19 December, 2011

Becca's Story Chapter Eighteen and other news

Now that the Christmas crazies are over and the Muffin is allowing me to feel like a human being once more (as opposed to a blob of constantly nauseous goo) here's some awesome news!

Becca's Story Chapter Seventeen

So far, my holiday cheer has consisted of sitting on the couch and eating cookies while watching movies.  Not much shopping or preparing for the DAY.  Mostly because this past weekend was my anniversary and Husband and I spent it being incredible lazy and eating more cookies and playing video games.  Good times were had by all. :)

Enjoy! E.T.

It was hot outside. Malcolm was waiting off to one side, rummaging through a wooden crate.
He smiled at me, a knowing, secret smile. I scowled in return.

“What do you want?” I asked bluntly.

“I thought I would run some tests, see if I could learn anymore about your…condition.”

I rolled my eyes. “Fair warning. The last test I had didn’t end so well.”

“Oh?” Malcolm asked, still smiling. “What happened?”

“I exploded a PFNF machine and destroyed a secret underground lab at the CMR.”

His smile faded. “How?”

I shrugged. “You’ll have to ask Kevin. I don’t know anything about magic.”

Malcolm grimaced. He drew a book from the crate, stepping closer to me.

“You’re going to kill yourself if you keep repressing it,” he warned in a low voice.

I held his eyes. “Good. That will stop the end of the world.”

He made a disgusted noise and waved at me irritably. “Sit.”

I did. A line of color drew a circle in the grass, surrounding me.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

He grunted. “To protect me from you.”

I put a cautious hand out, feeling the air above the line. My skin tingled as it had when I had passed over the ‘security’ protecting this house. And like the line Kevin had drawn on his table, to keep the necromancy books contained.

I drew my limbs back, shivering. I felt dirty, contaminated, like I was something dangerous. I was something dangerous. I was the reason, the impossible, inexplicable reason the world was going to end. I hid my face in my knees and waited.

It was not very dramatic. Malcolm muttered to himself, moving around me. Every now and then he would reach across the line and feel my pulse or lift my head to look in my eyes.

After a while, he started writing things in the air. The light of it hurt my eyes. When I glanced away, I saw Kevin on the porch, leaning against one of the posts holding up the roof. He was watching narrowly, his arms folded across his chest.

He still had that slippery look, his eyes gleaming. I blushed and ducked my eyes once again.

Finally Malcolm gave a weary sigh. He waved his hand and the line encircling me vanished. He helped me to my feet. I was stiff from sitting hunched up so long.

“Well?” Kevin asked, coming down the steps to meet us.

Malcolm rubbed his face, taking his time answering. He gave me a long, considering look. He spoke slowly.

“There is a lot of magic inside you, Becca,” he said. I stiffened, ready to deny it. He went on smoothly. “From several different sources. Your curse-”

“You found it?” Kevin demanded. “Where? What is it?”

Malcolm shook his head. “I don’t know. I could just see…something. Something heavy. But it’s there. You are cursed. But that magic is battling with others. Powerful castings; some of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.”

Kevin’s face darkened. I knew he was thinking of Jeff. And the reasons he thought Jeff would want to keep me alive at any cost.

I sighed wearily. No matter how many times I said it, Kevin would never believe that there was nothing between me and Jeff. There was nothing.

Right? I asked myself. I didn’t have an answer. I looked at Malcolm, who was looking at Kevin’s face. Watching closely, his eyes narrowed.

I shivered, understanding. Malcolm thought Kevin was the one holding me here. Or that one of the castings warring inside me was his. Was it? How would I know if he put a spell or whatever they called them on me? How could I stop it if he tried?

How could I not feel them? If all that power and force was centered on me, how was I not aware of it?

Suddenly, I wanted to see it. I wanted to see the magic, see what had controlled my life since that day at my father’s farm. Maybe even since the day I was born; my curse.

“You’re tired,” Malcolm said, taking my elbow. “You should rest.”

“No.” I wiggled from his grip. “No, you go ahead. I want to be alone.”

Kevin opened his mouth to argue, but Malcolm interceded. “Stay inside the perimeter,” he told me. “Come, Kevin. I have some observations that might be helpful on her Quest.”

I watched them until they went inside and shut the front door. The house was still and quiet, no voices, no music. Anything less like a school for magic, I couldn’t imagine. But then, how different were they from the rest of us? The few magical people - practitioners, I supposed - were just normal people. Until they waved their hands and spoke strange words and did impossible things.

I turned from the house and walked directly to the security line. My leaving would no doubt alert Malcolm or Alva at once. Hopefully I could get far enough away to be alone for a few minutes. Really truly alone.

The heat intensified as I stepped back into the real world. I started sweating at once, the air clammy on my skin. I walked in the straightest line I could, hoping I could find my way back.

I stumbled on a little clearing, almost completely closed off from the swamp around me by trees and vines. I sank to the moist earth, kneeling.

I felt numb. Disconnected. This world was dreary after the life and energy of Alva, Elsie, Kevin. They had so much power in them. I had nothing. I was dead already. I should have died months ago.

And for the first time in my life, I wanted to be like them. If I knew anything about magic, I could find a way to stop this. I could find a way to give my life in exchange for all the crops. I would gladly be some sort of botanical messiah. What was my life worth compared to the billions that would starve to death when their food rotted on the vine? What about plankton? All the sea-life would die, the oxygen levels depleted. It would be the end of the earth, nothing left but dust. No one was worth that.

Especially not me.

I closed my eyes, listening to the silence around me. The air was still. I could heat a faint trickle of water. After some minutes, a bird call far away.

I let that stillness seep into me. Was it possible to will myself to death? If I sat here, wishing to be nothing, would my will overpower my heart and lungs and let me drift away. What would happen to the magic inside me? To the curse, Jeff’s magic, Kevin’s magic, and the magic Malcolm was convinced I had. Would they simply disperse, no longer anchored to me? Was I somehow holding them at bay? If I died would they backfire, causing an explosion like what had happened to the PFNF?

Would the shield around me let me die? Fury at Jeff nearly choked me.

How dare he work magic on me without my permission! How dare he take away my right to choose, my right to decide my own fate? I had the right to do what I felt I must to save the world, no matter what he felt for me.

My fingers moved over the ground, roving through the slimy leaves and twigs carpeting the mud. My fingers caught on a stone. I felt it carefully. It had a thinner edge, jagged.

I palmed it, closing my fingers around it. I could feel it biting into my skin. The fingers of my other hand trembled as I held it out, palm up. Taking a deep breath, I slashed the rock across my open palm.

Dark red blood sprang up at once, a few spots where the stone had scraped me deeper. I sat and started at the wound, waiting for it to heal.

It didn’t.

I wiped the blood away, sure I was mistaken. It bled still, pooling and running down my wrist. It bled until it scabbed over, an angry red line across my hand.

I stared at it until I heard my name being called.

I didn’t have much time until they found me. I could hear Kevin’s voice, rough with worry. Had he put a casting on me? He would have had plenty of opportunities.

What would it look like?

Like his eyes, I decided. Bright, nearly clear blue. Like water, blue-green when seen from a distance, clear when viewed up close. Or the reflection of the sky on glass.

I relaxed, cradling my aching hand in my lap. What would the curse look like? Something dark and heavy, a cloud surrounding me.

My lungs tightened as the air around me dimmed. It pressed closer, seeking, searching. Trying to fulfill its purpose, trying to reach me and end my life. Kevin’s magic twisted through it. Jeff’s twined with his, where they touched, they strained away from each other, the brilliant gold of Jeff’s casting flaring when it came to close to me.

To me.

The curse writhed, swirling, still searching for a way to the center. When it came close, the brilliant light at the center cast it back, burning it. It wrenched away, wounded, but not defeated or diminished.


I blinked and it all faded. I stood shakily. There was one more thing I had to try before I went back.

The stone in my hand had changed. Now it was a keen double-edged knife. How, I had no idea, only that what I wanted most right then was a way to kill myself. End the curse and save the world.

I pressed the point of the blade over my heart, gripped the handle tightly and thrust with all my might.

A peel echoed through the clearing. The knife was wrenched from my grip, flung away from me. I whirled, expecting to see Kevin or Jeff behind me, furious and afraid. There was no one.

I clenched my fists, feeling the newly healed skin on my palm. I did not want to be here, be alive. I was not the one holding that curse back, not anymore. But no matter how I let it in, dimming the bright light within me, the other lines only strengthened. Pressing it back.

The blade was sinking into a thick tree dripping with lichen. The bark hissed and steamed as the knife was consumed, the blue and gold lines pulsing as they forced it away from me, destroyed it.

I turned and walked back to the house.

Kevin gripped my shoulders as I stepped through the security perimeter into his arms.

“Where the hell did you go?” he demanded, shaking me. He raged at me, his eyes terrible. I murmured apologies until he ran out of curses and pulled me against his chest. When I didn’t return the embrace, he stepped back, still glowering.

“Don’t you dare run off like that again,” he snarled. I nodded.

“Are you alright, Becca?” Alva asked, feeling my forehead. “You’re hot, a fever. Come lie down, dear.”

I wondered how long that would last, the heat burning in me. Would it grow and grow until I was consumed? Was that what they meant by ‘burning out?’ That my magic would destroy me from the inside if I didn’t acknowledge it, didn’t use it? Like a damn overflowing, bursting forth all at once and wiping away everything in its path?

“Malcolm?” I asked as they helped me up the stairs to Kevin’s old room.


“Can a magic person do a casting and not know it?”

He frowned at me. “What do you mean?”

“Can they cast a spell and not know they did it? Not recognize it when they see it?”

“Why do you ask?”

I looked across the room to where Kevin was fussing with my pack, arguing with Alva. “Can’t he see it?”

Malcolm sighed, kneeling to remove my shoes. “He doesn’t want to. He hasn’t accepted that you may have to die.”

I nodded, remembering the bitterness in his voice as we spoke in Malcolm’s office.

“And, if he refuses to admit that to himself, refuses to see what he’s done, there is no way he can undo it.”

I nodded again. “Thank you.”

Malcolm sighed. He stood, gesturing for Alva and Kevin to follow him out. Kevin resisted, hesitating by the door.

“Becca?” he asked.

I shook my head, not wanting to speak to him. I was afraid I would start hurling accusations at him. Something dark and dangerous crossed his slightly un-human features.

“I knew it was mistake to come here,” he muttered savagely. He shut the door.

I sighed, feeling the heat roiling inside me. Slowly, I willed it to stop. To recede. Will power was everything. How had I repressed it for so long? How had no one realized?

My thoughts drifted aimlessly. Like me. I needed to decide what to do next. I needed to complete my quest. Before Midsummer. Before it was too late.

The room turned around me, the first time in days I had been aware of the Seeking. Had I repressed that, too? Not truly wanting to discover the solution, the truth? Had I known that it would lead me here, tell me things I did not want to know?

The world slowed, feeling, searching. It stopped and I sighed. I knew where I had to go next. It was far from here, but I knew.

And Kevin could never guess.

15 December, 2011

Becca's Story Chapter Sixteen

Hi!  Hope everbody's holiday is going good!  I managed to stay awake all day yesterday...I know, pretty cool.  And the Muffin says hello:


        Alva woke me the next morning. Her expression told me Malcolm had told her what we had spoken of. I washed quickly in the bathroom and went down to breakfast. I didn’t want to, but I also didn’t want to be thought a sulk. And I didn’t like leaving Kevin in Elsie’s power.
Scowling as my face heated, I paused a moment outside the kitchen to gather my thoughts. Will power, Malcolm had said. Well, I’d show them what will power could do.

Kevin eyed me warily as I entered and sat across from him. He was eating a bowl of oatmeal.

“Morning,” he said cautiously.

“Good morning,” I returned pleasantly. He winced.

Alva plunked a bowl in front of me and dumped a mound of steaming cereal in it. All the usual accoutrements for oatmeal were laid out on the table. Grabbing the milk and the brown sugar, I prepared my breakfast.

Alva went out. Kevin’s hand closed around my wrist.

“What did Malcolm say to you?” he hissed, his fingers tight. He gave me a shake before I could dissemble. “You’re angry. Why?”

I couldn’t look at him. “It’s nothing.”

He swore and jerked back. He slammed his spoon to the table and stood.

“He won’t tell you,” I said as Kevin made for the door.

“Like hell he won’t,” Kevin growled.

Of course Elsie was the next person to enter. I shot her back a glare of loathing as she fetched a bowl from the cupboard.

“Where’s Kevin?” she asked me, also eying me warily.

I shrugged. “He left.”

She made half a grunt and tucked into her food. Raised voices down the hall betrayed his location.

Alva poked her head into the kitchen. “Who’s yelling at Malcolm?”

“Kevin,” I said. Torn between laughter and sheer fury, I smiled.

Alva rolled her eyes. “Not even twenty-four hours. Those two…” she shook her head. I wondered if her act was all for Elsie or if she meant to try to fool me as well. But I caught her sharp looks as she bustled around the kitchen.

“Why don’t you use magic?” I asked as she measured things into a bowl.


“To cook. It would be easier.”

She nodded. “Yes. But I like to cook. And when the children are gone, I only have to cook for a few.”

Kevin came back. He didn’t look angry at all. He grinned boyishly at Alva. “Any more oatmeal?”

She sighed and ladled him out another glob. Elsie immediately launched into conversation. I listened absently.

“Becca.” I blinked, broken from my preoccupied stare at the wall.


“I want to talk to you about your Quest.” Kevin stood, gesturing for me to follow. I followed, keeping my face in a mildly interested expression. Kevin glanced back to look at me and grimaced, but said nothing. We went into Malcolm’s office again, but the man wasn’t there. At least, I hoped he wasn’t there. Maybe he could turn invisible or something.

“Can you turn invisible?” I asked Kevin.

“Can I what?”

“Be invisible.”

He frowned. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”

“Why not?” It seemed like the first thing I would learn, if I was magic. Which I wasn’t, I thought fiercely.

He shrugged. “Never had a reason to, I suppose.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes. I left it up to him to break it. He did, by shifting in his chair and clearing his throat. “Look, Becca.”


“About…about Elsie.”

I frowned in a confused fashion. “What about her?”

Kevin’s eyes moved over my face. “We’re friends.”

I nodded. “Yes, I know.”

“Just friends.”

I looked at him blankly. “So?”

He frowned then, too. “So…I just wanted to tell you.”

I laughed a little. “Obvious isn’t it? She hasn’t stopped talking to you or about you since she got here.” I sent him a sly look. “Maybe she’s got a crush on you.”

He was perplexed now and angry about it. “Becca!”

I shrugged. “She did kiss you yesterday. Is that a magic thing? Because I’m punching anyone who tries to kiss me.” I kept my smile in place, reveling in his frustration with my obtuseness.

He took a slow, self-control inducing breath and changed the subject. “Though I know you sent us after Strenton for a reason, I don’t know what it is.”

I nodded. “Me, neither.”

“And,” he continued. “Until we do know, I think we should focus on finding a way to stop this curse. I know…” his voice broke a little and I had a pang of guilt for taunting him a moment ago. “I know that you think you’re going to have to die to stop it.”

I nodded again, slower. “I do.”

“The problem with that,” he said, not meeting my eyes. “Is that you can’t be killed. I can’t hurt you. I…” he hesitated again. “I don’t think I could.”

I understood. “I wouldn’t ask it of you. You’re my friend.”

Something flashed across his face, darkening his eyes. “You’d have to kill yourself.”

“I know.” The weight I was already feeling on my shoulders intensified.

Kevin leaned forward, staring at his hands resting palm up on his knees. “Here’s the problem, Becca. I will not help you find a way to kill yourself.”

I stared at the crown of his head. “You mean, you’re not going to help me anymore?”

He swore. “No!” he snapped. “I mean, yes, I’ll help. But there has to be a way to lift your curse, to stop it. Someway other than you dying.”

I smiled sadly, forgetting our quarrel as I reached for his hand. He closed his fingers around mine, squeezing them tightly.

“Kevin,” I began gently.

“No,” he repeated stubbornly. “We have time. Give me time. We’ll find a way. There has to be a way.”

“And if there isn’t?”

“Give me time,” he said fiercely, jerking his head up to glare at me. “We have time. I will find a way to stop it.”

I sighed. “Yes, Kevin.”

Some of the tension left his face, his shoulders relaxing. We sat and simply looked at each other for a moment, his glowing eyes on mine.

The door opened.

“Oh!” Elsie exclaimed, coming to a halt. “Sorry,” she said, ginning at us.

“What is it?” Kevin asked smoothly, letting my hand go. We both sat back.

“Malcolm would like to do some testing on Becca,” she told him, ignoring me as I expected.

“Sounds like a good idea,” I said, standing. “Where is he?”

“Outside,” she waved in the direction of the front lawn. I went out without looking back.

05 December, 2011

It's Alive! Plus: Becca's Story Chapter Fifteen

Okay!  We're back in business.  I got a new power cord for my laptop and it's working again!  My anti-virus software about had a heart attack when I turned it on for the first time in a week.  But now we're all sorted and ready to go.

02 December, 2011

The things dreams are made of

So, part of my being preggars is that I am freaking exhausted all the time.  If I sit down on anything moderately comfortable, I start to fall asleep.  This poses problems for activities like driving.  Good thing its winter and I can blast cold air in my face.

Anyway, one side effect of this ridiculous amount of sleep I am getting (somewhat involuntarily) is I have been dreaming A LOT more.  And not just vague picking out socks at the store dreams.  I am having full on rollicking adventure dreams, which are not conducive to a restful repose.

I am trying to sleep less all the time and more at night, but even then my sweet slumbers are invaded by aliens and robots, a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond, and I am always in a hurry, running from something, chasing something, etc.

I just woke up from one of these episodes about a monster/demon in a trash can chasing me through a high rise apartment building.  I jumped and somehow faked my own death, but was rescued by my husband, who apparently wasn't my husband yet, because then we got married.

Seriously, how can I get good rest for the Muffin with that going on in my head all the time?


01 December, 2011


So, November imploded a little bit.

Once i got a little further along in my pregnancy, my morning sickness became all-the-freakin'-time sickness and  pretty much spent the last few weeks asleep or wishing I was asleep so I didn't feel like puking.  Lovely.

This coincided with my lack of drive to do anything, namely write, read, watch TV, think, or basically move at all.  I did not finish NaNo.  I got two more rejections for my book.  And my computer's power cord died and now it won't turn on and i have to buy a new one.  Pretty much the lamest month ever.

But, now I am feeling better and food smells good again.  Hopefully I can get back on the wagon here and get some posts up!