It had been a month and still there was no sign of Lori. Glory’s hair had grown in somewhat, obscuring the tattoos on her head. She had picked up some fingerless gloves to hide the tattoos on her hands and her clothes hid the rest. No reason to call needless attention to herself. Not when half the benefit of being homeless was near invisibility. People didn’t see you if you were scruffy and looked like you’d just crawled out from under a pile of leaves.
Since coming to the park, she had tried every avenue of search she could think of in her quest to find her sister, but the police were as useless as the newspapers. She had even tried using a pendulum to dowse out her sister’s whereabouts. No luck. If her sister was still in the city, she was laying low. Glory supposed she should be grateful. At least there had been no more attempts on her life.
When she wasn’t scanning the papers for anything at all that might be construed as occult, she continued her research. Initially she had been determined to stop. Look at how much her first book had cost her, but if she ever did track her sister down, she realized she’d need to have an edge. With her book, her sister had access to all of her spells and theorems. Even if Lori was incapable of synthesizing anything new from what she had stolen, she’d still be formidable if Glory ever managed to confront her. So Glory continued her research, but as soon as she felt she’d explored an idea to its fullest potential, she tore the pages from her little wire bound notebook and burned them. No one would misuse her work again.
Without any other place to go, she’d taken up residence in Central park. The woods might have an unsavory reputation, but so far she hadn’t seen anything unusual. Though that might have something to do with the wards she’d carved into the trees in the spot she’d claimed for herself. Occasionally she saw other homeless people in the woods as well, but they kept to themselves and didn’t bother her.
Despite the cooling nights, the weather didn’t bother her much. In fact, she hardly felt anything at all since Aaron had passed his sword on to her. Even her all consuming sense of responsibility for her book and her mother’s death had waned. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel responsible anymore or that she didn’t intend to pursue her sister to the ends of the earth if she had to, but she had an inner core of calm that hadn’t been there before. It gave her room to think at least, even if it seemed to squash any other emotions right down into the shadows of her soul.
Glory had solved one mystery about Aaron though. She understood now why there was no food in his apartment. Since he had given her his sword, she had not felt the slightest twinge of hunger. She continued to eat though her interest in doing so was swiftly waning. There was no way of telling if it would be safe to simply stop, and unless she went back to talk to Aaron, she’d have no way of knowing for sure. But considering her dwindling cash, she wasn’t going to waste too much money on food she apparently didn’t need.
Though the spot she slept was further in the trees and more private, today she’d chosen a spot under a tree very close to a playground. There were several in the park, but this one was closest to the street and was seldom desert during the day, which was a bit comforting. It was like sitting in her living room with the TV on. Life went on around her, even if she wasn’t part of it. Besides, Lori might attack her when she was somewhere private, but she doubted very much that she was going to do it during the day in front of a dozen or so witnesses. At least not with magick or by sending some kind of crytpid humanoid. Vampires, pfft. Her life had become a Hollywood farce of a horror movie.
It was just as well that she’d chosen a spot so close to the playground, or she might have missed the cry of a child off playing by himself in a sandbox. She might not ever have noticed the African American man in his dirty plaid jacket as he snatched the child up and attempted to disappear into the trees before anyone noticed. She was halfway across the park before she even realized she’d risen.
“Hey! Let go of that kid!” Glory was beside the man before he had even taken a few steps into the woods. He froze, even as he tightened his grip on the boy and turned towards her. He might have been handsome if his face wasn’t so twisted by fury. She had just enough time to see the terror in the boy’s eyes, bulging above the man’s chapped and grit covered hand, before the man actually spat at her. He looked surprised when she wiped the spittle from her cheek and swung her notebook into his face. The man staggered with a grunt of surprise and fell backward.
He struggled to rise as the boy wriggled from his grasp. Catching hold of the boy’s jacket, he attempted to drag him back, but Glory kicked the man in the side. The boy crawled to his feet and quickly ran towards a group of parents who only just now seemed to realize something was wrong.
Gasping for breath, the kidnapper attempted to rise again, but Glory kicked his arms out from under him. He rolled onto his stomach, seeming to consider his options a moment, before swiftly reaching out to latch onto Glory’s legs and bring her down. Springing to his feet, he headbutted her. He glowered at her on the ground, and suddenly spit at her again. The saliva hit her right between the eyes as she lay there stunned from her fall. Seemingly satisfied when she did not rise, he looked around as if he thought he still might have a chance to grab the boy, but then he quickly took off towards the street and disappeared around a building.
Glory lay on the ground, her head reeling. It seemed perfectly reasonable to lie there and contemplate the tree branches. I am such a wimp, she thought as she rolled over and got up, disgustedly wiping the wet from her face.
“Are you… okay?” asked a woman, obviously the boy’s mother. He stood slightly behind her, his arms wrapped possessively around one of her legs.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” Glory grunted unhappily. “He got away huh?”
“Y-yeah. Thank you. You saved my son. He told me there was a man following him around, but I never saw anyone. I thought… it was just his imagination. I hope the police show up this time though. I called them before, but they only asked a few questioned about Roy.” She picked up the boy and held him tightly. “I never heard back from them.”
“Wait. You called the police and they didn’t even look into it? What kind of questions did they ask?”
“Well, you know… a description of the man Roy had seen, where we live, Roy’s birthday…” She shrugged.
“Huh, his birthday?” For some reason, that struck her as odd. Why not just ask how old he was? “Did they ask for any other info, like what he looks like, if he goes to preschool, how many times he’s seen the man and where?”
“No, none of that. I just figured, you know, that they’d get everything else when they came to the house, but they never did.”
to Book 2, page 2