Monday, October 5, 2015

Practical Magic: Tied? (Practical Magic #20)

Deidre called her father and explained what she had seen and asked him to contact the group that had been working with Charles Standing on the extractions. She had a few questions she needed to ask that weren’t covered in her notes. What had seemed to be clearly a case of sleep walking only a few days earlier was now back in question in Deidre’s mind. Where had the Jameson family gotten the items that Charles had taken? How was it tied to the bakery robberies and to the disappearance of the family? Were they really tied or was it just a coincidence.

Once Deidre had pointed out the items to John he had called in a couple members of his force, “I need you to go back out to the Jameson house and gather these items, bag them and tag them as evidence and then bring them back here for Captain Springwater. We believe they are evidence in another case.”

“So where are you going with this? Do you think your Charles Standing is tied to the Jameson family?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure how to explain those items or what our connection is here, but I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that those items match our stolen items.”

Just then Deidre’s phone rang, “It’s Aric let’s see if this clears up anything.”

“I’ll go grab us a cup of coffee, let me know what you find out.”

Deidre spoke to her brother for a few minutes and was already off the phone and looking through her notes by the time Captain Taylor returned with the coffee. “Did you find what you expected?”

“No, I didn’t. I really thought we would find that the Jameson family was part of Gifted lineage. But there is nothing on either side of their family tree that ties them back to Gifted. Now I am not sure where to go next. The magic with the bear was pretty advanced spell work. We’re not even sure how it was done. I had thought maybe this was a family that was tied to us that had chosen to live among you. But now I have to wonder who they have gotten themselves tied to and why are they gone?

I’m going to try and match the items taken with the ones we found and make sure it’s not just a wild coincidence. I’m also going to meet with Charles Standing and our group and go over a few questions there. Since it looks like we now have a joint crime you are welcome to join me for the questioning.”

“I think I will pass. I don’t understand all of that,” John made a vague motioning with his hands, “so I’m afraid I would just get in the way, you can fill me in when you are finished.”

“I have a hard time understanding all of this,” and with that Deidre returned the gesture John had just made, “so I completely understand. If you could give me a call when those items get here I’ll have one of my people come by and collect them, I’m off to meet with Charles and the others to see if I’ve missed something there.”

Deidre and the rest of what she was now calling the Standing Task Force in her head were all in a conference room consulting their notes from all of the sessions with Charles.

“I want to bring you all up to speed on what has changed and why I wanted to meet with everyone again. There is a family that has gone missing. The Guard was called in to assist with a check on them because an alarm spell of sorts was set around the house. When we arrived we were able to disable the alarm and search the house. The family is not there, however we found an item that ties them to a series of robberies Captain John Taylor from their police force has been investigating. After looking through pictures that were taken in the house I spotted these,” with that Deidre laid out the photos of the items Charles had taken, “and I believe them to be the items that are missing from our robbery. This is a picture of the Jameson family, do any of them look familiar to you? Is there anything that you can remember now about the items you took?”

Charles leaned forward to look at the pictures more closely.


“No, sorry. I don’t recognize any of these people. And I really still feel like I’ve never seen these things. I know the dream happened but I can’t grasp the memory as clearly as Deborah can. I had read about the theories before but it’s hard for me to really understand why someone else can see my own memories better than I can.”

Deidre nodded, she completely understood the difficulty Charles was having. Dream memory was an odd thing. Most people do not remember their dreams, or if they do they only hold on to them for a few minutes. The memory isn’t solid like many others. Because Deborah, Greg and Joshua weren’t trying to remember something they were able to just watch the dream unfolding again and again in Charles’ mind. It would always be there, if you knew how to look for it, but over time even the most skilled dream reader would have a hard time finding it. The block had actually preserved the memory in more clarity than it would have been if left alone.

“What I am most interested in is who was he talking to? I have in my notes that Charles was talking to a friend in the dream who gave him a shopping list then he gave them the items. Who was this? I don’t have anything in my notes about who this was.”

Deborah consulted her more detailed notes on what they had witnessed, “That’s what I thought, you don’t have it written in your notes because we don’t know. It’s a dream not reality. Sometimes in dreams things are understood that would not be the case in day to day life. For instance this, he knows he was talking to a friend, he didn’t ever see the friend in his dream so we cannot see them either. As far as dropping off the items it’s like it’s a footnote, ‘and I dropped them off and came home’, we know he actually did drop them off because he didn’t have them at the house or in his car, but he didn’t actually see where he dropped them off in the dream.”

Dot nodded, “I had a dream the other night that I was vacationing in Hawaii and then all of a sudden I was hiking the Alps. There was no time between traveling from one place to another, dream reality is different, is that what we are getting at? Even though it happened, he really did go to the store and pick up those items and then give them to someone he didn’t do it in his dream in detail?”

Deidre interrupted, “But we know he did do something with those items, shouldn’t there be an actual memory of what he physically did? We know he went to the store and got the items and we know that he did not have the items the next day when he was arrested, shouldn’t there be some actual memory of what he did with them as we know he did do something with them?”

“I wish I had a better answer for you than I do, but if he didn’t see it in the dream I cannot see it in his memory.”

Joshua stepped in, “It’s as if when you are dreaming your body is overwriting what is happening with it’s own version. You have no memory of laying in bed all night, you would have no record in your mind of how many times you turned over or moved your arms, you are moving but not with a purpose. Your mind is keeping you preoccupied so you rest and get the sleep you need to function. Even though he was up and walking and doing things, and probably looked to be awake the entire time as most sleep walkers do, he wouldn’t be seeing what was in front of him. The dream would have been directing him.”

“How much more is left to uncover? I know you thought the dream was shifting, Deborah, but do you think there might be more of this one in there? Something else to give us a clue as to who Charles was talking to?”

“I would think two more sessions, do you all agree?” Greg consulted the group.
“Is there anyway to do one now? I know we weren’t scheduled until tomorrow but could we push it up?”

Greg shook his head, “I don’t think so. I really don’t. I know you are anxious to find what you can but I know I am not fully recovered from the last session and I cannot believe anyone else is either?”

Deborah and Joshua both shook their heads, “It would be difficult to even form the link at this point.” Deborah stated.

Joshua said, “Even if we weren’t so tired I don’t think it would be good for Charles.” He turned to Charles at that point and spoke to him, “You’ve been incredible through this whole process, I know we often seem to be speaking of you as if you weren’t here or were nothing more than a lab rat, and I apologize for that. After reviewing all of our notes from the past sessions I have to say your mind, the strength you have had in keeping yourself whole while the three of us have invaded your space over and over has been impressive. Thank you for allowing us to continue doing this.”

Charles gave a small smile, “Thank you. I just want to find out what happened. But I am sorry, Deidre, I have to agree with the others, I can’t today. The last extraction was difficult. Not the process so much as what it revealed. And now you seem to be indicating that possibly it wasn’t just me again, that there was someone else directing me, at least that’s what I am taking from this conversation.”

Deidre nodded, “You’re right. I have to think the friend in your dream is who ever is with the Jameson family right now. I think they used you to get items for one of the children and possibly used others to get items for the rest of the family. I have no idea how long they have been with the family or where they have taken them now. You are our only lead right now, and it looks like it’s not much of a lead after all.”
Charles shook his head, “I am sorry. I wish I could be more help, I really do, but I just, I can’t not today.”

Dot reached out and took his hand, “No need to apologize. You have been a lot of help. Going in now when everyone is so exhausted would probably only muck things up anyway.”

Deidre nodded toward her aunt and Charles, “I apologize for sounding so pushy, Charles, I’m just anxious to move forward. If it cannot be until tomorrow then tomorrow is fine. Thank you, everyone, for meeting today. If you think of anything that you think might be helpful please contact me. I will see you all tomorrow afternoon.”

After receiving the items from the Jameson house one of the members of the Guard was able to match the price tags left on the books with the inventory list from the store and verify that there were indeed the stolen items from the Charles Standing case.

Deidre spread out the pictures from the Jameson house along with her notes on a table and paced back and forth in front of them. Somehow this was all tied together. She could feel it. The friend in the dream had to be the person responsible for the animated Teddy Bear. They had to be Gifted. Most likely Spell-Caster. Were they a follower of Stan that they hadn’t caught? Why would they be living with a family of Others? And why would they move them? Did they know that they were about to be discovered and so uprooted the family? Why not just move on and leave them behind, maybe wipe their memories? Too many questions.

She took the inventoried items out and placed them on the table as well. A girl’s outfit, a few books and a couple of toys. This was their only tie between Charles Standing and the Jamesons, what was she missing?

There was a knock on the conference room door and a member of the Guard showed Captain Taylor in as she was leaving she turned and looked back at the table, “It’s the Sally Sunny line.”

“What? What’s Sally Sunny?”

“Sally Sunny? It’s a children’s television show. My daughter watches it every day. And of course there is a Sally Sunny clothing line, and book line, and toy line. If you see her play with something on TV you know you can run right out and buy it. My daughter wants everything. She even wanted a whole Sally Sunny birthday party. Which of course you can do. Theme plates and napkins and cakes.”

“And these things are all Sally Sunny?”

“Yes, see on the tag for the shirt? The smiling sun? That’s the brand logo. It’s on everything. My daughter would be over the moon to get this many Sally Sunny things at one time. I mean, not stolen though.”

“No, I’d imagine not. Is there a Sally Sunny catalog? Or are they just advertised on the show?”

“Oh, they are everywhere, you can get them at almost every retail store. The big department store downtown has a rotating display in their front window. It seems like every time we walk by there is a new Sally Sunny item on display. It’s great for business, lousy if you are trying to convince your daughter that they don’t need every single piece of merchandise on display. I cannot even imagine what the Christmas window will look like. And I’m sorry, I’m rambling. Did you have any other questions for me Captain?”

“No but I do have an assignment for you. I’d like you to find out what was on display the two weeks before and the week of the Charles Standing robbery and then get back to me.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

After the Guard left John let out a laugh, “I’ve never met a chatty Warrior before.”

Deidre smiled at her friend, “We can all be chatty when we want to be. But she’s a Spell-Caster not a Warrior. Not all members of the Guard are Warriors. We need support people too. Spell-Casters like to solve mysteries, for some that means they come here. We also have Prophets and a good number of Healers. You are just used to working with our tactical teams. Which are all Warrior.”

“I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to your system.”

“I feel the same way about yours. Now, Sally Sunny, what do you think? Is this something?”

“It’s something, just not sure what yet.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Practical Magic: Teamwork (Practical Magic #19)

Deidre was sitting at her desk reviewing her notes from Charles’ latest extraction when her father called her into his office.

“Captain Taylor just contacted us and would like you to gather a team and join him on a,” Commander Keeper paused and checked his notes, “welfare check.”

“What’s that?”

“It seems there is some concern about a family of Others. Two members of their social services department went to look in on them and reported something odd. They didn’t say what it was, Captain Taylor said they kept saying no one would believe them if they did, but it seems they aren’t prepared to handle this one on their own.”

“All right, I’ll take a few of our people and meet him at his precinct. I’d like to take a couple of Spell-Casters along. If it is something we need to deal with it would be best if we took a couple with us first visit.”

“Check to see who is on duty and let me know who all is going with you. And be careful, he didn’t know what it was just that the two social workers were spooked and not sure they really believed what they saw either.”

“Of course. I’ll check in later.”

Deidre gathered her company together and met with Captain Taylor.

“This is what we know. There was a request for a welfare check on The Jameson family. This is a family of four, father 29, mother 28, two girls ages 5 and 8. They live a little off the beaten path and their older daughter had stopped going to school. Calls to the house have gone unanswered. No notice to the school as to why she isn’t attending anymore. So social services stepped in to see if they were all fine. A two member team drove out this morning and then turned around and came right back here. Neither one will say exactly what it was that they think they saw, but they say it was more in line with you,” gesturing at Deidre and her team, “than us. So I called to request a team to accompany us on a quick check of the area. The two social workers did not get close enough to the house to say if the family was there or not so we are walking in to a complete unknown situation. Before you ask, I’ve already requested that you be allowed to view their memory of the incident and neither one has given permission. So all we are working on is the bare minimum here.”

“So even though they understand that any information we could get from them would be helpful to us as we prepare to face something that they were too scared to handle they said no?”

“Yes, Captain Springwater, that is exactly the situation.”

Deidre shook her head. She would never be able to understand this particular personality aspect of most of The Others. Their fear was greater than their concern for other people around them. Aric had tried to explain it to her, their sense of individuality was as important to them as the sense of commonality was to The Gifted. But she was no closer to understanding them than they were of her.

“Then let’s move out.”

The Jamesons lived at the end of a narrow gravel drive so it was decided to park and walk the rest of the way in, they didn’t want to get in to a situation where they could not turn the cars around easily. As the team headed toward the house they fanned out keeping watch for what ever it was that had spooked the social workers.

Deidre was watching the house itself. She hadn’t noticed anything at all unusual in the area around her visually but could feel almost a breath of magic against her skin. She motioned to her team to stop and wait for a moment. There was something here. She just couldn’t see anything. The house itself looked deserted. She motioned to her team to move again slowly, eyes open. There was something here, she could feel it, it had scared the social workers but what was it?

Looking around the yard there were a few discarded toys laying in the yard. A wheelbarrow had been set up as a planter but the flowers inside had dried out and died. It looked like the family had been gone for awhile. They got closer and started to walk to the porch. Nothing there but an abandoned Teddy Bear. It was a mangy looking thing missing a few patches of fur and one of its eyes. Obviously not a newer toy. Deidre thought that one of the children must have dropped it when the family left, probably the younger of the two daughters. As she mounted the first step up the porch still scanning for any unusual activity she heard a gasp from behind her as she caught movement in her peripheral vision. As she turned to look she saw what had caused the Others to turn around and leave. The Teddy Bear had moved.

The hairs on Deidre’s arms raised as the magic around her increased. The bear was definitely moving toward her now. Watching her with the one bead eye it had left. Deidre kept on eye on the bear as she motioned to her team behind her. They were bringing the Spell-Casters in closer to read where the magic this bear was operating on was coming from. Deidre wasn’t afraid of the bear, it was a stuffed animal no matter what was making it move there was only so much cloth and stuffing could do when faced with a person, but she was concerned over who was controlling it. Animating an object like this was not particularly difficult magic to do if you were close by so who ever was controlling this bear was nearby. And using it to scare off anyone who got too close. Which worked, as long as you were dealing with Others and not Gifted.

Every time Deidre took a step closer to the door the bear took a step closer to her. She decided to experiment and take a step back, the bear matched her movement. Turning and motioning to the Spell-Casters to watch she repeated the steps a few more times. If she stepped toward the door so did the bear, if she backed away the bear would as well. She stopped and waited while the Spell-Casters searched for the spell controlling the bear. Feeling a surge in power in the area Deidre kept her eye on the bear. It straightened for a moment then fell over in to a heap. A regular toy once again.

Deidre looked back toward the Spell-Casters for an idea of what she should expect, was the magic user in the house? What she got instead was a puzzled look and a shrug of shoulders. The lead Spell -Caster mouthed, “we don’t know” at her so she motioned to her team to start again. Closing in on the door nothing else moved. The feeling of magic in the area was no longer as strong. When nothing happened she motioned Captain Taylor forward. He knocked at the door.

“Mr. And Mrs. Jameson? This is Captain Taylor, could you please open the door?”

There was no sound from inside. Captain Taylor knocked again and they waited, listening for any movement. When they heard nothing again he tried the door. It was unlocked. Slowly they opened the door and made their way cautiously in to the house. The living room was empty and there was a fine layer of dust on the end tables. Either the Jamesons were not very tidy or no one had been home in at least a week. The joint company moved through the house searching room by room for signs of the family. They weren’t there. There were also no signs of any other magic alarm systems.

Deidre walked in to the last bedroom in the house to search, this was obviously the room of the youngest daughter. “Captain Taylor? Will you come here a minute, I have something I’d like you to take a look at.”

Captain Taylor made his way back to Deidre. As he walked in the room she pointed to the corner were a large decorated Styrofoam cake stood with a chunk missing from the bottom. “Is that from your bakery robberies?”

Captain Taylor walked over to look at the dummy cake, “It sure looks like it. And just when I thought there was nothing odder than seeing you dance the cha cha with a stuffed bear this day just keeps getting weirder and weirder.”

Captain Taylor and Deidre walked back outside of the house to gather the teams together to discuss what they had and had not found. “I’m going to get a team together to search the rest of the house for any possible stolen items as well as any clue to where the family has gone. What have your people found out here?”

Deidre looked to the group of Spell-Casters, “Frannie, you take lead on this, what did you find? Can you pinpoint where the spell was coming from?”

“Well, that’s the thing. There wasn’t a spell per se. Not what we would expect to find. We were looking for an animation spell, something you’d do at a kid’s party for entertainment, or to play a trick on a sibling?” Deidre smiled while Captain Taylor looked horrified, probably imagining what his reaction to a moving stuffed animal would have been when he was a child. “But there was nothing. And no thread connecting a Spell-Caster to the toy. Who ever was controlling it wasn’t here. They had set it up before they left.”

Deidre narrowed her eyes, “It wasn’t a current casting? It was just left? Animated? For how long?”

“We don’t know. Once we searched around for the connection and didn’t find it we focused on the toy itself. There was a wisp of a, a, I don’t really know how to describe it, instruction maybe? Like someone had told the bear to watch the house? But as soon as we found that it stopped. Like we tripped the wire and shorted it out, that’s the best way I can think to describe it. I’ve never seen anything like it really.”

Captain Taylor spoke, “I take it this isn’t normal?”

Deidre laughed, “Well I guess to you none of this would be anywhere close to normal. But no, even for us this isn’t normal. Animating the bear? That would be somewhat easy. We all learned the spell as kids. Now a Spell-Caster can do a better job of it, but even I could make a doll blink or raise her arm if I tried. But to do a spell like the one we saw, where the bear matched my movements? That would require the caster to be close by, to be watching me so they could mirror the bear’s movements to mine. To be able to cast a spell that isn’t a spell, one that leaves the bear animated and able to move in coordination with me? That’s something else entirely.

What about the cake? Was that from your robberies?”

“As far as I can tell. But until we get a picture from the bakery file up here we won’t know for sure. There is a piece missing out of the bottom level that wasn’t in the description but that could have happened while the thief was moving it around. But having it here still doesn’t answer any questions over why it was stolen in the first place.”

Captain Taylor looked over to see Deidre’s face wrinkled in concentration, “Do you see something? Or feel something?” He was automatically back on guard looking around for the threat.

“No, not exactly but I have an idea. I need to head back down to town and check something out. I need some information from my brother and I need to let my fath…Commander Keeper know what we’ve found. I can meet you back at your precinct with what I’ve found later. Give me an hour?”

“That’s fine. We will wrap up here now that we know there are no more magical surprises waiting for us and I will see you then.”

Deidre got to her car and placed a call to Aric, “Hey, can I get you to check lineage on a family of Others? Yeah, Jameson.”

After checking in with her father and releasing her team to head back to Guard headquarters Deidre met up with Captain Taylor at his precinct to help fill out the paperwork. On joint assignments they tried to work together to file paperwork on cases. There were things that the Others could not explain and things that the Gifted would not have added to their own reports so they found it best to work together to get as complete of a report as possible.

Deidre found Captain Taylor working in a conference room when she arrived. He had pictures from the bakery robberies and pictures from the Jameson house in front of him comparing the dummy cake they had found and the one that what stolen.

“Making any progress, John?”

“It definitely looks like the same one And there were some bakery boxes out back in a trash pile that matched the other bakery robberies. But I have no idea how it ties in to them leaving. I can sadly say that it wasn’t because we were closing in on them. We had no leads at all on those robberies and as we hadn’t had one in a few weeks we were starting to think who ever had been behind them had decided it wasn’t worth the risk to steal cookies. Now it appears that the robberies stopped right around the time the Jamesons disappeared. But why would they be stealing baked goods? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Deidre looked at the two cake pictures, “Well, it sure looks like the same cake to me. Have you called the shop owner to come look at it to tell for sure?”

“I have. But I still can’t wrap my brain around what the connection is. And we have a missing family, are we looking at foul play or a family vacation without warning? And either way we need to track them down because they are our only leads on those break ins.” John made an exasperated sound and rubbed his hand over his face, “How about you? Did you get the information from your brother you were looking for? ”

“Not yet. He’s looking into the family lineage of the Jamesons for me. You need to know if you are looking at your people or ours I think. That will help us understand who set the Teddy Bear alarm. It was obviously something left to scare your people more than mine, but does that mean that maybe mom or pop Jameson is really one of us?”

John nodded, “Good thinking. I just have to scratch my head over all of this, there has never been a record of any trouble with this family. No trouble with the daughter in school, no record of trouble with either parent. Young family, not a lot of money, not really social, but not antisocial, if that makes sense to you?”

“Yeah, even with as connected as we tend to be there are some among us that prefer to live a little farther out. Not every one is a joiner, right?”

“Exactly, we aren’t talking about someone cutting themselves off here, just a young family living outside the city, still sent their daughter to school in town. Heck if they had been a homeschooling family we wouldn’t have realized they were gone. “

“What about work?”


“Work, you said the welfare check was instigated by the school. Didn’t one or both of the parents work? Wouldn’t they have been missed at work?”

“Ah, no, they ran a small business out of their home. The first time someone would have noticed them missing would have been,” with this John shuffled through some invoices, “next Thursday. They had a pick up scheduled for that date. The delivery driver would have noticed them gone, but more importantly would have noticed that bear. Now if he came forward with that information we don’t know. It would be hard to come in to a police station to say you saw a walking Teddy Bear, you saw how the social workers responded. Even though there were two of them to corroborate each other’s story they didn’t want to be thought of as crazy.”

“So maybe the Teddy Bear wasn’t an alarm like we were thinking but a way of preventing anyone from reporting them missing? Maybe who ever set it up knew that there wasn’t a strong chance of someone coming forward with that information.”

“It could be, but we’re still back at the drawing board as to why.”

Deidre took the photographs from John and shuffled through then while she thought. She stopped at a picture of the youngest daughter’s room. Then started rifling through the stack for any other shots showing the room. “Well, here’s something interesting.” She laid the photographs out on the table. “See these things, this outfit, these books and this stack of toys?”


“You remember the case against Charles Standing? I’m pretty sure these are the things he was charged with stealing. I need to make a phone call.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Practical Magic: Titles Schmitles (Practical Magic #18)

Aska was lounging in her room with her friend Kayla. “I think Zack likes you.” Zack was Kayla’s neighbor. An older boy of at least 13 1/2. He did seem to hang around a lot when Aska was over visiting with Kayla.

“You think? I haven’t really paid attention.”

“Oh sure you haven’t. You don’t even look at his house every 10 seconds when we are outside or anything.”

Aska laughed, “Okay, yeah, he’s cute. But I don’t think he likes me. I would guess he likes you. I’m not even 12 yet, he looks at me like I’m a little kid.”

“You’ll be 12 next month and he’s known me all my life. It’s hard to think someone’s cute if you’ve watched them eat dog food on a dare.”

“You ate dog food on a dare?”

“That’s not important, we’re talking about Zack having a crush on you. And you know who has a crush on Zack?”


“Brianna. She’s always liked him. Even when we were all in elementary school she would follow him around all the time.”

Aska smiled. She knew it was sort of small and petty to be happy that the boy that Brianna liked liked her instead, but she couldn’t help it. It was hard to think nice thoughts about someone who went out of their way to make you feel badly about yourself. When Kayla had thrown a slumber party a few weeks ago and invited both Aska and Brianna, Brianna had decided she wouldn’t come if Aska was going to be there. But that wasn’t enough for her she also tried to get everyone else Kayla invited to not come either. Too bad for her most of their friends liked Kayla more than Brianna and had gone to the party anyway. And it had been fun. Aska had enjoyed hanging out with Kayla’s friends and they all seemed really nice. A lot of questions about what it was like to be Gifted, but she was getting used to that. She had questions about what it was like to be Other as well so she understood.

“Well, it doesn’t really matter, I’m not supposed to worry about things like boyfriends until I’m older. My mother thinks middle school is too young for boyfriends.”

“Yeah, my dad thinks that too. So I’m keeping a list.”

“A list? Of boys?”

“Yeah, why not? This is my list of boys that I think are cute. If they are still cute in a couple of years I will have a place to start.”

Aska started laughing, “You are crazy. Boy crazy!”

Kayla just shrugged, “Well it’s easier for you right? You can tell if a boy likes you. Like you could go over to Zack’s house right now and know if he really likes you or not. You never have to waste your time with, ‘Oh does he LIKE like me or just like like me?’ I can’t do that so I have a list.”

“I could, but I wouldn’t.”

“Why not? I swear all of the things you could know but you don’t do them! It’s like it’s wasted on you.”

“There are rules. Well maybe not rules so much as polite practices. And if you don’t follow them you would be miserable. Like say one day you and I are fighting about something and you think something mean about me? If I were reading you right then I would hear that and think that’s how you always felt about me. But it might not be, it might just be because you were mad. But I would have gotten hurt or angry about what you were thinking and then we would fight more and it would be bad. So you don’t do it. Because people think a lot of things. All the time. And if you tried to listen to everyone all the time you would go crazy. Even people who are really good at reading other people, like my Aunt Dot, have to concentrate to do it. She doesn’t just hear every one all the time. Just the loud thinkers, and you can’t help that. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to hear everyone all the time.”

“I guess.”

“And besides, people let you know what they think. I’ve never read Brianna, for instance and I am pretty sure I know exactly what she thinks of me.”

“Yeah, but Brianna thinks that about everyone who isn’t her.”

“See? You can read her just fine, even without a gift.”

Kayla smiled, “That’s true! Hmm…maybe I have a touch of Prophet after all. The first Other Prophet. I could do that.”


“Why didn’t you ever get married?” Aska was helping her Aunt Joy get dinner ready.
“Umm, what brought that on?”

“Kayla and I were talking about boys earlier, don’t look at me like that we were just talking, and it made me think about mom saying you dated a lot in high school. But you never got married, so I was wondering why.”

“Your Uncle Aric hasn’t gotten married either, why aren’t you concerned with him?”

“Because he’s in love with a woman he works with and is too afraid to tell her because she’s not one of the Gifted. Though he will tell her soon and she feels the same way so they will get married. Probably by next year.”

Joy turned around and looked at her niece stunned, “Did you read your Uncle?”

“Nope, I eavesdropped on Aunt Dot and Grandma talking.”

Joy shook her head, “Poor Aric.”

“Anyway…why didn’t you ever get married? Do you want to get married?”

“Okay, well, I’ve told you that you can ask me anything so I guess this is part of anything. I was engaged once. You were just a baby. He was a teacher like me. A Spell-Caster. We met in college and did our student teaching in the same school. When I was just getting started at the elementary he got offered a position at a high school in another town. I didn’t want to leave my new position so soon and he couldn’t really turn down this opportunity so we decided to try the long distance relationship.”

“And it didn’t work out?”

“No, it didn’t. He came home for Thanksgiving break and we were sitting outside talking. I reached out to hold his hand and…well it takes a really special person to be involved with someone who is a Prophet. You end up not having secrets, because you can’t. When I touched his hand I knew. I knew he was starting to have feelings for a woman he worked with. They hadn’t dated or anything, he wasn’t unfaithful to me, but I knew that it was just a matter of time. And when he saw my face after I touched him he knew that I knew as well. I hadn’t done it on purpose, but it didn’t matter, I still knew what he was feeling and he still knew that I had read him. We broke up and he went back to his new job and new town.”

“Did he and the new lady end up together?”

“They did. They got married the following spring. She was wife #1. He’s been married 3 more times since then. Seems like he is really good at falling in love but not great at staying there. Though it was awful at first I am very glad now.”

“Is that why you haven’t gotten engaged since? Do you just not trust anyone?”

“No, honestly I just haven’t found anyone I would be interested in spending my life with. I enjoy dating. I like the freedom I have. I have my family, I am not really in a hurry to start another one.”

“Do you think it’s harder for Prophets to find someone?”

“Maybe. I think it’s hard for everyone to find the right person. You never got a chance to meet Uncle Roy, Aunt Dot’s husband. He passed before you were born. But he was perfect for her. And you know how she is about privacy, or no privacy as the case may be. He was a Spell-Caster and thought it was fascinating that she could read him so clearly, she is incredibly talented in that area, more than anyone I’ve ever heard of let alone met. Anyway, he was extraordinarily proud of her gifts. As she was of his. He was a brilliant man. A teacher. In fact he’s the reason why I pursued teaching. He was so good at it. Everything with him was a lesson, but you never realized it until it was over because you were having so much fun. I wanted to be like him.”

“And it never bugged him that Aunt Dot would just read him? It’s kind of annoying.”

“It is annoying. And it’s why we are all so good at putting up barriers to keep our thoughts private. She has been a good teacher, even if it’s been out of necessity. But no, he was fine. He wasn’t a man who had secrets. He was an open book. And that was the only type of person Aunt Dot could have been with. Someone who was so open they didn’t care. But that’s not to say all Prophets need someone that open. I wouldn’t. I just like the people I’m dating to be honest. Negative emotion carries very clearly with me. If you are lying or hiding something I pick it up without trying. It’s not fun.”

“What do you think I will need?”

“I don’t know. But you have a long time to figure it out. Boys are for later, right?”

Aska thought about Zack and about Kayla’s list, “Yeah, later.”


Extraction session number 8 had just finished and now Deidre thought they were really getting somewhere. It wasn’t what she had expected to hear but you couldn’t fall in to the trap of ignoring the facts to fit the case you thought you had. The memory that Charles had been covering up appeared to be a dream about going to the store and taking the things and then giving them to someone else. They hadn’t completely finished yet, but everything they had seen was he went to sleep, he started dreaming, at one point he dreamed that he was talking with a friend who gave him a list of things to pick up for him at the store. He then went and got those things and gave them to his friend. They hadn’t uncovered the rest yet but Deborah was pretty sure that at this point the dream started to shift again so it was very likely that there would be no new information.

“Our hypothesis is that as his conscious mind became aware of the fact that he had actually gone to this department store and taken the items his subconscious mind knowing that he is not a thief and that he would not be able to reconcile stealing the items with the person he believes himself to be blocked the memory.” Greg was practically beaming with excitement. For the first time after a session the three from the circle did not seem to be exhausted though Deidre chalked that up to excitement for them over what they had found.

“We further believe that the reason why this is an unknown phenomena is because no one has ever thought to look for it before. But we think it could explain many sleep behaviors. People who wake up with candy wrappers around them but no memory of eating, for instance, they could have that memory blocked out to protect themselves. Joshua is working on a paper for a grant request for further study. We could have stumbled across a major breakthrough in dream and memory research here.”

Dot looked over at Charles who had been sitting silently this time. “How are you feeling, Charles?”

Charles sighed, “I guess I should be relieved to have an answer. But for me it’s, I’m not sure how to describe it, disconcerting?Apparently I’m a sleep bandit. I had no memory of committing a crime but I did it. I saw the video and now I’ve seen the fleeting memory of the dream as well. Somehow in the middle of the night I decided that it would be a good idea to go to a store and take random items off the shelf and, do what with them? We still don’t know where I left them. Gave them to my make believe dream friend? Dropped them at the side of the road somewhere? Who knows, I sure don’t. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful for all that’s been done on my behalf, that is not what I mean to do. If you all hadn’t stepped in who knows what would have happened to me. But I am still not sure how to handle this new information.

I know it’s hard to imagine or believe but I would have rather it been someone else controlling me at that point than myself. What this means is I can’t trust myself anymore to know what is right and what is wrong. What is true and what isn’t. I’m just not sure how to process all of this just yet.”

Dot reached out and took Charles’ hand. “I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. The dream state is much closer to the waking state than most realize. Sleep walkers, sleep talkers, sleep eaters, sleep drivers, you’ve heard of all of them.”

“Yes, but they know that’s what they are. I just, I don’t know what I am anymore.”

“Nonsense. You are still who you’ve always been. And I am going to tell you something else. If your subconscious went to this amount of effort to hide from you the fact that you did something in your sleep that tells me that you are an incredibly decent human being. The thought of being a thief, of taking something that wasn’t yours was so appalling to you your mind covered it up to protect yourself? That’s amazing.”

“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll be fine, it’s just not what I was expecting and I’m not sure what to do with it right now.”

Deidre looked around the table, “Are we finished for today then?” when everyone gave their agreement that they were she put her notebook away and got ready to leave. “Charles, before I go, I might not be a Prophet or a Spell-Caster, but I understand that right now you are nervous. You don’t trust yourself. Here is my brother Aric’s phone number, I’ll let him know you might give him a call. Years ago we had a neighbor whose little boy would sleep walk. He’d open the door and just walk right out of the house. Aric came up with a spell that would tether the boy to the inside of the house at night. It didn’t affect his sleep, it didn’t affect him during the day, but at night he could only walk around his bedroom. It kept him safe until he outgrew the sleepwalking. If it would make you feel better I bet he could teach you the spell to use on yourself.”

Charles took the number from Deidre, “Thank you, so much.”

As they walked out of the room Dot put her arm around her niece, “Such a softy.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Practical Magic: Memory is a Funny Thing 2 (Practical Magic #17)

They were starting their fourth session with Charles today. They had been moving very slowly and so far had only revealed more of the dream he was having before he robbed the store. Today they would be working toward the center of the previously completely blocked memory. Deidre was hopeful that today would be the day they would finally begin to see the shape of what was hidden in Charles’ memory. It had been a tedious process for her. Everyone else had been fascinated by the procedure. This was something that hadn’t been done before, that they hadn’t seen before. For Deidre it was just waiting. She wanted the information that Charles held trapped in his memory but the process of getting it out was of no interest to her. She was only interested in the last 15 minutes of her time here, the part where they all reconvened and the circle shared the next piece of memory to be uncovered. But even that had, so far, been of no use to her in uncovering what actually happened that night.

Charles still could remember falling asleep. As they uncovered the dream he was having he would recall bits of that, but they would fade quickly as dreams do when the dreamer wakes. But those that were sharing his memory were looking at it and would record their impressions after the session. They would also answer questions from Dot and Al about the process itself, how they were all feeling. Charles would be watched for the next 24 hours to ensure that he was having no ill effects on the rest of his memory from having so many people share his consciousness at one time and from having the block removed. The procedure was still exhausting to all parties involved and they felt that there was no safe way to move faster.

Which meant Deidre watched and waited. It was her duty and she was a professional so as soon as they started her focus was entirely on the people around her. Making sure everyone seemed to be doing what they were supposed to. Watching the people, watching the doors, listening for movement in the hallways. But when it was over and she was off duty she would admit it was her least favorite part of the day. Though she wished it was moving faster there was a part of her that was grateful to know the entire procedure from start to finish would take no more than an hour each time.

As she felt the magic lessen in the room and watched the circle begin to stir she was anxious to move along to the next portion, where she could finally hear what they had found. Looking at Deborah’s face she thought there must have been something new today. She seemed to be puzzled by something. Deidre was taking this as a good sign.

After they were all settled in the conference room Greg started by explaining where they had started that day and what they had done to remove the next portion of the block. He did this every session, they were recording all of this information for further studies and felt that all information could prove useful to someone. On this day that were closer to the center of the block than they had been. Working on the widest part of the ink spill in Charles’ mind they had succeeded in removing the very middle of the stain. They had been afraid that they would encounter more resistance here because it was the largest portion of the block but that had not proven out. This part lifted out much the same as the other pieces. They had worked carefully unraveling the memory from the block leaving the memory intact and accessible.

Deidre listened to all of the preliminary information as patiently as she could but was relieved when Deborah began to speak, “What we saw today was a continuation of the dream,” Deidre tried not to show the disappointment on her face, she had been so sure that there was something different this time, “however the dream has started to shift.”

“Started to shift? Do you mean a new dream is beginning or he is waking up?” Dot asked.

“We are just at the beginning edges of the shift and we should really know more next time, but it looks like a new dream, or a change in the dream he was having more correctly.”

“Charles, do you have anything to add?” Al directed the question at Charles not wanting it to seem as though they were discussing him like a lab rat and not an actual member of their society sitting right there in the room with them.

“I wish I did. When this portion started to be uncovered I had a fleeting glimpse of the dream. But it’s very hazy. I don’t really remember much about it. Maybe singing?”

“You were singing in the dream?” Al asked.

“No, I don’t think I was singing, I think I was listening. But it was brief and then it was gone.”

Deidre turned back to Deborah, “Do you have anything else about the shift? The new dream beginning? Your expression as you closed the circle seemed a little puzzled.”

“I don’t know what it means, and I don’t want to speak prematurely, and I’m not sure if Al or Joshua saw this as well, but it seems like the new dream Charles was starting he was going someplace. That’s what I think I saw right before we ended this session. I think I saw him dreaming of leaving.”

Deidre leaned back in her chair, “That is interesting. Charles, you said before you have no history of sleep walking, correct?”

“Yes, that’s right. I shared a room with my brother growing up he would have noticed if I did. I’ve never woken up in a strange place. I normally don’t even toss or turn much. I’m a pretty deep sleeper.”

Joshua nodded his head, “Yes that makes sense from what we’ve seen with his brain patterns. Solid sleeper, deep sleeper. I’ve not picked up anything in the dreams around this one to show anything unusual. I did not see what Deborah did, any details on the shifting dream as we were leaving, but I was focused on easing us out of his thoughts with as little damage as possible. I don’t see the dream memory as well as Deborah while we are working. We have to have an area cleared for me to focus on it, our gifts are different that way.”

Dot nodded, “That’s understood, it’s part of why we have the three of you working together. Complimenting each other’s work instead of duplicating.”

Greg stood, “Are there anymore questions? My wife is picking me up, I nearly fell asleep on the drive home last time so chauffeuring for me from here on out.”

As Charles and the three from the circle left the room Deidre turned to her aunt, “I’ve seen you read thoughts in court all day and not show such signs of exhaustion that these four are having, why is this different?”

“Al and I have been talking about that, I think it’s a combination of things. One they are doing something unknown so they are concentrating at a very deep level. But more importantly we think it’s because they are wading slowly through a sleep memory. We think they are feeling the exhaustion that Charles felt while it was happening, they are fighting sleep the whole time they are working. By entering his consciousness they are allowing a part of him into theirs, so they really want to sleep.”

“What would happen if they fell asleep while they were still linked? Is this something we should be worried about?”

“Dot and I don’t think so. We believe that they would fall out of sync with each other and the connection would be broken. The sheer amount of concentration they are using to hold together is astounding. But it is probably a good reminder as to why we have to move slowly. We don’t want to test that theory.”

“Agreed. Do we have anymore to go over today?” Dot looked to Al and Deidre, “No? Okay, then let’s plan on meeting back here in two days as usual.”

Deidre was very much looking forward to the next session, finally something was starting to change. What would it mean if he did dream of leaving? Was it a case of sleep walking after all? But what would have caused the memory blockage? Was it his own mind protecting himself? She had heard of cases where people forgot traumatic experiences, that their own subconscious tried to protect them from the memory. Could this be what they were looking at? Charles dreamt he robbed a store, did rob a store and because he is not the sort of person that would do such a thing his own mind blocked it out? Still more questions than answers but at least now she felt like the might actually be getting somewhere.

Practical Magic: Memory is a Funny Thing (Practical Magic #16)

“Tell me about the first time you ever saw Dad.”

Deidre smiled and turned to her daughter, “Are you expecting some sort of teen romance version of a story? Like I knew from the first time I ever laid eyes on him that he was the one?”

“No, I’ve heard the story about your first sparring session. Everyone tells that story. I think all of my friend’s parents must have been there that day. But you had already known each other for two years by then. And Dad already had a crush on you. That’s why you could beat him. But you had to have had a little bit of a crush on him as well or you wouldn’t have kissed him.”

“Fair enough. Okay, let’s see, when was the first time I saw your dad. Hmm, that’s actually a tough one. I mean I’m sure I saw him a few times before I noticed him. We were in classes together from the start. But I would have to say I noticed him the first time in Healing Arts 1.”

“That’s because he was better than you right?”

Deidre laughed, “Yes, it was. I’d like to say it was because I was impressed and wanted to learn more, but I was angry that this kid, this boy, dared to beat my grade on a test. Like it was a personal insult. I had gotten very used to being the top of my class.

So the first time we had a test handed back out and our instructor posted the breakdown of grades on the board I saw that the top score was a 97% while I only had a 95%. Someone in that room was better. I looked around and there was this kid sitting there with the smuggest smile. I knew right then that’s who it had to be and I wanted nothing more than to smack that look right off of his face.”


“I warned you. This wasn’t a dreamy eyed first look. I was really angry at him. How dare he? Then I overheard him tell the kid sitting in front of him that his mother was a Healer and would be disappointed he only got partial credit on one of the answers. He should have gotten 100%. Ah ha! He already knew all of this, no wonder he did better. In fact he was right, he should have gotten 100%, so really that meant that I had done better than he had.”

“She’s always been a gracious loser hasn’t she?” Jocelyn said as she walked in to the room. “Let me add to it, I believe when we were walking home that day your mother lovingly referred to your father as that Healer wannabe and vowed that she would beat him on every Healing Arts test from there on out.”

“And did you?”

“No, well, wait, actually once. I did beat him on one. By half a point. But that was the closest I ever came in any of our Healing Arts classes. But he could never beat me in a Prophecy class so it was even.”

“And the only reason she was better at Prophecy class was because she wouldn’t let me sleep for a week before a test! What happens if? What is the rule when? What if? How come? Why? I was relieved when she started her junior year and the more focused Warrior track.”

Deidre shrugged at her daughter, “It’s true, what can I say? I wanted to be the best. Your father was the only person standing in my way so I wanted to beat him. And trust me he felt the same way I did.”

“So how did you end up liking each other? Why didn’t you hate each other?”

“Ah, just because I wanted to be better than him and just because I wanted him to know it didn’t mean I hated him. I’ll admit at first I sort of did, I was just not used to not automatically being the best. But because of him, because of my focus on beating his grades, I worked harder. I got better by testing myself against him. And the more I competed against him the better I got to know him. And the more I got to know him the better I liked him.”

“It didn’t hurt that your father was one of the cutest boys in school either.” Aunt Joy added.

Deidre laughed, “No that didn’t hurt. But it was more than that. Your dad was not only a great Warrior; he was smart and competitive and driven, but he also had touches of your Grandmother Springwater in him. He was kind to everyone. If someone was struggling in class he was there to help. If someone was being picked on he was the first to step in and stop it. He wasn’t just fierce he was more than that. I don’t think there was anyone who could help but like him. And I did.”

“Was Dad your first boyfriend?”

“Yeah he was. I wasn’t really popular with other boys. Your Aunt Joy was the social butterfly in school.”

“Let's tell the truth here, your mother was terrifying in school. The only boy brave enough to even approach her was your father. This gentle soul you see before you today was from years of following your father’s good example. I know it might be hard to believe but your mother could seem sort of unapproachable when she was younger.”

“Like when she glared at everyone at the bake sale?”

“I did not glare! I was just watching the crowd. A lot of people all crowded in to a space like that? That’s just dangerous.”

“It was a bake sale, they were kids from my school. The biggest danger was crumbs. You glared.”

“Just know that before your father’s influence she might have growled as well.”

Aska started laughing, “Were you really that bad?”

“I might have been a little prickly. Your Uncle Aric was the Spell-Caster he spent all of his time with your grandmother learning about everything he could get his hands on, then he chose to go to school with The Others, part of that meant he had to blend in with them. Hide his Gift and pretend to be something he wasn’t. Aunt Joy over here was the Gifted Prophet child. She worked with Aunt Dot for as long as I could remember to hone her skills, part of that means always being concerned with everyone’s feelings because she could feel them as well. That left me. I trained with your Grandfather. Now l love your grandfather, and you know he adores you and all of us, but he’s not what you would call warm and fuzzy. And he knew that if I chose to join the Guard, which I told everyone I was going to, I was going to have to be twice as good as everyone else just because he was my father. Everyone would assume any promotion I got, any assignment I did well on was because he was covering for me. So he made sure I was better than everyone else. And when I wasn’t, when I didn’t step up in our sessions he told me about it. He made sure I wanted to be better than everyone else. So I had a little bit of an edge to me when I was younger.”

“So why did dad like you?”

“Ha! Thanks a lot!”

“No, I mean, if you weren’t really nice and you didn’t let anyone get close to you why did he like you? You liked him because he was kind right? What was it about you?”

“Well, what I liked in your father was the same thing he liked in me.”

“The Warrior part?”

“Not really, though that’s part of it. What your father said he liked most about me was that I worked harder than anyone else. I didn’t expect everything to come easy. If I was having trouble with something I worked on it until I didn’t. Which is what I liked about him. He was a hard worker, he was driven. He also liked that I was tough. That I stood my ground. That I wasn’t scared of anything. He liked in me what he didn’t feel like he had. I helped him find that part of himself that was always there and bring it out. He did the same for me. He taught me that being kind to someone wasn’t being weak. I taught him that it was okay to be scared of something, but what took courage was doing it anyway. We balanced each other out. So does that answer your question?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Aska walked over and gave her mother a hug, “thanks, I know talking about dad isn’t easy for you.”

“Oh, honey, no, I don’t want you to ever think I don’t like talking about him. I love talking about him. I want you to hear all of the stories we all know about him. I want you to talk about all of the things you remember most. Just because I miss him and it’s sometimes a little sad, or more than a little, to think about losing him, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about him. He was the most important person in my life. He gave me you.”

Aska hugged her mother harder then broke the embrace, “Okay, enough of that, I am off to Kayla’s for a bit. I will be home in time for dinner.”

“Have fun.”

After Aska shut the door behind her Deidre turned to her sister, “Well that seemed to go well, right?”

Jocelyn smiled, “Really well. I think she’s starting to understand that not talking about Cal wasn’t doing either of you any good. Grieving is sometimes a slow process but I think this is a good sign that you are both starting to heal. You made it through that whole conversation without crying once, did you notice?”

“I did, thank you very much. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m healing yet. But grieving with my daughter is better than grieving alone.”