Tuesday, September 05, 2017


There is a monster in the mountain. Everyone knows this who knows anything at all in the village. Sometimes the monster speaks, and the world shudders. Rarely, the monster screams and the stars themselves take new shapes. The village survives, though no one in it knows why. Sometimes kings come, and armies that fly with steel that sings, but the monster merely looks and they are unravelled and unmade.

The stranger came to the village in a year worse than others. Most crops had failed, and the stranger walked and listened to stories. He carried something within him that drew stories from others. After, he nodded and walked toward the mountain.

The locals have no records of what happened next.



The monster emerges from the cave. He is twelve. He looks human, even now. “That is not my name.”

“Devourerer. Entropos. The Walking Emptiness. Those are the names I hear, when I ask of you.”

“My name is Jayseltosche.” the monster hisses.

“You are not worthy of it.”

The monster raises a hand, then slowly lowers it. He swears in a language extinct for many years.

“You can try again, but you have to know it won’t work. My skill in this is far more than your own. And know this as well: if we fight, the village at the base of the mountains will be gone.”

“It is under my protection,” the monster says, voice not at all empty.

“There has not been a child born to the village in five years. Every year since you arrived, their crops have lessened with each year that passed.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that!”

“In a tone of truth? I will if that is what I have to say. This place did not ask for your protection. Not to be some sort of point you could make to yourself.”

The monster stiffens, says nothing.

“We could fight. You can’t win, but we could fight. At the least, the local galaxy would not survive the result.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because you can’t keep hiding. You have to move, to be in order that you may become.”

“And if I do not?”

The stranger sighs. “I can force your hand, monster.”

“You are not that much older than me.”

“No, no I am not. But I was you once. And I am older, and I can be nastier than you’ve ever dreamt of being.”

The monster laughs. The sound is harsh, wild and fractured. Had any birds in the world survived his gaze to the sky, the laugh would have killed them all. There are no insects left, after the laugh. “Try me. Older me, older Jay who isn’t any more jaysome than I. Try!”

The stranger sighs. “You should know what springs forth when I try.”

The monster hurls power then. The mountain screams, unmade and remade between moments. The village rocks visibly like a drop of rain in a wild ocean. The villages cry out, huddling together as if their fur can somehow warm them against a cold that knows nothing of kindness.

The stranger does not move. His voice carries, because he is fifteen and remembers being twelve. Because he is older in so many ways than his younger self. But even so, he almost hesitates before he speaks: “He knows. He sees, he watches, and he knows.”

The monster turns a colour even ghosts cannot manage. He flinches visibly, and only terrified madness stares from his eyes. He vanishes.

“Well. At least he’s left the mountain.” The stranger sighs, begins restoring bindings to the world. “Sometimes, just sometimes, I almost wish I couldn’t move through time.”

No one responds, and the stranger seems to be alone.


This is probably for the best.

Wishes Unasked For

I kept your secrets to the grave. I don’t see how you could expect more from me. What are secrets, after we are dead? What import is all the worries of life when we have let go? I am dead, as you are, and yet the exorcist came with questions. And with power.

Perhaps nothing is truly dead. Perhaps nothing is wholly final even after memory is lost. Being a ghost is almost proof of this.

It is a strange thing, to be dead and yet know fear. But a god burned in her eyes almost like your gaze and enochian rolled from her tongue in practised cadences. She could have unmade me with or without it, but did nothing save present credentials, ask questions without forcing answers. A sword kept sheathed. I know enough of power to understand how rare that gift is.

She asked why I wasn’t in the Grey Lands. Spoke of them easily, her eyes stubborn with knowledge. And so I told her. About you. About us. About what bound me to this place.

The exorcist smiled after. You used to hurt me with smiles; hers hurt me not at all though I can see the scar it left in you. “The wandering magician can deal with this, if that is your wish.” She spoke the words with terrible gentleness. And showed me some of what the magician could do, which was far greater than what Charlie might do.

“No.” I don’t know if I said that for you, or for me. I still have no idea. I think there are punishments too great for any crime. I wonder if I should wish I thought otherwise.

The exorcist nodded. “Very well,” Charlie said without judgement. And then she bound you. To my will. To my wishes. I haven’t hurt you yet. I could. I can. I have power over you, thanks to what she did. I did not ask for it, but she could – she had to act. The living must and I could not deny her that.

I’d like to think some part of me wanted you to be hurt. That I was not that far lost. I do not know. I am not afraid of you now. It is strange to say that. To see that. I could destroy you, but you helped to make me who I am. I cannot hate you for that and not hate myself as well. It is a truth the living do not often understand.

I am leaving now. I have left you a way out as well from this place. If you can find it. You will need to grow a conscience first. I am not certain if you can survive that, not and be you.

I do not know what I think of this.

Good bye. I say this for the first time. I think it will be the final one as well.  

Censuring: a warning

Home is still. Not frozen, merely still. Every moment a silence, every ripple flowing back into quiet. I heard a bell ring out only once in all the times I have been here. There is a lake made out of the sky, and everything is translucent casting reflections of neverwere. It is the closest thing to a home I have, and I am never more afraid than when I am here. Outside, I am a Power. Outside, I am feared and respected. Here, I am barely Moshe. It takes everything I have to hold my beauty together. The one thing that is me, the one thing that defined me long before I was claimed by this place.

My beauty is not stripped away. I do not know if this is a kindness. Awareness shivers through me, studies. Pushes and pulls. I have no secrets, not here, and never from this place.

“You drew on my power near the anomaly.”

They aren’t words. They’re reality, each one inside my mind without a need for speech or even thought. I whimper, unable not to at the force of the concepts bearing down upon me. Anomaly means the space the inhabitants call the universe.

“The wandering magician was being foolish. I returned him to his place. He was seeking –.”

Stillness runs through me. For a moment even the Far Realm I am in, the entity I serve. For a moment it isn’t, and then I am again. Me again. Here again.

“I apologize.” The voice of the Realm is different. Subtler. Less terrible by a small degree.


“I unmade you for a moment. You are restored.”

I say nothing as loudly as I can even as my body starts shaking. The Realm waits, and waits again. Nothing so small as judgement regards me. “This is the seat of your power. The place of you. You do not make mistakes here?”

“Nothing is beyond error.”

I wrap my arms about myself. “The wandering magician is – I am concerned. About him, for him. Jaysel –.”

“Not that whole name. Not here.”

The words are flat, without anything behind them. “Jay is only a part of this,” I whisper.

“To you, perhaps. But not to others.”

“I do not understand. He has no desire to leave the universe.”

“The desire is rooted in fear. There are motives stronger than fear.”

“There are. The wandering magician will not stop his questioning. I have no answers to give him, not in this. There are things I am forbidden to know?”

“Explain me, Walker.”

“I am a Walker of the Far Realms. Of your Realm. You are – we don’t use names. The Stillness Between Falling. That is my term, because rain does not fit you. Others Realms have other names. Functions? This is something far beyond me. Each Walker is chosen, but you also have Aspects. Part of you that can – act, when you need to. Mostly you watch each other. I do not pretend to understand.”

“The anomaly has Powers within it. Time. Space. Justice. Ideas given form. Form defines function. The Far Realms are a means to an end. Others are not as safe. Not all are Realms who could become; some cannot become. It is a danger to draw their attention.”

“Like a fire calling a moth.” I feel regard turn inward.

“Yes. If the moth could consume the light.”

I stare. Jay’s progenitor could devour a –. I cut the thought off, as if the thought could make it happen. “And Jay?”

“We do not know. It is thought: the next stage in the – evolution you would deem a war between us all. Or an end game. We do not know.”

“And I have Jay pissed off at me.”

I didn’t know the Far Realm could laugh. The sound is still stillness, but somehow it ripples as well. “Yes. Your survival is useful in how others perceive my strength. There will be no punishment, but do not draw upon Me again without asking.”

The words are not a command. I have no idea what to make of this. I say I will try not to, and then am back where I was in a wild spot in Outside, negotiating the end to a conflict as only I can.

I am so distracted I almost forget to seduce my target.

I am scared to go back to the universe. I fear I will have no choice.  

A Ruthless Curse

There are things that never happen in our family. In others, yes. On the news, naturally. But until now, our family had been apart from tawdry displays. We come from old money. Old money does not demean, does not debase. It does not strike.

I raise my hand to the welt on the left side of my face. Stare at Father.

He does not lower his hand. There is a look on his face I’ve never seen. In others dealing with him, yes. In boardrooms, at private meetings. I’ve seen the fear others have of him, and even of myself. Until today I’d never seen my father afraid. He says something I lost in my shock.

“Emma.” His voice yanks me, cold and hard and furious. “What did you do last week?”

“Nothing. Nothing unusual. I swear it,” I manage. Father paces his second study. Angry, afraid. Like something in a cage. His size, his muscles, the presence of him all seems different as I step back. Beside me, Kev is rubbing his face in turn. He’s not Father; his size doesn’t include trips to the gym. You’d think him soft, if you didn’t look into his eyes. I take after mom. We keep quiet, try not to be seen. Do the work that doesn’t need a public face or the power that comes with a family that can trace it’s wealth back over six centuries.

Father turns to Kev. “One of you did something. Something unusual. Stupid. Small.”

Kev stirs. “I hit an old man. He was small, in my way going through Grant Gate Park. Is that the kind of small you mean?” he demands, his voice biting.

Father turns. “Describe him.”

Kev is taken aback for a second. “Old. Thin. Green and black clothing, balding. Red hair, I think?”

Father swears. Loudly, commonly, vulgarly. For the first time, it looks like Kev understands something is badly wrong. Father turns to the doorway and bellows. Mother enters. She is calm to his fear. Steady and grim. “I called in favours.” Mother’s face is thin and hard. “I had to go through the Bank.”

“Banks do what you –,” Kev begins.

“Shut up.” Father doesn’t move, but Kev falls silent. “He hurt one. Insulted honour, this close to St. Patrick’s Day.”

“One what?” I ask.

“A leprechaun.”

I’m too shocked to say anything. Kev laughs, but only the once before Father backhands him right to the ground. I didn’t know Father even knew how to backhand someone. We’re old money, and that means you don’t do such things. You simply don’t.

Kev gets up slowly. His eyes are wide, chins wobbling. “Explain?”

“We have wealth, but there are other wealths. Other powers. The world is large. There are rituals. Initiations. We were going to induct Emma into them this year. You, I was not certain about.”

Kev doesn’t move. I wonder if I’m the only one who sees the killing look he gives Father. “Not certain?”

“There are many kinds of strength. Restraint is not yours, in certain matters.” The words are flat, inarguable. “The Bank is the bank that runs all other banks. Our account has been in good standing since the Bank existed. It is not. The stock of every company we are part of has tanked in the last week.”

“Pissing off a leprechaun does that.” The voice in the doorway is mild, and the man who enters younger than Kev and I. He looks ordinary, but Father actually bows to him. I didn’t think Father knew how to bow. Mom does as well, formally thanking him.

The ordinary-seeming man smiles slightly. “You don’t need to bow. The Bank and I have been at odd for some time.”

“We heard about Raven’s Bluff.” Father hesitates. “We could rebuild the town, ensure such a thing never happens again.”

“It won’t, but the offer is accepted.” The man turns to Kev. “Leprechauns control currency, which includes stocks and markets. There aren’t many of them, but anger one and an entire nation can have a Great Depression. Focused, they can take down any company, any family, and wealth. Me? Normally I wouldn’t care, but if your family falls it means a lot of other people lose lives and livelihoods of their own. You’ll need to make a formal apology.”

“He was in my way,” Kev says. “All this silly –.”

“Lives will be lost if your family falls.” The stranger doesn’t raise his voice, but it contains echoes. Edges even Father’s cannot hold. Kev whimpers, unable to break the gaze trained on him. “You can help stop this from happening.”

“He doesn’t know.” Father’s voice is almost soft.

“He should have.” The stranger turns, and Father actually steps back.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I gasp. I didn’t think Father knew that word, not like other people do. “I can pay you,” father adds. “Wards, protections: you name your price.”

“You don’t want to know my price.”

“Magician. Please.”

The magician shakes his head. “There isn’t a ward or protection that can stop a leprechaun one has insulted. Slow it down for a time, yes, but not stop it.”

“You could stop it.”

“Oh, if I had to. There are few things I can’t do, if I really need to do them. For those, I have allies. But this is your error: that of your family, your son, the choices you all made. Which means it’s up to you to fix it.”

“And if we don’t?” Mother asks.

“Then I do. Your family falls, and those who might have feel with them. Everyone underneath: they survive and thrive. There are bindings that can arrange that, but the results of them would be – problematic. Quite likely it would involve your family being excised from history.”

“Magicians can’t do that,” Father says, and he almost sounds like himself.

The magician snorts. Nothing else. He doesn’t grow, his shadow doesn’t change, but a moment later I can’t shake the feeling he’s the only real person in the room. “Jeremy Dupree.” He says Father’s name like it doesn’t matter, as if the Family does not matter. “I am the wandering magician. Your son risks ruining thousands of lives: all the companies your family is part, every worker, entire businesses. I won’t let that happen.”

And he won’t. We all know it as surely as we know anything else.

“I could. If Kev won’t, I will,” I get out.

“This is nonsense! We’re too big to fail,” Kev snarls. “Father, you are –.”

The air opens up. The magician reaches up, as if peeling back the world, and an older man steps through. Green coat. Black jeans. Balding red hair: you wouldn’t pay attention to him, let alone give him the time of day as he limps through some other space to this one.

“I’m sorry. On behalf of my brother,” I say.

The old man stares at me. His eyes are green, bright despite the lines and wear etched into his face. He turns to the magician. “You got a Dupree to apologize and mean it without using Jay at all.”

“I did.” The magician doesn’t move. I have no idea what this Jay is, but I’m pretty certain I don’t want to know.

The old man snaps his fingers. There is an actual rainbow between them, and his teeth glitter gold for a moment. “Done. The curse is lifted. But it will return if they bring harm to those below them.”

The magician nods and walks out the door. Mother steps aside without even thinking. Deferring, as she doesn’t even to Father. Father pulls out his phone, looks at it. Makes a sound.

“All that, because my son pushed you?”

“All that, for many other reasons.” And the old man – the leprechaun – vanishes into thin air.


We never speak about that day. It doesn’t come up, but two weeks later is when Kev begins losing his hair. He spends most of his inheritance trying to stop that, despite knowing the family name will pass through me. This isn’t discussed either. I watch my brother fall apart, and my parents never notice. I get to meet other magicians in different cities. Other things as well. Our wealth is a hoard dragons fight over. Even for our Family, that takes some getting used to.

I spot the old man two months after that. I’m not looking for him: I just pay more attention to the world than I did before. He isn’t balding anymore: his hair is bright red, and he looks at least a decade younger.

“Emma Dupree.” He nods.

I nod back. I’d like to say something about my brother, but I think he knows everything already. “What happens now?”

“How do you mean?”

“Our family line has to continue, but through me. It means I have to marry, and we haven’t recovered from what you did to us. Do I call you Rumpelstiltskin?”

He laughs. The laugh is soft, and he bows to me. “Some have. I have been called many names. The marriage will be arranged with one of my children: what comes of it it will be up to the both of you.”

I wonder if all this was somehow for our Family, and for his own as well. I can’t bring myself to ask. I arrange for a meeting with Mother’s calm and head back home.

There is a rainbow in the sky over the house. I’m pretty certain it’s a warning as much as an omen. I wish I was brave enough not to care, or even to walk away.

But I’m not. If I’m lucky, it’s in other ways than these.  

A New Joy

The Xolt war machine isn’t a machine, as other civilizations understand it. The Warmaker is too vast, blotting out the sky like a dark sun come to roost on a planet. Alien energy weapons harvested from a thousand worlds carve into another conquest with their power. A hundred machines made to plunder dig deep into the crust of the world. It sings as it works, the song a grinding of metals and sundered dreams woven together. It is said that the Xolt tried to destroy it once, even to turn it off, and they failed.

Not that the Warmaker turned on them. It has simply moved on and forgot them. Left them to the mercies of their own victims, though it’s doubtful that was intended. The Warmaker needs energy to survive, and all it knows is hunger. I’ve gathered the last of the Fleet: everything we could beg, find, steal. It was on Hospitalia IV, last and most protected of all the hospital worlds. That meant nothing. We all knew people who had been saved that, and more who had peace in their final days.

“Captain. Ma’am.” I turn to Ensign Charlie. I have no idea if that’s their real name or not. “Camera system, ma’am.”

I walk over. Every camera has been trained onto one street. I want to ask about the misuse of resources, but the Warmaker has stopped. The entire thing. No weapons are firing, no energies burning or discharging. It looked smaller, held in place, but somehow more menacing. “Transit. Myself, Squad A. Now.”

The transit system is as unpleasant as ever, but we are on the world a moment later. The others have weapons, ready and primed for any foe. 12 people in the Squad, some of the deadliest fighters in the Fleet. I have no weapon save words.

I can’t find a single one.

A young man stands in front of the entire Warmaker. He is fifteen, a speck before it’s vastness, but somehow his voice carries. “I saw you pass through the Regi Nebula. Darkness and death and wild energies of life and chaos. And I thought: ‘I should tell Logan about this.’ That is what I thought. So I came here. Where I met him last. Where he died. And you came here, because the universe works like that sometimes. I’ve been away from this part of the universe for a while. I was a pirate, and then other things in different places far from here. Trying to see nothing familiar. To be away from faces I might know. It takes work sometimes to not be known, to hide from a universe that knows too many stories about you

“Hiding never took work when I was younger. It was what I was, but every story, every legend, every time I act chipped away at that talent over time. And often all I can do is act. I should have been aware of you sooner. But I’ve been – moping, you might call it, if a Warmaker can mope. Kept waiting for one of Logan’s jokes, for a smile, a shared – and he is gone, and there are none.”

He closes one hand. The boy – creature – closes a hand, and the Warmaker shrinks down. Squeezes down, impossibly small, and crushed. There is an explosion. Many of them, somehow contained by the same gesture. He is not hurt. He does not even look tired, at least not of that. There is no sign of the Warmaker at all. As if it has been crushed below the subatomic with that simple gesture.

I walk forward. I manage the steps on my third try. He turns. He looks fifteen still, and sad, but his smile is real and wan. “Sorry.”

“Sorry?” I get out.

“I should have sensed it years ago and dealt with it. I was – doing other things. Evading memories. Not being jaysome.”

I stare. There are stories, but they are only stories. “You’re Jay? That Jay?”

He looks almost bashful when he nods.

“What about the people?” That’s Rusk, behind me, demanding. “The Warmaker killed thousands here!”

“And will kill no more.”

“You have power!”

“I do. I do have power. Logan once accused me of evading responsibility, but it’s never that at all. I’m not a god, not like you want, not with everything you’d give that name, Rusk Orisha. Any god worthy of the name gives up that power or runs away, you understand? Because if they do not, the people they ‘help’ will only remain children and never grow. I lost a friend I cared about deeply. If I was the kind of Power you wish me to be, he would be here today. He is not. Logan died.”

His voice does not crack on that word. He is old beyond easy understanding, a Power beyond any reckoning. I move forward, almost beside him. “Can we help you?”

He blinks. He laughs: small, soft, delighted and surprised. “I think you just did. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be like that.”

“You should. Joy is important,” I say softly.

He draws back. Something about him closes off. Rusk tenses.

“Hiding from joy is – dangerous, for you and for others. A friend died. A close friend, I believe, but that does not mean you have to deny yourself joy. Or their memory. Or the places you once knew. It can’t mean that.”

“I could tell him everything I want to,” and there is nothing in Jay’s voice save truth. “Time doesn’t bind me like it does others. I could go back, see him before – but there are things I don’t dare to do.” He turns to Rusk. “It is not hard, you understand, to bring the dead to life. Technologies do it often: pressure here, movement there. Elecricity and drugs. But when I bring the dead back, I do it from deeper places. They are gone, you understand, and to bring them back I would have to make the dead forget they had died, and then to make everyone else forget that as well. To change bindings on such a scale is not something I should do.”

He does not say it is something he cannot do. Rusk blinks, then nods and steps back. It’s the first time I’ve seen Rusk back down from anything, and he once faced a Hingari in single combat. Everyone else in Squad A is silent. No hands are on weapons. Some things you can’t face with weapons. Not even with words.

“Thank you,” I say. “You stopped the Warmaker. I don’t think we could have, not without too many more dying.” I take a deep breath. A captain bears responsibilities. “I am not your friend. But if you need someone to speak with, as if they were your friend, I could do that. Listen. Talk. It would not be the same – nothing could! - but joy is better than pain. We have tears, and then laughter, and we can transform our pain. If we can, can’t you?”

“Sometimes I feel it is all I should do.” He smiles, gently, and is gone a moment later. But the smile lingers behind. No one from Squad A touches a weapon as we do a scan of the planet. I’m not sure anyone of them will again. All I can hope is that Jay finds someone else to tell stories to before they can consume him.


It is four weeks before Rusk comes into my quarters. He looks dazed, eyes wide and scared. “Jay visited me last night. I thought he’d come to you.”

“He told you a story?”

“About an adventure.” And the last word has meanings I can’t parse. Rusk shares nothing.

“Thank you for letting me know.”

He nods. “Captain? Why me?”

“I have no idea. I’m not sure an entity like Jay is meant to be understood, Rusk.”

“Or we understand him far too well,” Rusk whispers, and I think I wasn’t meant to hear the words. He departs.

I have no idea if Jay will ever visit me. I don’t know what to make of that. I make a note of ‘jaysome’ in Rusk’s file, knowing Central will know what it means. I pour myself a drink.

I pretend I am not waiting for Jay.  

The Bluff

The wind picks up and I wrap the cold about myself. The sky is a Rorschach blot of clouds: I make the ward from that as well. Wind and darkness, silence and sound and through it all the voice calling me to this place. There is a youth standing on a bluff overlooking the sea. To the west a wall covered in flowers and vines. Behind me is the door I walked out of. Chipped-paint, the faded blue of a sky that never was and it wants only to creak and moan in the wind, calling out to the world for a new lock so that it can be a door again.

I close it gently, bind it firmly and walk toward the bluff. The young man stands, staring out at the storm, rigid against the wind and cold. He is staring down at the waves crashing into the beach and his body trembles with unrealized purpose.

“Hello.” I keep my tone soft, thread no power into nor under the words. I am a good enough magician that often I can seem like I’m not one at all.

He spins. He is young and quick with it, the knife in his right hand long and jagged with purpose. He holds it with learned skill, the tightness of the knuckles about the blade almost matching the tightness in his face. Shock gives way to fury, for anger is often just a suit of clothing fear puts on. “Back off! I can kill you before I kill myself!”

“I imagine you could, perhaps. But I’m not here because of you.”

He doesn’t understand; it’s hardly a surprise. The thrown knife almost is.

I wrap the wards about it gently, slow the blade, catch the tip of it between two fingers. The blade doesn’t want to cut me, and that’s need enough to fuel so small a magic. I hand it back before he can react.

He takes it, stumbles back. Moves out of his own narrative. “How –? What –?”

“It’s a trick. Many things are.”

He takes a few steps back, this time on purpose. “I made up my mind. You’re not going to stop me.”

“Juan. Many people kill themselves. I have power, yes, but not the power to make such choices for you. That’s not what power is for.”

“I never told you my name.”

“I’m the wandering magician of this era; figuring out people’s names is another trick.” I hold his gaze. “Some things are not tricks, however.

He jerks back with a gasp at the truth under the words.

I smile, hoping to lessen it a little. I’m not Jay, but my kinder smiles aren’t too bad even if I am far better at smiles that aren’t kind at all. “You plan to leap from the bluff after cutting your wrists, yes?”

He nods.

“The knife you stole from your uncle doesn’t want to do that, has no wish to be part of this. It is a tool made for cutting and has no desire to be a weapon.” I hold out my right hand. “If you don’t mind?”

“You want the knife?” He stares at me. He’s far enough outside his own story to begin seeing me: to know the storm isn’t touching me, and that I’m not afraid of him at all. He hands it over, steps back quickly to the bluff.

“Thank you.” I hold out the knife, and it wishes to be home and so it’s a simple matter to bend space for it. Simple but tiring and I turn back toward the house after it vanishes. The broken door opens, the interior showing the hotel room I am staying at over twenty minutes from this place.

“You could stop me.” It’s not a question. Juan’s voice cracks.

“Once. Perhaps. But to prevent it again, or forever, would mean you would no longer be you, Juan. If you wish to live, the choice and reasons must be yours alone. Yours the meaning, and yours the will and understanding of your worth. Anything I could do would only damage that.”

And I walk into the hotel room and close the door, leaving him alone on the bluff. Jay is busy out having adventures with Charlie, which is something of a relief as this isn’t the sort of thing one explains at all. I make myself a drink – tea, with mint in it – and turn the TV on. Sometimes nothing is the hardest thing to do at all.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

General Apology :)

I've neglected this blog longer than I thought I had in general (The facebook status updates file (which I spent the better part of the day getting up to date in itself) was 23K worth of words. Dumped.

So apologies for that insane spam :)

Have over 30 stories in the magician series to post, but I'll spread them out over the next week.

Facebook Status Updates: August 2017

August 2017

Angie dreamed gelato dreams, her only cohesive memory of a five month whirlwind tour of Europe.

The dog walking service printed ads claiming they were a god walking service by mistake.
It did not prevent them from getting clients.

I handed the god what change I could spare. “For a meal.”
I’m always hungry.”
Your kind always are. But there was only so much we could feed you.”
What will you be without us?”
We don’t know yet. It will be interesting to see what we can become without guilt imprisoning us.”
There is more to us than that,” the god said, but even he did not believe.

I asked Jay about times he’d been hurt because power doesn’t prevent you from being hurt. It might give more options in how you deal and respond to it. He told me about losing his sight. About this Honcho leaving him. How do you not have PTSD, I wondered. Hah. You don’t have that, not when you are the trauma. Not that he’d ever see that. Not that he’d ever understand that.”

All Mr. Pickles knows is that something weird has happened here, and Oscars Bend is outside his territory as a magician. So that leaves us to find out what it is and deal with it. Somehow. And we’re going into it blind.”
The other two both nod. I wonder if this is a test, or if Mr. Pickles hates us. It’s hard to tell with cats normally, and when the cat is a magician it’s probably impossible.

The psychic war was simple: one attack, and every spy in the nation forgot every secret password they knew.

Oscars Bend had been a semi-permanent logging camp for Hoster Logging for almost thirty years. When the company folded, the town remained: a crossroads dreaming of other things, a sadness etched into the world. Four homes, a motel, a small store, all off any major road. Only a drunk satnav got you here but somehow it felt like it would be more sad if everything was gone. People had remained, despite everything. I wasn’t sure if that was admirable or not, but I was sure I had no basis for judgement. Every house was run-down. Even the shadows seemed made of different shades.
You can’t have horror here, because there was nothing left to be taken away. And yet despite the thought, here we were.

You said there was a way through pain to the other side, held up the knife in one hand, three puppies in the other, the grimoire in your lap.
Only three?” I asked, thinking you were making some meta joke.
You haven’t spoke to me in weeks.
It took me days to realize just how hard it would be to easily hold three puppies in a single hand.

The secret Joe never told anyone was that his computer had the best antivirus software on the market. Every virus it acquired was a result of Joe having unprotected sex. He didn’t understand it, but he was more than foolish enough to consider it a blessing.
Until a Trojan virus got through the software and infected him in turn.

You can’t arrest me! I said I wanted protein. Not that I was - wait, how does pro teen count as being pro pedophiles in the first place?”

Merry me,” I said and I laughed and I laughed.

He wept as the aliens probed him, kinder than any human had ever been.

I made a joke. You called it a wound as though that was not the same thing entirely.

You told me you were from the future. And I could do was weep in joy that there was one at all, no matter that you’d come back in time to kill me.

The press rated Amy as barely average as a serial killer. Incensed, she hunted down the journalist who made the original claim and in the resulting confusion of torture she ended up to calling herself the Litotes Killer.
She quit even being a serial killer due to the resulting social media backlash and being turned into a meme. Twice.

I was so tired of being called a monster, but not tired enough to cease being one.

You told me relationships had best before dates and I laughed thinking you were making a joke. But then you went off.

If Uri Geller can bend metal with his mind, is it just spoons? If not, what happens when you try and stab him?

I ignored the call to adventure in favour of the call to nap.
I am pretty sure that means I’m not a hero.

We’re going to be sued if we film a wheelchair ramp.” Wilbur rubs the bridge of his nose. “I’m starting to wonder about this town. If the Outsider active around here has infected them somehow, or if it even needs to.”
It’s not that bad,” Noah offers softly. We both look over. “They probably all have guns here, and no one has tried to kill us yet?”
Yet,” I repeat.
The woman who saw my talent was terrified. The man who opened the door to his home was waiting for someone, and angry and scared at the same time.” Noah shrugs. “There might be weirdness going on here that’s just a small town of twenty people?”
That is about the size of a classroom. And they are pretty weird.” No one has come out of the largest house yet, so I nod to the oldest house in Oscar’s Bend. “Now to door number three. It can’t be any worse than the last two.”
Do the two of you want to tempt fate?” Wilbur demands. I think he’s joking, but I’m not certain.

Everyone told me that you were a flawed diamond. But the jeweller called you worthless.

The other side of the road is like a different town. Both homes are neater, despite one being a frankenhome affair. There are no fences in Oscars Bend but there are empty lots between the homes that used to have houses. Past the frankenhome is the one local store that, from here, looks to be in decent shape as well. There are tracks in Rivercomb, even if our town hasn’t seen a train in years, and even now you can divide the town up by them in certain ways.
That you can do the same for a town with four homes in it is almost depressing.

That playlist you gave me didn’t include a single love song?”
Why did you think none of those songs were about love?”
I don’t know; I did think it was odd?”
I thought it might be better if we made our own with the music of flesh and bone, the music of sound and touch. There is a music in your eyes that no song can ever match.”

Worst case scenario would get us famous. There’s nothing in the world that would make fame worth its cost.”

I thought you were wise enough to avoid making waves until you were certain you could swim.”

I wanted to be a poet, but every door I opened was a sadness eventually a sameness. The world is littered with enough darkness without assholes like me trying to make it pretty. Unable to find another topic within it out, I settled for silence.
Some days it fits me too well.

Some people had bonsai plants. Not Tom. Tom had a bonsai life.

I said I had a talent for pain. That’s not just feeling when people are in pain,or pains they’ve experienced.” Mark doubles over, unable to even scream. “It means I can cause pain. Especially when I’m in a bad mood.” I pause as he struggles to breathe. “I’m not even there yet.”
Anya,” Wilbur says behind me, his presence even larger than he is.
I let my talent relax; Mark McTavish staggers and throws up violently to my left. He shaking and can’t seem to stop. I should probably feel bad for doing this. I don’t.

Co-worker (to manager): You know me: I'm always the first one to laugh at myself!
Me: Actually, that's not true.

During an online discussion where I argued that Shakespeare can be problematic for his era since he can overshadow many other contemporary writers, etc. who lose out on readers and exposure, I explained how Shakespeare is Buffy, and without Buffy you’d still have an entirely watchable show.
I am perhaps too proud of this terrible analogy :)

He could have had a gun,” Noah says. “He will next time?”
Because I used a talent.”
I don’t think so? You hurt his pride?”
I look over at Noah. “You think Mark might try and shoot me not because I did weird shit, but because I hurt his pride?”
You act like it’s not all some people have,” he says, soft as usual, but meets my gaze directly.
Aram teach you that?”
No.” The no is quiet; I let it be final and just walk.

I don’t know what’s going on, but everything is wrong,” she says, filling the silence with a stumble of words.

Every story about fairies gives them wings as if we could hobble them as we do angels.

The Homeopath turned out be be one of the least effective superheroes

Prompt: An intergalactic outlaw is finally captured and sent into exile in one of the most hostile regions of the galaxy. Years later, a ship on patrol crash lands there and finds the outlaw still alive.
He’s not only still alive, he’s the president.”

Honesty should be a tax on politicians.

Seeker After Truth accepts the gold. “We are mostly scholars, dealers in knowledge. I am more a warrior than most of my fellows, by inclination as well as need, Sometimes knowledge needs the sword as much as the pen, though we pretend otherwise.”

The lucky are worked to the bone. The rest have souls slough off, clothed against nakedness with eyes burning with a futility their masters mistake for energy.

Prompt: The cookbook contained no recipes
Cooking the cookbook in a broth produces a new taste that improves the taste and smell of any food.
Except ice cream. No one knows why.

Once upon a time there was a monster who was just a monster, without any tragic backstory at all.

I can’t shake the feeling we’re missing something, mostly because we’ve been here for several hours and nothing has tried to kill us yet.”

Too often I pretend to be asleep when you call.

Co-worker: *watches me put on the third band aid* “You must lead a charmed life to still be alive after all these years.”

Will you need gloves? The till has a lot of metal in it.”
I stare at him. “Are you miserly with words on purpose? Metal hurts the fae.”
Gloves draw attention. To be noticed would hurt more. For the humans.”

Sometimes all the magic in the world can just hold a scream into a whisper.

I am afraid not,” the spy said gently. “I flirt, yes, but I will not seduce. There are skills one must never use, precisely because one is so very adept at them. There are lines one should never cross, not even for your country and the safety of the world.”

Prompt: A group of adventurers attempt to plunder a tomb where a bored lich has gotten creative with his horde of skeletons.
“…. The Skeletal Centipede.”
None of us are going to make our Will Saves, are we?”

Facebook Status Updates June - July 2017

June 2017

They say hate is easy, but even after everything I can’t hate you. I swear I try, but I can’t.

I know it came to you in a dream, Jeff. But you can’t name your franchise ‘Jaysome Eats’. Trust me on this.”
But why?”
Because he - . I -. Look. It won’t go well.”
There are lots of people named Jay, I can do a bird theme. It can’t lose!”
I know. That’s what I’m afraid of.”

But I saw it, officer. The vampire just walked right in the front door of the house. I thought vampires had to be invited in!”
Normally, yes. But the front door and back door of the home are in perfect alignment, a t-intersection faces the home, it’s facing south-west and is poorly maintained.”
That’s relevant?”
A home with bad feng shui cannot stop a vampire from entering it.”

Luck lies in getting what you do not deserve.

It used to be so simple, he says, but his smile isn’t simple at all.

The last page read:
There is no monster at the end of the book. The only monster is the one reading it.

There are limits. The gods do not speak of them. The dead do not whisper their names. But to all things there are lines that must not be crossed. Doors that cannot be closed once they have been opened. Truths that cannot be uttered lest the silence after them fall across the worlds that are, that were, and even those that never existed at all.
In other words, it was a Monday. The kind that is rough at all the edges and leaves your tongue tasting like something died a slow death inside you. Sometimes that is a Tuesday. Today it is a Monday. And your shadow won’t stop giggling at the promises the darkness is making.
Some days. Some days nothing can go right at all, no matter how much it tries to pretend otherwise.

It’s like sex. People used to have sex for fun. Now it’s sperm counts and matching genotypes. There used to be love. Now … there isn’t. No one writes songs anymore. No one sings. We’re all just waiting to die, dead men who haven’t died. The signs say it’s a dead end road, but we don’t believe them.“

We stopped being friends after the second kiss.

Too verbose for six word stories.

I am scared of every wish that wishes to come true.

Is it unethical for superheroes to have secret identities?

It turned out that love was just an alternative fact, just another piece of fake news.

The funny thing about you? I mean, one of the really funny ones? The more you speak, the less you actually say.”

Finding the magical sword didn’t unnerve Jist. That the sword had a deep, growling voice and said its name was also Jist managed to do so.

I would rather if you did not demean your intelligence by insulting my own,” the dog said to the half-dragon. “What lies inside your horde right now is far worse than any tax collector. You may consider this a friendly warning, though we are hardly best friends.”
I don’t even knowing you,” Martin protested.
And yet you think I might not be a good dog?”

People say it’s easy to play pretend only when they haven’t had to spend their lives doing so.

You don’t have any enemies? None at all? Just how pathetic are you?”

I’m not scared of you anymore,” I whispered but my reflection just offered up a sardonic smile.
Aren’t you?” it asked in my father’s voice.

I walk down the street. The sky isn’t one I know but I have no idea why I think that. Sam put thoughts into my head. Whatever she is, I know that. There’s a term for thoughts like that. Intruding? Intrusive? I don’t know. The street is a Way. A path. A labyrinth because the sewer is underneath. Sewage lines, power lines, cables. Information and electricity humming below us like strands of starlight. They aren’t that. Nothing is that.
Whispers echo. I don’t think they’re mine. I think this is how ghosts feel. Walking in memories. Drowning in voices. But I’m not drowning. Not even treading water. Floating above it. I’ve never had a talent before. Surviving this seems to be mine.

I never stopped loving you.”
That’s only because you never started.”

You have your knowledge, yes, but I am afraid it has not translated into wisdom - and certainly not into being jaysome.”

They offered Sean the steroids, expecting him to bulk his muscles, but he used them to improve his jaw muscles in order to be a better auctioneer.

It doesn’t feel right. Your trick with the penny, whatever it is I do. I can scare, even hurt, but I have to be angry. If I need anger to be that, then I don’t trust it. Not what I do, not what I take from people. The world is fresh cement, and I don’t want to shove my hand into it, lest it harden leave my signature behind.” And I step back then, a laugh escaping me.
Davis doesn’t move. His parka ripples a little in the wind, mismatched clothing a strange morse code I can’t understand. A few vehicles come and leave the gas station.
Sorry. I’m not sure I’ve ever used the word ‘lest’ in my life before.”
That wins a smile, broken teeth simply a part of it. “The knowing is dangerous when it does not bring understanding. I desired power, before – well, before. And after, I wished it for revenge. I’d like to say it cost me everything, but I think I paid that long ago.” He shakes his head. “Whatever you were sent to me for, I am not that. I have no power left in me. All I know is that this – being awake, magic, awareness, yes? All I know is that it can be learned, but it cannot be taught.”

I used to like your poetry. Until you began writing poems.

You’re paranoid, Alex …”
And how would you know that if you haven’t been spying on me like everyone else?!”

I used to love your prose, until I realized you were only writing poetry.

We only lose the things we find.

It’s important to forgive but also as important to remember.

It’s not that drowning in ignorance. More that I know how much I don’t know. That I’m swimming in the shallows of a sea of knowledge just outside my reach. It doesn’t make sense, but that just gives it sense. Weight.”
The librarian pats my right hand. “There, there.”
You’re not even real.”
Well, no. But many important things aren’t real. And I am real enough, which is more than many real things can say. Do you think you are more real than me, Brodie?”
Only on Mondays: it’s easier to be real on Mondays,” I mumble.
Nonedays are important,” the librarian says. I have no idea which of us is joking anymore. Or if either of us ever were at all.

No. Not like this. You’re not getting away with this!”
And only Jack fell down the hill as Jill kicked him in the heteronormative ownership paradigm.

The only thing I was taught to revere is silence. Silence was not golden but sacred. You were seen, and there to be seen, and that was the end of it for my mother, my sister, myself. Proof my father could parade before strangers, though I was never certain what we were proof of.
I learned that every question was answered with a blow, but I never learned to stop asking. I think my father respected that in me. I don’t know. I just know we valued different things, and drifted into different waters. I’d like to think I don’t hate him but I don’t know anymore.
Too much has been wrapped up in too much. The past wishes it could be as simple as chains.

You could trust us,” the aliens said as though trust was the easiest thing to master.

I used to pretend. To play pretend, the way we all do. That things can make sense. That things do make sense. That the universe has order in it. That’s what every conspiracy is, at the heart of it: at attempt at order, at meaning. Because if there is a purpose - no matter how terrible - it makes us feel like part of something bigger than ourselves. We swallow those lie without considering it, often enough. And pretend, so very hard, that it’s our lies that aren’t lies at all.

If all the news one hears about a religion is negative, then one isn’t hearing all the news.

You pretend every door is not a gate; I pretend every window is a wall. Breaking things down to essentials perhaps, also, loses too much.

I’m tired,” was the note she handed to him that began the divorce proceedings.

You asked me for a surety but I had only words. We never drown in water. I ask you for a promise but you only have a laugh. We were made for each other, circling in a frenzy. We have such power to hurt each other in the most wondrous ways. I thought we’d learned things but we never did - except how to make it all worse.

Once upon a time, there was a queen who tried to have no secrets from her people.

The joke pretended to be funny without insulting anyone.
It died trying to avoid being meta.

It is – difficult. To be here, in this city, far from my home. It is not a far walk, but even so it is far away in many ways. There is the world I know, and there is the one you know. The desire for adventure always at war with the promise of security.”

July 2017

The moment when an idea pops into your head. You write it down, then google it and realize a small number of other people had the same idea and thought before you. But even so:
Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chain stores.

He fought it. Each year, he did, but the disease blindsided him every time. Oh, they said it wasn’t one but he knew sickness when it came upon him.
Even if everyone else called it patriotism.

I never want to lose you,” I said
You won’t,” you replied.
It was only later that I realized your words hadn’t been permission for me to install the GPS tracker under your skin.

Having begun, in a fit of terribly-advised nostalgia, to watch both Ewok Movie, I have come up with a theory: these movies were the first draft of A Force Awakens and the human daughter (Cindel) is Rey.

I apologized for how I treated you but I had been certain you were only a NPC.

They said revenge was a dish best served cold. But revenge was not gazpacho.

Your silence pretended to have fangs underneath the sulk.

When dealing with a bureaucracy, never accept no from someone without the power to say yes.

Some days, if we try very hard, we can pretend that silence has any lustre to it at all.

Every funeral has been an exorcism for the last four years. And only I know that it is all your fault.

At your wake I spoke only in memes knowing it’s what you would have wanted.

It is far better to be open to knowledge than to be closed by belief.

You talk about fear as though you have never been afraid at all. And yet you wonder why I have never trusted you.

She looked away. “It’s not that I don’t love you. I do. It would be easier if … not easier, but. I wish, sometimes, that we had never learned to speak. Everything must have been easier before we complicated it with language. Sometimes I think we invented words solely to hide what we mean. What is language if not a means of trickery?
"You speak volumes with silence. I can’t. I try, but words spill out like bandages I can’t place over wounds. I wish I could drink of silence but my tongue gets in the way. It’s not that … it is … I am … just go. Please. Just go.”
The mime walked away. And mined nothing at all.

The Lawyer’s Lament:
Our marriage fell apart when you asked me about prenuptials, and I charged you by the hour.

You were the only save state I ever wanted to save myself at.

Once upon a time there was a dragon who refused to burn down villages until the merchants guild sent a representative to explain the concept of rents and market forces.

Satisfaction Index: removing Norton Antivirus from a computer.

There are videos on the internet purporting to be proof that Alex Jones and Bill Hicks are the same person. (Aka Jones died and was replaced by Hicks.)
I am now awaiting video proof that Ken Ham and Richard Dawkins are the same.

Heroes can retire; monsters never can.

I tell people that I don’t listen to music. And it’s true, except that I listen to you. And that is all the music I need.

We recycled hope only to see it turn into desire.

Once upon a time there was a dragon who invented coffee just so humans would have the energy needed to keep up with the elder races. What they lacked in longevity, the dragon reasoned, they would make up for with vigour.
History does not relate if the dragon came to doubt this gift, or question whether it had been a gift at all.

Ed accepted the offered power to punish the guilty, not realizing until too late that it did not come with the ability to determine who was guilty or what they might be guilty of. He did terrible things to every lawyer he encountered as a matter of principle.

The start of an rpg session :)
It is late in the afternoon as the two of you saunter into the Broken Pony at roughly the same time. The air is cold and bitter outside, the sky grey with the promise of rain or snow. Hot meals are being shouted from shops and doorways, clothing sellers preparing for the oncoming winter. A few enterprising ones shout that, “Winter Is Coming!” Only for people to yell back: “WE KNOW!”
Inside the Broken Pony there is the usual gaggle of messenger boys and girls huddled by the fire and sharing a drink between them. Locals and merchants at varied tables busying themselves with deals and plans. Omar is behind the bar, serving drinks and nods hello to each of you. Elfboy is already at the For Hire table, drinking a hot toddy.
A couple of darts games are being played against one wall - the bets in copper pieces only and the streets outside full of caravans trundling goods from the farms in the eastern reaches of the city to the other districts. Winter is, at least, generally a decent time for For Hires. The colder weather and people being cooped up indoors once storms hit tend to lead to situations that require … certain services.

The vampire murdered the children who dared to call themselves millennials when they were not a thousand years old. The media and those who hunted the vampire did not understand.

You have no idea what you are dealing with here.”
Heh. You act as though that would make me care.”

You are suffering, she said, as if the world was not proof enough.

Concept: Anime version of Anne of Green Gables where she becomes a giant monster that terrorizes Tokyo.

Me: Finishes writing 800+ words of notes and mapping out small town
Me: … this isn’t going to be a short story, is it?

The forest gathers about us. Trees old and new, the road a slice of human power between them all. The forest is so solid here, it’s hard to think a town is around a few bends, even if it is barely a town at all. Hard to believe we managed to force our presence into the woods at all, even though we’ve done so much more than that the whole world over.

The nightmare on elm street turned out to be the traffic congestion caused by the installation of a roundabout.

Me: *puts on jacket* "Kind of need this to cover deposit bag when taking it to the bank."
Co-worker: "That's easy for me: I just put them in my purse. But I guess guys can't do that."
Me: "Just another way we've been oppressed by the matriarchy."

You are the only language I want to be fluent in.

They said you had to learn defeat in order to win. Lose, and gain it all. But he never believed that koans were truth.

We pretended our secrets were sins because sometimes it was all that kept us sane.

You want magic? Tap your debit card against a machine. Swipe left on your phone. Kids these days. You pay too much attention to movies. That’s all the wand one ever needs. ”

You said you wanted to exchange currency as though love was not a barter system. I said history was half the way between a dreaming and despair. You accused me of poetry, gut-punching a dozen words before I could coalesce truth. I said I was sorry knowing the word was nothing at all.

The only thing we ever hide from is the truth.”
He said that, and I made it a mission in life to show just how wrong it was.

The Deal turned out to be not what he expected. The gift to draw, to bring images to life on canvas both real and virtual. It had come to him, but the cost was that he could only draw very niche fetish art.
Some days, he almost thought it worth it.

If you tell me your secret I might forget my own.”

I told people we broke up because I cheated on you. It was easier than explaining it was really because of how you cut your toe nails.

today in typo-land…
Gerry – my husband – he’s in Appleford getting groceries, puppies, all of that. We run out quickly of course, with the McTavishes next door.”
. puppies, supplies, same thing, right? :)

You don’t understand. People don’t,” Wilbur says, and there is no judgement under the words. Somehow, that makes them hurt more. “I’m a magician, yes. The only magician in the world who deals with ghosts, and some day I will come into my own and have the kind of – of authority other magicians have. I will be a power in the world, in my own way.”
I nod. I know this much; we all do. I wait for the rest.
And for all this power, for all this magic within me and without, I’m never going to feel that I am more powerful than food.” His gaze flicks down to his belly, back up to me. “Even if I diet, exercise, fight the war against caloric intake: even if I do all that, it won’t change anything. Food is always going to be stronger than me. I’m always going to want it, even more the magic wants me to be a magician.”

Well, I’ve lived long enough to know the world is far stranger than people give it credit for being. A family friend of ours swears blind that he once has a ski lift talk to him and that the ski lift told him it was a dragon in disguise,” Edith says.
Wilbur chokes on a scone, gulps tea. “Not – ah, not that weird,” he gets out. “How would that even – never mind. We deal with weird things that actually happen, not stuff that’s more made up, like humans in lizard skin suits or chemtrails.”
Or bigfoot?” Anya says dryly.
We met one of those, once. Wilbur shoots her a look.
I’m not saying there is anything like a ski life that is a dragon, but Something doing a weird prank wouldn’t be unheard of. Maybe.” She shrugs.

I admit to using you. I sold every photo I took of you to a stock photo website.

I hated him so much I wouldn’t let him put a face to the pain he had caused. But no one seems to understand: I tell them about how delicious this revenge is and they just punch me and say I am at fault!”

She smiled. “I write fanfic about our lives; it’s the only thing that keeps me married to you.”

You tell me the truth is sublime when I know it must taste as good as lime, that the key to truth is a key lime pie.

We always run out of songs before other things.

i never fell in love with you. it took me years to understand that I had only loved the moment rather than the man. hearts ache only for what they cannot have - as true for the arteries as for my feelings. i saw you, thought i loved you as your spirit but it was - your moustache. i fell in love with the freedom you showed in your milk moustache and not with you at all. sometimes i try and draw one on you but it’s never quite the same.

They said it was a failed exorcism but the ghost I trapped inside me is the cure for loneliness.

You can’t hurt people with facts,” I continue. “And if you had half a brain you’d have figured out I can’t do normal either, but you didn’t even think to try. There’s no such thing as an invisible illness, just people who are dicks and never pay attention. Sometimes the worst of those don’t even have a dick at all.”
Susan stares at me in shock, but only for a moment. “I was being nice to you, since I’m not sure which one you sleep with to get your freak on,” she sneers.
I sigh. I can hear Noah move, know he’s going to say something soon. “If you came here just to insult, go home. You’re not even good at it. You’re going to resort to swearing soon.” Susan’s mouth snaps shut on whatever she was about to say.

I’ve spent my whole life wanting power, wanting magic. I knew it existed. I read grimoires, I became wiccan, I hunted the dark corners of the internet and you just – you woke up one way and had it?” She steps forward, hands clenched into weapons. “You can do things no one else can and you don’t even know why?”
I don’t move. “Being a magician isn’t like having a talent. It can be sought, but it can’t be found. The same is true of talents, I think. It’s not about how much you want it, Becky, or even what you do with it. It’s about how much you think you deserve it. You wanted power, and that’s not the same thing at all.”

Stop bugging me,” Jared shouted at his sons, which is when he he discovered that he had the power to turn people into bugs.
It did not help him finish paying the bills.

I don’t want to win. Winning is – is easy. I want to not lose. For no one to lose. We get what we want, so does the Entity, same with everyone here.”
Hold on. Winning is easy?”
Bullies do it all the time. With brains, or brawn, or – or whatever else. It’s easy to win, but all that does it make you enemies.”