Magic, magic, sis boom bah.
Nicky and Stephanie picked out two rooms next to one another. The rooms, like the cabin, were much larger on the inside than one might have expected from the outside. Even an architect. Like someone with a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering, a Master’s of Architecture, and several years’ experience as a professional architect would take one look inside the rooms and be like “my goodness, how was this achieved? Was architect a witch? It surely wasn’t me, for I am not a witch.”
Stephanie and Nicky both changed into new, drier clothes (of their own accord and separately in their two separate rooms. This was not a group decision; however, they did share a certain kindred bond that might have led to their common action. Nicky set her wet cardigan down on top of the wide, six drawer dresser set, and observed her reflection in the tall arched mirror rested on top. The Nicky that stared back was very wet, very frazzled, and entirely unprepared for the vulgar exclamation that came from Patrick’s mouth and rang throughout the eerily-large cabin.
“It’s an outdoor music festival! The stages are covered!”
“It did sound like an excuse, yes, but they’re like, gone gone.”
Nicky tossed on a dry shirt and popped her head into the main area to find Robin standing awkwardly while Patrick paced angrily throughout the main area. Stephanie too peaked her head out to see what was going on.
“Someone dead?” Stephanie asked.
She hopped out of the room on one foot while putting on a second dry sock. Patrick exhaled a beleaguered sigh without looking up from the ground.
“Dead? No,” he said. “Dead to me? Yes.”
Patrick continued his pacing. This was not enough information to qualm Stephanie’s curiosity, or Nicky’s for that matter (though she had begun to distract herself by observing the Phantom of the Opera-esque chandelier fixed in the center of the ceiling, so she was not as invested in the drama as Stephanie was). Stephanie made to open her mouth as Patrick continued.
“I’ve had acts quit on me before, but [INSERT FUNNY NAME OF A GROUP HERE] was not one that I expecting or hoping,” he said.
Nicky’s ears perked up upon hearing that name. Stephanie’s ears perked up too, in the same way that a housecat gets all ‘perked up’ when seeing a raccoon through the window.
“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” Stephanie asked with the venom of Venom from the film Venom (2018) starring Tom Hardy as Venom.
“[GROUP NAME] dropped out,” Patrick said. “They weren’t a main stage performance or anything, but they’ve got a big fan base, and I’m sure there are dozens of people who came here just to see them perform.”
[GROUP NAME] was local musical group. Well, predominantly a musical group, but they had comedy elements. While different, they were rivals in the surprisingly competitive musical comedy scene in which Nicky and Stephanie performed.
“I didn’t know you booked such trash for this festival,” Stephanie said in a tone that suggested a joke, but still gave Patrick brief pause.
“She’s kidding,” Nicky said, abandoning her position as a doorway-flower and entering the main room as a real live human being. “We’ve just been beefing with them for the greater part of a decade.”
“You do musical comedy?” Patrick said, his own ears perking up, this time like a housecat hearing the sound of the cat food bag being adjusted slightly.
“More or less,” said Nicky at the same time as Stephanie said, “award winning.”
“What do you play?” Patrick asked.
“Piano and guitar,” Nicky said. “Though we’ve done sets acapella.”
Patrick paced a little bit more, stopped, paced more, and stopped again. He exchanged glances with Robin, and then turned to Stephanie who had since made her way into the main area and plopped down on the crimson velour couch.
“What are your rates?” he asked.
“Rates?” Nicky asked at the same time as Stephanie said, “priceless.”
“Would it be an imposition to ask you to perform come [day of the week. I haven’t really figured out the timeline for this whole festival yet]?”
“Oh you don’t need-” Nicky started but was cut off by a glare from Stephanie that read ‘this is a professional music festival and we are award winning artists. We will take the pay and we will do so gladly’.
“What does the space look like?” Nicky asked.
Patrick left to go do festival organizer things, leaving Nicky and Stephanie alone in the cabin with no sign of the rest of their parties. This was a bit concerning for the both of them because they cared very dearly for Heidi, and by extension, the rest of her family and family’s friends, but at the same time, they appreciated the time alone in the space to plan for their impromptu act.
“Okay, so who’s all going to be in this act?” Nicky asked.
Stephanie met her with a blank stare.
“You and me,” she said. “Who else would be in this?”
“I don’t know. Maybe Heidi or Al would be interested?”
“They have neither the comedic timing nor the musical talent,” said Stephanie. “We’re on our own here and we’re on a mission.”
Nicky nodded like a soldier. She retreated to her bags and pulled out a composition notebook that had many different colors of paper sticking out the edges throughout. On the front cover a salmon sheet of paper reading “Nicky’s Ideas Notebook” had been taped on in that way where the tape fully covers the sheet of paper and it’s essentially laminated, but done so with scotch tape rather than packing tape, so there was a lot of overlap, and they layer of tape made it sort of hard to read the signs.
“Are we going to do an old set or a new set?” Stephanie asked.
“New set, definitely new set,” Nicky replied. “Our old stuff wouldn’t work for this crowd. We need new material that will work on fans of [GROUP NAME].”
Stephanie sighed. She had so little respect for [GROUP NAME] which extended to the fans of [GROUP NAME]. How could she put out work that she herself was proud of that was also work that would entertain the simple minds of those fans.
“Well I think we could start out with something about how [GROUP NAME] died, and we’re taking their place. Lots of jokes about how they’re dead,” said Nicky. “We can call the set A Super Tragic Musical Comedy About the Cruel Fates of [Group Name] In Excruciating Detail.”
“I love it.”
“Even better,” Nicky said, eyes widening.
She closed her notebook and sat up, straight backed, staring wide-eyed at Stephanie.
“We do the entire show as [GROUP NAME].”
“Oh my god, I love it,” Stephanie raved. “It’s perfect. We are absolute geniuses.”
“Truly gifted artists.”
“I get to be Elaina,” Stephanie said.
“Of course. You’re definitely an Elaina,” Nicky replied.
“Not like the actual Elaina, god no; she’s absolute trash,” Nicky said. “You’re Elaina in the BuzzFeed quiz sort of way.”
“True, true,” Stephanie said, nodding. “And you’re more of an Eleanor.”
The two devised their plan. They would come on stage dressed as Two Part HarmonEE to roaring applause. You see, Elaina and Eleanor relied heavily on costumes and spectacle for their act, whereas Nicky and Stephanie subscribed more to the black box theater style of performance. They could very easily fool the audience for a moment, and then start their classic opening number [SOMETHING FUNNY]. The façade dropped, they would move into their impersonation comedy. It was going to be amazing.
“What if they get angry or don’t understand?” Nicky asked. “I don’t want an angry mob coming after us.”
“Oh, that won’t happen,” Stephanie said, scribbling down her own notes. “Now that I think about it, anyone paying money to see Two Part HarmonEE could be just as easily entertained by a dog show. Our audience likes nuance, heart, and pointed commentary. Theirs just wants to hear someone scream loud and act a clown.”
Stephanie farted. Nicky left the room for a moment because it was a real stinker. Subway had that effect on Stephanie.
It was atop a hill tall enough for to survey most of the festival if one could see through the trees that Patrick stood with his daughter Maria. The grass was slick, but the two stood firmly planted.
“I hope they weren’t hurt by storm,” Maria said, staring at the now abandoned woods. “Someone could have tripped and been trampled.”
“These guests are a specter, Maria,” Patrick said. “They would have passed right through them. At worst they got a little wet.”
Maria wrung her hair which was still soaking wet.
“Could have gotten scraped up falling,” Maria said. “One of their friends fell down even after the rain.”
“You’re far too sympathetic,” Patrick said, turning his gaze away form Maria to the woods that she too looked over. “I thought I raised you differently.”
“I do have my vindictive moments,” Maria said. “I think I get it from my true mother and father… the sea.”
Maria closed her eyes and watched rolling waves crash over a sandy beach. It was peaceful. Home. She didn’t like the idea of water being used to hurt people. It felt contrary to its purpose. But it had found an appropriate victim.
“I just think it’s a little elaborate, Patrick,” Maria said. “Like, shouldn’t we be thanking Al? Without him we wouldn’t be living out here where we don’t have to hide.”
“Thank him? Thank that piece of shit?” Patrick spat.
“I agree, he’s a piece of shit. The shittiest of them all. And I understand wanting revenge, Patrick,” Maria said. “I feel that too sometimes, I just don’t think you were meant to marry one of them.”
“Don’t jinx yourself, Maria,” Patrick warned.
“Jinxs aren’t real, Patrick,” Maria replied. “Witches, fairies, goblins, and the Kraken, yes. But jinxs are all hokum.”
Patrick sighed too. There was truth to Maria’s words. There were probably healthier ways to go about processing his feelings. Patrick often felt like he learned more from Maria than Maria learned from him, which would have been more cliché had she been his daughter and not a magical being birthed from the sea and placed into his care by the powers unknown. But he had already gone through many lengths to get to where they were now, and to stop that would be such a hassle.
“You’re right,” Patrick admitted. “Mingling with their kind was never the right idea. But everyone deserves to indulge themselves every now and then, right?”
“I guess so,” said Maria. “I’m going to go take a nap.”
She turned to Patrick, who did not meet her gaze.
“And please note that I do not actually need to sleep, I’m just doing this because you’ve bored me.”
Maria conjured up a small pond of water, laid down in it and fell asleep. Patrick hated when she did that. Less because of the pointed disrespect and more because she looked like a corpse when she floated.
Robin appeared in a cloud of smoke wearing a plain white shirt, a leather chest harness, silver sequined pants, and a proper bowler hat. The ensemble somehow worked effortlessly. Patrick jumped, not at the ensemble, but at the sudden arrival of Robin.
“Jesus Christ, Robin,” Patrick shouted. “What did I say about keeping cover?”
“Absolutely nothing?” Robin replied cheerily. “You’ve done a very poor job at briefing me on any of your plans.”
“Right, fine. Just- Just make sure you don’t do anything like that in front of our guests,” Patrick said. “Use the golf cart if you need to get around.”
Robin nodded in affirmation.
“Did you perform your duties as I requested?” Patrick asked.
“Indeed,” said Robin. “And then some.”
Robin took great joy in explaining how they created the storm, wind, lightning, and spectral crowd in a wild chaos.
“There was whirring and wooshing. To call it a big mood would be putting it lightly,” they said.
“And how did our guests handle it?”
“Well, those two that made it to the cabin were a little unphased,” Robin said. “But the rest seemed quite frightened. Many of them split up on their own, and those that didn’t I plucked and dropped myself.”
“Amazing,” Patrick said, smiling wide.
“I know, I’m an icon,” Robin replied. “And to make things even wilder, I modeled the rain after one of your ooky spooky potions in your magic lab.”
Patrick’s smile faded at the drop of a hat. Not Robin’s hat though. Robin’s hat stayed firmly perched upon their head. It was a great hat.
“Which potion,” Patrick asked. “Which potion Robin. Which one.”
Robin made a swooping gesture, and a crate of vials appeared. They sifted through them until they found a tall vial with a large rounded base.
“This one here,” said Robin, handing the vial to Patrick who grabbed it hurriedly and held it close to his eye.
“I believe this was the itchy potion you were experimenting with,” said Robin. “So now they’ll be all lost, wet, and itchy!”
“You idiot. This isn’t itch potion, this is an early version of my love potion!” Patrick yelled.
He threw the vial into the crate violently, and the whole lot vanished without a trace. Robin took a step backwards from Patrick.
“Well, come to think of it, people like them usually get itchy just from being in wet clothing,” Robin said. “So I think I ultimately succeeded.”
Patrick made a ‘you’re not understanding the gravity of the situation’ angry face at Robin, but Robin remained non-plussed.
“I made so much rain that it was probably diluted to like a tenth of it’s strength,” Robin said. “Quarter tops. That stuff never even worked properly, right?”
“Right…” replied Patrick.
He thought back to his trials. He had long abandoned his attempts at a love potion after discovering that the task was fraught. He could very easily make someone profess their love and jump into the arms of another, but only if the seeds were already there. There was no way to create love, just a way to remove the barriers of entry.
“Well go make sure the guests are doing well. I need them alive and all that,” Patrick said. “But please wear something different, and use the golf cart.”
Robin scowled and snapped their fingers, instantly replacing their outfit with the dull yellow vest from earlier. Another snap and a golf cart manifested. Robin drove off into the distance smashing into several trees as they left.