I believe Donia was sitting on a beach somewhere in Cambodia when she came up with the unusual topic of missing fathers. Seeing as the theme of fathers – missing, dead or disturbing – is central to the story so far, day seventeen seemed the perfect day for it.
(If you are joining Emmeline’s story today, welcome! It might help for you to begin here.)
A photo worth a thousands words. J R Manawa.
“So, you don’t even know his name? This guy, your father, I mean,” Poppy said as she shovelled broken glass into a rubbish bag.
“My father’s name was Eric,” Emmeline said, not angry, but obstinate.
“I’m sorry Emmy, I didn’t mean–”
“It’s okay. And no, I don’t know his name.” She looked over her shoulder at Charon who was standing by the window and staring out onto the road again. He had stayed there the whole time Emmeline retold her story, very much against his wishes, to her three friends. There were a few things she left out, like her father being Charon’s father also, and a few of the more unnatural things that had happened, like missing faces, worlds inside mansions, and exploding ravens. She suspected Charon’s behaviour was intentionally standoffish, but she wouldn’t accuse him of it, she was too relieved that he had come back. Despite the fact that he had changed sides, she felt she could understand him on a deeper level. Not to mention he was her only chance of survival.
Charon looked at her, his eyes brooding, “I’ll tell you his name, but you’ll never be able to forget–”
“I don’t want to know his name.”
He turned back to the window.
“So this – gangster – has trashed your house, claims to have killed your grandfather, and now he wants your blood?” Thomas summarised.
“Because he believes some ancient ritual using the blood of his offspring will open a portal to another world?”
Thomas shook his head, “I can’t believe it, my mind won’t let me,”
“You can see what they did to this house,” Emmeline said, as an example. She knew they had seen Charon’s eyes also. Some things that were not normal were simply going to have to be accepted.
Emmeline picked up a fragment of a photo from the floor. It showed her father’s face, and the top of her head. It had been taken when she was six, on the beach one summer evening. Her father had been sitting in the sand and looking out toward the waves and the ocean. Her mother meanwhile, had snapped it because Emmeline was sitting between his knees and staring out into the blue also, contemplating what her father must have been looking at. Now as she looked at it, she wondered instead what he must have been thinking. The mind of a creature like Erebus, Charon’s father and her protector, had to be one that was great and deep and full of all kinds of unfathomable things.
A little disturbed, Emmeline realised that the photo was blurry. Her head and wavy hair could be seen as clearly as the detail of the pohutukawa trees on the cliffs in the background, but her father’s figure was blurry all over. While she could see his face, and make out the lines of his eyes and mouth and ears, his image was hazy.
With shock, Emmeline remembered that all the photos of her father had been this way.
“Emmeline, seriously, if you think this guy will really try to kill you then you need to go to the police. Surely that is the first thing you should have done?” Gulliver’s concern was painted clearly through the expression on his face.
Again Emmeline looked at Charon for confirmation, but he was still watching for ravens, “I can’t. There is a chance the police are still looking for me too.”
If Thomas’ jaw looked like it couldn’t drop any further in disbelief, it could. “How?”
This time Charon turned around, “They aren’t looking for you. I sorted that today.”
“What did you do?” Emmeline’s voice was wary and slightly annoyed.
“I fixed it. No one got hurt.” He held up his hand to show her what he was holding. The mirror.
Emmeline shuddered though she understood. He had used magic, but he hadn’t removed any faces. She didn’t really want to know anything else.
“Why did you do it?” she asked, shocked by his odd kindness.
He looked over her head at Thomas, Poppy and Gulliver, and he said, “If I have any hope of finding any answers, or stopping this from happening, it will have to be done without anyone else trying to interfere. The police, they would interfere,”
“Hey,” Thomas had definitely taken offence now, “Emmeline is our friend, we have more right than you to want to protect her.”
“Thomas, please, I am worried enough,” she wanted to say ‘terrified’ but she knew that would only make the situation worse, “without needing to worry about whether you and Gulliver and Poppy will get hurt,”
“I don’t trust him!” Thomas pointed a finger at Charon, angrily.
Emmeline nodded, “Innuendos aside,” she said, giving Charon a sharp glance, “Charon is right. I’ve seen what this – guy – can do, and he really is a monster.”
“I feel like you aren’t telling us everything, Emmy,” Gulliver said with a sad face, “and I am really worried about your safety. If someone is trying to hurt you–” he paused for a moment, “the same someone who did something like this to your home? The same someone who you think has murdered your grandfather? And who may actually be your father? And you say the police can’t help you,” he left his sentence hanging.
Emmeline shook her head. She was watching Poppy sweep the floor furiously. She suspected her friend was taking a lot of her frustration and stress over the situation out on the broom, as she hadn’t spoken much since Emmeline finished telling her story.
“Where is he, anyway? If he knows where you live, how do you know he’s not on his way right now?” Poppy asked suddenly.
“I believe he is waiting for the full moon,” Charon replied.
“What?” the expression on Thomas’ face was more disbelieving with every piece of information he learned.
“He is?” Emmeline said with surprise.
Charon shrugged, “The door will not open until then.”
“Wait, so this joker here believes it too?” Thomas put his mop down, and Gulliver moved forward to hold Thomas’ back by his arm.
“You shouldn’t have told them anything,” Charon’s words were scathing.
“Look, it was fairly obviously that these happenings are not normal, they care about me, Charon. They were going to ask too many questions anyway,”
Poppy took her hand and held it, “We do care Emmeline, and we needed answers. As if everything you’ve already been through already isn’t enough!” Poppy was almost crying as she said, “We are in this with you,”
“I have managed to arrange an appointment,” Charon said suddenly.
“No more appointments!” Emmeline snapped at him.
Charon’s face was pained as he reworded his sentence, “There is someone you and I need to go and meet tonight, she will know more.”