Review of ‘Choose Your Truth’ by Jo Miles

‘Choose Your Truth’ by Jo Miles is a very dystopian look at ‘market share’ of the viewing public. The story begins with a look inside one of these companies and a meeting on how to decide to regain their lost market share to rival companies and how they are influencing the public with lurid bits of information that may or may not be factual.

The pacing is steady with an undercurrent of insecurity because no one’s job is truly safe unless the market share increases. There is a small group that opposes the large conglomerates of media distribution, but they are too marginalized to be effective at pushing the truth, or are they?

This is well-written and offers a fascinating look at what might be if media actually became the primary source for all information and entertainment. 1984 anyone?

Review of ‘Snail’s Pace’ by Susan McDonough-Wachtman

‘Snail’s Pace’ by Susan McDonough-Wachtman has two interesting adages which define it. The first being ‘Be careful what you wish for because it could come true’ and ‘In any situation, endeavor to keep an open mind’. The first comes true very quickly, and the latter is a constant struggle for the protagonist Susannah Maureen Chambers McKay, as she learns that her new employers are aliens. Not foreigners with a different language but ALIENS, from another world. The governer is intent on having her teach diplomacy to his son and this is where keeping an open mind continues to be a struggle for the heroine. It is a fun thoughtful story nearly devoid of combat which I found to be a refreshing change from the norm. This is a well-crafted thought-provoking story that has lessons that could be used by today’s society. I heartily recommend this book.

Review – The True Son by Vanessa McLaren-Wray

‘The True Son’ by Vanessa McLaren-Wray is definitely a teaser, a short story that directly points to her novel ‘Shadows of Insurrection’. It is also a good short standalone story that sets the stage for your imagination to wonder at the world of Jeska and what else might go on beyond the small glimpse of the life of a purchased ‘son of the king’. The main character is a son purchased from a father who struggled after his wife died to care for his son. In order to provide a better chance in life, he sold the child to the crown as one of a number of similar children who, if they work hard in both physical and mental exercises, could replace the king’s own son as the new king.

The story follows the main character and how he grows and learns to deal with the growing hatred between him and the ‘True’ son of the king. It is well written and the story leaves you right at a point where you ask yourself ‘what happens next’.

Dragon Zombies of the Kuiper Belt

You have @BraveLittleTeapot to blame for this. She had started talking about wanting to do an anthology, and in my own snarky way, suggested I might think about joining such an endeavor. Well, all the chat on Discord convinced me that it might be fun to see what happens.

The biggest hurdle at the beginning of everything is actually beginning. Therefor, I have begun with this forward so that you can properly praise or otherwise inform the person(s) responsible. I include you @Ryan Southwick and you @Steven Radecki for assisting @BraveLittleTeapot in making me get off my lazy rear and get in gear trying to make a story of the title.

The first obvious choice is what kind of voice will the story have: humor, horror, suspense, etc? The focus on the voice creates the path of the story. I have no idea where it’s going to go yet. All I’ve done is write this forward to give proper due to those who encouraged the generation of the story.

The basis of the writing is Dragons and Horror, so there will be elements of this in the story. I’ve been on a humor kick also, soooo….there might be some of that in the horror and Dragon requirement. That being said, I will take a day to think about ideas then start writing.

As said earlier, the hardest thing about stories is beginning them. Now, let us travel into a different place, where space travel is possible, dragons exist, and the unknown is the greatest fear and question for all sentient species.

We now join the DKS (Dual Kingdoms ship) Herken to see where this story goes.

Here are a few articles adding to the story


Review of ‘One Man’s Trash’ – by Ryan Southwick

One Man’s Trash starts oddly slow. There is a lot of descriptive action going on at the beginning but it’s more like watching the action happen rather than experiencing it with the characters.

This changes once the main characters get onto the station – The Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy. Ryan Southwick does a marvelous job of delicately fleshing out the main characters with thoughtful and engrossing looks at their motivations, the situation they’re in, and whom they meet and interact with on the station. (Spoiler note: ‘Eckle’ is an interesting character.) Their adventure changes direction midway through and launches them into a desperate search to save a new friend. The story is well-crafted and presents a dual-level conflict with one being internal to the characters, and the other being a situation thrust upon them. It is well worth the read.

The cutting room floor

Sometimes despite a lot of writing, some parts of a story have to be cut out.  Either they mess with the flow, or are too jarring, or too repetitive, or just somehow off compared to the rest of the story.  With ‘Brandished Destiny’ I had to through out my first beginning as it was rushed, extremely dark, and not what felt right for the novel.  I’m including it here.  A side note – I keep everything as I’ve found that what doesn’t work in one story can be a godsend to another one.  So I keep the pieces and every so often a piece augments another story.  Enough introduction, here’s the original beginning of Glass Bottles IV – Brandished Destiny.

(( It’s a bit long for a post, but I wanted to put it all together ))

“Fernie, hurry up, we’ve got to go shopping”, the cheery voice over the phone clashed with my sleep-muddled brain. I’d finished a good bottle of Wild Turkey last night, to curl up around and drown my sorrows. Trouble is, alcohol just makes you feel them more until you pass out. Which might be why people drink so hard. I guess they are trying to get through the magnified pain to the drunken stupor. “Mralg frummit”, I said into the receiver, which got a little giggle from another voice. This one did make me light up. Britt, my niece. She was three now, and looked exactly like her mother when I gazed at her. The same jet black hair and deep blue eyes. The same tan to her skin. It was like seeing Fawn all over again as a kid.

“I need to find some things for Britty, how’d you like to come along?”

The chance to spend time with my niece was a definite temptation. “Count me in, Fawn, just let me get dressed.”

“We’ll swing by the office in twenty. See you then.” She hung up the line. I looked around for a pair of pants, finding the blue jeans I’d left hung over the desk chair. I had a black tee shirt on the top of the laundry and grabbed that with the jeans, bra, panties, neon orange socks and flats, I was ready for the day. I’d managed to semi-untangle my hair by the time Fawn’s car pulled into the parking lot below my main window. Once I’d joined them and gotten a big hug from Britt, I slid into the passenger seat, and spent time making faces at her while Fawn drove.

Chain stores had died when magick came back, and now most places were small and family-run. That isn’t to say there weren’t chain stores. However it was more the franchise name being sold to independents rather than a place like the old Wal store which built its own place and operated it. You need technology for that ‘just-in-time’ to the store merchandise, and the technology of the day, even with magick, isn’t up to the pace needed.

We spent the next hour getting new clothes and food, then taking it easy with a stop at Maxy’s Cafe’. After the late lunch we packed up the car and started back to Fawn and Larry’s. On the way back, I got a call on my magi-cell. “Fatelli Investigations, this is Fern”, I said into the ‘phone. “I’d like to hire you to check out my machine shop”, a man, who identified himself as Harry Belt. Harry ran a garage on the corner of Whitcomb and F. “I think someone’s been using my place at night. My tools aren’t where I left them and things are moved around in the morning when I open up.”

I looked over to Fawn, who was splitting her time between me, Britt, and the road. “A new client?”, she asked me. I made a shushing motion with my hand. “You’re wanting me to stake out your garage to see if kids are breaking in?”, I said, making sure I was repeating what he had told me. “That’s right. I just wanna be sure I’m not just seeing things. I’d ask the cops, but I think paying you to watch the place is better than them driving by once in a while at night.” I wondered if I should start tonight or give myself a day before I started. “When would you like me to start?”, I asked. “Well, if you got the time, I’d like you to try tonight? I swear stuff’s being moved, but I ain’t sure. It might be jus’ me gettin’ absent-minded”, he said.

It made sense to start as soon as possible. Who knows, I could get lucky right off the start, and catch people if there were any. Otherwise it might take a week or so of stakeouts to prove to myself no on was. “All right I’ll start tonight.” I quoted him my fee, and he said he could pay for nights of surveillance, if it took that long to prove things one way or another. As I hung up the call, Fawn looked over and smiled. “Sounds like a late night date.” “Yeah, he thinks someone’s using his place at night”, I answered her.

“That’s quieter than you usually handle.”

“Business has been slow. It’s nice to get a paying job. I’ve got all these pesky little things called bills to pay.”

“No doubt, sis. But who’ve you got for backup on this one?”

“Well”, I said slowly. “I was going to talk to was going to go talk to a friend about helping me out.”

“I’ll volunteer”, said Fawn. She looked at me. “I’ve been looking for a reason to get out of the house for a night.”

“Don’t you get that every time you go to work, Fawn? You are a cop after all. Long nights is in the job application.”

Fawn threw back her head and laughed. “It is! But now that I’m a captain, I’m behind a desk all day long. I want something to do besides sitting on my tushy all day long.”

“So you would rather sit in a car all night watching a building? How is that so different from your desk jockeying?”

Fawn stopped and looked over to me, then back to the road. “Fern, since that business back with that thing on PEI, I had to look at the chance of losing my sister, losing you. Since you moved out, we’ve fought, and argued, and never really tried to patch things up. We get along, but when’s the next time we’re going to tear each other’s hair out?” She sighed and looked fondly back at her daughter, sleeping in the car seat. She turned back to me, her face focused on mine with an intensity that I hadn’t seen before.

“When Britt was born, I was so happy. I had a family, like when mom and dad were alive. You and Britt hit it off when you came over, and it was like the most amazing feeling seeing you there with her. When that thing nearly killed you, it hit me that Britt would never see you again, and never know you. That led me to realize I don’t know much about you any more. We’ve grown apart. With Britt, I want to see us grow together a little.”

The light turned red and Fawn slowed the car to a stop. The truth in Fawn’s words were easy to see. We got along, sure, but nowhere near like we did as kids. Maybe it was time to listen to what Fawn said, and see about spending more time.

“Well, I know I’ve got this boring job of watching a garage tonight for a client. It’s likely to be boring”, I said as the light turned green.

“And tedious”, Fawn said with a dramatic sigh, then grinned. “How will you ever cope?”

“I have this older sister. She’s a cop. Maybe she’d like to moonlight a little.”

‘She can’t moonlight. It’s against regulations. But”, she paused and smiled. “There nothing that says she can’t go along for a ride and family catch-up time.”

“That sounds like a plan to me”, I said with a grin. I’d never been with Fawn on a stake out, and despite the excitement, I was worried. What if we couldn’t get along? I told my worries to go hang, and we drove the rest of the way back to my office. After being dropped off, I called over to a rental place to arrange for a van to use. Yes, it may be cliche’, but if you’re going to be watching a place, which is better, a van you can stretch in, or a car where you can’t?

I picked up the van that afternoon. It was a faded brown chevrolet. Perfect for what I had in mind. The next few hours were spent putting in a couple of cots, a big cooler, binoculars, a change of clothes, foame rubber for the floor, and some gun microphones. The plan was to park the van in the ‘to be repaired’ section of the garage lot, and then wait and see. The foam rubber was to deaden our steps when we moved around. To fight the static electricity, we’d go barefoot.

The van was finished that evening. I called Harry Belt, and told him what we were going to do. While Harry came to get our van I called Fawn to have her come over. Fawn arrived with a spare change of clothes, and a large cooler. We got it stowed and ready just as Harry pulled up with the tow. He hooked us up and towed the van to his garage lot, parking it in the lot with a good view of the garage and the adjoining office. Behind the storage lot was a can recycling business, and across the lot to the south, was a small elementary school. There were about twelve cars and trucks, including the stakeout van, waiting for repairs.

Now that we were in place, it was time to relax until dark. Harry went through his routine of closing shop an hour later, waving the other workers good night. He locked the garage and office, then went home, leaving us to watch the place. Fawn and I took one hour shifts to start with. I had a feeling that this would be a short job. Something just told me there was something going on. I wish I could have contracted a couple Imrits with us to help watch, but they would never answer my request anymore after Hervald Thensome. I’d done what I had to to survive, and the Imrits didn’t like it one bit. Plus, if these intruders were fae, or magickal beings, any magick wards would be seen.

So for now, we were reduced to technology and our own eyes. Fawn had the third shift for about ten minutes when she whispered to me. “Looks like we’ve got company.” I moved quietly up to the window and looked out. Six gentlemen in dark clothing had driven up in an old Chevrolet Suburban, and had gotten out. They appeared confident, going straight to the office. The door opened after a few moments, which made me think that they had a key, or a really, really good professional lock pick. Fawn didn’t see anything set up or left behind as a warning system.

“Wait”, I told her. “We’re going to need something to find any little wards or ‘somebody’s here’ warnings. Let me whip something up fast.” A quick circle with an ink pen on paper, a match for light, paper for knowledge, black sock for stealth, a battery for duration, and two pair of glasses for the object. Five slow minutes of quiet chanting and a large dose of personal power, and we had two night glasses, good for about an hour.

We moved quietly and rolled the driver side window down. Fawn rolled out head first into a silent forward roll as she exited. Being a half-meter shorter, I had an easier time getting out, joining Fawn on the side of the van. We both lowered slowly to the ground and looked under the van towards the office. There were no signs of movement so Fawn did a quick silent run to the garage side of the building. Both Fawn and I have a unique trouble that I’ve talked about before. Both of us, due to our parents experiments in magic, ended up with monstrous reservoirs of magick that we can’t touch.

Look at us with mage sight, and we’re like looking directly into a searchlight. Which on a sneak and peek like this, would be a very easy way to find us, if they knew to look. Most careful people have a lookout that does just that. Fawn spotted him first, and pushed me back. I hugged the wall as she lowered herself to the ground and peeked around the edge of the building. A lump in the middle of a straight line gets attention, a lump at the bottom blends into the contour. As she watched, she held up a hand and whispered, “More, another four. That makes twelve. This sounds like some kind of meeting with that many.”

“What about the door?”, I whispered to her, kneeling down next to her to look myself. Fawn pushed me back. “Wait, he’s looking this way.” She froze, as did I. Fawn held her breath, rigidly alert. She held herself still for almost a minute, barely breathing. She relaxed visibly, then said, “He went inside.” That was our cue to move, and move we did, to the edge of the office door, crouched down below the edge of the glass window.

There was a faint light from inside the building. I looked up at the magnetic strip alarm with my mage sight. The lock had been hexed, canceling the signal. We took our time getting through the door, opening it slowly and holding it just enough to close it equally slowly. I got out my cell phone and set it to take pictures with the silent option on. If there was enough light there’d be faces to record.

Fawn waited for me to get ahead of her, then we moved slowly, making certain that we weren’t throwing shadows ahead of us that could be seen. We eased to down the hall to the opening into the four stall garage. Inside there were eleven of our twelve burglars. As we watched, there was a grinding sound and lights flashed twice. The personal lights all went out and the third door from us opened, admitting a rather fancy looking Jeep. The door closed and the crew jumped to, rapidly taking all the bolts out and stripping the car down for parts.

Then there was a sound that pushed my heart to my throat. A flushing sound, mixed with the metallic sound of a lock being turned, came from a door behind us. Fawn and I both spun trying to get back past the door and into the office to hide before we were seen. Fawn saw we were already cut off and charged the emerging lookout. He looked up and saw Fawn charge towards him. His eyes grew wide and he loosed a yell, clawing at the back of his pants when Fawn hit him like a American Football Linebacker. Her shoulder plowed into his gut just below the ribs as her momentum crushed him against the door lintel, driving the air from his lungs and snapping a bone.

He tried to scream, and Fawn chopped the side of his neck to stun him. He slid to the floor as answering yells came from in the garage. The tiles vibrated with pounding feet as we started for the office, only to have Fawn go down as the stunned lookout flopped about, trying to regain his feet. His legs tangled with Fawn’s and they both went down in a heap. She was up and running as the first man cleared the door behind her, a big revolver in his hand. The gun thundered, raising dust in the corridor, Fawn staggered and kept running, I pulled her down as she reached the corner, spinning her behind me. I snapped a shot back down the corridor, and looked at Fawn, who said, “Never a dull moment”. She winced and pressed her hand to her side, and I saw thick, dark liquid ooze from between her fingers.

“We got to get out of here, you’re hit”, i said, panic trying to rise in the back of my mind. “I know that guy”, Fawn panted shallowly. He’s True Belief, they’ve done terror hits in Dayning. Hate killers. I gotta call backup.” She moved her hand and the blood flooded the floor at her side. “I gotta…call..”. I didn’t get to answer as a death bolt tore past me, and exploded the window behind us.

“Come on, Fern”, she said faintly. “Come on where?”, I snapped. These guys were True Belief, it meant that this chop shop was part of their money operation. Like a lot of fanatics, they’re big on cause, short on cash. I wished they would have been short on artillery. We couldn’t go forward, as they had a clear view of us if we tried for the broken window or door. There was a door behind them, but it was behind the now three men who started blasting down the corridor. I ducked back around the corner, wishing I’d have thought to check the one door. Screw-ups like this are how you read about people like me in obituaries. It was a freaking rookie mistake.

I stopped to drop my empty clip, and push home a new one. “L..”, came from behind me. “Fawn, what is it. Hang on. We’ll get out.” I pushed the pistol around the corner and emptied it blindly down the hall. I pulled back and dumped the second clip and shoved home my last one.

Things had really gone downhill in a hurry. I leaned around the corner, looking down the corridor. Three faces near the ground saw me the same time I saw them. They fired, and I ducked back as the spells and bullets plastered the corner, blowing chalk dust into the air. The spell made the dust glow, then wink out. I felt the disorientation spell faintly as it dissipated. That was a powerful spell. To feel it a foot away, the guy must have major ju-ju. I looked over to my right, into the eyes of my sister. They had a glassy, faraway look.

Fern’s hand had slipped from the wound in her side, which sluggishly pulsed thick, dark blood. There was a pool about the size of her head by her hip. She was bleeding out and the exit was covered by the bastards from True Belief. I bit my lip, trying to think of something, some way out. I kept coming up blank. I was going to lose my sister if something didn’t change fast. I reached for the magic, and felt it flood into me like a runaway freight. We were over a ley line! Small, and hidden by spells, but definitely there. That’s how the magicker had cast such a big effect. How could I have missed it?

Easy really, I never bothered to look for it, and spells are too easy to trace when you use it to break into a place. Your signature is on every spell you cast. And right now, I was planning on writing one big autograph all over those fanatics. My sister drew a shuddering breath, her throat catching like a person drowning in water. Her lungs were filling up. We were out of time.

I threw a hurried spell together, grabbing my lighter, and kerchief. I bundled the kerchief in the scarf, then flipped the static trigger for the lighter, throwing it once I saw the flame catch. I willed the fire to burn hot, and as the lighter flipped towards the shooters, the lighter seemed to bulge, then explode, making the floor jump. A second hurried spell lifted my sister and followed me as I rose up and sprinted for the office door away from the stunned cultists. I hit the door with my shoulder and we were out in the parking lot.

The van was in the lot closest to us. I ran to the door and wrenched it open. I directed her into the passenger seat and then flipped down the passenger visor and caught her keys. The engine roared to life as the three killers lurched out of the door and tried to shoot us, but they hadn’t completely recovered, and the shots and spells went wide of us as we tore out and back towards Halifax. It was shaky going as the spell had wrenched a lot of my personal energy.

We managed to get to the emergency lot before I passed out. Witnesses said the van careened into on of the cement columns and smacked it hard enough to throw us into the glass. We were both rushed to emergency treatment. I woke up with a bandage on the side of my face, and a headache that was way past migraine. When I was told I was alright and didn’t have a concussion, I refused service immediately, and paid for what they’d done. Fawn was still in surgery, so I called Larry, and explained what happened.

Larry came to ICU and he and their daughter Britt, sat through the long hours of surgery. Britt was asleep in Larry’s lap when the doctor came. He slowly got up, cradling my three year old niece. The doctor looked at Larry, his eyes bleak. “I’m sorry, there’s just too much internal damage, and the bullets were death-spelled. She’s alive, but I think you should go see her now”, he said.

Larry bit back a anguished whine, which woke up Britt. She looked at her dad, and tried to hug him, like a child will do to comfort someone. Larry held her tight as we followed the doctor into the room. The smell was the first thing that hit me. Behind all the sterile chemicals was the faint odor of death. The faint greenish paint seemed to pulse with rot as we entered. The doctors and nurses seemed out of place with the bright, multicolored scrubs they wore. The single bed was adjustable, with the head cracked up to about a forty-five degree angle. My Amazon of a sister lay there, pale as the white sheets that covered her from her armpits on down.

Her hands were along her sides as tubes in her arms led back up to a half-dozen bags of blood and Ringer’s lactate. She didn’t respond until she heard Larry murmur in her ear and Britt say “Mommy!” She fought her dad and squirmed to reach her mother. “Britty, hush, Mommy’s tired”, Larry told her, and she pushed harder. Her mom said, “Please, Larry, let her down”, in a soft whisper. Britt was lowered gently to the bed and immediately curled under her mother’s arm and draped an arm across her chest. Fawn smiled,then looked up at Larry. She mouthed “I love you”, then leaned over to kiss Britt. Her lips touched her hair, and stayed.

The monitor screeched as her heart flat-lined. A doctor rushed to flip it off. Britt never stirred under her mother’s kiss and arm, snuggling closer for a moment before her dad lifted her back into her arms with a sleepy protest. The nurses straightened her head, unhooked the IV’s, and covered her body. The morticians would be by to pick it up in three days, the requisite time to be certain of death. Larry made no protest as I guided him down the bustling halls of the hospital, and back outside.

The sky was grey with the promise of rain. You could smell the water in the air. We got to Larry’s car, opening the back door and setting Britt in the baby carrier. She whined sleepily, and nodded off once she was strapped in. Larry looked in shock. Hell, he was in shock. His eyes had that empty stare that people get when their life is over. His skin had gone paler than usual, looking nearly as grey as the overcast sky. He closed the door, and looked at me.

I must have looked like he did. I know I felt that way. It was unreal. I couldn’t feel her loss yet, the shock had me absolutely calm, and rational. I could feel the edges starting to fray. I clamped down as hard as I could, willing myself not to unravel in front of my niece. My heart ached for Larry. How do you tell a three-year old that mommy’s gone and won’t be coming back? Short answer, you don’t. You just try to cope, and help her deal with things as she grows. Easy to say, but hard, so very hard to do.

He shuffled to the driver’s side door, opened it and sat down, bumping his feet twice to knock loose dirt off his shoes before closing the door. He started the car and slowly drove off to an empty house. I watched them go, then, walked to my own car. Deep down under my grief, a cold lump of anger and hate formed. I wanted these people. I wanted to hurt them. I wanted them dead. I drove home thinking of various ways to make it happen. What spells I’d need, what symbols for the spell. When I got to the house, I unlocked the front door, and moved directly to the back lab.

Everything was there for what I wanted to do. I’d just started to gather the pieces when the door opened, then closed. I froze at the sounds, then carefully put the candles and sulfur on the counter by the sink. I was still wearing my holster, and I pulled the Ruger .357 and brought it up, aiming at the door. It started to push open, and I dropped to one knee. I was at the edge of the island counter, and I wanted all the cover I could get. The door opened away from my position, so I had to wait for the person to clear the door before I could shoot accurately. What I saw was a ink-black boot clear the edge, followed by an ink-black body.

Megan. The Darkness. I swallowed a lump of fear as she-slash-it entered the room and turned to face me. “You know what I want, sister of the dead sister. To sense with your senses. Your sister’s death has you screaming hate and loss into the aether.” It/she paused, black abyssal eyes gleaming out from a black shadow of a girl. It had been five years since that night when she’d made the open pact with the Darkness. Those twelve years I’d followed in the papers and through reports Fawn shared with me of its/her travels throughout eastern Canada. Wherever it/she went, people died, or worse.

“You know who you want to visit fear and vengeance upon, you know I can give you all the power you need to make those desires reality. You could save this dying, foolish ephemeral thing you call ‘Megan’ from my continued touch. All you need do is let me come to you. I can see the patterns of your life, witchling. I can feel the choices being limited by the future. You know how you can change them”, it said in that same soft voice overlain with the sound of faint screaming.

I didn’t realize that I’d stood up until I’d backed into the counter under the window. The entity spooked me bad. I knew if I gave in, I’d never be free. I’d scream my life away in that thing’s embrace as it used me for it’s personal sock puppet. Part of me was tempted. I knew that the Darkness would give me everything I wanted and more. The power to kill every one of those hate fanatics in the True Revelation. I could face down that murderous elf-prince and feed him terror until it burst that withered pustule in his chest he called a heart.

I knew all this, and was terrified of it. And here it was, when I was raw with pain from my sister dying, offering me a chance to destroy everyone that had hurt me. Dear gods above and beyond, I wanted it. I started to waver as my pain started to claw it’s way out. I clamped down on it, and walled it away once more. The ache in my heart remained a distant sensation for now. But sometime soon, I was going to have to deal with what happened or it would tear me apart.

I wanted to see Doug again, but that idea died as soon as I’d thought it. Doug was dead too, because the elf-lord wanted me for what he could take. Anger surged again and I looked at the Darkness. It quivered with eagerness sensing I might actually give in. A faint, mewling scream played across my hearing as Megan twisted in the Darkness’ grip. He was twisting his vessel to up the tension, trying to make me jump his way. At least, that’s what he hoped. What it did was throw mental ice-water on the anger, and snuffed it out like pinching a candle wick. I squeezed back against the counter, trying to put distance between me and it-slash-her.

A sense of irritation and disappointment emanated from the Darkness. “Very well, child of ephemera”, it said in a soft hollow voice. “I can wait. The choices you have are narrowing ever further as the future moves to the present. Remember your losses, and what you could have chosen that would have stopped them from happening.” It turned to the door, and flowed through it. I heard the door open again, and close. Only then did I let the breath go I’d been holding. I don’t remember sliding to my knees, I just remember crying for what felt like hours as the fear, hate, and loss finally broke free inside me.

It was dark in the house when I finally became aware of my surroundings again. I put the revolver back in its holster, stood up, and began to replace the spell items I’d gathered. Once that was done, I went to the bedroom and fell across the bed. I don’t remember hearing the alarm at all. I slept through it and woke around eleven. The message light was beeping when I checked my cell-phone. The first call was from Larry. He was looking for me to come by and go with him to the funeral directors to help choose a coffin and service.

The second was from Fawn’s department head, expressing his condolences, and an offer of police honors at the service. It was something that had to be done, the call wasn’t my decision. It was Larry’s if he was up to it. He answered on the second ring. “Fern? Can we put off going to the Funeral home? Britty’s really upset mommy didn’t come home.” He took a deep, shaky breath. “I don’t know where to start. I’m supposed to be strong, but how can I when I feel so empty.” There was no answer I could give him. Saying something as trite as “we all have to deal”, wouldn’t help, even if it was true. This is one thing there’s no good answer to. A lot of hard, truthful answers. But no good ones.

“We get it done now, Larry, it isn’t hanging over us. I’ll find a babysitter, and we’ll…” he interrupted me. “I’ll get one of my sisters. They’ll understand.” “Good idea Larry. That’ll make the trip easier”, I said quietly. The funeral home was the last place any of us wanted to go. The finality of the visit just reinforced Fawn was gone. And on top of that, we were ignoring the situation that got Fawn killed. Those bastards were still out there, and doing this kept us from being in on the hunt.

The police were probably buzzing around Halifax like hornets who’s nest had gotten kicked. One of their own had been killed, and no cop wants to let a cop-killer get away. One of the few times being a gang in uniform is useful. Regardless, thinking about that gave me a focus around the grief I was feeling. Taking it out on the bad guys would be cathartic.

Larry interrupted my thoughts. “Fernie? You there?” I shook my head and focused back on the here and now. “I’m here, just, thinking, you know, eh?” “I know, I’m doing a lot of it lately. We had a talk last week about her job. I wanted her to give up the special weapons command. I think she was going to. I know she wanted more time with Britty. I’ve been taking her with me to the magic shop. She’s all over the store. Helping me pick stuff up and reminding me about what I’m doing. The customers love her.” I could hear some papers rustling. “She had the paperwork here, she just hadn’t dated the signature.” There was a long silence, then Larry’s phone clunked.

I could hear some strangled sounds coming from the other end of the line. “Larry?” the phone clattered then he answered, “Sorry, just … hard right now.” “Yeah, me too. I’ll see you in a half-hour, Larry.” He mumbled an affirmative and hung up the phone. I felt like wood. All my emotions were raw, and yet distant like it was all unreal. The drive over to pick up Larry was quiet. It was like the whole city was mourning. When I stopped in front of Larry’s house on the edge of Dayning, I had to look at it twice to make sure I was at the right home.

All over the lawn were small packets of flowers, candles, and small statuettes. Nothing was on the sidewalk, but all around the house were the small pieces of thoughtfulness. Larry always had been big in the non-human community because he was willing to trade and deal with them fairly. Fawn had been a cop, but like Larry, she’d been a big influence on the police with non-humans, to the point of getting them into her squad. The dividends had been a big reason that trust between the community and the police had grown.

Those that liked the old system, and the advantages of exploitation didn’t. It wasn’t perfect. Nothing is. It’s a lot more tolerable than it was. Larry never wanted the adulation, he just looked at it as good business. Treat people with respect and they’ll do the same a lot more often than not. It was a shock to see how much it meant to others. As I got out of the car, a news van pulled up to the curb and slid their side door open. The reporter stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the house and began speaking back to the cameraman still in the truck.

The young man had the camera focused on the house, and respectfully stayed at a distance as I got Larry, and left for the funeral home. Once there, we haggled for a few hours. The funeral home representatives could give sales lessons to door-to-door men. They knew how to milk grief and guilt. Larry surprised me by getting in their faces about it too. Upshot is we got a simple wood coffin and cremation for a price far below what they’d hoped to sell us. Larry’s and my one splurge was the Granite headstone, with room enough for two names side-by-side.

Once done with that morbid necessity, we started our trip home. Larry was still fuming about it all when we got back onto the road home. “I can’t believe those vultures, trying to push that godawful monster on us. What good is all that fancy crap when you’re dead?”, he said bitterly.

“I agree with you. I think it’s when you feel guilty you want to make up for it, you know?”

He frowned and kept his arms crossed. Then straightened up as a different thought came to mind. “I..”, he managed to get out, before moving hand over his face. His shoulders slumped and shook as he cried silently. I managed to hold it together until I got him home, then retreated to the bathroom, and sat there for a half-hour while I tried to get a grip on my own emotions. Finally, I had no more tears to shed, and pulled myself together again.

Out there, somewhere, were the killers. Until they were caught, this would be a raw wound for all of us. So I had two days before the funeral to use on tracking them down. I planned to use every moment doing it. First was to arrange some help. The best place would be in Dayning, where most of the non-human community lived. Larry was feeding Britty some mashed potatoes as I gathered my things. He coaxed her with a laugh and a smile, which Britty bought nothing of. Kids are smart, they know when things are tough. Her face was scrunched up, absolutely serious. She’d open her mouth to take the food, but she didn’t laugh, just ate. I bit my lip as I left to keep from breaking down again. Larry waved absently, entirely focused on Britty.

What a day can bring you

Writing is about imagination, clarity, precision,  and communication.  Depending on the subject and the nature of the writing,  one or more of those will be the major focus and the others will back it up.  Writing is also about well, writing – doing the actual job of putting words on paper and doing the work of writing rather than the preparation.  It’s all in your hands whatever the subject of the dissertation is – fantasy, Ph D paper, technical paper, news, poetry, music.  It comes down to writing in a manner that creates the proper details for the subject.

Since I like science fiction and fantasy as a reader, I also like to write those kind of stories.  All of the stories come from ideas mashed together from other authors or surprisingly, things that happen during the day.  For an example, I can usually wake up early and am at my writing station by 5am local time.  The other day, we had a weather front charge through and I believe the sudden change in barometric pressure had me stay in bed until 9am before I finally awoke.

Which gave me the idea of ‘what if – death was on a tight schedule and couldn’t wake you up to take you from the living world?’  What kind of things would come from oversleeping your death?  Would you be immortal or stuck paralyzed in bed or perhaps you woke up and couldn’t sleep? Maybe you see things hanging in the air and since you could see them, they could se you?

This is a great premise, and it’s a reasonable start, but my job now is to decide a direction, and write to that direction by listening and following where the story goes.  And that comes to writing.  It does no good to leave it in my mind.  I don’t have an eidetic memory, so ideas can disappear if they are not acted upon.  Which means sitting down and writing.

I’ll wrap up here so I can return to doing a dash of writing before I get my third cup of boiled brown bean juice.  See you later!

Brandished Destiny – Chapter 2 – Boomerang History

Larry waved us over to their pine picnic table. He had thoughtfully set out corn on the cob, American style french fries, water, and a salad bowl for a snack. He and Fawn had learned how much work went into marriage, and that no one family ever had it like the fairy tales. They had more good days than bad now, and Zhira was one reason why. I’d just sat down to grab an ear of corn, when my cellphone buzzed. An instant later, a shrill ringing came from an open window in their house.

Fawn grumbled and stalked toward the back screen door while I stayed outside with my cellphone so I could have a bit more peace and quiet since Larry and Zhira had followed her inside. Sinera, my secretary, didn’t waste any time with greetings.

Fern, you have a potential client waiting for you here. What time shall I tell them you’ll be into the office?” I blinked.

Umm, today’s Sunday. I’ll be in the office tomorrow morning.” I held the cellphone in front of me and checked the date. It agreed with me that it indeed was Sunday, and that at twenty-one Celsius, with clear skies, a hint of a north wind, and no threat of rain, it was a good day to be outside.

I was contacted directly, and informed I must call you. I do not believe this is one client who will appreciate sitting in your office until tomorrow morning.”

The identity of the client was not my first thought. My first thought was how did she contact Sinera directly? Sinera’s an elf. She doesn’t have an official number. All of my calls get routed to an answering service when no one’s in the office, which is how weekends are, or are supposed to be. The immediate thought was that she’d been contacted magickally. If that was the case, it was someone we already knew because they knew of Sinera. Thinking about it, beyond my previous clients, who mostly preferred Magick stay away from them, had no idea how to get hold of Sinera. All I remember them using was the advertised phone number.

This person knew about Sinera well enough to contact her directly. That meant Elves. My potential client had to be an Elf. I have an aversion bordering on an allergy to Elves. Sinera is the notable exception. Elves live in Underhill. They do come to our world and trade goods, a number of them Magickal, for things they consider of value. Your guess is as good as mine what each one wants.

Elves are scrupulously truthful, but that does not mean they’re honest. An Elf will always look for the best way to present the truth and in such a manner so you want to believe it. They tell you what you want to hear using the truth as the lever and it’s a bit like the old joke about ‘Irish diplomacy’ which is telling someone to go to hell in such a manner they look forward to the trip.

The most classic example of Elves I can think of is trading something for a service. That the service could span generations of humans doesn’t make it any less legitimate, and it’s not slavery. It’s payment for a good or a service. It’s indentured servitude, but not slavery. The difference is slavery is forcing servitude on another, indenture is someone agreeing to it.

Should I be concerned that we might be dealing with a fae?”

I would say yes to the might.”

I stayed quiet for a few moments, thinking. Sinera politely gave me time to gather my thoughts.

Is it someone that you and I are familiar with?”

Yes, you have had unfortunate dealings in a legal decision some time ago.”

Legal decision. Only one person fit that description. Judge Caddus. He was forced to declare me beholden to the Elf Lord Cobb when I falsely accused him of deliberately bespelling me. His daughter did it, but the hard fact was he wasn’t the caster. No one except Cobb was happy with that, especially the Judge.

Has he indicated what the reason for this emergency?”

He has said he will only speak with you face to face, in your office.”

So not helpful.

I’ll be there within the hour. If he offers anything in the way of a hint or explanation, give me a call. I’d like not to go in cold.”

I will inform you if further information is revealed before you arrive.”

I ended the call and grabbed a second ear of corn. The Judge could wait a few more minutes. After nibbling my lunch, I walked to Fawn and Larry’s back door and stepped on inside to tell Fawn and Larry that I had to go over to my office. As I pulled the screen door open I spotted Fawn rummaging in the closet by the front door. She pulled out her police jacket she’d gotten as a new officer. She still wore it in preference to anything else. She settled it on her shoulders and flipped her blonde hair back, then bent down to give Zhira a hug.

I have to go to work sweetie. I’ll be home soon.” She straightened up and shared a hug with Larry. They held onto each other for a moment more, looking into each others eyes until they noticed me watching.

Hey shortstuff. I have to go in. There’s a crime that doesn’t appear standard. So the special unit will be covering it.”

I nodded. “It’s a day for it. I just got a call from Sinera that there’s a client who wants to see me now of all times. I have to go too.”

Larry reached down and picked up Zhira. She giggled and leaned over to Fawn to give her a kiss on the cheek. She then wiggled in Larry’s arm to give me one on the cheek and a pat of her hand.

We keep corn” she said smiling.

Yeah you will ‘cause it’s your favorite. I know you” I said with a chukcle. There’s something about laughing innocence that lightens any mood. Here I was going to talk with a Elven Judge, and all I could think of was how nice a day it was. Children are magic.

The good mood stayed with me on my drive over to the office. I pulled into the near empty parking lot and parked the dull black PT cruiser under the lone light post in the lot. It was still missing the rear seats, but I hardly used them. The large back without the seats allowed me to carry a whole lot of things. I felt a stab of melancholy as I got out, closed and locked the door. There not so many around now which made it stand out more. TO do my job I was likely going to have to get a newer old car so it would fit in more when I had to stake out an area. The bright blue sky gave the red brick a more vivid color as I walked to the front door. Reality intruded on my happy mood as I began considering more the reasons an Elf Judge would need to see me so desperately.

I couldn’t think of a reason why and that bothered me more the closer I got to my office. When I pushed the door open of my classic nineteen thirties noir style office, I took a moment to savor the gritty ambiance. Two four drawer file cabinets were bolted to the bottom of the Murphy bed in the far corner. The four-blade fan in the center of the ceiling turned silently on its refurbished bearings over my large Oak desk with candlestick phone and new Rolodex that sat in gleaming black on the polished wood. The new bricks on the repaired section of wall next to the Murphy bed stood out against the older faded ones.

The only bit of ambiance missing was the neon glow of the building’s sign because it was too light outside for it’s orange color to be seen. This was home, moreso than any other place I’d lived.

Judge Caddus was in the guest chair next to my desk, in full formal dress. His dark blue robe covered him from shoulder to ankle and his boots were of bright blue laquered leather with some silver highlights. His pale hair was in a long tail between his shoulders. He stood up and bowed politely as I moved to my desk and sat down. He sat after me, the action telling me that he was requesting my help rather than standing and demanding it. Sinera had schooled me on some of the Elvish eitquette.

Whoever bows lower is the one requesting the meeting, and who stands last is the one who is petitioning the other for assistance. If they remain standing, they will be negotiating from a position of power and making demands. If they sit last, then it will be as a potential ally or looking for assistance. When both stand and sit at the same time with the other party, it is an armed truce to negotiate a settlement between them.

That he sat with me and stood until I began sitting meant he was not trying to pull rank. He was genuinely concerned about something, and that something was extremely upsetting, if I understood Sinera’s lessons properly. I smiled and did what I always did, start with small talk. It gets people, most of them, to be more at ease.

Hello, Judge. It’s been a while since the last time we saw each other. I’m hoping you have been doing well for yourself.” He looked at me like I’d grown horns and hissed at him. Too late. Whatever gaffe I’d done I did accidentally. Judge Caddus calmed himself and realized the mistake. He actually smiled, if the faint raising of the lips was an Elvish smile.

I am also unfamiliar with proper human reaction and form. Let us both understand our differences and allow each the room for unintentional error.”

I smiled. He’d spotted the problem and offered a complete solution that blamed neither and focused on understanding. I am nowhere near so diplomatic. I much preferred not fighting, but I had little tolerance for errors that could be avoided with a little effort such as study or practice.

I nodded to indicate I noticed his layered solution.

Yes, let’s not get in a fight because of a misinterpretation of someone’s intent.” I paused a moment to let him consider the words. “If I am not being overbearing, may I ask what had you contact my partner Sinera directly and request this meeting on a day that is almost never an office work day?”

He stared at me for a long moment. His eyes locked on mine and I don’t think he ever blinked. He sat and stared, as if trying to find a way to broach a subject. Finally he sighed, then reached up a sleeve on his robe. He took a few moments to locate something by touch, then removed his closed hand and placed on my desk in front of me. He opened his hand and withdrew it, leaving behind a small metallic-like blue glass bottle. The same kind of bottle that cost my friend Zhirk his life and Hervald Thensome his soul.

I’m not sure if I shrieked and scrambled back or just teleported to where I was, mashed back against the wall next to the window that had been replaced during that first hellish case. The Judge, thoroughly alarmed at my reaction quickly grabbed my coffee mug and placed it over the bottle, covering it and hiding it from sight.

I struggled for breath for a few moments before the adrenaline shakes hit. I was scared to death. I had smashed that thing! At PEI Anolyn had deliberately targeted the box with glass bottles and burned it to ash, along with the huge oak tree that Cobb had used as a torture chamber to make them from the agony and despair of his victims.

I could hear Kent Nix and Kevin Love scream their lives out all over again. More than anything at that moment, I wanted to grab the bottle of scotch and drown my fear in the bitter alcohol and forget that cursed thing under my upended coffee cup. It’d taken the better part of a year of twice-weekly therapy to finally get a control on all the trauma that went with the previous jobs. My head was more or less back on straight, and I didn’t wake up screaming or paralyzed by nightmares.

Now, that thing shows up on my desk out of the blue. Well, blue robes anyway. Snark and sarcasm has always been a way I handle stress. It just isn’t the best choice because giving someone attitude when they’ve got the upper hand is just begging for bad things to happen. It had more than once and somehow I managed to avoid most of the bad intentions sent my way. I rubbed the nub of my little finger while Judge Caddus attempted to apologize by bowing his head almost to the desk top in contrition. Now was the time to use that diplomatic moment.

Judge Ca-ddus. I apologize for alarming you.” I took a shaky breath and walked back to my chair, turned it deliberately slowly back to the desk and sat down. “That item you thoughtfully brought me has many bad memories and experiences tied to it. I, uh, did not realize that any still existed.” Another shaky but calmer breath helped focus me. I closed my eyes and pictured my room mentally, using its familiarity as a calming influence for my body. I could feel the wire-tight tension ease as I mentally pictured each item in the room.

I humbly accept your generosity and would have you know I meant no disrespect nor harmful intent. You are one of the few that know the nature of that creation and I am very desirous of temporarily procuring your abilities and expertise to determine the reason for its reappearance.” He gestured at my cup. “This was found in the hands of an Elf that had used it to overwhelm a Troll. The Elf has been judged and executed in accordance and balance to the crime committed. I have brought this to you to request your expert assistance.”

In truth, I never had a job I wanted to turn down so badly as this one. But one thing had changed my mind. The Troll. I saw Zhirk, who Zhira was named after, in my head. His face dissolving in the shotgun blast. I shut my eyes again and went through my office again mentally, remembering where each item of my office was. It helped divert my mind from the horror of those vivid memories and let me release them instead of replaying each one again and again in my head.

Judge Caddus, I must admit I would rather never to have anything to do with that object you brought.” I held up a hand as his face screwed up in stricken despair, which was a shock to see on his normally serene and stoic features. “I will help you. One thing I am sure we both have learned is that if you do nothing, evil like that flourishes.”

There was a faint ‘snap’ like a static shock. I, for better AND worse now, had a binding fae contract with the Judge. Gods and powers, I sounded like a freaking superhero or something. How much more pompous could I sound? I guess it was the right bit of bombast, because the Judge’s features smoothed out and I think I detected relief emanating from him.

I thank you for your reminder that no one being need stand alone. We have to trust, and reach out to confront imbalance and chaos.” That was one way to put it. I’m certain I don’t mind imbalance and chaos, we humans live with that all the time. Perhaps they look at Imbalance as Injustice. I don’t know for certain. What I was absolutely sure of however, was that bottle was made to cause misery and death. Ahiah had drunk from it and become immensely powerful.

That was burned into my memories. What I wasn’t sure of was the ‘why’. Why did it show up? Why did and Elf have it? I could somewhat understand his coming here. I was mixed up in that horror before. Both I and Fawn.

I’m certain he came to me because of our prior meeting, rather than go to Fawn. She represents human law, and Elvish law is not close at all to it. What we judge by is intent and morals of our society. What Elves judge are certainly not on those qualities. I’m not certain what they are based upon, but one thing we are certain of is Elves despise Magick used for ill. They rightly hate and fear those powers that have free will to meddle in the physical world, especially those of malevolent nature.

Be it human, fae, or other, it was a monster that needed be caught and put away. I’d prefer it gone and buried and the bottles broken and tossed in the ocean. The problem would be to hunt it down. Which meant locating the source of the one the Judge had brought.

I looked over at the cup resting over the cursed bottle. “Judge Caddus, where did you acquire that particular item?” Diplomacy. Yep. No vicious names for things. No strong emotions. Nope, not a thing to unbalance the calm, or whatever passed for it currently.

The bottle was procured from the remains of a burned oak on what you name Prince Edward Island.”

I went cold with memories again. Cobb. The tree. Kent and Kevin. Anolyn. Being possessed by him, and his rage at Cobb for making those abominations. I’d thought the dragon fire would have burnt them all. I looked up at the Judge, who seemed anything but calm now that we were discussing the main reason for our meeting. He appeared suddenly careworn. Deep lines were etched on his face that I hadn’t noticed earlier. Fae magic or just normal human inattention. Neither he or I reached for the cup to expose the bottle underneath.

In the reopening of the Way, we found the devastation that had been wrought upon the tree, and the abominations that were warped into its heart. We found the remains, and the tools to create.” He paused, as if to add a more colorful term, but refrained and continued. “We found a crate made of bespelled wood which had been destroyed by dragon fire. The Bottles inside melted and rendered inert.” He paused for a moment, like he was a movie actor about to dispense an ominous statement to make the audience gasp.

There were four empty locations in the crate. We procured this one from an Elf that had used it on his own.”

My stomach churned at the thought of three of those things loose. But why Halifax? Wouldn’t the United States be a more fertile hunting ground for the users? Why here?

I have found myself wondering why we are the recipient of such a menace” Judge Caddus said quietly. He paused a moment, then continued. “It would much simpler to go where the population is greatest. There one could hunt and use the bottle to their heart’s content. Disappearances would be lost in the myriad of other disappearances that occur daily in large populations. Nova Scotia is far from being a huge metropolis such as London. What reasoning would bring something so dangerous here?”

We were on the same wavelength, which made me wonder at the apparent coincidence. With Elves, never expect coincidence. I learned that already. Never ever trust in coincidence. It will trip you up at the worst possible time. So using the ‘there are no coincidences’ rule, the Judge was reading my mind or following my intent and using that to reinforce the idea in hopes of something breaking loose. I suppose it’s his method of helping, but, soooo not helpful.

If you’re observing my thoughts, I recommend against it. Agreements of that nature do not help discovering new paths. Right now I’d love to talk to the person who had this bottle in their possession. Asking the right questions could get us answers where the others are.”

He bowed contritely. “I do apologize. This is a very dangerous investigation. I had hoped to assist in creating active thoughts that would find a method of advancing along this perilous conundrum. Please forgive my earnest error. I meant no insult nor harm.” Take note. He did apologize for his enthusiasm, not for trying to manipulate my thoughts. Always pay attention to what Elves say, and more to what they DON’T. I decided to let it go. In his own way, the Judge was doing his best to be helpful and cooperative. My job, as I saw it, was to track down the rest of the bottles. Just how was the real question.

Brandished Destiny – Chapter 1 – Open Door

The blast of power blotted out the cloudless blue sky with a rippling distortion that turned everything grey. It smashed into me like a runaway truck. I held my ground and diverted the power upwards by imagining a curved surface in front of me. The surface did its job and the power flashed upwards to break apart in blots of grey surrounded by flecks of blue. Imagination is a great weapon when you don’t need a circle to cast, but you pay for it with strained mucsles, headaches, bodyaches, and lethargy. I had them in spades.

We’d finally gotten a handle on what we experienced facing off against a huge entity that a weird cult, led by David Cameron, had put their compound over. Both Fawn and I suddenly could do major magic without needing any kind of practice or particular item to focus. It was just there. Believe me, we were very happy it was just there back then. We’d have died along with a lot of naked senseless people trapped in cabins that were going to be used for some kind of sacrificial ritual that would have wakened said enormous entity. That we’re still alive is a testament to sheer wild luck, and perhaps magic’s own agenda.

Larry has never heard of this kind of thing ever happening before. If Larry doesn’t know, it’s a good bet that it’s something potentially unprecedented. Which ratcheted up our own paranoia about becoming lab rat test subjects for the powers-that-be in the Canadian government. We’ve kept what happened secret for our own peace of mind. Neither of us wants to give up our life as it is.

Fawn and Larry, through a lot of counseling and a lot of work, stuck together. Zhira, their daughter was born healthy and Fawn was pulled back from death’s embrace via shocking her heart back into action. I helped out for the first five months until Fawn told me to get lost and take care of myself. She’d recovered totally, and was the picture of Amazonian health. If anything, she looked more together than she had since high school.

She was back on her job and had been promoted again to precinct captain and still managed to hang on to the leadership of Dayning/Halifax police department’s Magick response team. That organization went through three incarnations before settling on the current the current ‘Special Response Unit’ moniker. The SRU was her baby. Larry had given up on trying to get her to drop that position, but had at least gotten a compromise with her being the precinct captain which meant her forays into the field were now more limited.

Fawn relaxed and glanced over to her left, where Zhira was making sand castles with daddy Larry. She turned her gaze back to me.

One more time?”

No, I’m wore out. Spend some of that extra energy on those two” I laughed, then winced. I’ve said in the past that Magick is a pain, and now it was a literal pain in the head, and the metaphorical neck. It’d be a few minutes before the headache went away, but at least it’d go. I hadn’t been terribly interested in practicing Magick, especially since it was something that just came natural after being dragon possessed.

One big consequence is after it happened the cases I got hooked into suddenly were a lot more weird and unsettling. The giant entity was the first and the most disturbing to me. Others were just plain weird.

The latest example of Weirdness was Klaus’s liquor store down the block from my office. He called me to solve a problem with missing stock. The security system he had showed no one in the place, and no one leaving. Bottles and kegs were full one moment, and empty the next. Not gone. Empty. How someone empties a full bottle of alcohol without removing the cap would have been beyond me before Prince Edward Island, now it would be simple. I’d have to do it one bottle at a time, but I could do it. Whoever played this trick on Klaus was way more practiced than I, and possibly as vindictive.

I looked everything over and couldn’t find anything – physically or Magickally – that even hinted at who, what, how, or why. I promised Klaus to come by later and bring Rynun along. I’d just gotten to my office when Klaus called me saying he’d found the missing booze.

One thing you should remember about Klaus is that he’s a bookie. He’s not big-time, and he deliberately keeps his client list small, which makes more like a hobby than a business. Apparently, he found the booze when he opened the door to the small back room where he has the booking operation. All of the booze had been transported into the room and nearly drowned him when he opened the door.

As it was his equipment was shot, and I think the critters in the sewers had a grand old time with that much booze flowing into the system all at once. I haven’t found out why or how that happened. Rynun wasn’t hanging around the alley any more so I couldn’t ask him. He’d returned to the area around my folk’s old cabin since the spell conjuring up Ahiah was finally broken.

I rubbed the nub of my little finger. Ahiah had bitten it off during that fight. I broke the original bottle with Rynun’s knife and Ahiah was banished back into the ground. We won, or more truthfully, survived.

I’d tried to forget that particular nightmare for years without any luck. It seems more than just my Magickal abilities were improved. My memory was nearly eidetic now. Maybe that was a reason why I could do spells so easy and without a circle. I could remember every sense and emotion for lack of a better description, of each spell.

It made my head swim thinking about it, so I turned my attention to my niece. Zhira was two. Her birthday was last week, and she’d gotten a genie costume. Yes, she wanted one. How did we know? She told us. Yes, at twenty months she was forming sentences. Not great ones, but definite, distinct, sentences. She saw the costume on sale for Halloween. Yes, that’s still a holiday, only one with more meaning than before. Regardless, she saw it and wanted it. And ‘Auntie’ Fern just couldn’t say no.

She hadn’t taken it off since she’d opened her present, with exceptions to wash it. I could only wonder what she’d be like by four if this was two. Maybe she’d be casting spells though gods I hoped not. Which brought my thoughts over to Fawn and I.

I find it amazing how Magick fitted itself to us in such disparate forms and yet so appropriately. Fawn’s Magick works internally. Basically she can harden her skin, increase her strength, speed, vision, hearing, etc. Anything dealing with physical attributes, she can do it. Me, mine’s all external. Fire, water, earth, air. The four classical alchemical elements. I could lift and toss rocks up to the size of a bulldozer over two kilometers, create heat that could melt brick and cause the earth to glaze. I could form shapes from my imagination, just like the earlier ramp to divert Fawn’s attack away from me.

That brings me to the most interesting part. As I said before, we’re both huge Magick batteries. Whatever happened to us at the circle when our folks cast the spell created a result that Fawn and I constantly drew Magick into us. Plus if we’re within a few meters of each other, our skills blend. Each of us is the power source for the other.

We can do those Magickal things each other can do. Fawn can punch power at me; I can harden Magick around me. They’re not quite the same, but it is close in form. If we hold hands, we become one source that can do everything. We think the same, hear the same. Our powers become one all encompassing cauldron of Magick that is anything we deem it to be. It’s intoxicating, and scares the both of us all the way to our toenails.

Something that feels that good without any apparent limits is something to avoid using. Magick is seductive enough on regular days. It’s why a number of potential wizards don’t live long enough to become wizards. They play with power and want more to play with because it’s like a heavy shot of your favorite method of getting high.

Drunk on power is not just a metaphor. Knowing when you’re getting into that kind of power is what keeps you alive and sane. It made us paranoid. We did some research and had Larry help us out. We found nothing describing what was going on with us.

Larry is still hunting through whatever’s on the ‘net. And we live as quietly as we can with this power and try not to go too crazy with it all. Thankfully Zhira seems unaffected by it. She’s a normal active little girl with curly Ash blonde hair and the most intense violet eyes. Eyes like that usually presages Magickal ability, and with her parents, it’s kind of a given she’d be some kind of Magick wielder. Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing it and dreading it at the same time.

Magick is has been the one big constant in my life since the craziness started happening with Hervald Thensome. I could definitely do without more crazy Magick. Which was why Fawn and I were practicing. You know the old saying of ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’? We knew it was going to happen. Magick’s got its own agenda, and like it or not anyone that practices Magick is part of that ongoing agenda.

Reminiscing can get you really lost in your own head. However, sometimes the past comes knocking at your door. When it does, you really should avoid answering. I’d left the door wide open and the past came waltzing through in full party mode. What’s a girl going to do?

New potential series / short stories

Hi there, I’m only  …ummm… 8 days late with my next post.  What’s going on is I have been giving a lot of thought to the ‘Glass Bottles’ series as the 4th book is working towards a finish, and then the likely 5th and final book for it will be next.  Which means I need another series to write.  I’ve a number of choices and potential formats.  Urban Fantasy is fun and entertaining to write, plus there’s on occasion of ‘Magick’ being a useful bit of Deus ex Machina.  I like Science Fiction also, and have a few stories that I’ve written, which can be another choice.  A genre that I’ve enjoyed going back to my teen years has been Horror, both monstrous and psychological. Right now what I have as an idea is a second Urban Style Fantasy about a reluctant mage who during a near suicide, gained a new albeit very primitive prosthesis, and a new lease on life, should he choose to use this chance.  If you’re curious, I’m referring to a story named ‘Redleg’ in ‘Sometimes after Dark’  which is a series of short stories.

One of the books I’m reading for my own curiosity, and perhaps research is ‘Street Life in London’  by J. Thompson, F.R.G.S., and Adolphe Smith.  THis is a series of photographs taken in 1876-77, and constitute one of the first, if not the first photojournalism and documentary.  Each photograph has a 1-3 page story about it and the people displayed.  This constitutes a fascinating account of street life of a fashion that has few comparatives today.  If you’re at all curious, I recommend it.  This may be well the start of a short story or series based in Victorian London.  As with Urban Fantasy it all starts with a ‘What if’.

What if: the difference Engine by Charles Babbage was developed and the public and mathematicians found that there truly was magic in numbers?

It’s food for thought certainly.  I don’t know if anyone will reply but I’ll ask what might pique your interest in stories?  I will happily reply to any votes or questions.

Until next time!  🙂