Ritual SpaceBy: Viola Grace
“Call me Adrea. My aunt never stood on ceremony, so neither shall I.”
He smiled. “Adrea then. Are you ready to enter your home? You were right, by the way. The house began to make itself over the moment that the energy wave struck it. Without your warning, our teams would never have gathered what they did.”
She swallowed and looked at her aunt’s home, but it wasn’t her aunt’s home anymore. It was changing shape to alter itself into the long Victorian style that Adrea favoured. It was very charming. Now, it was time to find out what happened to Neadra’s collections.
The crime-scene tape was dangling from the doorway. Detective Luning pulled it away, and he tried to open the door.
Adrea chuckled and pushed him away. “My door, my chance to open it.”
She pressed the lever and pushed the door open, swinging it inward. The dark wood floors and open structure proved that the house was hers. It was everything that she wanted in a home; she just hated how she had come to have it.
“The crime-scene team took pictures of everything, which is a good thing as this place is completely transformed. I have never seen anything like it before.”
“You haven’t been here before?”
He shook his head. “No. I have only recently transferred to Redbird City.”
“Where did you transfer from?”
Detective Luning didn’t answer. He responded by saying, “I will clear the building and guard the door.”
“Good luck with that. The doors in here won’t open for you.”
He frowned. “Why not?”
“Because I have to key each room to my preferences. Tell it what I want it to be. This was originally a haunted house; a house of refuge hosting a welcoming spirit. Now, it houses the manager of Ritual Space.”
The book in her arms warmed, and she really wanted to read the message from her aunt. “Well, you can do what you like, I am going to sit in the kitchen and read.”
“I will check the kitchen before you settle.”
Adrea looked at him, and he seemed puzzled by his own insistence. “Seriously. You can go.”
He shook his head. “There is something here. Something watching you. I can feel it.”
She closed her eyes and opened them when she had identified what he was sensing. “Oh, that is just the rabbits.”
“People come here to cast spells without them getting loose. Those who want reproductive spells generally start with rabbits. Many of those folks don’t have the heart to kill them, which leaves bunnies running loose on the grounds. They absorb a bit of magic over time, and as I am the guardian of the property, it is in their best interests to keep an eye on me. As long as I am healthy, no predators walk these lands.”
She laughed and gestured for him to follow her through the house. She walked across hardwood and looked at the pale marble that now made up her home.
Detective Luning murmured, “No metal. Plastic but not metal.”
Adrea didn’t comment on his perception. He was right. Neadra couldn’t use metal, so there was no reason for it to be in her house.
The door at the back of the house opened on the herb garden. She listened to the crunch of gravel under her feet, and he followed her, a silent shadow at odds with the very cheerful clumps of plants.
“Guys, please come out and introduce yourselves to Detective Luning. He doesn’t believe you are here.”
The herbs rustled, and a large grey rabbit emerged. More rustling and a bunny in white, another in brown and then dozens more gathered on the gravel.
Adrea knelt and held out her hand. “Blueberry!”
The white bunny with the deep blue stripe between his ears hopped up to her and jumped into her arms.
She snuggled with the beast that should have been long dead. Blueberry was a decade if he was a day. Bunny rabbits just didn’t live that long.
The quivering ears and twitching noses of the other rabbits were all focused on Luning.
“He’s fine, guys. It is nice to see you again. Thanks for the tea earlier.”
The rabbits hopped up to her, one by one, and touched their heads to her knees. It was a ceremony. The rabbits depended on the land and that meant they were dependent on her. They were swearing fealty to her in their own fuzzy way.
She continued to cuddle Blueberry until the last of the bunnies had paid homage.
“With this many adults, I would think there would be more babies.” Luning crouched next to her.
“Nothing gives birth here. This isn’t a place for the future; it is an eternal present. Time does not march on here; it simply holds itself still as the world moves around it.” She smiled and set her favourite bunny down. He hopped off with the rest of his herd.
“Well, Detective. Was this what you sensed watching me?”
He scowled and stood up. “Part of it. There is more.”
“Well, you can keep an eye out for my stalkers and I will get my studying done.” She rose to her feet and swayed a little.
He caught her with an arm to the middle of her back, and she hoped that the dimming light covered her blush. She turned and bustled back into the house, leaving him to trail behind her.