Fang stood up in horror as he looked down past the crowd in front of him and saw the empty box. His ears barely caught the words that spilled out of the girl’s mouth. Blue shot up in his seat and before he could do anything Fang grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back down. Fang saw her mouth widen into a cheery smile before she disappeared in a cloud of theatrical smoke. He had to think of something but his mind was completely blank. For the first time in years he felt completely helpless against something that seemed much larger than him. The others looked at him to do something but he stood there in complete shock, his breathing coming and going in uneven intervals. What was he going to do? What was he going to do?
Earlier That Morning
“But FAAAAAAAANG!!” Arisa clung to his leg, “I wanna go to the Circus!”
Those darn commercials. Until that commercial came on with the tigers, the elephants and the dreaded clowns the idea never accrued to Arisa to go to the circus. But now there she was having a tantrum about the circus and how Fang was always so mean to her and how he never brought her out anywhere like the last few days didn’t count.
“Let go of my leg,” Fang said.
“Fang is so mean!” Arisa cried.
Fang rolled his eyes. When would that one commercial with the ponies come on? When you need it the most they conveniently don’t play it. That would be the only thing right now that would distract the little girl. Fang looked over to Blue. Maybe he could do something. But unfortunately, by his expression, this was a first for him too. He had no idea how to make the girl forget about tigers and elephants. Fang looked up to the ceiling. Why now?
Penelope walked out of her room and stood at the top of the stairs in her pink pajamas. She rubbed her eyes as she surveyed the scene. Raven followed behind her.
“Who the heck can sleep with all that racket?” Penelope muttered sleepily.
Arisa turned around and temporarily let go of Fang’s leg, “Who asked you to sleep in? It’s almost time for breakfast anyway!”
Quickly and quietly, Fang walked away. However, Arisa noticed and lunged for his legs again and cried louder.
“No one cares!” she cried over and over again.
Fang felt like he wanted to rip his hair out. There were things he had planned for the day and dealing with this wasn’t on the list.
“Where’s Shadow?” his voice was strained.
“Oh, ol’ Shadow?” Alister walked out of his room to join the ladies at the top of the stairs, “‘E’s takin’ a shower.”
“I need someone to cook breakfast,” Fang said.
“I’m out,” Penelope walked back to her room, “Have you seen how much you guys eat? I’m not spending that much time in the kitchen.”
“I have my meditations,” Raven walked off as well.
I’ll go get Arisa’s stuffed unicorn. Maybe that will help.
Alister looked around and before he knew it, everyone was gone. He looked at Fang with an uncertain smile. Fang didn’t like the idea at all. But he wasn’t going to get far with Arisa strapped to his leg like one of those anklets that police use on criminals. He saw Alister try to slink away and said something.
“Alister, cook breakfast,” he commanded, leaving no room for protest.
Alister’s shoulders dropped and walked down the steps to the kitchen as Arisa screamed at the top of her lungs. Fang just stood there thankful he didn’t have children of his own to worry about. He dragged Arisa over to the nearest chair and sat down. Where was that stupid commercial?
Shadow looked on from the top of the stairs. His black hair was still wet from his shower and a small smile appeared on his hips. He shook his head as he descended the stairs.
“I bet you wish you had the power to put little girls to sleep, don’t you?” he said.
Fang glared at him, “Where have you been?”
Shadow raised an eyebrow, “I’ve been taking care of my general hygiene. Unless, you want me to stop that all together.”
Fang rolled his eyes. Shadow looked around.
“Where is everybody?” he asked.
“Skipping on cooking duty,” Fang sighed. How did he get stuck with this ragtag group? Oh, yeah, Undertaker. Wonder if he would be easy to kill with his previous Tower experience. Maybe not.
“Well, I guess I’d better get started,” Shadow walked off.
Fang suddenly felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. He felt light headed and shook his head a little. A few seconds later there was an explosion.
Fang looked down the smoky hallway leading to the kitchen. Penelope ran for the fire extinguisher and brought it to her room. Blue came out of hiding and headed down the flaming hallway, putting out the flames that he could. Arisa sat quietly with her arms around Fang’s leg. Raven draped her scorched cloak over the balcony railing. She didn’t look at all happy.
“What was that?” there was clear tension in her voice.
Shadow came coughing in to the living room as he gripped his chest in pain. His once clean appearance was tarnished by ash and dirt. He looked back at the hallway wide eyed.
“Who—what the heck!?” he cried.
“What did you do?” Penelope returned. Her eyes were narrowed with fury.
“I didn’t do anything! I touched the doorknob and the whole thing blows up!” Shadow looked half crazed. It was understandable for someone who got a face full of ‘kaboom’.
Fang sighed, “Oh, Alister, what did you do?”
Shadow turned around, “Alister? What the heck was Alister doing in the kitchen!?”
“He was supposed to be cooking,” Fang answered.
“Alister?” Shadow said, mouth agape, “Cooking? I freaking told you he was insane! That’s what you get when you break a man out of a psyche ward! A crazy son of a—”
“I’m standin’ right ‘ere, you dope,” Alister walked out of ‘hallway zero’. Surprisingly, he was in better shape that Shadow was.
“Ahh,” Shadow groaned in defeat, “I’m going to take a shower!”
“You blew up my kitchen,” Fang said in disbelief.
Alister shrugged, “Sorry, the oven wouldn’t work so I improvised.”
“Improvised?” the Wolves said in unison.
“I threw a grenade in the oven,” Alister looked around, “What you guys don’t do that?”
“Oh, gosh!” Penelope gripped her head and slid to the floor, “Why me, why me? My room, my poor room. There is a hole in my room.”
“What are we going to eat?” Arisa seemed unfazed by the events that occurred.
Fang looked down at her, “If you let go we’ll go to the circus.”
“Yay! I win!” she jumped up and shouted.
First, however, Fang needed to get the place fixed. He would need to ask the Tower to send over some of their Reconstruction Teams. They were the instant fix-it team; fixing anything in a matter of hours sometimes minutes. But right now they needed food and probably some fresh air. On top of that, he had to shut Arisa up. Normally she would stop after a few minutes but she was determined to go to the circus. In the circumstances he was in now the circus looked good to Fang; cheap food, air, free admission and est of all there was no hole in their hallway where their kitchen used to be.
“I wanna go home!” Arisa cried.
Little girls would always be a mystery to Fang. They wanted one thing and when they got it they wanted another. It was in the afternoon and Arisa was complaining constantly about going home. Blue did his best to help deal with her, bless his heart, but she knew what she wanted and that she wasn’t getting it. Her companion tried to explain that this was where the elephants did the tricks that she saw on T.V. but she didn’t seem to care anymore. Maybe this was some puberty thing. She pouted as the show continued.
Fang barely paid attention to the circus show. Everyone else seemed board with the events. Shadow sat as far away from Alister as he could while he playing with one of his daggers. He still couldn’t get the smell of smoke completely out of his hair. Raven sat reading a book about animal training. Penelope had somehow snuck her laptop in and was trying to fix something with her little tools that she had with her. Alister sighed with total boredom. Only Blue seemed interested. There was a childlike vibe about him as he looked at the animals and clowns.
“We need one volunteer! Who would like to come up?” the MC said.
She was a young looking girl with the cutest of smiles. Edonya she said her name was. She stood on top of a round platform with a box to one side. Her uniform was unique. Her brown hair was pulled back in an excessive braid decorated with imitation pearls and other trinkets. The braid fell down to her lower back. She had fair skin and a perfect completion. With her clothes, she looked like an ancient genie with her fanned pants and short strapless tube top. Her brown eyes looked into the stands. The smile on her face widened.
“How about you?” she said, pointing into the stands.
A light narrowed in on Arisa. She looked up surprised. For the first time that day, she smiled in excitement. She looked at Fang for permission. Fang shrugged. If she wanted to she could. A clown came by to pick her up. She took its hand as he walked up with a goofy skip. He brought her into the ring and onto the platform. Everyone watched. Blue seemed especially proud for some reason.
“All right, what’s your name?” Edonya asked Arisa.
“Arisa,” Arisa said, suddenly shy.
“Well, Arisa,” Edonya smiled and pointed to the box, “Would you step in here please?”
Arisa nodded and walked into the white box. Edonya closed the box and accepted a pink wand from the clown. She touched the box. When she did the prop smoke burst out around the box. The box opened and Arisa wasn’t there. Fang wasn’t worried; Arisa was bound to pop up somewhere.
Edonya turned to the crowd, “Not to worry ladies and gentlemen,” she reassured the crowd, “This is just your run-of-the-mill kidnapping.”
At that Fang stood up in shock. The crowd started muttering to each other.
“Now, now, little Arisa will be safe until out demands are met. Little Arisa’s guardian will be notified of our demands.”
Blue stood up but was pushed down by Fang.
“Now, if you would all leave the grounds, please. The park is closed,” Edonya turned as the clown cackled.
She turned around and started to walk away. Edonya disappeared into smoke. The lights all shut off leaving everyone in the dark.