Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Captured Prisoners

I wait outside the small cave I had Jay put Doctor Henderson in. The doctor worked for Station Alpha, part of a Project designed to understand magicians – by capturing them and examining their DNA, so in effect not understanding us at all. They did manage to capture me at least, so I considered that a small point in their favour. Jay and Charlie did not, and Jay decimated their forces en route to rescuing me. Which is one reason I’ve told him he can question the doctor; I’m listening in, but I’m not sure Jay even notices.

“You tried to hurt Honcho,” Jay says, voice tight with fury.

“Please. Please,” Henderson says.

There is pressure in the cave, reality shuddering against the weight of something too big for this dimension to contain. “Honcho is my friend,” Jay says with awful calm.

“Ah. Ah. Don’t. Please, don’t. I have a family –.”

“Honcho is my family,” Jay screams, his voice a roar in the air. I feel power gather, bindings shuddering as the air screams for a moment and then it is gone, still, repaired as Jay comes out of the cave slowly. He looks like an ordinary pale boy of about eleven, but his usual irrepressible grin is gone and he walks slowly over to me.


“I wasn’t being jaysome,” he says in a small voice, staring down at his bare feet.

“No. No, you weren’t. You can’t afford to get angry like I do, Jay. Not like people can.” I reach over and gently raise his chin as he sniffs. “You can’t let fear or hate drive you, not toward actions or away from them. Or you’ll become something that isn’t jaysome at all.”

Jay bites into his lower lip and manages a small nod. “I was mad.”

“I noticed. I think Henderson did too.”

That wins a startled look, then: “That wasn’t an oops. I meant to – to scare him. To hurt him. I don’t like that,” he adds, softer still.

“I know. You want to make it up to him?”

Jay is quiet at that for almost a minute. “I don’t think he’d want to be friends with me. I hurt him, Honcho. Even if I fix the bindings, it won’t change –.” He hiccups.

“Even for me and Charlie, there are things you should not do,” I say. “Henderson wasn’t the only prisoner in the cave.”

Jay’s eyes widen and he nods slowly.

“There are prisons that people choose to leave inside,” I say. I think someone said that to me once, a lifetime ago. Before I was a magician, and before many other things as well. “But sometimes they are good things. Honour is a prison, kindness another. Being jaysome can be, too, but some prisons are important. Sometimes the walls we make are all that hold us together, Jay.”

Jay sniffs, and I brace myself as he slams into me for a hug, holding him for several minutes. “Go. I’ll help Henderson and –.”

“No.” Jay pulls back, straightening his shoulders. “I did this, so I’m going to fix him.” And he turns and walks back into the cave as Henderson lets out a shrill and barely human sound at the sight of him. Jay flinches, lets out a pained gasp, but he keeps going.

I wait. I can do that much, even if I can do more. Sometimes all we can do is wait and hope others manage to find a way to open the doors of another’s cell, especially if they have made the prison in the first place.

Captured Magicians

“What do you think you’ve done?” I scream. I don’t mean to. I’m young for this job, I look too young to have my PhD, to be any kind of doctor at all. I don’t need more Doogie Howser jokes, but I can’t stop myself.

“Doctor Henderson, we –.”

“Do none of you remember Detroit?” I get right in Jenna’s face, glaring up at her. “Do you have any idea of how much money we lost then?”

The head of security for Station Alpha just blinks, once. “I am aware we suffered losses, doctor. But we cannot continue this project without information. The risks were deemed acceptable.”

“Acceptable? By who?” I demand.

“The backers of the Project. Sir.”

“Fine. Fine. Fine,” I manage, running a hand through my hair. Balding before thirty, and all because of this job. “We have a magician?”

“There is one that wanders, not tied to any city. It was the safe option, sir. Trying to remove a magician from their city turned out to be – unwise,” Jenna says with more diplomacy than I’d thought she was capable of.

I swear softly, heading down the concrete hallway until I reach the cell the magician is in. He’s male, just sitting up in the cheap prison-like bed, gaze on the cemented over entrance before he turns toward us. Never mind that he can’t see us at all.

“He looks ordinary,” I say.

“There were wards about his hotel room. We had to gas the entire hotel and use tranquilizer darts. I don’t even know how Aowen in PR is going to spin that,” Jenna says.

“This seems a lot of work to keep me alive.” The magician’s voice is distorted by baffles, so his voice cannot command. We’ve learned things throughout the two year history of the Project. If we are to use magic to help the world, then it must be understood, their genetic differences codified and duplicated. The human genome project had many goals: this was one of them.

Jenna listens into her ear piece, then says: “He shouldn’t even be up, let along conscious. He was hit with at least five darts, Henderson.”

I ignore the lack of Doctor. “Magician: you can hear us?”

I don’t know if he can, or if he’s just ignoring us. “You put wards about this place. Blood magic, so it will take longer for me to found. It also means my friends will be worried.” He turns his head, and I’d swear he was looking right at me through five layers of concrete and steel. “I would offer up a warning, but you have harmed magicians for selfish gain.” And he just sits back down, as though bored. Doing nothing our scanners can determine, nothing to set off the defences in the room.

“Red alert,” I say, because something about his calm unnerves me.

“Purple,” Jenna says crisply.

“The alerts go higher than red?”

“They do, we –.” And Jenna goes silent as the lights die.

“There are four sets of backup generators.” I pause, waiting. “Which are independent, and can’t all shut down at once. The security grid includes –.”

Gunfire and energy weapons fill the air above us, a moment straight out of an action movie followed by horror movie silence.

“Doctor. Don’t move,” Jenna says, drawing a weapon.

There is a boy in the hallway in front of me. Perhaps eleven, and pale, and scowling at us. “You tried to kidnap Honcho,” he says.

I’m pretty sure Jenna gets at least two shots off. The kid doesn’t even react, but Jenna lets out a cry and falls to the ground clutching at her head. He walks forward, and I find myself scrambling backwards without thinking. The boy holds out a hand, and concrete and steel simply cease to exist between moments, forming a perfect tunnel into the cell.

The magician walks out, looks at Jenna, then at the ceiling. “You don’t think was a bit excessive, kiddo?”

“No.” The boy raises his chin and glares up at him. “People kidnapped you, and I won’t have that,” and for a moment there is something to his voice, something in how the boy is standing, and I am more terrified of him than even of the magician. Because I can’t shake the feeling the boy is speaking in absolutes, and could easily make them come to pass.

“All right.” The magician ruffles his hair gently. “You did good, even if some of these people might never look at their kids without being terrified ever again.”

“That wasn’t an oops; they aren’t nice to their families,” the boy says firmly.

“I see.” The magician turns to me. “Doctor – Henderson, isn’t it? I don’t know what your people have been doing, but I think I’d like to know more.” He smiles, and there is nothing kind in the smile at all.

It occurs to me, too late, to try and run but I can’t move at all.

“Jay.” The magician doesn’t move, but the kid gestures and there is a doorway in a wall leading back to the hotel. “That’s new?” the magician says.

“I learned it in the future,” the boy says proudly.

“Of course you did. Let’s go. Bring the doctor. We’ll be asking him questions.”

“Good.” The boy looks at me, and the world vanishes into darkness. Not a command to sleep; I’ve been trained to resist, but something else, something larger pressing in on the world until there is only darkness.

Darkness and fear.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Summons

His name is Edwin Sandleberg; I get that much easily from him as I walk into his small basement apartment. There are six other people not-here: videochat of some kind, but their cameras have been set up to form a six-pointed star and Edwin is in the middle of that. He doesn’t know my name, but he knows some of the titles I’ve used and his desire is an anti-ward pulling me into the building. Charlie is in a hotel room six blocks away probably having hysterics; Jay is out having an adventure, and I am responding to – this. A summons, as though I were a god or Outsider.

Charlie is a god-eater: she sensed the call before I did. I might have not even noticed it if she hadn’t pointed it out. I’ve done a lot of things in my wandering, but nothing that I thought could lead to anyone forming a religion around me. Unless I was the villain of the piece. Magic is many things, but need and desire are the core of what a magician does with it. Not the core of what we are: the magic is just a gift from the universe, the cheat codes of reality as a consolation prize. But this isn’t about Outsiders, not the binding and banishing of them.

I close the door behind me as Edwin continues his chants. Calling on the wandering magician, seeking my aid. He mentions the wandering jew as I listen, and a host of famous magicians and legendary people as I was them, or their descendant. It takes little need or desire to kill each camera, and then all the technology in the building. I call up light around my right hand, pale and wan sunlight dancing in the air as I enter his living room.

“Oh, come on,” Edwin is saying, and stops when he sees me. He is naked, and has put runes on himself. With washable marker, given how some have already turned into squiggled messes. “Who?”

“You have been calling me.”

He stares. I look ordinary; I’ve worked hard at it. “You’re no magician.”

I let the light dance up toward the ceiling, then some of my nature out. Not my voice: I can make people know things, if I have to, but I suspect that would break Edwin. There is authority to being a magician and I pull that about me for a moment before letting it go. I don’t use it often because I don’t like being noticed.

It would seem it has changed somewhat since the last time I used it as Edwin’s face drains of colour.

“I am the wandering magician; I would like you to explain your actions,” I say quietly. I put no power into that as I pull the authority that always feels forced back inside but the kid leaves a puddle on the ground between his feet as he whimpers. He doesn’t even notice, eyes wide.

“I didn’t mean not to See,” he whispers. “Please do not destroy me.”

“Why would I do that?” I ask, moving backwards. It helps a little, but he’s still terrified as people always are of gods if they have any sense at all.

“You destroyed Raven’s Bluff. It’s on the internet.”

I bite back words, but Edwin lets out a whine of fear at whatever he sees on my face for a moment. “I did no such things,” I say, and one of my gifts is to speak truths that cannot be ignored. “The town was destroyed by others: I tried to save it, and I mostly failed. Why did you call me here, Edwin Sandleberg, if you feared me so greatly?”

“I want to be a magician,” he gets out, shame and desire warring across his face. He wants to clean up the puddle, is terrified I might vanish if he leaves his weak protections.

“To what end?”

“This is –. I don’t have –. I want power,” he says under the force of my gaze.

“Many people do. Most who desire it seldom use it wisely,” I say, but the words don’t reach him at all. He’s heard stories, often terrible ones, and is convinced that they are true. I try not be noticed in my wandering, but I am not always successful – and it is the terrible things I sometimes have to do that get remembered, rather than why I do them or the good I do more quietly.

“But I called you and –.”

“No one has tried to make me a religion before.” I smile tightly, and he scrambles back out of the circle without thinking. “You will end this,” I say, threading power into the words.

There are wards under the ones he made. He straightens, screams a word of Power, and looks baffled when nothing happens at all. He still looks so young and needy, but there is naked hunger on his face that he thinks was hidden before now. “Your power is mine! I created this as a duel, and your voice means I gain your power,” he says, and laughs. The laugh is shrill and wild, though clearly practised.

“Duels don’t work like that,” I say, “but since you asked.” I reach out with the magic, binding his senses into mine before he can even try to resist. I am quite good at bindings, and knowing Jay has made me even better. For a moment, he sees himself as clearly as I do, sees the patterns of the world, the shapes of dreaming that bind the universe together, and then he is on his knees and crying as I let go.

“There is a magician in Denver less than an hour away,” I say, knowing he hears my voice. “You have never heard of them because people don’t hear about us if we do our jobs properly. Magicians are many things, but we are not gods and our power cannot be taken from us by children seeking what they have not earned. Go to Denver and seek out the magician there if you wish to learn.”

He says nothing, shaking all over. Seeing the world as magicians do has stripped him of some of his lust for power for its own sake, if only for a time. I turn and walk away, leaving behind bindings on him that ensure he won’t be able to attempt this again. It seems I might have to have a talk to the Internet soon, and see about getting rid of information about me.

I wonder how many other magicians have been confused with being a god, but I doubt it’s something they’d talk about or admit to. And there is power in that, if one wished to grasp it. Power that could be used for many ends. Magicians don’t deal with gods, as a general rule. God-eaters do, and gods deal with each other: it’s not a true rule, more a division of some and resources. One I may need to consider breaking in the near future.  

Saturday, January 02, 2016

My Date With Jay

“A date.” The sky would rumble, if a sky existed in a place half-built beyond the walls of dreaming. The ocean’s darkness casts shadows upon a terror.

The servant burbled nervously. “The god-eater was very specific.”

“I am no god.”

“You are not outside her power, O Great One.” The voice is terrified in its wisdom. “It will allow access to earth, in a – a suitable human form. You must do this every so often, or the – the gate will be too narrow. The stories keep it wide; this could add to them?”

There is a rumble; it is not laughter. Nothing so small, nor so sane. “Consider me interested. You will explain what a date is.”

“Oh,” the voice says, even smaller than before. “Oh, dear.”


A story to add to my legend. There will be suffering for this that will be legendary even among my own kind. I sit at the table, plastic seat under me, and I wait. The restaurant is large, specializing in quick meals with few questions asked about content. I have learned much in my moments of waiting, but I have not spread my influence far – this body is small, and I do not know stresses it can endure.

And there is a magician near. Not close, but near enough. I examine my body again. Human, male. Young, as humans reckon years. My skin is dark, and I attract some stares and wary looks even though I do nothing; have humans come to so little that they fear this alone, knowing nothing of Me?

The boy who comes in moves almost shyly, staring at a phone before walking over and standing beside the table. “Hi. I’m Jay!”

“I am... Tulu. I believe we are to have a date?”

“I guess? I’ve never done one: are they hard?” he asks as he plops down into the seat across from me.

“I have not had one either; they are – not something I do.”

“Oh! I’m only eleven – which is old for a Jay – and I figured I’d learn lots about it later. I know humans kiss, which is like hugging but not!”

I blink. “I believe that is true, yes.”

“Also,” he says, flinging the word out the way some do invocations to their gods, “you’re male too, right? I get that confused about humans sometimes because they’re pretty weirdy!”

“You are not human?” I say it carefully, extending my senses. I am far beyond anything humans know, but he seems entirely human to all my senses.

“Nope! I’m a Jay, which means I’m sometimes a Jaysaurus and everything.” And he grins then, the grin impossibly wide and friendly, an offering and binding both.

Even the god-eater that called me here would not bind me as this boy does. Even the magician I sense could not; even the stars themselves cannot. “What are you?” I say, and my voice is deep and terrible, the language nothing humans speak.

The kid blinks, looking shocked. “I just say: I’m Jay. It’s also a what and you’re scaring people and that’s pretty mean! If everyone gets scared, we won’t get any KFC and it’s all kinds of nummy you know.”


“Yup!” And I don’t know if he does a binding, or if whatever power embodies him is deeper than than, but people cease fleeing and he gets us chicken and pop and asks me to tell him about myself, which he informs me is a line he learned from the Internet.

Know me,” I say, and Jay blinks.

“Oh, I know you,” he says. “I totally saw you when I came in.”

This is not my form,” I try.

“I have other ones too, but I like this one because I can be all kinds of jaysome and not scare my friends and I bet we would be friends too!”

“I do not have friends.” I mean it to be a threat; I am certain he doesn’t take it like that at all.

“We could be friends, then! You have tentacles and I have some too when I want to and –.” He actually falls silent. For a moment I think he has truly seen Me, and then his smile is somehow even bigger, delighted, an eclipse of the world around us. “We both have tentacles, Tulu,” he almost shouts.

I say nothing, trying to process the power in his smile.

“We could have the most epic snowball fight ever!”

It takes me even longer to process than than it did the power of Jay’s smile. “You wish to have a snowball fight.”

“I bet it would be the best ending to a date ever. We can throw lots of them, and find a hugey field so you can be all big and I could be big too and we can have lots of fun!”

I eat the chicken; Jay has already finished his. “I have never had a snowball fight.”

“Really? They’re a lot of fun.” And he is out of the booth faster than even my eyes can track, tugging my hand toward the door. And he reaches in, somehow, pulling at the rest of me as well without even thinking about it.

I stand. I follow. As much from shock as anything else. To all my senses, the boy appears entirely human. Even though he cannot be that at all. I consider the power it must take to hide such power and shudder a little despite myself; I am ancient, but I am not forever, and I can be bound. I was long ago, and that binding still holds much of my power deep under the waves. I do not think that what bound me could touch this child at all.

“Are you cold? I know what to do for cold,” he says, pulling off his jean jacket and putting it around my shoulders.

“My home is under the oceans where there has not been light for millennium. I am not cold,” I say.

“Oh.” And Jay pouts. “I thought that was a good date thing, though!”

“I know,” I say, without even meaning to. “It was.” I catch up with myself, brace my nature against the power of the grin that is hurled my way. “You confuse me.”

“Charlie and Honcho say I do that a lot! It’s totally a talent,” he says, then pauses. “So, uhm!”

“Uhm?” I ask, hoping my form does not sound worried.

“Do we hold hands? That’s totally a dating thing, right? Even if we’re kids?”

“I am not young,” I say, careful.

“But you’re not old either,” he says with appalling certainty. “And you made yourself look young too and that means a lot you know!”

He holds out a hand, hesitantly. I take it, and we walk. People stare. Humans are strange about this as well? Truly? I make to speak, but frowns turn into smiles as Jay says hello and waves. Hatred dissolves; even madness breaks under his cheerfulness. I have a cult even in this world, and their members are many and terrible – I think he could destroy them without even intending to.

We find a field, and I let some of my power out. Tentacles that tickle Jay mercilessly until he releases some of his own; he still seems human, even when doing this, and then snags up snowballs and hurls them toward me with a whoop of joy.

I respond, and we battle with snow for hours before Jay declares us both the winners and looks entirely human again after; it is harder for me, but I manage to pull the seeming back into place.

“I could help with that, but I bet you’d be cross?” Jay says.


“Oh.” He kicks grass in what used to be a snow-covered field. “I know Charlie put you up to this, but I hope you had fun, Tulu?”

“It was very informative,” I say, which is not a lie at all.

And Jay grins, and slams into me. The hug is not tight. There is no binding, no power beyond simply being himself. It is enough that I am left almost breathless, who does not breathe at all. He pulls back first, and thanks me using a name nothing in this world should know.

“There are safer names to use for me in this world, such as C –.”

“But I like Tulu more, though! Could I come and visit you sometime?” And he looks worried, and eager, and nervous all at once.

“It will need to be arranged. I will have my people contact you.”

Jay grins, and is gone in a blur moments later. I make a way back home, into the depths. I tell myself it is not harder than it should be, and almost I believe that.


“Great One?” my servant says, shaking a little.

I do not know how much he saw or sensed of the journey. “The boy I dated will want to visit R'lyeh. You will arrange this, Dagon.”

“Of course,” my servant says in relief, unaware that this means he has not escaped punishment at all.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Facebook status updates part XLII (Dec. 2015)

I keep trying to hide my poetry in prose you cut away.

You were the only checkpoint I ever wanted to save my life at.

“The truth of the matter is that there are only four things the dead can wish for. Your love is not one of them.”

They hunted down the dragon, unaware that the fire that burned down the keep had been an accident. Unable to understand that even dragons got the flu.

Once upon a time, there was a prince who didn’t want to be a king but he was never allowed to run away and forced to marry the princess his parents assigned him. He lived happily ever after and ruled well, though he took no joy in it for the ocean whispered of adventures he would never have and sadness he would never get to know the meaning of.

Once upon a time, there was a princess whose destiny was to marry a prince - and he was kind, as king and husband both, but his eyes were distant and wistful for adventures he could never have. She loved him but as the years went on and he confided in her, it was a soft wound that he never asked about adventures she might have wished to have and if the ocean called to her as wel

Once upon a time, there was a land full of orcs that had been all but ruined in bloody wars of succession for the thrones of the land. Realizing the failure of this state, they abolished all kings and rulers and their land grew in kindness and prosperity. Which is why the kingdoms of humanity attacked them and exterminated every last one under the guise of saving their lands from monsters. And not a single king was at the head of any army that fought in their name.

I hid truth inside your coffee, knowing you would drink it all. For what is truth if not a poison?

I wrote a poem about you to try and forget your name in a hyperbole of text, losing you in how a poem is never about what it is about even when it is.
Only now I get phone calls and I think they are from you.
I no longer remember your name, lost it in a battle over metred verse and I long since excised all memories from my phone as though deleting contacts was the exorcism function after all.

“I’m a monster,” Alec said, his voice cracking.
“And? It’s not like you weren’t one before,” his sister said.
“You’re a man. By definition that makes you a monster.” She grinned as he gaped at her. “See? Still Alec, monster or not.”

“I am, as you may have guessed, one of the most dangerous people you will ever meet. Yourself excepted, of course.”
“Me? I’m not dangerous.”
“Only dangerous people have the luxury of believing otherwise about themselves.”

We hold onto our silences in a world of lying words where having a nice day means one just barely adequate at all.

It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, but I didn’t trust him. I tried to explain that it wasn’t personal: most of the time I didn’t trust me, after all.

You can tell how tired someone is by how often they speak unvarnished truth.

He wrote a pedestrian story. Lackluster with a lack of muster:
A pedestrian. Hit by a car. Died.

The best way to hurt someone is to do them a favour they can never repay.

I found my muse in the bar, drinking from the mop bucket of rag squeezings.
“I wanted to tell my own stories. Useless without it,” they whispered, and I didn’t see the knife until it was too late.
Didn’t understand I’d just become as stupid as the characters I wrote.
Not until I died.

I can't find a way out of hating you. I keep trying but my memory is a traitor to my will and your smile and your smile and your smile.

I can't find a way out of loving you. I keep trying but my memory is traitor to my will and your smile and your smile and your smile.

You don’t lie. And if you don’t think that’s a scary thing about you, then I’m worried for you already.

I deleted the post I wrote about you.

Preparing to see Star Wars tomorrow night.
By watching Spaceballs.

“You can’t win, Vader. If you like me now, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

“Christmas? No, I don’t celebrate that,” Reynard Fox said. “I believe I helped invent the concept of presents however.”
“Why that?” Boy asked, baffled.
“What greater trick could a trickster pull off than to promote an unnatural attachment to material things for such a holiday?” And the fox smiled, slow and wicked, and Boy gulped for a moment, feeling as though his friend had become almost a stranger briefly.
And Boy decided, as a gift to himself, that this stranger wasn’t a Mr. Fox he would get to know.

The miracle was reaching midnight without a fight and not a single blow exchanged.

I made friends with some sad Christmas trees and snuck them back out to the forest! :)
- Jay

“Hero is a very loose word, and a dangerous one. Say rather: associate. Ally. Power has no need of heroes; quite the opposite, in fact.“

The air began to hum unpleasantly, sounding like an off-key dentist’s drill

You can’t tell people they break your heart without sounding like a cliché. So I said that you corrupted every save file inside my soul, and you just stared at me blankly in reply.

Past tense is weird because! I don’t think the past should be tense at all!
- Jay

“My resolution is to be less resolute.”
..... "I failed."