Thursday, August 28, 2014

In the Beginning, There Were Three__ Chapter Two

Trixie, Trixie, wake up.
She tried to lift her chest off the cement to look around but the pain was disorienting. It scuttled through her limbs like crabs in jack boots and made her long to vomit.
How long had she been out? Each inch a separate agony, she lifted her hand to her face-swiped a hank of hair out of her eyes. She’d cut her head on something, it was sore when she touched it. Her fingers came away wet with the blood that was dripping into her eyes.
In a moment of clarity she realized she was lying face down on the sidewalk with people running passed her screaming and that there were more, within inches of her, who would never run again. Was she lying in a pool of her own blood, or someone else’s? She pushed that thought aside. She forced herself to focus on the back and forth movement of her flexing fingers- forced herself to count them to make sure they were all there. Thank God, they were, just bloody, the skin torn, the palm shredded. Her relief made her weak.
So then, the screaming…
She wanted to get up- What the hell happened? She tried again to lift herself upward onto her hands. That was better, more successful this time. She took her first look at the war zone around her and prayed that she was dreaming.
Gasoline fumes weighed the air down, threatening to skyrocket the spot fires crackling in the gutters. In the west bound lane, a hole the size of a Buick had caught hold of a mini cooper and the driver was mindlessly gunning the smoking engine while the back wheels spun four feet off the ground. She spotted a doll’s head and a tiny shoe resting on its side and something that looked like spaghetti dripped red down the blue side of a mailbox.
She bit the inside of her cheek-fought to keep back her screams. She didn’t want to look, to see. This wasn’t her world. This wasn’t anything like her world. If she didn’t see-it wouldn’t be true.
But then she was kicked, hard in the side. The same boot landed on her outstretched fingers and the bruised knuckles crunched under the treads.
It was imperative that she stand up. She knew that. Her survival no doubt depended on her ability to stand. If she couldn’t…no, she just would. She didn’t let herself think anything beyond that.
Drawing in air without spitting the polluted stuff back up was a problem. Her lungs were already burning from smoke inhalation. She took in what she could without puking then, braced her bloody palms on the cement. But it was no good. Pain shot up her leg and sweat beaded on her lip from the effort of holding her own weight up.
At first-the next strike was more like a vacuum then it was an explosion. It seemed to arrive in the same manner an earthquake does-before its destruction hits. The air stilled, the noise became hushed.
Maybe it was because she was still lying on the ground, but she felt the first trembles rising up through the stillness. A flashflood of fear surged through her body and pooled in her mouth in a sweet overflow of saliva. She needed to get off the street. The buildings were already teetering precariously. God help her if one of them toppled.
 “Trixie,” a fist grab ahold of her coat collar and began dragging her into the alley. It was worse than she could have imagined, the pain of being pulled across the cement- the skin of her cheek peeling off in a long, tattered strip that left behind a bloody trail.
She meant to scream-opened her mouth…
And then the whoosh of the blowback tore down the street tossing cars and ripping up chunks of concrete and chucking them into store windows. Within moments the stoop Beatrix and Keen had been standing on was a cavern. The explosion lifted lampposts and parking meters like toothpicks and slammed them back down like javelins, embedding them deep within the rubble.
Beatrix heard wails of agony and struggled, instinctively needing to make her own blind, desperate flight.
“Stay the hell down!” A hard palm against her back had her flat out with no chance of seeing the carnage around her.
“Michael! What’s happening?” she could hardly hear her own voice over the piercing wail of car alarms and store front security systems. She had to tune out the screams, the exclamations of horror and disbelief that cut jagged holes through the already ripped and frayed fabric of time.
Another explosion and Keen’s body landed hard on top of hers. She felt his weight pressing her bones into the earth. “Michael, Michael! Get off me,” she fought with her panic at being trapped beneath him and lost.
The moment it took for him to recover was eternal, “Trix?” his voice sounded dazed, gruff from the smoke and dust.
“Get off me,” Beatrix squirmed until she felt him roll away. When he had, she fought another losing battle in a futile attempt to get to her feet.
She felt Keen’s hands dig under her arm pits and pull.  Again, he was dragging her.
“Michael! Stop, it hurts.” But he didn’t stop until he’d pulled her halfway down the narrow breezeway between two apartment buildings and out of the way of running feet and flying detritus.
“Hush, don’t let them hear you. Can you stand up?”
In the cramped space, Beatrix rolled to her back. Her body was a mess of blood and bruises and her lungs were on fire.
She coughed and the sound was raw, harsh, “What’s happening, Michael, who’s doing this?” 
“Put your arms over your head, like this. Try to keep as much of the dust out of your mouth as you can.”
“I can’t. I think it’s broken,” she’d pulled herself upright and leaned back until her spine curved with the foundation stones.
Keen turned, “Let me see.” His voice was all she could hear, a lifeline, in the dusty gloom. Something had smashed into his face, a shard, and it’d cut its way down from his temple to his mouth. In the half light from the fires she could see the blood drip off his chin. It made her feel queasy and vulnerable, to know that he was hurt, too.
“Here, “His palms smoothed over her body, feeling her bones and muscles.
Outside the narrow breezeway entrance the day had turned black. Beatrix knew she’d never been in darkness this complete before. Her life in the city meant, day or night, she’d always been surrounded by some form of light.
“I think I’ve just discovered I’m afraid of the dark.” She gave a nervous laugh.
 Keen didn’t answer.
She refused to let herself panic again. She could still feel his hands, his breathe, “Michael?”
His trailing fingers became abrupt. His shoes scraped gravel as he leaned back. He sighed, “Open your eyes, Trix.”
She did, because he told her to, saw the light from sputtering fires flickering up the alley walls.
He ripped the hem from his Black Dog Tavern t-shirt and began wrapping her damaged arm with it. She watched his eyes narrow in concentration. Had she ever seen Michael Keen when his face wasn’t wearing that smirk? “How bad is it?”
He shook his head, “It’s not broken.”
“What you said earlier…” Don’t let them hear you.
 Keen didn’t answer her. He ripped more fabric off his tee and used it to wipe the blood out of her eyes, his hand under her chin holding her face just beneath his.
After a moment, when she couldn't stand the silence in him anymore, she said, “Your dad’s going to kill you.”  
Keen’s father’s place, The Black Dog Tavern, was more of a pool hall, really. He’d made a little shady money and moved his family uptown a little ways. Mostly, so other sharks couldn’t use them against him, maybe a little bit to show off how prosperous his shenanigans were. But, he’d never left the gutter himself, never wanted too, and he often dragged Keen down there with him in the form of after-school busboy work and errand running.
Keen blew wind through his pinched nostrils at her mention of his dad but kept his eyes on the bandaging.
Beatrix knew Michael Keen, had known him almost all her life, in one form or another. She let him have the moment as long as she could until finally, she just wanted to hear his voice-just needed to hear him speak.
What does it mean if he doesn't speak?
She took his hand and held it still against her cheek where he was smoothing with his tattered cloth, “Michael.” She knew she shouldn't cry in front of him, he wasn't the type of boy to like weepiness in a girl, “Michael, what did you mean, earlier?” 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The beginning of a new tale from The Witch Wars

In the Beginning, There Were Three

The sun was screaming in the sky. When she pried her swollen eyes open, it spat right into them.
She woke up choking, more with every breath. A hell of grinding metal and shrill car alarms blasted her eardrums. She tried to lift her head to cough.Wave after wave of pain held her down. Her mouth flooded on the verge of vomiting.  She couldn’t move.
But, she was going to have to move- because there was fire. She could hear it crackling and smacking greedy lips, smell burning clothe and flesh. From the bottom of her heart, she hoped it wasn’t hers.
Five Minutes Ago
Beatrix swung the goody bag she was toting from her right hand to her left. It was a great day! Aiden was doing the cooking, check. She had on her uber cute new Bears t-shirt to watch the game in, check. A million people had already called to tell her she was the best dancer in Alice last night, check. And, it was a sumptuous fall day out, check-check-check! She swung the bag-left to right this time. Laughter bubbled up inside her and she wanted to spill it, right here in the middle of the sidewalk, where everyone could see her. Nothing was going to ruin her mood-the day was just too perfect.
And, of course, that’s when she saw him, Mr. Fingers, aka. Michael Keen, Aiden’s best friend, walking towards her in that annoying way he had. Why did he always have to spoil everything? She walked faster. If she hurried, she could make it to Aiden’s before he saw her. Not for the first time she cursed the fate that had them all living in the same damn neighborhood.
Well, that was fine, let him walk down any sidewalk he wanted to. She’d just get to Aiden’s, shut the door, and forget all about Michael Keen and his obnoxious fingers and the way he was always running them up her spine and tugging with them on her fiery red hair.
Temper, Red, She slap her hand to the rough concrete balustrade and wished it was Keen’s smug, knowing face.
“Temper, Trix,” he caught her at the bottom of Aiden’s stoop, tapped the blunt tip of one broad finger on the back of her hand where she still gripped the railing.
Involuntarily, she flicked her eyes the tiniest smidge in his direction. And, there was the smile- just inches out of reach.
“Why can’t you just call me, Bea, like Aiden does and everybody else? Why do…?” Her eyes dropped to where his right foot was lifting. Now, it was stepping down and the other one was lifting. Good Lord! He was walking up the stairs with her.
That’s when she’d realized that he meant to go in, that he was going to watch the game with her and Aiden, probably eat with them, maybe even stay after and help clean up! Well, no, not that last part. But the rest!
“I’m not, Aiden.”
“What?” a quick brain re-shuffle, “Of course you aren’t Aiden! You’re nothing like, Aiden.” She snorted just to impression on him how very much she didn’t think he was anything like Aiden.
His fingers tugged on the dangling ends of her ponytail. When she turned, jerked from his grasp, he was one step below her. Beatrix found that she’d turned into his body. She was eye-to-lip with his mouth and could watch the sensual way his lips puckered and purred over the syllables of her name, “Beatrix…”
Later she’d chastise herself for the way she let her gaze roam his face, she always did. But she knew she couldn’t help it-there was just- nothing conventional about Michael Keen. He was half this and one sixteenth that and whatever… it had all worked together to create the most beautiful boy Beatrix had ever seen. His eyes were green, like the river, always changing, always reflecting, and always flowing away.
Another silent damn and she was slapping her palm hard against his chest, “Oh no you don’t, Buddy! Just where do you think you’re going?”
“To Aiden’s-- to watch the game,” he chin nodded to the Bears jersey peeking between the lapels of her jacket, his smile teasing her. He knew how much she wanted to stop him-and he wanted to see her try.
Her legendary temper flared at his sarcasm, “What makes you…?Do you see that?” She was looking over his shoulder where the sky had stretched the clouds thin and just beneath, hovering over the cityscape something-- shimmered.
In just seconds their whole lives would change. They’d be forced to witness things they couldn’t even imagine, forced to do things they would hate themselves for afterwards. They would learn that survival is everything...
 “Trix, what’re you looking at?”
A slight vibration began and the first car alarm went off three blocks over.
 “What is that?”she didn't even notice the tiny hairs lifting from her scalp as ions charged the air. “It’s pretty.”
“What are you talking about?” Keen turned, squinted against the glinting light.
“There, that, all those colors.”
Around them, people were going about their business-shopping, driving cars, walking home on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
 “Look at the way it glows…”
“Look Trix, I think we should…” a soft, resigned exhalation, “Maybe it’s the Aura Borealis?”
They stood on the stairs- watching-as the colorful strikes rolled closer, like children watching fireworks on the fourth of July.
“We’re in Chicago, Michael, not Alaska.” Beatrix scoffed and looked over to read how his ego took her jab.
He’d gone incredibly still, still as stone.
With dawning horror he reached for her. His tension traveled from his fingers to Beatrix’s wrist and she felt fear for the first time.  “I think we should…run!”

But it was far too late for that.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Am A Meta-Cognition!

Remember that scene in that one mummy movie and it had that one guy-with the chest- and then...were they camping? On the river still? I think there were bugs... the girl stood up and she was... drunk and, and she says Mmm...Oh yea...she says, "I am a librarian!" Maybe this was the part with the bugs?  Brandon-Brendon?  Was it actually called The Mummy? Anyway... My point is, when I say I am a meta-cognition...I'm saying it like that : )

A Happy Little About Me!

I'm ambidextrous. And a terrible punctuation-er.  And apparently also a glutton! Because I've already eaten all of the cookies I smuggled in to my office to eat while I was writing this!
I also enjoy drawing and I play a little guitar.
And I garden. Yea, flowers! And Bicycling...

My Professional Selfie:

Of course I have the ubiquitous degree in Literature. If I had known what it would be like in that classroom every day- I would have gotten my degree in a subject I didn't like so much. My poor, poor stories...what have they done to you?

 I refuse to reveal anything more about my checkered career past for fear it will bring out your judgy side and,in fact, find my mind drifting more and more back to the kitchen and my lovely tin of cookies. 

I Believe My Life Story Will Have to Wait!

I also like milk...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Story of Blaize-- The End

Eventually his heartbeat settled down and began pumping blood to his brain again. He convinced himself that he was exaggerating what had happened. It had just been a mild form of a panic attack. He’d watched a show a couple of nights ago with a guy in it who had a panic attack. That’s what he’d had, exactly what he’d had.
He wasn’t going to stand around waiting for Angel that much he knew. It took her forever to get ready anyway. He grabbed his jeans and a clean t-shirt out of his dresser drawer and headed out of the room. He’d take his shower in his mom’s bathroom.
He stepped on something that made a distinctive crunching noise when he planted his foot on it. When he squat down and picked it up he found his watch crystal lay splintered in his palm. He glanced to his wrist-the watch was still strapped on- sans crystal- fine. He ripped the band free with a violent twist and threw the useless object onto his dresser. He’d had enough.
 He slammed the door on his way out. The too sweet fragrance of his mother’s incense over-powered his senses, made his eyes water and burned his nostrils. He felt an intense wave of anger flood him as he marched down the hall. Faith was such a joke. Why must his mother stink up the house with all that superstition? Real men didn’t believe in anything but themselves. They didn’t need anything but themselves.
He walked into his mother’s room and saw the tiny alter to the Madre Marie set up on a small wooden shelve. He’d built that shelve for her at church camp the summer he turned nine.
 His hands balled into fists and each knuckle turned white. A buzz thrummed in his ears so powerful he didn’t recognize the sound of his own pulse. He grit his teeth together, threw himself at the bathroom door then slammed it shut, shaking it on its frame behind him.
He found himself digging deep for his will power. There was something wrong and he knew it. This was no mere panic attack. But what it was… he didn’t know.
In the tiny confines of the bathroom he could hear himself growling. From low in his chest a rumble of furious sound begin to force its way out. In the wall mirror above the sink he could see his hands forming themselves into claws and his nails seemed to sharpen and elongate. The stubborn tilt of his jaw became an unrelenting bone with a heavy shadow of dark beard and an angle that beckoned trouble.
From a shadowy corner of the room he heard a hiss and snapped his head around in time to catch the cat by the throat as she leapt for the door. He held her like that-watched her back legs scramble for purchase as she twisted frantically for freedom. The edges of his mouth lifted into a smug grin. He brought her closer-wanted to look into her terrified eyes as she howled in pain and hissed in panic. He laughed and his mouth watered.
“Blaize, what the fuck are you doing in there? Hurry up!” Angel hit the door with the flat of her hand and reached for the knob.
Some part of him, some desperate, trembling part wanted to yell at her to run. Whatever this was that was happening to him, he wanted to save her from it. With an effort that made sweat drip from his brow he reached his hand towards the lock on the door.
Later, when he thought back on things he truly believed that he would have chosen her. Because, no matter what she had become, she would always, in some place inside him, she would always be his angel. So, he needed to believe that he would have turned the lock and saved her.
His hand reached for the lock and the door slammed open against it. The cat, catching sight of the opening gave an horrendous effort to leap using her hind legs against his forearm as purchase and leaving bloody welts gouged into his flesh. With a startled hiss he dropped the feline.
“What are you doing? Shit!” Angel jumped as the cat ran passed her. “What the hell, Blaize? I thought you were going to hurry. You’re not even dressed.” Her tone was accusatory.
To Blaize she sounded as if she didn’t believe he could even get dressed by himself. He felt his fury begin to rise again in a way he’d never felt anything before. The hand that dripped with blood from the cat scratches now reached for Angel’s neck. While she watched him with a mix of confusion and impatients he wrapped his bloody fingers around the sweet column of her throat.
Even as his fingers tightened enough to put pressure on her windpipe she didn’t seem to understand what was happening to her-what he intended to do. She seemed to believe she still had the upper hand and that he would still play at being her little lap dog. His lips curved back into a smirk.
“I like little girls. They taste sweet. Give me a lick little dolly.” And that sound rumbled out of his chest again only this time it was more of a purr.
Recognition dawned slowly and seemed to spread like palsy throughout her body. The color leeched from her skin then flooded back an ugly purple as his hand tightened. But her tone was defiant when she lifted her hand and began to claw away his fingers from her neck. ”Let me go, Azzel. You can’t hurt me.”
Blaize jumped inside his own skin. What had she called him? He wanted to ask her. He wanted to demand that she tell him…right the fuck now! But instead he heard a voice not his own snarl, “Little girl, I can do anything I want.” Then an arm no longer in his control threw her across the room.
Angel landed on the bed and he watched helplessly as she bounced there before scrambling to her knees and crawling to the other side until she was trapped against the wall. But she was still defiant, still certain of her control. “You can’t do anything to me, Azzel, I summoned you. I’m your master.”
Blaize recoiled in horror. It couldn’t be. What was she talking about? In his mind he heard a mocking voice whisper, “oh ho, it’s awake! And it speaks such lovely words of pain. What did you think, ‘em, is it really so hard to believe that a worm would betray a worm? If you let go of that five finger Jimmy you’ve got on me I’ll show you what I mean.”
Angel must have seen the monstrous gleam that shone red from the eyes she stared into because she began to make a frantic sweep of the room looking for escape. There was a growing sense of panic in her jerky movements but her words were still all Angel-all faith that it would work out just the way she wanted it to in the end. “Azzel, I command you to go back to sleep now. Go back to sleep until I call you again.” She reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a tiny vial of clear liquid. She wagged it in his direction as if it were a loaded gun. “Holy water, Azzel., if you come near me again I’ll use it.”
Blaize felt the fury ignite within the demon he had become. “Of course, Master, whatever you say,” Azzel’s reply was a deceptively soft rumble.
Angel was easily fooled, willingly fooled, “Fine then.” Blaize could see that she never really relaxed her shoulders. Even as she slide along the wall and headed towards the door she was tense with anticipation. But there was also a sense of purpose. “We’ll just get to the party and then…”
“Don’t leave me! Angel! I’m still here…” Blaize called to her, terrified she’d leave him alone, trapped.
“…I’ll call Marina…”
“Help me, Angel. What have you done?” Blaize knew what was happening was impossible. He wasn’t locked inside his own body while a demon twitched his muscles and made his choices.
“Of course, Master,” The demon slide along his own wall-slow-like a snake.
Blaize thought-I can’t even make tears fall from my eyes.
Inside the body that was no longer his he waited for her to say something, a hint that she was just playing along until she could figure out how to help him.
He felt his heart race with joy when, just before she slipped out the door- she turned. There was a moment of anticipation- like time suspended in a crystal drop and then she spoke, “This isn’t even my problem really. I don’t even want you.”
Hell broke loose. Inside Blaize the demon roared his fury and twisted free when he felt Blaize stumble under the appalling truth of Angel’s betrayal. Azzel charged the girl and lifted her towards the ceiling with one arm. She tried to kick out still naively believing she had a chance of survival but he threw her like a rag doll across the room. Her body thwacked against the wall and broke- plaster showered down.
Horrified and desperate Blaize fought Azzel for control but the demon was in full possession and he wanted revenge. He stormed through the small space spilling perfume bottles and knick-knacks on to the soft white carpet. He shattered hanging pictures out of their frames and left them littering the floor like corpses. His fist crushed the fragile figure of the Virgin Mary and smashed precious holy items into detritus.
Angel whimpered and the monster turned to glance at her over his shoulder. He sneered when he saw the blood pouring from her scalp. It wasn’t sympathy that made him walk across the room and crouch by her side.
“Blaize,” her voice was a smooth blow on a hot horn and it burned all the way down. God, it had only been minutes ago that he was in bed with the girl he was in love with drowsily listening to Miles Davis on the radio, “Help me. I know you’re in there. They made me do it.” She paused and let her eyes searched his, “He was going to rape me, Blaize, if I didn’t pay him the money I owed.” She tucked her sweet bottom lip between her teeth and hissed at the pain. “I knew you wouldn’t want anything to happen to me.” A soft tear appeared like dew on her lashes and quietly fell down her cheek. “They did it months ago. You haven’t even known it was in you. Besides,” Her tiny fingers caressed the rough stubble on his chin, “You love me.” She aimed the splintered wooden cross at his neck and jabbed.
Azzel bellowed his all mighty rage and fisted the cross- crushing her fingers beneath his. He pulled it from her limp hand and smoke and the acrid stench of burning flesh fogged the air. Angel whimpered. She tried to fight her way passed the demon before he could recover but her leg was badly broken. The drugs polluting her system and her stubborn will were the only things keeping her conscious.
Azzel cradled his injured hand against his chest- the cross seared into it -and yanked Angel backward by the ankle with the other. She screamed in pain and frustration. Her head wound was leaking blood and her bones were jutting from her broken leg but she was so high—even now she didn’t realize she was dying.
Overcome with grieve and shock, Blaize struggled for control. He knew she’d done this to him, but still, he couldn’t bear to see her hurt.
Her tears ran faster now. Her hair was a tangled sheet. Leaning up, she spat into the demon’s face and when he slapped her, the blood drooled off her lip in a long, slobbery trail.
The demon carefully wiped her spit off his face without letting go of his grip on her leg. They shot daggers of mutual hate at each other as he carefully moved her long, glossy hair behind her ear and across her shoulder. It was with perfect calm and deliberation that he slid his left hand up from her ankle and spread it around her throat- equally calmly and deliberately he began to squeeze.
It was almost comical, the look of surprise. What had she thought would happen-playing with demons? Azzel calmly enjoyed the hissing of her breath and the sweet pop of the blood vessels in her lovely brown eyes. It was always nice when you could take your time and really savor the chore of murder. So it was entirely unexpected when he found his burnt right hand wrestling the wrist of his left into letting go.
“Little worm, is that you?” Blaize felt the ancient creature’s wrath like a tidal wave straining to burst his control. He knew he didn’t have much time.
“Let her go.”
“Oh, now, you don’t mean that, do you?  She sold you out for 50 bucks worth of sugar, Sugar. Now, don’t you think that deserves a little umm…payback?” Cajoling, conniving, the insipid whine was meant to deceive him into loosening his grip but Blaize refused.  
“When she sold you out—worm—who do you think bought you? Me…that’s who! So—just what do you think is going to happen here, umm? Do you recon yourself strongerthen me?” This time the demon didn’t both hiding the fury he felt.
Blaize felt his flesh tear as Azzel struggled to free himself. There was really only one thing he could do and as much as he prayed that it would work…he didn’t hold out much hope that it would.
Blaize waited for the moment the demon made another effort to break loose and then he let go. Azzel was caught off guard and in the one split second of surprise his action allowed him, Blaize reached out with his burnt hand, scooped up the tiny clear bottle of holy water that had gone unnoticed during the demon’s fit of anger, uncapped it and swallowed.
Immediately he felt his insides twist in agony. The demon roared inside his skull and pounded his fists in agitated fury. He tried to rise and bash their head against the wall. He threatened to fling their shared body out of the window and laugh as they rushed towards the pavement.
Blaize could hear it all as the monster raged inside his mind. And, maybe he would have won. Maybe Azzel, the centuries old demon, was stronger and more cunning than a nineteen year old boy-but not this day. 
Angel lay dying. Each breath she took was a bubble of blood. She made short, raspy sounds as if her lungs had collapsed and she held his gaze with eyes that were already losing focus.
“Let me get someone, Angel.” He smoothed warm lips across her brow.
A tear found a path and followed it down her cheek. Another joined it and together they plashed into the cup formed by clasped hands.
“You have to let me help you.” He begged just like the night they’d lost the baby.
Her fingers slipped from his.
“You can’t leave me.”
She stopped crying and he began.
“I love you…my Angel.”
Her breath ended on a sigh…