As with the previous part – eight years earlier than main story and spoilers.
Side Story One
Once they got home it was nearly three days before Sonia felt well enough to get out of bed. Even then the headache was still there, just reduced to the dull ache she’d learned to cope with over the years. While she recovered, Matt kept the kids distracted from the fright and the truncated holiday with day trips to the zoo and similar.
While she was waiting for them to get back from a trip to a local reservoir beauty spot she got up and started to prepare dinner. They’d had far too many takeaways the last few days.
“Mummy! You’re better!” Lydia came running in to the kitched as soon as they got home and hugged around the waist.
“Yes, sweetie.” Sonia hugged her back. “I just needed a few days rest. How was your day trip?”
“It was fun! There was a steamboat trip all along the lake and back!” Lydia looked solemn. “I think I prefer home to Devon. No weird creatures chasing us.”
“That’s definitely an upside,” Sonia agreed and then cast a curious look at Matt, who’d followed her in. She’s still talking about it? I’m surprised you haven’t stopped that.
They all are occasionally. I just glossed over the bits where we used our powers in their minds. I don’t want to do them a damage by removing too much and I want them ready to run if they ever see those things again. But Lyd is talking more than the other three. She’s got a screen like you wouldn’t believe. It can’t be spontaneous; I think someone is training her.
What? Sonia nearly dropped the carrot she was holding. Who?
I don’t know, and neither does she. It must be similar to the sleep training your family does because she’s not even aware it’s happening. It’s got me curious, because it’s certainly no one from any of the families – I’d recognise that. He frowned at her. I’ve something to tell you about what happened, but you’re barely better. We’ll discuss itÂ this evening when we don’t have to talk mentally.
Sonia nodded and turned back to the carrots. Matt took the scraper off her and pushed her towards the lounge.
“I’ll finish dinner, you go and sit down.”
“The kids are asleep,” Matt said when he came into the lounge later that evening. Sonia immediately grabbed the remote and turned the TV off.
“Good.” She curled up against him when he sat down beside her.
“I took your advice and spoke to Sarah last night after you were asleep,” he said. “Told her it happened to a Wild I was tracking.” He looked solemn. “She says it’s not the first case she’s heard of, but none of the others have been quite so extreme as I described. She’s had three or four Wild kids who had experiences like the one Lydia had on the beach and one of them subsequently disappeared, but they were a teen and apparently ran away. There was a note and everything – so hopefully that’s a coincidence.” He didn’t sound like he believed it, Sonia certainly didn’t.
“What’s she going to do?”
“Look into it, of course,” he said. “She wanted to speak to my witness, but I told her I’d had to mess with the kid’s memory to calm her down. She wasn’t happy. And of course she’s expecting me to send said fictional kid to Briarthorne in a couple of years time now.”
“Karen,” Sonia said with certainty.
“Hmm?” he asked.
“Send Karen. Dan’s too obvious, we need to find out what’s going on with Lyd and Andrew is…” she trailed off and tried to decide how to put it. “I know he’s only eight, but the other three know you’re talking rubbish already. But Karen’s quick, she’ll be able to pull it off by the time she’s eleven.”
“I don’t want to send any of them if I can avoid it.”
“You can’t, not unless you tell Sal what’s going on.” She paused as something occurred to her. “Even if this hadn’t happened, she’d have spotted the strangeness indicative of an Astral presence eventually, and then she’d have been poking around. The wards would keep her out but she’d surely spot them.”
“You… you’re right. I don’t like it but I will have to send one of them to keep her quiet.” He looked at her. “So sleep training. Are you up to starting tonight?”
She shook her head. “Even just showing you is going to wear me out. I need a couple more days rest.” She smiled up at him. “At least those things can’t reach us here, so there’s no panic.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yes, I picked up some stuff when one of them died while touching me. Most of it was unclear, but I’m certain they can only break through in certain places – otherwise they aren’t strong enough.” She frowned. “For now, anyway. I think we’ll have to deal with them again eventually.”