The front door of Kirin’s house burst open, and she stepped in, dragging her leather suitcase behind her. “Textbox, I’m home!” she called as she entered the kitchen. With a grunt, she hefted the suitcase onto the counter. “Textbox?” she called out again.
“Hey Kirin, check this out!” a familiar voice yelled as a her stuffed ninja turtle came tumbling down the stairs. Kirin’s jaw dropped as the doll stood up and held up it’s arms in victory. “He sticks the landing, and the crowd goes wild! Wooooo!” the toy said. Kirin stood in a slack jawed stunned silence. Seeing this, the ninja turtle coughed. “I said “and the crowd goes wild!” Why hasn’t the crowd gone wild? I mean, it wasn’t the most dignified entrance, but I’m still getting used to this whole having legs thing.”
“Textbox? Is that you?” was all Kirin could manage. The doll looked up, and even though, like its 2003 cartoon counterpart, the eyes had no pupils, she swore it was rolling them.
“No, it’s the Easter Bunny in a clown suit. Seriously Kirin? Its almost like you don’t even recognize me.” Textbox hopped onto one of the kitchen stools.
“I just–I thought you couldn’t manipulate anything this big. I mean, I know you could work the TV, but I thought that was it,” she stammered, nervously brushing a dirty blond lock of hair from her round face. She sat down on the stool next to the toddler sized stuffed animal.
“I know. Retcons are stink. It’s almost someone is just making things up as they go along,” Textbox said. Kirin rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Textbox, stop leaning on the fourth wall and tell me how are you doing it,” she said. Textbox shrugged.
“I got bored watching TV, and I’m allergic to books, so I tried to see what I could do. For whatever reason, this doll was easiest to work. Anyway, how was your trip to fairyland?” Kirin laughed, almost hysterically.
“Word to the wise, never try to steal from a fairy king’s court. Let’s just say, I’m glad to be human again, and if you want to know what it’s like to be a mouse, it’s not fun. At all. Like, everything’s trying to get you, and it’s all so big, and twigs taste terrible. I got the book though,” Kirin said with a shudder. She pulled a pair of gloves from her pocket and put them on. “For protection, just in case it’s cursed,” she explained with an aside glance at Textbox. She then carefully removed the book and placed it in the counter. It was ancient and leather bound, with the title in golden calligraphy. Below the title, there was the engraved image of an owl holding a snake in its beak. The pages were yellowed with age, and had the woodsy aroma of old ink. Even though the pages may or may not contain secrets that would drive a person mad just by reading them, Kirin couldn’t help but admire the craftsmanship. “Can you read what the front says?”
“Sure. It says one ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” Kirin groaned in annoyance. “Do I look like I can read Eldrich abomination?” She sighed.
“Fair enough.” She squinted at the symbol, which felt oddly familiar.
“What’s up? You look confused. Or constipated. Confused and constipated?” Textbox asked. Kirin shrugged.
“I’m just trying to remember where I’ve seen this symbol.”
“Maybe you should just call Mulder and Scully?” Suddenly, Kirin’s brown eyes widened in recognition.
“Textbox, you’re genius!” she exclaimed as she jumped down from the stool and ran upstairs to her room. She pulled her box of miscellaneous junk out from under her bed. On top of the box was her copy of Marked. With a look of disgust, she tossed it into the corner of the room and rummaged through it with a mad fervor. Unbeknownst to her, a shadow moved across the corner, causing the book to vanish into thin air. Kirin’s hand closed around her quarry, and she held it up triumphantly. “I found it!” she yelled.
“Found what?” Textbox asked. Kirin jumped and looked around. Textbox had apparently abandoned her ninja turtle for the moment.
“You remember that alien that attacked us last fall? You know, the one that looked like that love child of a bat and Bigfoot?” she asked, barely containing her excitement.
“Yeah, what about it?” Kirin opened her palm, revealing two halves of a gold coin. Engraved on the coin was the same symbol.
“This was on the creature when we captured it, and now the same symbol’s popping up again. Coincidence? I think not! I’ll go call Lilly and Eli.” She rushed downstairs to make her call, Textbox close behind. The shadow stayed hidden, biding its time. When it was ready though, it knew exactly what form it was going to take.