Pulled back in time by a demon to Puritan Massachusetts, Phoebe must free one of her ancestors from the demon's spell in order to return to her own time, before the witch hunters discover her true nature and kill her.
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Constance M Burge is the creator of the TV show. Diana G Gallagher is the author of many TV tie-in novels, including Star Trek and the more junior Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She lives in Ocala, Florida.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The warlock backed up against the brick wall.
He was cornered, trapped in a shadowed, narrow alleyway behind the colorful retail shops in San Francisco's popular North Beach district.
The man with the oddly glittering yellow eyes growled at Phoebe Halliwell and her sisters, Piper and Prue. Phoebe wanted to laugh. Like the guy had a reason to be mad at them! He was the one who had jumped down from a fire escape, grabbed Piper by the hair, and muttered something about the dark side.
When the creep crashed their party, the three sisters had been innocently making their way into the old warehouse that had been converted to a shopping mall. Prue had seen a pair of boots she liked at a place called Kick in the Pants, but she had wanted a second and a third opinion before she laid out two hundred dollars for something she didn't really need.
"Honey, if you love them, you need them," Phoebe had told her, slinging an arm around Prue's shoulders as they'd cut down a narrow side street -- a deserted narrow side street.
Phoebe had to admit that maybe her shortcut hadn't been such a great idea. Jeez, she thought. You head out for a pair of boots, you wind up with a hostile warlock in your face.
Not that fighting warlocks was anything new to Phoebe and her sisters. They were the Charmed Ones, three witches with special powers. Since they'd found The Book of Shadows in the attic of Halliwell Manor, the home they'd inherited from their grandmother, they had begun to learn the Craft.
The sisters made a pact to harm no one, as Gram would have wanted, and to use their powers for good. That included fighting off lots of evil beings, like this guy. They were getting pretty good at it, too. Phoebe was beginning to realize that as long as she and her sisters were together -- as long as they had the Power of Three -- nothing could stop them.
For the moment they were winning this battle as well. Piper, who'd gotten her hair out of the warlock's grip by stomping on his instep, now blocked the steep stairway that led to the alley. Prue stood in front of the street exit. Phoebe stood in front of the guy, so close she could reach out and peel the evil smirk off his face. They had him surrounded and he knew it.
Phoebe pushed up the sleeves of her favorite black leather jacket, ready to fight.
"I don't know why you're here," Prue told the warlock. "And I don't know where you come from. But you're going to be sorry you came." Her blue eyes flashed with anger as a strand of jet-black hair slipped down, touching her cheek.
"Really?" the warlock growled. "If you're trying to frighten me, you'll have to try harder. Much harder."
"Happy to oblige." There was no mistaking the mix of hatred and fierceness in Prue's voice.
All of Phoebe's senses were on alert, hypersensitive to the musty smell of the alley, the sight of the dirty wooden crates lining its sides, the buzz of cars and buses on the street at its other end, and the scuffling sound of shoes on cement as Piper stepped forward, slowly, cautiously. In tune with the moment, Phoebe felt her palms begin to sweat. Sure, there was a certain rush of adrenaline when facing a warlock. It was either fight like crazy or find yourself eating dirt. But even her free spirit couldn't ignore the danger element. This creep might wind up doing some serious damage to her or to her sisters.
Piper stepped forward again, closing the circle. The warlock lifted his hand. In it was a flash of silver -- a dagger!
Phoebe felt every muscle in her body go taut. Where did that thing come from?
The warlock whipped his hand over his shoulder like a dart champion. Then, with his eyes dead-set on Phoebe, he thrust his hand forward and let the dagger go. Phoebe gasped as the silver blade sailed forward...coming right at her!
Phoebe closed her eyes. She couldn't help flinching, expecting the cold, sharp edge of the knife to slice through her leather jacket and T-shirt and flesh.
But she felt nothing.
Phoebe opened her eyes to find the dagger suspended in midair, just inches away from her chest. Behind it, the warlock was frozen in place, his face twisted in a sneer.
Phoebe knew Piper had used her power to freeze time.
"That was close," Prue said.
"You're telling me." Phoebe shuddered and wiped her palms against her jeans.
With a look of concentration and a wave of her hand, Prue used her power of telekinesis to knock the dagger out of the air. It clattered onto the cement at Phoebe's feet.
"Who is this guy?" Piper raked back her long brown hair, looking rattled. "You know, I think he blocked my powers for a minute. I kept trying to freeze him and I got zilch, nada."
"Creepy," Phoebe said, bending down to pick up the dagger.
The second she touched it, she felt its powers. Energy rippled from it into her hands. Holding on tight, she saw a vision unfold. That was Phoebe's gift: She saw visions of the future, of the past, and sometimes of worlds in between. Now she heard evil laughter. She saw a flash of light, then a swirl of green smoke, twisting, twirling in a vortex.
Two figures began to emerge beyond the green smoke.
The picture in Phoebe's mind went blank. Confused, she stared down at the dagger.
"What is it, Phoeb?" Piper asked.
"Something's very wrong here," Phoebe answered. "I was starting to get a vision, but all of a sudden it just...ended. Like someone didn't pay the cable bill."
"What did you see?" Prue demanded.
Phoebe shrugged. "Just...I don't know. A lot of green."
"Green?" Piper squinted. "As in plants and trees?"
Phoebe shook her head. "More like green smoke."
"Kind of like a smoke screen?" Prue folded her arms and scowled at the frozen man. "So, even in a freeze you're blocking Phoebe's visions? You must be one powerful warlock."
"What are we going to do?" Piper asked nervously. "He's going to unfreeze any minute. And our powers -- "
"Are fine," Prue said firmly. The eldest sister, Prue had a way of making things sound as if they were totally under control.
Still holding the cold dagger, Phoebe tried to think of a way to put the lid on this warlock. "There has to be a spell or something we could use. After all, he's just a warlock."
Piper's brows lifted. "Just a warlock?"
Phoebe sighed. Piper was probably the most cautious of the three sisters -- sometimes too cautious.
"I mean, he's human, like us," Phoebe said, waving the dagger as she talked. "Just a man who practices evil witchcraft. And we've dealt with much worse."
"Plus, it's all of us against him," Prue said. "We have the Power of Three."
"Right," Phoebe said, turning the dagger to fend off the warlock. "Together, we can whip some major warlock bootie."
That made Piper smile -- just for a minute -- until they caught the flurry of movement that signaled the end of Piper's freeze. The warlock's evil grin faded. "What...?" he muttered, confused. Then, when things registered, he let out a crackling roar.
"Is that a nasty sound, or what?" Piper said.
"People are so rude today," Prue agreed. "Whatever happened to manners?"
"Come on. I'm ready for you," Phoebe said, waving the dagger at him. A dark, engraved symbol flashed on the base of the dagger, catching her eye. What was that? It wasn't like any of the Wiccan symbols she'd ever seen -- or even anything she'd encountered in black magic. What kind of a warlock was this guy? His powers were far beyond the human realm and far beyond those she'd seen in any other warlock. Way beyond -- as if from another plane.
Duh! Phoebe thought. Of course! Maybe he wasn't human at all. Maybe he was a monster. Or a demon. Or a --
Whoa! The man launched a high kick at the dagger in Phoebe's hand. "Hey!" she cried. She took a step back against the brick wall. Kick averted. Danger coming right up.
"Change of plans," she shouted to her sisters. "I don't think he's a -- "
"Brrrrraaaah!" the warlock raged, cutting her off.
"Oooooh. Someone isn't happy," Prue said dryly.
"Frustrated because you couldn't get this?" Phoebe asked, holding up the dagger with a taunting smile.
The warlock fixed Phoebe with a vicious stare. His yellow eyes seemed to penetrate her, making her shiver for a moment. Then he refocused on the dagger in her hand. Phoebe clutched it tightly as it went cold, then tickled her hand.
Something was happening.
As she watched in amazement, the dagger began to shimmer and break up into swirling particles. The particles flashed and whirled. Then the dagger disappeared. Her hand was empty.
"Okay," Piper said. "Now I'm scared."
Phoebe stared at the man, half-expecting to see the dagger reappear in his hand. What sort of weird powers did he have, anyway?
The girls continued to inch toward him, though now Phoebe wasn't sure of what they'd do with him once they'd trapped him. It wasn't as though anyone would wander into this alley to help them.
The warlock snatched a wooden crate from the floor of the alley and spun around, poised like a caged animal. He held the crate to his chest, then hoisted it through the air.
It sailed straight toward Piper.
"Make it stop!" Prue yelled to her sister.
Piper's face grew tight with concentration. Phoebe could tell that she was trying to stop the crate by freezing time -- only Piper's freezing thing was, well, frozen.
Phoebe watched in shock and horror as the crate hit Piper, knocking her to the ground.
"No!" Prue cried. She rushed to Piper's end of the alley.
Phoebe looked from the man to her sisters. "Piper, are you okay?" she asked, trying not to let the warlock out of her sight.
Piper was nodding, trying to speak, but nothing came out of her mouth. Phoebe turned her head, concerned, and the warlock bolted. He streaked down the alley to the street exit, which was now wide open.
For a flash, Phoebe considered letting him go. Bad idea, she scolded herself. This guy was too powerful to be running loose in San Francisco. Might as well get the dirty work over with now.
"He's getting away!" Phoebe shouted to her sisters. She took off, giving chase. He was at the end of the alley now, glancing both ways down the street.
"No!" Prue's shout echoed down the alley. "Phoebe, stop! You can't do it alone."
Phoebe nearly skidded to a halt at the end of the alley. Prue had a bad habit of being right. Phoebe's power was the most passive of all the sisters'. Her visions wouldn't exactly help her if she got into hot water. Still, she couldn't just let that warlock -- or whatever he was -- get away!
Phoebe darted down the street, dodging an old man weighed down by grocery sacks. There was no turning back now. The warlock was fast, but Phoebe was gaining on him.
Up ahead, the warlock shoved aside a baby stroller and knocked an orange crate from a sidewalk fruit stand. Phoebe kept her eyes fixed on him until he turned left, ducking out of sight.
Her heart pounded as she wove between an ice-cream cart and a hydrant like a slalom skier. No way was that monster getting away. Reaching the spot where he'd turned, Phoebe looked to her left and saw another alley, even darker than the first one.
The warlock was there, running past a cluster of Dumpsters. Phoebe lunged ahead. She couldn't lose him.
Then something started to happen. Phoebe stopped running and stood, panting, staring ahead. The warlock's skin was bubbling!
His entire body boiled into a mass of slimy, curdling green. His hair, his clothes, and his skin all began to melt away. Before Phoebe's eyes, his human disguise sloughed off.
The transformation complete, the creature swung around to stare back at her. Huge, bulbous brow ridges protruded from his skull above a gaping mouth of jagged, overlapping teeth. His skin was a series of bulging, oozing scars. A long, barbed tail had sprung from his lower back, and his feet had mutated into huge, clawed paws.
Phoebe's heart pounded in her ears as the truth hit her. This guy was evil incarnate: a gruesome, hideous demon.
This was worse than she'd thought. Demons had powers way beyond most warlocks and way, way, way beyond the scope of a newly practicing witch like Phoebe.
Okay, don't freak, Phoebe told herself. She had faced demons before with the help of her sisters.
Come to think of it, where were they now?
Stay cool, Phoebe thought. She checked out the dark alley behind the festering green demon. It was a dead end, blocked in by three brick walls. There were no doorways, no exits, no stairs to climb.
No way out for the screaming green monster, Phoebe thought. She folded her arms against the chill of the shadowed alley. All she had to do was keep him cornered until her sisters joined her. Piece of cake.
But the demon was off again, charging farther down the alley. Where's he running to? Phoebe wondered, staring into the shadows. There's only a brick wall back there.
But he was moving fast, his waxy green feet bouncing along the dirty pavement.
Okay, maybe he's a stupid demon, she thought, following him.
"Where do you think you're going?" she shouted.
"Want to catch me?" he called over his scarred green shoulder. "See if you can!"
"What am I, a three-year-old?" Phoebe snapped back at him. She frowned. He was a stupid, smart-aleck demon -- the worst kind.
Picking up speed, Phoebe gritted her teeth and ran right at him. She was going to grab him by his pimply green neck and...
He ran farther. Phoebe couldn't believe it. He was going to slam into that wall!
Only, it wasn't a brick wall anymore. The air in front of the bricks and mortar was shimmering. The whole wall was fuzzy, moving like snowy reception on a broken television. As the demon reached it, Phoebe saw what he was doing. Somehow he was magically creating an opening in the wall -- an escape hatch.
Well, it wasn't going to be that easy. Not with her on his tail -- literally.
As he dived headfirst into the swirling hole, Phoebe reached in after him. "Gotcha!" she called, firmly grasping his tail. She wedged the toes of her boots against the base of the wall, leaned back, and pulled with all her strength. She needed to yank this sorry demon back into the alley.
"Whoa! What's going on?" Phoebe felt the shimmering wall begin to give way under her feet. She couldn't get any leverage.
She wasn't yanking the demon out of the hole, she realized. He was pulling her in! The wall began to disintegrate and swirl around them. Bricks were sucked into the hole as though they were dust particles in a giant vacuum. Phoebe could feel herself edging into the vortex, inch by inch.
I have to let go! she shrieked to herself. I have to get out of this
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