Previously: Flashback: Part Two
Snake-Boy got up and walked to the foyer where The Great Hunter stood holding the door half-open. Lady Dogface stuck her snout in. She stuck her foot in.
“Oh there you are,” she said. She sniffled and snuffed. “Hey!”
Snake-Boy had never moved from one room to another in the Clockwork Brownstone on his own volition. When he wasn’t in his cage, The Great Hunter had escorted him from overstuffed, overhot room to overstuffed, overhot room, lecturing him on various topics, such as Crime, and Morality, and Destiny, mostly as they related to the long career of himself, The Great Hunter.
Snake-Boy said, “Hey.”
The Great Hunter stepped back, evidently from the force of someone pushing on the other side of the door. Lady Dogface and Sky Prince came into the house. On the street, the Beast Mistress, Lady Dogface’s mother, waited on the back of a Mac-truck-sized Daddy Longlegs spider. Everybody was smiling, including The Great Hunter. Everybody was pretending that he had sort of invited them in.
Lady Dogface said, “Mom wants to take us all out for a jaunt! I mean us kids.” She gestured toward The Great Hunter. “Not — you. Sorry.” She smiled. She looked over at Sky Prince. “You know Sky Prince, right?”
Sky Prince stood with his hands clasped behind him. He didn’t say anything.
Lady Dogface put her hands on Snake-Boy’s shoulders. She said, “She says it’s high time you got out of this –” she looked over at The Great Hunter “–she said it as a joke, really. She said it’s high time you got out of this prison!” She laughed.
The Great Hunter ceased chewing on his mustache long enough to say, “I felt it was important to protect him from prying eyes, you know, and besides, the only other person who –” He chewed on his mustache a bit more. “How did you people even know he was here? He has not yet has his Debut!”
The Beast Mistress yelled from the street, “Sky Lord told us, at the last Crimebusters High Council!” She waved. “Hey TGH! How’ve you been? Sorry for bursting in on you like this. You know how kids are!”
The Great Hunter’s face went slack. “You had a Crimebusters High Council meeting without me?”
The Beast Mistress hopped down from her perch on the Daddy Longlegs’ abdomen, strode up the stairs, put one hand on Lady Dogface’s, shoulder, the other on Snake-Boy’s. His shoulder-snakes hissed at her at first, but she looked at them. They stopped. They placed their heads together defensively on the other shoulder and looked at her hand.
“My daughter met him that night he arrived,” she said. “The night of the last SerpenTerrorist attack. I believe she was the first one who identified him as different from the others. She’s been worried. Haven’t you?”
“Out of my mind with worry,” said Lady Dogface solemnly, looking at The Great Hunter. Blue Spark, in his incarnation as four micro-demons, buzzed ominously around his daughter’s head.
“What else did he tell you,” said The Great Hunter, stepping forward and touching the door, then holding it by the knob. “What else did he say? Damn him.” He stepped out onto the patio. He looked up at the sky. “Where are you? Why don’t you show yourself?”
He stepped back into the house. “Damn him. What is he playing?”
“Ah,” said Lady Dogface, questioningly. “We’ll have Snake-Boy back home in time for dinner!” She pulled Snake-Boy by his arm out the door. “Bye!”
Sky Prince grabbed Snake-Boy’s other arm. “I’ll tell my dad you said hello,” he said over his shoulder.
They clambered up onto the hairy back of their ride. The Beast Mistress grabbed the spider’s reins. “Everybody comfy? Let’s go! Yah! Yay!”
They slowly skittered away, down the darkening street.
Lady Dogface, patted Snake-Boy’s shoulder-snakes’ heads, as though they were kittens, one and then the other and then the other and so on.
Sky Prince looked at the sky.
Lady Dogface said, “Do we really have to take him back to that old bitch?”
Everybody looked at her.
“Suzie!” said her mother.
“What?” said Lady Dogface. She gestured toward her face. “I’m allowed to say it!”
Next: Flashback, Part Four