Friday, January 31, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 11

 11. Time & Angels

I spring to my feet at the fear in Jay’s voice even as every door, window and wall of the house explodes inward, pieces of wood and glass and steel glimmering in the air to hurtle elsewhere and vanish in a twisting of the air.

“They’re coming,” Leona says calmly, standing easily in the middle of dead earth.

“You turned it into a ward trap,” the magician says slowly.

“Every piece, hurled into them like a billion knives,” she says with a smile as sharp as the bones of the house had been. “Enough magic to murder every minion they could create or summon.”

“And now?” he says.

“Unless you have a miracle?” The magician shakes his head and Leona’s gaze flicks to Jay, who is still grabs my hand and tries to drag me away, giving up on trying with the magician. “Then we see what they will do, won’t we?”

“It is too early for that.”

“There are two of us. That’s all and it: we’re good, but numbers count and they’ve spent a long time being seriously pissed off at us. We can hurt them. Maybe even destroy them. But we can’t do that and close the opening they’ll make into the world.”
“Yes,” the magician says. “Charlie, keep Jay safe. Jay, keep Charlie safe. Leona: be prepared to close the way they make into the world. There are options other than magic.”

“Honcho,” Jay says, his voice small and scared.

I keep silent, because Leona has turned pale and just nods her head tightly.

The magician smiles for a moment, and makes to speak when the world falls apart. The air is simply gone, replaced by sickly shadows from which actual demons and angels emerge, the latter on gossamer wings of light, the former engulfed in blue-black flames. I can see fires behind the fires, wings beyond the wings as they spill out into the world in alien fractals. They smile, and their smiles are cruel and bleak, and their laughs are alien and hungry chitterings as the world seems to push at them. Vines wreathe up from the earth only to fall away, the earth around them buckling as trying to hurl them away.

The god inside me rears up and out: claws, fur and teeth engulf me in a roar of power and rage and for a moment – just one – there is nothing to me save its hunger and power, but a hand gripping mine tightly pulls me back as Jay glares up at me and screams, “If you fall apart I’m going to get mad!”

“Okay. Okay.” I bare my teeth; demons and angels fall back from me. A few begin to circle, eyes locked hungrily on Jay, whispers of ‘human food’ passing among them in tones like drowning babies. I flex claws, call up hunger, and know I’m going to die. There are too many, and more with each moment as if each one was unfolding others from itself.

The magician coughs. Nothing more, but he seems solid, more real, as if the world was a poor chalk drawing around him as he stands, hands shoved deeply into pockets. He takes a breath. A second. A third. Demons and angels swarm, only to fall back from him as Leona weaves wards and curses and hurls them with brutal efficiency. Each is visible, a blaze of violet or red flaring against demons and angels, holding them away as one would the tide.

I slice and stab with claws and teeth, tear into them with hunger and watch demons falls back. Each one that swings at me is met by Jay, and fire and blades of light slide off his skin without leaving a mark at all. We are dancing, and all know it, and they are toying with us at a tempo we can hold, savouring their victory and laughing at our weakness.

The magician takes a fifth breath, leans back, and screams.

The sound isn’t human, not at all even though it comes from a human throat. It sounds like the cry of an eagle mixed with a crow and something higher and deeper by far. The god inside me folds in, fleeing deep with a speed that leaves me sore and breathless, and the sound drives me to my knees a moment later. Leona is already curled up, hands over her head. Jay is gripping my right hand in both of his but seems untouched by the sound even as the magician drops to his knees and begins coughing up blood while Leona staggers to her feet and gestures into the air before collapsing unconscious to the ground.

Whatever was out there, whatever it looked like, is simply gone. No demons. No angels. The air entirely normal as if nothing had happened at all. Only the hole where a house had been remained as a sign; that and the eerie silence about us devoid of a single insect or animal. That and Jay letting go of my hand to bolt over to the magician, hovering over him anxiously.

I walk over, my feet unsteady. My clothing is shredded apart, as is Jay’s. The magician seems entirely fine, somehow, despite coughing blood, and stands slowly as I approach, waving Jay away sharply.

“That’s it?”

“No,” the magician says, his voice low and hoarse.

Jay pales and – then he fades. That’s the only word I have for it. He pulls the world around him like a cloak and is simply gone, vanishing from sight a moment before a being imprints itself on the world in front of the magician. It has male features, a translucent creature that is very much an it, devoid of clothing and as pale as unfallen snow from the hair to eyes.

“Huh,” it says, the voice entirely human. “Among those who’ve learned my name, I wouldn’t have figured you likely to invoke it.”

“Nor would I,” the magician says, his smile as exhausted his voice. “Charlie, this is Arth’Ba’Toch. Arth, Charlie.”

“I am called Winter on this world,” the entity says, and smiles almost shyly to me before looking about. “Why did – ah,” it says, gaze flicking past me into the distance. “I see. You always did have a knack for making interesting bargains.”

The magician bows, but his gaze doesn’t leave the other person at all. “Your aid comes at a cost.”

“It does.” Winter sounds tired. “And those who are outside the universe cannot pay it even if they should.”

I keep quiet, unable to not look at Winter. It – he – is translucent, but what I’m seeing through him isn’t this world as all as much as whirls and colours, shapes and forms at once alien and familiar.

“Winter,” the magician says mildly.

Winter blinks, and his skin is just pale skin a moment later. “My apologies. I have few dealings with god eaters.” He cocks his head to the side. “Did you consider eating me, Charlie?”

I blink and shake my head a moment later; I hadn’t even tried and the god inside me is cowering as deeply as it ever has. “No.” Nothing else: I don’t want to know what this thing is, or what it might do. That much I’m certain of.

A flash of something like hurt crosses his face before Winter turns back to the magician. “You’ve made a choice, then.”

“Leona. And myself. She caused this.”

“Her life is forfeit to others for her – changes,” Winter says smoothly. “What she has left and yourself would not be enough.”

“I can offer my father.”

Winter smiles sadly. “You could. And I would be bound to accept such a thing, but what happened here is not your failure, magician. You are in debt to the powers that walk between, and this debt I give to you to balance your books against them.”

The magician freezes, his face an open book of shock for a moment. “You would do this for me? Why?”

“Because of what will come. And because no one deserves a fate they cannot fight. The world has prisons enough without adding more, and powers enough without forcing such a burden on another.” And Winter doesn’t move, but is no longer Winter. His voice is impossible, a crushing weight on the world that was colour as much as noise, images as much as words. “What I am should not be sought out.”

Somehow the magician stands even as I’m staggering back rubbing my ears. “No kidding,” is all he says, so dry and casual it helps me keep my feet.

Winter blinks, and the awful pressure of him on the world fades. “Then you should not have asked.”

And the magician lets out a small, weak laugh at that and bows. “Probably not. I would thank you, but I’m wise enough to know one doesn’t thank a true power.” He straightens and holds Winter’s gaze, his own leeched of humour. “I will do what I can to prevent another power such as yourself from being born, and I do this freely.”

Winter’s answer is a summery smile that seems to linger in the air as he is simply gone, his absence a relief. I don’t realize how desperate my breaths had been or how hard my heart was hammering off-key in me until he has left. “Holy shit,” I say.

“Shit, yes. Not holy,” the magician says, slipping into himself with almost no effort. He walks over, ignoring the unconscious Leona. “Jay ran west. We’ll need a car to follow him.”

“That’s it?” I said as we were halfway into the next field. “We’re just leaving Leo – Leona – whatever, there?”

The magician sighs. “I can’t explain away what Leona did nor why. What is real about ourselves – what is true, as much as we can be true to ourselves – are the things we most hide from the world. Very often all that makes us unique are the facets of ourselves no one ever sees.”

“She wanted to die and take you with her. Because you both survived when everyone else died.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not.”

“We could always go back and ask her,” I snap.

He smiles then, that one smile of sad wisdom that says he is a magician so clearly it almost hurts to see. “What makes you think she knows?”

And to that I can think of nothing to say at all.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 10

In which Leo is finally met and the stage is set to stop an invasion...

 10. Tea & Trickery

They won’t leave and I don’t know how I feel about that. Charlie resisted the urge to smack me upside the head mostly because Jay would have attacked her. He’s on edge and there is nothing I could offer to diminish that except lies and we’ve gone too far for those. Well, most of them anyway. I draw up strength and will, sifting the energy of the world for what I need, preparing traps. I have killed other magicians in the past, but two in two days – if it comes to that – is no record I ever want to hold.

I am good. At some things, I am very good. But even the oldest magician in the world would have hesitated at facing another magician in their own place of power, and Mary-Lee is nothing if not powerful in herself. So I walk, consider options, prepare the ones I have to. It isn’t far: four fields, and the sounds of sirens fading behind us as emergency services converge on our ruined car to find no bodies or explanations. I imagine they’ll figure it to be some weird insurance job but don’t have the time or energy to care.

Leo’s home draws a snort from Charlie: it’s a two-room shack that is at least one hundred years old and looks it, boasting a tangle of vines and brushes for a lawn that seem to have invaded the wooden walls. Which they have, the house spreading out into earth and water. There will be holes in the roof to tie it to the air, and the views of non-magicians matter nothing in this.

“Follow behind,” I say, and my voice sounds terse even to me as I make a way through the tangle to the half-open front door. I am not sure if that is a welcome or warning or simply the state of the door.

The woman who opens it is taller than I than, with sharp blue eyes and blond hair, her jeans and t-shirt close-fit and expensive. I stop, let my senses drift out. “Leo.”

“It is Leona now,” she says, her voice a calm that almost thaws her eyes. It is a very good trick.

She is not a trick. “What have you done?” I say and she pulls back at something in my voice.

“People do change,” she says. Only that.

“Magician?” Charlie asks behind me.

I don’t take my eyes from Leo – Leona – and step back in turn. “You think I don’t know that? You used magic to change your body like this! Do you have any idea what that does to the Working we made? What it does to you?”

Leona blinks, then offers up a short laugh. “You haven’t changed, have you? So very practical, until the moment you aren’t.”

“Shadows tried to kill me. And my friends.” I pause a beat as her eyes narrow. “This is Charlie and Jay. I wanted to find out about Washington. Also to ask you about Jay.”

“That is not what it looks like.”

“You did say I am practical.”

“So I did.” She steps forward and gestures Jay to stand in front of her.

He shoots my a questioning look and then goes and stands, keeping still and quiet.

Leona raises his chin with her right hand. “He’s ten. Damaged by magic, I think, but beyond that....” she trails off.

I make the bindings between Jay and us visible to her for half a moment. Leona blinks and lets go of his chin with a yelp that isn’t fitting to a magician at all.

“How? What?” She shakes her head and stares at Jay for a long minute. “Explain,” she says, turning a hard gaze on me.

“I was hoping you could. Mind checking out the car for police?” I say to Jay.

He blinks, then is gone into the field in a blur and back in under ten seconds, panting a little for air as he stops and offers up a smug grin. “Ten of them.”

“Impossible,” Leona says. “You didn’t do this.”

“No,” I say.

Leona holds out her right hand and speaks six sharp Words in the language of the birds, then shakes her head a moment later. “You are weak,” she says to Jay, who just scowls. “And beyond that, human.”

“But you saw him move,” Charlie says.

“Yes. I know he can’t be human but to every sense – even to my magics –.” She shakes her head. “Imagine if there are more Others who can hide their nature this well.”

“I’ve been trying not to,” I say.

“Practical again?” she says with a slight smile.

“Also afraid.” I return the smile. “Can we come in, Leona?”

She bows and steps aside; the interior of her home is both expensive and sparse. A kitchen that is small, all stainless steel appliances, a living room with four chairs and two massive TVs – one with two game consoles hooked up to it – and a closed bedroom door, the entire affair serial-killer clean.

Jay slips closer to me, scowl trying to edge a permanent line of worry in his face. “I don’t like it,” he mumbles.

Charlie doesn’t look worried, easily concealing whatever effect Leona’s wards are having on her and catches my gaze, raising an eyebrow as Leona heads into her kitchen to make drinks. “I didn’t take you for the kind to flip out became a friend had a sex change.”

“I’ve known people to do worse. But for a magician to use pure magic to do it is attempting creative suicide.”

“Cuz?” Charlie says as she sits on the one couch.

I sit on the one across from her; Jay stands beside it, no doubt trying to not seem weak. “Magic is –?”

Charlie doesn’t roll her eyes, with effort. “Need and desire and poetic justice, near as I can tell. Plus a whole lot of limits that are probably just in your head.”

“Sometimes they are. But it is transient: one can make wards and protections, but for a single magic to shape a body permanently takes more energy than magic can offer. One has to make bargains with creatures from Outside for that.”

“And you worry that my bargain limited the Working we made,” Leona says as she comes back in with a tray of iced teas. I take one, as does Charlie. Jay just crosses his arms and says nothing as Leona takes a seat.

“No. You’re better than I am at such things; but I do wonder if it led to Jay finding me and our bindings.”

Leona pauses at the plural, studying me carefully for a long moment, then sips her drink. “It is not impossible that I was used to get at you. But why, and to what end –.” She offers up a light shrug. “I think we can say that some other party is working toward other goals.”

“And you know who that is.” Charlie doesn’t make it a questions.

“I have suspicions. It will depend on what attacks us. We are both here, friend,” she says to me. “I don’t think there is any warding in the world that will stop us from being found now.”

I sip my iced tea calmly. “And you think we can survive this? I know binding and banishing; you know more about what we’re up against.”

Leona nods. I feel her drop every protection she’s put around this house. It takes effort not to react, but Jay is on his feet in moments, grabbing my hand and pulling and screaming at Charlie to run.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 9

 9. Cars & Ruins

The car shudders under me. I’ve drawn on the strength of the god inside me, who once lived in a closet as a monster (and sometimes under my bed), in order to keep the wheel steady as I shift gears. I hit a hundred miles an hour and shortly after the needle gets stuck as we burn rubber and gasoline hurling down the interstate. Every vehicle is somehow moving out of our way, the police not even noticing and I’m not sure I could even crash the car if I tried.

I don’t. I just drive, foot pressed to the accelerator and watch the world blur past me on either side as eat up miles like someone inhaling calories at McDonalds. The car shudders underneath but is somehow holding together and I’m trying, very hard, not to think about what this is costing the magician. Jay has at least ceased shooting worried looks over his shoulder and is staring out the windows with a grin as the world rushes past us.

“Why are you smiling?”

“I’m hanging fun out of my mouth.”

“Jay.” I sigh. “Okay. Why else?”

“He never useth magic for fun, and thith ith fun,” he says, bouncing in the seat as he turns to me. “Can I drive?”

“Do you know how to drive?”

“I don’t know; I’ve never tried before.”

“Then we’ll say no.”

“But –.”

“We’re going twice as fast as a DeLorean,” I say, though the reference misses him entirely. “Now is not the time to take the wheel and find out if you can drive a car or not.”

Jay sighs and sits back in the seat.

“You could play games on your phone.”

“It won’t work right. My phone, I mean.”

“Because of this?” I say as I turn a corner. Vehicles blur and shift: I have no idea if we’re driving in the world anymore or somehow slightly off kilter from it.

“Maybe? We’re being watched,” he mumbles, hunching down in his seat. “I don’t think magic like thith can be hidden?”

“And the watchers are using your phone?”

“A few? I turned it off along with your phone. The rest are...” Jay trails off, then offers up: “around?” as English fails whatever he’s sensing.

I press the pedal harder, even though my foot is already aching. Metal groans underneath, the sound of rivets popping like small fireworks as the car somehow finds more speed. The magician lets out a small gasp in the back seat but doesn’t open his eyes as the world turns into a green-tinged blur as we pass through cars rather than going around them. I’m no longer driving so much as aiming it, and Jay is sitting in a still quiet in the passenger seat, his eyes pale and wide in delight.

The car bucks slightly under me like a horse in a movie would before shuddering again, the speedometer making a low humming sound as the needle vibrates and begins to slow, the world snapping into focus. Trucks. Cars. Road.

I yank left and we hurl into an empty field, the car shuddering as it slows, wheels tearing furrows into earth as the car rips through wooden fences as if they didn’t exist and finally comes to an abrupt halt in the middle of a third field, smoke rising from the engine.

“Okay. Okay.” I let go of the wheel, my fingers having dug into it. “Is everyone all right?”

“Yep!” Jay pulls off his seatbelt. “Can we do it again?”

I shove him into the door, which falls off under the pressure. “No.”

The magician is getting out the back, moving slow and stiff as he gets out and opens the trunk, casually getting out our bars and pushing them into the air to vanish from sight. “Good driving.”

I looked at the car, then the fields, then back at him. “Good driving?” I say, since it’s better than asking why he never put our bags somewhere else before.

He offers up a small smile and begins to walk slowly. “I drove a magician’s ride once. Turned the ground under us into glass when I hit the brakes; Leo made jokes about it for weeks.”

“You mean we could go quicker?” Jay says, trying to hide excitement at the idea.

“Not today, no.” The magician picks up his pace and comes to a halt near a tree in the next field, sitting down. “We’re close to Leo’s home: keep an eye for danger, please.”

Jay scowls but says nothing as the magician sits cross-legged on the ground.

“We’re still being watched?”

The boy nods, biting his lower lip. “He uthed a lot of effort getting us here, and thith ithn’t helping at all!”

“Huh.” I look about, but aside from distant sirens and the barking of a dog I get nothing at all. What the owner of the field and the authorities will make of the car is anyone’s guess. “How bad is it?”

“Being theen is always bad,” Jay says firmly.

I let out a breath, not reaching for the god inside me but everything else instead. The magician smells of fresh-cut grass and rain, the world itself under and in him as a smorgasboard of energies and scents under his own. Jay smells small and entirely human even though I know he’s not and around us I catch scents that there are no words for, things I slot into chlorine and hospital cleaners in my head.

Jay goes still, then edges between me and the magician with a determined look on his face. I ignore him and turn in a slow circle, feeling for the scents of things Other, inhale, then smile on the second circle. “We’re not some porn for you to watch; get lost or else.”

Something moves about me, a sharp nettle-sharp scent, pressure in the air. I pull, in a way that words don’t express, and the smell twists into chocolate and butter, edible and drawn inside in a moment. I lick my lips and feel my grin widen as I turn in another circle. I say nothing at all but each alien scent is simply gone and the god within me as calm and still water. I let go of the scents carefully and turn back to him to find Jay still crouched down between me and the magician.

“I won’t let you eat him,” he says, baring his teeth and letting out a hiss that comes off as nothing more than silly.

I don’t move regardless. “Why would I do that? I’m his friend.”

“Hunger don’t have any kind of friend,” he says, then pokes his teeth with his tongue, trying not to look worried as he lets out what is intended to be a threatening growl.

“I don’t think you can do fangs at all anymore?”

He deflates a little as colour creeps across his face and straightens, looking sheepish.

“And for the record, your stomach growling is scarier than you are.”

“That’th mean!”

“But true.” I walk over, and he doesn’t flinch at all. “We’re not being watched now?”

Jay frowns, then shakes his head and waves a hand to the magician. “The honcho is doing a ward.”

“Leo is trying to scry us,” the magician says quietly as he stands, all stiffness and slowness gone from him. “At least I hope it’s Leo. This way,” he adds and heads to the left toward other fields.

“And if it’s not? Or if it is?”

“Find cover. Wait until the dust settles.”

“That’s it?”

“This is Leo’s place of power; he knows I’m here but not why.” His smile doesn’t try for reassuring, not even reaching assuring. “If we do test power and Leo wins, run away. No useless heroics, just get away.”

“No,” Jay says fiercely, glaring up at the magician.

“Jay.” The magician stops and turns. Jay’s glare doesn’t change, his hands curling into fists. “I have enough on my conscience without adding you and Charlie. Run, don’t look back and don’t even think about revenge because that’s nothing but a waste of any life. Please.”

“You could make me run,” Jay says carefully, “with a binding.”

“I could.” The magician begins walking again. “There are things even a magician should not force.” His gaze flicks over to me, his smile small and wry. “And don’t think I’m taking your silence for agreement.”

I just salute him with my middle finger and walk on.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Now back to editing after this ....

And done the first draft of another story in the magician series — well, the Charlie/Dyer stories in that universe. As with all the other ones in that set, the title is based on the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. There are 64 of those. I have no idea how many stories I will actually write in the charlie series sequence but I doubt I’ll do 64 of them.

At some point, this series will cross back over with the regular magician series stories. If only to see how Dyer handles being asked to look after Jay while the magician and Charlie go off to talk, drink, and catch up on their lives.(I originally wrote, as a typo, ‘catch up with their lies’ and I imagine they will do that as well.)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Output of the day ...

  • Wrote 4 poems, one a prose-poem in the magician series.
  • Wrote a bit of stream of consciousness fun.
  • Wrote a meta magician series piece in which Jay writes a My Little Pony fanfic and has the magician read it. (No, really, I did that. I had to do research on My Little Pony for this. Never let anyone tell you a writer doesn't suffer for their craft :)
  • Plotted out the next story of the Charlie/Dyer sequence in my head. May write it later tonight. 
Also, I read a few more pages in the Ghoulish Happenings draft. Will begin edits on it next month in earnest. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 8

 8. Cars & Time

The interstate had shudders back to life by the time I walk back to the car. Charlie has moved it over to the side of the road and is in on her phone playing a game. Jay is just sitting in the back and looks up as I walk over, his face so empty of expression it hurts. I cease blocking the binding between us and for a moment he resists in turn, trying to make it weaker or at least make a statement.

Charlie looks up and puts her phone away. “Better?”

“Not really.” I get in the passenger’s seat. “We should be able to use the interstates for a while.”

She just nods, shifts into drive and pulls out into traffic. “Want to talk about it?”


“Good. You knew it was this Kyle person, then?”

“No. I suspected. There are few people who can look for me and hide themselves while doing it. Kyle was one of them.”

She waits a beat, then: “You called him, made him a body, bound him to it and killed him.”


“So you had this planned for some time.”

“For whenever I ran into him again, yes.” I offer up nothing else: not what Kyle had done to people or how many lives he’d ruined. I’d just murdered a man, magician or not, and there are a lot of things I could be called but I wasn’t going to accept hero as one of them.

“Agent Six said you were on the side of good,” she offers as she pulls out to pass a trailer.

“Agent Six said I was one of the good guys?” I let out a sound that fails to be a laugh. “The Black Chamber consider themselves to be good, Charlie, and their job – their duty as they see it – is murder. Oh, none of the targets are human: bigfoot, yeti, were-creatures and the like. They hunt them down and kill off the females.”


“The elimination of breeding pairs.”

“But they let the other one live?”

“Their mandate doesn’t involve extermination. And I imagine bigfeet and the like have some ecological use or something; no idea.”

“Huh.” Charlie doesn’t look back. “Jay?”

“I’m fine,” Jay says, arms crossed and daring us to say otherwise.

The binding between us is otherwise, no matter what he wants, throbbing with echoes of fear and pain. I try to send through it that I didn’t want him to feel my pain but he doesn’t care at all and the edges of the binding are frayed by suspicion.

I close my eyes and fall into the binding. He tries to shove me out of that.


Go away! You left, magician.

I didn’t – I just needed to –.

No, he sends back, and his fury and fear wash through me, into me. I don’t care!

And he doesn’t. I killed a human, and to him that isn’t important at all. I am. Our binding is. That Charlie is our friend is. That he has to hide from those who want to eat him is important, too. And nothing else at all. And under that an ocean of fear that I will break the binding for knowing this, fear so strong that he can barely hold it back with anger.

“Oh,” I say aloud. “I screwed up, didn’t I?”

Jay doesn’t move in the back seat, still as a frozen knife blade.

“Jay,” I say, adding his true name through the binding, “I bind myself to you in turn, that I will not block your binding again.”

He blinks, testing it silently as if probing a sore tooth, wariness etched in his eyes.

“Humans – close ourselves off, sometimes. To deal with things. To not lash out at others with our pain. I didn’t think.”

“You’re thorry?” he says slowly.

“No. Magician. But I won’t do it again.”

He considers that gravely, not touching me or crying, then just nods. “It hurt.”

Nothing else, just a stubborn set to his jaw. I don’t need to look at Charlie’s coat to know he was crying into it. I let out a breath and turn, holding out my right hand. Jay takes it after a wary pause that hurts, and not in the way of a good hurt. I reach, and feel his binding to me twist between us, stunted slightly by my actions.

I reach out with a binding in turn, as open as his was, a promise turned to power: I will not block the binding between us unless our existences or those or friends are at stake; I will not undo it. This I promise by your binding to me, Jay, and this I swear, I send between us. I let him bind himself to me and there are magicians who would be horrified at that; that I bound myself to them would be reason enough for some to seek my death.

Jay blinks, pulls his hand back from mine and tests the binding slowly.

“I am human, Jay. I can’t say I wouldn’t have blocked it again in a moment of stress or fear. Now I can’t.”

“You didn’t have –.” He pauses. “You thouldn’t have done that.”

“Even so.” I smile, and it feels as tired as I am. “Rest, okay?”

He offers up a most serious nod and rests his head against the side of the car, dead asleep moments later and sleeping for the both of us.

“Magician,” Charlie says quietly, holding to the speed limit as cars dart past us.


“That was really stupid, wasn’t it?”

“Oh, yes. But I could have destroyed him without even knowing it, Charlie. I murdered a magician; he didn’t care about that, only that I was safe and we’d all be safe and then I went and hurt him. It’s always worse when we don’t mean to.”

“Sometimes. So he deserved death?”

“Kyle? No. No one deserves that, but there are balances. Prices. Payments. And that was his because of many things. There are some who might argue I was too kind. He was not a good person, but he was a magician so the one often follows from the other in the end.”

Charlie is quiet a few moments then offers up a tight smile. “Jay considers you a good person.” She pauses a beat. “Probably by his standard of people, mind.”

“Charlie –.”

“Don’t. I understand what you did; I think I know enough to not want to know more and I’d rather not talk about it at all if that’s all the same to you.”

I nod and relax, letting go of the world a little. Being in a moving vehicle helps to cast my thoughts out. Nothing. Again. I know Leo is alive, and in Oregon, but I get nothing else at all. He was always paranoid even by the standards of magicians, and if he is being attacked as well his wards could be even more impressive than usual, but that doesn’t feel right. It feels like Leo is hiding from me, or at least hiding something from me.


“What do you think I’m doing?” Charlie snaps, a hint of red in her eyes as she looks over at me.

I smile, and even the god in her pulls back. “I was talking to the car. And the world.”

I shake Jay awake and get in the back, getting him to sit up with Charlie and get a wary look from him in response that quickly shifts to worried.

“I’m going to need to focus and zone out. Just drive and the world will take care of the rest.”And so saying I close my eyes, let go of flesh and focus on need and desire, letting the magic build and then loosing it on the world.

“Holy shit,” Charlie whispers, and I let go of even that, telling Jay not to worry through the link and falling into the magic to drown.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

moments of pure fun

Sometimes a line fits a character. Jay, from a small series of stories (mornings, one after another) set a bit after Road Trip and Curdled Magics:

 Jay draws himself up at that and favours me with a furious glare, fists clenched tight to his side. “I can be brave when I’m not afraid!”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 7

 7. Helicopters & Bindings

I start the car and we’re packed and gone from the town before the local press can even think of interviewing us about the ghost in the restaurant. I give Jay my tablet and the description of it and he finds out about a local girl named Anna who normally haunts a bar at the north end of town, mostly a folk tale everyone knows about. Died in a storm, comes in with the cold, but mostly harmless.

The ghost that wrapped itself up in winter didn’t fit that at all.

The magician looks back at Jay, who goes from worried to happy at the smile offered. “You did well.”

“And?” I ask.

“And we didn’t want out pictures taken; Jay hides himself after all.”

I blink and look back in the rearview mirror at Jay, seeing him just fine. “You did take a picture of yourself for the net, right?”

“I tried; it didn’t work,” he grumbles.

“Oh. People noticing that would have been a problem.” I flick a finger to the glove compartment and the magician pulls out the map, unfolds it to where we are and begins working out a route to avoid major highways. “I thought we were dealing with creatures from Outside, not ghosts?”

“So did I; it seems they decided to outsource dealing with me to someone who owes them favours. And that person is both magically inclined and has no desire for direct confrontation.”

“So they’re smart.”

“And clever. The worst traits an enemy can have. On the other hand, we haven’t been slowed down enough for it to actually matter yet. Assuming that is the intent rather than actual murder.”

“Those are pretty different assumptions,” I say as dryly as I know how.

“Think of the fun we can have figuring out which is right.”

I don’t hit him. Well, not more than once.

Jay waits until we’ve driven over half an hour before asking about breakfast, which is a new record. We find another restaurant in a small town: quick service, greasy food and light conversation. The magician heads to the counter to settle up with the waiter after, gesturing for Jay to follow me outside.

He does, not noticing the fork I palm, but does pause when I open the back door of the car for him, getting in warily. I drive the fork at his chest as he’s putting the seatbelt on. His arm snaps up, the fork digging through his shirt to press into flesh and slide off a moment later. Jay blinks at his arm, then stares back up at me.

“I see it worked.”

“Yeth,” he says, so surprised he doesn’t avoid the ess, then: “You thtabbed me!”

“It was only a fork.” I grin, letting a hint of the god enter my eyes.

Jay’s gaze flicks down to his unhurt arm and he looks back up and grins in turn. “That wathn’t weak,” he says proudly.

“Nope.” I get in the front and watch the door. The magician comes out and pauses briefly. He doesn’t look around, but then he doesn’t need to, just walks a little faster than casual across the parking lot, gaze lingering over Jay and me with a small smile.

I start the car as he gets in. “Directions?”

“North. Major roads.” He sits back in the seat and rubs a hand across his face. “If I’m right, the person after us is going to use some nastier proxies next.”

“Nasty how?”

He says nothing; I drive, pushing the speed limit and passing slower cars. We pass a few state troopers who never give us a second look and pass noon as the traffic begins to thin out, the interstate empty ahead of us.

“Honcho,” Jay says, his name for the magician in public, his voice small.

“Yeah.” He lets out a breath. “Drive fast and hard; we might break through this.”

I don’t ask question, just gun the engine hard. One minute, two, five, all down an empty interstate before I hear another sound: helicopter rotors, behind us and closing in.

The magician lets out a sigh. “Stop.”

I slow, the car shuddering a little as I shift gears down and bring it to a halt with almost no skid. In the rearview mirror the helicopter lands behind us. Matte-black, no insignia at all, and the uniforms of the men who get out are the same.

The magician just smiles grimly. “Stay inside,” to Jay as much as me, and gets out, walking toward the men.

I roll down the window as the man walk closer. They have submachine guns like in movies, face masks and sunglasses, gloves and boots. All bland, and forgettable, like spies in a b-movie.

One of the soldiers steps forward, quick and brisk, voice low and flat. “You will come with us.”

“I think not.” The magician doesn’t move, hands shoved casually in his pockets. “The Black Chamber is many things, but not stupid. Pissing off a magician is stupid, and letting you get into the heads of their agents merely a blunder, Kyle.”

“Hah!” The soldier barks, his voice no longer bland but smug, and younger than his face. “You know what will happen if you try and free them, magician,” he snaps, as if spitting out the last word.

“I am unlikely to forget.” The magician’s voice is soft and bland but Jay whimpers behind me and his right hand slips up into mine. I squeeze and he whispers a thank you, fingers trembling in my grip. “It is something you should have remembered.”

The six men collapse as one like puppets devoid of strings as the magician spits out six Words that aren’t human at all, sounds that make my ears throb and cause the air to ripple. He begins walking, then, raising his right hand, a sickly grey light gathering between his fingers and darkening like a bruise.

“Kyle Andrews Carmichael,” he says, and the power that thrums in his voice is as harsh as the sea. Between one moment and the next the air in front of him is no longer empty, a young man standing on the pavement. Late teens, painfully thin and stark naked, looking as scared as the magician’s voice is cold.

Kyle totters a couple of steps, opening and closing hands in a silent horror, and then simply has no mouth a moment later, just blank skin with barely time to process it. The wounded light wraps into him, around him, and – I miss something, or my brain simply refuses to process what comes after. There is darkness pressing into flesh and then nothing at all. No Kyle Carmichael, no light, just six men shaking their heads, hands dropping from weapons. The leader is staring at the magician in awe, the kind at once impressed and horrified.

You can come out, the magician’s voice whispers in our heads. He nods to the man, says something quietly and begins to walk off the road and into the field. Jay is already behind the magician even as I hear the back door open, then stumbles back a step as the magician just looks at him and keeps walking. The soldiers reach for weapons, let go, and Jay never notices, a blur of moment as I open the driver’s door.

He flings himself into me as I stand, making sounds for all the world like a wounded animal.


“He clothed me off,” he manages between sobs and whines. “The binding. He – it hurtth,” Jay says, and just repeats that as he clings to me, devolving into whimpers of pain as the one soldier walks over. It’s the one that ‘Kyle’ was inside, evidently the leader, boasting no weapons and looking wary and tense in equal measure.

I want to say, ‘Welcome to my life.’ I wait instead.

“Agent Six,” he says by way of introduction, offering no hand for me to shake.

“Charlie. This is Jay.”

Jay ignores him utterly, pressing his face into my stomach as he tries not to cry. I just wrap my arms around him and meet Agent Six’s gaze.

To my surprise, he looks away first and lets out a sigh. “We were used. Kyle Carmichael is – was – a talent.”

“And that is?”

A magician with one ability. He could get into minds, make people do things. He got even better at it when someone killed him and he was free of his body. Our friend seems to have got around that; I’m not going to ask how. We’ll figure out how Kyle got us here later; he even arranged the interstate to close for two hours. Time will be up soon.” His gaze flicks over to the magician and then back to me. “I don’t know what your business is with him, but take care of him, okay?”

“Excuse me?”

Some magicians kill easily. Some don’t.” Agent Six offers up a smile that will never touch his eyes. “He’s one of the good guys, much as he doesn’t think so.” He nods to me, gives Jay a curter nod and turns back, waving his people into the black helicopter and heading to it without a backward glance.

I just hold Jay gently and wait as it takes off, leaving us standing by the interstate watching a magician in a field as if nothing had happened at all. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 6

6. Unlight & the dead

There are limits to the amount of things even a magician can juggle. Magic supplies – or maybe punishes – enough of its own, and beyond that there is Charlie, what is inside her and then whatever Jay is or will become. Throw entities from Outside taking revenge for deeds done five years ago on top of that wanting me very definitely worse than dead didn’t help at all.

Even by the standards of magicians I am very, very good at binding and banishing creatures from outside the universe. But I had Charlie and Jay to consider again and the harm that could come to them because of me. Few magicians wander the world and fewer have companions on their travels for all sorts of good reasons. I had to consider how they could be used against me.

And how I could use them.

Walking didn’t help with that, not the second time I circled the town or the third. I’ve never been under any illusions that I was a good person, but there’s a chasm between that and being a total bastard, though it seemed a smaller one than it ever had before. The magic had drawn them to me, or me to them, but I had no idea why or to what end. You can be a magician and be a bastard, but you have to be the kind who does what must be done no matter the cost.

Another reason there are few magicians in the world, that. You can’t touch magic, grasp need and desire and bend them to your will and shut the world from your life as well. You get hurt and hurt others and do what has to be done for all the right reasons that leave you soured and weary. Some of us drink, others do far worse things. I didn’t know what I was doing to cope anymore. The point of magicians and magic is to bind and banish things from outside the universe: Jay was that, Charlie might become it and I am not bastard enough to be friends with people I might have to kill.

And killing would be the kindest thing I could do to them if I was pushed to it.

That kind of thought does not a happy magician make, so I gave up on happiness and let the magic carry me to where I needed to, following odd flashes of light, ghost sounds and the hum of the earth under my feet until I reached a clearing a good mile from the town. It wasn’t much to speak of, just a place where three pedestrian paths met, devoid of any lightning-struck oak tree.

It did, however, boast a stain in the air where something awful had happened to weaken the world. It was a place people would avoid without knowing quite why and touched the places between the world and the vastness of Outside.

“Ah.” I let out a breath and sit. I work no magic save for relaxing myself, centring on the stain and letting my awareness touch it.

Time passes, though in that state there is no time and no thing and nothing.

“It has been some time, magician.”

A mist flows from the stain to turn into a blob-ball of shifting unlight that twists into alien shapes in the air, words coming into existence in my head, the thought-concepts of the creature crystalizing as language devoid of emotion of mental images. It could project such things but would give too much away.

“It has,” I say in the same tone. “I have questions for you.”

The entity twists and burns the air. “And the payment?”

“That will depend on your answers.”


“I have come into the possession of an Other, an Entity,”, and I pass Jay’s true name between us, small as it is. “This is your doing.”

“That is not a question.”

“My question is why.”

I have not phrased it as a question; it does not call me on that. “We thought you less likely to destroy it. That is all we will say on this.”

“How is it that Jay is ignorant of the Cone and the Grave?”

“This is not uncommon, magician. Knowledge is made of secrets and passed cautiously outside the universe. That it exists at all is not known to most.”

That startles me enough that I don’t hide it; I shove the implications aside to mull over later. “I have changed him.”

“Not enough to matter,” the unlight says, and is flows into nothing a moment later, taking much of the stain with it as it vanishes back into the places between the universe and what lies Outside. I don’t know what this entity/creature is that lives in the space between the universe and what lies beyond, only that it has aided me in the past but never done favours or asked for nothing in return.

I stand and walk back to the motel, hands shoved deep into pockets and senses thrown wide. Nothing. Whatever is out there isn’t taking my bait yet, not coming after me or attacking Charlie and Jay. It’s not really a surprise, but it is annoying to find out your enemy – and anyone who wants to kill you is that – isn’t as stupid as you’d hoped they’d be.

I put up basic wards around our rooms, eat a sub and sleep, half-waking to weight pressing into my left side and the binding between Jay and I humming a little before settling down.

Coffee wakes me next. Charlie is standing in the doorway to my room, coffee in either hand and one eyebrow raised. Jay is clothed, curled up next to me on top of the covers and dead asleep, not stirring when I get out of bed and walk over, closing the door firmly behind me.

“One, I’m glad you sleep clothed,” she says as she hands me a cup. “Two: if someone else had walked in on that?”

“He’ll be better today: he’s almost healed from my changing him.”

“And being that close to you helps?”

“He thinks it does, which probably makes it so.”

She snorts. “I haven’t had enough coffee for that to make sense yet,” and waves her hand across the road. “There’s a small breakfast place. We can eat, and talk about last night.”

“Not much to talk of,” I say, falling into step beside her. “No one attempted anything on us, and the one lead I had informed me that Jay was sent to me, but refused to say why or to what end.”

“You never asked questions about me,” Charlie says, half-joking.

“I know. I probably should have.”


“People walk in chance; magicians walk in coincidence.”

“I repeat myself: pardon?” she snaps.

“Things happen to a magician for a reason: a shifting of debts, magic itself responding to the world, the magician to the magic like a singer to a song. You could liken it to being one song from an entire album, most of which the magician probably never hears. If someone lived in this town and was abusing magic, I would have to intervene. Anyone else could walk away.”

“So I’m less free by hanging around with you.”

I let out a small laugh at that. “Probably. We were put together for some reason, though I have no idea what it is. It may have already passed when you helped me survive banishing a god outside the universe.”

She grunts and says nothing as we enter the restaurant and order food, getting more coffee, eggs, bacon and sausages. The waitress is an efficient older women, the small restaurant filled with locals reading papers and eating their meals in companionable silence that would no doubt fall apart the moment coffee stops being refilled.

“So. Sports?” Charlie says as she dumps sugar into their coffee.


“We could talk about normal things. Like Football – or soccer, if you want? There’s more countries in FIFA than in the UN.”

“I tend not to follow sports; it is safer to not care about such things in case I give in to the urge to manipulate them.”

“Huh. Does that happen often?”

“I’ve no idea; I’d bet good money on it happening to cult TV shows.” I sip my coffee, about to ask if she follows sports, considering a comment about only watching nude volleyball when the conversations around us fall away, people turning to stare at the entrance to the cafe in silenced shock.

No one screams. No one runs away. Charlie turns and stiffens; I see only air.

“A ghost?” I murmur.

“No shit.”

A local ghost, then, and old. One we can’t afford to be trapped up in. I reach out with the binding to find Jay is awake and making inroads into two of the leftover subs. He starts, wraps things up and begins to come over as I push my will into the room, slowing reactions.

“Don’t eat the ghost,” I say, softer. Charlie stiffens, and I hold up a hand to her. “I don’t know what it looks like; I try not to see ghosts, remember?”

“It is a woman and moving toward our table,” she begins tightly, then pauses as Jay comes in the door and hurries toward us with barely a pause.

“Ghost?” I say, sipping coffee.

“Gone,” Charlie says, in a tone promising questions. “You sleep well?” she says to Jay.

He smiles almost shyly and holds up two fingers. “I only ate that many.”

People begin whipping out phones and taking pictures, slow and uncertain why they hadn’t done it before. I wave him back outside and stand, putting money on the table, thank the waitress for the local surprise and hurry out before anyone can ask questions.

Except Charlie, who snaps: “That was breakfast,” as we cross the road.

“Jay probably won’t show up on their phones. Also, he disrupted the ghost by being from Outside the universe. I don’t want it – or whoever sent it after us – deciding to get creative with a lot of bystanders getting caught in the crossfire.”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Road Trip Chapter 5

 5. Fast food & Exorcisms

Carrowsville isn’t much to speak of, but big enough to boast one cheap motel at the north end a with strip mall across from it, making it the largest town we’ve seen all day. We arrange for three motel rooms with cash and I gas up the car while the magician goes into the Subway and comes back with fifteen subs in three bags, handing them all over to me.

“Wake Jay. Eat, talk. I’m going to circle the town and see who is following us.”


“I can look after myself,” he says dryly, then offers up a grin that takes at least five years from his eyes and is simply not in front of me, vanishing between moments.

“Show off,” I say, then open the back and shake Jay away. He wakes in a moment, sniffs the subs in the air and then stiffens.


“He’s gone for a walk to see if he can draw out anything weird I think. And pointed out he can take care of himself. And we can take care of each other. Capeesh?”

He bites his lower lip tight, ignoring his stomach’s gurgles and the subs entirely as he scans the parking lot before reluctantly following me into the first motel room. The rooms are cheap double-bed affairs that are just two single beds rammed together, bathrooms with a shower stall, sink and toilet. No TVs, not even a radio in them, but they are clean and that was all I cared about. I toss the subs on the bed; Jay waits for me before sitting on the bed and wolfs down four subs like something on the nature channel or a McDonalds patron before surfacing, gulping back pop and eating two more as I finish one.

He begins eating a seventh at a pace entirely human and pauses with it half-eaten, staring up at me.

“Stomach acting up?”

He rolls his eyes at that. “No, I feel – full?” he says, poking his stomach a couple of times before looking back up. “Like I don’t need to eat more food?”

“That is being full, yes.”

“I know that, I mean – do you want it,” he says, offering the half-sub almost shyly.

I take it and thank him, and receive a huge grin in reply; he’s still trying to grasp the world, and has a lot of confusion with gifts, mostly because there doesn’t seem to be such a thing where he is from and because the idea of them not being bindings baffles him to no end. I plan on letting the magician explain Christmas to him.

“I –,” he begins, the pauses, head cocking to the left. “Do you hear?”

“Hear which?” I say, catching nothing unusual, the god inside me not stirring at all.

“I don’t know? I think I am being talked to?”

I begin to ask who is talking when my ears pop. Nothing else happens; Jay just looks puzzled and rubs his own ears. A gesture gets him to go still as I stand and walk to the door, opening it a crack to find an older man standing in the parking spot outside the suite. A long black robe is straining to hold his stomach in and the old man’s few wisps of hair hang from his head like dead spider’s webs as he sways in place, sweat beading his face.

“This place is cleansed,” he says, voice wavering. “I have spoken the rite of blessing, exorcised the demon from this world. You are safe.”

I pause. He’s not a priest: I know that in the way I know it when I see a god, when I catch traces of power around someone. Whatever touched him is spent and gone and seems to have done nothing at all. But he was sent here, used, and so I open the door further.

“We have subs,” I say, “if you’re hungry.”

“What?” he says.

“Food?” Jay says, beside me between moments.

“You said you were full.”

“Not all the way,” he says firmly. “I have room for chocolate.”

The old man gestures with his right hand and begins chanting in something that’s probably Latin. I feel nothing, and Jay just looks confused.

“By the power of the Holy I cast you out, vile demon!”

Jay goes still beside me. I feel it as much as see it, my gaze drawn to him without conscious will. His eyes are almost colourless, veins visible under his ashen face, but his voice is glacially calm when he speaks: “I am not a demon.”

The old man stumbles back as the words. There is no power threading into them like a magician does, or the nastiness of a god-monster that I can call up, just a clear, brutal certainty that nothing human has ever known. He spins and bolts from the parking lot a moment later, fleeing the motel for the bright lights of the mall before it closes, whatever moment he had entirely lost.


He turns his head slowly to look up at me and for a moment I think he doesn’t know me before colour returns to his eyes, a flush spreading across his face.

“Are you all right?”

He shakes his head and bolts inside and onto the other bed, ignoring the subs entirely to dive under the bed in fear.

I walk inside and close the door, standing near the bed. “I’m not angry at you, Jay.”

“Promithe?” he says in a small voice.

“Yes. Please?” I sit down on the bed and wait.

He crawls out the other side and then is sitting beside me, head buried in my side and letting out small pained whimpers. I wrap my arms around him carefully and he buries his head into my side and trembles for a good five minutes, sucking on his right thumb without even noticing. I pull it from him mouth when he sits back and he doesn’t even notice for a second, then stares at it and up at me with a stricken look on his face.

“It’s okay to be scared,” I say.

“I wathn’t thcared. I wath thcary,” he says slowly, as if hunting down esses and forcing himself to speak them. “It’th like thomeone elthe thpoke, but it was thtill me.”

“That does happen. You okay?”


“Would more hugs help?”

“Yeah?” he asks, and snuggles into me a moment later, taking deep care not to end up sucking his thumb and saying nothing else at all.

“It hurt,” he offers up a time, “like a crack in a window. It hurt like it hurt but didn’t hurt enough, for me to do that. To have that voice?”

“Could you do it again?”

“I hope not,” he says so firmly all I can do is laugh. “What?” he demands, pulling away.

“Most people don’t refuse power.”

“I’m not a people, and power …. it meanth you have to keep otherth weak and I’m weak enough,” he says, and looks about to add more but lets out a huge yawn and passes out a moment later right into my lap.

I push him off and wrap him in blankets, shove his head under the pillow and take a cautious sniff of the air. He still smells human-weak, as if he hadn’t done anything at all earlier; what he has done was more than a voice but it seems to have slipped away from me even as he did it in the way dreams can slide out from under you and lose what little sense they had.

I can feel the god inside me waiting to wake; I try not to draw it up in front of Jay, since I scare him when he sees what I can do, and if I did now – I have no idea what would notice, so I hold it inside carefully and listen to the world with merely human senses. And get jack all for the effort. I can eat gods, but I don’t sense them until they do things to me or I’m almost on top of them. I think I can get better at that, but it would involve eating more gods.

So I haven’t, for all sorts of reasons, and the god-monster in me mostly offers aid only when I call it up. Jay was never human; I’m not sure how long I’ll remain human, or if some day I will call up its power and not be able to rein it back in. The magician says its possible but nothing else; not if it will happen, or when – or what he might do when I change. We are dancing, but neither of us know to what song or measure and I’d lay good money on the magician having never danced at all before but I’d probably be wrong about it.

I leave Jay to sleep with three of the subs in his room and head into the magician’s to leave him four, and mine to keep the rest for morning. I sleep, and if I dream I don’t recall it. I haven’t recalled a single dream I’m had since I ate the monster in my closet, and I don’t know if that is for the gods protection or my own.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

on writng certain events

If you have not experienced X, you should not write about X.

Every author writes about things they have not experienced. This is the nature of writing, of placing yourself into the heads of characters, into the events they have experienced. No one copes with events in quite the same manner, no one deals with shit in the same way as everyone else does. To say that someone should not be able to write about events they themselves have not experienced strikes me as censorship of the worst kind. No one owns events. No one owns concepts, or ideas, or even pain and trauma. Nor the expression of it.

Whether one understands a situation/concept/group better from the inside or the outside is an old, old debate, and one never likely to cease. But telling people they should not even make the attempt, that the way they put their own pain into words is invalid because it is not your way, strikes me as dangerous ground to walk on. Yes, some things should not be glorified, but telling people they shouldn't be able to write about them is not a solution at all but perhaps an even worse problem.

No one is going to write about anything in the same manner, or see the same events with the same eyes. We will hurt each other: we can't not hurt each other. But writing can be an act of understanding, a fumbling toward truths in one's own way. And it seems to me to be a poor and narrow thing to limit others because they do not see the world in quite the same way as one does, to say nothing of deeply insulting to imply that because someone turned pain into a kind of poetry that they never experienced said pain at all.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Best tumblr posts of last year ....

Organized from December - January.

  1. 82 notes
    Every day, paper and coffee, at the table
    Sitting as close as lovers, as estranged as strangers.
    Our children talk as if our lives were fables,
    And I turn to you, and wonder who believes it’s true.
    Every day, we smile by reflex in mornings.
    Every day, we sit in the same places, and repeat
    The same phrases, neither of us mourning
    Who we used to be before we were you and me.
    We gave up love for contentment,
    Pedestrian friendship all that is left in the end.
    I hid all the Valentines I never sent —
    When I see you I don’t see how they’re true.
  2. 205 notes
    And having wrote a thousand poems
    That no one liked at all, they said:
    I have not been understood, I am
    finally a poet after all.
  3. 93 notes
    Dark Matter
    Dark matter is the iceberg
    Of lives barely visible, surface tensions
    rippling through magic volume unseen,
    unknowable, but still real.
    The urban myth is that
    90% of the brain goes unused.
    Yet 90% of the matter
    In the universe is unseen.
    You think this is coincidental?
    You think it doesn’t matter?
    Think again. Everything matters.
    Poets would say that love is dark
    matter barely visible, because poets
    think too much about love,
    and write it the way they write loss.
  4. 51 notes
    Like most serial killers, he started small. Not wanting to harm animals, he began unfriending people on facebook instead.
  5. 83 notes
    Internet Dating
    What does it matter where I’m from?
    Hiding under hostmasks we
    Could be anyone.
    But you always ask, trying to establish
    Some kind of continuity
    To mesh with your wish.
    How can I think you’re real? You are only a
    Photoshop face lying to me
    But you look so lonely.
    It all ends in tears, that’s the way it goes
    And whether you loved me -
    I know I’ll never know.
  6. 63 notes
    The taming of the children was
    Not simple at all because
    They’d learned life from TV:
    A kind of rarefied reality, you see.
    They thought they could be
    Absolved of all worries:
    In 30 minutes, or two parts,
    All matters of the heart
    Would be solved and I
    Found I, too, liked this lie,
    So each day we watch TV, and
    Live in a land we’d long to be.
  7. 112 notes
    Your skin is skin, smile just
    that curving of lips, a hint
    of teeth & the poets who
    turn it into flowers and sun,
    make it animals and dreams,
    who see the rapture in you
    leave me wondering if they
    see you.
  8. 28 notes
    In a moment’s fury
    I hated you, stole
    your heart, and dug
    into your flesh, pulled
    and you never noticed.
    You kept smiling, talking,
    told me you loved
    said we should marry.
    I wonder, I must,
    what might occur if
    I stole your soul.
    If you would notice.
    If souls are real.
    I’m scared to try.
  9. 59 notes
    There are sadder words in English —
    Deeper too, that rend and tear,
    But: “I used to be a poet”
    Holds bleakness all its own.
  10. 38 notes
    Every time I see you
    You seem half-bent
    Broken under your need
    For self-gratification
    Masquerading as destruction
    “I’m not like you,” you say
    Too clear face sun-bright
    But you never tell me
    What you think I am
  11. 22 notes
  12. 23 notes
    There is a moment before the burning begins. The brief, fragile hope that you might escape, might not burn, that even fire can be kind.
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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Year's End

My name is Jay and over three whole months ago I entered this universe and bound myself to a magician. It’s been really weird and strange: I went from being strong to being tough, from being a weak kind-of vampire to not one at all and I got to scare a whole army invading from outside the universe mostly by accident. I am fast and tough and I can see the bindings that tie people and things together in ways even magicians can’t. I can see the space where Charlie left us to travel on her own, though I still don’t understand why she left. Humans are weird. Sometimes their bindings with each other break and they remain together, or they don’t break and they leave anyone and I don’t understand it at all.

The internet has just made it even more confusing. But from it I figured out that tonight is New Year’s Eve, and that’s sort of why the magician left me in the motel and went into a nearby bar to drink and be with human-people. And probably have sex, which is another weird human thing. I leave too, because he bound himself to me and I convince the wards he made and walked through to let me walk through them as well. I’ve been waiting for my own night, too. I take my one coat and a small flashlight and my phone and boots and I wander into the huge park near the middle of the city.

Charlie had a monster inside her but she’s gone. So that means I have to become the monster now. But if I am a bad monster, the magician will be sad in that way that doesn’t show on his face, so I just walk into the park and flick my light on after a while and call out, “Truffie?” since the name sounds small and goofy, like a little kid would name their dog. I can pass for a ten year old human boy. Or younger if I have to. I’ve learned lots in three months.

Acting is easy: you don’t break bindings as much as bend them, and I slip into the bend, calling out for the lost dog that doesn’t exist, leaving deep prints in the snow. It only takes ten minutes to be followed. Just ten: a human, male, older. A breaker of bindings. I pull out my phone, poke it, yell at it to work, shove it in my pocket and yell for Truffie. For a moment I think I’m tried too hard, then I hear his feet behind me. He smells off, like something gone sour, but he’s big and wearing Santa-red and has a smile that’s all friendly and wide.

“Hey, kid. Lost your dog?”

“Uh-huh. Have you seen one?”

“No, not yet. I don’t see any tracks, but we could look closer to the fountain,” he says, and when I follow his mitten he moves. He has done this before, a knife to the throat, had over the mouth, a growl to be silent sounding like an animal in a cage.

It takes more than a knife to hurt me, but broken knives mean questions. I’m faster than people and twist, wriggling free of my coat even as he grabs me, his blade scraping uselessly on my throat. He lunges after, expecting me to freeze with the cold, his desire only my unbinding. I knew that, but I had to be sure, so I move to the side, faster than he can see, and unbind his left leg.

It takes three whole kicks to break his knee, even hitting it in the spot the internet recommended. Sometimes being small sucks. He drops, though, and I’m at the other side, snagging his knife as his grip flatters, driving it into his right leg. Unbinding blood from flesh. He backhands me hard across the snow, because I have to slow to stab him, but the pain takes over after that, his hands flying over his wound in terror.

If I was human, I’d have offered a chance or made some kind of speech and hoped to change him. But words don’t work right for me and I’m not human at all. I wait until he bleeds out and replace the knife in the wound. I could do worse. I could leave signs about what he’d tried for people to find, but the magician wouldn’t want that. Even monsters have families, and the families might not know they’re monsters at all.

I walk back to the motel, humming softly to myself. I’m not Charlie, but I think I can make a pretty good monster when I have to.



It is morning when he threads power in his voice to wake me up. I sit up on my bed, yawn, and grin hello.

“Busy night last night?”

“I watched tv. And ate,” I say, as if the wrappers of three subs aren’t proof enough.

“Uh huh.” The magician sits down on the other bed and studies me. “We should get going; the city will be quiet after last night. Grab your coat.”

I reach beside my bed, then recall the man from last night had in his hands. “I had to throw it away –.” I pause at something from the binding between us, a thrum of tension.

“I saw the news when I got my coffee this morning. Dead man in the park, missing kid judging by the coat they had as evidence. You didn’t disrupt my ward just to get subs.” I say nothing. “You also don’t have a speck of blood on you, Jay.” His smile barely touches his face. “Is this how it is going to be, now? I take an evening off and you go murder someone.”

“No! It wathn’t like that at all!” He just waits, in the way magicians wait. “Nathen, pleathe,” I beg. He doesn’t like his name being used, even in private, but I’m too scared not to. I explain what I did, and why, struggling though esses and stumbling over words until I finish, panting for air after.

The binding between us is still and distant. “Jay. Charlie was good at being a monster, yes. You don’t have to be that.”

“Then what?” I demand, my voice shrill even to my ears.

He smiles, then, a smile that is all human and almost not the magician at all. “We can work on that, okay? You’re good at distracting and surprising; use that. Be that. Please.”

“But –.”

“We’ll figure stuff out.” He stands and ruffles my hair. “Now get you’re clothing. I’m driving, you pick tunes on your phone and we find out what store is open that is selling clothing. And,” he adds as he puts his things into a duffel bag he pulls out of the air, “if you ever disrupt and break through a ward I made like that again, it had better be done well enough that I don’t sense it.”

I giggle and promise to, which earns another smile. It’s a new year, as humans call it, and I hope maybe we can make something new as well.