Sunday, March 29, 2015

Shift #3

You don’t become the kind of person I am without learning control. Control of yourself, of your surroundings, of the moment and the moments between those. You can be a monster, yes, but it is you that lets that out, you that pulls it back inside. If one succeeds at anything in being a magician, it is in that or nothing at all. Not if one is to last. And the key, the core, is to know when you should never do magic at all. There are times, even for magicians, when magic is so tempting that it can’t be the solution to a problem. Once you think ‘only magic can fix this’ you start down a dangerous path.

I know all this; most of the time I even believe it. Three days into the job and I am fighting the urge to tell a customer in the electronics department to go away with power threaded into my voice, speaking words that would ensure they never went near electronics again in their life. “No, Mr. Carmichael, I do not know where every part in this hair dryer comes from. Nor if the remote for the TV was made in Japan along with the rest of the TV.”

“Well! There is no need to take that tone with me, young man. The customer is always right and it is your job to –.”

I am trying to take a break from being a magician. From knowing that I can’t give up being the wandering magician, that too much depends on me, on magicians in general, for me to just cast the magic aside and try and live in the normal world. Some part of me probably thought this would be a vacation, to pull my magic in as far as I could. To seem as normal as I could, and I can seem very normal indeed even when I am myself.

“My job,” I say softly, so softly he has to fall silent to hear me. I use softness like others would a scream, saying: “My job is to sell items to customers and move onto the next to meet invisible quotas no one talks about but everyone working here knows exists. It is not to spend over one hour dealing with the asinine questions of people so desperate for attention that they drive the rest of the world away from them.”

“I demand to –.”

“Speak to my manager? For the fourth time this month, or the fifth? Do you honestly think he cares what you have to say? That anyone does?” I say as he stares in shock. “At least some of the children who wreck the toy department have a valid excuse for their actions. You have nothing at all beyond some desire to treat others as if they were your servants, as if they should be beholden to your whims.”

He raises a hand, and drops it as I feel my slow smile widen. Mr. Carmichael spins and storms away, bellowing about how he’s never been treated like this and how poor the customer service is, screaming at the assistant manager for over ten minutes. Afterward, the assistant manager comes over to shake my hand. It doesn’t make me feel any better.

I am left to wonder that there are not more holes torn into the universe in this place, that every department store is not riddled with creatures from Outside the universe. Later, I take my break with Aki, who works in the stock room and whose eyes are sometimes doorways to distant worlds. She is tall and solid, and no one here thinks she is anything but human because fae work their glamors on monsters quite well indeed.

“You’re not going to last, are you?” she asks between carrot sticks.

“I think I will manage the rest of the shift.”

“I meant the week,” she says dryly.

“I am trying.”

“I once worked for a new age bookstore,” Aki says. “The kind that sold actual sasquatch-hunting kits and published books filled with the kind of tripe the Weekly World News wouldn’t have dared to publish.”

“May I ask why?”

“Fae might give us human glamours, but jobs still aren’t easy to come by, I had to binge on YouTube and Netflix for two years to be able to have normal conversations with human co-workers. Better than being stuck with family though, at least sometimes.”

“It’s enough, then?”

“It helps. It also helps that once I start killing idiots, I might never know when to stop.” She chuckles after.

“Does that happen to bigfoot often?” I ask, because I can’t not be me.

“Often enough. Start killing, even for the best of reasons, and eventually the killing becomes all that you are. Consumes you, if you aren’t careful, if you don’t mourn every time you take a life. The thing about well-intentioned extremists is that eventually all that is left is the extremist.” She grins, a flash iof large yellowed teeth. “It doesn’t matter to the dead if those who killed them acted from noble causes or not.”

“Point. Sometimes being a magician is like that. You have power, though not in the sense that the powerful would understand. And eventually all that is left is what you can do, rather than the reasons that you do it.”

“We police ourselves. Sasquatches, some of the other monsters as well. My uncle is one and he said you never go off duty. I imagine it’s like that, magician.”

“It is.” I smile and stand, shrugging slightly as I am myself again, rather than merely me. “Thank you for that.”

“Least I could do; you helped me with the flea problem,” Aki says easily. By unspoken consent, we mention nothing else.

I walk through the store, checking departments, greeting people. Using magic to pull tension from places, place it into bags customers will struggle to open at home, turn the frustration of the staff into a ward about myself when a manager demands to know why I’m not in electronics. I ask what he is doing, what work he is contributing, and he stumbles back from my voice. I keep walking, and gentle the world about me.

Some of it is magic, some of it is simply me. I laugh once, softly, at how foolish the idea of closing my magic off is. I can’t not be a magician, and not only because I’m not suited to any other job at all. We invest so much in being ourselves, and we think we can take a break from our lives by walking away from that. All I have, all I can do, is grow more deeply into being who and what I am. I apologize to my magic in silence.

I am not fired by day’s end, but I tell the assistant manager I will not be back. He asks no questions, doesn’t press for me to remain. I suggest that Aki may have some friends seeking work, and he just nods, though there are questions in his eyes. He saw something, or once knew something, and I watch the knowledge rise and then fade as he walks away. He is not weak in this: everyone is strong in the ways they can afford to me.

I head back to the motel room Dana and I are renting, and suggest we pack. The fae looks up from a paperback novel she is reading, seeming entirely human. “Better?”

Only that, and nothing more. “I think so. I’m getting there.”

She just nods and pulls our packed bags from inside the dresser in silence, carrying them out to be van she rented using her CSIS credit card. I wonder how much of her human form is tied up into Dana-as-a-CSIS-agent. I wonder if that is why she offered no comment when I told her I was applying for jobs. But I leave her silence alone and get into the van.

“Where do we need to be?”

“Anywhere we want,” she says, and pulls out of the parking lot; I am pretty sure she does a glamour so that I don’t hear the tires squeal at all.

We pass where I worked, and I let go. But this time it is only a letting go, and not a farewell.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jay Saurusing!

Charlie sends me a lot of worried texts when I’m out walking, until I finally have to turn my phone off because there’s only so many ways you can say you’re fine and I’m totally Jaycumber cool fine, like a Jay! Because that’s my name, and it’s kind of what I am sometimes. The thing about an adventure that Charlie doesn’t get is really simple: if you know what’s going to happen, it’s not an adventure – and definitely not an adventure! So I go all a-wandering like anyone can, and totally wait to find out what happens.

(I almost said I’d see what happens, but I can’t see. I can sense bindings and I learn a lot from that. Plus I’m really tough and can be fast but that makes is hard to sense bindings as well – like, I can run fast as a Jay but I sometimes get hit by cars because I don’t sense them quick enough when they bind to me even if I do hear the horns go off and Charlie says it’s pretty mean to scare humans into thinking they hit a normal eleven year old boy when really they can’t hurt me with just a small car. Which was all a huge and long way of saying I’m not human even if I look human but! I’m totally cute and a Jayboss :))

The city is pretty big but I like walking because cities are full of lots of near sounds and smells. I miss not being able to see but Honcho promised he and Dana would fix me all up so I’m all waiting on that and on Honcho travelling with Charlie and me again and not being sad when I don’t want to be, which is most of the time. A few people ask if I’m OK because I kind of wander into not-safe streets but I say I’m find even if I have to bind a couple of them into believing me because they are pretty concerned about a human child on their own.

One old lady tells me that white kids shouldn’t be on a street and I’m confused about that because I’m not a vampire (which is a really long story but a true one!) and she explains it’s all about skin and I point out I have skin and she gets a little cross and says life isn’t a comedy and even a blind kid should know about skin tones and I say I do but human is human so it’s not important, because a few days ago Charlie said personal isn’t the same as important and she was all quoting someone who died and was all sad about that but it struck me as a pretty true thing to say. But I also think that humans get way too confusled over male and female when it’s all human and they have tons of options about what human is for them anyway. Sometimes humans are pretty confusing about lots of things!

So I keep wandering, and offer a huge Jay-hugging to people who try and be mean and it mostly worked even if someone does try and hurt me so I have to avoid being hurt but kinda scare them a little and one angry human says white people don’t dance like that and definitely don’t move like a Jay so I explain that I was avoiding fighting and I don’t dance because Charlie won’t let me and the last time I tried I had way too many arms for a little while and Charlie had to go sit down and people might have been a little scared and I don’t like being being scared of me.

“You think I’m scared of you?” he asks, and I say yes, because he has a gun and I heard it get loaded and that’s not smart because it might go off too early and he says he doesn’t have that problem but! I say I’m sure the safety is off and his friends all laugh a lot even if I’m not sure why! But it’s really hard to be mean when people are laughing and sometimes laughter can be like a hug when it isn’t mean.

So I keep on going and wander more and end up in the centre of the city with huge buildings with mean dragons inside them. They’re the kind that have companies and hoards of invisible money – Charlie tried to explain economics to me once but it seemed way too weird to make sense at all and was mostly about making bindings that didn’t even exist and using those to hurt ones that did. I kind of avoid dragons like this cuz destroying them hurts a lot of things and they try and make themelves so big that no one can destroy them without doing even worse things because of that.

Plus, boring dragons never fly at all! I think most of them even forget they are dragons, but Charlie says they probably do this for tax reasons. Which was probably a joke I didn’t get. Anyway, I keep wandering all morning, making friends by being all Jaysome, helping lots of bindings when I can and it’s really nifty what you can do for bindings with just hugs alone. So I totally make lots of friends until I find a really sour binding, like a rotten apple that ruins other apples.

He is all human, because often a lot of monsters are even if it makes me pretty sad to know that. He is wearing a suit that fits him like dreams do so it probably cost lots of money and having people kicked out of a building he plans to tear down just because he can. Sometimes people that don’t need money at all seem to find a lot of joy in destroying people who do. So I march over like a Jay and explain that, and he tells his people to get rid of me and I could vanish like a Jay but then they’d hurt all these people.

And his people aren’t bad people and don’t like what they’re doing a little but they still do it like lots of humans do jobs and If I bind them Charlie might get mad over it and they might get scared if I hurt them, so I speak like a Jaysaurus and tell them to take a break. And it’s totally not a binding because it’s a suggesting and they do it. Only the man doesn’t and he has lots of bindings to important humans and all the people living here are really scared and being Jay can’t fix that.

So I Saurus. Which I’d never thought of a not being Jay, but is a really good term for it! I open my eyes, and open them again and I don’t even know what to say for all that at all. Like for a moment I’m really big, and even bigger though I still look just like Jay and I make him change, but it’s not a binding since it’s totally a change he’ll do to himself and I don’t even know how I do it because I close my eyes – they aren’t even eyes, but I call it that – and I’m cold all over and shivering and I move sideways from the world a little to rest.

I hurt in deep inside-places and I’m pretty sure I broke things that aren’t rules because no one can break them, but I am friends with a magician, and Charlie and I am a Jay so I kind of did anyway and I rest, and sleep a little with really weird dreams and go back to visit Charlie back at our room. And I say I’m all fine and had an adventure but I don’t fool her at all even if she just gets us pizza and then hugs me, and doesn’t even tickle-attack at all! The hug is really nice, and I maybe fall asleep even before pizza arrives which I never do it at all but Charlie just wakes me and we eat and she doesn’t ask about what it was like to Saurus at all.

Because sometimes, I think, friendship is about not-bindings as well, and that’s pretty important too.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mirror Images

In the mirror, my reflection has a beard. I’ve never had one, for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because too man fictional magicians have them. Not having one saves on some confusion and ridicule, at least sometimes, though I once did magic in front of a boy who flatly refused to admit it was real magic because I didn’t have a beard. The power of stories to narrate truth is terrifying, if one thinks about it too hard.

I finish combing my hair. My reflection follows suit, but his eyes never leave mine. They burn, glittering with power and potential.

“Are you an offering or a trap today?”

The magic smiles at that. “Am I never both, magician?”

“Sometimes. Perhaps. We don’t talk often enough for me to be sure.” Dana isn’t in the hotel room, but I pull the desire for privacy in the hotel about me, using it to ward the door against intrusion.

“So casual. Do you know how many magicians have their magic speak to them?”

“Too many?” His expression is unreadable. “Not enough,” I add after a pause.

The danger of power is the having of it, of knowing you have it, needing others to know you have it. My magic speaks softer than I have in years, his voice hesitant, scared in ways I never let others know me. “You’ve been thinking too often about it.”

No need to ask what. There is only one it between us. I want to look away, so I don’t. “I’ve been a magician for over ten years, walked the world of small miracles, made ones that are not small. I have wandered, and I have acted, and magic does nothing that does not demand a price. To change people, even – especially – for a good cause. We have done things.”

“We have done good,” he says sharply.

“I know. I was there.” That wins no smile. “But we’ve accumulated debts, more than a single lifetime can repay. Imagine if reincarnation happens, of what I am doing to every incarnation that would come after me. I have done too many things that I can never pay back.”

The magic is quiet, then says: “Perhaps it has been paid, to bring you to this point? No one ever said reincarnation must be serial. Every life before and after could be about these moments, the choices we make now.”

“Heh. Clever.”

He smiles shyly. “I do not wish to lose you.”

“I know. But when I talk to friends, I see what I have done to them. Charlie would have a life in the normal world, had I not come into hers.”

“And Jay would long ago have been destroyed.”

“You think those balance?”

And my magic looks away. “I do not know. I think, magician, that we worry too much, that balance is not as important as you imagine. The universe would not have life, if there was balance. Life arises from imperfections: that is a lesson of magic.”

“You teach yourself lessons?”

“Sometimes I think so.” My reflection looks back at me, biting into his lower lip. His eyes are almost my eyes, for a moment, as if the magic forgets it is magic. “I don’t want to go. Not like this. Not being forgotten. Set aside. Lost.”

“I know. I’m just – some days I’m too damned tired,” I say, and there is nothing of being a magician in my voice as I run my hands over my face. When I look back, my reflection is only mine again. I have no idea what to do, less of what I could say. You can’t be a magician and burn out, not without turning into something terrible.

I take a deep breath, undo the wards, and head outside. Dana will find me if she needs to. I walk the streets of a town whose name I haven’t even bothered to learn. And I do something I’ve never done before. I get a job.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


“We live in a terrible world, a world where the truth has been reduced to a conspiracy.”

“You’ve been holed up in your office for days. We’ve been worried sick –.”

“It’s not an office. It’s a sanctum. I have cracked the code. White. Black. The lines we’ve stolen from the zebra, the theft of nature that governs our world. I know what they mean. That! I know what that means!”

“That’s a UPC code.”

“I have learned the secret language, the tongue that cannot be spoken. I have cracked the code!”

“You were supposed to be doing our taxes!”

“We don’t need those. Get me lotto tickets, and I will know what ones will win. I will be the scanner. I have seen and have known –.”

“Oh, well, that’s entirely different. Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Everyone up, up, up: you’re going to buy lotto tickets while I may sure Maynard here has a proper shower and some food.”

“The fall of water. Each drop, combined with the others, singing songs –.”

“Yes, yes. Lotto tickets. Just don’t forget the lotto tickets.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mum's Foot

Mum’s not a bad person. It’s not a cool thing to say about your mother, but it is true. Like the time she met Jane’s youngest brother and thought he had Downs Syndrome because his face was all puffy from allergies to a bee sting. Poor Philip had no idea why this stranger was complimenting him on his English or acting as if he was a little kid when he was sixteen at the time. She puts her foot in it more than anyone else I know; she’s probably why I almost never do, not wanting to be her. Y’ know?

But this morning wasn’t like the other days, I guess. St. Patrick’s day is all about green and luck and bad Irish jokes. With my hair, so I like it about as much as kids born on April Fool’s Day like their birthdays but you had said we’d be doing something special this year, last year. Birthday party to end all parties, the sweet little sister sixteen. You know, I don’t know anything about Saint Patrick? There’s the day, and people always making jokes about how red hair means I’m Irish, but I don’t know anything about him. I figure it’s probably safest, as one guy became a saint for murdering a woman and then putting up with her ghost haunting him for twenty years. I learned that from the hospital chaplain. You’d like him.

So I’m thinking about that and not googling things on my phone to figure it out when a blind kid walks by us. Dark glasses, white cane, about ten or twelve. That age when it’s hard to tell how old a boy is, holding a Starbucks tray in one hand with two drinks, moving easily around people and humming to himself. Off-tune, whatever it was. Normal enough, really, but mum must have been thinking about St. Patrick and luck as well.

“The poor child; he can’t see,” she said to me, as if I’d somehow not noticed. I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar, but it’s a bit hard to miss the cane and glasses both. Knowing mum, she was probably going to say how worse off he was than us, and then apolgize to me. The boy stopped, turned. He didn’t frown, just look up toward mum.

“I’m not poor.” No shouting, no histrionics, just firm and polite. Then he grinned. I’ve never even seen a baby grin like that. It was wide and friendly and so pure I thought for a second that the kid was a few cookies short of a jar. “Because,” he continued, and threw the word with excitement at us, “I have tons and loads of friends, and there’s a lot of humans who have eyes and don’t see and I don’t mind not seeing because it means I listen more even if Charlie might not believe I do because I still talk like a Jay but I’m listening like one too and you can learn a lot from silence that you can’t even from bindings and I’m lucky all the time because I’m Jaysome and I have great friends!”

I think he said all that, maybe even more; I don’t have a clue what he meant by ‘bindings’ at all. He talked pretty fast, all animated and as happy as a normal kid dropped into a vat of speed. I couldn’t help but grin back. Yeah, yeah. I’m serious: I did.

“I didn’t mean,” Mum began, and the kid scowled a little at that.

“Everyone means stuff, even the things they don’t mean are things they are, things they own,” he said. “I’m Jay, but we’ve never met and you don’t even know me and it’s a lot of kinds of mean to tell someone you don’t know that you’re sorry they’re alive.”

“Oh,” Mum said. Foot, mouth. “I’m sorry.”

“But sorry doesn’t help. Not doing wrong things again helps. Sorry is a word that doesn’t fix cuz it justifies and justifying things is easy and people use it so they don’t have to explain themselves to themselves,” Jay said.

Honest, that’s how the kid talked. It should have been silly, but there was something. I don’t know. It’s not like he was intense, but it’s like this other girl I met in the hospital, the one with the fragile bones? Hannah had broken her arms and legs so often it was only a joke to her by that point, but when she talked you listened. Because she said things worth listening to. Lessons she’d learned, passing them on in hopes you wouldn’t have to learn them yourself. Heh. She’d laugh to hear me say that, but it was true. And this kid was young and – I don’t know. He was like that somehow. Not like he’d been through pain but that he would, that made what he said have some kind of weight. Like I said, it didn’t even make sense then. I think it makes even less now.

“That’s the thing about humans,” the kid said, as if he wasn’t one, as if he was responding to words mum hadn’t even said. “It’s like the worst one are the ones who never think they are monsters? Like the ones who set out to Do Good for others always do the most damage and it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad it’s not even sad-funny!”

There was a cough behind me at that. I guessed the new arrival at about eighteen or so? Ex-goth sort of look to her, and Jay turned and grinned toward her. “I was all bringing the coffee, but you were busy and I was making friends!”

“I don’t think this is making friends,” she responded mildly, but the kid blinked.

Jay opened his mouth, closed it, and then looked as if he’d been punched right between the legs. “Oh!” And he turned to mum, and said: “I think I kind of hurt you by accident because you made me a bit cranky and I’m the kind of sorry that’s more than sorry –.”

“Jay.” His friend didn’t move, but Jay gulped audibly.

Mum looked. I don’t know. Dazed, I think. “What are you?” she said, and I figure asking some blind kid what he was would send anyone over the edge, but the kid just repeated his name.

His friend coughed louder, and Jay walked over to her and handed her the Starbucks tray. “See? The coffee isn’t even cold, Charlie, and –.”

“And?” Charlie didn’t move.

“And maybe someone acted like blind meant stupid in Starbucks and I sorta lost my cool here over it but I didn’t mean to!”

Charlie sighed, and said: “Go,” and Jay was past her and down the street, making a beeline to the Days Inn.

“What?” I said, certain I had missed something. I always had that in the early days last year, when mum and dad talked to the doctors. Still do, some days, but I think – I think now it’s more that I want to miss things.

“What is he?” mum asked.

“Jay,” Charlie said, her smile resigned and an echo of the kid’s. “He does things with bindings.”

“My Jennifer. She’s – she’s my only daughter,” mum said, and rested her hand on my shoulder. “Can he help her?”

And Charlie crouched down a little, met my gaze. Her eyes reminded me of Devon, at that one party when Eric slapped you and he grabbed Eric’s arm and looked ready to break it then and there. Like she could be Devon, but was holding back. “If Jay could help you walk, he would have said,” she told me, as matter-of-fact as if a miracle wasn’t even that at all. “Probably,” she added as she stood back up.

And Mum just nodded, as if that made any sense at all. Anyway, she’s down in the cafeteria so I came up here alone, Alice. They keep saying you won’t wake up from the coma, and I kept not believing. Until mum said she had only one daughter and I felt – oh, God. Part of me says it’s just mum putting her foot in it again, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But what if you don’t wake up? What if these machines just hold onto you until you’re dead?

What if I can’t say it’s not your fault, that I survived even if my legs didn’t. Like Jay said about eyes: there’s people who have legs and never use them, and I’m doing things now I never would have before. Not that I wouldn’t change it. If I could undo it all, I would. But I have to move ahead, to move on. And most of that is knowing it’s not your fault and I’d give almost anything if you could hear me say it, if you knew it wasn’t your fault.

I’d say sorry for the fight before the drive home, even if sorry doesn’t mean enough. I’d say everything I say to mum and dad now that I should have always said to everyone before, but especially to you. I love you so much, sis. So much. Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s been almost a year, and I didn’t even think of looking for clover. Not for either of us. I guess this means I know. I think mum is waiting for that. I don’t know what dad is waiting for anymore at all, but that’s not – not important right now.

I was so damn lucky to have a sister like you, and I think maybe I need to put m foot in my mouth a little more. Just to see what happens. Because we never know, do we? We just never know.

We never know.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cloudy Day

Here is a fun fact: there is no such thing as gas main explosions.

Here is another: if you can eat gods (especially the dangerous kind) it is a necessary thing to safeguard the world but you make no money at it. Which is why I help solve problems for the fae, mostly via having chats with monsters and critters from Outside the universe about how they made agreements with the fae in exchange for glamours that let them hide among humans, and breaking those agreements – in letter or spirit – would be a really bad idea. Most of them actually listen. For the ones that don’t, I have a god inside me I can draw out and I’m very creative with how I define god-eater. It extends to most forms of energy, for a start.

Problem is, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. Some things are too damn big or weird, and the case in point is some kind of living cloud-thing that was hiding in a sewage treatment plant. Which is all fine, except its presence was causing irregularities in the local water supply. The kind that led to people levitating and scenes generally only found in C-grade horror movies. I’d been dumb enough to chalk this up to an accident on its part. What can I say? I’ve learned to chalk a lot up to accident the past couple of years.

The cloud is green-yellow, with millions of small things inside it. Limbs? Eyes? I’ve no damn idea since they keep flowing into liquid and morphing into new forms as it expands. It’s the size of a living room at present, and the exorcisms I shouted seem to have at least confined it to the general area. So now it’s drifting out of the sewage plant toward me, having some something to he workers in the plant to render them catatonic: only four had turned the colour of overripe melons, so I hoping they were all right. I didn’t have time to check before I can outside for open space.

“Talk,” I say. “The fae hired us: they won’t ignore what happens here. What do you want?”

I’m no magician, to speak words that can’t be ignored, but the cloud does slow and my skin prickles as I feel it staring down at me. I try not to think too hard about radiation. The entity is becoming more and more liquid, and I’m damn sure this isn’t a good sign at all given the kinds of things liquids can dissolve.

“This is a nice world. Warm. Moist. I want it,” a choral voice says that sounds like radio announcers drowning in a hot springs.

“Really? You want to take over the world?” I ask slowly, mostly because I’ve been dealing with fae problems for months, and travelled with government agents for some onths before than and a magician for over a year: I’ve never run into anything from Outside the universe until now that seemed to have read comic books, or at least used them as a basis for taking over a world.

“It is small. You are small.”

It moves closer. The god inside me rolls out over me, all night shades of fur and claws of blood and bone. It used to be the creature living in my closet. It’s a lot easier to make a god than most people think. I take the brief moment of surprise that grants me and pull out my cell phone, texting: ‘WHERE R U?!’

The text back from Jay is, ‘Getting Coffee. You wanted coffee, right?! AND there is a lineup so you don’t need to shout :(’

I text back. ‘Plant. Monster. Binding. Now. PLEASE.’

Adding the please takes seconds I don’t have, and the creature flows over me. The grass bubbles and shifts like quicksand on old TV shows around me. I tried eating some of its energy before I ran out of the plant earlier and almost threw up: whatever the entity is made of, it’s too damn weird to be mere energy. I gather my fear, press it into the god and alter its shape. Claws and fur become a sturdy blanket around me, a shield that shudders under the pressure against it even as it forms. I trained with an exorcist for a time, enough to know certain tricks. My death should let loose an exorcism powerful enough to banish it back outside the universe; it’s not like I’ve ever tested that out.

A whistle fills the air, bright and cheerful, and a kid’s voice shouts. “Hi! I didn’t get the coffee, but!” and the rest of Jay’s voice is drowned out by an awful squelching squeal of a sound as the entity is yanked right off of me; the ground around me is smoking and smells like burnt plastic as I let the god back inside me. I’m alive, and Jay is holding a venti cup of coffee in one hand and beaming.

“You put the creature inside the coffee cup, didn’t you?”

“Yup! It made for a really good binding and your exorcism helped and it was really busy trying to eat you so it didn’t notice me at all.” His grin is pure, shameless pride and I’d bet money that it actually fixes some of the ground as I walk over to Jay. He looks to be about eleven, but it from far, far Outside the universe and can do things with bindings that even magicians can barely grasp. Also, he’s Jay, which means a lot of things in its own right.

His left shoe is missing and the right knee of his jeans torn. I text the fae to come fix up the mess, set the coffee down on the part of the parking lot the creature didn’t dissolve – the fae will know what it is, but I write ‘cloud monster’ on it with my pen just before I can before frowning at Jay. “You know the frame of your glasses is bent?”

“Oh.” The frame snaps back into shape, and his jeans bind themselves back together even as the missing shoe zips through the air from down the street to land beside him on the ground, bound back to him by his will. “I’m okay, though!”

“Jay.” He’s tough and quick, but at present unable to see – which doesn’t make things easy for sensing bhindings when he’s moving at speed.

He pouts, gripping his white cane tightly in his right hand. “You texted loud so I ran here and I only got hit by two cars,” holding up the fingers of his left hand. “I was kinda busy working on that binding and it’s hard to sense other bindings when moving fast but I’m pretty sure the cars are OK.”

“Running into a kid – even one moving very quickly – isn’t good for stranger’s sanity, remember?”

Jay nods. It’s been five months since he lost his sight in an incident that led the magician to cease travelling with us – because he used Jay too often. Now I use him, even when I’m trying not to. I reach over and ruffle his hair gently. “We’ll check on the people and make sure they’re not freaked out, all right? And then I think I might owe you a very big hot chocolate.”


“I don’t?” I say, trying to keep calm.

“I was hit by two cars so you owe me two of them.”

I count to ten. It never helps. “Of course I do. Two hot chocolates, new shoes and I think we need to work on your skills when running.”

Jay just nods, takes my hand and walks easily beside me. No comment on how he saved me from being eaten, or how he only got into this trouble because of me. We’re friends, so to Jay that’s just how things are. I squeeze his hand, trying not to hold too tight even if my grip can’t hurt him, and wonder how long I can keep using him like this before it’s too much for me to bear. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I keep running out of ways to tell people I’m not in hell

He used to write letters for me. Post-it’s, scrawled notes on handkerchiefs, missives on receipts hidden about the house for me to find. ‘I love you’ turned into haiku of small spaces and shaped containers. That was before everything began to fall apart. Not us, him. Not even really him. I didn’t admit it, not until he found a note I’d missed. Demanded to know who had written it, to know if I was having an affair. The first time I thought it a joke, the second — the second was when I realized I was losing him. Losing him to the past, to memories I was not always part of. I said I would stay: sickness, health, richer, poorer. But who is as poor as someone whose loved no longer remembers them? I haven’t been to church in two years. All I’d want to do is scream. And I keep finding those notes, the ones he hid so well against the future. All I can do is cry these days. Cry for so many things.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This is Jay on tumblr.

(For the curious, I read a story by kittygory and thought of Jay trying to critique sexetry in terms of bindings and his skewed view of humanity … so here are the first few lines, and Jay’s take on ‘em :))
"Quietly spoken words, but she knew this was a test."
Jay: “… but bindings aren’t tests; they just are! You are, a binding is and —.”
Charlie: “What ARE you reading?”
Jay: *turns up volume, so Charlie can hear the story he is listening to*
"He aroused and intrigued her, and they had had many conversations about his need to dominate, and her refusal to submit."
Jay: “See? They want to bind each other but not bind each other at the same time because humans are all confused a lot!”
Charlie: “Oh, dear gods.”
"She was not a slave or a sub, not a whore or a bitch or a slut."
Jay: “This is about how substitute teachers don’t get paid enough, right?! Because teaching is very important!”
Charlie: “….. teaching. Right. And the school?”
Jay: “Dog obedience, because of the ‘bitch’ and — and I don’t see what’s so funny about that, Charlie!”

Monday, March 09, 2015



"Honcho." His voice is soft on the other end of the phone. He doesn’t even ask how I knew he was calling, doesn’t hurl a hello at me like a javelin.

"Something wrong, kiddo?"

"Yeah. I mean, yes: I kind of ran into this old man preaching about eternity and how souls are eternal and he saw me and realized I couldn’t see and said the Lord would heal me after I was reborn in heaven and I said that would be kinda late and you’d be doing it soon anyway!"

"Okay? And?"

"And he kept going ON, Honcho, and I said that heaven is part of the universe so it’s not external and nothing here is eternal and forevers and I maybe said it more like a Jaysaurus than a Jay so all he believed me cuz it was true and and and …" And half a country away, Jay bursts into sobs without tears.


"IT’S NOT FAIR! You and Charlie are going to all die when the universe does because it isn’t forever and I won’t!"

I could ask things right now, learn truths Jay knows not to speak. But no. I find I am not as big an ass as even I thought: it go yearly is something of a surprise.

I settle for: “Jay, if this universe were fair, do you think you’d have been allowed in it?”

That wins a moment of shocked silence and then a fit of giggles.


"I am pretty Jaysome," he says.

I decide not to ask what that even means. “You’ll be OK, Jay. You will have memories that outlast universes and feelings deeper than black holes.” I pause. “And I don’t think you’ll be able to forget Charlie even if you try.”

"I couldn’t forget you," he says proudly, "and and lots of thanks!"

"You’re welcome, Jay."


I pause. Jay almost never says my real name. “Yes?”

"I’m all kinds of glad we’re friends!"

I don’t ask about his pause before that, or what else he might have said. I say good bye. I hang up. Sometimes it is the simplest things that are the hardest to do.

"It’s starting." I thread no power into my voice, don’t speak in ways that canny be ignored. But even so, I know I am heard by those who listen for such things. "He’s starting to learn what he is."

And I know it isn’t my imagination that the shadows around me pull back as though afraid. And not only of Jay. I am what I am as well. I put my phone away — it was turned off when Jay called — and I go back to sleep.

And I try, as hard as I can, in ways that are only human in the end, to not think about the meaning of eternity and the edges of what forever means.


 “Jay.” Charlie’s voice is not as sleepy as it should be for four a.m. That’s kind of a warning!


“How long have you been up?”

“About three hours. I slept almost two,” I explain so Charlie won’t worry at all. She worries way too much even if she’d never call it that.

“And there is a reason you a) have an outfit of a chicken on and b) were wearing it at all?” she asks, but doesn’t tick the points off on her fingers so it might be all OK.


Charlie sits up in her motel bed. “And that reason is?”

“I did a poem that was really popular –.”

“So you went outside at 3 in the morning to do a chicken dance?”

“Oh! No, but I could –.”

“Let’s not and say you did. Why?”

I could make a joke asking if this is about ‘why did the Jay cross the road’ but! sometimes I’m pretty smart so I don’t. “Cuz I need stuff to write about as a poet, Charlie. You don’t want me writing about you, and Honcho gets twitchy if I write about him too much and I don’t really know other people like I do you so I figured I need experiences to write about instead!”

“Like dressing up as a chicken?”


Charlie is quiet at that, but it’s not a mad-quiet. “Pack. I’m calling Honcho when he and Dana are awake, and we’re heading to the nearest city where the local magician won’t make a fuss about us.”

“We are?”

“We travel, and we never stay, and that does make it hard for you to make more friends – ones not on tumblr,” she adds before I can protest. “So we’re going to do that. I’ve enough saved up from things we’ve done for the fae for at least two months in a decent apartment.”

“It doesn’t take that long to make friends, because bindings –.”

“I’m going to enrol you in a school. Maybe even a human one, because you are right: you need to make more friends.”

I scratch my head at that, because I don’t think I meant that at all, but Charlie seems determined and I guess this is why the Jaychicken crossed the road?!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

This could be considered an essay

There are so many of them, going about the world in a blitheness of ignorance. Sure of their Science, of their crude modern iGods to protect them, secure in their belief that somehow technology will outpace the demons that race along beside it, behind it, within it. That every time we stall, some innovation will vault us into the future. They buy into the conspiracy of progress. They buy into the modern myths like global warming, women’s rights and vaccinations. They forget that eugenics was defended by most scientists in its day, that heroin was considered safe and had no side effects. They don’t understand that the world changes. That sometimes the things everyone believes to be true are the ones that are wrong.

If the lone voices are all silenced, then there will be no new lone voices. If there is no debate – not even a discussion – then terrible things will happen, and terrible things have happened. When everyone agrees on something, then no one is thinking. Consider it. We pretend that Time will bow to the whims of our technologies, of our watches and phones and that we can alter the rhythm of the world because puritans wanted more daylight. And they got it, because puritanism works so very well. Cut away everything that doesn’t matter, and you are left with ... essentials.

We save energy, cry the Scientists and Transport people (all in the pockets of Science, every one, oil and electricity both) that we save energy. People come home earlier, have more daylight at their disposal – as though people were plants – and this somehow prevents theft. And yet, and yet the day of it is nothing like that at all. Mad rushes, accidents that would not have happened otherwise. Deaths that could have been prevented if we had not decided we could meddle with Time as easily as we do with Truth!

Daylight savings time is not a thing. It is not even an invention. It is a track, and we must fight against puritan lies, against their desire to force people to waken before dawn. The conspiracy cannot be allowed to stand. Refuse to change your clocks. This day kills too many, and we cannot defeat Time. Join me, and fight the power!

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Giving Notice

“Remind me to learn how to kill a fae in ways both violent and slow.” Jay starts beside me: sometimes he knows when I’m joking, sometimes not at all. Possibly because I’m never sure either when seriously pissed off. Merryweather & Associates is one of those giant companies with more fingers in the pie than there are pies and fingers; the fae had told us a monster was holed up in their HR offices, disguised as a human woman and draining the life out of staff: we were to explain that draining humans violated the arrangement it had made with the fae for glamour

I’d assumed the fae were joking even if I should’ve known better. They don’t like getting directly involved in fixing their own screw-ups – deals made with monsters and creatures from Outside the universe to hide them from human perception – so they farm out the work. It’s good money, and normally not difficult. When you’re a god-eater with a god inside you and the creature beside you is from far Outside the universe and definitely scarier than he looks, normally the assignments the fae offers are at least not that dangerous.

Merryweather – whatever the hell that even is – has genuine trolls for security. They look like large, hulking humans but are too strong, too tough, and scarily fast for what they were. Four of them behind us is like the Indiana Jones boulder scene, only worse. I skid around a corner, Jay hot on my heels, smash the lock off to an office and dive in, shoving it closed behind us.

“Bind it!”

The door shudders as a troll bounces off of it. The frame and wall around it crack apart but hold together as Jay binds the door to the air, the boy’s frown almost a scowl of concentration. The god inside me is a roiling mass of fury manifesting as rusty claws and darkness-under-the-bed fur. The gods only knew what the staff had made of our running through the hallways. I work on catching my breath and look about us. Cheap office affair: window, desk, computer. Not even a phone, since everyone here probably used cell phones.

“Charlie,” Jay says, grabbing my hand and tugging me back to the door. He looks to be about eleven and human, though he has dark glasses on and his white cane is somehow still in his right hand despite our running like mad down two hallways. Jay is tough, and quick, and good with bindings. Which is why the door and walls are holding but they won’t hold much longer; the air where the walls had been is shuddering under blows.

Trolls get confused with stone but they’re a lot stronger than that. There’s almost nothing about them for a god-eater to eat: I’d eaten their momentum to slow them a little, and that had pretty much been the only trick in my bag. I flex the claws of the god inside me: they are sharp and nasty as claws go, but I’d need to be faster than I am and get all their eyes in one go for us to get away from here.

I swear softly. I’d managed to deliver the message of the fae to the siren working in HR – shape up your actions, stop trying to break your deal with the fae or else – and then the trolls had burst in and come at us. I glance down at Jay, who is squeezing my hand tight and waiting. Trusting me to figure a way out of this. He could get away: he can move fast, and even move in some place – some space – only be can enter, but the odds are very good I wouldn’t survive if he took me with him. It doesn’t even occur to Jay to run, because we’re friends.

I pull my hand free of his gently; the claws of the god have gently pressed his skin, not breaking it. “Can you bind them?”

“Kind of? They’re really solid and strong and I think they maybe used to be mountains? So I could stop them, but not without doing bad things to them, and they might get really heavy and fall through the floor and it would break this building and maybe them too!”

“Oh.” I have no idea how expensive troll security guards are, but I’m damn sure it was enough that Merryweather would not take kindly to us killing them even if we had no choice. I have no idea what Merryweather truly is, and no desire to find out right now. I consider trolls, weak points, claws. I might not be fast, but Jay could be fast and strong enough if we worked it out.

“Can you –,” I begin only for Jay to let out an indignant yelp of surprise.

The remnants of the door and walls explode inward at us, though Jay keeps them from hitting us. I register one of the trolls coming up through the floor and another dropping from the ceiling, springing onto the cheap desk with what I hope sounds like a menacing snarl. They ignore me, judging Jay the true threat. By the time I realize that, one of them has already hurled him through the outer wall, ignoring the window entirely.

It’s a twenty story drop. Jay is tough. I don’t know how tough.

The troll by the hole in the outer wall turned toward me. The one who came up through the floor is beside me, the other two in the hallway. I’m not angry. I’m not even terrified. I have no idea what I am, but the trolls hesitate at whatever they see in my smile. The god inside me isn’t anger, isn’t rage: just focused energy, will, power. What had been fur is now millions of spikes like jagged glass and the air hummed like a thousand angry bees where claws had been. Power, shaped to need.

There are four of them and one of me. The troll in front of me rumbles, and her voice seems almost human, somehow apologetic in tone. “Merryweather prides itself in security services: being infiltrated for any reason is not acceptable to us.”

Which explains some things. They’d probably kill the siren in HR too, once they realized it she was. If they hadn’t already known and just let it slide. It explained much, but I’m seldom in the mood for forgiveness. “Let’s dance,” I whispered, and my voice comes out like something purring, like a naked blade I don’t recognize as me.

“Nope!” Jay’s voice is pure Jay, cheerful and utterly happy as he skids back in the room in a blur to land on the desk beside me. “I decided not to fall so everything is OK!”

“You decided not to fall.”

“Uh-huh.” He grins, radiating delighted pride and unquenchable happiness. “I figured out I don’t need wings to fly, Charlie!”

Suddenly four trolls aren’t quite that scary anymore.

And my idea crystallizes into more than that. “Jay. Here,” I say, and offer up the bindings to the god inside me.

He blinks, eyes wide, then his cane snaps into my hand, bound to me by his power. His speed, his toughness, the strength of a god. My anger. The four trolls don’t have a chance against that, falling with ugly wounds torn into their hides and small savage blows aimed at troll pressure points. I don’t even see Jay move, just watch the trolls fall and he is beside me moments later, panting, the god not burning with fire in his eyes. His eyes remain his, the claws that are manifested close to what I imagine an angel’s fingernails would be.

“This is weird,” he says, and then the god within me is wholly mine again, the power cutting off as the entity inside me slinks deep inside like a wounded thing.

I say nothing, because I have too much to say.


I ruffle his hair and return his cane. “You did good, kiddo.” And today has been a day, so I add: “You think you can fly us both away from here?”



He grins and grabs my hand, doing something with bindings and we are out the window in a leap on his part, the flight a blur of movement that takes us to the top of a building two blocks away. Jay drops me onto the roof and lands beside me, panting for air and grinning so wide that it must hurt even him. I don’t point out that we almost missed the roof: he can’t see at present, but he can sense bindings. Sometimes it leads to problems, but in this case it was only a near problem.

“Next time, when people aren’t around, we need to do that again. Only slower, okay?”

He presses in against me for a hug. “Okay! It was fun, right?”

“It was.” I return the hug, then gently push him back and go to the roof access, reaching within for the part of me that eats gods, eating the state of the lock being open. We head down the stairs to the ground level and outside in a companionable silence. Between holes in walls and flying people, Merryweather will have a lot of explaining and covering up to do. I can’t find it in me to give a crap about what that will cost them.

And I’m definitely looking forward to calling the magician and telling him that Jay knows how to fly.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Facebook status updates part XXXII (Feb 2015)

"Sometimes it feels as though all love is a trick we play on each other."

"The only demons I know are the ones inside me." - not posted yet

I think the trick in succeeding at being a writer is to turn failure into a weapon, insofar as one can.

Once upon a time, there was a story of once upon a time that was terrified to end for it knew that no ending was truly happy and would always leave a sadness in the world after the story was over.

At the self-help group
"I wanted to be a six word story so badly but I had too much to say and hyphens felt like cheating."

Boy walked slowly down the street, feeling as much as seeing cats watching him. Balconies, side streets, eyes glimpsed between fences. That the cats were serving as eyes for the witch went without saying, though Boy was almost sure she was a witch in spite of having many cats rather than because of them.

Everything the gods create they are ashamed of, for we are the tools they use.

“I admit I’m a little confused about why my novel 50 shades became famous. It is about a woman whose DIY quest for a specific kind of blind for the varied windows in an old farmhouse turns into a comedy of errors confusing blinds and shades and she ends up buying differing kinds of sunglasses so guests to her home can wear them rather than her having to get the many different blinds the home would require. That it was compared to certain – other novels – is still very, very baffling.”

"Hate?" He laughed, sharp and bitter. "You’ve never worked in retail, never done customer service: what do you know of hate?"

"You murdered a dozen people."
"Mother, I was shooting them with arrows of love. That’s what I do," the boy-god said crossly.
"They were aromantic, you idiot!"
"Really? I thought tumblr invented that term."
"What were you doing on —. Never mind. Talk to your father and he will see about hiding the bodies. In the meantime, you are grounded."
"You can’t! They need me today!"
"They don’t. Don’t you understand yet that they never did?"
Cupid just glared and marched into his quarters, slamming the door behind him.

"Did you know that roses come in many colours and violet is often mistaken as purple? I guess what I'm saying is that I should have paid the money for a cheap card with a trite saying in it instead of trying to write one for you myself."

If silence were really golden, wouldn't people be taking it to pawn shops to cash in?

What are clouds when not broken dreams?

They said it was six of one, half a dozen of the other. But they forgot what a bakers dozen is — and I had a bankers dozen (which is any number I damn well want) at my beck and call in secret.
The war was already won.

"I barely know him, but I trust him. It’s just — he’s soft inside, and nice." He laughs, a short bark. "It sounds like I’m taking about a dog and not a person, doesn’t it? Nice always seems like a weak word when it isn’t that at all."

The ghost appeared in the press room, and the newspaper reporters pestered it with questions about who the murderer had been but all the spirit wanted to know was why they’d used such an ugly picture of it on the front page of their paper.

The healer nods slowly. “It is …. part of being a healer, that there are some healings we cannot do. A true healing helps someone to heal themselves, but those who know how powerful healers are, how strong some of us can be — sometimes they think the healing is entirely the healer’s power, the healer’s doing, the healer’s will, and never accept it is their own strength that healed them more than anything else.”

“Your problems are not as big as my own, no; that does not mean they are not as important.”

"I think that if hell froze over it might be warmer than this town is right now."

"Seems to me," he said. "Seems to me that the gods are too hungry for flattery. Never met a god that wasn’t hungry, them or their followers."

No one expected the messiah to open up a hot dog stand, but they figured at least this way they could be assured that the hot dogs probably contained real meat.

"I never lied to you."
"You told me you could raise the dead, you —."
"And so I did and so I have."
"I didn’t mean levitate the corpse!"
"Then you should have said what you meant."