Joy Lamb’s parents ran a small restaurant. It was rather nice place which got a rather respectable dinner crowd. Since it was a family business Joy had been helping out here and there for a long as she could remember. Since she had entered high school this year she had upgraded to official part time worker so most school days she headed home to work at Little Lambs.
She didn’t think she had ever hurried this much to get home before. The cat simply kept following her despite her attempts to lose it. She was relived when she finally reached the door to Little Lambs. She would be safe from the stalking cat once she got through that door. There was a little dingle of the doorbell as she passed through the door into the restaurant.
Then she metaphorically jumped out of her skin when someone sitting in the booth just inside the door say, “Yo, Joy. Sorry about yesterday. I hope that you are alright.”
She twisted around and saw the girl from yesterday, the boy had called her Luna if she remembered correctly. Joy raised up her hands in defense and said, “I’m not with them, please don’t hurt me.” Luna burst out into laughing but Joy continued to hold her hands raised for a little longer, just in case Luna decided to hit her.
“Don’t worry, I know that you aren’t associated with Bloody John. He isn’t the type of person to recruit somebody like you. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Said Luna. “Beside that isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about anyways.” Luna was about to continue when Joy’s mother appeared.
“Oh Joy, your home. You can probably already tell but your friend was waiting for you.” Joy’s mother smiled irresistibly before continuing. “Things aren’t very busy today so you can bring your friend up to your room. I’ll call you if we need your help.” And with that Joy’s mother was gone, back into the kitchen to help Joy’s father in the kitchen.
Joy’s eyes turned from the door into the kitchen back to Luna. There was fear in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say to her mother. Luna stood up and grabbed Joy’s hand. “Come on, you heard your mother, let’s go.” Luna pulled Joy along through the door out of the restaurant and into the back rooms. Joy’s family lived behind the store.
As they went Joy stammered, “Where are you taking me?”
“Your room, isn’t that what I just said.”
“But… but… how do you know where my room is?”
“But that…” Joy was lost as she tried to argue against Luna.
Finally they reached Joy’s room and Luna pulled open the door. She gently pushed Joy into the room before stepping in herself and shutting the door. Joy has stopped in fear just inside the door. Her window was open and sitting on her desk looking at her was the black cat that had been following it.
“Hello Joy, please have a seat. I would like to take to you about something important.” Said that cat. Joy’s eyes widened and she sunk to her kneels shacking.
Joy crawled along the floor and pulled at her bed. Finally she got the covers loose and slide between them. She lay in her bed muttering, “It’s a dream, only a dream. I’ll just fall asleep and everything is going to be fine when I wake up.”
“Not to interrupt your little delusion but we really did come here to talk to you about something important.” Said Luna who had taken a seat in the chair at Joy’s desk and was now leaning back it it.
Blackberry jumped off the desk and onto the bed. “I can assure you that this isn’t a dream. We need your help. Please take control of yourself and listen. Time is important.”
Joy continued to huddle under her blankets trying to fall wake up, surely it would happen any moment now.
“Listen” Said Luna in the voice she used to command her gang. “If this is really a dream then why are you so worried. Isn’t the standard procedure to play along with a dream until it ends and you wake up. Since it doesn’t look like you are waking up, is there any harm in just playing along.”
Joy peeked out from under her covers and toward Luna. It was hard to argue with that logic without admitting that this was real. “How do I know that this isn’t a nightmare?”
Luna shrugged, “It might be but you don’t want to be helpless and hiding when the monster comes. It would be better to be prepared for it.” Luna smiled, “At least that is what I think.”
Joy kept quiet under the blankets. It felt safer under there, away from the crazy girl and the talking cat. This couldn’t be anything except a dream but something nagged at her at the back of her mind, something comforting that shouldn’t be.
Luna continued, “After all that is why we are here. There is a real nightmare, something of inhuman evil, that we need your help defeating. Without your help the reality you wake up to will be a worse place. A lot of people will die if you don’t help us.”
Joy shivered under her blankets. “A monster? How would I be able to help you with that. I’ll just a girl who works at a restaurant. Even if I wanted to there is nothing I would be able to do to help you.”
Then Blackberry spoke, “Ah but there is something that you can do. Like Luna Star you have the potential to become a magical girl. With your assistance Luna will be able to defeat the Elder Darkness and protect the town. Even with the power that Luna has she will not be able to defeat the Elder Darkness without help. Please we really need your help.”
“You must be mistaken.” Said Joy who had pulled the sheets closer to herself, leaving only a thin line of visibility. “I couldn’t do anything like that. I would be impossible for me.”
Luna star stood from the chair, “Possibly, but is that the kind of person you want to be? Do you want to wake up a coward, somebody that could have done something but didn’t. Even if this is a dream then that choice is still real. Think about it. Tomorrow morning you will wake up from this but things will be different. You will see something evil and know that you could have tried to stop it but you decided not to. Is that the world you want to wake up to?”
Luna stared at her through the sheets. “I know what it feels like. If that is the world I would wake up to then I would rather stay sleeping.” Luna pulled a small piece of paper out of her pocket and placed it on Joy’s desk. “Think about it. We will be here when the sun sets.”
Luna moved across the room and opened the door, “Come on Blackberry.” Then together they left Joy alone with her thoughts.
Did I meant what I told Joy
I am still not certain
I understood her position because I had been in it
Before Blackberry found me I had been trying to stay hidden
I could see the evil around me and know that I had let that happen
But there was something else
That the evil around me could have been me
By pretending it didn’t exist I was also avoiding the evil inside me
Those lingering doubts was what let Blackberry convince me
Yet there was something I hadn’t told Joy
The despair of those who can do nothing is only rivaled by one thing
The despair of those who can do something but fail
One trades a lesser despair for a greater because they are innocent
I feel sorry for dragging Joy into my darkness
Out of all us she is probably the only one
Who could have lived a normal life
Who could have been truly happy
Yet I took that from her
And I knew it would eventually hurt her
Maybe I am more evil then the Elder Darkness
Chapter 4 - Second Twilight
It was long after Luna had left when Joy finally left her blankets. She was still shacking but she no longer knew why it was happening. Luna’s words had resounded with her and she was doubting herself. Carrying her sheets she moved over to the desk and down at the piece of paper that Luna had left there. It was a news power article. It said that there had been a gas leak which had sprung on a local shopping mall. Apparently a lot of people had been in the building at the time and it had been most of the night before the police arrived.
A lot of people had been hospitalized but the leak had been relatively minor and nobody had died. Instead the leak seemed to have caused hallucination and paralysis in those who had been in the building. The police currently had the building in lockdown and were investigating the source of the gas leak.
Joy read through the article again. Was this what Luna had wanted her to read. Did Luna really believe that something evil had caused this instead of it being a real gas leak. That would be something impossible, something out of a fairy tail. Something like a talking cat. Joy shook her head and dropped the sheet of newspaper. Maybe it would be better if she went out for a breath of fresh air, maybe that would help clear her mind.
Soon she found herself standing outside a convenience store. The sun had set not that long ago. She had found the newspaper there and confirmed the news report. It wasn’t like the one Luna left could have been forged, just that she had wanted to make sure that she hadn’t imagined it. She could also see it from here, the entrance to the shopping mall was mostly visible from where she currently was. She could even see the light of the police cars which were parked outside of it.
She shouldn’t be worried, the police should be able to take care of everything. Luna was probably just a crazy delinquent and Joy had been imagining the talking cat. Joy knew that her mother was probably worrying and that she should be getting home. She would have school in the morning and she would need sleep to make sure she could do her best studying. She shouldn’t be out her worrying about the impossible.
At least that was what she kept trying to tell herself but something inside her continued to worry. Finally she decided to head back home and was about to look away from the shopping mall when something suddenly felt wrong to her. Her gaze shot back to the shopping mall and flickered back and forth. Then she finally realized what it was that felt wrong to her.
She had been standing near the convinance store and watched the shopping mall for more then thirty minutes but she had yet to see one of the police. Their cars where sitting outside the front of the building be since she had gotten there nobody had gone in or out of the building.
Joy moved closer to the shopping mall. Soon she reached one of the police cars. She looked around at them and tried taping on one of the car’s windows. There was no response and there was really nobody outside. She looked at the glass double doors leading into the shopping mall. She took a few steps closer and reached for the handle.
“Are you going to go inside?” Came a voice from just beside her.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she twitched her head and saw the black cat Blackberry sitting on the roof of one of the police cars. She pulled back her hand a little bit and concentrated on the cat who continued talking, “If you open that door and go inside you will never be the same again. I asked for your help but I can not force you.”
“What is happening inside?”
“Luna is fighting the Elder Darkness.”
There was a shake in Joy’s arm, “How is she doing against it?”
“She is stronger then it but that is not enough. It is wearing her down little by little. The night is still young and Luna is already beginning to tire.”
“Will she be able to win?”
“Maybe, but it is unlikely. The Elder Shadow is cowardly and is avoiding a direct confrontation. It is also forcing her to fight enemies she can not win against. No amount of force can defeat the enemy she is currently fighting.”
Joy looked through the glass of the doors into the darkness. Her hand drew closer to the handle. “Will I be able to make a difference?”
“That is up to you.”
She battled her own mind then finally came to a conclusion.
“Let me help her.”