New Location

Hi!  Since I’m not longer with Facebook (and never likely to go back until they quit blocking me if I take my computer out of the house to the donut shop for coffee) I will do updates and conversations here.  This is currently a very limited venue, but one I hope to enlarge over the coming weeks.  Right now it’s been a looooong time silent because I hadn’t any new portions of stories to share.  Today it’s not about sharing a story but starting a conversation about writing.  I enjoy writing but have a great difficulty maintaining focus and momentum from time to time.  As of this writing it’s been three months and I have maybe 2000 words to show for it.  That’s just the way it’s been recently.  So, it’s time to change that.  First off I should write a decent bit here and get this location more active.  This little writeup is that jump-start, now all I have to do is continue daily, which itself will be a very interesting challenge.

Writing to me is a lot like acting.  When you take on a character in acting most actors want something that stretches them.  They want something to take them out of their comfort zone and challenge their current understanding of being human.  This creates some very memorable characters.  Writing to me is the same idea.  You want to write something that engages your imagination and emotions.  If they’re not engaged, there’s not as much invested in the story.  When you have some real discomfort in the story, it, at least to me, gives off that aura which makes everything much more engaging.  So I look for different styles of stories to attempt.  I don’t always make it as there are days I can’t handle leaving the comfortable writing rut, but other days it gets dynamic because suddenly I’m out of the rut and into uncharted territory.  That’s when I’m truly engaged in the story and wanting to see where the journey takes me.

Dark Renaissance – Hamish Montrose

Hamish Montrose is the main antagonist in the story.  He is one of the people who greatly benefitted from the Change of reality.  Before he became the lieutenant to the Pacifier, he was a lowly pickpocket who was trying to get by day to day with quick wits and fingers.  Too bad he wasn’t good at it.

When the change hit, he was suddenly one of the Elite, a mage with the ability to warp reality and create things only heard of in fantasy.  Fireballs, electrical storms, magical control of others.  He could do it all.  He didn’t think big enough however, others did.  ‘They’ got wizards working together for mutual advantage, and rose quickly to the top of the power structure.

Once there these same wizards created an enforcement arm to control the growing metahuman and magical community.  This enforcement arm became Control.   A second arm spoken of in hushed terms even by the hardened members of Control is called Processing, which oversaw the destruction of dissidents and reusing their stolen essence as resources for those at the top of the food chain.

Hamish wasn’t at the top, having found himself becoming part of Control, where he got to indulge some of his more violent instincts.  His efforts had him assigned to the toughest task Control had: capturing Yellowjakket.  Hamish had undertaken the assignment expecting an easy victory over a teenage girl.  His illusion was shattered when she proved impossible to track and pinpoint magically or by technology.

Most metas lasted mere weeks against the might of Control, Yellowjakket has lasted three years.  More damaging than that, Yellojakket had started attacking prisons and detention areas, spiriting away prisoners into the Londinium (the new world’s name for London) underground where they disappeared from Control’s grasp.

Redoubling their efforts redoubled their frustration as Yellowjakket seemed to have the ability to teleport, which was unheard of in the metahuman world, and barely doable in the magical.  This elusiveness became the obsession of Control, and members of the Elite who controlled the world from Londinium.

Hamish found that advancement was nearly impossible.  Members of Control never got an advancement unless something happened to the current structure, such as a retirement or dying on the job.  With the power of metahumans and rogue magicians, the life of a field agent was often short with a violent painful death.  Hamish thrived in this position and hungered for more power.  He found, like others, that job openings could be created with the unfortunate demise of a higher up.  Assassination by rivals became the fastest way up the magical food chain.  Hamish became adept at identifying threats from lackeys and  began his rise towards the inner circle one body at a time.

Dark Renaissance – Chapter 4- Appearance & Chapter 5 – Interlude 2

Chapter 4

Sapphire walked back out of Diagon-tubely, heading for the Checkpoint. With luck she’d have a note at the dead-drop. The note would also give her a location to lead the children to. Those hiding the kids had regular jobs. Moving the children themselves would jeopardize their cover, and their lives. Once at her hidden tube, she changed to the black-clad huntress, and sped off to the small drain that emptied the subway during storms. Crawling on hands and knees to exit, she accelerated towards downtown London. She emerged from the Tube at an abandoned spur near Charing Cross. A quick sprint away from the small crowd at the Tube and she was in the open.

Cars dotted the streets, with a few pedestrians hurrying home just before curfew. The cars were easy to avoid, and she darted forward, outrunning them easily. A quick turn brought her to the edge of the Park. Here she ran past the entrance, and to the first bench seat. She knelt quickly and felt underneath the seat, finding a small taped plastic package. She pulled it loose and tore the plastic away. Opening the letter she got the location for the next dead drop and the one for the children – Charing Cross Orphanage.

The children had been hidden in the closed orphanage as it had adequate beds for them. Her job was to get them north to the border. The first step would be to get to the orphanage without being detected. Her speed would make it hard to track visually. The trouble was that any report would give Control a place to start looking. If they started looking, the kids would be found. The first order of business was to be seen elsewhere. She bit back a sob. The decoy would have been her job, and Selene would have been leading the kids to another stop northward. Now, she had to do both jobs. She offered a silent prayer to her sisters, and hoped they could hear it. Then she ran towards downtown once more.

Chapter 5

Hamish Montrose fidgeted at his desk. He liked the desk, and hated the work. The desk represented power. It was his. The work was the captain’s. He glanced at the paperwork, then opened the bottom drawer, and swept the papers into it. He kicked the drawer shut with savage satisfaction, and stood up. Grabbing his coat, he stalked towards the Seeker room. It was here that spells to find were cast. Not that they worked, but it did catch those that couldn’t hide themselves, or were too poor to have a obscurement spell cast for them. The Seeker on duty glanced up as Montrose entered. “We’ve got a sighting, sir. “Two blocks east of Charing Cross Station. Yellojakket. Report says she’s moving south at a high rate of speed. Casting’s confirmed she’s out and about. Whatever’s protecting her is still working, we can’t narrow the search down.”

Montrose nodded, then turned back around. “Keep me updated. I’ll grab a mic, set it to channel K. I’ll be listening in.” “Of course sir. Anything else sir?” Montrose shook his large square features. “No, yes, yes there is. Can you track Captain Sheffield for me? I’d like to talk with him soonest. There’s an irregularity that must needs cleaning up.” Very good sir, I’ll pass the captain’s location on when we have it.” Montrose nodded, then continued out of the room. Yellowjakket was waiting, and he intended to finish the job he’d started.

Dark Renaissance – A look at Sapphire

Sapphire is the main protagonist in ‘Dark Renaissance’.  She is the last surviving triplet of Saffron  Carter-Hargrave.  Her sisters were named Shiva and Selene.

Sapphire was the odd triplet.  She was born not breathing and her umbilical cord wrapped tight about her neck.  Heroic measures were taken to save her life, and they worked, but her brain had been starved of oxygen long enough that some portions, such as the connection between the other two triplets, did not exist.  Shiva and Selene both could anticipate the other’s thoughts, Sapphire was alone while identical.

Her sisters grew up highly intelligent, and driven.  Sapphire was not the brilliant mind her sisters were, but made up for most shortcomings by being determined and persistent in everything she attempted.  Power-wise, her sisters shared a greater portion of abilities and powers, Sapphire’s own power set was a part of her mother’s who was the original Yellowjakket.  Sapphire’s powerset was in speed, and electricity, being able to fire bolts of it that could burn out equipment and stun human opponents.  She could push her power and use it effectively against hostile superhumans.  Her sisters could teleport, use light to create solid objects and use electricity like Sapphire, only with more control.

Her sisters never felt sorry for her, nor did Sapphire feel envious.  They were sisters and looked out for each other, just like their father and mother taught them.  As stated in the book, they took their mother’s identity as Yellowjakket when she was killed.

In the story, Sapphire is picking up the pieces and attempting to carry on as the sole-surviving Yellowjakket and protect people from the powers that be in the form of Hamish Monroe.  She is thrust into a far bigger role as she discovers that her sisters were aiming far beyond just saving lives in London.  The story is as much about where Sapphire comes from as it is about her differences from her triplet sisters and what they have set in motion.

The Deep End – Part 11

This is an extra long post of The Deep End.  This and the next one will be the last two as I finish this up and ready it for submission.  Thank you all who have read this story and gone along for the ride.

Dean nodded his head, because when Adair said it was gonna happen, brother forget arguing, it was GOING to happen. Instead of protesting, Dean just smiled.

“I got you Adair, a split. When do you think you’ll get a chance to look at them?”

Adair twirled the flash drive in his fingers. “Umm, give me until tomorrow. I’ll do some tonight and hopefully we’ll have the straight dope on these guys sometime tomorrow before noon, internet gods willing.

Dean nodded again. “Thanks Adair. Anything you find will go a long way in deciding how to handle this situation.”

“Me? I’d just grab ’em and ask them pretty please where the girl is.”

Dean snorted. “I can’t imagine you saying pretty please, unless it was Barbie doing the asking.”

Adair smiled mirthlessly. “Didn’t say I’d be pleasant. If they grabbed the girl, I don’t care what the law says. I’d just think what it would be like not to find Carny’s girls, my nieces at home, and know some assholes like these two took them. Being an uncle gets me protective.”

“Bloodthirsty is more accurate I think.”

“Maybe just a little. Barbie’s persuasive.”

“I’m not arguing that. I’d tell you anything you’d want to know with those teeth snapping in my face.”

Adair chuckled. “Yeah, so would most sane bad guys.” His smile sank to a sad frown. “There’s just not that many bad guys you’d call sane any more.” Adair gave Dean a faint smile then asked, “Any chance these two are magick oriented?”

Dean shrugged. “I think if they do know some, it’s been kept pretty close to the vest. Everything they’ve done so far is easy to do without magick.”

“Hmm, okay.” Adair shifted in the chair. “I think I’ll settle for some extra caution with them. Magick casters make things an order of magnitude trickier.”

Dean agreed with that. One of the few felons Adair and he couldn’t bring back was a magick caster that knew summoning. He’d called up wurmlings and he had an Imrit for ‘early warning’. He’d killed two of Adair’s men when they, along with Adair and Dean, had tracked him to a fancy hotel in downtown St. John.

Wurmlings caught the two men by surprise and nearly got Adair, who managed to stick his pistol in the way and somehow the Wurmling had hit the barrel dead center in it’s mouth, and swallowed it up to the cylinder. Adair didn’t waste any time at gaping in surprise at the miracle, but pulled the trigger and blasted the Wurmling into tiny bits.

He and Dean eventually killed the other five Wurmlings that had jumped his team, not in time to save them however. They’d been holed by the vicious little predators, and had bled out from the massive wounds. Dean still had the occasional bad dream about it.

Dean got up, gave Adair a smile and a two finger salute, then walked back out of the office and out to the parking lot. he got back in his pickup, and drove back to his office to ready himself for another night of light sleeping. The parking lot was empty when he pulled into his spot and turned the vehicle off.

He opened the door, got out and locked up the truck. He walked to the front door and had unlocked it when he heard a rustling nearby, then a scream that sounded like a young girl. Dean’s senses kicked into high gear as adrenaline dumped into his blood. Light became bright, his heart raced and he charged towards the sound, ready to fight…the cat that had caught a rabbit.

He stared at the ginger feline, who obligingly stopped to stare back at the tall human. As the rabbit twitched feebly in the cat’s jaws, the cat growled and bit down harder. A faint, gasping cry came from the rabbit. The agony and terror of the sound was almost exactly like the scream that startled him so badly. The cat darted away, the dead rabbit in its jaws, and disappeared around the corner of the office.

Dean took a second look around, then went inside to spend the night, hoping that the scene he had observed was not some kind of omen.

* * *

The next morning was a soggy mess as rain pelted the windows and the glass front door, making a droning thrum that made him want to stay in bed. Instead he rolled over and forced himself to get up.

As he stretched before getting dressed, his cellphone buzzed. He tapped the face to answer, and Adair’s voice boomed from the speaker. “Hey, bro! I got some news for you, all bad unfortunately.”

Dean rubbed his cheek as a stab of disappointment went through him. “Well, thanks for giving it a shot. I’m sure I’ll…”

No no no no! Dean, lemme finish. I ran the names a few times, looking for perps with the name. No luck. When I punched for aliases, I got a hit. Those names you gave me are for the Carre brothers. They’ve done time for illegal Magick, drug trafficking, extortion, armed robbery, and assault. They’re not currently wanted, but they’re people that both Toronto and Montreal want to talk to about a series of smash and grabs at convenience stores. Two clerks were shot during the robberies, one died.”

So, why is that bad…oh, yeah, illegal Magick. They’re casters.” Dean thought for a moment. “Are they combat trained?”

I don’t know for sure, bro, but assume the worst case. I know some of the incidents sound like Magick could have been involved.” Adair went silent for a moment, and Dean fancied that he could almost hear his friend clicking away on a keyboard. Adair’s voice boomed from the receiver, startling him out of his musing.

Got it! Now Charles, the older one, no. He’s no caster, but Jean served a tour in the Canadian Army, and he was going through training as a combat caster until he got thrown out after an instructor died. It couldn’t be proven he was at fault, but there’d been friction with him arguing with the man over the training.

He was given three months in jail for his shoving the instructor, then another incident for firing a weapon on base, then a Dishonorable Discharge.”

So… he’s got some training. Yeesh, I can think of other things I’d like to be doing than chasing down a combat trained Magick caster.”

Me too. If you want an extra pair of eyes, we can supply ‘em.” Dean nodded at the phone.

I hear you, Adair. Believe me, if I think it’s going to get dicey, you’ll get a call right after the police.”

I hear you, but just the same. You’re doing all this due diligence to make sure you have a case TO call the police. I know you, bro, you’re either worried you don’t have enough, or that these guys are already twitchy.”

Dean sighed. “No. I think they have a cop on their payroll.”

Adair’s silence was a big hint that the news had blindsided him. After a long silence, he said, “You have proof of that?”

I have a strong eyewitness who saw the man hand a police officer a thick manila envelope.”

Not enough, bro. Who’s the witness?”

I am. The folded envelope was three centimeters thick at a guess. I’d be willing to be my license it was cash.”

That’s still too thin, an’ you know it, Dean.”

I know, Adair, but it’s what I have. More, there’s a girl missing. What I’ve got links these two up with her going missing. I think they’re using a kid to find the girls. And yes, that means I think there’s more than one gone missing.”

Dean, dammit! Have you got real proof or just speculation? None of this will hold water unless you got definite proof! You gotta have the proof!” Adair was not quite screaming, but Dean still had to hold the cellphone away from his head. When he didn’t hear any noise for a few seconds he moved the phone back to his ear.

I know that. I like it less than you do, Adair. This is my due diligence. I want to know what kind of trap I’m getting ready to put my foot down on. You and Carny are the two I trust to know what’s going on. I don’t trust the police. I don’t know if the cop is the only one, or if he has friends on the force he’s sharing the money with.”

Adair was quiet for a long ten seconds. Dean could imagine him tugging on his beard as he thought through all the information. That was one quirk about Adair he picked up on early. His hands were never still. He had to be doing something with them, whether it was tugging at his thick black beard, or an ear, or the neck of his shirt, his hands HAD to have something to do.

Lissen bro, you are in very deep water here. If these two are into something like kidnapping and possible murder, they won’t think twice about adding you to the body count. If they do have that cop on the take, then it just got a lot worse. You cannot go this one alone. Let me an’ Carny come over to help out. All that you’ve found out says you need BODIES, not just your body. Carny’d be chomping the phone he’d be so mad right now. Me, I’m the soul of temperence…by comparison.”

Dean chuckled at that. Both Adair and Carny were known to be very volatile, both in good ways and bad. Carny was the one most often getting worked up. Adair was a very close second though. Dean, as much as he wanted the help, didn’t feel like it was time for it, yet.

Hell yes I’ll call, when I have the proof. Right now, Adair, they…” Dean stopped. Yes they do know, the cop told them, I heard my name when I was at the door. Maybe it is time.

Screw it. I know they know about me. I heard the cop mention my name when I listened at their door. The cop I saw with them was the desk officer when I went over to the precinct and got information on my client’s daughter, and two other girls that had gone missing before her.”

Adair cursed, then spoke urgently to Dean.

Lissen bro, you NEED us there yesterday. We’re comin’ over tonight and we’re going to rig your place, and your office. Then we are going to get you something that will make a big ka-effing boom when you pull the trigger. This is way too real to play around with anymore.”

Dean listened quietly. Adair was right and Dean knew it. Though he didn’t think that the brothers Carre were going to try anything yet. He’d not been all that visible snooping around. But, if they got suspicious, then that was when it could go pear-shaped in an eyeblink. He didn’t want to think that they’d be crazy enough to try and kill him so cavalierly, but the way Adair described them, they didn’t sound very stable.

How about this? You come tomorrow morning and rig up my house and office.”

Adair was silent for a long moment. Then he sighed. “Yeah, bro, you’re right. Coming over after hours would look way too suspicious. Jeez where’s my head? I shoulda thought of that.”

“Right between your shoulders, where it belongs, Adair. Just come on over tomorrow morning. I don’t think anyone will care what you look like then.”

Adair chuckled on the other end of the connection. “True that, bro. We’ll be by tomorrow to set you up.” He didn’t say goodbye, but simply cut the connection. Dean looked at the phone with a smile. Somethings never change. Adair hated saying goodbye.

Dean looked out his window and watched the rain come down. the wind blew the rain in loose swirls across the parking lot. He smiled, then stopped. He moved his head to the lower corner of the window and watched the Sabawaelnu dance in the falling raindrops. The creature looked like the outline of a young woman as the rain splashed against it’s outline. Normally, a water spirit like this would not be so far from a body of water, but the rain allowed it to move about on land for a short time.

The spirit continued to dance in the parking lot as Dean crouched at the corner of the window, following its every move. The Sabawaelnu spun, then dipped, moving to the far corner of the lot. Then its hands waved as ring poured down harder near it. Dean thought he could see a vague outline. The shape resembled a car, he thought his imagination might be reading too much into the shape, but to him it resembled the Carre brothers car.

The shape darkened, like wood rotting. Icy fingers seemed to run up his spine as the shape solidified for a moment, then melted away to pool on the asphalt. For an instant, Dean saw a single footstep, and a dark shape resembling a prone body. The cold dug into his spine this time, raising the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck. The sense of finality, of death, was literally emanating from the shape, and then it all faded as the Sabawaelnu danced out of the lot, back towards its home water.

Well, that was something,” Dean said to himself. As he thought about what he’d seen, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole performance was some kind of warning.

He walked back to the sparse receptionist desk, and leaned against the curved top, running the whole sequence through his mind. He had just started when movement caught his eye. He looked towards the glass door, and saw an old pickup turn a half circle in front, and back into the parking spot directly in front of the entrance.

It was a battered pickup that was ivory colored with red highlights. A tubular steel frame sat in the pickup bed. Two ladders were lashed to the top and a large rolling tool holder was tied down inside the bed.

Adair was out of the truck almost before it stopped moving, with Carny just a heartbeat behind as he had to throw the truck in park and turn it off. The two men were near identical, with Carny being shorter and wider. Both had the black hair and beard, and both were so focused Dean could feel their intensity at his vantage point in the office a good eight meters from them.

He hurriedly strode to the door before Adair could pound on the glass. Adair grabbed Dean in a bear hug greeting.

Dean! Good to see you up so early! We’re here to trick your place out and get it ready for self-protection.”

Self, protection?” Dean chuckled, then seeing the glint in Adair’s eye, his smile faded. “You can’t be serious.”

As a heart-attack my friend. You bet I’m serious. No one messes with my friends and nobody touches family, so you count double.” Adair grinned and Dean heard Carny growl an agreement as he got the bundle of equipment out of the pickup bed. The trunk landed with a loud thump and jingle of metal on metal, causing Adair to scowl at Carny.

Careful! That stuff’s delicate and a pain to replace.”

I know that! It just slipped, man. Quit talking and start walking. This needs to be done fast.”

The two men jumped to their job and cameras were laid out on the floor, with caulking, wiring, each ready to record any conversation or image in Dean’s office.

Way too much recorded. They’re going overboard.

Hey, Adair? Is all this, umm, really, y’know, necessary?”

Adair stopped, laying out on the floor what Dean saw was the fifteenth camera. Adair looked around for about eight seconds, then back to Dean.

No,” he said matter of factly, and went back to setting the camera up in the overhead bank of LED lights.

Dammit Adair, I’m not an internet celeb. This is my place. I agree cameras area good idea, but this,” he gestured at all the equipment, “is beyond overkill. Put one covering the doorway and outer office. That corner camera’s fine for that. Then one in the inner office catty corner to the desk. That way it covers the door, the desk, and the window. Fewer cameras means greater security. You told me that.”

Adair stopped once again, and scanned the room. Carny was meticulously cleaning up a hole where a camera was concealed within the back wall. He halted his work as Adair gazed around the room. A frown formed on his face as he thought about what they were doing, and trying to do. His face showed every concern and frustration with the situation. He finally stopped his preparations. He swept all the cameras up, excepting four, with a huge, meaty paw, and dropped them back in the tackle box that he used to hold the cameras and other small items. Adair glared at Dean.

I hate you sometimes.”

Dean smiled. “I’m just telling you what you told me.”

I know, and that’s why I hate it.”

Dean chuckled. “Okay brother, just use one in the corner, one in the office…” He peered at the four remaining miniature cameras.

What are the extra two for?”

One goes on a lamp at the east side parking lot, to get license plates and people, and one goes on the west side, so it captures plates on cars that park ass end west instead of east.”

Carny snorted, holding in a laugh, then returned to rigging up a thing that looked suspiciously like a speaker.

Not everything works and that’s okay

As you can see by the title, this deals more with something that didn’t work out.  Things that fall in this area are partially finished stories, ideas that didn’t gel after the first pages/chapters, and stories that finished but didn’t go anywhere.  All these could be considered failures, but they’re not.  In truth, these are experiments that didn’t work.

That’s the key takeaway, an experiment that didn’t work, but it did work actually.  It gives you a valuable look at your own creative process.  No one can write anything, we all have preferences and styles that work for some stories and not so well for others.  But all the writing DOES give you a chance to experiment and stretch your skills and learn what you like to write about.

But!  you might say.  What if I LIKE writing this kind of story and it doesn’t work?  Well, each attempt gets you closer, and you may find something fun that you didn’t recognize as a viable choice before.

Your writing will improve and who knows what ideas and improvements will come from trying something different.

To finish, I offer a quote from a famous person who sums up this whole writing succinctly.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”                                  -Albert Einstein

Try something new, and if it doesn’t work, don’t worry, it’s all for fun and try something else.  Writing is a constantly evolving skill set.

The Deep End – Part 9

Dean stood up and made sure he could see Vlad as he trotted home. He dropped back to avoid looking like he was following as the young man strode down the side of the road. When Vlad slowed to cross Tilton Street at the light, Dean dropped in a crouch and pulled the lid off of a small trash can luckily near him. Vlad waited until the north-south light changed and crossed, moving south. Dean ran across through traffic that was sitting at the light.

The horns beeped angrily at him but he paid them no mind since Vlad had disappeared around the corner. He ducked between two shops, taking the alley out to Grover, where Vlad had crossed onto. He came out of the alley just meters behind his suspect. He followed slowly as before, not worrying about Vlad running. The young man trotted to a three-story brick building on the southwest corner of Grover and Tilton that said ‘Peak Arms’.

Most likely his apartment. Dean walked up the steps, noting that another homeless person was leaning on a cart taking shelter on the windward side of the building. As Dean passed the man, the homeless fellow grunted at him, so Dean upnodded absentmindedly, and continued walking past. He turned up the steps and pulled the door open, stepping inside.

The lobby was a small square that might have allowed five or six people to share the space. And the opposite end of the floor was a set of stairs going up. To his right, there was twelve mail boxes inset into the wall. Only three actually had names on them, the others were identified by numbers. To the left was a door that said ‘Staff Only’ that had two dead bolts on either side of the doorknob.

He took the stairs as quietly as he could, going up to the landing. The small landing was a square like the main lobby, with an archway that took up the far left third of the wall. Dean walked to the corner and listened once more. He heard some muffled voices and a child crying. Nothing sounded like it was in the hallway, so Dean turned the corner, and started down the hall. The hall was a person-and-a-half wide, with a warped linoleum floor that had a faded center where feet had worn it down. Three doors adorned each wall of the hall, the right hand ones were offset towards the landing a meter or so.

Two LED overhead lamps cast a weak illumination that made the air seem like a faint fog that blurred both color and sharpness. He crept past the closed doors, listening intently for a familiar voice. Hearing nothing but the fussing child, he continued down the hall to the next landing, this was a mirror of the first with the stairs at the far third of the right wall. As he moved silently upstairs, he heard muffled voices. There was an urgency to them that caught his attention.

He moved to the first door on the right, and heard Vlad’s voice muffled heavily by the door. Two other voices were in with him, one castigating him on showing up here. The second voice continued that he still owed them money and he wasn’t done yet. He had that girl looking for him and he’d better damn well reel her in. They had a quota to meet.

Dean clenched his hands, noted the number of the room, 3A, then slowly backed down the stairs. He knew he was onto something that needed to go to the police. The question became, what would happen if he did so? Would the two give up the girls? Where were they being held? If no one could find them, how could they be implicated as kidnappers? Would Vlad turn on them if he got caught? What would happen if he didn’t? The questions came hard and fast, and left him reeling for answers.

He went against his knee-jerk judgment of calling the police, and decided to find the girls before he called them. If I find them first, I can call from there with my cell and the cops can catch them with the girls. As he made the decision, he hear steps below him. Someone was coming this way in the hall. Prudence being the better part of valor, Dean retreated to the far end of the hall. The dim lighting left him hunting a dark spot like a cockroach who’d been startled by the kitchen lights coming on.

At the far end of the upper floor was a small landing. The opening upward hand been cover over and painted. Dean backed into the corner and lay on the floor, then peeked his head around the corner from ground level. He saw a police officer go to the door where he’d listened to Vlad talk to his unseen associates. He knocked sharply twice, pausing for a count of three, then knocking twice more.

The door opened as a woman carrying a baby stepped out, and he grabbed the door before it closed, and went inside. Dean wanted to go to the door to hear what was going on, but the door opened again moments later. The police officer stepped back out. He slipped what looked like an envelope into his back pocket, then draped his blue winter coat over it, hiding it from sight. He turned to the stairs, and walked back down out of sight.

He waited a minute, and, when nothing else stirred, he crept back to the first doorway, and listened. He closed his eyes to better focus on his hearing.

“So, who is Dean Youngblood?” said one of the speakers.

“That’s Youngwood, not blood. Merde! Do you even pay attention?” growled the second voice.

“Did the cop get us a picture?”

“No, just the name, he couldn’t get one snapped, apparently. We have his address. We could go pay him a visit.”

“Hey, can I leave? You talked to me, I’d rather not be around here” Vlad suddenly spoke up. There was silence for about five seconds.

“Sure kid, you can go. You still got a ways to go to clear your debt. Just keep up what you’re doing and you’ll clear it up in no time.”

“You said that before.”

“And you better listen, rather than running your mouth, bebe’. You might not like it if we call the debt in today, and you can’t pay.”

Dean heard Vlad stomp towards the door. He retreated back towards the alcove, getting four meters down the hall when Vlad yanked the door open, then slammed it shut. Dean looked back, certain he’d been seen, but Vlad was looking at his feet. His hands were clenched, then he rubbed his sleeve across his eyes before turning to the stairs and heading down.

There were a few other angry voices coming from the rooms near the two men, but they faded back into a sullen silence after a few moments. Dean crept back to the door, intent on hearing more. Halfway back he stopped and retreated to the alcove again.

If I stake these guys out instead of Vlad, I’m pretty sure I’ll find out what’s going on and where the girls are, if they’re still alive that is.

He waited for a few hours, and would have stayed longer, but one of the tenants spotted him. He assumed that Dean had snuck in, and raised a ruckus that had the residents chasing him out of the apartment. He went back to the office, then gathered up all his files and his shotgun, moving everything into his Jeep, and drove over to his parents’ house. He left the files and information with them, then drove back to his office to wait. Dean stopped on the way to buy a large coffee to help him stay awake that evening. Once there, he retreated to his office, and double checked that the shotgun was loaded.

It had a full magazine and one in the chamber. All the shells were number eight shot, which was guaranteed to turn a man into hamburger but not go through thin sheet rock. He sat up all night, waiting for trouble to show itself. When the sun came up and nothing happened, he picked up his files from his parents, and returned to the office.

I should find out who the cop was. They got my name from him, I’m sure of that. Are they going to set me up? Paranoia says yes, but how bad would it be? No use worrying about it now. I’ll just be way to wound up to do my job right. Gotta take it easy.

National Novel Writing Month – Brandished Destiny – part 4

Here’s part 4, and Fern’s involvement becomes much more personal.

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 make 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 judgment 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.

What we would be facing was the nightmare that created that bottle. 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. 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 to PEI, 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 destoryed by dragon fire. The Bottles inside broken 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 Europe 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. It would meuch 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. Your Nova Scotia is far from being a huge metropolis such as London. What 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. That trust 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, so 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. My job, as I saw it, was to track down the rest of the bottles. Just how was the real question.

National Novel Writing Month – First update of ‘Brandished Destiny’

National Novel writing month got off with a literal bang for me.  I got in 3500 words which is a new record for any output that I can remember.  I’ll be posting 2-3 pages of the new novel here in the following days fore two reasons.  First is to let those interested see the progress of the fourth book of the Glass Bottles series which is tentatively titled ‘Brandished Destiny’.  THe second is a spur for myself to keep up the pace and not fall into overthinking the story, which had clobbered my writing before.  So now that you’ve made it through the introduction, here’s the first post of 2020’s ‘Brandished Destiny’


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 headaches and lethargy. I had both in spades.

We’d finally gotten a handle on what we experienced facing off against a huge entity that a weird cult 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 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 magickal response team. That organization went through three incarnations before settling on the current the current ‘Special Response Unit’ moniker. The SRU was her special 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. What changed I don’t know, but 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. The others were just plain weird.

The latest example was that I had to go over to Klaus’s liquor store down the block from my office, and help him solve a problem with missing stock. The security system he had showed no one in the place, and now 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 could have been simple. I’d have to do it one bottle at a time, but I could do it. Whoever had played this trick was way more practiced than I.

Klaus called me back later 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, almost like a hobby than a business. Anyways, he found the booze when he opened the door to the small back room where he runs it. 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 never did find 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. He’d been banished back to the ground.

I’d tried to forget that particular nightmare for two 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 feeling, for lack of a better description, of each spell.

It made my head swim thinking about it and 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.

Back on the Hamster Wheel

Hello out there! My apologies for such a long layoff. I will be picking up where I left off with the story and will continue. The last year has been stressful with family being moved from Arizona to here after their home had to be sold. We are all dealing with it, but it’s been very difficult for all of us. Time to get back to storytelling. Thank you for sticking this out for so long. Readers are greatly appreciated, and feel free to comment. Any and all comments help me become a better writer.