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Millie Searches the Ether S03E03

The Adventures of Millie and Sandra

By Karen Eastland Published 2 years ago 9 min read
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The Adventures of Millie and Sandra

Aunt Millie went to see Tess, the twins' mum, and told her about the ring's reaction to Sandra. She could not help rubbing her lower back during the retelling. Hitting the wall was not fun and she felt it unfair that it was her everyone seemed to lash out at.

‘Right. So,’ Tess said, pushed her chair away from the table and stood. ‘Okay, so what do we do?’

‘I think it’s Celia, sis.’

‘Celia?’ Tess asked and the colour in her face drained. ‘The crystal… mother’s cryst— You sure? I mean… no, don’t know what I mean.’

‘I’m sure enough to be worried,’ Aunt Millie said and lifted her coffee cup to her lips, swigging the lukewarm liquid, thinking about what could be done. ‘Can I get another? This is pretty cold.’

‘Course,’ Tess said, filled the kettle up and switched it back on.

‘The way I see it, sis,’ Aunt Millie said, ‘we have two problems.’

‘Two?’ Tess asked.

‘Marly and Sandra.’

‘Oh, yeah. Almost forgot about Marly… a cat, hey? Glad the girls are human sized dragonflies.’

Aunt Millie laughed, but her mirth was quickly replaced with concern. Aunt Millie had a couple of ideas about how to help Marly and Mark, but the coven were humans who could shape-shift into insects. It was an odd mix, but anything, anyone, could be a witch, and every coven member was human. Their propensity to shift into an insect usually revealed what their insect reflection was at puberty, though some never shifted and were primarily witches. They only used their ability to shift in case of an emergency.

Taking shape-shifting cats anywhere near the coven, Might be dangerous, Aunt Millie thought.

‘—and Mill’s could look into the Marly prob… hey, hey,’ Tess was saying and was clicking her finger’s in front of her sister's dazed eyes.

‘What? I’m here,’ Aunt Millie said. ‘You were saying?’

‘You heard nothing, right?’

Aunt Millie was going to deny it, but Tess knew her too well.

‘Yes, I missed it all,’ she said. ‘Just tell me again and stop gloating.’

‘It’s age,’ Tess said.

‘What’s age?’ her sister asked.

‘Forgetfulness—'

‘What? Get out of here—'

‘You get this vacant look in your—’

Aunt Millie stared at her sister with disbelief, then realised she was pulling her leg.

‘Just tell me what you were saying,’ Aunt Millie snapped, but she wasn’t angry. She’d so missed her younger sister, and it was nice to share playful banter with her again.

Tess tucked her hair behind her ears, pulled her chair out, and sat down with a hot mug of coffee in her hand. That’s when Aunt Millie saw the one in front of her.

‘I suggested we send Sandra to go find out more about that daemon—’

‘How?’ Aunt Millie asked. ‘You know she’s not too graceful on her feet and she does like to talk… a lot.’

They both laughed and Aunt Millie picked a shortbread from the biscuit tin and dipped it in her coffee.

‘That’s why you send her to ‘talk’ with Mark and Marly. Find out what they know,’ Tess said and waited for her sister to finish her biscuit. ‘They’ll tell her everything, if only to make her stop.’

‘And Millie?’ Aunt Millie asked, dipping another shortbread into her coffee.

‘We’ll send my sweet, competent Millie back into the Ether,’ Tess said. ‘See if she can find Marly’s spirit. We might be able to—’

‘Put her back together,’ Aunt Millie said. ‘That’s brilliant, sis.’

‘I know… and you and I? We’ll investigate what, or who, Celia is,’ Tess continued.

‘The twins can’t know,’ Aunt Millie said.

‘Definitely,’ Tess said. ‘Mill’s would keep it quiet, but Sandy’s—’

‘Got a sudden magic boost since Celia showed up.’

‘Yeah. Can’t tell you how frightening that has been,’ Tess said. ‘She might be able to read Mill’s mind.’

Sitting around the kitchen table, the sisters became silent. Both were wondering what Celia was. They finished their cuppa’s and aunt Millie collected her bag. She was ready to go.

‘I’ll text the girls. Tell them to go to you place after school,’ Tess said. ‘I’ll meet you there around… four?’

‘Four it is… and it’s Friday. They’ll have the weekend,’ Aunt Millie said, ‘okay. We’ll tell them what we’ve decided, but not what you and I’ll be doing?’

‘No. We’ll tell them we’re busy with coven stuff,’ Tess said.

‘That’ll do it,’ Aunt Millie said. ‘See ya this arvo, sis.’

Tess sent the texts, and they all met at Aunt Millie’s for tea and cake. Mum and Aunt had their excited attention until Sandra heard where Millie was going.

‘Why can’t I go into the Ether?’ she complained. ‘Millie always gets to do all the fun stuff.’

‘It has to be Millie,’ Tess said.

‘But why?’ Sandra complained. ‘She always—’

‘Because,’ Aunt Millie said, cutting off the whine that Sandra was building into. ‘Millie has been to the Ether before—’

‘So have I.’

‘Yes, Sandra, you’ve been there… as a victim,’ her aunt continued.

Sandra dropped her lower lip and grumbled, ‘Always the victim.’

‘Millie knows her way around in the Ether,’ her aunt continued.

‘Still not fair,’ Sandra sulked.

‘Stop it, Sandy,’ Tess snapped. ‘You’ll do as you're told. Your job is just as dangerous as Millie’s, even more.’

‘What do you mean?’ Sandra asked, the sulk leaving her voice.

‘You must learn not only about someone who’s been alive for hundreds of years, but you also have to learn about a daemon, something no-one else in the coven has ever done before.’

Sandra had perked up. She was smiling at the thought of knowing something no-one else could know. Her assigned job was looking more appealing than going back into the Ether… a place she feared. She only wanted to go there because Millie was, and her mum knew it. Tess also knew how to get Sandra to do what she wanted.

With the twins accepting their missions, Tess, and Aunt Millie enlisted the investigative assistance from Frank, the policeman. It was Tess’s idea. Aunt Millie just said, ‘If you insist.’

Tess smiled. Frank would do anything for her sister, and she knew it, but for some reason, Aunt Millie, and Frank had yet to admit it to each other, so decided to do something about it.

‘Right,’ Aunt Millie said to Sandra, ‘Tomorrow you’ll go see Marly and Mark, find out as much as you can.’

‘K, aunty.’

‘And you, Millie,’ her mum said, ‘you’ll go with Rhianna into the Ether.’

‘Looking forward to it,’ she said, and an odd sensation of concern moved through her aunt.

‘Mill’s?’ her aunt said.

‘Yeah?’

‘Going into the Ether is serious business. It’s not a fun jaunt into an amusement park. It’s like setting out to climb Mount Everest with no food, water or climbing gear… it’s dangerous.’

‘I know, aunty. Sorry, I would never underestimate the Ether. I only saw one small pocket of it, and it was full of dead and dying witches,’ Millie said, her tone more serious that her earlier quip. ‘I know how dangerous it is.’

‘Good, because I’m quite fond of you—both—and would hate to have to send out search parties for you because you didn’t heed the warnings… Sandra,’ Aunt Millie said turning to see Sandra holding Celia and a jolt of panic made her heart skip a beat.

‘We’ll be fine, won’t we Celia?’ Sandra said. ‘Don’t worry mum, aunty, Celia won’t let anything happen to me.’

A nervous looked passed between everyone except Sandra. Millie was there the day Celia threw Aunt Millie across the room, and although they hadn’t talked about it, she knew they were worried… Millie was worried.

‘Put Celia away for the moment, Sandy,’ her mother said. ‘You need to concentrate on what you’re going to ask, how—’

‘I know. I know, mum,’ she said and slipped the crystal ball known as Celia back into her backpack. ‘Go see Marly. Find out info. It’s not exactly a delicious adventure, but I could imagine I am going into a foreign land where no speaks English and—'

‘Sis!’ Millie said and rolled her eyes.

Good grief, sis, Aunt Millie said telepathically.

I know, Tess replied, and couldn’t hide her laughter.

***

The day arrived, and Sandra changed in the back yard behind a large tree so her dad couldn’t see her dragonfly self. She took to the air, flew into the clouds and made her way to City Park. Millie was up a lot earlier than that. She was already preparing with Susan, the dimensional Guardian, and Rhianna, her tether to the natural world.

‘We’ll be lookin’ for the valley of lost souls, Mill’s,’ Rhianna said. ‘It’s hard to find unless you, yourself, are a lost soul, an’ we don’t want that, do we?’

‘No,’ Millie said, her eyes were wide and mouth agape as she took in that information. ‘I thought you’d been there before?’

‘Me?’ Rhianna said and laughed. ‘I don’t know of anyone who’s actually found the valley. Heard stories ‘bout finding lost souls lookin’ for it… so we might meet a few… um… unpleasant souls, but just remember, the only way they can hurt you is if they can touch you, and they’ll try to.’

‘Why?’

‘We’re alive, Mill’s. We have what they want. If they touch you, they will syphon some of your life force from you.’

‘What?’

‘It’s okay,’ Rhianna said. ‘They can’t take much… although…’

‘Although?’ Millie asked, her voice raised slightly above normal in an effort to get Rhianna’s attention. ‘Rhianna? Although?’

‘Oh, yes,’ she said. ‘It could be bad if we find ourselves surrounded, if they all take a bit of our life force… but then… that probably won’t happen.’

‘Probably?’ Millie asked, ‘what if we find the valley? Won’t that be full of lost souls?’

‘Well, yeah—’

‘Will the same thing happen?’

Rhianna fell silent. Her green eyes looked skyward, then to the left, then the right, before looking skyward again.

‘Rhianna?’

‘Don’t know, Mill’s,’ she finally said, ‘we’ll have to play it by ear.’

‘Great,’ Millie muttered.

‘Shush now,’ Rhianna said. In her hand was what looked like a cup of chicken soup. ‘Here, drink this. It’ll help you sleep, and us join with our astral bodies to traverse the Nothing inside the Ether.’

Susan had been listening to the exchange while she prepared a sacred space to open a dimensional portal to the Ether. She knew firsthand the dangers it held in its inviting, colourfully clouded abyss. She worried for them both.

Better Millie than Sandra, Susan thought as the portal opened and Sandra and Rhianna’s astral bodies rose.

Millie looked down at their sleeping bodies and a jolt of excitement moved through her.

‘Come on girls,’ Susan said and directed them to the portal

Rhianna and Millie took a step into the portal and the Ether sucked them in, leaving a vacuum of space in their wake.

‘Rhianna?’ Millie screamed.

‘Hold on to me,’ Rhianna yelled, ‘don’t let go.’

‘Okay.’

Dips and divots, hills, and valleys swept past them faster than a speeding train. Millie could barely make out what was happening. It looked different than on her last visit. They began to slow, and the blur that surrounded them took shape. Clouds, some thick black like smoke, some bright orange like fire and some so white they could be mistaken for snow. Millie’s stomach lurched when they finally came to a stop and her internal organs caught up to her with a splash.

‘You, okay?’ Rhianna asked.

Millie burped so loud it echoed in the Nothing all around them and Rhianna laughed.

‘Excuse me, and yep, all good now.’

‘You did alright,’ Rhianna said. ‘The first time I attempted to go to some uncharted place in the Ether, I threw up… never drink warm milk before travelling.’

Millie couldn’t help laughing.

‘So, where are we?’ she asked.

‘It’s not a question of where we are,’ Rhianna said. ‘It’s a question of where we are not and we’re not, from what I can sense, in the valley of lost souls... must be round here somewhere though…’

Millie was holding Rhianna’s hand while looking around to see if there were any entrances or portals, when a strange sensation took her breath away and she doubled over in pain.

‘Millie,’ Rhianna screamed, and Millie looked up to see a shadowy figure was moving through her.

‘’Se scatra, malteva,’ Rhianna said, pointed her index finger towards the figure and Millie watched a transparent spark shoot from it and hit the figure.

The shadow figure must’ve felt it because it jumped and moved away from the two witches at speed.

‘What was that?’ Millie asked.

‘That, my dear young witch, is our first lead.’

‘Lead?’

‘Yep,’ Rhianna said. ‘When lost souls first arrive, they can meander through the Nothing, but the one thing they have in common is, they all end up in the one place, the—’

‘Valley of lost souls,’ Millie said in unison with Rhianna.

‘That’s right, little witch,’ Rhianna said. ‘Follow the lost souls... and don’t let them touch you.’

‘Yeah,’ Millie said, ‘that really hurt.’

‘You probably just lost 10-minutes off your life with that minor pass through,’ Rhianna said. ‘So, do you now understand what’s at stake in here, Mill’s?’

‘Yeah, my life.’

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About the Creator

Karen Eastland

In addition to my creative pursuits, I'm also a dedicated advocate for education and literacy. Through my writing, I seek to inspire others to follow their passions, to make a positive impact on their world.

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