Chapter 4- I Think I Need My Eyes Checked
When we finally arrived home, I went straight into my room. Aunt Heidi called up to me almost immediately after.
"Joseph, honey? You okay?"
"I'm fine, Aunt Heidi! Just want to be alone for a little. I have a lot on my mind!"
"Okay. Just remember, I'm here if you need someone to talk to."
I closed my door, sighing out loud. I knew she meant well, but there was literally nothing she could do to help me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the compact. It seemed impossible, being turned into a girl by someone claiming to be a witch. This simple-looking compact would prove it wasn't a dream. All I had to do was look inside it and see if it turned me into a girl. As my finger traced the button to open it, I heard the doorbell ring. A few seconds later, Aunt Heidi called up to me.
"Joseph! You have a visitor!"
"On my way down!" I called back as I hastily slipped the compact in my pocket. Testing it would have to wait.
I hurried downstairs to meet my visitor. I almost fainted when I saw who it was: it was the woman from that night, Miss Dez! She wasn't wearing the same dress from before, however. Rather, she wore what seemed like a ruby-red suit, a matching purse hanging from her shoulder. She and Aunt Heidi were talking, Aunt Heidi seemed a little confused.
"So, the hospital wants Joseph to just meet with you every once in a while?" Aunt Heidi asked. "That doesn't really make sense."
"Oh trust me, ma'am. This is very important for your nephew's health. The doctor thinks what happened with Joseph might be a psychological issue instead of a physical issue. Stress can have a major impact on a growing boy's body. Here's a note from his doctor, detailing how this will work." Miss Dez handed her a small piece of paper. She looked at it, her expression shifting from her worried confusion to one of relief.
"Okay. I guess that makes a little more sense. Just promise to make sure he's okay? I'm still a little wary to let him out when he just got home..." Aunt Heidi turned her head to see me coming down the stairs. "Oh Joseph! Come over here. We need to talk."
"Umm, okay? What's going on?" I asked.
"It's simple, young man." Miss Dez started talking. "My name's Mrs. Deznic. I'm a psychologist working for the hospital you were admitted to yesterday. The doctor thinks that your stress levels might be the reason of your strange black out." Miss Dez continued to explain what "the doctor" suggested. "So, that's where I come in. I'll be meeting with you every once in a while, just to chat. I might prescribe a medication if needed. That makes sense?"
The absurdity of this explanation had me sure it was fake, but I decided to play along.
"Okay. So, is that why you're here? To talk?" I asked. Miss Dez, or rather Miss Deznic, nodded.
"Yep! However, we're not going to talk here. How about you and I go for a walk?" She turned to Aunt Heidi. "I'll have him back in an hour."
"Alright." Aunt Heidi started, sighing a little. "Just don't let anything happen to him."
Miss Dez smiled and nodded as she turned to leave. Not knowing what else to do, I quickly followed her.
"I must say, Joseph." Miss Dez spoke up finally after we had walked a few blocks from my house. "Your aunt seems very kind."
"She is. But I don't think you wanted to talk about my aunt." I replied. Miss Dez chuckled.
"Smart. No, I didn't make up some random medical excuse to discuss your family. I'm here to start your training." Miss Dez stated as she stopped walking, looking across the street. I followed her gaze to see her staring at a man walking on the other side of the street.
"Why are you just staring at that guy? It's kinda weird."
"Look very closely at that man, Joseph." She answered. I had no idea what she meant; I looked back at the man, examining him from where I stood.
He looked like a normal older man, maybe slightly shorter. His hair was an interesting reddish brown hue, his bangs just barely hiding his eyes. He wore a jacket with a hole in the left sleeve. His pants were simple blue jeans with mud on the knees, like he was crawling in the dirt. The man was barefoot, his disgusting toes caked with grime and mud. I still didn't understand what I was supposed to be looking at.
"I know he seems like a homeless man," Miss Dez stated. "But you must look harder, young man."
I continued to look at him, thinking Miss Dez had gone crazy, when I noticed something. When he walked, the hair in his face moved a little in the wind. Although I couldn't see them clearly, his eyes would peek out from behind his bangs. I was completely in shock. Somehow, his eyes seemed to be glowing a bright golden yellow, like some sort of cat! I gasped loudly, causing Miss Dez to chuckle.
"See it now?" She asked. I nodded frantically.
"What's with his eyes?!"
"Simple, Joseph. That man isn't really human." She stated, deadpan, as if the observation was obvious.
"Not human? How's is that even possible? He looks normal!"
"He looks normal for the same reason I was able to alter your form into that of a girl, or how I can summon fire. He's using magic." She pointed at the man. "I can tell he's a goblin. Tricky little buggers. Most of the time when they're hidden in the mortal world, they like to try and steal purses or pickpocket."
While I was listening to Miss Dez's explanation, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The man, or goblin in disguise, was crossing the street. He was walking right to us! Miss Dez turned her head, sighing a little.
"Oh great. I was hoping he wouldn't notice us." She looked back at me. "Get your mirror out, now."
I didn't wait to ask anymore questions. I pulled out the compact, pressed the button, and looked into my reflection. My body started to glow as a tingling sensation spread across my skin. The familiar feeling of my body shifting made me blush, my clothes changing as well. When the glowing finally stopped, my normal boy body was replaced with the same girl form from that night. I sighed.
"Will I ever get used to that?"
"Most likely not." Miss Dez commented. "But if it makes you feel better, Joseph, you look really nice."
"Thanks." I replied. "But can you not call me Joseph right now?"
She chuckled. "Let me guess, came up with a name for your witch form?" She asked as I nodded. "What'd you decide?"
"Jenni. Now, what am I supposed to do?"
Before Miss Dez could respond, the man started to run at us. His left hand seemed to glimmer as he ran at us intensely. It took me a few seconds to realize why: His fingernails were metal, almost claw-like. His hair was no longer covering his face, but I wished it was. His skin was a disgusting green hue, dried and cracked. It was as if someone had stretched crocodile skin over the whole of his head. I gulped, thinking I was about to be turned into Shredded Jenni Surprise, when Miss Dez raised her hand. As she did, her fingertips seemed to glow orange. Suddenly, the goblin jumped at us, but stopped. As in like, stopping in the air. His body glowed orange, his face still showing his rage-filled expression. Miss Dez sighed loudly.
"Look, I can't hold him like this forever. I want you to try and use some magic." Miss Dez spoke, panting a little.
"What? Magic? How the heck am I supposed to do that?!"
"Just listen! I'll guide you through this. First, raise your hand like me." I didn't think it would help, but I followed her instructions. "Good. Now, let's stick with a fireball. That's quite simple. I want you to imagine a ball of burning energy, hot as the sun."
As I tried to visualize the ball, I felt my hand heating up. It didn't hurt, but I knew it wasn't normal. Miss Dez nodded.
"Good! This next part should be easy. Imagine the heat in your hand shooting out, like a torch flying from your palm. Make sure you keep your hand pointing at the goblin. I'm going to unfreeze him in five seconds. When I hit zero, let that heat fly!" Ready?"
"Wait! Don't unfreeze him!" I begged.
"Miss Dez! I'm not ready!"
At that moment, the orange energy surrounding the goblin faded. His roaring voice erupted from his pale-green lips, synchronizing with my scream of fear. I thought I was about to die, when suddenly, it happened. The burning sensation in my hand seemed to concentrate in my palm. I looked at my hand to see that a burning ember was spinning in my grasp. It was the size of a basketball, letting off as much heat as a small fireplace. Before I could think, I instinctively thrusted my hand, palm-first, towards the goblin. The fireball flew forward, hitting the creature in the abdomen with enough force to send him flying backwards. He seemed as surprised I was before he hit the ground, landing with a loud crack. I was in complete shock. I had no idea that would actually work! Miss Dez laughed, clapping slowly.
"That's it! Great job, Jo- Whoops! Sorry. I meant to say great job, Jenni!"
"Thanks, I guess. How did I even do that?" I asked, staring at my hand.
"Simple, my dear." Miss Dez began. "You used the magic that's inside you. I'm so proud of you!"
When she said that, I felt my cheeks flush. The tone of her voice spoke as much as her actual words. I could tell she was actually proud of me! Before I could say anything, I heard something grunting. I turned and almost fainted. The goblin was getting up off his back, wincing in pain. His shirt was blackened and burnt, exposing his chest. The skin was completely unharmed, although it was the same green shade as his lips. I looked at Miss Dez, hoping she'd do something. What she actually DID shocked me. She walked forward, smirked and patted the goblin's head!
"Excellent job, Garth. I really appreciate your willingness to be set on fire." Miss Dez chuckled as the creature grumbled.
"Garth might no get hurted by fire, but Garth no like head patted. Stop its." He hissed at her. I stood there, slack-jawed at what was happening in from of my eyes.
"What the heck is going on?!?" I yelled. Miss Dez and the goblin turned towards me.
"Oh, where are my manners? Garth, this is the witch-in-training I told you about. Jenni, this is Garth." Miss Dez gestured to the goblin. Garth gave me a toothy grin as he took a bow.
"Me Garth! Garth good at taking and fighting!" He laughed. I was still confused.
"Wait a minute. He's NOT a monster that was trying to kill me?"
"No, my dear." Miss Dez explained. "Well, Garth here IS a monster, by human standards, but he's not going to hurt you. He's an old friend of mine. I wanted you to learn how to use your magic. Garth agreed to help me out with that. As you can see, it worked." I didn't know if I should be angry or hurt.
"Why the heck did you lie to me?! I thought I was going to die!" I clenched my fists. Miss Dez responded with a simple word.
I looked at her like she was insane. She thought it was a good idea to make me terrified?! I was about to yell and curse when I realized something. She put me in a situation where, at least in my eyes, summoning a fireball was a matter of life or death. I thought that if I failed to launch the fireball, I would've been killed or worse. She did that on purpose. Of course, she didn't want to put me in a situation where I would ACTUALLY die. If I failed then, I'd be killed. The more I thought about what Miss Dez did, the less agitated I felt about it.
"Jenni? Are you okay?" Miss Dez asked. I chuckled a little.
"Yeah, I'm fine. One second." I reached back into my pocket and pulled out my compact. A few seconds later, I was back to my normal Joseph self. Garth laughed.
"Garth done helping. Bye bye, witch witches!" He said before he snapped his fingers. A cloud of smoke appeared around him, hiding him from view. When the smoke cleared, Garth was gone. Miss Dez sighed.
"That little troublemaker's still a handful. But he's got a good idea. How about we get you home too, Joseph?"
I didn't even answer as I started walking back, Miss Dez chuckling as she followed.