Why did I decide to walk home from work that Friday night? That decision changed the way I saw the world. It opened a door I wish I could lock again and throw away the key forever. If only wild and stormy nights didn’t hold this fascination for me. It had always been the same, bundled up and warm I could walk for hours, watching the movement of the wind as it buffeted the trees and danced through the long grass. I enjoyed feeling it caress my face. I heard it’s song with so much pleasure whilst others locked the doors and pulled the curtains closed to block it out.
I was almost home when it happened. From out of the darkness that pooled between the street lamps a figure dashed towards me. I thought he was going to swerve around me but he didn’t. He stopped, grabbed my bag, and pulled me off my feet. I forgot all the advice I’d heard like “Don’t fight it, you are worth more than a bag and some cash.” I clung on to the handles while he screamed at me to let go. When I didn’t, he completely lost it and started to kick and punch me. I still held on, not prepared to let this lout away with it.
That didn’t last too long though. He bounced my head on the concrete and I blacked out. When I next opened my eyes there was a blinding light. I, of course, thought “Oh no, I’ve seen this before, I’m supposed to go into the light, well at least it looks like I’m going up and not down.” I blinked a couple of times and things became a little clearer. I felt my hand being held. I looked up into the eyes of a perfectly ordinary-looking guy with a huge stethoscope and a very sweet smile who said: “Hi, I’m Dr. MacDougal, can you tell me your name?” I replied, with no originality at all “I’m Alice, where am I?
Dr. MacDougal got out that little light thingy and flashed it into my eyes (ouch) and asked if I was experiencing double vision. “Well I am now,” I said. A little tetchily perhaps but this had not been the best night of my life so far. “When can I go home?” I asked. “We’ll have to keep you in overnight in case of concussion,” he replied “but you will probably be able to leave tomorrow morning. Is there anyone we can call for you?” “Oh heck,” I said “Julie will be frantic” “Your partner?” asked Dr. MacCool with a little frown. “No, no,” I said, “my best friend, I need to let her know what’s happened but I don’t have my phone, my keys, my wallet or my bag” “Don’t worry, the Police will deal with all that once they’ve taken your statement,” he said, looking more cheerful, “do you feel up to speaking to them?” “Yes, not that I can tell them much. He wore a hoodie and a scarf over his face” I said.
As I predicted the Q & A was as follows “Can you describe your assailant?” “No” End off. The police left and I tried to get some sleep. The next morning I felt so much better. Julie arrived with a change of clothes for me, it seems my bag was found a few streets away from the mugging with everything still in it apart from the cash. I said goodbye to Dr. MacCool who pressed his card into my hand and asked me to call him when I felt better. Oh yes! I didn’t do much for the rest of that day. I considered a little light dusting but I am a living oxymoron, I’m house proud but lazy. I felt a bit bruised and shaken but I’m not one for dwelling on what might have been so I was quite prepared to go back to work. Little did I know what the next day would bring.
Morning dawned and although I was a bit achy and shaky (cue for a song) I was determined to be up and at ’em. I owned a little shop called “Curiouser and Curiouser” full of, yes, you’ve guessed it, curiosities. After a huge cup of coffee, I jumped into the day with both feet. It was the afternoon when I heard the door behind me creak open. I didn’t like shop bells so the old door let me know when someone was coming in. I turned around and felt a miasma of cold dank odorous air that seemed to emanate from the tall dark very good looking man standing in the sunlit doorway. Every instinct in me screamed “Don’t ask him in” He spoke in the kind of mellow deep voice you might expect from an actor and of course that was what he was doing. he was trying to portray himself as normal but there was no real warmth there. “Can I come in?” he said. I tried not to show my repugnance and replied: “I am just closing up, I have a meeting which I’m already late for.” “That is a pity,” he said “It’s also a pity that the protective wards around your home and your shop are so powerful. Never mind, there is always another day. All good protagonists require a formidable foe and now I have the measure of mine” He turned and disappeared, I don’t mean he walked swiftly away, he disappeared.
This was not good, I had thought he was dead. “He” was a demon called Vizorian who had used my power to make himself Lord Vizorian. I had been a prisoner in his realm all my life. Vizorian had killed my parents and taken me, using me to eliminate his opponents one by one. I didn’t murder anyone, however. My power was transportation in Time and Space. I just had to take them with me then drop them off in various spots all over the Universe. Of course, I could only go to places with breathable air so that narrowed it down somewhat. Well, it was normally Earth by default.
It usually took them back to a primitive time which was a simpler place with no electricity etc. I had long given up trying to escape. Normally he held me with wards and spells but then, one night, there was a huge celebration. I had just dropped off a demon who had been his second in command into the Wieliczka salt mine, in Poland in the 13th century. This punishment was meted out simply because the said demon had mentioned in passing he thought his master’s new cologne needed to be stronger. If you remember I did mention the awful odour that emanated from what was otherwise a quite good looking facade. I could not help feeling a little sorry for the guy, I mean, 13th century, salt mine, tough gig. Vizorian, for the first time, drank a lot and became careless for one second. That was all I needed. I hit him very hard with the business end of the axe he always carried, then I twisted away and I was gone.
I chose Earth to start my new life. It was the only place I had any connection too that didn’t have terrible memories attached to it. Well, apart from the entities I had deposited in faraway places eons ago. I hoped they would not be surfacing in downtown Surbiton. I looked about eighteen when I escaped, my real age was closer to one hundred and eighteen. I am very small and frail-looking, which means people tend to think I need to be looked after. Not so, I am as strong as an Ox.
I didn’t want to get caught up in the system so I did the only thing I could to make money. When I first arrived I sold a few pieces of the gold jewelry given to me by Vizorian. With that, I followed the Stock Exchange daily and used the handy Arbitrage method. This was the simultaneous purchase of a security on one stock market and the sale of the same security on another stock market at prices which yielded a profit. Or so Google told me. I accrued enough to buy a small shop. The only thing I felt a little bad about was how I stocked it. Well, of course, you’ve sussed it out already haven’t you? I found out what was trendy, took a little jaunt back to when it was first produced, and brought back a few examples. Technically and morally a bit iffy? Perhaps, but I was giving the public what they wanted at affordable prices so I didn’t feel too bad.
Back to my present problem. I could not believe that Vizorian had found me! It must have been the blow to the head. My guard had been down just long enough for him to “see” me. Well, I wasn’t going to run again. I was no longer the vulnerable child I had been and I was going to fight back. But how? He was an ancient demon. Very powerful. Right, that said, he had a weakness. He believed he was irresistible to women. He thought he had charm, so not true. It was thinly disguised self-interest at best. This was what I had to play on. But how? Then came the lightbulb moment.
I would be putting myself in great jeopardy and I would have to act my socks off. I didn’t have a choice though, if I wanted any kind of life I had to try. I was so very grateful for the friends I’d made over the years and for the Internet too. I would need both to vanquish Vizorian. Firstly, having found a very old book of spells and recipes in the back of the shop, I started to compile a shopping list. This had to be odourless, colourless and the most powerful knockout potion ever made. Some of the ingredients would be easy to find, others not so much. Right, Wolf’s Milk (Euphorbia) tick. Witches Bells (Foxgloves) tick. Trickier to find would be Flesh & Blood (Tormentil) Honey Lotus (Melilot) and Helonias Dioica (Unicorn Horn) but my friend, The Village Witch, just happened to have an online shop and I knew she’d get these things to me in a thrice.
It had been a long busy night, but I forced myself out of bed the next morning, knowing the end was in sight. I arrived at the shop and just as I expected, a couple of hours later a huge bunch of red roses was delivered with a note. “I have missed you Panora, can we meet and talk?” I had not heard that name since I had escaped his realm and it made me shudder. But this was good, let operation “Get The Git” begin. I asked the minion to wait and closed the shop door. I returned and gave him the note I had written the night before.
I know Dear Reader that you will be agog to know what was in the note. Please do not be too harsh in your judgment, there is a method in my madness, believe me. I set the tone at the start with “My Dear Vizorian” unexpected, yes? Then, “I was more pleased than I can express to get your note and the beautiful Roses. How sweet that you remembered they were my favourite flowers. I would be very pleased to talk with you. I hope you will understand if I request a public meeting place. There is a lovely French restaurant near my shop. I have booked a table for eight tonight. I have also asked for a bottle of champagne to be put on ice for us. I hope to see you then. I have changed a lot in the time since I left and so have my feelings. But we can talk about all that tonight. Till then, your Panora” I was as sure as I could be, knowing the fiend as I did, that he would fall for this drivel hook, line, and floaty thing. It may seem as though I was being OTT, but you must remember this stupid demon’s middle name was Vanity, too much was never too much.
I, of course, took a lot of time to get ready for my “date.” I primed, contoured, powdered then slapped on some dark red lippy. I combined this with a slinky, satiny, strappy Black dress, killer heels, and a lot of perfume, (remember that odour) I was ready. I received a text to say my taxi was waiting. I was not about to take any chances and walk to the restaurant, a rookie mistake my friend! I walked out of the shop door and straight into the arms of Dr. MacDougal. Drat it, why now? He looked me up and down with what I was pleased to see was appreciation. Then he frowned and said, “Sorry, is this a bad time?” Dam and drat it, this was the worst possible time.
I had to be quick so I mumbled something about a friend’s Birthday party. I said I would love to invite him along but it was a woman only do because my friend hated men. For goodness sake, why had I not just said it was a Hen Do, idiot! I inquired if he was free later on, he said yes he was. I asked him to be at my house at nine and tottered to the taxi. Not the best start to what was going to be a nerve-racking evening but the show must go on. (Cliche alert) When I got to the restaurant Vizorian was already sitting smugly at the table and I took a deep breath and smiled. Show Time. A bottle of champagne was chilling, as I had requested. After I had said Hello and sat down at the table, before he could start to talk, I beckoned the waiter over and asked him to open the bottle. Before he lifted the bottle Vizorian, as I had known he would, took it and examined it closely. “Yes, all seems in order,” he said, “go ahead and open it” The waiter expertly released the cork with a practised “pop” poured a glass for each of us and stood back. With a raised eyebrow Vizorian gestured for me to drink first, again as I expected. I took a hearty gulp then raised my glass in salute. The demon smiled at me, picked up his glass, then drank deeply. As I looked at him with hatred in my eyes I could see the second that realisation dawned. As he started to snarl and tried to stand it was as if the lights had gone out and he slumped into his chair. The waiter said loudly “Oh dear ma’am, it looks as though your friend has become unwell, let me help you to a cab” Between us, we got him out of the door, into the waiting cab and I wasted no time. I grabbed the arm of the man who had killed my parents, imprisoned me for years, and made me hurt countless people and demons and I twisted, taking him with me. I left him in the vast snow-covered wilderness of Oymyakon, in a time before time. With an extreme subarctic climate, it is known as the coldest place in the world. I knew I would feel guilty about what I had done, but it was the only way.
I twisted again and I was back home. I opened the door, to be met by dear Dr. MacDougal, the waiter, the cab driver, and The Village Witch. They were all speaking at once, obviously relieved to see me safe. I was shaking and near to tears but I had to smile when Jacob, my friend the waiter, produced the bottle of champagne from the restaurant and proceeded to pour us all a glass. “Don’t drink it” I hear you scream. No need to worry, we were quite safe. I knew the demon would not only check the seal on the bottle but also wait for me to take a drink first. Therefore the potion I had concocted had been put into Vizorian’s glass just before Jacob poured the champagne into it.
The idea had come to me when I had been trying to think of a way to get the demon to drink the potion. Suddenly I remembered something that would solve the problem. In a drawer at the back of the shop there was a replica poison ring. These were reputed to have been used by the Italian Renaissance femme fatale Lucrezia Borgia to great effect. It would be perfect. Vizorian held himself in such high esteem he would not even see the waiter. There was no way he could consider that Jacob might be a friend of mine either. So, no threat. All Jacob had to do was wear the ring with the plain band showing, the business end would be underneath. When he picked up the glass which had been on the table in front of Vizorian since he sat down all he had to do was flick open the tiny compartment in the ring with his thumb and drop the liquid into the glass.
The three people sitting in front of me had helped me with my plan tonight. I would always be grateful to them. They knew about me and accepted my differences. All that remained was to try to explain to Dr. MacSmoochy what had happened and who I was. I would not enter into a possible relationship with this lovely but confused man until he knew all about me. Maybe I would stick with the adage that a lady doesn’t divulge her age though.