Sunday, January 25, 2015

Guarding Doorways

Until recently, I thought I understood the world. I thought I understood my job. Security isn’t an easy gig at the best of times: drunken idiots, homeless people high on shit, teenagers doing their petty vandalism and all it takes is one bad night and one lax moment and you lose your job to the kind of scum that want to break into buildings after dark. The Old Budapest Hotel in Fairview had been closed for six years but there was still a liquor store until 10 pm on the property.

Way I was told, the owner kept it there for tax reasons and possibly to annoy the city. Hotel proper was closed, gutted, nothing more than brickwork and rot. It didn’t stop people from trying to break into the liquor store through it, or just try and break in at all. Owner would only pay for one guard, so it wasn’t the kind of posting anyone wanted too often. I’d got used to it on the routine after six years: where people would go, how they tried to get in.

Four attempts in one night was a bit much and I got cranky at the fourth. Old man trying to get the padlock open to the electrical room, probably looking for copper. Didn’t recognize him, wouldn’t matter if I did. I yelled at him to get away and he didn’t, or he didn’t move fast enough, and I had my truncheon out and in my hand as I moved forward. He looked old, but old meant crazy half the time and this close he’d stab me before I had a chance to stop him. Truth told, I wanted him to move. I wanted an excuse.

“No,” came, beside me, and the hand that grabbed my right arm from beside me was a surprise. I spun and swung without even thinking. Drove the nightstick into the side of a kid’s head. He couldn’t have been more than eleven. All I saw as I dropped it was his white cane hit the ground and glasses go off his head. It was like something out of a novel: my bones were like ice and I couldn’t move at all. The kid staggered back. Somehow, somehow there was no blood and he glared up at me.

“I was just asking you to stop,” the kid snapped, as if blind kids do that all the time. Close up, his eyes weren’t right at all but that wasn’t a surprise given the cane.

I made a sound. Somehow he wasn’t dead. Wasn’t screaming. I could have sworn I’d connected with his head but I wasn’t about to press it, grabbing onto the miracle with both hands, terrified everything in my life would fall apart if I so much as spoke.

“He just wanted in from the cold,” the boy snapped, grabbing glasses off the ground on his second try, the cane a few moments after. It never occurred to me to try and find the truncheon. I just stood in frozen silence. The old man looked as shocked as I felt as the kid marched over and did something to the lock.

I guess blind kids are good with sound and tumblers? I don’t know, because it opened really fast and he whispered something I didn’t catch to the old man, who froze in place and then asked in a shaking voice if the kid was an angel. The kid giggled at that, sounding like any kid who had ever lived.

“Nope! Just helping,” he said, and there was so much pride in his voice I thought maybe my truncheon had bounced off of that. Honestly. He helped the old man into the room, closed the door and came back over to inform me that the old man would just be spending the night and leaving after and ‘just because bindings go bad it doesn’t mean you have to’, which made no sense at all.

I wasn’t about to ask. The kid just nodded and walked back out of the alley using the cane. Seeing it made me remember my truncheon. I dug out my flashlight and found it: if it’s stolen, you can spend upward of a week on paperwork alone. I picked it up and there was a dent in it. I sweat, a dent shaped like a kid’s head a little bit. I didn’t hurry after that, and the kid was long gone by the time I reached the street. I didn’t even finish the shift; went to the office, handed in truncheon and everything and left.

The old man was in the paper this morning. Turns out his family had been looking for him for going on two years: some issue with inheritance and insurance; he’d been wrongfully kicked out of a hospital, off-meds and wandering streets while they tried to find him. He went to their home, claiming he’d been told to go to that address, and his life was turning around again.

I haven’t been able to even get a phone interview with any employer all week and I get no call backs for jobs at all when I arrice in person. I keep saying I’m sorry, as if somehow that kid – whatever he is – can hear me, but it doesn’t fix anything at all. I don’t know what to do, so I came here with my last ten bucks to get drunk and hope I’d wake up somewhere new. That’s my story, anyhow. What’s yours?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Watered Paths

The magician hasn’t answered his phone. I have no idea what he is doing, no clue if this is a good thing or not. I’ve been calling him at least once every ten minute s for five hours. I imagine I can hear waves crashing on the shore from the hotel room I rented for Jay and me. Me and Jay. Jay and I; I can’t be bothered to care what it is. I’m six blocks from the ocean, I’ve got the window open and I’ve gone through three packs of cigarettes in as many hours and I can’t rest for trying. The god inside me is a roiling mass of barely contained fury. I have no idea where its anger ends and mine begins, not until the door to our room opens.

It was locked, but Jay tends to unbind locks without thinking. “Charlie,” he burbles as he comes into the room. He’s not even went, with his cane in one hand and a bag in the other, dark glasses not even slightly askew on his face despite him having dove into the ocean seven hours ago.

What time do you call this?” I snarl, and Jay goes still at that, colour draining from his face.


“You were going for a swim,” I say, and he rocks back at the anger I’m not even trying to hide. “You went under water, Jay. That was seven hours ago!”

Jay blinks, holding up the bag in a shaking hand. “I was touching nice coral and helping it, unbinding plastic from fish and I wath just going for a walk,” he whispers. “I brought you some shells?”

I haven’t heard him lisp in weeks. “Shells. Seven. Hours.” He drops the bag and just stands, frozen. “You’re not even wet!”

“I bound the water away from me, and I bound air in my lungs but I didn’t need it,” he whispers. “I was fine. I’m tough and –.”

“You don’t need to breathe?”

Jay shakes his head, not moving, trembling all over.

“And you didn’t know this before you decided to walk under water for seven hours?”

“No, I –.”

“Four hours I was waiting at the shore. I shouted your name until I was hoarse, Jay. You didn’t show up, didn’t find a way to call me or anything at all.”

“I – I didn’t mean –.” He bites into his lower lip. “I was exploring, because the mermaid on tumblr told me all about how cool the oceans were and I can’t see them but I could feel them and – and – and –.” His breath hitches and he falls silent.

“For all I knew you were dead,” I say, and my voice isn’t remotely even at all.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Jay says, the words coming out in a wail.

“You could have drowned or been eaten by a giant squid for all I knew!”

Jay lets out a whine and flings himself toward me for a hug; I backhand him into a wall without thinking. His glasses go sailing, and sightless eyes filled with fractured light and falling stars widen in shock.

“Charlie?” He doesn’t move at all.

“You were trusted into my care,” I say, and my voice is thick even to my ears. “Mine. And you could have died or been eaten or worse and you didn’t even think to find a way to let me know you were fine?”

Someone pounds on the door of the hotel room; I snarl back and hear them run away.

“I was having an adventure,” Jay says, so soft I barely hear him. “I was looking for the mermaid and the ocean feels different and has lots of bindings I got to know and others I got to fix and time doethn’t pass in the oceans like it does on land.” He sniffs loudly. “I didn’t even – I didn’t – I –.”

This time I manage not to strike out when he flings himself, wrapping trembling arms about me in a hug and saying the word sorry over and over. I manage to ruffle his hair and return the hug.

“You had me terrified, Jay.”

“I didn’t feel it. In the – the bindings, because I was all having an adventure,” he says, the words muffled.

“I know, I just –.” I take a deep breath, another, push him away. “Jay?”

He looks up, still trembling violently. I reach out; he doesn’t flinch as I gently pull his bottom lip out from his teeth.

“You trust me, after I hit you?”

“You’re my friend,” he says. “And – and sometimes friends hurt friends and – and – and –.”

I press a finger to his lips and hug him tight, and this time I tell him I’m sorry and ignore his confused asking of what I’m sorry for. I hold him tight until he’s not shaking and let go slowly after. “Shells?”

“I found a lot,” he says hesitantly.

“One bag in seven hours?”

“Uhm. I might have more outside? I kind of bound them into the air and pulled them beside me to the shore?”

I pause. “How many more?”

“Lots,” he says proudly, but still makes it a nervous question.

“Let’s go see them?” I pause. “Even though you can’t see?”

Jay blinks, then giggles at that and grabs my right hand, pulling me out of the hotel room and down the stairs.

Half the parking lot is overflowing with sea shells and bone in a riot of colours and shapes. It’s past midnight, but even so people are circling the pile in confusing, some taking pictures on cell phones. I take a deep breath, letting go of everything I can. “First off, unbind the pictures from their phones. Secondly, won’t the ocean want all this back?”

“I might have said I was only borrowing it. The water thinks long thoughts, so they’ll be okay with a few years,” he says happily.

I let go of his hand and stare down at Jay. “Where do you plan to keep a small mountain of shells for two years?”

“I can keep them in a hiding hole and give them to nice people?”

“Okay. You mind hiding them now before people get really confused?”

“But –.”

“They are very pretty, and I do like them, but people will wonder how they got here and get worried.”

“Oh! Okay,” Jay says, and must bind them somewhere wholly other because each shell is gone a moent later. “I kept the bag upstairs for us!”

“All right.” I grab his hand and pull him back toward the hotel room. “We can look at them now. I can tell you what each one looks like if you want?”

“Really?” Jay grins hugely and pulls his hand free to bounce up the stairs.

I follow him into the hotel room, closing the door behind us. “Kiddo? I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I know that,” Jay says. “Everyone gets mad at stuff, and I all scared you and I’m really sorry but!” I try not to flinch at the but. “But now it’s okay,” he continues, “and you can tell me all about the shells and make up for maybe being mean by getting us lots of pizza later?”

I remind myself Jay isn’t human at all, even if he does appear to be a human boy of about 11. I remind myself I am human. I take a deep breath and sit on one of the beds, and Jay plops down on it beside me and pulls shells out the bag and listens as I describe each one he runs his fingers over. I order pizza later, and he spends the rest of the time until dawn telling me about the sand under his feet and all the fish around him and how awesome it was.

“You want me to come with you next time?” I say finally, mentally smacking myself upside the head.

“Could you? We could go mermaid hunting!”

“I don’t think mermaids might want you using the term hunting,” I say dryly, fighting back a yawn. “But yes, we will. And I’m sorry.”

Jay frowns slightly. “I know; you already told me that. And I said I was sorry, so everythng is okay.” The grins hugely at that and bounces off to go sleep in the other bed, and for him everything is entirely okay.

I remember my anger, and the blow I struck. I don’t sleep for several hours, staring up at the ceiling. I think Jay might be awake when I start crying, but he just keeps quiet and pretends to sleep.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which Jay fails to make friends

Okay! I bet you know this, but there are no bindings between people and stars. For all sorts of reasons, but mostly because stars are really busy and humans work at different levels of time than they do. Like how bindings connect stuff, but it doesn’t mean everything is bound together because there are layers and warps to everything and not all bindings operate at the same speed or in the same place!

And I got all slapped by an old lady for explaining that to her when she was telling someone else how being a Taurus was all a thing and would Do Stuff. But! but but I was all happy because most humans don’t hit me when they realize I can’t see, even if Charlie says I am being annoying and she did and I was all happy for that but she wasn’t and it got all weird.

Charlie says that sometimes people can’t hear what they need to, or they find comfort in things that aren’t there. Kind of like how I think about Honcho tons even if he’s not around us, I guess, so that’s all okay. And it is kind of funny-sad that the first time a human hit me since I lost my sight is cuz they were mad when I’d rather they hugged me because they were happy :)

But Charlie says I have to work on making people happy, which might mean not being Jay. Only she’s just joking! :D

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Level Up

“I think I’m level four,” a voice shouts in joy as the owner lands beside me on my bed.

“Jay.” I don’t open my eyes. “The hotel manager already talked to you once about bouncing about and shouting at six in the morning.”

“But he was joking!”

I crank my eyes open at that and turn my head. Jay has on his dark glasses covering broken eyes, his smile wide and huge like an espresso kick at 4 am. “He was joking?”

“Beds are made for bouncing,” he explains. “Because they go boing!”

“And the shouting?” I ask because I can’t help myself. Sometimes Jay is like a trainwreck, or at least like Thomas the Tank Engine on speed and laughing gas at once.

“I’m all happy, so you need to know that,” he says.

“And you’re grinning like a fool wouldn’t tell me that?”

“I grin all the time. Except when I don’t,” he explains, then pauses and holds out a hand, his shoes snapping through the air to his grip as he binds them together. “See?”

“You have shoes. I knew this,” I growl.

“But I’m level four now!”

“Please tell me this is a new reason to keep you off of tumblr?”

“Charlie!” Jay sits up and shoves the shoes onto his feet. “See? See? They won’t fit! That means I’m level four!”

“Jay. Calm down,” I snap, and he deflates a little at that as I push him off the bed. “Clothing. Now.”

He blinks, then goes and puts on his jeans and a sweater after rummaging through clothing. The sweater is on backwards; I’m almost positive that’s because he can’t see.

I get out of the one bed and walk over, checking his ankles and wrists. “Huh. Hold still.”

He does, and yelps anyway when I smack him upside the head.

“Notice anything different?”

“That I’m not holding still next – oh!” Jay reaches up, rubbing his head. “You hit me lower than you usually do?”

“I did. You’ve grown at least an inch.” I don’t point out that human children don’t grow an entire inch overnight; I have no idea what it means that he has now. “Now you can train for level five before we go shopping for new clothing?”

“I can?”

“By sleeping for five more hours,” I say, and head back to bed.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fairy Gold

It takes time to find a fae, even for a Jay! There aren’t many fae in the world and they like to hide real good – maybe like a vacation, but I’m not sure. I go looking, and slipping into and through places, following bindings and finally finally the closest one hiding in the echo of a binding, disguised really small in a secret place inside a hill.


The fae’s voice is a whisper of power, so soft I’m not sure anyone else would even notice the binding. “What?”

“I said hi, because that’s what friends do.” I crouch down to the earth; the huge rock the fae is inside is way deep but I can bind my voice into rock as easily as eating pie. “My name’s Jay!”

“You are not fae. I do not know what you are; why are you here?”

I explain like an explaining machine, how Charlie and I are doing favours for the fae in helping made sure the tons of bindings they have with monsters and Outsiders are all working ands we get money for it and I kind of broke my tablet and need money.

The fae feels about in my head to figure out some of the words and its silence is deep and shocked. “I am the Great Betrayer, bound as deep as fae could bind for my crimes and I will not be released even if the universe itself should fail and you have found me in order to get money?”

“Oh! The fae bound you into the rock? I wasn’t sure, because it doesn’t feel like a fae binding at all.”

“The fae have changed over millions of years,” the fae says dryly. “You should seek another, and do not tell them you know where I am or they will destroy you and all you care about.”

I blink; the fae doesn’t use power in their voice, but some kind of truth like Honcho does. “But we’re friends!”


“Well, we’re all talking and you must be lots of kinds of lonely so that makes us friends, right?” Sometimes even fae are kind of slow!

“My solitude is part of my punishment. I did a terrible thing long ago out of arrogance and greed. You have it in you to do such things as well, if you could find me.”

“Charlie and Honcho would get really mad if I did bad stuff.”

“And they could stop you?” the fae asks.

“Honcho is really scary.”

“I see. I must return to my silence; do not disturb the wards about me again. Were I to get free, this world might not survive it.”

I scratch my head at that. “You don’t want to be free?”

“The price I would have to pay would be too high. You cannot see, Outsider – I imagine there are prices you would not pay in order to be able to see again.”

“Oh. Okay,” and I let go of talking to the hidden rock and stretch and go looking for another fae; I’m still not sure where I was even talking to or how I found it, but I think it might involve what Charlie calls quantum and I am pretty happy because I did make a friend even if we’re not friends yet. And I bind myself up good so I don’t think too hard about the fae’s voice and why it seemed familiar because sometimes forgetting is even more important than a new tablet.

Sometimes forgetting things is all that helps hold bindings together, which is all weird kinds of true but makes sense anyway.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kahn's Corner: Judging Books By Their Covers

Kahn's Corner: Judging Books By Their CoversPeople say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but good cover design can tell you a lot about a book's premise, themes, and tone.  Bad cover design can be confusing.  And no one has been consistently worse than Tutis Publishing with its "Great Classics Series."  Basically, Tutis decided to print a bunch of old classics whose copyrights had expired.  They then slapped on covers that range from bland to hilarious


This one alone is too much fun. Somewhere out there, there is somebody who must write OZ stories set in the world the classics series depicts. 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Hungry Truths

I spend the morning with Jay finding an entire nest of fairies for the fae; the fae just want to make sure the fairies aren’t doing anything untoward, as they put it. Which, when I asked for details, apparently means that creatures the size of an index finger have a tendency to gang up on people and eat them. I’m half-tempted to see if they could eat more than Jay in one sitting when he’s feeling hungry, but just settle for using the GPS the fae provide and running into the fairies in the woods – who prove they are not eating people by defending their territory with snowballs.

Jay and I have got really good at snowball fights lately. Between the both of us we win against the fairies and they’re so happy they decide to be our friends – which Jay spends most of the walk back to the motel we’re staying on going on about. I suspect this means he’s lost another follower on tumblr, but decide not to ask. I just walk, let his words wash over me as he tosses snowballs at trees to show his aim is improving when not binding snow to a tree and he even does two forward flips on ice to impress me. Thankfully, no one is around to see a blind kid of about ten doing that, though Jay is good at sensing if other people are paying attention to us; it has to do with bindings. With Jay, most things do.

“So,” I say as we reach the parking lot across from the motel, “you were going to show me something yesterday?”

He looks at me, eyes wide under dark glasses. “Charlie?”

“Jay. Don’t ‘Charlie’ me.” I stop, and he reluctantly stops as well, squirming in place. “Twenty minutes talking all about having made friends with fairies and how friendship is awesome. What do you think that is?”

He blinks. “Me talking?” warily.

“You’re trying to hard. To be funny, and goofy, and probably Jay as well.” I mean the last as a joke, but Jay flinches back from it.

“But –,” he protests.


“But you can’t see bindings!”

“I don’t need to see bindings to know something is wrong. Talk to me, kiddo.”

“I don’t want to,” Jay mumbles.

“You don’t want to talk,” I say as calmly as I can manage.

“Oh, no! I like that, but! I don’t want to show you the thing I’d show you,” he explains.

I let out a sigh of relief, and nod back into the wood behind us. “A little way back and then you can, all right?”

Jay hesitates, then nods and takes the lead, trudging slowly through snow. It’s hard to tell with the winter clothing I’ve made him wear, but I’d swear he’s trembling in fear. “It wath in the house,” he says, and I start at hearing the lisp in his voice as much as him not looking back at me as he talks. “The one with the evil ghost and the kid I couldn’t help with bindings and he was going to go downstairs and I had to stop him.”

“The boy is fine; the family as well.”

“I showed him parts of me I didn’t know I had,” Jay says as if I hadn’t spoken at all. “Honcho says I have before sometimes but this was by choice and that changes everything. I can feel it, like a set of clothing under the skin? A little like the god inside you but not like that at all,” and he sounds so miserable I want to hug him until he turns and faces me, his entire body taut with strain. The snow under him vanishes between one moment and the next, pushed back or away and

the god inside me rising out without my bidding, throwing its back up like a wall against the sky
a wall against seeing, a barrier against understanding, its fear mirroring my own will for will
beyond it are shadow made of quasars and movement I feel more than see, perception made
of smells the brain cannot process – there is height, width, length, depth, breadth – and
there are other things as well movements scraping places inside me, things a god-eater
could not eat for they are too alien to even be alien and then there is Jay, and his cane

Dark glasses under an almost-noon sky, his clothing the same as always, the boy’s face so pale I see veins under it and he’s shaking all over as the god flows back inside me like some wounded beast.

I don’t say his name. I walk over, and Jay doesn’t move at all beyond a taut tremble that dissolves as he collapses into me when I hug him. He seems heavier than he did before, his sobs shuddering through him. “Honcho said I should show you,” he manages, the words cracking wildly. “So you’d know, but you’re scared!”

“I am.” I hug him tighter. “But I’m more scared for you than I am of you, Jay.”

He makes a keening noise and is just curled up into my hug bonelessly, relief coming off of him in waves of desperation. I don’t try and process what I saw. I think I might in nightmares, but I don’t know. Is it what Jay really is, what he might become? I don’t know; I don’t think Jay does either.

“You shared this with me,” I whisper as I push him away slowly. “And with a human boy to save his life.”

Jay nods unsteadily, eyes locked on my face.

“You are the bravest person I know, to do that knowing what I might do.”

“I am not,” Jay says hotly, almost sounding like himself in that. “I was scared all the time, Charlie! Even when I wasn’t me, and I don’t – I don’t think that Jay is suppossed to be scared at all.”

“Being unafraid isn’t bravery or courage,” I offer, and stand slowly, holding his left hand gently in mine. “The question I have is can you avoid doing that in a snowball fight?”

Jay blinks, gaping at me.

“If you did that during a snowball fight, I would have to call it cheating.”

Jay says nothing at all as I let go of his hand and turn back toward the motel. “You mean that,” he whispers, as he walks up beside me after a few steps, meaning so many things with those words that it hurts.

“We are friends, and friendship-bindings are important,” I say.


“What? You didn’t think I’d make fun of you?”

“Not after that,” he snaps crossly.

“Well, tough.” And Jay giggles in fits and starts at that the rest of the way back to the motel.

I try and pretend this is the Jay I know. I try and pretend it is enough.

And he wants it to be enough so much that we almost trick ourselves along with each other. 

Mental catch-up

Sometimes the brain just needs a break. I've been meaning to do the second-half of a novel (well, really two novellas) but will probably give my brain until closer to Feb. to drop back into that. Finishing up a nicely dark story about screwed-up magic this weekend (I hope); I know how it ends, just working on the beats leading up to it. After that it's a couple of story ideas for the magician series and there's something odd niggling at the back of my head involving a comment that was made to be in HS and my going "what if?" on it.

Also occupying myself by reading a fiction series I'm not really enjoying thus far -- there are over seven books in it, so obviously others do. Using it as an interesting example in how NOT to world-build, for the most part.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Hotdog Bribery

Sometimes being a magician is about the simple things. I leave Dana to her duties and just walk the downtown core of a city, letting the magic lead me where it wants, changing the world in small ways. A fight averted here, a vehicle starting there, an illness shaken away over here. I walk and touch the world is small ways, unnoticed by anyone I pass. Sometimes it’s the good you do that no one will ever know that is the best. The problem of being the wandering magician of an age is you attract stories and do things that make more stories and sometimes you just need a break from everything like that.

I walk down run-down streets, put wards on soup kitchens against infestations of insects or inspectors, shore up pipes in buildings. The city has a magician, but few magicians object to aid – there is only so much anyone can do and always things we miss. We are magicians but still human, and humans make errors, mistakes, don’t quite understand what their magic wants from them at times, or we twist it into some form we desire rather than what a situation needs.

My magic is tender to the feel, moving slowly at my will. I gave it to Dana for some hours to air her, and the magic doesn’t know what to make of that. Some days I do not either. We act, and only after do we understand why we acted in the ways we did. And sometimes we make choices our magic would not make, because we are not slaves even to miracles and certainly not to ourselves. Not the usual afternoon thoughts I have, but they’re mine and I just let my thoughts drift, let the magic know what I am thinking. Let the deeper parts of me understand how Dana is helping me.

Everyone uses, and everyone is used. Knowing that makes some things easier. Not all things, but at least some of them.

I’m considering coffee or food as I slip down a side alley when the smell of a hotdog catches my nose. Fried onions and nothing else on it, as I like them, and the smell of fresh coffee. I don’t turn around. There are creatures that lay traps, and I have some enemies that pretend not to be enemies at all. It’s complicated.

“Yes?” I thread no power into my voice; I have wards made from the city around me if I need to use them.

“Honcho?” Jay’s voice is small, cracking a little. He hid himself until now, and this close he can’t hide anything else, the bindings between us humming wildly with terror and fear. Of himself, rather than Charlie, which is almost a relief.

I turn. “Kiddo.”

Jay is holding the hot dog in one hand along with a white cane, the coffee in the other, the boy’s eyes hidden behind dark glasses. I fancy I can still see what look like shattered lightbulbs and falling stars even through the glasses. I just take the hot dog and coffee, bracing myself for a huge grin or hug and pause when neither comes. Jay isn’t trying to strengthen the bindings between us, not even to use them at all.

I eat the hot dog slowly, sip coffee. “You want to get yourself a hot chocolate?”

Jay shakes his head. “Charlie is in the shower, so I went to a between-place and came to talk?”

“And you thought you had to bribe me with food?”

That wins a grin. “Charlie bribes me with it all the time,” he says happily.

I walk over to a couple of stairs behind a closed business and sit. Jay sits beside me, keeping close but not too close. “So. This is the part where you can talk.”

Jay just gulps and looks down at his hands, not moving. I finish my coffee and just wait, being better with silence than Jay is. He manages almost four minutes before looking up toward me. “There was this scared kid and I couldn’t hug him or do bindings to help and he was going to get hurt so I had to help him and I showed him I wasn’t human at all,” he gets out in a rush, his lisp almost entirely gone from his voice.

“You are tough; you hit yourself with a knife and it broke?” I ask, since Jay could do a lot of things to show he wasn’t human. He hides his nature so well sometimes even I forget he’s not human, but this doesn’t feel like that at all.

Jay shakes his head, biting into his lower lip.

I reach over and gently pull his lip free of his teeth. “Show me?”

“I can’t –.” Jay lets out a low whine, voice cracking wildly.

Show me,” I say, using the bindings between us and my own nature to demand an answer and Jay lets out a gasp of relief at the command, at the order, and –

the sound is a burst of white noise hammering the eyes
shadow a silhouette burning from the inside out
there is a sound pretending to be clockwork
cloud roiling as the world shuddering trembles
peeling inside out upside naywards inside in

and –

I blink as Jay shudders all over and picks up his cane. It takes him two tries and the kid is trembling all over in terror. I remain seated as Jay just stares at me, terror radiating from him in waves, his hands white knuckled on his cane.

“That’s new,” I say. Jay just goes prey-still, not moving at all. “At least your clothing comes back from that. You feel okay?” Jay shakes his head minutely. “I imagine you want to do it again.”

His eyes grow wide behind his glasses.

“You want to, but you’re scared to,” I say as gently as I know how. “Because whatever you become, it feels – more normal than being Jay. More natural. You’ve changed since entering the universe; I’ve altered you, friendships have altered you, you’ve altered me and definitely Charlie,” I say the last so dryly Jay can’t help but grin at it. “But being Jay is only part of what you are. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be Jay.”

“I know that,” he says crossly.

“You’re worried Charlie will treat you differently.” I don’t say he was worried I might; Jay won’t dare admit that to himself. He does nod, looking away. “She might. Change is never easy, Jay. Bindings alter when we change that can never go back to where they were, not if the change is to have any meaning. Before I had the magic, I was a kid like any other.”

Jay snorts at that idea, but does at least look back at me.

“I was, and an old man down the road was dying of cancer. He made peace with the pain, with his wife, his children. And his neighbours and his friends. In the month he had, he did all of that, even with me over the time I’d broke a window in his house with a baseball and I asked if the stories were true about him being enlightened, because he’d fixed so much in his life and those of his friends that people were calling it that. And he said yes. He said he had done things he never thought he could, set aside his ego and healed wounds he’d never thought he could, in himself and in others. But he also said that, if he could do it over, he’d rather have never had the cancer.

“Change, even good change, isn’t something welcomed or sought. You can’t expect Charlie to not be shocked if you’re forced to – do that – in front of her. Especially if you don’t warn her about it at all.”

Jay blushes at that. I stand and hold out a hand, and he flings himself into me, trembling violently in the hug I offer him. “Honcho,” he whispers, and there is so much need and loss in that word that it takes everything I am not to react to it.

“Kiddo,” I say, and finish the hug gently. “You need to get back and check on Charlie.”

“But –. But –,” he says, his face a naked yearning.

“I can’t travel with you right now,” I say softly. “And not just because I’m the reason you can’t see. Or because you did that,” which wins a surprised giggle. “I would keep using you Jay, and it’s not fair to either of us if I do do. Travel with Charlie. Keep her safe, let her keep you safe. You’re scared of me sometimes, kiddo: it’s okay if Charlie is scared of you sometimes as well.”

“But I don’t want her to be,” he mumbles.

“I know. But you can’t force her not to be, and she will be even more angry if you try – or if you hide things from her when you shouldn’t. So, go.”

Jay moves somewhere sideways from the world, vanishing entirely. I probe the alley gently, but the world seems to have healed from the strain of trying to cope with what Jay was for a moment. I walk out to the nearest coffee shop for another coffee, and wonder if Jay realized that all he was doing was putting on the clothing of what he might one day become, that it was just echoes of what might be and nothing else at all. I didn’t think so, and I was pretty certain he’d be terrified of himself if he knew that.

I drink coffee, because if I go to a bar one drink will become six in my current mood. I get a second coffee and just walk the city, not using magic at all this time. Just walking, losing myself in movement and wondering if Jay was strong enough to bear the truth of what he was – or if I was just too scared to tell him what I suspected for fear I’d make it come true. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ending Ghosts

Sometimes being Jay isn’t enough.

Sometimes even being a Jaysaurus isn’t big enough at all. Sometimes, I feel a little bit like a Jaysaurus is a t-rex with arms not near long enough to hug anyone and I get kind of sad-face about that.

There are weird things about being a Jay, or at least this Jay: I can sense ghosts, now that I can’t see, but I still destroy them when I come into contact with them. Even Honcho doesn’t know why: it might be all because I’m from Outside the universe but I dunno. Lots of other things run into ghosts just fine and it means it’s really hard to make friends with them. So I just tag along with Charlie and make sure to stay away from the ghosts when she goes all ghost-eating, but this time feels all different: the bindings of the house are broken – human ones and all the others too. Something had eaten them all, and is hungry and a lot of kinds of not-nice.

Bad people break more bindings that good people. This is totally a Jay Fact!

I warn Charlie, so she pulls up in the god inside her for power and goes into the house to Ask Questions in a kind of voice that’s really hard to ignore. The parents haven’t see a thing, because they don’t believe ghosts are real and they hit their son an awful lot because they said he was lying when they had to almost know he wasn’t and it hurt their own bindings awful fierce, like a tooth ache behind the eyes, only for the self.

Charlie says ghosts don’t go bad often, not like humans go bad. She says there are Laws, and creatures like what Dyer is now in the Grey Lands, and they pull bad ghosts out of this world and punish them but sometimes things slip between cracks or they don’t find the bad ghosts fast enough. She adds that some ghosts don’t understand when jokes stop being jokes at all, and gives me a very pointed look at that.

I’m maybe trying to make Jay-jokes but it’s all hard because the house feels bad, the kind of broken bindings that the humans have to fix themselves and I’d only break if I fix them, and Charlie asks me to go upstairs while she deals with the ghost and the parents – because she can call the ghost into the world as well as eat it, which I didn’t know before now – and she hurts the humans in different ways by showing them a world that exists inside the one they live in and they’re not up for it at all.

The boy is upstairs in his bedroom, his bum raw from spankings, and he’s all skinny-thin from lack of meals and the worst of his bruises don’t show at all because they’re all deep inside, plus his bindings are all broken, and he’s scared to bind to anyone and the only reason he hasn’t become a ghost – in the bad way – is because the ghost left him terrified of dying. Which is a binding worse than breaking bindings sometimes, if you make them all sour. The room smells awful bad, and I’m kind of glad I can’t see the bed.

I want to hug him, but he’s too scared to hug anyone or even touch them because the ghost did bad-things and he is all scared of me even if I’m a Jay and I’m really good at not being scary at all, and not just because I’m really good at hiding that I’m not human. I can’t even see anymore and I all have a cane and glasses and he’s still all scared, like there’s not room for anything else inside him. And since he is scared of everything I just sit on the floor of his bedroom and say Charlie is all stopping the ghost, but he won’t believe that at all. I think he might if he sees Charlie, because she is really scary even without the god inside her, but Charlie is all busy.

His bindings all crack, because he knows the ghost is downstairs with his parents and they’ve hurt him but he wants to save them despite that and that hurts everything because I don’t think he’d survive the ghost as he is now and I say Charlie is all dealing with it but he won’t believe me, and I get up from the floor, moving between him and the door. He goes to move past, trying to get out of the bed, and he’s too scared to be afraid of me now and that’s really annoying.

I can Do Things sometimes but he hurts too much and no binding I make is going to not hurt him right now, so I tell him I’m not human and we’re here to help, and downstairs is all a screaming and breaking of things as Charlie banishes the ghost. Charlie is busy, and Honcho isn’t around, and the boy is so scared and I can’t help as Jay and I don’t know what I can do, that isn’t all binding and hugging and – and –

and I let him see something else to be scared of to change his bindings. I show him some parts of Jay I don’t show anyone at all, not even me! And he gets how everyone is scared of themselves, and how we hurt ourselves by never trying to and that his parents hurt themselves in hurting him and how you can only forgive if you don’t forget. I teach myself that, too, a little better, and I feel kind of weird after.

And the boy sits back on his bed, and I can feel him staring at me as if a Jay has lots of weird heads to stare at and he’s kind of scared of me instead of the ghost now. I don’t even know what I did, only that I flexed something like a muscle but it wasn’t one and I’m pretty almost certain I wasn’t Noticed but I’m all scared and he gets off his bed to hug me and I don’t dare hug him without hurting him and he goes back into his bed and under the covers when Charlie comes in.

Charlie’s god is a monster-under-a-bed she ate it and kids know that and trust her so the kid believes her when she says the ghost is gone, and she asks if I’m okay and I say nope, because I’m not, and I don’t say other stuff at all. The kid remains under the covers, and Charlie doesn’t know that’s because of me and not her or the ghost so she says his parents will be coming upstairs later and he should remember how scared they are. She doesn’t tell him to be nice or nothing, just to remember.

Charlie takes me by the hand down the stairs and outside. The parents in the living room don’t pay attention to us at all and the place is all broken things but bindings are trying to form again, and I leave them all alone because I’m not sure what I’d do to them right now. I can walk just fine with my cane and sensing bindings but I don’t even try and just let Charlie lead me outside to our van and I let her all hug me inside it until I feel a little better, and I do the same back.

“That was rough,” Charlie says, and she means ruder things. “You going to be okay?”

“I don’t know,” I say, because that’s all true and Charlie doesn’t press me at all and it’s almost lying but not lying and I’m way too scared to say anything else. I’ve been more-than-Jay before, but only when desperate or really mad and most of the time I don’t let myself remember it, but now I can feel it, the rest of me inside me like an itch somewhere really far away and also way to close. Tying not to think about it doesn’t help so I get out my phone and listen to lots of music until I can try and feel okay again.

Some things not even huge hugs can help at all.

In which Jay does new year resolutions...

Jan 1st

“Jay.” Charlie doesn’t raise her head from the bed. “Sick. Tired. Remember?”

I don’t bounce on the bed at all, but I do all plop down on it. “I know, but – but – but it is the new year and we need resolutions, right?!”

“I resolve not to kill you,” she mutters.

“Okay! I resolve to do lots more hugs and make even more friends,” I say, because that is all Important.

She shifts a little on the bed. “How’s that different?”

“Because it was something I am, and now it’s going to be something I do.” And I all hug Charlie and that and unbind the sickness right from her.

“Jay?” Charlie returns the hug as she sits up and that’s all kinds of nice. “What did you do?”

“I thought you were all hungover-sick, but you’re not so I all fixed it,” I say proudly. “Honcho thaid I’m not to unbind hangovers since that’s sick people do to themselves.”

“Uh huh.” Charlie lets go of the hug and pushes me gently off the bed. “So. You came in just to ask about resolutions, huh?”

“Maybe,” I say, which is totally not a lie but my stomach all talks on its own after.

“And maybe you’d like food?”

“If that’s okay? You could have some too!” I feel her shake her head through the bindings between us, but in a funny way and not a sad one. “Also, you can do your resolution by making us food.”

“I can what?”

“Not killing me. You said you wouldn’t, so that definitely means we need lunch now.”

Charlie throws one of her shoes at my head, but I duck and get into the main room of the motel suite before she throws other things and everything is okay because she is calling me names but not meaning any of them, so I offer to give her the sickness back so she can stay in bed and she finds other things to throw at me in the living room but I dodge every one because I’m getting really good at that.

She goes and makes lunch really spicy, though. Even for a Jaysaurus!

Jan 2nd

"Jay, no."

"But I'm all doing up resolutions like you said, telling them to my phone and it records the and --."

"Resolutions for the new year don't work like that," Charlie says, and she is trying to sound al patient. "You can't resolve to be featured at least once a month, quoted at least twice a month on tumblr and get more than one gift next Christmas. These aren't things you can do."

"But I could tell some really good stories! Maybe even true ones, and be all a quotemeister of awesome!"

"Uh-huh. And getting more gifts?"

"I can totally blackmail people with hugs!"

"With hugs."

"Really good ones," I say proudly. "Because! I'm going to practise a lot."

"Right. But you can't make people feature you or quote you."

"Oh." I let out a huge sigh and figure I better wait until Charlie goes out before I say the rest of my resolutions then, mostly because the rest are all about her :)

Jan 2nd

Resolutions for Charlie, a Jay-list of awesome!

Because Charlie is out I can all record them on my phone and I’m trying to get all better at doing them and Charlie says they should be about stuff I can do. Uhm!
  • I’m gonna give a lot more hugs without reason.
  • And I’m all sad Honcho isn’t with us but that’s not Charlie’s fault so I’m going to try real hard not to be sad at all :)
  • And make sure I quote Charlie sometimes too. So she can be all Jay-famous too.
  • Charlie needs dates, so I need to get her some. Probably human ones.
  • She is really sad I can’t see anymore, so I need to help her be less sad by helping me tons.
  • I might need to figure out when jokes go bad BEFORE she threatens to kill me [even if she can’t because she made a resolution not to:)].
  • And I need to tell her how scared I am about Stuff without making her scared and that might be a little hard.
  • Because we’re all friends and I don’t want to lose that by stopping being Jay, or at least not the Jay she knows? I think there might be things even hugs and bindings can’t fix up. I don’t want to do those. Or be them. Okay?
  • Okay :)
The last part is also for me!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Facebook status updates part XXX (Dec 2014)

Proposed Urban Fantasy Novel:
"Vampires On Benefits!
Sucking the state dry while they suck your blood too!”

“You can tell the Secret Service to stand down.”
“Mr. President? But you said –.”
“When my daughter said she had been hijacked, she meant a post she made on tumblr was hijacked.”
“Sir, I don’t know what that means.”
“It means you stand down.
“Yes, sir.”

"I told the would-be mugger that I had pictures of my grandchildren," Edna said. "I don’t think threatening to show him all of them makes me a terrorist."

"It would be easier if the world had monsters in it that warranted the fear we have of them."

“You misunderstood my poem,” the poet said.
“My theory was entirely sound,” the critic snarled.
“No, no. No one understood it. There was a typo in it.”

"You don't believe in ghosts even after making your fair share if them?"
"All the more reason to not believe."

Dear Santa:
Jane says you only give gifts that can be made in China. I hopes she's wrong. This year, could Daddy not yell at Mommy quite as loudly next year? I don't like it when Mommy cries.
- Tommy.

"There are six numbers that no autodialling service in the world can ever find. For the right price, I can make yours number seven."

Dear Santa:
I’m not sure if I liked you better when I thought you were Jesus.
- Ed.

This space intentionally left almost blank.

If only I had been real. Imagine what we could have been then, you and I.

Being subjected to discrimination does not automatically make you on the side of justice.

I pretended we were real, just to see if you'd notice.
You did.
I expected a Christmas card this year, not the restraining order.
(Not again.)

I have found nothing on the internet linking antibiotics with the antichrist.
Conspiracy nuts, I am rather disappointed in you.

He judged the worth of his love poem by how much of it he deleted.

“You are the only conspiracy theory I need.”

A horror story where everyone in the world dies due to no one reading the terms and conditions of a product.

"It isn’t over. Not until the fat lady sings and her dying notes are captured on a YouTube video that gets over a million likes and not a single comment tearing her down for any reason."
"Huh. Interesting way to stop the world from ending."
"I thought so."

“If I don’t make it back –.”
“Tell your family you loved them, sir?”
“Oh, no. They’ll know that given how far into enemy lines I am going.”
“Sir, it is only six days until Christmas. The madness is not yet at fever pitch.”
“But the crowds. The vehicles.”
“Just so, sir.”
“If I don’t make it back, tell my family I wish – I wish I had loved them a little less.”

Part of me thinks that, between network buggery and focus group BS it's amazing any TV show succeeds at all.

I am considering patenting the Poutine Diet.

Everything we are, m’ dear,
is only a plagiarism of much older stories.

I have yet to watch any of Agents of SHIELD, but I think it would be funny if they made it canon that the cost of SHIELD was why the government could never balance their budget.

Dear Santa:
This year could Mommy and Daddy wait until Boxing Day to fight?
- Love, Kim

"Be with me. Be my love, the only star I see in the sky, the sun to my shade, the wind to my apple tree, the mountain to my climbing, the song to my singing. Be the dance to my danger, the loved to my loving, the restaurant meal to my fast food, the dreamer to my dreaming. Be my everything to my nothing, the hope to my despair. Or I will sic my lawyers on you."

I have a theory that Jesus hasn't returned yet because the duty free allowances in Heaven are really strict.

You keep asking what I want for Christmas and that we are here and you are asking me is more than everything I ever wished for.

This post is a gift.

If you are in a hurry to unwrap gifts, please make sure they don't meow or bark beforehand.

Items I gave relatives for Christmas (a partial list)
Silver Suit (Christmas Vacation, baby)
Lump of Coal
Toilet Paper (single roll)
Box of Nothing

It was hard to leave. The pay, the perks. The bonuses every year without fail. The free room and board, the meals the bosses wife made us – but you had to be an elf. They wouldn’t let you be a dwarf. Maybe it’s changed since then, but I doubt it.

"I keep forgetting you can’t read my mind. I love you, too."

It would be fun if someone did an in-depth study on how children raised by child psychologists turn out.

Jeff's superpower of being able to instantly know the weight of anything he touched proved useful in the kitchen but far less so on dates.

My Year On Facebook:
I posted things.

I used to be scared of you until I died. You are so easy to haunt.

It’s not that god is missing. Rather, one should say, hiding in shame that this poor universe was the best that god could make. We are proof it was a failure. Well, us and the platypus.”

“I know you held love out to me, but I am holding out hope and that is a deeper sacrifice by far.”

“But I don't want to hurt you,” I lied.

“We are running out of secrets to share together, satisfying ourselves with bedroom whispers, bruised kisses and hunger for a world that is more than dreams. All we have left are the kinds that wound: I wantr to tell you there are no fairy tales, your eyes tell me you wish I had another’s face.”

"I used to be a poet." She didn’t touch the lit cigarette in the ashtray.
"And then what happened?"
"I suppose you could say I grew up. Yeah, you can put that down."
"Is that the reason?" the interviewer pressed.
"I don’t know. I don’t know anymore."
She stared at the cigarette and said nothing more at all.

"I can't write your story. I can't even write my own."
The author set down their pen and put each blank page of the unwritten story into the shredder.

“It’s like when you go to open a game on your phone. Not any game, but one you’d put real money into, invested your time and energy and then suddenly it no longer works. It’s just like that, what we had between us. You are an app that no longer works and I don’t know why.”

Morality clung to him like an illness he could not shake.