“Mr Smith,” Sarah Jane said as she stepped into her inner sanctum. “Maria needs you.”
“What can I do for her, Sarah Jane?” answered Mr Smith.
“Tell me about the alien entity that my watch detected in her bedroom, please.” Sarah Jane opened her watch and pressed a button that downloaded a signal to Mr Smith. His strange screensaver span around and lights lit up dramatically around the big console. Sarah Jane half suspected that it was mostly showing off. Mr Smith WAS part TARDIS, of course. Showing off was inevitable.
“I will access my memory cells immediately,” Mr Smith promised. “It may take a few minutes.”
“You always say that,” Sarah Jane answered. “You know I could do a Google search on the ordinary computer in seconds.”
“But I am more likely to find the truth about entities of a non-terrestrial nature,” he answered. And she had to concede that he was right. She went to make a cup of tea while he was processing the information.
As she was pouring the hot water into the pot she heard the buzzer that told her the front door had been opened. She was surprised. It was only a little after midday and Luke ought to have been having his school dinner and then going along to lunch break science club.
“What are you doing here?” she asked as he burst into the attic.
“I just heard… they said at school… that Maria got burnt in a fire…”
“No, Luke,” Sarah Jane answered him calmly. “They got it all wrong. Maria is fine.” She poured the tea as she explained the events of the night.
“So… Maria’s mum is in hospital and so is Lizzie. And both of them upset Maria yesterday.” Luke summed up the situation. “But Maria didn’t injure them…”
“No, of course not.” Sarah Jane answered. “But she was so upset and angry with them both last night and…”
She paused as Mr Smith interrupted her with a musical ‘sting’ that indicated that he had something to report. She and Luke drank their tea as they stood in front of the computer and listened to what he had to say.
“The lifeform is a Cavean entity,” he said. “They are very old.” Mind-boggling figures appeared on his screen along with a diagram of what Earth’s solar system looked like when these creatures were first thought to have existed. “Billions of years old. They are at least as long as the oldest civilisations in the universe. They are a non-corporeal being, of limited intelligence and simple and repetitive habits. On Earth, they appear to have been around as long as Humans. They have existed in a type of symbiotic way since….”
“Symbiotic how?” Sarah Jane asked, hoping to cut through the detail and get to the important points.
“They appear to be drawn to Humans. And some Humans are drawn to them. They have become part of Human folklore. They are known by many different names; elves, pixies, leprechauns, imps, fairies…”
“Fairies?” Luke repeated. “But fairies… well they’re kids stuff… Tinkerbell, Enid Blyton…”
“They’re not,” Sarah Jane told him. “When I was at U.N.I.T. HQ last year they showed me a report passed onto them by Torchwood. They told me to watch out for the same kind of phenomena and report it. Fairies are definitely NOT kids stuff. But that’s not what we have here. The word ‘fairy’ – people don’t really know, so they use words like that for anything of that sort.”
“May I continue?” Mr Smith asked, in a tone that was almost impatient.
“Yes, please do,” Sarah Jane answered.
“Cavean Entities are also seen in some cultures as the spirits of the home – domestic ethereals. In rural societies, they are the demi-gods that make the bread rise or the hens lay. They are also thought to be responsible for things that go missing around the home.”
“Oh, like when I put down my pen and when I look again it’s gone?” Luke said. “Or… when I put a pair of socks in the wash and only ONE comes out of the tumble dryer.”
“I think that’s what Mr Smith means,” Sarah Jane answered him. “But this is more serious than socks and pens. These… Have Caveans been known to be more than just mischievous? Have they been known to hurt people? Are they capable of evil?”
“Sarah Jane…” Mr Smith spoke with what almost seemed to be a sigh. “Please understand that this data is mostly hearsay and supposition. None of it has any substantial basis. However… there is also the possibility that Cavean entities are the ‘familiars’ of witches that can be made to ‘sit’ on the soul of one the witch wishes to harm. However… that presupposes the existence of witches and of the soul… And in any case, it is still pure supposition. It may well be that Caveans are mistakenly connected to these superstitions.”
“A familiar?” Sarah Jane turned that idea over. “That sounds as if it might be…”
“But Maria isn’t a witch,” Luke protested.
“Of course she isn’t,” Sarah Jane agreed.
“Then what is this all about?”
“It is about two accidents, one a really HORRIBLE one, happening to the very two people who had made Maria unhappy yesterday… and the fact that her new watch and my old one both registered a Cavean Entity present in her room.”
“Oh!” Luke was horrified. “Oh, Mum! But… Oh, Maria could be in danger.”
“I don’t think she is,” Sarah Jane answered. “But I think other people might be. But what are we going to do? How can we help her?”
Maria was asleep still, tired out and saddened by the night before. She was dreaming, and it wasn’t a good dream. She dreamt she was at school – her old school, the one she went to before her mum and dad split and they moved house. She was dreaming about a girl from her class. A bully. But not the obvious sort of bully that would kick and punch and pull hair in the playground, the sort that everyone knew was a bully. This was a subtle bully. She looked pretty and nice. She was a teacher’s pet. She had lots of friends. She had blonde hair in ringlets and blue eyes. And if somebody crossed her, then she would make their school life a misery by whispers. Lizzie McKenzie’s spitefulness was amateur in comparison, and would probably be forgotten in a few days. When Kaitlyn Turner got it in for you, there was no end to it. Maria had got on the wrong side of her by coming to school in an identical pair of shoes. Her mum had bought them. They WERE very fashionable, and Maria quite liked to wear them until Kaitlyn put it about that she had shoplifted them, because her family couldn’t afford those sort of shoes otherwise. Not everyone had believed it, of course. But she noticed people moving their bags as she passed their table at lunchtime, or looking at her before they handed their jewellery and watches to the teacher for safekeeping before gym classes.
Later she wondered WHY she should have dreamt about Kaitlyn. She had not even thought about her for a year now. She was happy at her new school and all that was in the past. But she dreamt of her now, and she felt again how much she had hated her back then. She had hated those blonde ringlets and that sweet smile that hid such a nasty mind.
She dreamt that Kaitlyn was walking home from school, along the usual way home. She wasn’t alone, of course. There were three of her friends with her, talking about make up and boys. They were laughing, as girls do.
Then Kaitlyn waved to her friends and stepped onto a zebra crossing that took her to her side of the street. She didn’t see the car that was going too fast to stop.
Maria woke with a scream in her throat. She was hugging the doll, Nina. She looked at it and saw the eyes open and shut. She held it tight and shivered and waited for the dream to fade as she became fully awake. But it didn’t. It remained in the forefront of her mind. The sight of Kaitlyn being tossed into the air by the car, landing on the pavement, her skull cracked, her blonde hair matted with blood, her blue eyes unseeing, the screams of her friends and the roar of the car as it drove away down the road.
“Calm down,” she told herself. “It was just a dream. Just a dream. It can’t have happened. It can’t. It’s not even the right time. Why should she be walking home? It’s…”
She looked at the clock. It WAS time. She had slept through the day, but everyone else had been at school. And now it WAS time for them to be walking home from school.
“It can’t be real,” she told herself as she laid the doll aside and went to her desk. She opened her new laptop computer and switched it on. It was Wi-Fi enabled and she was able to access the internet straight away. She went to Facebook, first. She found Kaitlyn there, with a whole list of friends. But of course, nobody put their phone numbers on there. Not these days.
She thought about it for a minute, then she did a Google search. Kaitlyn’s mother did mobile hairdressing from home. She had a small website advertising her prices. There was a mobile and a landline number.
Maria dialled the landline. It rang but nobody answered. Then she tried the mobile. That rang on for a little while and she expected it to go to voicemail. Then, finally, it connected.
“Hello, Mrs Turner,” Maria said. “I’m sorry to bother you. I’m a friend of Kaitlyn’s and I lost her number. Is she there? Is she home from school yet?”
Maria’s heart sank. There was a sob on the other end of the line and a lot of heavy breathing as if somebody was trying to steady their voice.
“Kaitlyn isn’t home from school yet,” replied Mrs Turner, finally. “She isn’t going to be home from school for a long time. She…. She’s… there was an accident… a hit and run… She’s….”
Maria dropped the phone. She breathed deeply and tried to calm herself. Mrs Turner didn’t say she was dead. She might just be injured. Like Lizzie was. She might be all right, after all. Maybe Mrs Turner didn’t know yet. She must have been on her way to the hospital, in a taxi, or maybe a police car, or a friend or neighbour. She might not know yet, the same way she and her dad didn’t know last night until they got to the hospital. Maybe Kaitlyn wasn’t dead.
But if she was…..
She went back to the bed and sat down. Without thinking she picked up Nina and hugged her close again. She thought about the dream. She remembered how much hate she had felt for Kaitlyn Turner. She remembered what she had thought about Lizzie and her mum last night before she went to sleep.
“Oh, no!” she cried.
Sarah Jane hurried down the stairs to her front door and flung it open. Maria, dressed in her nightie, in her bare feet, and still clutching the doll she got from her grandmother yesterday, stood there. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Sarah Jane, help me,” she said. “I think… I think I can kill people just by thinking about them.”
To Be Continued...