4. The Future

“So, you were up for this morning’s bell, huh?”

“Yup, I was just waking up when it started to ring. I went out to investigate, but I wasn’t fast enough, and whoever it was got away. I’m sorry, I make a horrible detective.”

“It’s alright, you can redeem yourself tonight,” chuckled Matthew.

“You’re going through with the stake out?”

“Oh yeah, except . . . if you decide to help, it’ll just be me and you. No one wants to stay in the creepy church.”

“I will help, I want to get to the bottom of this . . . and get it all over with.”

“Glad you think so. Well, there’s a few things I have to get before we head to the church for our adventure. We’ll have dinner here before heading over. And, maybe you should take a quick nap in the afternoon so you can be ready to stay up . . . for a few hours at least. We can split the night in half. Do you want before or after midnight?”

“Oh, I’ll take after, if you don’t mind.”

Matthew chuckled, “You really want to catch the person behind all of this, don’t you?”

“Well, just want to see who’s ringing the bell, after all, you did say it hasn’t been rung in years. Why now?”

“The question of the year. Well, I shall get those things and dinner. You remember to take that nap before I get back, alright?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good, I’ll be back this evening.” With that said, Matthew grabbed his hat and was out the door. Quincy didn’t need to be told to take a nap, he began to nod not long after Matthew left. But he forced himself to stay awake long enough to get some food into his stomach before crawling into bed.

Matthew returned not long before dinner, as he said he would, with a rather fancy meal for dinner. The two talked quite a bit, usually about the town and its ways. They each asked some personal questions of each other, but neither seemed willing to dish out any personal information. It didn’t matter as before long, the clock was chiming eight o’clock, and the two were trudging over to the church ruins. Quincy quickly found a comfortable spot among the pews and bundled up with the extra blankets Matthew had brought. When Quincy was sound asleep, Matthew glanced between him and the coffin.

“Not long now,” he muttered as a grin spread across his face.

At promptly midnight, Matthew woke up Quincy, and the two talked for a few more minutes before Matthew finally dozed off. Once Quincy was absolutely sure Matthew was sound asleep, he strode over to the coffin and let out a gasp. Agnes looked like she was about ready to wake up at any minute! He could see the soft rising and falling of her chest, something he knew he hadn’t noticed before, and she had in fact moved a bit, as if subconsciously trying to find a better position. After laying in that one position for so long, he could understand why she would try to move. He turned around to glance at Matthew to make sure he was still asleep, when a soft yelp escaped his lips. The third Esmeralda was standing behind him. She was hunchbacked, just like him, and looked to be in her eighties. She was dressed all in black, her silvery white hair a sharp contrast. She moved towards the pews, and the fact that she moved so silently kinda freaked him out. But he followed her to the pews, a question coming to mind.

“Hi Esmeralda, nice to meet you. Um, I know the others have probably told you about me being so inquisitive, but there’s really one question I have. What should we do if Franco finds us?” Esmeralda just sat there, watching him. “Um, can you hear me?” She nodded. “Uh, can you speak?” She shook her head. “Oh, so, I can only ask yes or no questions?” She nodded. Quincy ran his fingers through his hair, “Oh, OK, that explains that. Um, will Franco find us?” She nodded. “When? Oh, wait, sorry. Will he find us soon?” She nodded. Quincy sucked in a breath, “No, oh no, no, no, no. Oh no, what should we do?” Esmeralda glanced at Matthew. “Wait, he, he’ll help us? He’ll know what to do?” She nodded. “How?” She merely shrugged. Quincy sighed, “Alright, well, if Matthew can help us, I guess I can breath a little easier.” Esmeralda just smiled and nodded. “Do you, do you know who I am?” She nodded, her smile getting wider. Quincy smiled back, and not another word was said as they waited.

When morning came, Esmeralda merely stood up and beckoned Quincy to follow her. Quincy nodded and followed her up to the bell tower, where he rang the bell. Oddly, once he finished ringing, it sounded like dozens of bells resounded in reply. He just sat there, listening to the bells, until they faded into the distance. He rushed back down the stairs, thinking that both Agnes and Matthew would be awake by now. But when he got to the bottom, a different sight greeted him. Agnes was struggling with a familiar figure.

“Franco, leave her alone!” Quincy blurted as he rushed forward to help Agnes. Franco’s head snapped up, and stared at him in surprise.

“Phillip! How did you get here?”

Quincy pulled Agnes behind him, “The same way you did apparently, I walked. But though you apparently knew where she’s been this entire time, I had to have my footsteps guided by God to her.”

“But you can’t be her true love! She’s mine!” The sound of clapping from behind them startled them and they searched for the person clapping. It didn’t take long to find him as he was walking right towards them.

“You’re so full of yourself, aren’t you, Franco?”

“What? How, how do you know him?”

“Because I promised her father that I would keep an eye on her until her true love came. So, I know all the specifics of the curse. And I’m the one who made the church seem haunted to keep everyone away.”

“But, what about those people who came in to find out what was going on?”

Matthew shrugged, “Just sent them back home.”

“How?”

“Oh come on, you haven’t figured it out by now?”

Franco let out a hiss as he took a step back, “You’re the warlock who sold me the potion!”

“OK, that wasn’t the answer I was thinking of, but yes, I was that guy.”

“But, you’re not a warlock,” began Quincy. Matthew shook his head.

Agnes gasped, “You’re a genie!”

Matthew grinned, “Bingo.” Franco let out a yelp and ran off. “Don’t worry about him, I’ll take care of him. Why don’t you two head over to the front desk? There’s someone waiting for you. And, Phillip, breaking her spell broke yours, so you are no longer a hunchbacked dwarf. See you around!” With that, Matthew took off after Franco, and, being a genie, caught up to him fairly quick.

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