So here's another excerpt:
“Are mages not secret here?” Justin whispered to the carret.
“Why would mages be secret?” asked Fergie, giving Justin a surprised look. Justin stopped by the fountain, looking up at the sculpture.
“On the other side, magic was given a real bad rap,” said Justin, sighting through his lens but not taking the picture. “Magic and magickal creatures were hunted down, thousands of people were killed. Those who survived went underground, became very secretive. Most people today don’t even believe magic ever really existed. We don’t go around telling people we’re mages.” When he looked down into the water, he saw there were koi, beautiful ones in various shades of gold and white and cream, even one such a dark purple it almost looked black, except when the light caught it and brought out the vivid color. They skimmed over coins scattered across the tiles, these ones also patterned, blue and gold.
“That’s just nuts,” said Fergie.
“Yes, it is,” replied Justin, looking at the coins. There was a Morgan silver dollar nestled amidst Liberty dimes and buffalo head nickels, a wealth of real silver and copper and even gold, a coin collector’s paradise. “So who are you, Fergie? That guy was already good with what you had to say about me, even before you dropped the mage bomb.” The purple fish hit the light at the same time as one that was a soft butter yellow. Justin snapped a picture, and hoped he’d been fast enough.
“Me? I’m Ferguson,” replied the creature.
“So, do you own the place or something?”
Fergie laughed. “Don’t be silly! Of course not. But my friend Leo does.”
Justin grinned. “It is good to have friends in high places.”
“And he is! He lives up there,” Fergie pointed with his nose toward the sweeping stairway on the left. “Way up on the third floor!”
At that, Justin did laugh. A couple of people looked at him curiously, but he didn’t care. “Okay, Fergie. How far forward do I have to go to get back?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I just know the only way to get somewhere is to aim for it.”
“But how do you know that? I mean, where I came from is back there. And while you may not think it’s much, I like it. I’d miss my brothers and sisters, my Mom and Dad, our cats and our horses. I like my family.” Justin turned from the fountain and took a picture of the front door.
“That’s very important, liking one’s family. It must be nicer there than I think, listening to you speak of it, Justin. I’m sorry I thought ill of it. Although that thing about the mages…”
“I accept your apology. You really are seeing a very small area, you know.”
“And if the hotel burned down on that side, I guess I understand why it looks so bleak! I wonder why it wasn’t rebuilt?”
“My brother told me it was because of the Depression.”
“Who was depressed?” asked Fergie, bounding up the sweeping staircase.
“The Depression. The Great Depression. There was a big stock market crash and the whole country basically went broke,” said Justin. “The economy collapsed, people lost their jobs, that sort of thing.” Then something occurred to Justin. “Say, Fergie, what year is it here?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t really keep track,” replied the carret in an airy manner, stopping on the second floor landing to run around in little circles while Justin came up and paused to take more pictures, aiming down at the lobby below. “When they had the big New Year’s celebration a while back I think someone said it was 1913, but I can’t remember for sure.”
Nineteen-thirteen? Justin fingered the wheat pennies in his pocket. That meant it was twenty years until the fire, if it was destined to happen on this side of the mirror. “I guess that explains Mrs. O'Connor’s dress,” he muttered out loud.
“Come this way, this way,” said Fergie. They went along the landing, past numbered doors, to another staircase, just a normal interior one, and up to the very top of the main building. The stairs opened into a short hallway with windows that looked down at the courtyard below. From here you could see the gardens in all their glory, the shining pool and the greenhouse. Far off in every direction he could see were the ever-present mountains that ringed all Arizona lower deserts. It was a clear day, the sky a shimmering pale blue. Justin leaned on the glass and looked out, trying to see around to the road where Zach had driven them. “Nice view, huh?”
“Yeah,” said Justin. “Where are you from?”
“I was born here,” replied Fergie, standing up on his hind legs to put his front paws on the sill and peer out the window next to Justin.
If he asked ‘what are you?’ again he had a feeling Fergie would only tell him he was a ‘carret’ again, and that would lead back to the circle they’d already run around. “What can you tell me about carrets?” he asked instead.
“We’re amazing, we’re awesome, we’re quite intelligent, we’re very soft, and extremely handsome,” said Fergie, without pausing. He turned that Disney sidekick earnest expression to Justin, his sharp white teeth showing in a strangely engaging smile.
“And very modest,” said Justin. Fergie let out an odd, barking laugh.
I'm rather glad I decided to stick with Grimm after all -- I think it just gets better every week, and despite the fact I'm still deeply invested in it, Once Upon A Time is showing its age.
I have to work a LOT of hours tomorrow, because I'm going to take as much overtime as I can this week while it's available. I spent a lot of money this weekend...
On the plus side, I didn't gain a lot of weight, despite basically having three Thanksgiving Feasts three days in a row!