“The caretaker is not far from here hoodlum…he’ll catch you if you try to do anything to us.”

“I am no hoodlum and we both know that Mr. Mlandi doesn’t patrol these parts again until midnight.”

How did he know the caretaker’s name or his schedule? Tim suddenly interrupted my thoughts as he moved closer to me and quickly pulled me back to where he was such that I was standing right at the towering figure ahead of us.

“Well my father is a cop, you can never outrun him.”

“Nice try Tim but everyone knows your father is the best landscaper in Dale.”

“Darn his famous green thumb!”

Tim said defeated as I raised the torch high so that I could see his face. The gasp was mutual, shocked by the mask covering everything but his eyes. I focused on them; squinted, brown and ominous. He waved his hand and the light went out.

“How did you do that?”

I asked as I focused on trying to study his voice all the while surveying for an escape route in the pitch darkness.

“I don’t have time to explain everything right now and I know you don’t have a reason to, but I need you to trust me…Sam.”

“How…do you know my name?”

How did he know me? He seemed to know quite a lot about us and quite young, maybe in his twenties or thirties, especially so because of his voice. Other than that though, he did not seem familiar at all.

“That’s not important right now. I hate to ask this of you, seeing how dangerous it will be but I really need your help.”

“Help with what?”

Tim suddenly pulled me back and defiantly charged at him, muffled by the resistance from his large gloved palm.

“Let me go! The only help you’ll get is a punch in the face…let…me…go!”

“All you need to know now is that your family is in a lot of danger Sam. It’s too late for David but maybe you can help the others.” 

He had my attention now.

“What do you know about my uncle? Who are you…?”

“When you get the key, find the safe; the nightingale lights the way; Trust no one!”

With that there was a gush of white smoke and he had vanished into thin air.

“Bloody hell…did you see that? What on God’s green earth was that all about?”

Tim asked as I bent down and picked the flashlight, peering around to trace the man in the shadows but he was nowhere to be found. There was something though, glittering under the glare of the flashlight, in the clearing a few steps away. A silver locket with a baby’s picture lay abandoned among dried leaves. I don’t remember seeing this here.

“I have no idea, but maybe this might help give us a clue as to who the masked magician was.”

I said as I grabbed the locket, dangling it in the light of the flashlight. 

“Masked magician, that’s not so clever…maybe the illusionist, or…or the crimson phantom…oh…oh…or…”

“We’re not naming him Tim. For all we know he’s some escaped convict or something…”

“An escaped convict with really cool magic tricks that’s what. Maybe he can wave his wand and make me super good at math or something.”

Tim said as he looked up over and through the trees to the fluorescent light gleaming from Uncle Konde’s office.

“Hey Sam, didn’t the phantom guy say something about it being too late for your uncle? What do you think he meant?”

Tim asked as my gaze flew out towards the castle. What did he mean? Was Uncle Konde really in trouble, and if so, was the masked stranger right? Was I too late? All of a sudden the fear melted and adrenaline fired me up. I did not know why or what drove me but I raced on, darkness full and the wind colder and more violent than before.

“Hey! Wait up.”

Tim called after me but I didn’t look back or falter. All I knew is that I had to get to that office and I had to get there now.

I know this post comes in a day late, sorry guys, I was stumped with cleaning and laundry, but here you go. The following chapter in the story. I have actually found that I am surprisingly as eager to write as you may be to read. For now though, go ahead and grab your cup of coffee and indulge in the story. ☕📖🗿🔫🔍🔦😱

Until next time. 



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