habeas corpus

Rustia and Mingey arrived far ahead of the rest of the mob. Never ones to miss an opportunity to flaunt their freakish athleticism, Rustia belted the unicycle hard and cast circles around the entire perimeter of The Emerald House. Mingey screamed at the top of her lungs like a haunt of the heath. She smacked the windows panes taunting, “Miss Mary! Miss Mary! Miss Mary!”

As the sisters swung by on a second tour, Mingey kicked the front door and — to their absolute delight — the front door fell completely off its hinges. Ungulen had never sent anybody up to repair it after kicking in down himself a few days earlier.

Inside, Lorelei dropped a candle directly onto his foot. “VLATCH!”

The mob was gathering now in the front yard of The Emerald House. Ungulen strode up, panting. Annoyed with the entire situation, he stuck out his long, bony leg and tripped Rustia and Mingey as they rushed past. Rustia flew off and impacted with the ground like a meteor. Mingey skidded a few dozen yards away and immediately began crying. Rustia, rushed over to her sister and protectively covered her up. They huddled and glared at Ungulen.

But the mob had already taken up the sisters’ battle cry. “Come out, Miss Mary!” they screeched. “Where’s your honest day’s work yesterday!” They threw rocks and dirt clods at the house. Ooze-like mud welted and dripped down the sides of the house. Ungulen was unable to control them.

Presently, Lorelei came out of the front entrance. He was dressed in a silk night robe and he held Marrionetta around the waist in a fashion that almost appeared charming. The shock of his calm silenced the mob.

Marrionetta was aware that she was in the serpent’s grip. He was guiding her out of the house, flaunting her before the angry eyes of her circus brethren who had been chanting her name in a way she didn’t like at all. This night had Visigoth written all over it.

Marrionetta couldn’t help but physically experience Lorelei in their mutual embrace. Their flanks were not quite touching but she could feel his mood change under the slip of the silk robe. He was perfectly at ease, she realized. It confused her. There they were, holding together like perfect housemates in front of a group of 200 who were already throwing rocks. And yet, Lorelei projected nothing but a deep and alarming confidence. Was he in his element? How many angry mobs had he encountered before?

“She’s right here,” Doctor Lorelei said to the circusfolk. “Safe and sound. Prim and proper. How do you feel, Netty? Good tonight?”

Marrionetta swayed with the billowing nighttime air. There was an extended pause.

“Netty?” Lorelei prompted.

Somewhere in the crowd, Violet started softly crying and didn’t know why.

“I will return to work in the morning,” Marrionetta declared and then she drifted back inside of the house. Lorelei bowed to everyone and followed in after her, propping up the front door behind him.

The mob suddenly felt very self-conscious. They each bowed their heads and made their excuses. Just what had they thought was going to happen tonight? People avoided each others’ eyes as they trudged back down the hill. Ungulen found his way to Rustia and Mingey who were still huddled on the ground. Ungulen offered Rustia and hand but she batted him away.

Ungulen made his descent just as Goren was finally arriving to the scene of events.

“What happened?” Goren asked.

Ungulen shuffled his head and snorted forcefully. “Not a dreckerd thing.”

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