(see img credit below)

Max stood behind the nuns watching them finish the excommunication. He had seen too many movies to know that when the hero left the bad guy to meet his end without witnessing his final destruction the bad guy escaped. At the third ring of the bell Izzy and Fahad both vanished.

“Where did she go? Is she alright?”

“Don’t worry, little man. She comes and goes like that.” Margaret held up a hand like she was feeling the air, then continued, “She’s just fine. I can feel her.”

Mother Superior said, “On July twenty-first, the year of our Lord 1855, at eleven twenty-one PM, Fahad Wazeer AlGhamdi was excommunicated. So let it be written.”

The nuns echoed, “So let it be done.”

Max’s eyes went wide as coffee cups. “Eleven twenty-one! Oh, God, no!” He ran for his life. Had he not had a hold of the rail, he surely would have tumbled from his frantic pace down the stairs. He skidded into the hallway on the second floor and bolted to the broom closet. He opened the door and stepped inside so fast the door slammed behind him and he fell – not through darkness but through daylight. Max’s little body was falling out in the air on a clear summer day without a cloud in the sky. His skin was being blown back and contorted like he was in a wind tunnel from a car commercial. What at first were huge squares like a patchwork quilt were quickly becoming building and city blocks.

Max should have been utterly terrified and on the verge of cardiac arrest but this was different. Back in the closet with the creatures, he had been fighting for his life. Now he was just going to die. He had missed his window of time because he defeated a villain and he was going to die. This is how it happens.

As the bocks became more defined, he realized he was going to crash through the roof of the St. Vincent’s Guest House and he smiled.

At first, only the size of a loaf of bread, a tiny square of black appeared. It quickly grew until it was the size of Max’s body. As he flew into the void, he felt a vice-like grip on his ankle putting the brakes on him. The pressure felt like every joint in his body was trying to dislocate and it took a few football fields of darkness for him to slow. Finally, he slid to a stop just as his head bumped into a wall. The hand released his ankle and light flooded the broom closet. Master Legba stood up and opened the door.

Reeling from the fall, Max stood on spaghetti legs while Legba panted in the hall, trying to catch his breath.

Max bum-rushed his skeletal savior and hugged him in celebration, shouting, “We did it! We did it!”

Legba scolded the boy, asking him if he knew how difficult it was to catch an eighty-pound boy traveling one hundred and twenty-three miles an hour while in complete darkness and locked in a closet because said missile was a full seven minutes late.

Tears of joy were running down the boy’s face as he continued to hug Legba.

Their celebration was cut short by a thick Rasta accent that said, “Do you have de payment?”

Standing behind them were Mr. Curtis and the Prince.

Max held out his hand, for the first time aware that he’d been clutching her curls through the whole experience. The Prince took the curls from the boy and put them into a small bottle with a glass lid that he stored in his jacket. He turned to walk away and Max blurted, “What are you going to do with that?”

The Prince wheeled around and replied, “Dat is no bizness of yours. You be in de killin bizness.” The Prince turned back to walk away but Mr. Curtis stood looking like he was about to speak. The monstrous gangster snapped to position of attention and gave a perfect salute, complete with a congratulatory smirk and head nod. The Prince smacked in on the arm and said, “Oh, come, don’t be enc-our-a-gin’ dat one.”

Mr. Curtis held the salute just a little longer before following the Prince.

(Img credit: “Falling from the Sky” by Arthur Heding on Deviant Art)