That shaman dude wasn’t kidding when he said Glimmerbrook would be hard to get to. But thankfully, we found a bus in Granite Falls that stopped there. Trouble was, it was a three mile hike from said bus stop. But it was no problemo for ME to walk, but I had to practically drag Dr. D along. With all the working out, you’d think my body would perform better, but no. And let me tell you, he chewed me out endlessly for it, too. Woo.
Finally, we found the “magic shoppe” the guru said would be nestled amongst tall evergreen trees. It reminded me of this renaissance festival I once attended where everyone spoke in middle ages dialect and bowed and curtseyed all the time.
“Looks a little…” I started, trying to come up with the right word.
“Cheesy?” Dr. D finished for me.
“No…I was thinking more like cliche, but okay.” I mean, no one likes to be a Debbie Downer, but this joint had tourist trap written all over it. I hoped we weren’t being played by a guy who made it sound like our feet were the windows to the soul. (Like if this wasn’t happening to me, I’d think we were the most gullible people on the planet!)
“Come on, Charlene. Maybe the woman will surprise us.”
Poor Dr. D’s voice didn’t sound convincing. But I couldn’t blame his pessimism. I kind of was there with him in the “end of my rope” state of mind. But we had to uncover all possibilities, right?
When I entered, I was accosted by a waft of earthy spices that suspiciously smelled like a mix of weed and body odor.
“Welcome, my friends, I’ve been waiting for you.” A woman, who no joke, looked like Shama Kazi’s soulmate, sauntered up to us. “My name is Dahlia and it will most please me to help you journey to your soul home. Shama Kazi informed me of your struggles.”
I was kind of tired and wasn’t too sure about things. “So, hi, uh…Dahlia…yeah, like we’ve been through literal hell and back so I don’t want this to be a waste of our time. The last guy gave us crappy, yucktastic juice, and it grew hair that only Medusa would be proud of. Promise me we won’t have to drink anything.”
“Charlene,” Dr. D whispered, “You’re being rude.”
“If you would trust me,” the guru lady said. “It is but an easy thing to do.”
I cut her off. “I’m just trying to save us a lot of trouble, Dr. D, because I’m not drinking another gag-o-matic potion.” I kind of got the idea that she would make us drink stuff because there were tons of weird looking elixirs lining the shelves in this place.
Dr. D glared. “Then why the hell did we come all the way out here? We’re going to unearth every avenue we can. I want to get back to my body even if you don’t.”
“And so you shall!” the woman said with a crazy gleam in her eye, startling me. Sparkles shot out of her hands as she whipped them around like an out of kilter ferris wheel.
She uttered some strange words as glinting magic hurled toward us.
But nothing happened.
“Uh…like was that supposed to switch us? Cuz if it was, it totally failed.”
She scratched her head. “Your souls are but very strong. Tightly wound. It is beyond my capability. I am very sorry.”
Now Dr. D got on board with my thoughts. “You mean to tell us you can’t make the switch. I thought you said earlier it would be easy.”
“Yes, it should have been but…there’s something blocking my way. No matter. There still is hope. Follow me!” She briskly opened the door and ran along a trail. Dr. D and I had to hustle to keep up with her.
I was about to suggest turning back from following the crazy lady when I saw it!
The Spiritual Transformation Archway!
“It couldn’t be,” I breathed.
Dr. D smiled. “It is. Now I’ll get the genie to change us back even if I have to ring his neck to do it.”
Unlike before when I plowed through the archway, Dr. D did it before we could even discuss it! I gathered all my strength and followed right after him. Talk about irony!
As soon as my stomach stopped whooshing like I was going to plummet to my death (I hated that part), I arrived in this weird area that I could have only dreamed about (when I was drunk, btw.)
And there was this one guy who jettisoned into the air on a magic broom!
We both gaped at each other in amazement.
Then all at once, we laughed. “So, I get the feeling we’re not in Glimmerbrook anymore, Dr. D.”
“You said, it Charlene. I bet these people will have the power to help us.”
A somber lady with blue hair greeted us. “Welcome, travelers. If you please, follow me.”
Like no hi or hello, just “follow me”? Were we crazy?
Without one question on our lips, we both traipsed after her like she was the Pied Piper to yet another archway.
And popped out to what looked like a fancy garden in Alice in Funderland crossed with Wizard of Soz. I gazed up into the darkening pink sky, worrying flying monkeys were going to grab us at any moment.
Once she stopped, I asked, “Okay, lady, I don’t want to sound mean and all but seriously, we need to get this show on the road. Will you change us back into our original bodies?”
“I believe I can if you are willing. Clear your mind of all things and let your spirits glide.”
Then she did that same whippy thing the other lady did with all the sparks flying around and strange words flinging out of her mouth.
But this time, a weird moon glow hit Dr. D and his eyes went all wiggle waggle like he’d just got off the dizzy ride at Simsneyland.
But I felt zip. “What was that? Like a warm up spell or something?” I asked.
“Yeah…spell…warm…” Dr. D mumbled.
The lady put her hand on her chin. I didn’t like that look. We’d been getting that way too much. “Strange. That should have worked.”
Dr. D seemed to get out of his funk. “So you mean we’re stuck and you can’t help us?”
His words made my stomach grip in panic.
She smiled. “No…I believe you can be helped, just not by me.”
“Oh, God, Dr. D, they’re killing me here. Why should we even keep on with this? No one can help us. It’s all just a waste of time.”
“So, you want to give up, Charlene? After all we’ve gone through to get here? If you do, I’ll understand.”
“Dear friends, I promise I will help you. The mighty spellcaster of all the realm will be able to perform the task. I will speak to him on your behalf. There’s just one little problem…”
I was fed up and so was Charlene. We’d been led on one long laborious goose chase after another with these strange people in a strange land that honestly looked like something out of our childhood fairytales. The two women we’d met on this journey–Dahlia and Elsebeth–seemed weirdly eager to help us. I thought it was out of friendship to Shama Kazi, but why would he want to see us back in our own bodies? What did he gain except simple charity?
As we went from one place to the next, warning bells were going off inside me. And this latest, with Elsebeth having us dress and act like spellcasters ourselves, the foreboding feelings only intensified.
“You look like a proper spellcaster, Dr. Day,” Elsebeth said with a beaming smile.
“Thank you,” I answered, although I didn’t know why I’d be grateful. We were going to go under the guise of being two novice spellcasters whose magic went awry. According to Elsebeth, the man was almost all-powerful, but very prejudiced against people who didn’t possess magic. She called us wuggles (which suspiciously was the term used in K. J. Sowlings writings of Henry Puffer!) If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was just an elaborate dream brought on by that crazy potion Shama Kazi made us drink.
I went over to Charlene to make sure she still wanted to do this insane stunt. “We can back out at any time. I’m a little worried that something bad might happen to us.”
She gazed into my eyes and said, “I’m sure, Dr. D.” There was something in her look that made tingles ripple inside. What was strange was over time, I no longer saw myself when I looked at her. I saw who she was as a person. Someone who was definitely out of control, crazy sometimes, but also a person who I could count on to support me and make me feel comfortable.
My cheeks warmed and I said, “Then let’s do this, spellcaster.”
Elsebeth interrupted us, “So, your appointment is all set. He’s through the main archway, up the hill, inside a large sanctuary.” She lifted her arms and said, “Good luck and godspeed!”
Crickets chirped a trilly tune as we walked along a brick trail up the hill. I couldn’t help but feel almost euphoric. I truly believed this would work. Finally, after all this time, we’d be free from the curse. I couldn’t wait.
“Holy shit, Dr. D!” Charlene said in her most eloquent way as we stopped in front of the sanctuary.
I breathed out. “Holy shit is right.”
Charlene grabbed my hand and said, “This is it. No turning back now.”
I squeezed. “No turning back.”