The whipping Nova Scotia wind surrounded the gang, forming mini tornadoes around each of their bodies.
“It’s freezing. I hate this,” Bridget said, shivering under her Canada Goose jacket, which now felt more appropriate.
“What else is new,” Retrograde said, pushing past crowds of well-meaning Canadians.
“Sorry!” they said as they were jostled out of the way. “So sorry.”
They all continued past, except for George, the Minnesotan of the group, who apologized back. Just ahead of them was a red-colored storefront with a gold awning: Well-Varied Tiaras. The windows looked dusty, and the paint had chipped away at its intricate designs on the glass.
“This looks just about right for a secret hideout,” Retrograde said, clapping his hands with delight. “Let’s go!”
“Just once, I would like to see a mysterious headquarters that doesn’t look completely unsavory,” George said.
“But then, like, would it be mysterious? Like, what would that even be like?” Darren said. It was a really good question to consider—how we got it ingrained in our heads that these things are mysterious in the first place—but it was just not the time.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that was a really good question,” Bridget said. “But now is just not the time.”
Outside Well-Varied Tiaras stood an older man with a Halifax Highlanders jersey on. As the crew approached, he moved himself in front of the door.
“I can’t let you in,” he said. “Sorry.”
“Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” George said, as Retrograde pulled a knife out of his pocket.
“Oh you don’t have to do that,” the man said, motioning to Retrograde. He hurriedly forced it back into his coat. “Really, just come on through. Sorry about that. Have a good day, yaknow?”
“I was certainly expecting something a little tougher than that,” Bridget said.
“I wasn’t,” George said, smiling.
Not far away, my associate Rutherford and I had landed at Prince Edward Island. Time was running short, but not short enough for a potential visit to the Anne of Green Gables Museum.
“Who even gives a damn about Anne of Green Gables?” Rutherford said, his hands shaking with tremors of an unknown origin.
“It’s one of the best book series for young girls! You can be outspoken and do whatever you want, no matter your circumstances!” I yelled back at him as I picked off the seaweed from my colonial-style plaid nightgown, which was not suited for the occasion. Our jetskis had failed by the coast, and we had to swim the rest of the way in.
“Pfft, like I care,” Rutherford said, though he had told me how much he loved Gilbert Blythe’s character development one time. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry, Oxfordorino.”
“Can we at least go there to get new clothes?” I asked, hoping to replace my colonial nightgown with Victorian peasantwear.
“I guess that’s okay,” Rutherford said. “But I thought of it so it’s all my doing.”
I rolled my eyes as we set off. We exchanged our ocean-smelling garments with early 20th-century clothes, complete with a musty smell.
“That’s the scent we make specially for the museum,” the guide, a 17-year-old with a clear penchant for fluffy romance novels, said. “It’s rosewater with just a touch of mothballs and consumption.”
“You know, it doesn’t smell all that bad,” Rutherford whispered to me, as my nose wrinkled at the bizarre perfume.
“That smells actually awful,” I said through a smile to the young associate. “But what a great commitment to the stories. I really appreciate that.”
“We also have authentic cherry cordial soda and timeshares with 1900s amenities,” she said. “They are really quite beautiful.”
“God, when will it end,” I muttered under my breath as Rutherford asked for more information.
“Are there payment installments available?” he asked.
“I’m gonna find a way to get to Nova Scotia,” I said as I left him in the museum he didn’t even want to go to.
Inside Well-Varied Tiaras, George and Bridget tinkered with its contents. There were tiaras everywhere, with different gemstones and metals, some even made of glass.
“One of these things has to be a secret portal to where we need to go,” Retrograde said, turning them all over and pressing rubies and sapphires.
“Or, like, there’s not a portal at all and this is the whole thing,” Darren said, lazing in an overstuffed armchair in a dusty corner of the room.
“Yeah, I feel like this is all there is,” George said. “Doesn’t seem like anything else is hidden here.”
“That’s what they’d want you to think, though,” Bridget said.
Retrograde pointed at her and raised his eyebrows with an encouraging smile.
“See, this girl’s thinking,” he said.
“Well, well, well,” said a figure coming from a glaring hole in the wall, which was overlooked by all of the gang.
“Who are you?” Retrograde said, motioning for the students to hide behind his back.
“I’m Regina,” she said. “I’m who you’ve been looking for.”
I dragged Rutherford from the front porch. He was still clutching his money as I pulled him out the front door, the 17-year-old museum employee holding onto his hand in an attempt to secure the timeshare.
“IT’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY!!!” she shouted, tears in her eyes.
“We have to get going, but I’m sure he’ll be back,” I said to the forlorn teen. “He lives for this stuff.”
Rutherford stared off toward the quaint house, stuffing his cash back into his pockets.
“I can’t believe you made us leave,” he said, sniffling.
“You didn’t even want to come here in the first place!” I said as I started up the car. “We have to get to Nova Scotia.”
“No buts,” I said. “Anne can wait.”
The old-style vehicle screeched as we took a turn toward the shore.
“Where are we going?” Rutherford asked, his face flushed with fear.
“Oh, did I mention? I picked this car up from the prop shop,” I said, practically feeling the glint in my eye form. “It’s a complete replica of the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Except it actually works.”
“What do you mean?”
The car expanded its side sails, building momentum as it started moving up at an angle. Within seconds, we were flying.
“Oh,” he said. “That.”
Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor