Monday, October 26, 2015

Muddy waters...

"the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living thing." Genesis 2:7

"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." Genesis 2:21-22

It had all started simply enough. He found a spell to make a golem and made himself a girlfriend. I mean it's a tale as old as time right? Boy meets mud puddle, boy makes himself a girl. Right? 

Okay, maybe it wasn't simple. Maybe it was stupid from the start. But you can't really blame a guy for trying right? I mean what are you supposed to do when you just happen to find a spell like that? It would have been a slap in the face to fate to not use it at that point.

Okay, maybe he didn't just find the spell but actively looked for it. But still...

Maybe if he hadn't just had the worst break up of his life. Maybe if all of his friends hadn't been settling down with perfect women. Maybe if the one that got away, the one that he always thought he would end up back together with hadn't just gotten engaged. Maybe if all of those things hadn't happened he wouldn't have done it.

Except he had been fascinated by the idea of making the perfect woman for as long as he could remember. To have someone who thought you were fascinating. Who liked the same things you did. Who wanted to do the same things you wanted to do. Who looked just like you wanted them to. Who acted just like you wanted them to.

So when his last girlfriend left him with the parting shot of, "I hope someday you find the girl you have been trying to make me in to." He realized that she was right. That's what he needed to do. Instead of buying his girlfriend books of Star Trek fan fiction hoping she would finally see how great it was he would just make a girl who loved it from the start. Instead of hinting that she would look sexy with red hair he would just make sure his next (and last) girlfriend had red hair. She would be everything he always wanted because he would make her that way. This really was perfect.

And really he had trained for this his entire life. He was an award winning sculptor after all. A reviewer once said, "There is nothing this man can't do with clay." NOTHING. Read it again. NOTHING. So truly, this was just the culmination of a lifetime of study and training. It would have been a crime against art not to put it all to good use.

Really what else could he have done?

He spent weeks sculpting her. Making sure everything about her was perfect. Referencing anatomy books along with the spell book to make sure every step of the way he did everything right, adding a few drops of his blood to the clay as he worked it and molded it. Long legs. Round hips. A firm ass. Well, of course it was firm right now, it was made of clay, but he wanted to make sure it would stay round and firm once she was animated as well. Not that he was shallow, that wasn't it at all, but he knew that she would want to look good. Women, right?


He spent hours on her. Making her his perfect ideal. He even took the red wig he bought in to a stylist and had it cut and styled so she wouldn't look like she had a store bought wig for a hair cut. He really was going all out here. After he finished the sculpting he let the clay cure. That was the hardest part. The waiting. But he needed to paint her before he finished or she would always look like a woman walking out of a mud bath. And though he thought she was gorgeous no matter what he really wanted porcelain skin and green eyes and full red lips. You know, for her. Because women, right?

And finally she was complete. Perfection. From the inside to the outside sculpted and molded and cured and painted and...well she was everything. He finished the incantations needed to bring her to life. Then he waited. It would take up to a week for her to gain full mobility. For the magic to work its way through every part of her. To turn the clay in to movable flesh. For her mind to become active. For her to become aware. He was like a kid at Christmas. He couldn't wait to show her off to his friends. No wait.  He meant he couldn't wait for the companionship she would bring. For the joy he was about to experience with his perfect woman.

It was all so simple really. Why hadn't he done it sooner?

And it was perfect. She was perfect. Gorgeous. Smart. Well, smart enough. Who wanted a woman that was smarter than you were, right? She liked the same things he did. She wanted to go to the same places he did. She loved everything about him. And he loved her. It was perfect.

Except for the weird finger nail thing. She chewed nails.

Not hers.

Okay, so that was weird. The first time he caught her eating his finger nail clippings he was a little grossed out, but once he explained to her that she couldn't really do that then it was fine.

Then there was the hair thing. He caught her pulling his hair out of the hairbrush and eating that. Again, just had to explain it wasn't food and she was fine.

Just the quirks of a new relationship right?

But it got harder and harder. He started to notice odd things when they were out in public. She would touch strangers. A lot. They never seemed to mind. She was gorgeous. Nobody minds being touched by a gorgeous woman. But it wasn't just that she would touch them. She would linger. Breathing deeply when people were close to her. Brushing off shoulders. Pulling loose hairs from clothing. Fussing over strangers. And he was pretty sure she was sneaking the loose hairs in to her mouth when he wasn't looking.

"You can't eat a stranger's hair!"

"You said I couldn't eat your hair."

"Hair isn't for eating at all. You eat food. Not hair."

"Why isn't hair food? If I eat it doesn't that make it food?"



"Because it doesn't."

She pursed those perfect lips at him, "Hmmm...."

Then there was the unfortunate incident at the bar.

He had taken her out to meet his friends. She was a hit. They all loved her. Their girlfriends loved her. How could anybody help but love her? She was perfection. And then Julie walked in. The one that got away. He got up and did the introductions and everything went really well. His new girl meeting his old girl. Things like this happen all the time. It's easy and normal. Just a group of friends out drinking and dancing.

Taking a spin on the dance floor, she was an excellent dancer, he made sure of that. Just sexy and sensuous on the floor, she whispered in his ear, "Did you love her?"

He was a little shocked. She normally only cared about what made him happy, not what he thought about other people. But then he got it, she was jealous. He made her as perfect as he could, but she was still a woman, right?

"A long time ago I thought I did. But she wasn't the right one for me. She's not you."

She looked at Julie sitting at the table with all of their friends then back at him. Green eyes taking in the scene. She pursed her lips. "Hmm..."

He went to get another round for the table. His back to the table he heard the scream but didn't see what happened. As he turned Julie was yelling at him.

Julie was holding her forearm. "Your girlfriend just bit me!"

He looked and saw a dainty hand carefully wiping the corner of her mouth then casually licking the drop of blood off of her finger.

He rushed to the table and pulled her away from everyone. "Oh my god, I am so sorry. I guess someone has had too much to drink." He hustled her out of the bar, while everyone was caring for Julie's arm too much in shock to stop them.

"Why would you do that? Biting people isn't okay!"

"But how else would I get her blood? Oh! I could have just cut her open. You are right. I'm so glad I have you. You are always so much more practical than I am."

"NO! That's not what I meant. Blood isn't food. You can't bite people. You can't eat their hair or their fingernails or their blood."

She looked at him with her perfect face and her perfect eyes and smiled with her perfect mouth. Then she laughed, "Silly. Of course I can."

"No, you cannot do that. You cannot do those sorts of things. It's just not normal."

She smiled at him again and then kissed him softly, "Yes, dear."

But he didn't really think she meant it. He made her, but she was still a woman, right?

He called Julie the next day to see how she was. The bite hadn't been all that bad. Just barely broke the skin. The shock of it was more than the bite really. She wasn't going to press charges but she knew he would understand that she never wanted to see his new girl again. Of course he understood, how could he not understand. And yes, that was really odd, and no he had never seen that side of her before but he would keep an eye out for more unusual behavior when she was drinking for sure. Maybe she just needed to stay sober. Julie had laughed at him then, "You can't really control if she stays sober, you know. You are her boyfriend not her father."

"Who were you talking to?"

He jumped. He hadn't noticed her walk in to the room. She was extremely light on her feet for being made of clay. "I called Julie to make sure she was okay. You bit her, remember?"

"Of course I remember."

"And you aren't going to bite anyone else right?"

She smiled at him, that perfect smile, "You shouldn't tell me what to do all the time. You are my boyfriend, not my father."

He was shocked. "Did you hear her say that?"


"Julie. She just said that to me."

"Well that makes sense."

And then she walked out of the room.

Makes sense? How did that make sense? There was nothing about that that made sense. Women, right?

He watched her closer when they were in public. He tried to make sure she didn't hurt anyone else. Then he got the email. It was an answer to a Craigslist ad. She had placed an ad offering to bite someone. And people were responding. "What is this? Why would you do this?"

"I don't have my own email address and so I used yours."

"No! Not using my email. Placing the ad. You cannot bite people."

"But they want to be bitten. They like it."

"They like it? Have you done this before? Have you been using my email when I'm not here?"

"It's okay. They like it. You said I couldn't, but I know you meant I couldn't without asking."

She patted his hand and walked out of the room.

He followed her in to the bedroom. "Look, I know we try not to mention this, but you have to listen to me. I made you. That's the rule."

She cocked her head to the side, "Rules are important."

He tried to get her to explain what she meant by that but she wouldn't do anything else but smile. Then she kissed him and went to bed. Without sex.

Rules are important. He made her to always want to please him. He didn't make her to argue with him. He made her. He might be her boyfriend and not her father but he was her creator. And that's what she was created for. She was perfection. That's why he made her. He paced back and forth agitated.

Finally he went to his studio. Sometimes he could calm his mind by working the clay. He hadn't actually sculpted anything since bringing her to life. It seemed at the time that he would never be able to top himself so why would he bother. But he needed his art. He realized that now.

He cleared a work space where he could start throwing a new piece of clay. Underneath an open anatomy book he found the spell he had used to call her forth. He ran his fingers over the page. So simple...some clay, some water, some blood, a piece of bone and...

He went back to reading the spell. Clay, water, blood and bone? Bone? He looked closer at the book and could see a smudge of brown over the part where it called for bone. There must have been a piece of clay that stuck to the page. He just didn't ever see that part. But it worked anyway. She was alive. She was his. She was perfect. Bone. Why bone? It wasn't needed. You could see that.

He read over the spell again and again. He should have added a piece of bone to her core when he was sculpting her. How would he have even done that? It's not like he just had spare bones he could have added. The blood was simple. A prick of his finger and a few drops added in. But bone? Ridiculous. It was probably only in the spell to scare people from trying it in the first place. Obviously it wasn't needed. Obviously. He was worried over nothing. He had done it. She was perfect. So they had a fight. He hadn't made her to argue, but he had made her a woman so there were bound to be disagreements. Women, right?

But the Craigslist ads. And she had gone to bed without having sex with him. Not that that part was the important part, the ads, that was the part he was really worried about. But seriously, she hadn't even offered.

He was at the end of his rope. What was he supposed to do now?

Google. He opened the laptop he kept in the studio.

"Why won't my golem behave?"

It was supposed to be a joke. But it came back with over 1,000 hits.

He ended up reading a FAQ on golem creation.

"Why is my golem eating hair?"

Who knew this was a common problem?

He found out that he had really fucked up. The bone was important. If he had been making a standard golem, one to crush his enemies or plow his fields the bone wouldn't have mattered. But he tried making an advanced golem (again, who knew?) and making it female. Males are made from dust. Women being stronger stuff are made from bone. It was what would have nurtured her and tied her to him.

Because he hadn't she tried doing it on her own, finger nails, hair, parts of him. When he told her no she had to search for it from the outside. Because he left out the bone she would never be totally his.

Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh.

And if he didn't undo this now the flesh of my flesh was going to get much much worse. The ads on Craigslist were just the start. Linked stories of cannibalism. Failed golems. Either the blood or the bone or both missing from the spell. While he was reading she came in to the room.

"I wanted to apologize for arguing earlier. I brought you something to eat."

He knew what he had to do. Without turning around to look at her he started saying the spell in reverse. Undoing what he had done. The clay drying. Her "life" fading away. When he heard the plate she was carrying hit the floor he knew she was gone. He turned slowly and saw as she started to crumble in to dust. Broken glass on the floor. A sliced apple spilled across the tiles.

He started to laugh. Adam and Eve were the first golems. And from the start Eve didn't do what she was supposed to. Women, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Okay, I'm doing it again. I'm signing up for NaNoWriMo today. I want to finish Practical Magic and be done with it and if this is how I have to get it done then this is how I will do it. At least I am hoping this does it. It worked last time.

I have put zero work in to it since the first week of October and I really do want to finish it and at least have it out of my head and complete somewhere. So this is the push I am hoping will get it all finished up and at least something I can then work with and see if that is enough or if I want to put the effort in to it to polish and fix and submit. But really, just finishing it will be good.

And, of course, because I am me and writing 50,000 words in 30 days isn't quite challenging enough I am going to do 50,000 in 25 days. We are traveling the last week of November and I really want to get it all done before we go. If not the 30th will be a long ass day as I recover from the Thanksgiving trip and try to crank out how ever many words short I am. But I did it last time in fewer than 30 days so I can do it again. That's the working theory at least.

So I need to put in 2000 words a day for 25 days towards Practical Magic which I have had pretty significant writer's block on for the majority of the time I've been working on it...easy peasy lemon squeezy...

And then this also puts a big push on my main blog goal for 2015. I have 27 more to write for the year to reach that outrageous goal of 180. Which I was feeling pretty cocky about last week. I mean 27 blogs in 2 1/2 months is simple. But now I've just dedicated November to NaNo so that means if I am lucky I will manage to squeeze in 4 or maybe 5 so all of a sudden December is on the hook for a ton! I am really a genius when it comes to making my goals harder, you know that right? It's like I am doing it on purpose or something. Which I would swear to you that I wasn't. All evidence aside...

This next week will be all about prep work (like how do I use Scivener as more than a simple word processor again?) and getting notes set up for how I think the story is going to go (I really have no clue, I had an idea this week though so that's something!) and cranking out the plethora of Halloween stories that crowd my head this time of year (the voices take on a decidedly dead tone in the Fall, not that they die out, but that they belong to dead people, I write dead people...) and as you can tell by the tone of this post I'm slightly freaked out by the fact that I'm doing this AGAIN.

It's like that part of the roller coaster where you are climbing. You know you are going to be fine, but you also know that first drop is a doozy so you can't help but be a little nervous.

(deep breath)

Okay, here we go. November is upon us and NaNoWriMo beckons!

50,000 words.
25 days.
Practical Magic finished.

We can do this!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

No Returns...No Exchanges...

She walked hurriedly down the street, eyes darting from shop window to shop window. She swore this was the right place. But she had just been out for a walk before, not paying that close of attention. Was it one street over? No, she knew it had to be right here someplace.

There was a loud bang in the alley closest to her and she screamed. She stifled an hysterical giggle when she realized it was just a cat knocking over a trash can.

She checked her watch, she should have at least an hour more. Where was that shop?

The shop keeper watched from her window running her fingers through darkness, petting the shadows that trembled at her feet. "Not yet, she's not quite ready yet."

After looking for another half hour, widening her search out street by street she gave up. She would have to come back again. She laughed as tears streamed down her face. Easier said than done.

It had all seemed so simple. Almost a lark. A few drops from the purple bottle and he would love her again. Things would go back to the way they were. She met him for coffee to give him back a few things he had left at her place when he walked out. She was able to put the potion in his coffee cup as she left. She remembered feeling a little foolish then. Why would she believe this would work? She had probably paid a lot of money for water in a pretty bottle. At the time she had believed in the possibility. The hope. But now she knew that it really was time to let things go. My god, she had just tried to roofie her ex-boyfriend! Time to get a grip and move on.

Then he texted her.

Then he called.

Then he showed up after work with flowers and an apology. Begging her to take him back.

Of course she did. This was what she wanted. Dinner and dancing that night. Making love until dawn. It was the reunion she had dreamed of, but even better. Eating breakfast the next morning the look in his eyes. Oh it was sublime. It was like all he saw was her. All he heard was her. All he needed was her again. It was perfect. The weekend flew by with the only interruption being the awkward conversation between him and his now newly ex-girlfriend.

She had been a little shocked at how cold he had been. Even when they had broken up it had been a tear filled exchange laden with all of the tired cliches about time and it isn't you, it's me. This was just...abrupt. "I don't want to see you again. Ever...No I'm not kidding. Why would I kid about this? Don't call me. Ever," and that was that. Stony faced and devoid of care. That was what she saw. Then he hung up the phone and turned back to her. The smile breaking. Light filling his eyes again. Just so happy. She couldn't help but smile back. This was right. This was the way it was supposed to be.

Monday he didn't want to go to work. "We should stay here with each other all day. Wouldn't that be great?" She had laughed and agreed but said they still needed to work. Bills to pay and all that. And so they headed in to work. A little late, but there. Then around 10 the receptionist called her out to the lobby. He was there. He wanted to take her to lunch. "It's only 10 am."

"Then we can go for brunch."

"I can't go now. I am in the middle of a project. Lunch isn't until 12:30." She had laughed at the time. He was so eager to spend more time with her. It was awesome.

"I'll wait."

And he did. And then he waited after lunch for her to get off work. Texting her every few minutes. She wrote it off to his feeling guilty for leaving her. Knew that it would cool off soon. But it didn't. Her boss called her in to his office. "You have to say something. We can't have him just sitting out in the lobby all day."

So she did. "You have to go back to work."

"I quit."

"You what?"

"I quit. It was taking too much of my time. You should quit too."

"I can't quit. If I quit we would have no money."

She explained it over and over to him and he finally seemed to understand. And he swore he wouldn't wait for her in the lobby anymore if it wasn't what she wanted.

So he would wait in his car.

Or on the street corner.

Or in the little restaurant where she sometimes grabbed lunch.

He would just materialize next to her as she walked down the street.

He would be sitting a few tables over in the coffee shop when she met clients.

He even followed her in to the ladies' restroom one day when she was out running errands on her lunch break.

"I just can't leave you alone. I need to be near you. It's just not life if I'm not with you. You have to understand that, right?"

She would wake up in the middle of the night to find him leaning over her watching her sleep. If they were sitting together on the couch watching TV and she got up to go to the kitchen he would follow her.  Always a hand on her back, or her shoulder. Grasping and grabbing. He never gave her a moments peace.

His friends had started calling and coming around. They were worried. He never wanted to go out with them. She tried to encourage a boy's night out but he wouldn't hear of it. The same cold look on his face when he told them to leave him alone, he didn't want to hang out anymore.

Today she had convinced him to go visit his parents. They were so worried about him. He hadn't called or come by in months. He finally agreed when she said she wouldn't make him go again, but he had to this once. It was important to her. She had taken the time to try and find the shop. To get an antidote. A cure. Anything. And she hadn't been able to find the shop.

When she got home he was waiting outside. Pacing the street. She saw him in the distance before he noticed her.He was a shadow of his former self. He must have lost 20 pounds in the past two months. He wouldn't eat unless she forced him to. She never saw him sleep. He had stopped going to gym. She took a deep breath. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Then he turned and spotted her. "OH MY GOD I WAS WORRIED!" He broke out in to a run to reach her. Wrapping her in his arms tightly. "Where were you? You weren't here when I got back and I didn't know where you had gone. Your car was still here and the engine was cool and the mileage hadn't changed but you were gone. You didn't answer your phone and I couldn't find you on Track my iPhone."

She reached in to her pocket and pulled out her turned off phone. "The battery must be dead. I'm sorry. I just went for a walk. I didn't expect you back so soon. How are your folks?"

And his face went back to stone. "I won't be seeing them anymore. They aren't a part of my life until they can accept what makes me happy. I love you. That's all they need to know."

They fought that night.

She told him she needed some space. Just a little time alone.

He apologized again for ever leaving her.

She said that wasn't it. That she just really needed a little time on her own. That he should get back to work. Spend time with his friends. Reconnect with the world.

He shook his head no and told her that all he needed was her. That she was all he wanted. That his love for her left no room for anything else.

She was insistent. He needed to give her some room.

Finally he seemed to understand.  He apologized again for ever leaving her. He told her he understood what the problem was now. And then he left.

She slept soundly that night for the first time in a long time. Nobody watching her breathe. The next morning when she got up she reveled in how quiet the house was. How peaceful it was to be alone. She knew now that she had to break up with him. He would get over her. She knew that he would. He would get back to his own life and she would get back to hers. Lesson learned.

She walked in to the kitchen and there was a box on the counter with a note propped in front of it. She shook her head. He had come back in the middle of the night. She couldn't believe it. But then she half smiled to herself, well at least it looks like he left breakfast.

She opened the note. "I figured out what was wrong. You are still worried about me leaving you for her again. I wanted to prove to you that I will never leave you again. My love for you is complete. I will never love anything more than I love you. She is my token to you."

She heard a low moan and a chant and it took a minute to realize it was coming from her own voice, "Nonononononononono" she reached out and lifted the corner of the box and saw his ex- girlfriend staring back at her.

He spoke from behind her, "See? Now you don't ever have to worry again."

As she started to scream a shop keeper across town released her shadow pets, "Now she's ready. Go bring her to me." And she turned to the empty bottles marked "Madness"

"I do love a return customer."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Out for a walk...

How could he leave her? He loved her. She knew it. He had told her. She had felt it. He couldn't leave her. She still loved him. How could he have just stopped loving her?

The thoughts spun around and around in her head as she walked. A rock had formed in the pit of her stomach. She hadn't realized until that day that you could get physically sick from heart break.

He just needed space.

A break.


Why? Why would he need these things now?

She knew. She really did. It was another girl. He always had another girl lined up before he left his current one. She had been the other girl in line at one time. But she was going to be enough for him. He was the one. She was the one. And then she wasn't.

She walked on. The clouds started to come in and the skies darkened. Of course it would rain. Why wouldn't it rain. Rain would be perfect. She turned a corner and...what was that? The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. From the corner of her eye she caught movement. She turned to look and...nothing.

She shoved her hands deeper in to the pockets of her hoodie and scrunched her shoulders against the chill she now felt.

Again. Movement in the shadows.

Now all of her senses were heightened. Did she hear someone in the alley? Did she see someone moving again? She saw a store ahead and ducked inside. She would wait it out and see if anyone passed. Better safe than sorry.

"May I help you?"

She turned and looked at the shop keeper.

"Oh my, you look like you've had a fright. sad as well. Are you okay, dear?"

The woman's voice was so kind, so gentle it broke something apart inside her and a tear leaked out.

"I'm sorry. I just...I mean..." she took a deep breath to pull herself back together. "I was out for a walk and it felt like maybe someone was following me? So I just ducked in here for a minute. You know better..."

" than sorry. Of course. Stay as long as you like. Take a look around and see if you find anything interesting. I was just going to make some tea, the storm seems to have brought a chill with it. Would you care for some?"

"I, well, I...yes, thank you. That is very kind of you."

While the shop keeper went to the back to brew a pot of tea she took the time to look around the store. There were crystals and charms and candles. Greeting cards with sayings like, "Blessing from the Goddess" all very new age. Maybe that would be her next step. She would become a woman who meditates and only sees the blessings in life and looks for things the goddess had blessed. No more men. No more unkept promises. No more broken hearts.

"Here, sit, drink this, warm up. Do you want to call someone to pick you up?"

"No, I don't think so. I am sure I was just being silly, you know? But it just felt like someone was right there."

"It's always best to trust your instincts. People have gotten out of the habit of listening to their inner voices. It's a horrible thing really. Good for you for listening. Trust yourself."

There it was again, the kindness, the tone, the break. This time she couldn't hold it together and began to cry. Before she knew what was happening she was telling this stranger all about the break up. As the shop keeper made comforting noises and passed her a box of tissues to wipe her tears the whole story came out. And how much she wished she could make him love her still.

"Well, there might be a way. But you really have to think if you want to try."

"What do you mean, there might be a way? Like keep pursuing him even though he wants out? I don't think so."

"Nothing like that, really. Just..." the shop keeper looked around and leaned in to whisper, "I have some thing that might help persuade him to remember the love he feels for you." The shop keeper reached in to her pocket and pulled out a small purple glass bottle.

"A love potion?"

The shop keeper smiled, "You just put a few drops of this in his food or his drink and you will be the center of his universe again. There will be nothing he loves more than you. Never again."

Her eyes flashed as she looked at the bottle. Did she want it? Yes, there was no question. No hesitation. In fact it was all she could do not to snatch it from the shop keeper's hands. The transaction was done swiftly and as the money exchanged hands the clouds broke and a sun beam shone through. If that wasn't a sign she didn't know what was. She tucked her bottle into her pocket and left the store filled with hope.

If she had turned around once to look back at the shop she would have seen two long shadows make their way up the street and slide through the door.

"Good work, my pets," the shop keeper was twisting the tissues left behind draining drops of tears in to vials marked Pain, Heartbreak, Sorrow and finally Desire, "she was very helpful indeed." The shop keeper strode over to a shelf and took down what looked like a cookie jar marked Fear and tossed a few biscuits toward the shadows who engulfed them completely leaving not so much as a crumb to hit the floor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Party Girl!

Looking back the blue finger nails really should have been his first clue.

He was conservative. Even among his more conservative friends he was the most conservative. Though they often called him boring, he really did prefer conservative. He wasn't one for big risks. He liked the tried and true. Felt that no real good could come from change at this point in time. So when his friend invited him to the Halloween party he turned him down. They weren't really his thing. People would get drunk and obnoxious. He didn't even have a costume.

"Oh don't worry about that, I've got you covered, just come straight from work. Come on, we've rented out an old speakeasy! It will be great."

Which is how he ended up at a Halloween party in his work suit with a sign around his neck that read "The Man." At least they couldn't say he didn't have a sense of humor.

He was standing next to the bar trying to decide how long he had to stay to be polite when he saw her. Dressed in a 1920s flapper costume. She was petite and perfect. Her face beaming as she smiled at everyone who passed. She stood at the table laden with food for a few minutes trying a little bit of everything laid out. He was enchanted. She didn't just eat. She relished. Picking up a piece of cheese she took a deep breath, closing her eyes as a smile played at the corners of her mouth. Finally biting in to the cheese he swore he could hear a soft moan escape her lips as she chewed. She looked over at him and covered her mouth with one hand while she giggled.

"Caught me! I love to eat. It's really one of the best things. Everything about it. The smell, the texture, the taste. Oh it's the best! Try this!"

And with that she popped the remaining bite of cheese in his mouth. He was too shocked to think about the germs that they must have just shared. Or at least not think much about them. Then she pulled a flask from a holder on her thigh and took a swig. "Want some? It's probably not as good as what's in those bottles but I had a craving for good old fashioned bathtub gin."

He laughed, "It's in keeping with your costume, that's for sure!"

She smiled again, "Here, come eat with me!"

And that started the whole crazy night. She drug him to the snack table and then the dance floor and then out the door to look for a "joint that's really jumping!" Later they walked along the waterfront where he finally got the nerve to kiss her. She tasted like almonds.

"You must be cold out here, let me give you my jacket."

"Honey, I'm Chicago through and through. I don't even feel the cold anymore."

They danced under street lights. They stopped in diners and bars. They chatted with other couples out strolling and with loud raucous groups party hopping. She wasn't his normal type at all. He did mention he was conservative right? Every woman he had dated before was like him. On a path. Serious minded. With a plan. With her he just felt free and for the first time in a long time, young.

Even though he knew it was crazy he knew he was falling in love with her that night. They went back to his place and fell asleep together tangled in his sheets. The taste of almonds on his lips the chill of a Chicago night still on their skin.

When he woke in the morning she was gone.

No note. No phone number. No way of finding her.

He realized he didn't even know her last name.

He texted his friend who threw the party.

"Hey, you know the girl I was hanging out with? Do you know her last name?"

He waited.  Finally the phone buzzed.

"I don't think so? Check the pics online and tag me."

Logging on and looking through the pictures from the party he found a few shots of him. One of him standing next to the bar smiling, that must have been when he first spotted her. Another one of him holding up his sign talking to someone off camera. That must have been when they were joking about him being "The Man." One of him dancing. Alone. One that showed him leaving the party. Alone. Where was she? He went through all of the pictures again trying to catch a glimpse of her in any of them.

He texted his friend again.

"I can't find her in any of the pictures. She was dressed like a flapper. Her first name is Sally."

There was a long pause this time before he got the return text.


Then a link came through.

The best ghost stories of Chicago including sightings of Sally DeMore a party girl from Chicago poisoned by a jealous boyfriend who thought she was leaving him. Once a year she would continue the party. One night only. Then gone again. Those who saw her once never saw her again. There was an old black and white photo of a beautiful girl in a flapper dress smiling as she held a silver flask.

The almonds turned to ashes in his mouth.

Looking back the blue finger nails should have been his first clue.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Practical Magic Notes (#4)

And that was the last piece that I wrote in Practical Magic before putting is aside for years.

So now what?

And I mean that in every sense of the question. Now what?

I've gotten a little feedback from a few of you and the general consensus seems to be that it's got the bones of a good story. So I wasn't wrong there. And that it's a little off center and unfocused. So I wasn't wrong there either. So do I go back and try and restructure what I have and see what happens? Do I just continue to write and see what happens?

Reading it and looking at the paucity of notes I made while I was writing it, I honestly am not sure what happens next.  I mean, I have a general feel for where I am headed. But I don't really know how I was planning on getting there. We're in the woods here, people, and I don't have a path. 

So if I do keep writing it, and I think that I will, what happens next there?

Do you want to brain dump writing that I will be doing or do you want to hold off for a month or so and see what happens if I force choke the words out to finish it? 

How unpolished are you willing to go? I mean, I know that almost everything of mine that you read is unpolished, but this is a little different since it's a continuing story. There might be plot holes (more plot holes) and twists that aren't planned twists but more like double backs when I realize that what I wrote yesterday doesn't work with where we are headed today. You can get them all. Or you can wait and get a block again when I finish.

What do you think?

And thank you again for reading this long piece and giving me the feedback you have. I really do appreciate it all. 


Driving home from the store looked up and there was a plane flying overhead.

Southwest Airlines. I can tell by the colors of the plane.

Which looked really pretty against the blue sky.

The orange made me think of fall. It fit with the trees.

I wondered who was on the flight.

Hoped that they were going someplace fun.

Though the odds are that some of them are traveling for work.

Either going to or coming from.

And some of them will be happy to be coming home. And some happy to be leaving.

Depends on what home is like, right?

And there is also a chance that somewhere on that plane is someone grieving.

A last minute ticket purchased to see a dying loved one.

Or to go to a funeral if they didn't know in time.


Or maybe hellos.

Maybe someone on the flight is on their way to see a brand new member of the family.

A bride.

A groom.

A baby.

Fresh beginnings and hellos to start.

Or maybe a big move. A family on their way to their new home.

Exciting new start in a new place.

Or maybe a big move back home. Done with wandering, now it's time to go where they have to take you back?

And then the plane was out of site and on its way to where ever it was heading.

Full of so many stories.

And this is why I write....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Practical Magic: Waiting (Practical Magic #21)

Deidre was clearing dishes from dinner and talking with her Aunt. “Do you think if you joined the circle tomorrow you could help them finish removing the block sooner? I would like to know if there is any more information I can get from Charles. I have a lot of pieces but nothing working together just yet.”

“I don’t think it would be a good idea. Charles hasn’t said much about it, but I can feel the strain he is experiencing. If it weren’t for the missing family that might be tied to this memory I would actually be suggesting that we take a longer break before the next session. He is having a hard time processing the information he is receiving. He’s had to deal with a lot over the past few months. First that he was a thief with no memory of the theft, then with the possibility that someone took control of his mind and made him do something without his knowledge, just when he was starting to accept that had happened he was hit with the recovery of the dream showing that it was all him. And that not only had he stolen the items but that he had blocked his own memory of it. And now he is back to wondering if there is still a possibility of someone else having forced him in to the theft. And then today he had the fleeting worry that he might have had something to do with that family disappearing. It was brief but strong enough that all four of the Prophets in the room heard him think it.”

“Why would he think that? I never suggested that he had anything to do with that.”

“Wouldn’t it be logical? He knows he took those items but has no memory of what he did with them. Now they’ve turned up in the house of a family that is gone. He has no memory of the theft. What if he has no memory of doing something to that family?”

“Well I should let him know tomorrow that there is no way he could be responsible for their disappearance. They were fine up until a few weeks ago. He’s been under surveillance since his release in to our custody so there is no possible way he could have gone anywhere near them.”

“I will find a way to work that into conversation if you don’t mind. I would rather he didn’t know he was broadcasting his thoughts so loudly. Right now he is feeling very fragile and the last thing I want him to worry about is the sanctity of his personal thoughts.”

“Okay, so how about if we don’t try to move the process faster but you join the circle just to have an extra witness, someone else who can read him and see if there is something that we have missed?”

“No. Absolutely not. He’s already sharing his consciousness with three people. Fitting a fourth in there? It would be too much. I think after we close this case I will recommend if we ever face a situation like this again that we try to use only two directly in contact. Keep the third as the gateway but not actually entering the mind. I think the strain on Charles as well as Greg is too high.”

“On Greg? Why are you worried about Greg?”

“Greg is the gateway for the other two. He is linking with Charles, but then along with that link he is allowing the other two to use his link as a pathway. So he is holding open the door while acting as the door at the same time. It’s a tremendous amount of concentration and I believe he will need a good amount of time to himself when this is all over to rest. When he said his wife was driving him to and from sessions? That was true, but not completely accurate. She’s driving him everywhere right now. She called me and asked how soon we would be done. He’s exhausted.”

“Okay, so we wait. Frankly I’m not sure it matters anyway. If all we are going to see is that the dream is shifting and he experienced nothing but a normal night’s sleep from that point forward there are no more clues to find. It’s just frustrating to know there is something there but not be able to see it.”

“I know.” Aunt Dot turned her head and listened, “Who is Aska singing to?”

“Oh, no one. She’s taken to singing in her sleep a few nights a week. I woke her the first time I heard it but she sleeps right through now.”

Dot held a hand up to Deidre and put a finger to her lips while she listened again. “She’s not alone.”

Without hesitation Deidre ran down the hall to Aska’s room but when she got to the door she saw her daughter laying in bed sound asleep singing to herself. She turned to say something to her Aunt when Dot pushed her out of the way and walked in to the room. Dot put her hands on Aska’s sleeping body and stayed very still. Deidre felt the hairs on her arms raise and knew that her Aunt was reading Aska as she slept. Aska stopped singing and woke with a start sitting straight up in bed. “Aunt Dot? Were you just in my dream?”

“I was,child, I was. Do you remember anything else about it? Where we were for instance?”

Aska yawned, “Umm, in a house. I was babysitting, I think. I was singing a lullaby right? I don’t remember for sure, ummm…I was singing to, a little girl, I think? And then you were there and then I woke up. Why were you there?”

“We can talk about it tomorrow, for now do you think you can get back to sleep? I need to talk to your mother about something. And tomorrow you and I will have a lot to talk about as well.”

“Yeah, I think so. Night, Aunt Dot.” Aska’s mother and Great Aunt sat in her room with her until they heard her breathing deepen and become regular as she drifted back off to sleep.

Dot and Deidre went back out to the living room. “What was all that?”

Dot said, “We need to talk to Aska in the morning, and you need to weigh in as well as she is a minor, but I would like to have Deborah read her dreams for the past few weeks. I think we might have another lead on your missing family.”


“When I heard Aska singing I could feel the person she was singing to. She wasn’t alone in her room. I’m not an expert on dream readings the way Deborah is, so I will want her help tomorrow, but I know that there was someone else with Aska in that room. But just in her thoughts. When I read her I could see a little girl laying in bed trying to get to sleep. But it wasn’t just a dream, Aska was singing to an actual child. I could feel her, and she’s lonely. I think that’s why Aska is finding her in her dreams, Aska is highly advanced in her gift and empathy is one of her strongest pieces. I think this child was calling out and she heard her. But as I reached to find more about the child I was pushed out.”

“Pushed out? You?” Deidre had never heard of anyone being able to move her Aunt out of a mind. You could make it more difficult for her, have blocks in place but the most you could be assured of was just being aware she was reading you. Actually preventing her from reading you? This was unheard of.

“Yes, I was pushed. Someone didn’t want me to get a closer look at the child, or the room they were in. But from what I saw, I think it was the youngest Jameson child. You said Aska has been singing for a few weeks, maybe Deborah will be able to see more and give us an idea where they might be.”

“The first time I heard Aska singing and she woke up she told me that ‘She was just lonely and wanted a friend,’ I figured it was all part of a dream. Aska has been signing to an actual child?”

“Yes, I believe so. I am going to sit with her while she sleeps, I don’t think she will be contacted again tonight, who ever pushed me out would be too worried about being seen again, I believe, but I think we would both feel better if we watched over her tonight.”

“Thank you. When Joy gets home I will send her in to talk to you. She might be able to help. Now I need to call Captain Taylor and try to explain that I think my daughter’s dreams might help lead us to the Jameson family.”

The rest of the night passed without event and the next day Deborah and Captain Taylor met Deidre, Dot and Aska at their house. Aska gave permission for Deborah to read her dreams and was actually excited by the idea of it all. To think she might be able to help her mother with an important case was pretty thrilling. She had also made the deal with Deborah and her mother that after it was all finished she could ask Deborah any questions about dream reading that she had. Neither of her aunts was particularly skilled in this area and Aska had not had the chance to talk about how it was done before. Deborah felt that was a fair arrangement since Aska was giving full access to her dreams in exchange.

Deborah would be reading Aska with Joy, Dot and Deidre observing. Captain Taylor decided to stay and wait while the reading occurred even though he would be able to see and feel nothing during the process. But he wanted to be able to confer with Deidre as soon as they were finished. He wasn’t entirely sure that this would bring any information about his case, the dreams of a child about another child, this wasn’t his area, but he knew that Deidre felt it was important and over the years he had grown to trust his counterpart on The Guard.

“Okay, Aska, all you need to do is relax. I’m going to place my hands on yours if you feel like breaking the session you just pull your hands away from mine, okay?”

“Okay.” Aska held her hands out palms facing up and Deborah covered them with her own. They both began breathing slowly together, much like a shared meditation.

John felt a prickle in the air, like a static charge and turned to look at Deidre. She smiled and him and nodded. Well how about that, he had actually felt the magic.

As Deborah entered Aska’s consciousness she began by looking at the most recent dream memory. She could hear Aska singing and…

Deborah abruptly pulled out of the session. “The singing.”

Deidre leaned forward, “Yes, she sings to the child.”

“No, the singing, this is the singing from Charles’ dream. Remember before he left with his list we heard singing in his dream. This is the singing. I’m almost positive. Aska, I’m sorry for breaking the connection so abruptly but I think this is important. I think we should go back to that point in Charles’ dream and see if we can find a link to Aska, or to the child. Maybe we can see who else was there.”

Dot stood, “I will get the rest together and we can leave for the station after this is over, we had a session scheduled for later today anyway. Deborah, will you be up for working with Charles after this?”

“Yes, I believe so, I’m not removing anything here, it’s just simply reading. It’s not as strenuous at all. Aska, may we try again?”

“Sure.” Aska held out her hands and they started again.

Deborah and Aska sat together for almost 20 minutes while Deborah walked through her most recent dream memories. She found what she believed to be the first one, the room was different than the room was now. She could see the decorated cake near the bed. A little girl lying in bed crying quietly. She could feel Aska’s concern in the dream for the lonely child. It was as though Aska had just walked in to the room as well. She had been dreaming of a test in school and got up to sharpen a pencil, when she opened the door to what was a supply closet instead she walked in to this child’s room. She had looked around, knowing there was a little girl in here who needed to sleep. In her dream she had decided she was babysitting the child and sat next to her bed and began singing her a lullaby.

The dreams were always similar in nature. Aska would be doing something else, having another dream and she would feel how lonely this child was and go to her. Sitting down and singing until she fell asleep then the dream Aska had been having would resume. The only change happened a few weeks ago when the room the child was in changed. The cake was no longer on a shelf near the bed. The room was smaller. The bed now a cot instead of a child’s twin size bed. And the child was even more alone. When she revisited the dream from last night she felt the same emotions as the earlier dreams, Aska seeking out the lonely child to help her sleep, but then she saw Aska’s dream memory of her Aunt in the room. And as soon as she saw Dot someone else did too. She felt the push of energy that had been directed at kicking Dot out and ended up waking Aska so the dream ended with a quick cut instead of the blend back in to the previous dreams that the others had. She also looked at the dreams Aska had the rest of the night but there was no sign of the child or the room.

After ending the connection with Aska Deborah related as many details as she could. “I’m sorry there isn’t anything else there. Aska never goes in to any other part of the house, just the room with the child. She sings to her until she is asleep and then leaves again.”

“Aska, do you remember anything else?” Joy turned to her niece, “Now that you’ve been through all of those dreams again, is there anything that stands out to you?”

Aska thought about it. “I don’t think I found her. I think she found me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Everyone keeps saying that I go to her, that I felt her and sought her out. I don’t think that’s right. It doesn’t feel like I went to her, it feels like she came to me. Like when I am at Kayla’s house and Aunt Joy lets me know it’s time to come home? She comes to me.”

Joy smiled at her sister, “It’s easier than using the phone.”

“So you feel like this child is coming to you? Do you know her?”

Aska shook her head, “I don’t think so. But she knows me. Does that make sense? She came looking for me. She wanted me to sing to her.”

“Hold on, I think I have something!” Joy picked up her purse and pulled out her planning calendar, “Aska, when did the dreams start?”

“A month or so ago?”

Joy pointed at a date in her book, “Look, here. Aska’s school choir sang at a recital. You had a solo didn’t you? So if she heard you singing here maybe she was thinking about how nice it would be to have you sing to her at bedtime? Maybe that’s how you found her?”

“But I didn’t find her, she found me. So she would have had to, I don’t know, how would she even have done that? She’s an Other right?”

Deidre nodded, “She is. But this gives us something. I need to find out if there is any record of the Jameson family attending that recital, maybe the older girl’s school was also singing? If we can start from that point and track out it gives us something. Aska, thank you, you have been more help than you know.” With that Deidre kissed her daughter and gathered the group to meet with Charles.

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.”