“Mr. Potter?” asked Tom.
The clown’s smug expression fell and a pause hung in the air. He blinked twice and glanced from Tom to little Sheila.
“I’m right, aren’t I?”
The clown, mouth agape, nodded his head. “No one has ever guessed who I am. Not one person. How did you know?”
“If I told you, it would only work to your benefit. And how dare you scare a little girl like that?” A crinkled forehead worn by the clown, Mr. Potter, indicated confusion, so Tom continued. “Don’t give me that ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ look. I can see by my daughter’s body language that you scared her. He turned to his daughter, “Sweetheart, did the clown scare you?”
Sheila’s lip quivered, as she nodded. “He said I had to stay here. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to go home.”
Tom glared at Mr. Potter. “Get us out of here, and what do you mean I’m the only one who was able to guess who you are? Why is that significant?”
“It’s important because, without knowing that, you would not have been able to leave.”
“Where’s my wife? Where’s Connie?”
“Connie never said she wanted to stay, so she is still on the carousel.”
“I never said I wanted to stay. Sheila, honey, did you tell Mr. Potter you wanted to stay?”
“No! He’s a bad man. I want to go home.”
“There are others here?” asked Tom.
“All around. You just can’t see them. But they are content,” said Mr. Potter.
Tom had to be dreaming. Stuff like this never happens. “Get us out of here, please.”
Mr. Potter nodded and snapped his fingers. At that instant the countryside vanished and they were all on the carousel under the large tent. It rocked to a stop. Sheila jumped from her twin horse. Tom dashed off his duck, and Connie hopped off her horse and hurried to her daughter and husband.
“How come I don’t remember that?” asked Sheila.
“Do you remember your nightmares?” asked Connie.
“Remember them, I still have them. Why?”
“Those aren’t nightmares. They’re memories.”
“How do you know my experience in such detail, when I don’t? Dad only caught the last remnant of it.”
“The clown, well, Mr. Potter, never took his eyes off of you while you were there in the lollipop field. You just couldn’t see him. Later that evening, he came over to the house. We didn’t want to let him in at first, he but told us through the door that he had to tell us something that was a matter of life or death, so we let him in. He explained what had happened between you and your look alike, Shelly. The danger was that, since she escaped on one of the twin horses, she was now in this world.”
“Soooo…..that meant the two of you couldn’t live within 1000 miles of each other, at least not for very long. He took her in as his own which meant, with us being here in this house, one of you had to move. That’s why we moved clear across the country. To get away from her.”
“What happens if we live within 1000 miles of each other?”
“Whose dead body did you see in Mr. Potter’s yard?”
Sheila’s mouth dropped open. “This is my fault? I killed her. No!”
“When you bought this house a year ago, she was still living next door or in the area. And…..” Connie’s voice trailed off.
“Why didn’t I die?” asked Sheila.
“Because you were born in this reality. Shelly wasn’t.
“You should’ve told me. I never would have purchased this house if I had known.”
Detective Jameson, who’d been quiet up to this point, cut in, “You mean to tell me this whole thing is a result of two people being within 1000 miles of each other? One of whom is from a different reality? Are you kidding me? No. I don’t buy it.”
“Mr. Potter will verify everything,” said Connie.
“Wait a minute,” Sheila cut in. “I’ve been living here a year now. Why did Mr. Potter not say anything when I first moved in. Why didn’t he tell me then that I couldn’t live so close to Shelly? Not to mention, as long as I’ve been here, I’ve never seen her. The only other people who live there are the Mason twins, Tim and Tyson. They’re boarders of Mr. Potter’s.”
“Yeah, we found evidence of other people who might be living there. Where are are they?”
Sheila shrugged. “Beats me. Like I said, I’ve been at a writer’s conference. Last I saw them, though, was a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been here. It just means I haven’t seen them.”
“There is one weird piece to this puzzle,” said the detective. “We didn’t see any evidence of a woman living there. So, if this Shelly as you say has been living there, there’s no indication of it. None. It sounds like our Mr. Potter has some holes of his own to help fill in the missing pieces to this weird story. Why don’t we go ask him?”
“Before we do that, I have a question I need answered,” said Sheila.
“What’s that,” said Detective Jameson.
“What tipped you off about the body in the back yard?”
A knock at the door interrupted.
“I’ll get it,” said Connie. She opened the front door and a uniformed police officer stepped inside.
“Excuse me ma’am. Is…” Seeing the detective in the living room, he nodded. “Detective, we found something you need to see.”
The detective dashed through the living room, calling behind him. “You both might as well come with me.” Then he was out the door.
Mr. Potter’s house
The police officer guided them through the front door of Mr. Potter’s house and into a bedroom. A queen size bed with no headboard stood in front of them facing the left wall. A chest of drawers stood propped up against the opposite wall. The medium green carpet and the gray colored walls gave off the feel of calm and secluded.
“Over here,” said the officer making a be-line to another door on the left wall. He opened it and stood aside.
“It looks like a closet,” said Detective Jameson. “So.”
The detective sauntered over to the closet door and poked his head around the corner. The light from the bedroom lit up the small closet in a dusky haze with a bit of light peppering the space. It was empty except for a few shirts hanging off to the right. He was just about to pull his head out when a sliver of bright light peeked out between two of the shirts. The detective pushed both shirts aside to reveal a swirling vortex. He hurried out of the closet. “I think I know how Shelly was able to live here without being noticed. But first we need to talk to Mr. Potter. Come on.”
Later that afternoon at the precinct
Sheila and Connie sat in the observation room in front of the two-way mirror waiting for Mr. Potter to be brought in to interrogation room one where Detective Jameson sat drumming his fingers on the table.
“Mom, where’s dad? Why isn’t he here with you?”
“He’s on a business trip,” replied Connie.
“He wouldn’t tell me.”
Sheila sighed and noticed her mother’s pained expression. She took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Moral support would have been nice. For both of us.”
At that moment Mr. Potter was led into the interrogation room and guided into a chair across from the detective.
“Mr. Potter, we found what looked to be a vortex in the closet of your bedroom.”
Mr. Potter’s eyebrows rose, and he gazed over at the two-way mirror. He moved his gaze back to the detective, but he didn’t answer.
“Come on, Mr. Potter. What’s all this about? If you didn’t kill her, then at least tell us what happened.”
Mr. Potter glanced at the two-way mirror again then back at the detective and blurted out, “Tom killed her. Tom, Sheila’s father killed her. This past Thursday.”
Behind the mirror, Connie and Sheila gasped at the same time.
“Mom, was dad on a business trip this past Thursday night?”
“Yes, that’s the trip I told you about. but, like I said, he wouldn’t tell me where he was going.”
“I was in Chicago.” Sheila remembered her phone conversation a week ago with her parents. She had been telling them of her up and coming trip to Chicago. Her father used that opportunity to come here and kill Shelly.
Mr. Potter continued. “If you were able to see the vortex, it means someone went into it.” A sad smile crossed his face, as he gazed at the two-way mirror knowing who went into it.
Sheila shot out of her chair, ran out the door, and entered the interrogation room where Mr. Potter and the detective were seated. “You’re lying.”
“No, I swear. I watched him go, and I saw him kill her.”
“Why didn’t you stop him?”
“He said he killed her for you. You see, Shelly had magical powers because she was from a magical realm. She bragged about giving you nightmares throughout your life after that time you and your parents spent on the carousel.”
“How did my dad know all of this?”
“She was able to go into the vortex at the end of the day and come back out in the morning. I thought you were all safe because up until a year ago, you lived out east with your parents. But I was wrong. One night, when she was supposed to be in the other realm, I woke up to a strange noise to find my whole bedroom wasn’t a bedroom anymore. At least not my bedroom. It was yours. Shelly was standing over you while you were sleeping and inducing nightmares. I could see how painful it was for you. I tried to make her stop, but she wouldn’t. You see, she wanted your life and thought if she drove you mad she could somehow kill you. It makes no sense, I know. But that was her logic. One night your dad walked in and saw her.”
“How was he able to see her?” asked the detective.
“After having been in that realm while on the carousel all those years ago, you are given the ability to see the other worldly things. When your dad walked in on her, she disappeared. So for years she taunted you. Last Thursday your dad showed up on my door step and asked to see her. She wasn’t there, so he waited for her. He didn’t have to tell me why he was there. I could see the malice in his face. But I let him in anyway. When she showed up, he told her she was going to stop her torcher of you. Well, as you can imagine, they argued. He grabbed her around the neck and strangled her. We dug a grave that night and threw her in it. Then he jumped into the vortex I had shown him, because he didn’t want to go to prison for doing something that protected his daughter.” Mr. Potter smiled then smirked.
“You sound happy about all of this,” said Sheila dumbstruck.
“Oh, you bet I am.”
Later that night
Sheila and her mother, Connie, sat at the kitchen table. “Well,” said Connie, “at least Mr. Potter is going to prison for being an accessory. It doesn’t make me feel any better, though. Your dad is gone.” She hung her head and wrung her hand in her lap. “I’m going to miss him.” A tear traveled down her cheek.
Sheila reached a hand across the table to her mother. “I know. We both will.”
There was a tap tap tap at the door, and both mother and daughter looked at one another. Sheila got up and pulled the door open. It was her dad.