Pardon me boy,
Is this the Lair of Great Cthulhu?
In the city of slime,
Where it’s night all the time.
Bob Hope never went,
Along the road to Great Cthulhu,
And Triple-A has no maps,
And all the Tcho Tcho’s lay traps.
Lyrics; L Press, J Carruth and D Geller.
Tune; Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
They were half way to Forks when Tammy rejoined the convoy. They drove on towards the town where they had another break before heading off towards Kalaloch.
Tina and Alice drove on in the YSWA’s Mini-Cooper, they sang along with the radio while Sylvester yowled from the backseat. When the radio reception got too bad Tina regaled Alice with tales of what happened on the First Seattle Slayers Annual Camp-out. Where the girls had had to fight and kill an invisible demon from outer space that had wiped out a settlement full of religious cultists.
Alice sat in the passenger seat next to Tina and listened with interest to the story told by her girlfriend. However, Alice’s eyes kept drifting down at her own chest. Alice had, until recently been painfully thin, skinny even. Being a Slayer had not helped, it did not seem to matter how much she ate she just seemed to burn it off the next time she fought a vamp.
Miss Willow had told her how when she had first known Buffy Summers, Buffy had been a pleasantly ‘rounded’ young woman. However, as she came into her full Slayer powers she had started to lose weight. This was all because she would not eat enough, not that it seemed to affect her Slaying in anyway, but…
Alice did not need to be scared into eating, unlike most girls her age she desperately wanted to gain weight, and eventually she started to succeed. Now she had a proper pair of breasts, not the couple of bee stings that she had had until now, and she was very proud of them.
“Yes they’re very nice.” Commented Tina when she noticed where her girlfriend’s eyes kept drifting off to.
“Yeah they are pretty good.” Admitted Alice, “You don’t think they’ll grow to the size of Sally’s do you? I don’t think I could handle that…I mean I don’t think she’s seen her feet since she was eleven!”
Both girls laughed.
“You have such a nice way of putting things Aly.” Replied the English Slayer with a smile.
“It’s one of my most lovable qualities.” Alice confessed smugly.
Alice knew she was not much to look at, she was not ugly or anything, she was just ‘ordinary’. Someone you would pass in the street without a second glance, so she had to make the most of what she had. Deep down, and she knew that she was being silly, she was terrified that Tina might get bored with her and go off with someone else. Not that Tina had shown any sign of doing anything like that.
But Tina was so pretty, with her perfect figure and beautiful blonde hair and flashing blue eyes. She could do so much better than dull skinny little Alley-cat. Alice lived in fear of being rejected and despised for the life she used to live, and the demeaning things she had been forced to do.
Miss Willow had said she would grow out of these feelings of inadequacy as she got older, and that everyone did love her and wanted the best for her; and in the meantime she should try not to overcompensate and drive people away like that. Which was all well and good, but it did not stop the little voices in her head that told her that no one would ever love because of what she had done.
“You’ve gone quiet.” Said Tina.
“Yeah…sorry, just thinking is all, are we nearly there yet?”
Cletus Van Damme looked up from the doorstep where he was sitting to see his younger brother Billy-Bob walk towards him through the trees. It was easy to tell that the two teenagers were brothers. They had the same ginger hair, the same freckles. They were both tall and ‘wirery’, in a couple of years they would both probably fill out a little, but until then they would have to put up with being called ‘bean stork’ or ‘match-stick’.
“What y’doin’ bro?” Asked Billy-Bob as he sat down beside his brother.
“Ma’ said I had to wait for the people that’s rented the cabin, an give ‘em the keys.” Cletus explained.
The Van Damme’s owned a dozen of the lake front properties here at Lake Quinault. The one that Cletus and Billy-Bob presently sat in front of was by far the biggest with six bedrooms. The others were all one, two or three bedroom cabins and nowhere near as impressive as Number 1147.
By renting out the ‘cabins’ during the summer vacation period and at various holidays over the year, this gave the Van Damme family a comfortable living; that and a little hunting and fishing provided everything they needed. Cletus and Billy-Bob could not wait to leave and go out to see the wide world as soon as they graduated.
Sixteen year-old Cletus had already decided to join the Marine Corps; his fifteen year old brother was talking about joining the air force. But that was only since the Air Force General and his ‘Wife’ had rented the cabin next to 1147. Next week it could be the Foreign Legion, the week after who knows?
“I heard Ma’ say the place had been rented by some girl’s school in Seattle.” Announced Billy-Bob with a conspiratorial grin.
“You sure?” His brother was trying not to show too much interest.
There were lots of local girls that Cletus and Billy-Bob were ‘friendly’ with but girls from a big city, like Seattle, sounded so much more exotic.
“Sure,” Confirmed Billy-Bob, “I think there’s about a dozen of ‘em plus a couple of teachers.”
“How long they staying?” Cletus wanted to know.
“’bout ten days or so.”
“Then we’ll have to work fast.”
The two boys laughed knowingly as they sat on the step and made their plans.
It was gone two o’clock as Willow led the Slayer Convoy through Queets and back out onto the lonely country road. She knew that the turn off for North Shore Road was some miles passed Queets and a couple of miles before Amanda Park but she was not sure exactly where. It was with some relief that she saw a local police cruiser parked by the side of the road in a dusty little rest area. Willow pulled off the road followed by the rest of her convoy; she brought the SUV to a halt.
“Okay everyone,” She said turning to Kennedy and the two Slayers in the back, “Get out and stretch your legs while I ask the police where we’re supposed to go.”
Willow climbed from her seat as Shannon and Sally bounced from the rear of the SUV like a couple of spring lambs and ran over to talk to their friends. Kennedy took her time squeezing out of the vehicle and starting to do some setting-up exercises to get her circulation going again.
Willow walked over to the police Jeep and looked in through the window. There was no one home.
“Oh darn.” Muttered Willow as she stood up and looked around.
She was just about to walk away when a male voice said, “Can I help you ma’am?” From behind her.
“Agh!” Cried Willow in surprise as she took a step back from the Jeep.
Standing on the other side of the car was a tall dark haired man in his mid-thirties. He wore a Sheriff’s uniform, and a ‘Smokey Bear’ hat and dark glasses.
“Oh yes please.” Replied Willow as she regained her equilibrium, “Are we on the right road for North Shore Road?”
“Sure you are Ma’am.” Smiled the Sheriff as he walked around his car to stand close to Willow, he pointed down the road.
“It’s about a mile and a half straight down the Highway, you’ll have to keep a close eye out so you won’t miss it. I’m Mat Coltrane, Sheriff ‘round these parts.” He held his hand out to Willow.
“Willow Rosenberg.” Replied Willow shaking the sheriff’s hand.
“You staying at one of the Van Damme’s places then?” He asked.
“Yes number 1147.” Replied Willow.
“Then maybe I’ll see you around.” The Sheriff flashed her one more smile and tipped his hat to her before getting into his car. “Be seeing you.” He called as he drove off.
Willow walked back to the SUV to find herself the centre of attention.
“What?” She demanded.
“Willow’s got a boyfriend!” Chanted Kennedy.
“Have not!” Squeaked Willow as she got back into the SUV.
Shannon and Sally sniggered quietly as they climbed into the back with Tara.
“Have too.” Kennedy informed her, “You must have seen the way he was undressing you with his eyes.”
“Like the way you do?” Willow shut the door and started the engine.
“Yeah,” Admitted Ken as she climbed aboard and shut the door, “But that’s not the point.”
“You know you’re the only one for me.” Pleaded Willow as she turned the SUV out onto the road.
“Yeah,” Agreed Kennedy, “But it makes a girl think…and you’ve got a past Willow Rosenberg…I mean you’ve been known to sleep with…MEN!” Kennedy gasped for theatrical effect.
“Stop teasing!” Demanded Willow as they drove down the highway.
“Don’t worry I’ll make it up to you.” Replied Kennedy as she rested her hand lightly on Willow’s leg. “I mean I’ve got to make sure you don’t run off with the handsome sheriff.”
“Bitch brat!” Hissed Willow in mock outrage.
“That’s me.” Agreed Kennedy smiling out the window.
‘Farnham’s Freehold’ was a large single storied building set back from the road on North Shore Road. It was the only commercial enterprise in many a mile. It was a store, a Post Office, a bar and restaurant and a gas station. In the store you could buy almost anything from Corn Flakes to shotgun shells.
Out the back under the trees Hank, the owner, had placed a number of wooden tables and benches where people could sit, eat and drink, as long as they had bought whatever they were eating and drinking at the ‘Freehold’. Today was a sunny day and the sun shone through the branches of the overhanging trees to leave crazy patterns of light and shade on the tables.
There in the far corner of the picnic area in the deepest of the shadows sat the High Priest, not that everyone knew him as ‘the High Priest’. No one ever said, ‘Hey there goes the High Priest!’ In fact to look at him you would never think of him as a High Priest. He was just about of average height and build, fortyish and balding. He wore nondescript outdoors clothes and a permanent scowl that put people off trying to talk to him.
He sat alone sipping from a glass of beer. Another equally nondescript man approached him and sat down across the table from him.
“Well met.” Said the High Priest as he took another sip of beer.
“Well met indeed.” Replied the Not So High Priest. “Not long now!” He added with a certain amount of excitement in his voice, “Soon our Lord will rule over all the world and we will rule at his side.”
“Indeed,” Agreed the High Priest, remembering not to add that when Great Cthulhu rose from the ocean the only person to survive the ritual anyway near sane would be the High Priest.
“We have everything ready,” Said the Not so High Priest, “Are you sure there’s nothing we’ve left out.”
“We only need the Great Lords Handmaidens.” Said the High Priest evenly.
“Handmaidens?” Asked the Not so High Priest slightly puzzled, no one had mentioned handmaidens before.
“Yes we will need five Handmaidens to dance for Great Cthulhu’s pleasure…just before he eats them.” Explained the High Priest.
“Any particular sort of Handmaiden?”
“No,” Admitted the High Priest, “Any reasonably attractive teenage girls will do…they don’t even have to be virgins!”
“No, Cthulhu isn’t fussy like that.”
“Well that’s a relief,” Sighed the Not so High Priest, “Trying to find teenage virgins ‘round here…next to impossible!”
“Indeed,” Agreed the High Priest, “However, where do you intend to acquire said Handmaidens?”
“We should have just what we need arriving later today,” Explained the Not so High Priest after a moments thought, “Some girls from a school in Seattle…no one will notice them go missing. When will we need them by?”
“When the Stars are Right.” Said the High Priest mysteriously.
“Tuesday night.” Sighed the High Priest.
“Got’cha!” Smiled the Not so High Priest, “See you then…then.”
“Indeed.” Agreed the High Priest levelly.
“Right,” Said the Not so High Priest, “I’ll be on my way then…”
“Don’t let me stop you.”
Uncertainly the Not so High Priest got up and made his way to the front of the Freehold where he got into his battered old red pickup truck and drove off in the direction of the Highway. As he went he narrowly missed hitting the shiny black SUV going in the opposite direction piled high with luggage and boxes.
Cletus and Billy-Bob watched in fascination as the girls tumbled from the SUV and Mini car that had pulled up outside 1147. Sure there were only five of them but they were all good lookers, and one of them was a Biker Chick! Cletus had handed over the cabin keys to a red haired older woman who must have been one of the teachers in charge of the girls. The other teacher was a pregnant brunette. Cletus and Billy-Bob looked at each other and grinned, the two adults would not be too difficult to avoid!.
The two teenage boys watched from the cover of the trees as the girls ferried bags and cases into the cabin.
“What say you ‘n’ me come back when it’s dark?” Suggested Cletus.
“Yeah,” Agreed his younger brother, “They’ll all be settled in then and we can bring the binoculars!”
“Yeah…great!” Exclaimed Cletus.
Alice struggled up the stairs and along the corridor, she had her hands full with both Tina’s and her own luggage. This place was fantastic! When Miss Willow had said they would be staying in a log cabin she had had visions of some tumble down one room shack. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the ‘Log Cabin’ was more like a ‘Log Palace’.
All the bedrooms were upstairs and had their own bathrooms. Down stairs was an enormous family room and kitchen plus a huge hot tub. There was a large decked area facing the lake with their own jetty and boat. This was going to be great, she thought. Alice made her way along the corridor; someone had put cards on the doors to show who’s room was which.
There was Shannon and Sally’s room, Miss Willow and Miss Kennedy’s room, she went passed Tammy’s room Tara’s room and finally at the end of the corridor she found Tina’s and her room. She opened the door and looked inside. A squeal of excitement escaped her lips. She dropped the bags, turned and ran down stairs and back outside. She skidded to a halt and looked around for Tina. She saw her pulling some boxes from the back of the SUV, she ran over to her and grabbed hold of her arm and dragged her behind a nearby tree. She stood on tiptoe to whisper in her ear.
“Double-bed!” She whispered excitedly.
Willow stood with her arm around Kennedy’s thickening waste and smiled as they watched the girls unload the vehicles and move everything into the ‘cabin’. As the last few things were moved into the house she clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention.
“Right!” She called, “Now Miss Kennedy and I are going to take a walk along the shore to see if we can meet our neighbours. We’ll be gone for about forty minutes, so when we get back I want to find everything sorted out and a meal on the stove.”
The Slayers looked at the Witch as if she had betrayed them to the First Evil.
“What?” Demanded Willow with a smirk, “This is my vacation too you know? I’m not going to spend it cooking for you bunch!” She grinned at Kennedy and held out her hand to Tara, “Come with mommy Tara.” The little girl ran over to her moms and took Willow’s hand.
The two women walked slowly along the narrow strip of beach that edged the lake. Tara ran about, at one moment she would be poking about under the trees that lined the shore. The next she would be standing on the edge of the lake studying some interesting twig or tiny piece of lake-life. She was followed by Sylvester, who while he did not go too near the water followed the little girl wherever she went.
“She’s going to be exhausted by bedtime.” Commented Kennedy.
“That’s the idea,” Confided Willow, “She’ll sleep right through and not disturb us…after all you did say something about making it up to me about all those mean things you said!”
Willow smiled to show she did not mean it nastily.
“Willow Rosenberg,” Gasped Kennedy, “You’re a wanton Witch!”
“And what I’m ‘wantin’’ is you!”
The two kissed passionately, or as passionately as they could with Kennedy’s tummy in the way.
“I get the feeling something’s coming between us.” Joked Willow looking down Kennedy’s lump.
They walked on a little further.
“Well we managed when you were pregnant.” Kennedy pointed out after a while.
“Yeah.” Willow giggled girlishly at the memory.
“Do you think it was wise to leave the girls to start the cooking?” Kennedy changed the subject.
“They’ve got to learn to look after themselves, we won’t always be there to hold their hands.” Explained Willow.
“So you’re a believer in the ‘throw ‘em in at the deep end’ school of cooking?” Kennedy’s own attempts at cooking contravened several treaties on chemical and biological weapons, and this was after she had done the cookery course when they lived in Colorado Springs.
“Now you put it that way, maybe not.” Replied Willow a slight frown crossing her face.
She turned to check on Tara.
“Tara sweetie put the dead fish down please.”
Tara reluctantly obeyed.
After a few more minutes walk the little group came apon their neighbour’s cabin. It was significantly smaller than their own but still had a jetty sticking out into the lake. At the end of the jetty sat a man in shorts and brightly coloured shirt. He had a fishing rod in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other, a beer cooler sat next to his chair.
Sitting on a chair next to the man sat a woman with blonde hair under a dark coloured baseball cap. She wore shorts over what looked like a one-piece swimsuit. She worked on a laptop computer her fingers flashing across the keyboard as she typed.
“Hi!” Called Willow as they drew closer to the couple.
The man looked up and turned to see who had called; followed a second later by the woman.
“General Jack!” Said Willow in astonishment.
“Colonel Sam!” Added Kennedy even more astounded than her partner.
“My god that’s a big cat!” Exclaimed General O’Niell.
As the adults got reacquainted and small girls and big cats explored. Something large, green-grey and frog-like watched emotionlessly from the water. Kennedy felt something tug at her Spider Sense. She looked out over the lake and saw nothing, just a ripple that made its way towards the shore.