Oboe leaned out the window and worried about Theo. Behind her, the little human sat up in bed looking scared.
“Wh-who’re you?” He said. “Why’re you in my room?”
This was awkward. She wasn’t sure how to talk to normal humans, let alone the little larval ones.
“I’m Oboe. I gotta protect you from bad guys, okay?”
“Okay.” He relaxed a little. “My name’s Edwin. What’s going on? Where is Mr. Tall Man going?”
Oboe wanted to know the same thing. What was she supposed to tell the kid?
“Don’t worry,” she said, worrying. “Theo is going to make sure he can’t hurt you or anyone else. It will be okay.”
“Hurt me? That’s stupid! You’re stupid!” Edwin climbed out of bed. “He’d never do that! He’s my friend!”
The miniature human was so offended that it startled Oboe. “Your friend? That doesn’t make sense. He’s supposed to be the bad guy! Get it straight! He was here to gobble you up probably!”
Edwin joined her at the window. “He’s not a bad guy! I’d never be friends with a bad guy!”
Oboe paused to consider this. It was a philosophy she respected. “Then why was he here?”
“Mr. Tall Man came to say goodbye. He said he had to go away for a long time and didn’t want me to think he’d forget about me.”
Oboe felt a sinking feeling. That sounded true and she wondered if it was.
“Um, excuse me? Goat woman?” The boy’s father came to the door. He was more alert now. “Can you explain to me what’s going on? Is this a government thing or are we being burgled?”
“Oboe!” Theo shouted from the street outside.
She stuck her head out the window to see. He looked rumpled and sweaty. In his hand was the enchanted knife. A cord of shining light dangled off the tip of the blade and the Tall Man dangled on the end like a fish on a line. He was unconscious and had shrunk to the size of a doll. He looked so pitiful.
“It’s safe,” Theo said. “I’ve captured the ghast. It’s time to go.”
Oboe looked at Edwin and his father and tried to smile. “Don’t worry. Everything is fine,” she said but failed to convince herself. She shaped herself into a housecat and slunk down from the rooftop to meet Theo.
“Theo,” she said, bouncing back to a faun. “I think we’ve made a mistake. That kid is saying he was friends with the Tall Man.”
He looked up at the child, who was watching them with tearful eyes from his bedroom window.
“He was most likely manipulating the child,” Theo said. “The boy would be much easier to abduct or kill if he trusted the creature.”
Oboe squeezed her wrist. “That doesn’t feel right,” she said. “Something is wrong.”
He gave her a doubting look. “You’re tired,” he decided. “It’s been a long day and we need some rest.”
Oboe stole another glance at Edwin watching from the window above them.
“Come on,” Theodore said, starting off. “We’re going home.”