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As soon as Sabrina landed, she knew she was in trouble. First of all, there was no air to breathe, and there was no ground under her feet. Well, there was ground -- but it was more like quicksand, shifting and tenuous. As she looked closer, she saw that she was surrounded by chunks of dirty ice. Above her was nothing but outer space, shot wi
Nobody can see outer space that clearly, she decided, unless they're in it!
Sabrina nearly dropped the game and the cat, but she managed to hold onto both of them until she could cast a spell:
"Quick, on the double, give us a safety bubble!"
A huge soap bubble engulfed them, and Sabrina gasped for breath, surprised that she could breathe. She took a moment to look around and try to figure out where they were. They stood on a vast plain of ice chunks, which curved into the distance, where it was dwarfed by a massive yellow planet. The cloudy orb looked so close -- and so huge -- that Sabrina wanted to reach out and touch it.
With her A average in science, Sabrina knew this was a ringed planet, probably Saturn. And she was standing on the ring! But why was she here? And where was her dad?
"I want to go home," said Salem, shuddering in her arms.
With no sound and no warning, a fleet of sailing ships came streaming over the rise, hugging the ring of the planet like Windsurfers. The colorful vessels slashed through the ice on broad runners, which looked like skis, and their sails billowed in a magical wind. As they came closer, Sabrina could see a single pilot on each craft.
"This would really be a beautiful sight," said Salem, "if they weren't headed straight toward us! Duck!"
Sabrina ducked, but she was in no danger. The protective bubble was like a boulder in the middle of a racetrack. Several of the colorful sailing machines crashed into the bubble and went spinning off in all directions. Two of them plowed into the grimy ring and made large holes where they disappeared.
The rest of the sailing craft sped past her, with several pilots shaking their fists at her. "Sorry," muttered Sabrina with a cringe.
In amazement, Sabrina watched the ships that had crashed into her as they made incredible flips and graceful banks in the blackness of space. One by one, they glided back onto Saturn's ring and sped after the others, although they were now far behind. It was a beautiful sight, watching the colorful sails silhouetted against the bleak, yellow planet.
Suddenly a red ship with a silver sail veered away from the pack. It turned sharply, spewing a wave of ice in its wake, and headed toward her. Sabrina could see a bearded man in a silver jumpsuit at the helm. He leaned far to starboard to catch an edge, and the magical craft seemed to skim over the rings of Saturn.
The pilot looked quite dashing in his ringsurfer garb, and Sabrina could understand why women liked him.
The sailing craft skidded to a stop, spattering a wave of ice chunks against her bubble. Sabrina started to grin, but the angry glower on her father's face froze her in midsmile. He didn't look happy to see her.
"Sabrina!" barked Edward Spellman. "What are you doing here -- in the middle of the Saturn 500? You disrupted the race!"
She waved her package at him. "Sorry, Dad, it's, uh...Father's Day."
The anger faded from his handsome face, to be replaced by guilt and confusion. "Did we make plans to get together today?"
"No, I thought I'd surprise you." She smiled weakly.
Now he looked annoyed again. "Well, you certainly did that. You could give a person some warning, you know."
"Your ring-surfer is really cool," said Sabrina, pointing to his craft. "How does it work?"
A smile crept across Dad's face. "Well, the sail collects magical energy radiating off Saturn's rings. Mine is a special design -- it collects solar energy, too. We do this race every hundred years. I really thought I was going to win this century."
Sabrina frowned. "Sorry I messed up your race. I could, like...go away and come back some other time."
"No, no," said Edward, his expression softening. "It's Father's Day -- I should have remembered. Shall we go back to my place and celebrate?"
"Sure!" answered Sabrina with relief.
"As quickly as possible," muttered Salem, screwing his eyes shut. "I'm getting vertigo."
Dad laughed and waved his hand. In his deepest, most bestial voice, he intoned:
He clapped his hands, and there was a bright explosion on the rings of Saturn. Four astronomers on Earth viewed it on their telescopes and thought it was an asteroid collision.
Sabrina found herself sitting on the porch of a luxurious villa high on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. The sea sparkled below them like diamonds spilled on a sheet of blue ice. Her long, summery dress looked perfect here, as she lounged in the warm sunshine and cool sea breeze.
"Chocolate milk shake?" asked her dad, seated across from her at the exquisite white marble table. He picked up a pitcher and filled a tall glass with slurpy brown liquid.
"You know what I like," said Sabrina, gratefully taking the glass. She pointed her finger at the rim, and a straw appeared.
"Yes, I do," admitted Edward. "Knowing what a daughter likes is one of the prerequisites of being a dad. So how do you like my new villa?"
"It's gorgeous," said Sabrina, admiring the view. "Where are we?"
"Let me guess!" interrupted Salem, swishing his tail. "That's the Mediterranean Sea out there, and we're just outside Naples, Italy."
"Ah, very good," said Dad, clearly impressed. "Did you recognize it from the coastline or the architecture?"
"Neither," answered the cat. "I smell sardines and squid, fixed ala Napoletano. You humans don't know the joy of really being able to smell."
"You smell all right," said Sabrina, "ever since you got into the garbage last night."
"I couldn't help it," complained the cat. "You threw away perfectly good chicken gizzards."
"Not to change the subject from chicken gizzards, but how's Gail?" asked Sabrina, referring pointedly to her dad's girlfriend.
He frowned. "She's off testifying before the Witches' Council. If it's not a legal case, it's politics. I swear, I never see her anymore."
Sabrina smiled wistfully. "How come you always pick women who work and travel all the time?"
"Ah," replied Dad, stroking his beard sagely, you don't pick love -- it picks you. And how is your mother?"
"She's fine. I saw her last year when I took a spontaneous trip to Peru. Her new assistant is kind of cute."
"I hope she's happy," said Edward with a sigh. "It's hard for a witch to be married to a mortal -- I didn't realize how hard."
He shrugged and shook his head. "Come to think of it, being married to another witch isn't all that easy. You get a little tired of each other, after a couple hundred years."
"Thanks for telling me what I've got to look forward to," muttered Sabrina.
"It was just a joke," said Dad. "And how is Harvey?"
"He's fine." Sabrina didn't want to talk about Harvey, because he was part of her normal life, a part she cherished. She always thought her life would be more or less normal, but that notion was dashed on her sixteenth birthday. Now she knew she was a witch, and the choice was to marry another witch or drive some poor mortal crazy.
"Happy Father's Day." She shoved her present across the table toward her dad.
"You shouldn't have." He grabbed the package, shook it, and listened to the rattling of game pieces. "What is it?"
"Why don't you open it and find out?"
"First the card." Dad lifted the card from the yellow ribbon and tore it open. On the front was a pretty view of a woodsy stream and two guys fishing. He read aloud:
He looked at her curiously. "Your loving son?"
Sabrina laughed. "Um, I was in sort of a hurry. But I spent a long time picking out the gift. Open it."
"All right." With a youthful grin, her father tore off the wrapping paper, and his eyes lit up when he saw the Witchopoly box. "Hey, that's great! I've heard about this game, but I've never played it. Do you know how to play?"
Suddenly a small scroll leapt from the box and landed in Dad's hands. He laughed with delight. "Okay, I guess it wants me to read the directions."
"I want to play, too," insisted Salem, bounding onto one of the patio chairs.
"Welcome to Witchopoly, the game that will test your wits and your luck. Fun for every witch in the family!" proclaimed Dad, reading from, the scroll.
"We'll be the judge of that," sniffed Salem.
Byron was dusting the display cases in the Winsome Witch showroom, trying to look busy. Actually he was thinking about the customer who had come in earlier. Sabrina. She didn't act like a witch -- just a regular girl. And maybe that's what appealed to him about her. Most of the teenage witches he knew were stuck-up, full of themselves.
He sighed and made his feather-duster disappear. She'll be back, Byron assured himself.
The closet door opened, and he turned to see a small, bespectacled man carrying a briefcase. Mr. Hawthorn bustled into the showroom, straightening displays as he went. He was sort of bossy and fussy, but what boss wasn't?
Hawthorn hurried behind the counter, opened his briefcase, and carefully removed a ham sandwich. "The antique markets were brutal today," he complained. "Nothing decent -- and everything at exorbitant prices. I might as well go to a swap meet at the drive-in."
"I made a couple of sales," said Byron proudly.
"Oh, really. What?" The manager took a bite of his sandwich.
"I sold one of the midpriced flying carpets," said Byron. "The J-1000. I got four season tickets for the Cleveland Indians."
"And I sold a game of Witchopoly."
Mr. Hawthorn squinted at him from behind his thick glasses. "Witchopoly? But we're out of stock. That game has been back-ordered for two weeks now."
Byron pointed toward the darkness in the rear of the showroom. "I got one from the back room.
The little man's face grew ashen, his jaw dropped, and ham sandwich fell out. "Y-Y-You...you didn't get one off that little shelf back there?"
"That little shelf under the pipes," answered Byron. "Did I do something wrong?"
"Did you do something wrong!" screeched Mr. Hawthorn, pulling his hair and giggling. "Yes, you did! The goods on that shelf are all defective. Their magic backfires! The Witchopoly game was the worst."
"But why keep them here?"
"I was saving them until the Bomb Squad could remove them!" Mr. Hawthorn closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. "I must remain calm. We're both witches -- we can get the defective game back. How long ago was this?"
"Only half an hour."
"Good! What is the buyer's name and address?"
Byron gulped nervously. Now he knew he was in serious trouble...and so was Sabrina.
"I, uh, only know her first name. It's Sabrina."
"Well, you made a copy of her witch's license, didn't you?"
The young warlock grimaced. "'She was in a hurry, and I, um...I didn't do any of the paperwork."
"What!" screamed Hawthorn. "This is preposterous! We sell a lethal product, and we don't even know the customer's name. Did she pay for it, or did you blithely ignore that rule, too?"
"She left a deposit!" Byron opened the cash register and searched the drawer. He took out a monkey's paw and a rabbit's foot, plus two glowing crystals, then he finally found the arcade tokens.
When he handed them to Mr. Hawthorn, the older man wheezed and sunk into a chair. "We're ruined! They'll probably sue us -- if they live."
Worriedly, Byron asked, "What exactly does this game do to them?"
With a shudder, Hawthorn answered, "Everything that happens in the game really happens to the players."
Copyright © 1999 by Viacom Productions, Inc.
Posted October 16, 2001
This was an outstanding book. I love the suspense this book lead me to. The action was awsome. It had a wonderful ending. I hope to read more like it. I could't put his book down. I don't read a lot but i will read more because of this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2000