle. Searching for the perfect man-eating plant was a true witch, wearing her cape and a pointed hat, of course.
Igor’s Upstairs Bakery
Completing her jobs for Frankie left her sore, tired and very hungry. She decided to take only 6 of the roses and the rest of her earnings in cash so she would have some money to buy food. Thanking Frankie, she decided to go back to the bakery upstairs from Igor’s to find something to satisfy her gnawing hunger. Saying a quick hello to her blind mice friends and giving them one of her remaining six pendracles, she turned the corner and climbed the stairs to the bakery. From outside the door, the wonderful smells enticed her, but she was startled by what she saw inside.
Sitting at tables drinking and eating were four witches with their familiars comfortably resting on the floor. One could not miss what they were as they were dressed in traditional black garb with pointed hats. She saw no brooms around when she walked in, which surprised her a bit.
She was so weak with hunger that she entered the bakery and went straight to the counter. The only thing, however, that she could afford was a loaf of Day of the Dead bread and a cup of hot coffee. Purchasing both, she turned to see that the tables were all taken. Summoning her courage, Sonja asked if she could join one of the groups. “Sit down, my pretty” was the immediate reply.
A Conversation with the Four
So she joined the group of witches. Conversation with them flowed freely and fast, as each was curious about the other.
“My name is Sonja and I am trying to find my way home to San Francisco, California. Igor, from downstairs at the market, said he would help me if I either give him my necklace or bring him the items on this list,‚Äù she said, showing the list to the four witches sitting with her. The witches listened intently to her story while their familiars lay quietly on the floor. They had battled Igor for years. They knew how evil Igor operated and how he bullied the citizens of Spirit Hill who had been stupid enough to once elect him Mayor. The witches wanted to help Sonja but knew they had to keep their involvement covert. Igor would never forgive them if he knew how they had interfered. And, they definitely planned to interfere. Honora, Brujita, Hexanna and Spellanie spent several hours with Sonja describing life in Spirit Hill, giving her suggestions as to where she might find the items on Igor’s list. They each gave her 5 pendracles so she could by the items when and if she found them. Sonja listened to each word they uttered as she ate her Day of the Dead Bread and drank her coffee. As she finished her coffee, it again occurred to her that she had seen no brooms so she asked the four where their brooms were. The witches told her that they were on Igor’s roof, parked at the Broomport. Yes, Igor even controlled the Spirit Hill Broomport. He charged one pendracle to land and another to take off after shopping, a kind of witch tax! “Oh dear,” Sonja exclaimed. “I had no idea that Igor was such a horrible person who wanted to make everyone’s life so totally miserable. It seems as though if I want to ever see San Francisco again, I had better play his game and go along with his wishes.” “Yes, dear Sonja”, said Spellanie, “You really have no choice but to go along with it all. Beware though. He wants your necklace in the worst way and he will stop at nothing to get it! Until you have all the items on his list, stay as far from him and his son as you can. They are both dangerous and tricky. Expect the unexpected.”
As Spellanie talked, chills ran up and down Sonja’s spine. Now she was really scared but in order to get home, she would have to conquer her fears and continue searching for the items on Igor’s list. Home, Home, Home. How she longed to be walking her postal route again. If she ever got home, she bargained, she would never complain again. There were, however, facets of Sonja’s life about which she did not know. She had lived the twenty-two years of her life believing that she was the American-born daughter of two Romanian immigrants, Ion and Anna. That was far from the truth. She was, in fact, merely entrusted to their care by her natural parents, a count and countess who resided high in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. Was she ever to know the truth? Was she ever to be called home?
The History of the Necklace
The instant she had entered his store, Igor recognized the necklace she wore. It was the necklace that denoted she was the future Romanian countess. Of course he would know it, for his young wife had worn it years ago. Igor had been married to the future Romanian countess when she died in childbirth. Her parents were so distressed over the death of their daughter that as she lay in her coffin, they removed the necklace. Next, they banished Igor and his infant son. They were given money enough to live comfortably but they were never to return to the Carpathian Mountains. Then to hurt him even more deeply, the Count and Countess placed the necklace around the neck of their beautiful daughter, Sonja who was just a toddler. Before taking his infant son and leaving for good, Igor made some very threatening statements toward the little girl child. He told the Count and Countess that they had better watch her constantly or she would never grow up to ascend to her role as Countess.
Immediately, the Count and Countess called upon the four witches, Honora, Brujita, Hexanna and Spellanie and charged them with the task of watching Igor and his son wherever they went. They were never to be out of sight, said Vlad and Mira.
Next, they sent their baby girl to be raised far away from the Carpathian Mountains by their dearest friends, Ion and Anna. She was not to be told of her background until it was safe for her to return to the Mountains and assume her duties as Countess. So, the four witches followed Igor as he settled in Spirit Hill. He had been given enough money to buy lots of property. He was so bitter, that he had rapidly grown old and ugly. His son seemed to have little mental capacity at all. Igor’s hate and bitterness spilled over into everything he did and every interaction he had with the town’s residents. Hoping to mellow him out some, the townspeople had elected Igor to the office of Mayor. It was no help and he was just as mean on the day that the town impeached him from office. Igor’s son tried to be a good person but with a father such as Igor, he carried quite a stigma around his neck. Igor was mean to him as well. He refused to tell his son why they had been banished from their homeland and forced to live among the witches, wizards and psychics. Junior was not a bad boy but he was not the brightest bulb in the package either. Igor wanted that necklace in the worst way. He felt he had been cheated out of it by the Count and Countess. After all, it had belonged to his late wife and he was determined to get it back. No matter what the cost or what he had to do. What Igor did not know was that the four witches would protect Sonja with their lives and their spells. He could try, but he would never hurt her as long as they had breath in their bodies.
The Spirit Hill Art Gallery
Even more scared, Sonja was still determined to press on and look in each of the shops on the square for the items on the list. Home was a place where she desperately wanted to be. She would do nearly anything to get there.
Having eaten, she felt much better and set out to continue her search by first visiting the stores on Cauldron Court. Next-door to Frankie’s, she noticed The Spirit Hill Art Gallery. It was open for they were having an opening night extravaganza complete with an outside street sale. At the entrance, she stepped inside behind two witches who had picked out paintings to buy from the outside sale. Eagerly, she entered the brightly lit gallery. She was amazed to see the Bride of Frankenstein being serenaded with a violin concerto played by another man who resembled Frankenstein. There surely were some fabulous paintings on the walls. Betty, owner of the Gallery, was very friendly and outgoing. She took Sonja on a tour of the gallery. There was a painting of Stonehenge, one of Dorothy’s red shoes and lots of paintings of witches combined into something called Relative Row. While the people at the opening were friendly, Sonja saw nothing there that was on her list and turned to descend the stairs and continue on with her search. It was then that she saw it. The painting was sticking out from behind another not yet mounted. It showed a fabulous castle far away in the Carpathian Mountains. Her heart gave a twinge at the sight of the castle painting. But, knowing nothing of her past, Sonja did not know why she had such feelings. She thanked Betty for the tour of the gallery and headed out the door wondering what that castle was and why it had affected her so.
The Psychic Eye Shop
The Psychic Eye Shop was located on the other side of the portal. Looking in the window, Sonja found it pretty amazing. The shop was filled with fortunetellers and wizards and the store contained all types of Psychic paraphernalia from crystals to books to incense. As it was Halloween day, it didn’t seem to surprise Sonja when she noticed the pumpkin head man and his son looking in the window next to her! Gingerly, Sonja opened the door. Immediately, Madame Rosa asked if she wanted her fortune told. Not a bad idea thought Sonja. As scared as she was, she replied that she would like to look around first. “Give me a minute or two to see some of these interesting items before we see what my fortune has to hold. It hasn’t been so good up to now.”
Sonja began to walk around the store noting the many different psychic supplies such as crystals, candles, voodoo dolls and books on all of the magical and mystical subjects. The others in the shop included a tall wizard wearing an amazing ruby red ring. It seemed to have a glow and life of its’ own. As she walked by the wizard, he bent down and whispered to her, “It takes faith and persistence. Trust in yourself my dear.” Sonja was stunned at the words uttered by the wizard. How did he know her problems and desires? He handed her a stick of lavender dream incense and said, “When you feel like you can’t go on, burn this incense. You will be pleased with it.”
Madame Rosa smiled brightly as Sonja was about to sit down at her table. “I’m not sure I should do this”, Sonja admitted. “I am so confused. I have lost the mail, my city, and my clothes. All I want is to go home but it seems to be getting harder if not nearly impossible to get there. Before he’ll help me get home, Igor has sent me on a wild goose chase for the items on this list. And I have only found one so far.” Sonja began to cry due to her frustration. “Sit down” Rosa offered. “Let’s see what the ball tells me.”
As Sonja sat down with Madame Rosa, Witch Spellanie called for her 3 other coven mates to come quickly and view the happenings in Spellanie’s crystal ball. “What should we do?” worried Spellanie. “Madame Rosa might tell her too much. It is not time for her to know everything yet. The Count has not given us permission. We must stop this but how?” Witch Hexanna offered her suggestion that they take over control of Madame Rosa’s crystal ball and feed it the information they wanted Sonja to know. The four witches agreed to this plan so Hexanna got her magic wand and said “Controllo ballarosa”. With only seconds to spare, the four witches gained control over the images, which would appear in Rosa’s crystal ball. They began to feed in new images such as Sonja dressed in her Post Office uniform, the Golden Gate bridge, Ion and Anna whom she thought were her parents and the best friend she had ever had, her dog Maxwell. They erased the images of the Count, the Countess, the castle and even the long ago threats that Igor had made to her real parents. Then they sat back to watch as Madame Rosa told Sonja her fortune.
Madame Rosa parted the clouds in her crystal ball with her hands and began to reveal to Sonja the fortune conjured up by the four witches. “I see you,” Rosa cried out, “You are walking pushing a cart loaded with mail.” So see, soon you will get home! See dear, there is nothing to worry about. I can see that you have found the items on Igor’s list and that he has helped you return. Your picture is filled with sunshine, happiness and long life. Oh, the ball has gone dark and I can tell you no more.”
Feeling somewhat relieved by the words of Madame Rosa, Sonja decided to continue her search for the objects on the list. She took the incense given to her by the wizard with the red ring and added it to her bag with the roses. Off she went to see if she could find any of the items on the list in the next shop.
As she headed on down the street, Sonja saw an open portal. Tempted to enter it, she noticed the thick fog swirling around and filling the place. She decided not to enter here but to keep on walking down Cauldron Court. Although Sonja didn’t know it, it was a smart decision for hiding in the fog was Junior waiting for his chance to grab the silver heart necklace.
The Local Bookstore
Always at home in bookstores, Sonja got excited at the site of the next shop called Shadow’s Books. Here, she spent some time looking at the window displays. Shadow’s Books was a dichotomy of the age-old wizards library with its fancy stacks of books, charts, and scrolls, and a modern bookstore with tables of books on display. It was somewhat soothing to see the Harry Potter Books in one of the windows. By golly, if they were for sale, she couldn’t be too far from home. Could she? The other window was filled with some amazing kind of timepieces. She thought they were called Orrerys. Sonja had always loved bookstores, and felt comfortable in libraries. So, she walked right up to Shadow, the owner, and introduced herself.
Sonja was still curious about the castle picture that she had seen in the Art Gallery. So, she asked Shadow if he had any books of old castles. He directed her to the one stack of charts of old castles that he had stashed away. Quickly, Sonja found the picture of the castle and again had strong feelings toward it. When she queried Shadow, she learned that the castle was owned by an old Count and Countess and was located high in the Carpathian Mountains.
The four witches watched nervously as Shadow told her about the castle. Quickly, they tied his tongue so he could tell her no more. For it was not yet time for her to know.
Sonja found it both fun and relaxing to look at the books and charts in the store. She was especially drawn to the Harry Potter window with its books including the screaming book, the sorting hat, and the Basilisk statue. And even though it was not on her list, Sonja purchased the 6th book in the series and sat in a comfy chair and began to read. Soon, she put her head back and began to snooze.
In her dreams, Sonja saw images of an elderly man and woman sitting in a rather regal room inside a castle. The walls were covered with pictures of ancestors long gone. One picture, however, grabbed her full attention for it was the picture of two women, one in her early twenties and the other a little toddler. She was startled to see the heart necklace being worn by the young woman who looked nothing like Sonja. She awoke with a start and thought to herself, “I must get home to see if Mama and Papa can explain to me what all these images mean.”
With new and fierce determination, Sonja picked up her bag and headed down Cauldron Court to the next shop. She nearly knocked the desert dweller off her feet in her hurry to proceed. “I’m sorry,” Sonja yelled back over her shoulder as she ran off down the block.
A Cooking Lesson
The last shop on the block was awash with light and filled with witches. Looking in the window, Sonja saw many crystal balls both beautiful and amazing in design along with cauldrons of a variety of sizes. Inside the store, known as Cauldrons and Crystals, she saw a large fireplace surrounded by several witches listening intently to the directions given by the instructor. Amazed that she had found a witches cooking school, Sonja looked at each crystal ball and cauldron as she slowly drew nearer and nearer to the conjuring witch lecturing from a book entitled “How to Serve Children.”
The shock of the subject being taught nearly prevented Sonja from noticing the chocolate frog located on the witch’s supply table. The instructor, noticing Sonja for the first time, cackled her greeting, “Hello dearie. Are you here to join our class?” “Oh no,” replied Sonja stumbling over her words. “I just saw that chocolate frog on your table and was wondering if it were for sale?”
“Oh no, dearie. But, it is one of the recipes I am teaching tonite. Pull up a stool and before the evening ends, you will have made at least one!” What choice did she have? None, really. So, Sonja joined the 3 witches and learned to prepare the chocolate frog recipe! Not a witch and unable to conjure did not stop the determined Sonja. With the teacher’s assistance, she created a beautiful chocolate frog. Not only did she get one of the items on Igor’s list, Sonja had some fun at the witch’s cooking school. Sonja packed her frog in the bag with the black roses, the incense the wizard had given her and the Harry Potter book she had purchased at Shadow’s. The witches wished her well. No one noticed as Igor’s son peered into the window and then ran off to report to his father at the market. She had explained during the class that she had a list of items to find before Igor would help her get home to San Francisco. She shared the details of being lost, her trying to get home and he being the only one to offer her help. She also revealed how incredibly mean he had been to her. Each of the witches could relate to Sonja as each had had her own experiences with the yellow-eyed evil townsman.
Igor listened intently as Junior reported Sonia’s visits to the flower shop, the bookstore, the cooking school and the Psychic Eye. Igor again told Junior that he wanted that necklace in the worst way. “Get it” Igor told his son. “All our problems will be ended when you get it! Go now and don’t come back without it” Igor yelled at Junior. Terrorized by his father’s words, Junior cowered and then ran off to find Sonja. He had no plan as to how he was to get the necklace but he knew he had to do it or else.
An Upscale Store
As Sonja neared the corner of Cauldron Court and Batwing Boulevard, she noticed a two-story dress shoppe. The sign read “Under My Hat” which Sonja decided was a catchy name. Exotic ball gowns filled the windows while jewelry, hats and lingerie filled the first floor. The owner of the shop was a very pretty blonde that resembled Kim Novak when she played the witch in Bell, Book and Candle. “I won’t find anything here that is on the list”, Sonja said to herself and started to turn toward the front door. Suddenly she noticed the stairs to the second floor. Climbing the stairs, first she noticed a fabulous display of fans. Next she observed a fashion show on going with a butler resembling Igor serving drinks and hors doeuvres.
Sonja sat down to view the dresses being modeled. As she sat back in her seat, she noticed that masks lined the walls. “Oh is there a jester’s mask?” she wondered. When she asked about it, the sales person replied, “I think I saw one upstairs on the roof in The Rack which is our sale department. If we have one, that’s where it will be.” Sonja couldn’t get there fast enough to see the mask in the hands of an admiring witch. Sonja screamed, “I have to have that” as she grabbed it out of the witch’s hands. I need it so Igor will help me return to my home town.” The witch from whom Sonja had grabbed the mask was not very happy but hearing Sonja’s story decided to give her the mask rather than fight over it any longer.
Sonja was ecstatic as she paid for the mask, put it in her shopping bag and headed out the door. Lost in her own thoughts, she again failed to notice Junior lurking about. Neither did she see the witch about to enter the shop through the side door with her pet spider on leash nor the spider wearing the fancy witch’s hat coming in the front door.
Sonja, now having some hope, had a smile on her face for the first time since she could remember as she turned the corner onto Batwing Boulevard. The first store on the block was Ruby’s Slippers.
A Shoe Store for Witches!!
How clever Ruby had been to open her shoe store next to that fabulous dress shop! Sonja came to this conclusion after noticing that nearly all of the seats were taken with witches dressed with flair and town ladies who just wanted comfort. After all, why do women buy shoes?
“No matter your size, there will always be shoes to fit” said one witch when Sonja asked her the question. Another woman chimed into the conversation, “I am simply addicted to buying shoes. I buy them all the time. I guess you could call me a collector!” All the people in the shop got into a lively conversation about the numbers of shoes that they had while Sonja walked around looking at the great shoes for sale. She would have loved to own a gorgeous pair of black boots on display but the 40 pendracle price was far beyond what she had in her pockets.
And, then she came upon the pair of glass slippers. She sat down in the first available seat to try them on. Why not? She felt kind of like Cinderella at the moment although rather than mean stepsisters she had to deal with yellow-eyed evil Igor. She put the shoe on her foot but no prince arrived to whisk her away. “Oh well, it was worth a try, she said out loud not really talking to anyone in particular. As she spoke, an advertisement came flying through the air and landed at her feet. Sonja picked it up to see that it was announcing a Halloween casting demonstration in the Center Court of Spirit Hill Square. Should she go? She pondered the question only a short minute before deciding to check it out. Just maybe she would find something from Igor’s list. Saying good night to all the ladies in the shop, Sonja scurried off to visit more shops in the few hours left before she was going to attend the demonstration at Center Court. Sonja was beginning to relax in Spirit Hill. She was starting to notice the street people. There were witches on motor scooters! She even saw a witch with a broken leg going along in her wheel chair. Surely she was in for quite a few surprises as she searched the rest of the stores for the items which remained on Igor’s list.
The Grapes of Wrath
According to the Map of the Mall, next door to Ruby’s Slippers was The Grapes of Wrath. The map indicated that it was a shop specializing in wine and cheeses from around the world. This store even had an outside veranda for relaxing and sampling of the products. The shop windows had some wonderful displays for giving Halloween gifts. So, Sonja decided to enter. She was hoping to find a small piece of cheese upon which to nibble for she was again having hunger pangs. On the shop’s second floor was any kind of cheese one could want. While Sonja found nothing in this shop that was on the list Igor had given her, she did find a piece of cheese and she purchased it along with a glass of wine and ventured out onto the veranda to enjoy watching the crowds walking on the street. She had always loved to watch people. The people in Spirit Hill were unusual and fascinating to watch.
As she stepped out onto the veranda, she noticed most of the tables were filled with the townsfolk enjoying themselves. Sonja asked if she could join one of the groups. Invited to join Raven and Samantha, Sonja sat down and related her story to the willing listeners. As she finished she stated her surprise that such a complete shop had no “Wulff Manor” wine. “Oh, that’s not true” exclaimed Raven. “That wine has been available here for years. You must have missed it. For a cheap wine, it is not bad. It is made locally in the basement of that spooky looking mansion on the cliff. Check again with Sam when you leave. I’m sure you will find it.”
Sonja drank her wine and ate her cheese while sharing stories with the two witches, Raven and Samantha. When she got up to leave, she was shocked to see the backs of three skeletons sitting on the fountain outside the store. Was she drunk? What was Spirit Hill? Those thoughts began to return to her mind. She had no fear of the people, but she remained confused and more than a little worried about how and when she would get home!
Sonja went inside again and asked for the Wulff Manor wine. “Of course,” said Sam. “I have it but since the owners of the winery are so difficult to deal with and their product is no more than mediocre, I keep it behind the counter preferring to sell these other really fine wines.”
Sam put two bottles in a bag for Sonja. She thanked him and put the bag inside her Frankie’s Flowers shopping bag with the black roses, the incense stick, the chocolate frog and the Jester’s mask. “Gee, only two items left on the list,” she thought excitedly. “I should be going home in no time”.
When she left the Grapes of Wrath, she took a second look at the skeletons sitting on the fountain. She wished she had a camera for they were posed as “hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil”. Standing next to them was a wolf in men’s clothing. Wow, Spirit Hill was an incredible place full of the most interesting people and sites. She had no clue as to what she would see next.
Sonja turned to continue down Batwing Boulevard and passed another entrance portal to the mall. As she peered inside to see what was there, she saw only swirling fog. That brought a moment of fear and panic, but she drew up her courage and continued to the next store.
It was a rundown building with skeleton heads supporting black candles lighting the path to the door. The sign outside read Veronique’s Voodoo. Sonja was getting really scared for, as the wind blew, she saw a shrunken head hanging from one of the trees. Maybe, she thought, she should skip this shop. Just then a voice whispered in her ear, “Sonja, leave no stone unturned!” Hearing this, she realized that her desire to get home was stronger than her fear, so she knocked on the door. The door was answered by a man in jeans who resembled an ape. He asked “Do you want to see Veronique or her Mama? The special for the day is a gris-gris bag.”
Not knowing really who to speak with, Sonja opted to meet with Mama so the ape-man led her to the upstairs room where Mama sat with a rooster in her lap. Behind her were many books on magic and mystic arts. Fabulous masks adorned the walls. Mama appeared as if in a trance. Sonja walked around looking at the artifacts on the tables and noticed a portrait of Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans. As she neared the portrait, Mama spoke her first words: “Someone is after you. They want that necklace you are wearing.” She added, “I don’t know why, where or when they will confront you, so I am going to make you a gris-gris bag for protection.” Sonja shivered and watched as Mama placed eleven items into a hand stitched felt bag. The first item was a small red candle for winning in battle and conquering enemies. Second was a piece of parchment on which she wrote words for protection and then sprinkled it with fiery protection oil. Next, she added a pinch of Tuesday powdered incense for conquering one’s enemies. The last few items, herbs chosen for protection, were anise, angelica root, bloodroot, a bit of mandrake and finally she included wahoo bark and yarrow because they brought success in all undertakings and imparted courage and protection. The last item placed in the bag was a talisman for protection from all evil spirits.
Mama presented the bag to Sonja and told her to wear the bag at all times and to believe in the mojo it carried. Then, as quickly as she awoke from her trance, Mama fell into it again. The ape-man appeared to guide her to the door. As they walked passed Veronique, also entranced, Veronique shuddered and opened her eyes and spoke “Trust in yourself and the magic will happen. You will get home.”
Outside the front door, Sonja sat on a bench to think about all that had happened inside Veronique’s Voodoo. She also attached the gris-gris bag that Mama had made for her to the belt loop of her jeans but placed the bag inside her pants next to her skin. Sonja truly believed that the powerful spell was going to protect her while she roamed the streets in Spirit Hill looking for the last 2 items on evil Igor’s list.
SONJA meets the BOYS
Next door to the rundown voodoo shack was a large 3-story building whose sign read “Youngblood’s Consignment Furniture.” In considerably better condition than Veronique’s cottage, it did have a rusty fence on the roof. Parked under a tree filled with a family of buzzards was the only car Sonja had seen so far in Spirit Hill. Not new, but well polished was a black Morris Minor sedan, leading Sonja to conclude that the owners were wealthy. Up until seeing this car, the only modes of travel she had seen in and around Spirit Hill were bicycles, scooters, skateboards and even motorcycles.
Sonja had always loved consignment stores. Back at home she knew where they were all located and frequently made the rounds. She had furnished most of her apartment with her finds, and some items were exquisite. So, expecting this store to be lots of fun, Sonja bounded up the three steps and entered.
The first room had kitchen items. As she passed through, she was greeted by a short, rather effeminate man with hair nearly to his knees. He wore a leopard fabric jacket and a ring on each of his fingers. “Hi there” he greeted. “Welcome to Youngblood’s. My name is Slocum. If I can be of assistance, just let me know.”
“I’m looking for the head of the Devil” replied Sonja. “I need it so that Igor will help me get home to San Francisco.” Slocum had never heard of San Francisco before, but he had had several dealings with the evil Igor. “Oh, my poor child, I feel for you having to deal with Igor. Why don’t you join me and my partner on the roof for a glass of wine before you search for the Devil’s Head?” Feeling totally comfortable with Slocum, Sonja chose to join them for a quick glass of wine even though she still had two items from the list to find and lots of stores left to visit. She also wanted to attend the Casting Demonstration at Center Court later on the All Hallows eve.
Slocum led her out onto the roof where Sonja immediately noticed the two crypts, and finally began to put it together. Slocum and Zoltan were vampires. Zoltan was one of those guys that you just liked instantly. He greeted her with a glass of wine and so handsome, wearing a fabulous silver and black floor length cape. The rooftop was amazing with its tables and chairs, and Persian rugs. It was obvious that this was “home” for the couple who had befriended her.
They chose to sit at a long picnic table with two benches to talk and drink their wine even though a large white tiger relaxed upon the tabletop. Sonja hesitated a little but Zoltan assured her that Tatiana the tiger would bring her no harm. A truly magnificent animal, Tatiana sat like a queen. Her only job was to protect Slocum and Zoltan from the tricks and traps of Igor.
“Gee,” thought Sonja, Igor has wreaked havoc on lots of the townspeople. She wondered what in his life had made him so vicious and cruel. She had no idea that her questions would soon be answered. Over the next hour, they shared wine and life stories. Thanking Zoltan and Slocum for their hospitality, Sonja drank the last sip of her wine and rose to begin her search through the sale items. Remember, she still had two items from Igor’s list that had to be located.
There were so many great things for sale at Youngblood’s that her eyes delighted with each new item she viewed. As she reentered the building from the roof, she saw a fabulous dollhouse which had been decorated to look like a haunted house. Wouldn’t any little witchlet be thrilled with that Sonja smiled. She was sure that any wizard would be thrilled to own the “eyeball” chair.
Aside from wonderful furniture pieces, the walls held plaques and paintings that would make any psychic house decorator ecstatic. There was not an inch of space unfilled. She even saw a checker set made of bats! Sonja stumbled over a huge basket filled with decorator pillows. Each pillow was covered with materials displaying monster faces, haunted houses, and even lightening bolts.
Zoltan and Slocum had not missed a trick in choosing items to attract shoppers. On the second floor was a gorgeous pipe organ, of course, playing by itself! It filled the building with such rich sounds that Sonja decided Youngblood’s was the best store in Spirit Hill. She could not imagine any other store as exciting as this. As she continued on the second floor, she viewed one fabulous item after another including a cuckoo clock that had ghosts appearing on the hour with the pendulum in the form of a hangman’s axe!
Witch candles, witch teapots, black cat dishes, a bone coffee table and even flying ghosts were among the eye teasing items that thrilled her. Then she noticed it and yelled for Slocum. Outside the window of the second story was a masked man going down a ladder carrying a large bag of items which he had stolen. Slocum and Zoltan quickly ran to the outside to surprise the burglar as he stepped from the bottom rung of the ladder. They retrieved the bag of goods after Slocum’s spell banished the burglar from Spirit Hill for all time.
Zoltan told Sonja that he wished he could get her home for her reward but had to admit that his powers were not strong enough. He did give her a special gift of a gold necklace with a five pointed star. “There is a little witch in each of us”, he told her and smiled.
Sonja hugged them both and prepared to leave when they reminded her to visit Youngblood’s Cellar. Zoltan and Slocum were fans of a variety of china patterns and had opened the second shop to sell only china for witches, wizards and mystics. Sonja assured them that she would stop there next, and off she went.
Sonja was beginning to feel as though time were running out. Although Igor had not specified how long she had to find the items, she had a feeling that his offer would not last “forever”. She planned to take a quick look at the china shop whose manager was certainly a witch with attitude. Not believing that Sonja was a friend of Zoltan, the manager tried to shoo her out of the store. Now that kind of treatment made Sonja angry so she went all around the small shop and examined each pattern displayed. Her favorite of all turned out to be the flying witch china known as “Fly by Nite.” It had lots of accessory pieces including platters and even a canister set. The manager thought she was going to ring up a huge sale when Sonja turned abruptly and walked out the door. That will fix her thought Sonja. She now has to put all those dishes away. Sonja began to believe that maybe there was a little witch in her after all!
The Potion Shop
At the corner of Batwing Blvd and Nighthawk Lane was Potions 4 U, a small shop that sold prepared potion products. They were especially renowned for the fabulous bottles that they used to fill each potion request. Not needing any potions and thinking that she would not find either the head of the devil or a dragon’s egg in this shop, Sonja simply opened the door and asked the pretty woman in black behind the counter if she had either item. “Not here,” was her reply, and she went on down Nighthawk Lane. She had never even noticed the 2nd witch in the shop mixing the potion by pouring it back and forth from jug to jug.
FUN and Games
By comparison, the next building was huge. It was brightly lit and had a line of costumed kids outside listening to an organ grinder and his monkey. First, she thought this was strange, and then realized that, of course, this was Halloween and what kid would not try to trick or treat the local toy store known here as Mr. Mopps Twisted Toys. Mr. Mopps was old and crippled and fearful of lots of young wizards and witches in the store at once. He let only a few in at a time and the rest stayed in line and waited patiently for this store was filled with incredible toys and visual delights for kids. On this Halloween night, the line of costumed children included a Cousin Itt (from the Addams family), a clown, a pumpkin, a bird woman, a vampire, a space monster and a little boy, fairy, with his red wagon.
Since she was not really a “kid” anymore, Mr. Mopps let Sonja in without making her wait. As her eyes swept around the store, she wished she was a kid again, for these toys were nothing short of fantastic.
Sonja didn’t know which direction to head to first. The thrill at seeing all these fantastic toys made her realize that we never really totally grow up. There is a child that remains inside each of us forever. Sonja’s inside kid was having a ball. In front of her eyes were two witches playing with marionettes. One had a lady vampire while the other had a pair of marionettes resembling Frankenstein and his Bride! There was even a witch practicing ventriloquism with a witch doll. What a change from Charlie McCarthy, who had been the rage of days gone by.
Next, she noticed a large shelf system with toys for real little witches and wizards, such as a ghost train, a ring toss with snake rings and even a one- eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater. To challenge the child in all of them, there were many box games, from Mystic Skull and Ghost Castle to the Munsters and Jumanji. There were even coloring books and paper dolls.
Mr. Mopps also sold furniture that any child would love to have in their room. There were friendly monsters and large dragons made into chairs and one chair even shaped as a hand with the fingers as the back of the chair. There was a tiny black garden set with bone arms on the chairs. Located near them was a cat ring toss game and a table holding a Chinese checkers board. Cute pictures of little witches adorned the walls along with unusual clocks. For little witches there was even a training broom and junior witch kit in the corner.
The store had another floor, and as Sonja turned to look for the stairs, she noticed some great kites hanging from the upstairs railing. As her eyes scanned the remainder of the first floor, she noticed a ping pong table, stuffed toys of all kinds and even a table filled with a variety of the Jack-in-the-Boxes. One of the boxed toys was a Devil. Maybe that was what Igor was looking for. So, she told Mr. Mopps she would pay for it after she looked around the upstairs.
As she made her way to the stairs, she passed an old witch carrying a red teddy bear dressed as a vampire, complete with black cape. It was so cute. Many more stuffed animals lined the stairs to the second floor. There were bears, turtles and even a hedgehog!
The first area of the second floor was the Science Center. Here a young wizard was practicing some spells, but not doing to well. His mistakes seemed to line the floor. Most striking was the cat with the pumpkin head, and then there was the spider and bird with witch’s heads on each. Sonja whispered as she passed him, “Practice makes perfect!”
Next, she came to several puppet theaters with many hand puppets and a fabulous wizard marionette hanging on a stand. The sign for the play to be presented was the Frog Prince. Sonja was having such a good time looking at the toys that she nearly forgot that she was on a mission to find the items on Igor’s list so he would help her get home.
Realizing that she had spent far to much time at Mr. Mopps, Sonja returned downstairs, paid for the “Devil in the Box” and left to continue the search for the last two items on the list. She still had to find a dragon egg but hoped that this toy would be good enough for the head of the Devil.
Lucky for Sonja that, as she left Mr. Mopps twisted toys, she came upon Igor walking down the street. Waving wildly to flag him down, Sonja showed him the Devil in the Box and asked “Does this satisfy for the head of the devil on your list?”
Igor was evil personified. He just looked at her and laughed hysterically. “Of course, it doesn’t.” he spat the words toward her. “I don’t want some stupid toy. When you find the right thing you will know it is right. Of course, if you give me your necklace, I’ll send you home right now.”
“Listen to me, you evil thing. You’ll have to kill me to get this necklace. I don’t know why you want it so badly, but I do know that I will never give it away willingly.”
“Don’t put it past me, young lady,” hissed Igor. “Get the items on the list or spend the rest of your days here in Spirit Hill. When you get all the items on the list, I’ll tell you who and what you are.”
Sonja looked at him quizzically. How would he know who she was, for she had never seen him before landing here in this shopping mall? What could he know that she did not? It made the hair standup on her arms and shivers run up and down her spine.
Her four protective witches were watching these events through their crystal ball. Spellanie spoke first. “Girls, I am afraid that he is going to tell her that she is the sister of his dead wife and let the cat out of the bag.”
Honora, Brujita, Hexanna nodded their heads in unison. Brujita exclaimed “We must protect the secret at all cost. When Sonja learns the truth of her identity is a decision to be made by her real parents. But most important of all, we must protect Sonja from the evil spewing out of Igor. I am afraid that he has something really bad planned for her. It doesn’t show in my ball, but I feel it deep inside my bones.”
The four witches vowed again amongst each other to uphold the promise of protection they had sworn over the little dark-haired infant in the cradle so many years ago. Honora exclaimed, “Maybe we should work in shifts? If only we could produce the items on Igor’s list for her. But he chose items he knew we couldn’t conjure up.” The witches agreed to watch Sonja’s travels in the crystal ball in shifts with Hexanna volunteering for the first one. They all felt the imminent danger strongly.
This was a store which would not have either of the two items left on the list but the number of different herbs displayed was so totally amazing that Sonja decided to take a look. Since her meeting the evil Igor on the street a few minutes ago, she wished she could conjure up something to take care of him! He was so mean and nasty that she figured something or someone had hurt him deeply and destroyed his faith in anything bright and good.
Outside Hermione’s, she met a traditionally garbed Asian man with a long cue. He smiled and handed Sonja the daily list of sale herbs that Hermione published. Sonja had always had an interest in herbs, and she thanked him and entered the shop. It seemed that every herb she had ever read about in her herbalist books was here. It was incredible.
She couldn’t help it. She had to buy some of the herbs she had only read about, but never seen before. She would take them home with her, for her confidence level had risen again. She felt that home was just outside her reach. It was a strange feeling but she knew she was going to get there.
With only a few pendracles left in her pockets, Sonja was a little worried about how she would pay for the last two items when she found them, so she decided to visit the bank and see if she could “float a loan.” Pendragon’s bank was on the second floor of a three-story building. It looked like any other bank she had ever been in with a large safe and 2 teller cages. What she did not see were any loan officer’s desks so she went to the teller and asked, “How can one go about getting a loan?” “Loans are upstairs” exclaimed the teller. “Go right up. He’s not busy at the moment.”
With some trepidation, Sonja climbed the stairs to the third floor. She was shocked at what she found there. Instead of conventional desks and chairs, there was a large machine through which someone was feeding sheets of gold. As the machine was punching the gold into pendracles, the operator turned to ask Sonja why she was there. He was the most frightening looking character she had seen yet in Spirit Hill. He had a large dragon-type head with many large teeth. His hands had gnarly fingers with long nails that she was sure could maim or kill her instantly should they choose to. He was dressed in a long purple velvet gown. “My name is Alex Pendragon,” he stated. “I’ll help you if I can.”
Sonja related her situation to Mr. Pendragon. But, when he asked about collateral, she had to state that she had none. He thought for a minute or two before he spoke. “For some reason, I don’t know why it is, but I want to help you get home. So, if you operate the pendracle stamping machine for me while I run over to the Grapes of Wrath and get something to eat, I will give you twenty-five pendracles. That should give you enough to buy the last two items on evil Igor’s list as well as admission to Center Court for the spell casting demonstrations tonight.”
She immediately shook his hand in thanks and started operating the wheel to stamp out the coins. The floor was covered with sacks of coins with some empty sacks in the corner. The job was not as easy as it looked. It took quite a bit of force to turn the wheel and Sonja’s muscles tired quickly. Beginning to feel that she could not go on with the job, she sat down on the floor and started to cry. She was lost, scared, and unable to find the last two items on Igor’s list. She was also sure that someone or something was watching her at all times.
Suddenly the words of the wizard with the red ring popped into her mind. “Burn this incense when you feel that you can’t go on. You will be pleasantly surprised” he had said. So, Sonja got the incense from her bag, propped it up in a bag of coins and lit it. The room began to fill with a haze and a most unusual smell, not unpleasant just unusual.
Out of the haze came a little forest fairy that walked up to the pendracle stamping machine and punched all of the stacked gold sheets into pendracles in just a few seconds. When he was done, he walked back into the haze and was gone.
When Mr. Pendragon returned, he was shocked that Sonja had been able to stamp out that many pendracles. He counted out her twenty five gold coins and thanked her for her hard work.
She quickly left as it was nearly time to walk to Center Court, but she still had a few stores to visit.
Shop ’til you drop…dead
Outside the bank, Sonja had to pass another portal before she could get to the next shop. For some reason, the portals seemed to really unnerve her. They were filled with swirling fog that prevented you from seeing what was on the other side of the portal. Sonja did not yet have the courage to venture inside one of them and see where they would take her so she continued on to the next shop.
As she walked up to Shop ’til you drop…dead, she noticed a real decline in the mall. The buildings weren’t kept up as well and there were many strange looking creatures around. Laughing to herself she thought ” I wonder if I have crossed the tracks.” As she had to climb over a dead, drunk skeleton in the doorway of the shop, she realized that was exactly what had happened.
This store was cute. It had lots of greeting cards and wrapping papers along with last minute gifts. There were tea sets and a few toy like items. Upstairs was a large cauldron containing the best in stirring bones. There were also many hearth brooms on the walls as they made nice gifts. The best item in the shop, thought Sonja, was the quidditch chest and the Nimbus 2000 broom! Sonja had only read about quidditch in the Harry Potter books. She would love to watch a live match! Oh, let’s face it. Sonja was dying to get on that broom and fly…………….!
The owner of the shop was a mystic named Valera. She sat in front of the fireplace to keep warm. It was a chilly day, this Halloween. Something was going to happen. She felt it in each of her bones.
When Sonja asked if she might have either a dragon egg or the Devil’s head, Valera laughed out loud. “Well, I might have some strange stuff in here but nothing quite like that. There is a pet shop next door. Maybe Freda can help you with Dragon eggs but I have no idea how to find the head of the Devil.”
“Good luck,” she called as Sonja closed the door again stepping over the dead drunk skeleton with his bottle of booze.
It didn’t take Sonja long to realize that this was like no other pet store she had ever visited. Oh yes, there were dogs and a few cats but they were far outnumbered by the monkeys, the frogs, snakes and there was a whole room filled with unusual birds.
It was interesting that the cage doors were not shut and locked. She guessed that the witch who owned the shoppe kept control by spell. Freda was a vivacious red head. She had a strange little barefooted man whose feet had only three toes working for her to keep the animals fed, fat and sassy.
“Oh, of course, I have dragon eggs” Freda called out her answer to Sonja”s question. They are outside past the dogs. “Wait a minute. Let me grab my hat and I will join you out there to choose yours.”
Freda and Sonja ventured outside together passing the most beautiful dogs she had seen in years. Now mail carriers tend to fear dogs but not Sonja. She had a personality that caused each of them to want some time with her even Fang, the large dog on the end next to Serratia, an Irish setter wearing sunglasses. Emma, the golden retriever was beautiful but not the smartest of dogs. Cocci was a small white fluffy dog and those were definitely not her favorites. It was Coli the German Shepherd that immediately captured Sonja’s heart. Oh, how Sonja wished she could take Coli along on the rest of her journey. She would think about it for a few minutes.
Well, finally they came to the Dragon section. There was a wizard with a new baby green dragon in his arms. It was still exiting the shell. The wizard had made his choice he told Freda. He gave her some pendracles and took his precious baby dragon on down the road.
Freda bent down and pulled out a crate of dragon eggs. This excited Sonja for now she would only have to find one more item. She picked up a dragon egg and as she did she heard peck, peck, peck from the inside as the shell opened to reveal the baby dragon inside. This happened each of the five times she picked up a dragon’s egg. “No, No, No” she cried out to Freda. “I need the egg intact, not the baby. Igor is so mean he would never accept that. I’m so tired and I want to go home so badly, can’t you help me?” “Let me check in the back.” offered Freda. “I think I have some there that are not as old as these and still need incubation before the baby dragon pecks his way out”.
Just as Freda turned to go look for the eggs, Sonja ducked for a large flying horse landed on the roof above her. “What is that” she cried out! “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Freda explained that it was a hippogriff which was half horse and half bird. They were wonderful flying pets. “Why don’t you take a ride while I look for the dragon egg?” she offered.
Getting a grip on her fear, Sonja said she would like to try it. The hippogriff dropped down so she could get on its back and they took off soaring high above the Spirit Hill Square Mall. What a thrill it was to soar on the back of this magnificent animal. It gave Sonja another view of Spirit Hill. What she saw was kind of shocking for as they flew overhead and she looked down toward the ground she saw only Spirit Hill in the middle of undeveloped countryside. There were no roads and no houses. It caused those thoughts from before to creep back into her mind. Just where was she? Just what was Spirit Hill? Just how was she going to get home? Questions she had lots of, answers she still had none.
After a fabulous flight, the hippogriff returned Sonja to the pet shoppe. Freda was still searching for the dragon egg. While Freda searched, Sonja went inside to visit the Bird Room. It was amazing here. These birds were not the usual ones found in pet shoppes. There were buzzards, owls, ravens, a beautiful phoenix on a stand preening its feathers and even an ostrich. Bats hung from the ceiling while snakes wound themselves around the tree branches in their cage and a cobra slept in its basket. Most beautiful of all the birds in the room were the two peacocks. The shades of blues and greens were electric in her eyes. Sonja just loved them all. Crowded into the bird room were also a few iguanas and even a fish tank.
Still waiting for Freda to return with the dragon egg, Sonja went back outside to admire the Irish setter named Serratia and to decide if she could take Coli the German Shepherd with her. After much self debate, Sonja realized that she couldn’t take Coli with her so she patted her and nuzzled her neck and whispered in her ear, “I promise to come back for you, girl. You and I were meant to be together.”
Freda came through the door with a dragon egg in her arms. Sonja listened to the egg and heard no pecking so the asked Freda to put it into a padded bag and she would be on her way.
It almost killed Sonja to leave that beautiful shepherd. Silently, she vowed to herself to return for the dog as soon as it was possible.
Devil Dog’s Motorcycle Clubhouse
Looking at the last few buildings to visit in the mall, Sonja realized that she definitely was on the “other” side of the tracks. The first of the last two buildings was an old gas station with a garage specializing in motorcycle repair. Its second story was the clubhouse for the Devil Dogs Motorcycle Gang.
While two cycles were being worked on in the garage, there was a slough of motorcycles parked on the corner indicating that a party was in progress upstairs. They might know how to find the Devil’s head, thought Sonja so she climbed the stairs and knocked on the door. Coming from inside, she heard a dog bark and the sounds of loud music so she knocked again thinking that they didn’t hear her the first time.
Again, no one responded to the door so she tried the handle and the door opened. A tall biker with lots of tattoos on his arms started to walk in her direction. “What have we here, fellows” he yelled to his friends. “This little mama is real cute.”
Now the group itself was an eclectic collection of tattooed old biker guys with long hair and beards and their lady friends. There were even a couple of skeletons dressed in typical biker garb. The two most unusual ladies were gray haired twins dressed in black leather. Their clubhouse was unique to say the least. The walls were decorated with Harley-Davidson signs and the bathroom was known as the Pit Stop. A cute little hound dog lapped up the spilt beer on the floor.
Having dealt with these types at home, Sonja looked him straight in the eyes and said “Dude, I need your help.” She sat down on the old sofa next to a cute Rottweiler dog whose name was Devil the 5th, and relayed her story to the whole group.
“I’d put you on the back of my bike and drive you home, baby, but I have no idea where San Francisco is located. I don’t see it on any map that I have. I wonder where and how far away it is.”
“It’s a fabulous city,” cried Sonja who could not figure out why no one knew where it was. “Why it is right next to the Pacific Ocean.” She proudly stated that it was in the State of California but the faces of the bikers still looked blank. Never had they heard of California, San Francisco or even the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sonja began to cry. How was she going to get home if no one knew where home was in relation to Spirit Hill? Why was Igor the only one who claimed to know? Could she trust him?
Brillo, a tall biker with kinky hair, was the club president and generally spoke for the group. “We have all had trouble with Igor. We may be different but he is truly evil. Be careful, little Mama. I know you have no choice but to believe that he will do the right thing, but it is hard to trust a man like that. We are going to make you an honorary member of the Devil Dog’s Motorcycle Club so that you will have our protection as long as you remain in Spirit Hill. Let’s all have a beer and party!”
A few club members went downstairs to work on their bikes while Sonja shared a beer with those remaining in the clubhouse, watched as some members played cards and listened to the music that emanated from the corner juke box.
Still having a few places to visit before the Center Court show, Sonja, feeling a little tipsy, downed the rest of her beer in one big swallow, thanked the guys and gals for making her a club member, and left the clubhouse trying not to fall down the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs, three mates on bikes revved their motors in her honor, and waved goodbye. They wished with all their hearts that they had had the Devil’s head which Sonja needed to get home. “Damn that Igor, they thought. Why did he have such control over them all?”
They watched over Sonja as she walked into the Elixir Lounge which was next door.
The Elixer Lounge
Gargoyles surrounded the roof protecting the rusty fence and widows walk of a large brick and stone building next door to the Devil Dog’s Clubhouse. “Old” and “dark” inside were the first two words that Sonja could think of to describe the interior of the Elixir Lounge.
The bar was very old and very long. The back bar contained nearly every kind of liquor and liqueur that existed including Absinthe.
There were tables for groups as well as small hexagonal tables for more intimate meetings. The center of each table had a small spinal column that held a soft light. Larger spinal column lights were on the stairway which led to the upstairs meeting and banquet rooms.
In the corner was a small stage featuring a New Orleans type jazz band with two black singers dressed in brightly colored costumes. The whole scene was reminiscent of Preservation Hall.
Knowing that she would never find the head of the Devil here in the Elixir Lounge, Sonja sat at a table to rest for a few minutes while enjoying the fabulous Zydeco music. If she couldn’t be home, she surely would not mind the Crescent City.
Since she had been told to leave no stone unturned, she took a quick run upstairs. Of course, there was no Devil’s head there. It was a big ball room with a stage where meetings or banquets could be held. Tables were set up for a large Samhain feast to be held later that evening following the Center Court demonstration. Maybe she would return to eat and meet the remaining town folk.
Sonja was beginning to feel quite comfortable in Spirit Hill even though she had no idea how she had gotten there, where she really was or how she would get back to her friends, family, and job.
Well, two stores left to visit, so she had to go. Time was running out.
The Spirit Hill Arcade
On the other side of the Elixir Lounge was the Spirit Hill Arcade. Downstairs at the arcade was filled with kids playing pinball games, toss the ring over the witches hat and other arcade games, even darts. There was even one of those machines where you could have your picture taken for posterity. Fortunes could be had from Madame Rosa sitting in the fortuneteller’s cage.
Blocking the entrance to the stairway was a tough looking fellow. His job was to prevent the kids from joining the folks gambling upstairs. As Sonja ascended the stairs, she spied four slot machines. When she got to the top of the stairs, she turned to see a full blown casino! The crap, roulette and black jack tables were filled with the strangest characters she had yet to see in Spirit Hill. They were all gambling and having a wonderful time winning and losing lots of pendracles.
One scantily dressed, sexy lady walked around the room selling cigarettes, gum, and candy along with a few other twinkling trinkets. The room was thick with smoke. Come to think of it, this was the only place in Spirit Hill that Sonja had seen anyone smoking, except for the Devil Dog’s clubhouse where she was sure that what was being smoked was illegal!
At the blackjack table, while one fellow looked normal, he was playing against an adult set of conjoined twins wearing a plaid suit.
The crap table was surrounded by an old man with a young blonde hanging on his every word and a man with a cone head as well as his chicken headed friend. They were unusually dressed. One in a long robe and the other wore a type of dashiki with a psychedelic print and a strand of beads around his neck.
At the roulette table, another robed man resembling something from an episode of “Star Trek” took his chances with his cup of pendracles against a fairly normal appearing man wearing a smoking jacket.
Sonja had to admit that of all the places in Spirit Hill she had visited on this Halloween night, the arcade was the most interesting.
The arcade even had roof bowling. Under the starlit sky, one could either bowl or play ski-ball. The bowling pins were unusual, to say the least, for they were buzzards! While Rik and Ray were practicing their bowling for their next tournament, the only open game was Ski-ball. It had been one of Sonja’s favorite games as a child when she visited Playland at the Beach in San Francisco. She decided to stop and try her luck.
After scoring 5000 points and getting a free game, Sonja decided she must leave, for she only had a few minutes to check out the last building in Spirit Hill before going to the Center Court for the spell casting demonstration.
The Spirit Hill Cemetery Sales Office
The Sales Office was the smallest building in Spirit Hill, but it provided the biggest shock of all for Sonja. She entered the door to find that the business was run by the Devil himself! He was dressed in shiny red leather with a long beard and two white horns. Sonja waited by the doorway as he sold a plot and coffin to a woman wailing with the pain of her recent loss.
Sonja noticed a map on the wall and went to see that it was the map of the cemetery with its different burial areas including Hexen Hill, Ghost Gulch, Seagull Swamp, and Pirates Perch.
After making arrangements with the Devil, the wailing woman left. Sonja was now alone with the Devil and his helper a little red Devilette who sat on top of the file cabinet. Could she kill him in order to get home?
As she recited her plight, the Devil lowered himself into his chair. He had no idea of what to tell her. No way was he going to loose his head so she could get home! Furthermore, he wanted that beautiful silver necklace with the heart that she wore.
It was a stalemate. Neither of them was willing to give up what was most important nor did they have any alternative suggestions that had any merit. Then the Devil remembered that he had had made a model of his head that he gave to his customers that purchased the more expensive coffins and funeral packages.
Having only one left in the shop, he wrapped it up for Sonja truly hoping that Igor would accept it and send her home. Yet, he knew deep down inside that this would never happen.
Sonja thanked him and left the Sales Office with only minutes to get to the Center Court.
Dejected, she walked toward the Center Court with residents of Spirit Hill. She had everything on evil Igor’s list but the Devil’s real head. She had visited all the stores in Spirit Hill Square and the closest she had come to the last item was the Devil head model from the Cemetery Sales Office. She would not commit the crime of murder just to appease Igor but, oh, how she wanted to go return to the Spirit Hill Cemetery Sales office and decapitate the Devil working there so she could go home.
On the other side, the Devil could not get that necklace out of his mind. If he had it, he knew there was no spell he could not make or break. He would be all powerful especially over the citizens of Spirit Hill. He could not think of what would befall them all if Igor got his hands on the necklace. So he began to formulate a plan……..
Spirit Hill Center Court
Well, she could wait no longer. It was time to walk to Center Court for the Samhain celebration.
Upon arriving at Center Court, she purchased a magazine to read and some candy to munch on while she waited for the program to begin. Formed like a Greek Theatre, the center court of stones was filling up with Spirit Hill shoppers and storeowners. The bright, shiny curtains were drawn across the stage. The proscenium was decorated with metallic flying witches and pumpkins. Sonja was sure it would be a special program because this was All Hallows Eve. These holidays were very important to the wizards, witches and psychics who lived and shopped in Spirit Hill.
Sitting behind her were Spellanie, Hexana, Brujita and Honora still feeling the strong need to protect her from Igor and his evil ways. They also had a sense that time was running out for Sonja and that Igor would soon initiate whatever evil plan he had in mind. They had not figured on the Devil.
Samhain signified the beginning of winter or the Dark Half of the Year.
It was believed that during this night the separation between this world and that of our ancestors was the narrowest of the year. Journeys could be made from one side to the other and back. Therefore, the rituals were concentrated on making contact with the spirits of the departed who were respected as sources of guidance and inspiration.
The night was dark. No moon could be seen in the sky. This is when sight was obscured in order to view into the other worlds.
The fire pit began to glow brightly as Mystica walked to center stage. Raising her arms to the sky, she spoke “She walks among us tonight, a soul lost from the other side. We must use our collective power to send her back. Raise your arms to the sky, concentrate with all your might, and send her away from our midst.” As Mystica spoke, Sonja thought that she was describing her situation and hoped that the Spirit Hill town folk had the collective power to send her back to San Francisco to her beloved Golden Gate.
Sonja looked around to see all of the town folk seated on the stones to have their faces filled with their concentration and their arms raised toward the dark night sky. Suddenly, without warning, a stream of fire jumped from the fire pit up to the sky and flew like a mystic spirit off into the night.
Sonja stood up after the show. She was dejected because the collective spell had not been for her. While waiting for the crowd to thin, Sonja was again trying to figure where to find the Devil’s head. She headed down the street. There were so many people walking and talking about the performances they had just seen that no one would notice someone missing. And, as they passed the last of the portals, Sonja was dragged inside by a black-cloaked figure. He tried and tried to rip off the silver heart necklace but each time he tried, his hands were burned by a mysterious electrical charge.
Sonja fought with all her might but she was no match for the evil in the cape. He knocked her out and finally took the necklace as she lay unconscious on the ground. He turned to run out of the portal failing to notice that the four witches had given Sonja a sword. She got up and swung the sword with all her mite, and the blade met the cloaked figure’s neck. The cloaked figure lost his head and as it rolled on the ground, Sonja saw that it was the head of the devil. After picking up her necklace, Sonja quickly wrapped the severed head in the cloak and ran to Igor’s Midnite Market, getting there just as dawn was rising on Spirit Hill.
She demanded that Igor send her home immediately. “I have now given you all the items on your list. You must keep your end of the bargain. Send me home.”
“Why should I?” Igor retorted. “Because if you don’t”, Sonja spat the words at him, “your head will look like that of the Devil. Now send me home. I miss my family.”
“Family, my dear, you don’t have a clue about your family,” Igor shouted back at her. As he shouted and verbally sparred with Sonja, he opened the drawer beneath the cash register and retrieved a vial labeled “HOME.”
“Okay,” he said. “Drink this potion and you will awaken at home.”
Sonja grabbed the vial, threw the cork at Igor hitting him in the head and swallowed the contents without any hesitation. Then she fell to the floor.
The four witches were about to kill Igor for his evil ways when Sonja’s body disappeared. “Where is she?” they screamed at him.
“I’ve sent her back. It is not time for her to become a resident of Spirit Hill, but someday she will return.”
There lay Sonja in a hospital bed with intravenous fluids being administered through both arms. Four elderly people surrounded her bed with their eyes full of tears. Sonja had just stopped breathing but the doctors and nurses had been successful in resuscitating her for the third time using the crash cart.
She was connected to monitors as she had been since her fellow postal carriers found her lying at the bottom of the stairs of one of the houses on her postal route. Ion and Anna had been so worried that she would not survive that they sent for Vlad and Mira. Together the four of them had been gathered around her hospital bed talking about their shared child’s life and the fact that after threats from their former son-in-law, Sonja had been sent to Ion and Anna for protection. They talked about it being time to tell Sonja the truth. Vlad and Mira were not getting any younger. They now hoped that Sonja would recover and come home to assume her role of Countess in the far away Carpathian Mountains.
Seventeen days had passed with her not regaining consciousness and Sonja’s family was losing hope when Ion remembered how much Sonja loved dogs. After getting permission from the hospital and doctors, Ion went and purchased a German shepherd puppy.
He brought the puppy to the hospital and placed her on the foot of Sonja’s bed. The puppy crawled right up to the top of the bed, got under the covers and put her head on Sonja’s shoulder. There she remained for several hours until Sonja finally opened her eyes to the puppy kisses administered by the dog she loved instantly and quickly named Coli.
Shortly, she would learn the truth…