In the kitchen, Mama Jack waited. Even though she was dressed in clothing like his, she looked like a being from another world, or an astronaut. Maybe it was just the memory of her picture in the book that made him think that.
“Here. Carry this.” Mama Jack handed him a bucket. “There’s grain in it. Maybe Misty will forgive us for dawdling.”
In the yard other animals greeted them. A big red rooster strutted passed. A black and white rabbit jumped across their path and with a twitch of long ears disappeared into the brush.
Among the trees, an amazing sight waited. A shed covered with license plates from all over the world, not just from the United States, stood out from its surroundings. Finny spotted one from Germany and two from France. He studied them. Another one at about his eye level in the wall closest to him, drew his attention most. It wasn’t marked by state or country. At first it was black. In comparison, the others should have been brighter because of their colored or white surfaces. The more he looked at it, the more he saw black volcanic rocks with heat just below the surface. Around the edges liquid fire bubbled.
“We better hurry.” Mama Jack pulled him inside the shed. She tugged both halves of the door shut. Mist swirled around the edges. “I didn’t realize a storm was brewing.” Her frown betrayed there was more to it than that.
A creeping chill tugged at Finny, but before he could get really scared, a sharp whinny pulled him forward.
“Misty’s waiting for us,” said Mama Jack.
Soft as Raskee’s fur coat, a presence, brushed against Finny’s cheek. “Who are you?”
At first there was no answer. Then with a familiar throaty nicker, the voice Finny had heard in the school hallway and later in his room answered. “Franklin George Joidean, we meet at last.”
Finny backed away until he came up against the double door of the shed.
“Why don’t you come closer and see?” Mama Jack’s laugh added amusement to her response.
He obeyed, and stuck out his arm. The soft muzzle of a very large animal nudged his outstretched hand. Finny jumped when a chill wind grabbed the lower half of the shed door and slammed it with a sharp crack.
“We don’t have much time.” Mama Jack stepped forward. “It’s on its way.” Her voice quivered. “Can’t you feel it?”
“Yes.” Misty pawed the ground with her right hoof. “Zeus will be here by next light. And neither will Mirri. Nothing more we can do ‘til then.”
“Zeus? Mirri?” said Finny. He’d studied Greek mythology in school. He knew the power behind the first name during ancient times. Did the second have a meaning too?
Before he could ask, the top of what had been a block against the cold of early morning blew open in two parts. Pop. Pop. Bang. A great gust of wind drove against him. When he turned toward it, a familiar face startled him. It was the man from the school yard and the airport tarmac. What’s he doing here? Finny grabbed for the door, but only succeeded in scraping against the frame. When he held up his hand, a sliver of wood was stuck in it. “Ouch.” He backed against the wall and lifted his arm. “Mama Jack?” The door slammed shut. The latch caught, preventing it from reopening.