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we’re all stories

we're all stories

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Quotes

 

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All Kinds of Magic (10) – Finding the door

Nick walks to the end of the stack. Seeing nothing immediately, his entire body tightens. He glances in every direction, even behind him. Hesitantly he follows the path he thinks he saw the girl take.

Her ponytail catches his eye again, taunting him, guiding him through the maze of library shelves. A game of cat and mouse. It feels as if they are going around in circles, deeper and deeper into the dark corners of the library.

He hears Logan and Aidan talking far away, their voices, whispers that echo through the books. His heart beats wildly, in expectation…of what?

Each time he sees, or thinks he sees the girl she looks younger and younger, until he thinks he’s following a child rather than a teenage girl. She still sports the blonde ponytail, but when he sees it, it glides away just a little lower each time.

And then…he slips around a stack and faces her full on, a little girl in a blue dress looking up at him, blue eyes framed in long dark lashes. A soft light surrounds her. She reaches to him with one hand.

Without thinking too much about it, he drops to his knees and offers his hand to her.

When she touches it, wraps her fingers around his, they are warm and a feeling of coming home slides up his arm and snakes around his heart.

He knows her. He’s seen her before, talked to her. But for the life of him, he can’t remember where or when.

She pulls his hand to a book on the shelf behind her.

On a row of self-help books, she guides his hand to The Secret. He pulls it out. She drops his hand and watches.

Nick flips through the book. Nothing.

He looks at the shelf and reaches his hand through the space left by the book. Running his fingers along the back of the shelf, he feels something…different.

He applies just a little pressure to the wood at the back and a piece of the paneling opens, dropping a small ornate key into the palm of his hand.

Nick pulls it out and examines it in the soft glow of the girl still standing next to him.

It is silver and slender and about the length of his middle finger. The bow of the key is as large as the pad on his thumb and carved delicately to look like an ornate skull. The blade is double-sided with more delicate carving wrapped around it like vines.

I’m pretty proud of this tiny piece of art even though it only opens the one doorway in the library that leads to the tunnels below.

The girl takes Nicks hand again.

I love leading questers through mystery. It’s just a little quirk of mine. Sure, I can pop them back to my place or guide them there myself, but it’s much more fun to watch them uncover something secret. And, of course, it keeps away the unwanted from my front door…an added security measure.

She pulls him to a corner shelf, and while looking at him with wide blue eyes much like his own, she shimmers and fades to nothing, leaving him in the darkest corner of the library, alone.

Now, Nick has to find the door all by himself.

But he’s not completely stupid.

He glances around, not seeing anything at first. Then he cocks his head to locate the voices of his brother and the girl, Aidan.

He finds them on the other side of the library, in the sunlight, glancing through open doorways into smaller rooms, still looking for Chloe.

He catches Logan’s eye and makes an almost imperceptible motion with his head. Logan nods and says to Aidan, “We can go to the front office and ask if she’s here. We don’t want to take up too much of your time.”

“It’s no trouble. No trouble at all.” Aidan says not giving any indication of leaving. “Besides, on Saturdays, she may not even check in at the front office. It’s not like you clock in for volunteer work.” She crosses her arms and leans against a nearby shelf.

“Why do you need her anyway? Maybe I can help.”

My family is so stubborn. All Nick wants is to get rid of her so he and Logan can find the lock that his newfound key opens. But Aidan is curious as well as hard-headed, a mix I usually love about her. Part of me simply wants to let this play out, see how creative the boys can be. But another part of me, the part that realizes priority, reaches for the one person that can distract Aidan long enough for the boys.

“We think she can help us find our friend,” Logan offers.

Nick pulls out the picture he has of me. Aidan takes it, studies it, her eyebrows twitch.

Yup, she’s seen me, the real me before, but I’ve erased the details a few times.

“She seems…familiar, but…I don’t think I can help you.” Aidan memorizes my face, files it away for later.

A voice from the front of the library calls, “Aidan?”

Aidan’s reaction is instant. Her breath quickens. She stands straight and pushes past the boys. Where her arms touch them, they can feel the tension in her body. She puts herself squarely between them and the voice.

“I’m here,” she says, walking quickly.

The boys follow her. When they see who belongs to the voice, they go into warrior mode, weight on toes, hypervigilant.

The vampire takes their measure, reaches out for Aidan’s hands, which she ignores.

“Yes, Mr. Morgan?” she says, something in her voice disturbs all of them.

“They need you on stage.” He looks her over carefully, as if determining her health and well-being.

“Sorry, boys. Hope you find Chloe.” Aidan moves quickly into the hallway as if knowing the vampire will follow her. As if she knows she cannot leave the three of them alone together. Her steps accelerate and the vampire follows, leaving the boys alone in the library.

“Dude,” Logan says breathily.

“I know,” Nick responds, “but we’ve got something else right now. Garret said it’s important to find this woman quickly. And I think I’ve got something.” He shows Logan the key in the palm of his hand. It glitters in the sunlight.

“Where did you find that?”

“Behind The Secret,” Nick grins.

“What?”

“Nevermind. Help me find what this unlocks.” Nick leads his brother to the corner. They both pull out penlights and start examining the shelves, the walls, the books.

A few silent moments later, Logan lets out an excited exclamation.

Between the shelves along the walls are old fashion-looking sconces. Back when lights like this were popular, switches would raise or lower the wicks inside brightening or softening the light. These aren’t old. Just made to look antique, the switches that look like the bows of keys merely turn them on and off, separate from the main switch on the wall next to the front desk. One of these sconces lacks a switch.

Logan takes the key from Nick and slides it into the hole meant for the switch, glances at Nick and turns.

The shelf to the left of the sconce pulls back into shadows and slides to the side leaving the black hole of the entrance.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2014 in All Kinds of Magic

 

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thoughts of the moment

thoughts of the moment

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Quotes

 

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voices

articulate voices

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Quotes

 

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All Kinds of Magic (9) – Looking for Chloe – Chapter Two

Built into a hill, Vernon High’s four floors sit upon it like steps. The top faces east with a little back road that leads to the faculty parking lot. The bottom overlooks both the stadium and the baseball field. The road from two larger parking lots to the north curves in a switchback between. The hill is so steep it requires hiking boots to navigate it with a reasonable expectation of not falling on your butt. Therefore, concrete steps lead from the school to the stadium and faded crosswalks intersect the roads between.

Even on Saturday, the high school bustles with activity. The Decathlon team tosses trivia questions at each other while cleaning and rearranging Mrs. Greenfeld’s room. Scales echo down the corridor from the band hall. Pep Squad, cheerleaders and Drill team clean the stadium before their day of practice on the field. Volunteers for the student-run school play run back and forth to the parking lot, pulling out tools and supplies to build the stage.

When the ancient-looking pickup pulls into the switchback, only a few guys notice the smooth roar of its engine, the complete lack of nasty exhaust normally puffing from the muffler on something so old, and comment on the random colors of its external pieces. The driver’s side door is black and the engine’s hood a deep blue. Beneath it all, the original frame seems to be a dark green. It looks like the boys just picked the best puzzle pieces from a junk yard, and buffed them all up.

This is where my vantage point works well. If I back up just a bit and let emotions and thoughts fade into the background, the foreground becomes full of interesting physical/magical responses.

No matter their physical locations, magical beings react to the boys as they park and get out of the truck strolling through the parking lot.

Werewolves sniff the air. Shapeshifters cock their heads, listening to the ether. Dreamwalkers lift their heads and turn in the boys’ direction as if they could see through walls. A semi-permanent substitute teacher rises from his chair behind a desk and moves to the window side of his room. He slides his fingers through the slits of the blinds and stares out into the parking lot.

A girl, pulling out a box from the trunk of her car, stares at the boys as they walk past. She lets the box slip through her arms and drop to the concrete, spilling its contents of random props for the play and tools for building and painting.

Nick reacts instantly moving quickly to her side, picking up hammers, tape, a staple gun, an empty liquor bottle with a cork. An old electric fan, the weight in the box, tilts precariously and Nick rights it before putting pieces of the mess back inside. He lifts it with ease and no intention of returning it to the girl.

In the shadow of the trunk’s lid, the girl looks average if on the short side. Nothing spectacular draws anyone’s attention. But when she drops the lid and the sunlight hits her full on, her hair sparkles with natural highlights. All shades of red and blonde dazzle through the base brown. Large grey eyes peer at Nick as if studying him through the strands that had come loose from the barrette holding back her amazing hair.

Nick barely keeps himself from flinching.

“Thanks,” she says softly. “I can take it.”

“It’s no problem. Just tell us where you want it,” Nick says.

The girl pauses for a moment. “Well, since you’re offering, there are a few other boxes that can go.” She meets Logan’s eyes over Nick shoulder.

“Sure,” says Logan hesitantly, as he moves to her car.

The girl pops the trunk again, falling into its shadow and pulls two more boxes from the darkness.

Logan stacks them and pulls them from the trunk. The boys wait while the girl closes the trunk and moves to the side of her car to pull out an old floor lamp from the back seat.

The car chirps when she presses the fob on her keychain as she walks to the front doors of the school.

“We’re going to the auditorium, if you don’t mind.”

“No problem,” Nick says again.

As soon as they pass through the glass doors, hallways open up on both sides of the foyer. In unison, all three heads swivel to the left where a teacher stands in the shadows of the unlit hallway.

The girl’s hand tightens on the lamp. She forces her eyes forward and keeps walking. She barely registers Logan’s whisper, “Vampire.”

Nick responds just as quietly, “Not our main problem right now.”

As they pass the front office, both boys examine the people inside through the glass wall. The person they are looking for is not there. Maybe this girl would know where to find Chloe.

They follow the girl up two flights of stairs and through double doors that open through the back onto the lively stage filled with students focused on individual and small group tasks.

“James!” The girl calls into the audience where a couple of people circle a light board and small table with a laptop open before them. “Got the lamp and the fan. Where do you want them right now?”

The boy calls back, “Closet, down stage, left.”

The girl turns to the boys and pulls the fan easily from Nick’s box. She motions to a table to their left and says, “You can put those boxes there. I’ll be right back.”

The boys share a look as they watch the girl walk to a closet and hide the lamp and fan inside. They place the boxes on the table while watching her closely as she stops and talks to a few people on her return.

“Thank you guys so much. You just saved me a few trips. My name is Aidan. Can I help you now?”

Logan steps forward and takes her hand in an almost-but-not-quite-handshake. He wraps both of his hands around her small one. “I’m Logan and this is Nick.”

She pulls her hand from his and peers at his face.

Nick grabs her attention. “We’re looking for Chloe Hunt. Her brother says she volunteers here sometimes.”

“Sure she does. Don’t know if she’s here today, though. She mainly works the library.” Aidan swivels on her heel and finds the dark head of another girl. “Celia, have you seen Chloe today?”

“Nope, haven’t been by the library,” Celia responds without lifting her head from her position on the floor over a diagram, “That’s your haunt, not mine.”

There is a significant pause in the conversation. Celia looks up and takes note of the boys. She smiles warmly.

Nick feels a somewhat familiar tickle at the base of his neck. He rubs at it, notices the wrinkles between Logan’s eyebrows and tries to place where he’s felt this before. But then it is gone and Aidan turns back to them.

“I’ll show you where the library is. We’ll see if she’s here. And again, thank you so much for carrying those boxes. They were pretty heavy.”

The boys share another look as Aidan heads back the way they came. Back through the stage doors, down the hallway and up another flight of stairs. Being Saturday, most of the lights are off and through the hallways lined with large windows, there is plenty of light so that no one notices the lack of electricity.

But in the hallways that were built into the hill, it is so dark, Aidan flicks on the flashlight app on her phone. It dances as she walks, throwing shadows better than a torch. She never holds it up, never faces it forward. She merely carries it at her side and lets the light play in the darkness.

They pass an entrance to another hallway. Something flickers in the corner of Nick’s eye. He stops. He peers through the darkness to where the hallway opens up with light through windows. Nothing moves. Nick shakes his head and takes a few longer strides to catch up with Logan and Aidan.

They turn into the library that takes up half of one floor of the school. To the left is a row of windows overlooking an inner multi-leveled courtyard. To the right, the front desk, sits empty. Stacks of books cover the desk. A wheeled shelf sits behind it half full of returned books already checked in. A closed laptop sits atop a random stack of papers. A desktop pc takes up part of the desk. A bobcat, the school mascot, paces back and forth in the screensaver on the monitor. The only light is the sun shining through the windows. The back of the library lies in darkness.

“Is anyone here?” Logan asks.

Aidan purses her lips. “Don’t know. But we could look around a bit.” She leads them in a systematic tour through the darkened part of the library. “There are smaller rooms off the main one, hiding behind all the contemporary fiction. We can check reference first. It’s just over here.”

As Nick takes a step to follow, something again catches in the corner of his eye. This time he glimpses a long blonde ponytail disappearing around a stack in the far corner.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in All Kinds of Magic

 

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yours

nobody else

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Quotes

 

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self doubt

self doubt

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Quotes

 

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