Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spread the Word

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Winter Contest!

We are extending the contest started at the beginning of December! There are more ways to enter and bigger and better prizes than before. So, without further ado, here are the new dates, guidelines, and prizes for the contest:

Dates:
The contest will run until January 31, 2010


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You must comment on this entry that you would like to be entered into the contest. If you do not comment on this post, then we will not enter you into the contest. Please leave a method of contacting you (email, livejournal, blog, twitter, etc) for if you win.

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The Prizes:
We have divided the prizes up into three packs, related to the stories you've seen on Two to Write. The top winner will get his/her choice of a prize pack. The second place winner will choose from the remaining two packs and the third place winner will get the remaining pack. Additional packs may be added throughout January.

The Wolf Pack
(in honor of Howling)

This pack includes a t-shirt, stuffed wolf, custom graphic, and feedback on 3000 words of your writing.

The Ghost Pack
(in honor of Night's Final Hour)

This pack includes a bag, snow globe, custom graphic, and feedback on 3000 words of your writing.

The Magic Pack
(in honor of Anthromagic and The Memory Keepers)

This pack includes a notepad, necklace, custom graphic, and feedback on 3000 words of your writing.


Good luck!

Feel free to ask any questions!

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 8

The next morning, Drew showed up at nine thirty with breakfast and a duffel bag. Curious, I tried to sneak a peak into the bag but Drew blocked my attempts and handed me a biscuit.

“You’ll see what’s in there in a little bit.” He told me, sliding the bag behind his feet. “Trust me, you probably aren’t going to find it fun anyway.”

“Fine. I’ll eat, but then you have to tell me what’s there.” I agreed and bit into my breakfast.

“We start training at 10:30 sharp. Be ready.” He told me and then took his cup of milk into the kitchen to put it in the sink.

“I’m ready whenever you are.” I informed him.

“Fine. We’ll start now.” He said, pulling the duffel bag out from under the couch. “This is what we’ll be using for training.”

Unzipping the bag, Drew pulled out a giant axe, a mace, and three small daggers. Twirling one of the daggers, he grinned and then set the rest of the contents onto the table.

“Worried yet?” He asked, smirking.

“Slightly. What are we going to do with those?” I inquired.

“Train. You’re going to be fighting Sikal without magic. It’s not going to be an easy task. You’ll need to be just as physically fit as you’ll need to be mentally.” Drew clarified.

“So I have to train with weapons?” I demanded. “I’m starting to think that I might not be up for this after all.”

“You’ll be fine.” Drew attempted to reassure me. “Starting out we won’t use the weapons, it’ll just be strength training with some cardio and things like that. Gradually, we’ll move up to using the weapons with some dodging and aiming practice.”

“I’m trusting you on this one.” I let him know. “If anything happens though, you’ll have to live with the guilt associated with my death.”

“I won’t have to worry about that.” Drew informed me. “Also, along the way, I’ll be introducing you to some other people who have gone up against Sikal. Are you alright with that?”

“That’s fine.” I started, curious. “How do you know so much about all of this though?”

“Just experience.” He said offhandedly. “That’s all.”

“Okay.” I said, unconvinced.

That morning, Drew and I began our first hardcore training session. We jogged, biked, ran, and boxed. It was rigorous, but Drew acted like he was just a daily routine for him. Every activity we did, Drew did with ease; both intimidating and impressing me. By the end of the day, I was completely worn out; every muscle in my body ached from the strenuous activity.

Coming into my apartment, I collapsed onto the couch and Drew offered to make some dinner. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat anything but to help himself to the sparse ingredients in the kitchen. It had been a little while since I’d been to the grocery store. He fixed dinner and I sat in the living room contemplating the idea that I had just begun a very eventful journey.

With seven weeks left before the duel, we started with serious cardio training for the first week and I met two other mortals that had been tested by Sikal. Andrew was a twenty-two year old who had been tested by Sikal two years ago. During his test, Sikal created an illusion that made the entire apartment building look like it was quickly engulfed in flames. Andrew, torn between which residents to save first, used his magic to relocate the apartment building to an abandon plot of land, leaving numerous mortals suddenly standing on the street completely baffled by the disappearance of their homes. Just as Andrew used his magic, the time limit wore off. His soul was safe.

Michelle had only been seventeen when she was tested by Sikal. A mirage of her mother appeared before her and appeared to be having a heart attack. Luckily, Michelle was able to identify that it wasn’t her mother. Her mother had died two years earlier in a car crash; one detail that Sikal clearly didn’t know. That was what had prevented Michelle from losing her soul that night.

Both of the people I met that first week of training had been incredible. Their stories had deeply touched me, but also made me feel like I was an even bigger failure for not having been able to outsmart Sikal. Drew told me not to focus on this; that Michelle or Andrew could’ve easily done the same thing, but it didn’t make me feel much better. I was sure I was going to lose this battle.

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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 7

I had two months to figure out how I was going to defeat Sikal and absolutely no plan. Drew and I had put off the inevitable; I still had my soul intact. The entire next week, I didn’t see Drew. He wasn’t at work, he didn’t pick up his phone, and he wasn’t at his apartment (which I had found using some detective work). I was starting to worry and becoming a little freaked out. I began wondering if Drew had made me stand up to the demonlord to simply abandon me, but after that first week, Drew was back at work bright and early when I stopped in to grab my coffee.

“You’ve been gone for awhile.” I stated, stepping up to the counter.

“I have.” He said, automatically handing me a Mocha Latte and refusing my money. “Use it to get a better apartment. I’ll come by this evening and we’ll talk about the plan.”

“I guess I’ll see you then.” I told him and headed on toward a tedious day at work, calling more people about more random services that I wouldn’t even waste my money on.

That afternoon when I got home from work, I tried to straighten up the apartment some. Ever since the morning when Drew showed up there, I had been a little embarrassed about the horrid conditions. My apartment was literally in shambles and I hadn’t even stopped to notice before. I did the monstrous pile of dishes in the sink and hid the dirty clothes in the closet. Leaning with all my strength against the closet, I hoped it would stay shut. As I walked away from it, one door popped off the rusty amber hinges, letting shirts, socks, bras, pants, and other remnants file out onto the floor. Muttering about wasting my time, I gathered up the discarded items and shoved them back into the cramped closet. Pulling ribbon from a drawer in my bedroom, I rigged the closet door in its proper place and tied the two doors together so that they would stay shut. The bow I tied around the door handles looked like it might pass as a decorative display.

Drew knocked on the door as he walked in and I tossed the remaining ribbon under the sofa in the living room.

“Anyone home?” I heard his voice flow through the apartment.

“In here!” I shouted and realized that I was attempting to straighten out my shirt.

“I brought Chinese.” Drew said, sliding to the ground by the coffee table and setting out a buffet of delicious Chinese food.

“Good choices.” I observed. “Lots of options.”

“I figured we’d be here a while trying to come up with a plan. We might need the leftovers to reheat later.”

With that, we both scrounged down some food, anxious to discuss methods on how I was supposed to beat Sikal without using any magic whatsoever. I was hoping that Drew had come up with some sort of plan or ideas, because I had zilch.

“So what’s the plan?” I asked, finishing off an egg roll.

“To train. To train everyday and every night until you’re ready. Sikal is going to be expecting some sort of trick or deception, but we’re going to be straight about it. You’ll quit your job tomorrow and we’ll start training. It’s as simple as that.” Drew explained nonchalantly.

“It’s as simple as that?” I stuttered. “You mean, it’s as simple as ‘you lose.’ That plan will never work.”

“It will work if you trust me, okay?” Looking straight at me, Drew waited for a reply.

“Well,” I said conceding, “If nothing else, this plan of yours got me two more months of freedom from Sikal.”

“That’s one way to look at it.” Drew told me standing up. “I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow.”

“You’re leaving already?” I asked confused. “But you said we would be here a while and that we might have to reheat the leftovers.”

“I thought we’d fight about it a lot longer.” He said simply.

“You don’t have to go yet.” I told him not wanting to be left alone just yet.

“I really do. I have some things I need to gather and do before we start training. I’ll be back tomorrow, I promise.” Drew headed out my apartment door just as the other closet door burst off its hinges, swung around against the other door and let the contents spill out once again.


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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 6

When the time came, Drew and I were standing outside in the alley beside my apartment building. We knew Sikal was going to protest and we needed somewhere half-way secluded to keep the events secret from the general population. Perched on some old broken chairs, we glanced at each other with small nervous smiles and then away again to wait. Sikal arrived in style. A huge thunderous clap exploded above our heads and a green light flashed as Sikal appeared in the darkness in front of us.

“Trying to gang up on me?” He assumed when he saw Drew sitting five feet from me. “You might as well head on home, kid. She used magic during her testing period. I’m just doing my job, coming here and collecting her soul. You know that.”

“What I know…” Drew started standing up. The inspiration hit me then. Drew couldn’t stand up to Sikal for my sake; that’s not what was supposed to happen. He would be interfering with fate if he did that and then he’d find himself in as much trouble as we hoped for Sikal to be in.

“What I know,” I echoed jumping up and silencing Drew behind me. “Is that you won’t be taking my soul. At least not tonight.”

“Well, missy, when did you get so brave while in my presence?” Sikal asked, shocked by my demeanor.

“When I realized that you’re just an old demonlord, subjected to the same laws of the universe as the rest of us.” I explained, gaining confidence with each word that left my lips and built the threat.

“What is your point?” He asked, coming closer and towering over me in an attempt to intimidate me. “Or are you just trying to further delay the inevitable?”

“My point,” I started calmly and without anger in my voice. “Is that you, in a very clever move which played on my mortal weakness of empathy, tricked me into using my magic. Neither you nor I can prove whether or not I would have used my magic if that flaming car had not materialized in this alley. With that said, you chanced altering the fate of a mortal, which goes against the order of the universe and the law that we all are bound to.”

Sikal stood there, taking in every single word that I said and probably looking for a flaw in what he thought was my logic. In reality, I had Drew to thank for my success.

“Sikal,” I said, for the first time in my life, addressing my demonlord by name. “I wonder what his majesty would think if he knew what you had done. I wonder what flaming consequences you’d have to endure.”

“What is your point?” Sikal exclaimed, displaying his fear.

“I want to make a deal.” I told him without hesitation.

“A deal? You want to make a deal with me?” He repeated.

“A bet of sorts, if that’s the terminology you prefer.” I clarified.

“I’m listening. Let’s hear this deal of yours.”

“Here’s the deal,” I said, preparing to make another deal with a devil. At least this deal was one that I had a choice in. “I want a duel. Between me and you. I bet that I can beat you without my magic. If –”

“Without your magic? You’ll automatically lose!” Sikal laughed devilishly. “You want to make a bet you’re bound to lose?”

“If,” I started again, but nervously looked at Drew. He nodded slowly in order to make sure that Sikal didn’t notice my need for encouragement. “If you win, you get my soul and no one tells the King what you’ve done. However, if you lose, I get my soul, no questions asked. Now, with my destined to lose, I see no reason why you wouldn’t agree to the deal, but, if you find yourself scared or nervous and decide not to agree with the bet or you back out at a later date, then his Majesty will find out that you chanced fate. Understood?”

“Understood and,” Sikal thought for a moment. “Agreed.”

“Good.” Drew and I said in unison and Sikal flinched with the slightest ounce of worry.

“You’ll be seeing me in two months.” Sikal said, setting the date for our duel. “And, Miss, remember that by then I’ll be stronger!”

“Oh, I’ll remember.” I reassured him as he disappeared into the darkness. He was a lot less fancy in his exit than he had been about his entrance. I took that as a good sign.


Creative Commons License
Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Among Monsters

Among Monsters


Life used to be simple for me. I used to be able to walk with freedom, void of fear. And then he came into my life. He was the one who opened the door to all things scary. He was the one that showed me there were monsters in the night. He was the one I fell in love with.

He told me life would be simpler without him in it. I didn’t understand at the time what he meant by this. I understand now. And I wish that I could go back to the day I met him. I wish I could do it all over again and tell him no. But regrets solve nothing and time travel has yet to be invented.

* * * * *


“Have you ever thought about starring in your own fairy tale?” He asked me from across the table. I just stared at the newcomer, wondering how to respond.

“You mean like a movie?” I asked, stirring my drink.

“No, I mean like a real-life genuine love story.” His smile was perfect in the crowded room.

“I don’t think those exist,” I said, looking around for my friends. They seemed to have disappeared, leaving us all alone in the crowded restaurant.

“They can if you allow them to.” He picked up the menu in front of him, shielding his face.

“Right.” My voice dripped with hesitation, but I had no escape plan for this situation.

“So, what’s good here?” He dropped the menu and smiled at me. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

“I don’t know. Depends on who’s paying.” I watched as his eyes lit up.

“I think you should,” he replied, laying the menu down on the table in front of him.

“I should?” I asked, surprised by his response.

“Yes,” he replied. “And I’ll cover the next check. I promise it’ll be a nicer restaurant.”

“The next check?” I asked, regretting bringing up the topic of the check.

“Yes, the next check.”

“Are you asking me out?”

“Are you accepting?” His smile was getting wider by the second.

“Depends on when and where.”

“Tomorrow night,” he replied, looking around. “Meet me here and we’ll venture forth from there.”

“And you’re paying?”

“And picking the location.” He stood to leave. “I’ll see you then.” He was gone before I could give him a straight answer.

* * * * *


This mysterious guy was the first thing I discussed with my friends when I returned home. They were the ones that encouraged me to meet him the following night. I wish I hadn’t listened to them.

* * * * *


He was standing outside of the restaurant when I arrived ten minutes early. I had been hoping to use those ten minutes to gather my thoughts and prepare myself for the night. Instead, I seemed to have gained ten minutes of a date.

“You’re early,” was the first thing he said when I walked up.

“So are you,” was my reply.

“You ruined the surprise.”

“What surprise?” I was curious to know what this stranger could have possibly planned for a surprise.

“I was going to be romantic and leave you a trail of something. It was going to lead you to the restaurant,” he replied, gesturing to a pile of cards in his hand.

“Where did you get the idea to do that?” I asked, wondering why this guy was so strange.

“The movies. And books. It’s really been used in quite a few places,” he replied, smiling.

“But rarely ever is it used on a first date,” I replied, thinking of the few instances I could recall from favorite books and movies.

“True. Which would have made it an even bigger surprise.” His smile was wide again and glowing white in the night.

“I suppose so,” I replied, stepping closer to him to avoid being in the walkway of the sidewalk. “Why would you want to waste so much effort on a girl you don’t even know?”

“Because you’re perfect.” His smile softened. “I can already tell that you’re right for me.”

“That’s just a tad bit creepy,” I replied, stepping away.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, his voice even and smooth. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t,” I replied, looking around. “Let’s just get to dinner, okay?”

“Okay,” he replied. I watched as his hand reached for mine. I shoved mine into my pocket and hoped the night would become smoother as it progressed.

* * * * *


The night did become smoother. But, the weeks to follow only became more complex.

That was the beginning of a rocky road that led me to the world of monsters. It led me to the moment when he told me the truth.

* * * * *


“I’m a vampire.” He said it plain and simple under the glow of a full moon. I looked at him and accused him of joking. He insisted that I believe the truth.

“You can’t be a vampire. They don’t exist,” I told him, looking up at his dark eyes. “They are just a myth told to children to keep them in at night. They’re not real.”

“They are real.” His voice was even and extremely calm.

“Prove it,” I retorted, with my hands positioned carefully on my hips.

“Okay,” he said, curling his lips into a smile. His smile widened, revealing his teeth. Among them were pointy incisors, extended beyond the rest of the teeth. He looked like the perfect vampire, with his teeth gleaming in the moonlight.

“You really are a…?” I let my voice trail off as I took in the sight before me. Andrew was wearing a dark tux from our formal date that night. Add a cape to his ensemble and he would have been the poster boy for Dracula. It was an eerie sight.

“I really am,” he replied, his voice huskier than before.

“I have to go.” I ran and stumbled until I found my way home. He didn’t follow me.

* * * * *

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 5

The next morning I woke to the smell of blueberry waffles and the sound of a hammer. Startled, I jumped up and tumbled out of bed, tangled in my blanket. With three short dashes down my miniscule hallway, I swung into the kitchen and saw Drew hammer a nail sticking up from the floorboards.

“What are you doing?” I shouted over the thud of the hammer. Clearly, I startled Drew who brought the hammer straight down on the hand he was using to balance himself.

“Trying,” He started, clutching his hand and grimacing. “To fix your floor.”

“Oh. Sorry.” I apologized and scurried over to the kitchen to fix a cold compress for his swelling hand.

“Thanks.” He said, taking the towel and gesturing toward the apartment door. “You really ought to lock that.”

“I know.” Smelling the waffles again, I turned to the stove and found nothing.

“Other way,” Drew instructed, taking my shoulders and turning me toward the two-seater kitchen table.

I had been wrong. It wasn’t just the smell of blueberry waffles that woke me. It was the smell of waffles, muffins, French toast, eggs, and bacon all spread out in a beautiful display on my rickety little table. It looked like a juxtaposition painting done by some cynical artist. I felt like crying. Again.

“I’m going to lose, aren’t I?” I guessed.

“What?” Drew asked baffled.

“With Sikal, I’m going to lose. Why else would you fix me such a nice breakfast and try to fix my pathetic little hovel?” The tears were already flowing from my eyes and I couldn’t even try to stop them. I sank down in one of the kitchen chairs and slumped over its back. I took a large bite out of one of the muffins, causing the tears to gush out even more rapidly from the sheer delicacy of a simple muffin.

“If you were going to lose, I wouldn’t bother trying to fix your apartment because you wouldn’t be coming back to it.” Drew explained rationally.

“Oh.” I said and realized that I must look like a complete wreck, sitting there eating a muffin in my oversized shirt, crying with my disheveled hair. I swallowed hard and stood up. “I’m going to go get dressed and brush my hair and, maybe, shower and…”

“Don’t.” Drew said, pointing toward the chair with the hammer. “Sit and eat. You look adorable. Except for the tears. I could do without those seeing how they’re unnecessary, but if you insist on crying, then go ahead. Just make sure you eat too.”

“But…” I started and Drew shook his head, informing me that I had no excuse that he would accept. “Okay.” I sat down and started eating.

Drew poured us each a glass of orange juice and sat down across from me, carefully balancing himself on the broken chair.

“Sorry about that.” I apologized. “I don’t get company often.”

“I noticed.” He observed. “Why do you live like this?”

“I don’t know.” I told him, honestly. I really didn’t know. I made enough money that I could’ve afforded a better place; I had just never put in the effort to find somewhere nicer.

“You should move.” He pointed out the obvious while I munched on some French toast. “I should.” I agreed.

“But you won’t?”

“I didn’t say that.” I corrected.

“Looks like it’s something I’ll have to get you to work on.” He proposed.

“Maybe.” I grinned.

For the next few hours, Drew and I just hung out, relaxed and talked about how I was going to approach Sikal and how I would lay out the plan. Each minute brought me closer to my task at hand and made me feel that much sicker. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started using magic three years ago.



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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Memory Keepers: Prologue

Prologue

I was nine when my grandmother first told me I was special, eleven when I started to believe in magic and thirteen when I became a memory keeper. But, I didn’t realize what a special gift this was until I was sixteen and the memories and cares of another rested on my shoulders.

My grandmother was my only connection to the world of memory keepers growing up. As a child, I watched her every move to learn more about my destiny. I was by her side as often as I could be, watching and learning. She never spoke about what she was doing. Instead, she would say that experience is the greatest teacher. I wouldn’t understand this until I was much older.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t my grandmother who made me see that magic was real. It was my mother who made me believe. We were sitting on the living room floor, watching one of those movies based on fairy tales. I commented that those things don’t happen in real life. She was quick to come back that fairy tales do come true – you just have to know where to find the magic. I giggled at the mention of magic and she raised an eyebrow. Within seconds, she was sharing several different stories of her past. At the center of each story was my grandmother, portrayed as the heroine of the tale. I was in awe.

I knew I would come into my abilities at age thirteen, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my life. A memory keeper is able to experience the memories of any given individual with simply a touch of her hand. With enough practice, this power can also be extended to inanimate objects, which hold more memories than any human. After years of watching my grandmother in action, I was well aware of the abilities I would be gaining. However, I wasn’t aware of the sacrifices I would have to make. My grandmother had made it look so easy.

The first person I touched was my best friend at the time. We were in middle school and things were rough. Girls were catty and boys were suddenly interested in the girls. Rumors flew on a daily basis and people were betrayed weekly. I was sitting in the cafeteria beside Anna, my best friend. We were in the midst of our lunch and I asked if she had a spare napkin and she passed one my way. Our fingers grazed for only a second, but that was all it took for every one of her memories to come flooding into my mind. It was a painful experience as my brain went into overdrive.

My body shook with the emotions of each memory and the people around me seemed to jump away. I don’t remember much after that because I passed out and woke up in the nurse’s office. The school called my mother, worried that I suffered from panic attacks or something. My grandmother was the one who met me in the office. She drove me home and we didn’t speak a word. My mind was reeling with something I had discovered in my best friend’s memories: betrayal and backstabbing that had been going on for months. Needless to say, that ended our friendship.

I isolated myself for months, avoiding everyone. I would immediately jump back if someone got too near and I refused to do any contact sports in gym. As a result, I ended up failing my first class that year. My separation increased when my grandmother passed away and I withdrew further into myself. My mother tried her best to pull me from my self-imposed isolation but nothing seemed to work.

I did eventually pull through and began to find new ways of avoiding people that were not as jumpy. However, I continued to avoid contact with others as much as possible. Burdens lie hidden in the memories of others. People can suppress these burdens and bury them deep within themselves. I experience all of a person’s memories when I touch them, even the ones that have been suppressed and forgotten. Nothing is kept from me and that is something that I must live with everyday.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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The Memory Keepers by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 4

“Honestly?” I told myself not to get my hopes up or I’d only be disappointed.

“Yes.” I heard Drew say. My mind was wondering about what the possible loopholes could be. Did this mean that I wouldn’t be losing my soul after all? After five minutes of mindless explanations, I heard Drew calling my name.

“Hey! Hey! Are you still there? What happened?”

“Nothing.” I said glumly into the receiver. “Just getting my hopes up so that I’ll be good and disappointed as usual.

“Why don’t you try listening to me first and then see how you take the news before making any judgment calls in advance?” Drew questioned my logic.

“Fine. Let me have it.” I prepared myself for his explanations. Maybe I’ll only have to lose half my soul, I mused to myself.

“Sikal tricked you into using your magic, right?”

“Yeah, so?” I asked him. Was it possible that demonlords had rules too?

“Okay. So technically, he might have altered the course of fate….” Drew trailed off.

“True.” I agreed.

“You might not have ever used your magic if he hadn’t created an illusion where you felt the need to save someone.”

“Yes, Drew. I know all of this already. Can you just make your point? I’m tired and depressed and would like to spend some time enjoying my soul before he gets here to collect it.”

“Listen to me. No one is allowed to alter the course of fate. No one. No mortal who practices magic, no demonlord, not even the King of Magic. It goes against the order of the universe. No one is even supposed to chance altering it. So, because Sikal took the chance, he could be in huge trouble with the King of Magic. The kind of trouble that ends with Sikal burning for eternity. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“No.” I said straight. “I see what you’re saying, but I don’t know where that leaves me. It’s not like I can set up a meeting with the King of Magic and complain about how the demonlords are being mean to their mortal charges. The King of Magic doesn’t have time for stuff like that and you know it, Drew.”

Disappointed and angry with myself, I hung up the phone. I instantly regretted it. I shouldn’t have been taking my emotions out on Drew who was just trying to help me. His plan seemed like complete bogus to me though and my narrow mind was only focused on me at the moment. Five minutes later the phone rang again.

“What!” I bit into the receiver. “I know I shouldn’t have hung up on you but I just can’t handle this right now, okay?”

“Not okay.” Drew snapped at me. I’d never heard Drew mad before and it frightened me a little.

“You need to shut up and listen to me for a couple of more minutes.”

“Fine.” I resolved. “My life is over in a few hours, what’s a couple more minutes on the phone with you?”

“You can challenge him. Make a bet with Sikal. As a demonlord, he’s prone to being arrogant and chauvinistic. Play on those qualities. Make a bet with him that you can beat him without your magic. If he wins, he gets your soul and you won’t tell the King. If you win, you get to keep your soul. If he won’t agree to the bet, then you’ll tell the King. It will work.” Drew explained his plan while I listened and tried to find flaws in it.

“You think that will really work? Who’s to say that Sikal won’t just kill me on the spot? He has that kind of power.” I pointed out what seemed obvious to me.

“He can’t. You really know nothing about demonlords, do you?” Drew asked surprised.

“Demonlords can’t kill their mortal charges; they spontaneously combust if they do. Sikal wouldn’t risk his own life over one soul.”

“How do you know so much about demonlords?” I asked Drew. When I first found out that a demonlord would have to test me in order to see whether or not I could keep magic a secret, I tried to do all the research I could on them. I wanted to know their strengths, their weaknesses. Heck, I wanted to know where they lived and what they ate for dinner. But I only found one book on demonlords and it was less than helpful. Drew, on the other hand, seemed to know more about the demonlords than Sikal probably did. It intrigued me and made me wonder what else I didn’t know about him.

“I’ve just picked stuff up over time. Small Freudian slips from Sikal and little tidbits from other mortals about their demonlords.” Drew explained carefully. I got the feeling that he wasn’t telling me everything but decided that now was not the time to push the issue.

“So I should challenge Sikal to a bet?” I asked, returning to the issue at hand.

“You should.” Drew confirmed.

“It sounds easier and safer just to let him take my soul.” I complained.

“It would be.” Drew admitted. “If you don’t value your soul at all.”

“I guess I do. Some.”

“Do you realize what you’d be without your soul?” Drew wanted to know.

“Um,” I hesitated. In reality, I had no clue what I would become when I lost my soul. Vampire don’t have souls, but I’m pretty sure that’s a whole different story. I realized that I didn’t know if a demonlord has a soul or not. What would I become without a soul? “A vampire?”

“No.”

“I know. It was a silly answer, but I don’t know what I become.” I admitted.

“You would become a hollow shell. A demon. Servant to the demonlord who took your soul. Sikal would forever hold your soul in a vault and you would forever serve him. Is that what you want? To be stuck saying ‘yes, Sir’ to Sikal?” Drew’s speech was not raising my spirits any.

“No. I don’t want anything to do with Sikal.” I told him angrily. “Do you honestly think I want to lose my soul?”

“I don’t think you do. Which is why you need to make this bet with him. When he comes to take your soul, that’s when you throw the plan on him, got it?” He asked me.

“But what if he doesn’t listen to me and automatically steals my soul anyway?” I pointed out to Drew.

“I’ll be there with you.” He clarified and I found that I was actually reassured by the mere thought of Drew’s presence.

“Oh. Okay, I guess I’ll do it then.” I told Drew with a flicker of determination.

“Good. Now get some sleep. I’ll see you in a couple hours.” Drew said through the phone.

I hung up the phone and headed to bed. I was emotionally worn. A mixture of fear, rage, and depression was surging through my body making it hard for me to fall off to sleep despite the late hour of the night. I had a big day ahead of me and I was scared. Silently, I cursed the day I had started using magic and the tears that were starting to fall from my eyes. I hated crying and, that day, I seemed to keep finding my face soaked in the salt water from my own eyes.


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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Contest Alert!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 3

My head was spinning, my pulse was racing, and I could hear my heart beating in my ears. In fact, it was pretty much the only thing that I could hear at all. My other senses were completely gone. And then, it occurred to me that Drew had gotten through this before. He had been there and he had survived Sikal.

I had to pick myself back up off the floor. When I had realized that he had won, I collapsed. With a goal in mind, I approached my apartment door. Fumbling, I tried to keep my hand steady and get the key into the slot. The first key was obviously the wrong one; it only fit halfway into the hole before it got jammed. I tried a second one and had no luck with it either. I cursed myself, knowing that I should be able to easily identify the key to my own apartment. That’s the trouble with keys though; most of them look exactly the same. After about only four different keys, I gave up and kicked the door in. I was too frustrated to take time for procedures.

Ignoring the clock screaming at me that it was already 3:30 in the morning, I dialed Drew’s number. It was late and I would wake him, but it was too important of an issue to just wait until morning.

“Hi.” Drew said as he picked up on his end. “He beat you, didn’t he?”

“How do you know I’m not calling to say that I beat him? That I lasted out the entire time length?” I demanded, annoyed by his assumption.

“Because you still have twelve minutes before your time would be up.” Drew explained rationally.

“Oh. Well, maybe I just needed support through the last stretch.” I suggested, but he wasn’t buying it.

“The last fifteen minutes are the easiest,” He explained. “That’s when most people start doing their victory dance because they know they’ve won. They know they’ll get to keep their soul.”

His reference to my lost soul hit home. He was pointing out what I’d lost. I felt the water droplets starting to form in the corners of my eyes. I vowed that I wasn’t going to get emotional about this again.

“Hey? You still there?” Drew asked, concerned by my unusual silence. “Did you want to talk about it?”

“Didn’t I wake you?” I inquired, trying not to sniffle and give myself away.

“Nope. I was expecting a phone call, so I was up.”

“Oh.” I said surprised. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow when I get my coffee then.”

“What?” Drew commented, laughing.

“I don’t want to tie up your line.” I tried explaining to him.

“I was expecting you to call. You are one complex woman.” He told me and I found that I was smiling despite my state of mind.

“I’m doing my best at it.” I told him and then began explaining what had happened within the last two and a half hours of my life. Drew was silent during the entire story, only making the occasional grunt to remark on a classic Sikal move or a random “mmhmm” to let me know that he was still listening. When I thought I had finished my story and was getting ready to move on and complain about having my soul taken tomorrow, he interrupted me.

“Wait a minute.” His voice seemed hopeful, but that might have just been my wishful thinking.

“What?”

“I might have found a loophole for you.” He explained as the static cracked in my receiver.

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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 2

Suddenly, a piercing scream erupted through the night. I dashed over and threw up my window. Sticking my head out, I could see a massive ball of fire just as it exploded on a car in the alley below.

“What the hell just happened?” I mused aloud.

“Looks like a tragedy.” I heard a cynical voice behind me.

“You!” I felt my eyes widen as I spun around to face him. “You did this?”

“Things happen.” He replied shortly.

“That’s not, you can’t just, innocent people are not –” I was trying to reason with a madman; not even a madman. I was trying to reason with pure, untainted evil. “I will not let this happen.”

Throwing open my apartment door, I made a mad-dash down ten flights of stairs and then jumped over the banister for the last flight. I tore open the door to the building and ran out into the alley, prepared for the worse.

Inside the flaming car, a young boy was screaming and pulling on the door handle. Stupid child locks, I muttered to myself, recalling other horror stories I’d heard about those things when I was younger.

Raising both of my hands into the air, I drew on the forces of wind and water. I intended to use the wind to create a vortex which would suck the oxygen out of the area, thus killing the flame. Just as humans require oxygen to survive, so do some types of fire. The water would put the fire out where the vortex failed. Just as a giant vortex formed around the car, the vehicle disappeared into the night sky without leaving a single trace behind. I was mystified.

And then I was pissed. The whole thing had been an illusion; a mirage of sorts created by him. Created by the demonlord that was probably laughing as I recalled the magic I’d used to create the vortex and annihilated the approaching storm. Looking up, I saw a figure standing in the window against the white light. Contrasting with the fluorescent glow, the demonlord was a menacing blackness, but none of that mattered anymore. He had won and now he would be coming to claim my soul. I felt cheated, but what was worse, I felt disappointed in myself. I had let the enemy win.

Meeting me in the front lobby, Sikal said, “Game. Set. Match. I win. Checkmate. Whatever it is you pathetic mortals say when you defeat someone.”

“You cheated.” I protested.

“And?” He inquired.

“Nevermind.” I told him seething and headed for my apartment.

“You’ve got twelve hours and then I’ll come for your soul.” He smiled in his own sickening way like he was laughing at a private joke. “Just so you know.”

“I look forward to it.” I spit and he actually recoiled slightly, in surprise.

With that he disappeared and I was left alone with my thoughts. If only I had held out two more hours, if only I had called for help instead of trying to deal with that problem by myself, if only I had never started magic in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Of course, all of the ‘if onlys’ in the world were not going to get me out of this situation, but I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. With only twelve hours left, what was I supposed to do? My soul had a timer on it that would go off like a bomb when he came to pick up his collections.
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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 1

I only had to make it through the next twelve hours and thirty two minutes. If I could go that long without using my magic, I would get to keep my soul. That was the deal. He told me if I could make it through the next twenty four hours without casting a spell or using any of my natural magic, then I could keep my soul and practice magic without consequence. Twelve and a half hours had never seemed so long before.

“I don’t understand what the big deal is.” I told my friend Drew at the coffee counter six hours later. In reality, Drew isn’t so much a friend as an acquaintance from my stops at the Coffee Shack. Actually, he’s more just a fellow practitioner of magic. I don’t know anything about Drew aside from the fact that he too practices magic as a mere mortal. I only know that much because I witnessed him using his magic out back in the alley to save a cat that was about to be hit by the garbage truck. Afterwards, he cussed at the cat and told it to get away, but he saved it.

“There is no big deal. It’s just what he does. As the demonlord of mortal magic, he can get away with it. Just don’t use your magic.” Shrugging, Drew prepared my usual – a Mocha Latte.

“But I’ve only ever used my magic to help people.” I protested a little too loudly and Drew put his forefinger to his lips, indicating that I should be quieter.

“Do you want to expose us both?” He demanded harshly.

“I’m sorry.” I said taking my drink and placing money on the counter. “I’m just freaking out here. What will I do if –”

“You will do what you always do because nothing is going to happen.” Grabbing my hand, Drew turns it over in his and replaces my money in my fist. “Not today you don’t.”

Sighing dejectedly, I shrugged and made my way through the crowded building. Successfully avoiding any mishaps involving spilt coffee, I exited the Coffee Shack and continued down the street toward my less than mediocre job. I couldn’t even remember how I had started working as a telemarketer. I hated having to call and harass people and they explicitly displayed their hatred at receiving my calls. At least it was a job though and it paid the bills.

At work, I redirected my yearning to use magic toward making phone calls. That day, I made more phone calls than I typically make in a week. There I was, minding my own business and trying to keep myself distracted and, because of my unusual productivity, my boss thought I was sick and sent me home. I could’ve sworn I was doomed to lose my soul.

By the time I had gotten home, I only had three and a half hours left. I made a couple stops on the way home to avoid being all alone with myself and the temptation of magic. I opened my apartment door and stood face to face with Sikal.

“I haven’t used my magic at all.” I immediately began defending myself.

“Not yet.” He arrogantly retorted, “But you will.”

“In the next three hours?” I challenged. “Not likely.”

Smirking, I slid past him into my apartment and turned on the lights. Demonlords might be able to see through pitch blackness, but my mortal eyes could not. Sikal followed me around my apartment, snickering and grunting at my actions. Standing there, feeling superior he breathed down my neck as I rinsed dishes and prepared to load the dishwasher.

“Can I help you?” I asked spinning around to face him. His five inch height advantage had me looking up to meet his stare.

“I’m just waiting.” He said with a completely blank face and then flashed an instantaneous smile.

“Waiting for what?” I demanded, suspecting that he was up to no good.

“Nothing in particular.” He informed me scrunching his nose as one side of his mouth pulled up into a twisted grin.

“Fine. Then stay out of my way.” I pushed past him and into the living room.

Plopping down on my couch, I flipped one of the pillows and stuck it behind me for support. With a lumpy couch, I found it was best to use the pillows to provide padding where it originally would have been. Stabbing the remote button, I turned on the television which hissed and snapped before a small puff of smoke flew up behind it. Cursing, I crossed the cold bare floor of the room and looked behind the set. Whatever had gone wrong with the electronic was probably an internal breakdown resulting from age; there were no visible signs of ruin. Resolved to my own despair, I journeyed down the hallway into the one bedroom. I sank onto the cool bed and prayed that the books continued to prop up the bottom left corner. Lifting and kicking the blanket straight, I laid back onto the flat pillow. Pulling the remaining cotton shreds up and over my body, my legs curled in toward my heaving chest. Sobbing, I let the flood begin and knew I’d lost the battle. I would give in to temptation and I would end up selling my soul to a demonlord.

“I’m winning.” He said, feeling my weakness.

“Bite me.” I snapped.

His deep thunderous laugh echoed through my apartment and I shivered. It wasn’t just the cold air chilling my bones, I was scared now. More scared than I had been in years. Drew had warned me about all of this when I told him I had started using magic. He hadn’t told me it would be this addicting though.

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Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Night's Final Hour: Chapter 4


Ivy Carter

“To live with the conscious knowledge of the shadow of uncertainty, with the knowledge that disaster or tragedy could strike at any time; to be afraid and to know and acknowledge your fear, and still to live creatively and with unstinting love: that is to live with grace.”- Peter Henry Abrahams


The morning service ends and people trickle out to the church yard. Graves can be seen encircling the back half of the chapel yard. A few members of the congregation head over the dewy grass towards the graves of loved ones. Others mill around the front, talking and gossiping. At times, I wonder if our town uses Sunday morning service as an excuse to socialize and gossip. Some of the women seem to live for the moment when they can gossip with friends after service.

I stand at the divide between the living and the dead, waiting for my grandmother and mother to join me. We have a tradition of our own for Sunday service. My mother started it when I was just a baby and unless you’re extremely sick, you don’t miss the tradition. In just a few moments, when they join me, we’ll venture into the meadow of the dead and locate a grave I’m all too familiar with – the grave of my father. From what I’ve been told, Daniel Carter was a great man who would have made an amazing dad. I never had the opportunity to meet him.

My father died in a car accident the day I was born. He received the call that my mother was in labor and took off for the hospital to see my birth. He rushed through traffic at a safe pace, anxious to be a dad. He didn’t see the other car coming. It was sliding and swerving on the icy roads of November. The driver had lost total control of his car and as a result, my father lost his life that day. My birthday is a bittersweet occasion, as my mother remembers my father and tries to celebrate another year of my life – another year that my father has missed.

I break out of my thoughts and look around, finally spotting my mother coming towards me. In her hand are three white roses – one for each of us. My grandmother is trailing behind, pumping her legs in an effort to keep up with my mother on the uphill climb. After they reach me, we head into the graveyard until we find the simple tombstone beneath a large willow tree. My grandmother takes a seat on the stone bench beneath the tree. My grandmother had this bench set there years ago.

I take a seat on the bench as my mother approaches the grave. She kneels beside it, placing the white rose in front of the tombstone. She talks in a hushed voice, talking to my father. I don’t know what she tells him each week – that is between him and her. There are a few moments of silence before she touches the ground above his coffin. She stands and joins my grandmother on the bench.

Grandma Lillian’s turn is next. My father was her only son and some of her only family. When she married my grandfather, she estranged herself from what remained of her own kin. Her family hadn’t approved of him, but she was in love with him. She defied their every wish to spend her life with him. He died a year before my father, leaving her a widow. After my father’s death, she moved in with my mother to help care for me. I watch as she kisses the rose lightly and lays it next to my mother’s. She wipes away a tear and returns to the bench.

I’m the last one to have a turn, as usual. I like being last – it gives me the longest time to spend with my father. The two women my father loved most rise from their bench and give me a slight nod before heading back towards the church. I like being left alone with my father. It seems silly to think about, but this is the only time I really get to spend with him. I won’t say anything to him – I don’t believe in talking to the dead, especially a dead stranger. But I will spend time with him.

The graveyard surrounding the church is the only connection I have to my father. His grave seems out of place among the aged graves of history containing stories that remain a mystery to the living. The four closest graves to my father date back over one hundred years. There is no order to the graveyard, as it was started over two hundred years ago. The earliest grave I have found in the cemetery dates back to 1782.

I approach my father’s grave, still clutching the white rose my mother gave me. I bend down in the same fashion as her and place it beside the other two roses. Three white roses now sit in front of the tombstone. I know from experience that they will be gone before they wilt. I’m not sure who cleans up the flowers of the graveyard, but nothing is left wilted as a reminder of the harshness of death and it’s ever present domain in our lives.

I back away from my father’s grave, still staring at the tombstone. The bleak gray stone looks remorseful in the shade of the willow. I take a seat on the concrete bench and settle against its back. I have forgotten about the morning rain until it soaks into my clothes from the bench. I do my best to ignore my damp clothes as I pull a notebook and pen from my bag. I look around at the graves until one stands out to me.

Ashley Hendricks
1847 – 1864
“Beloved son”


I stare at the grave which is only inches from that of my father. This young man died when he was only my age. I stare at the dates for a second longer, taking in their meaning. I recall from my history classes that the Civil War occurred around this time. It’s quite likely that this boy was a victim of the brutal war. It’s even more likely that there’s no body to match this tombstone. My pen lingers for a moment as my mind contemplates the story of Ashley Hendricks.

Ashley jumped over the log and ran faster. He could hear the others running behind him. He couldn’t tell if they were northerners or southerners. He couldn’t tell if they were on his side or not. All he could tell was that they were running after him. Was this to be his end? Was he to die in battle?

The pace of the soldiers seemed to quicken. With each passing moment, they were gaining quickly on the young, na├»ve soldier running ahead. No matter how fast he ran, the soldier would never stand a chance in these woods – they knew them like the back of their hand. They were bound to be the victors in this scenario.


I put my pen down and read back over what I’ve written. Each time I write about one of the old graves in this cemetery, I find myself focused on war. It seems that any number of them could have been soldiers that lost their lives in war. All I know of war is what I’ve seen in movies. War has never been close to me, like it was for many of these men and women. What must it have been like growing up back then?

My mother has always accused me of being too curious. She thinks I spend too much time with my nose in a book to truly enjoy life. According to her, living life to its fullest means getting out and doing stuff. It doesn’t mean reading and writing, the two things I enjoy the most. Therefore, I find myself forced to socialize and entertain at my mother’s side. Sunday afternoons by my father’s grave is the only time I’m guaranteed to be left alone, so I take full advantage of it.

I read my passage aloud to the empty graveyard. I would like to think that my father or someone is out there listening, out there enjoying my stories. It gives more meaning to the story when I feel it’s for someone’s enjoyment other than just mine.

* * * * *


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Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Night's Final Hour: Chapter 3

Benjamin Delacroix

“It's no accident that the church and the graveyard stand side by side. The city of the dead sleeps encircled by the city of the living.” - Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The distant sun sinks into the horizon and bursts, coloring the sky in shades of molten lava. From my place, I watch as the lights in distant windows flicker off. The town slowly becomes engulfed by a dull darkness, only the moon’s radiance shimmers down on the scattered homes. Across the shadowed field, an owl sits perched on the weather vane, ready to spend his waking hours. A shrill hoot resounds through the night as the grey bird takes flight. An owl is to the night what the rooster is to day; announcer of the change in time.

I stay seated in my place, patiently waiting for the chapel bell to toll the eleventh hour. At eleven minutes past night’s final hour, the world looks a little less foreign and grey to me. Rising from my seat, I stretch my limbs out of a habit formed years ago by a very different man. With one foot solidly placed on the ground in front of the other, my legs trek across the field and begin the descent of the hill. Tonight, as per most nights of a similar nature, I’m only leaving my resting place because I have a definite destination. The library will be closed at this hour; of this I have no doubts, but it is the only time when I can retrieve my next book for reading. In my six hours and forty four minutes of nightly existence, I will peruse through multiple volumes in search of a text to hold my affections for at least a week. It would be unfortunate if I had to return to the library before this time next week; I have other places that I tend to frequent on other days of the week.

My feet barely touch the cement roadway and my mind travels back to a time of cobble roads and slower days. This town has changed so drastically over the passing decades that it becomes more difficult to visualize how it once looked. Wooden cabins were long ago replaced by small homes that gave way to elaborate houses too big for the families inside. The transportation system of today is gravely different from the ones that I remember and found reason in. Large contraptions of metals like steel and copper mixed with paint and gasoline carry people from a starting place to a destination emitting fumes that are sometimes so potent that it can be seen with the human eye. Like solid boxes, the vehicles close the people inside of them off from the rest of the world; one cannot ride by and ask their neighbor how their sick mother has been. Moving from place to place on rubber supports, a car is a portable prison that people chose to place themselves in. My thoughts are listening to the rhythmic click of horseshoes against a stone cobble road when the church bell denotes the first morning hour. Shaken from my dream, I refocus my attention on reaching the library.

***

The night following my library escapade begins much in the same manner. As I patiently wait for the chapel to ring the eleventh hour, the owl begins its ascent into the night sky in search of a small field mouse to prey upon. At eleven minutes past the hour, a change occurs and I begin my nightly trek through the town of Nuitville. Just as I do every Friday night, I am making my way through the winter bitten forest to place I used to call home. Although my home could never have withstood the weather and modernization, I still visit the land where it used to stand. Today, the land has been reduced and portioned off into several homesteads.

Where my family’s small cabin used to rest, a home stands providing shelter and memories to a new inhabitant. The newest family unit, as far as I have collected, to obtain the land is calm and subdued. A simple, two story farmhouse holds three generations including a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. I have yet to collect much detailed information about the family and will probably avoid doing so. The house actually stands partially in the same location that my cabin would be located. The farmhouse is shifted slightly forward from where my old home used to sit. If the two homes were juxtaposed, the back of my cabin would extend beyond the current farmhouse. The back of the small cabin consisted of my bed chambers and a small corner porch.

Even when I lived here, my love was for the lands surrounding my home. Venturing into the forest, I remember the days when I was just a young boy creating stories in my head about the people who lived amongst the tree trunks. An original Huck Finn, I would climb the trees and sail down the river in a makeshift raft. Telling time was a little more difficult in my day and often I’d return home, late for dinner, and find myself on the frightening side of a switch. After punishment, I would go tramping back outside to the haven of the woods. Leaving through the back door, I can still picture Momma fretting, “That boy is surely going to get himself in a tangle one of these nights.”

Many nights I’d find myself climbing the grassy hill up to the chapel, waiting for the sun to declare the start of a new day. Papa would often find me, half asleep and barely hanging on to the roof of the church. Wanting to see the sun rise from the highest point in town, I would scale the wooden siding of the chapel and hold on as tight as my small hands allowed. For the most part, my tired child’s body would demand sleep before the sun would begin to peak its head over the far horizon. Now, years later, I have seen the sun rising over the town from that very spot many mornings.

***

In time, I have developed a weekly routine which dictates when I visit certain locations within Nuitville. Many years have passed since the last time I deviated from the plan I established long ago. Saturday night has, for the majority of the passage of time, been the night when I acquire a town newspaper. My intentions tonight are not to return to the library or my lands but to travel further into town to the small general store where I’ll be able to pick up the paper for tomorrow.

The Sunday paper is promptly delivered to Hank’s store on Saturdays at eleven-thirty at night which coincides with my travel hours perfectly. The small convenience store is open around the clock on any day other than the town’s Founding Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Several shifts with multiple employees ensure that someone is working during the day’s twenty four hours; however, each Saturday night, at exactly midnight, Hank goes out back of his shop and smokes the last cigarette in his weekly pack. As I creep into the store, I see the smoke wafting up over the window display; Hank’s actions are right on schedule. From the display stand, I remove a single copy of the Sunday paper and walk over to the counter. Placing all of the coins I’ve collected this week on the cold wooden surface, I scratch a note onto the corner of the paper. Tearing the single right corner from the paper, I lay the words beside the coins which explain that, with my regards, I hope I’ve left enough currency to cover the expenses the shop incurred in obtaining the newspaper I’ve taken. Venturing back into the open air of the night, I can hear Hank gagging and coughing as the ash and cigarette tar settle in his lungs. The studies scientists have done on smoking were initially incredulous to my unacquainted mind; now I question why more of the men I knew didn’t die younger.

***

The remaining days of the week pass slowly like an hourglass with wet sand stuck to its glass sides. I have no prearranged adventures for the days that come. Already I have been home again, I have obtained a book for the forthcoming week, and I a paper recounting any of the prior week’s events that I may have overlooked; there is nothing more I need to do to make my simple solitude content.



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Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Night's Final Hour: Chapter 2


Ivy Carter

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” - Hans Christian Andersen


The morning rain pitter patters against the windowsill above my head. I can hear the coffee kettle sputtering in the kitchen. It should be whistling at any moment.

There’s a rustling at my feet and a golden head pops up. Sandy’s ears perk up as she listens to the morning routine. I bury my head deeper into the pillow and drift back to sleep.

The whistling of the kettle rings in my ears, jarring me awake. Someone mutters loudly as they stub their toe. My toes are cold as Sandy greets me with morning kisses. I stare out the window at the steadily beating rain and wonder what the day has in store.

In the kitchen, I find Grandma Lilly sitting at the kitchen table with a coffee mug in her hands. She is dressed in her Sunday best, waiting patiently on the rest of the house. I pretend to mirror her enthusiasm as I place two slices of bread in the toaster. I pour cold juice into a cup and watch the droplets racing down the window.

The toaster pops, interrupting my thoughts. My toast comes up browned and ready for buttering. I butter my toast and join my grandma at the table. She smiles across the top of her cup as I bite into my first piece of toast.

My mother is the last one to the kitchen as usual. She pours herself a cup of coffee and joins us at the table. We sit in silence – them with their coffee and me with my toast.

The clock ticks above the door as the minutes pass slowly. I watch the second hand inch its way around the circle. The numbers blur together as I lose my focus and drift into a daydream.

I am shaken back to reality by my mother’s clipped tone and my grandmother’s hurried feet. We are out the door and on our way to church in a matter of minutes. My mother mutters something about the seats filling up and the need to arrive early.

Sunday service is the only one we attend because it’s expected of us. I’m not a church-goer by nature, even though I’ve been attending since I was a toddler.

The seats are filling up quickly as we step into the crowded church which is too small for the needs of the town. No one is willing to part with the past, so we continue to squish our way into the room we outgrew years before I was born.

Babies cry and mothers scold children as the congregation waits for the sermon to begin. I pull a notebook and pen from my purse, ignoring the loud sighs of my mother. I turn to a blank page and let my mind drift to the window and further still to the graveyard that surrounds the back half of the church. I know that stories and adventures await my pen.

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Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Our First Award!!

We're extremely happy to announce our first blog award!! Two to Write has received The Kreative Blogger Award! Thanks, Cynde for nominating us!!

You can check out Cynde's blog here: http://cyndes-got-the-write-stuff.blogspot.com/ It's worth the trip over there to read her blog!
We now get the pleasure of passing on this award to seven bloggers. We follow so many great blogs that it was an extremely tough decision.
Here are the rules for the award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
  2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. (below)
  5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
  6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. (below)
  7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Seven Interesting Facts About Us:

  1. One of our favorite pasttimes is attending Renaissance Faires - in costume.
  2. We finished our first full-length, co-written novel, Dancing beneath the Moon, this past summer and are currently in the process of editing it.
  3. We both plan to be teachers.
  4. We both participated in gymnastics and Girl Scouts when we were younger.
  5. Our favorite television show is Supernatural.
  6. We IM each other when we're sitting in the same room.
  7. We both have our own personal blogs in addition to Two to Write.

Passing on the Award to:

  1. Princess Bookie
  2. Editorial Ass
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. The World According to Maggie
  5. Authors Promoting Authors
  6. Elana Johnson, Author
  7. QueryTracker.net

Keep up the great blogs everyone!!

Thanks again for nominating us Cynde!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Night's Final Hour: Chapter 1

Benjamin Delacroix

“Live to the point of tears” – Albert Camus

Beside the chapel, an event is being held in honor of a young couple. Their friends and family have traveled across the nation to share the day with them. The bride, in white, has been down the aisle. The groom, decked in his finest, has smiled and said his vows. Mothers and sisters have dried the tears from their smiling eyes while fathers and brothers have tried to hide their childish grins. The ceremony has passed and eager children wait for the time to slice the cake. Twinkling lights race around the rose covered terrace posts surrounding the reception and the bride makes the announcement. Twenty girls gather in a crowd before the bride and she turns her back to them. In an exaggerated motion, building suspense, she pulls her arms down in front of her and slowly launches them up and over her head, allowing the bouquet of a dozen white roses to slide from her hands and into the air. A redhead peals with laughter as she catches the bouquet.

Across the fresh mown grass, an identical bouquet of a dozen white roses falls through the air and lands softly on the tilled dirt mound. The newly laid grave is littered with flowered affections. The redheaded widow tries to block out the spirited tunes that drift down from the wedding party, crashing into her mind and breaking the dam that holds back the tears. Free falling, tiny droplets splash in the dirt creating new mud. She stands alone, longing to return to the day when they began their life together. The jovial wedding does not ease her pain.

***

Somewhere in the distance the clock tower tolls, resounding through the small Virginia town. On the lonely hill, the chapel doors stand open to let the autumn air flow through. Sunday service starts and the sermon is preaching faith in the good Lord’s plan. The choir softly sings the gospel and the muffled cries of young babies can barely be heard over the congregation’s shuffling feet and musical voices. Everyone slowly rushes out as a crowd to find relief from the cramped interior. On the front steps, the sheriff thanks the preacher for another perfectly planned sermon and everyone leaves with their recent doubts erased. Last week’s horror was not without reason and tragedy always has a purpose. The preacher’s been reminding them so they go home knowing that the young man’s death is another part of God’s force, working His will on Earth.

***

The birds are singing a springtime melody, fit for the occasion on the hill. She stands on the front steps outside the weathered church, pacing back and forth as her friend tries to calm the butterflies forming in her stomach. Two steps below her, the bridesmaids hold the train of her wedding gown, trailing behind her with each treading step. She stops and they sigh in relief. One arm extended toward her maid of honor and best friend since grade school, she beckons for her friend’s hand. The brunette clasps the hand of her closest friend and they exchange words with just a smile. The bouquet is handed to the bride and she takes a step up. A hand held up to her eye, she shields the glaring sun and tells her friend with a teary smile, “This is my forever.”

The birds are singing a rainy lament, fit for the occasion on the hill. He stands outside of the weathered church on the moist grass and kneels down, letting the torrent of rain wash over him. Behind him, his brother places a hand on his shoulder and offers his sympathies. The man brushes the hand from his shoulder and slams a flat palm to the ground. Curling his hand into a fist, he gathers grass in his grasp and rips it from the Earth. He stands and glares down at his treacherous hand as the dirt sprinkles back to the ground below. His brother turns to the friend beside him and they both journey back toward the wooden church, seeking shelter from the rain and giving the man space to breathe. A lily rests atop the smooth stone. By the way of his calloused hand, a kiss travels from the man to the tombstone and he quietly whispers to the wind, “This is my forever.”

***

Beneath a tree, four shadows stand in an arc around a solitary tombstone. As the sun sets, they watch as the sky changes from fire to water and slowly each shadow fades to nothing until only one remains on the hill. The lonely figure approaches the tombstone and sits lopsidedly upon it.

***


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Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Introducing: Night's Final Hour

Ivy Mae Carter never thought the stories she created would ever come to life. Ghosts and spirits were just supposed to be figments of the imagination recorded on thin pages. They weren't supposed to be real. Benjamin Delacroix is certainly as real as they come though. He died on November 13, 1782, but he never left. Something kept Benjamin connected to the ground in Nuitville, Virginia. Over the years, he developed a weekly routine. He knew when he would become corporeal each night and he knew his limitations during the day. He would venture around the town, following the day-to-day events of the townspeople. He would listen to the stories that a young girl shared.
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Night's Final Hour by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Howling (7)

It took some convincing but I eventually got out of the phasing trip. I don’t think that John really bought that I am sticking behind because of an early shift at the hospital the day we return. I had used that excuse once before, but this time I could tell by John’s eyes that he wasn’t buying it.

I’m not going to bother locking myself in the cage. I know that he’ll spot me in there if I do. Instead, I travel up to the spare bedroom and await the change. If this bedroom gets messed up, it really won’t bother me. I lay down on the bed and allow myself to drift asleep. The sleep should help ease me into my wolf state.

I wake many hours later to the setting sun outside my window. I pad to the window and place my front paws on the sill, taking in the beauty of the sunset. Below me, I can see James’ car. Someone is with him – an older man. It looks like it could be his father. They are pulling a swing up to the front porch. I hear various tools working to hang the swing on the front porch. I wait until the tools stop to pad down the stairs. I stop at the screen door, wishing I had installed a doggie door years ago.

I make a low bark of frustration before sitting down and looking out the window. James is at his car, about to get in. He suddenly turns and heads up the driveway to the house. I can hear him shouting to his friend that he left the front door open. He stops in his tracks at the front door.

“You just couldn’t wait, could you?” He asks, opening the door. I walk up to him and let out a low whine. He reaches down to pet the top of my head. “Wait here.”

I watch as he runs back to his truck. He whispers something to his companion and they both start back up the drive. The other man approaches, holding his hand out in front of him. He’s allowing me to get familiar with his scent, much like you would a dog. I gingerly sniff the air and his hand. It has a scent familiar to James, suggesting that I was right about the relations between the two men. I place my head under his hand and allow him to pet me.

James heads away from me. He stops a few yards from the river and motions for me to join him and sit beside him. His arm loosely droops around my shoulders and I enjoy the feel of his human arm on my wolf back. His companion has a camera in his hand, ready to take a picture. James smiles and I give the best grin I can without baring my teeth. Wolves look vicious when their teeth are bared. The camera flashes once. His friend takes two photos – one with and one without the flash.

* * * * *


James stays with me all weekend, sleeping in the guest bed, me curled at his feet. It is too hot to sleep beside him like I want to. He keeps me fed and talks to me, trying to make out the meaning of my responses. Eventually, I nudge him out of the room, knowing that I will phase soon. I can smell food cooking downstairs as I drift to sleep.

I wake to the smell of bacon and eggs and travel down the stairs to find James standing at my stove. When I first woke, I feared it had all been a dream. Things can be a bit hazy when you recall them from your wolf memory. But here he is – standing in my kitchen making me breakfast. I look out the window and can see the swing hanging from the porch roof. I instantly recognize it as the swing from the old house.

“Why don’t you go outside and take a look at it?” James asks from behind me. “I’ll be out there in a moment.”

I make my way out to the front porch. The swing seems to fit in perfectly – as though it has been there for years. As I watch James walk through the door, I realize that he is much like the swing that I was sitting on. He’s new to my life, but he seems like he has been here for years. It is so natural for me to watch him bringing breakfast through the door. He sits down beside me and spreads the food between us.

“John, would you want to move in?” I ask him suddenly. For once in my life, I’m seizing the moment and it felt nice.

“Under one condition.” His smile spreads across his face. He has something up his sleeve.

“What?” I ask between bites.

“You marry me.” He says simply.

“When?”

“The sooner the better.” He replies, pulling me close to him. I lean in to kiss him, sealing the deal.

* * * * *


We set the date for one month later in the backyard of my house. The moon is barely visible in the sky and the stars twinkle around us. All of my friends and his family are present at the wedding. His father gives us a framed photo for a gift. It is my favorite gift of them all. The photograph shows a happy man with his arms dangled around the wolf he loves.

When I climb into bed with James, I find the perfect place for my photograph. I set in on my bedside table. That way, James and his love for me will be the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night before I drift off to sleep. I’m a werewolf married to a human – that’s rarer than you would think – and for me, every moment is like a fairy tale.

<<< Previous | End


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Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Howling (6)

He arrives at my door at the exact time we agreed upon. I’m so excited that I’ve been dressed for hours. None of my friends know where I’m going. I know that over half of them will disapprove greatly.

We ride in his car, eventually ending up at an abandoned house. I don’t think I can find my way back here if I want to. It’s hidden somewhere in the depths of winding dirt roads.

I ask him about the house the second we pull up to it. He informs me that it is just an old house that he came across during a hike. There are no signs warning against trespassing and he knows nothing about the owners. Like me, he can only guess about the terrors this house has seen.

He pushes open the front door for us and I follow him inside. The living room is small and charred. In the middle, a picnic for two is set up. Champagne is positioned in the middle surrounded by two pillar candles. James immediately lights them and the room quickly aglow.

James cooked the dinner himself. It is a lavish spread of various Italian dishes. Some I have seen before, while many are new to me. I enjoy most of them greatly. Following dinner, James suggests exploring the house.

It isn’t a loved house. It’s a house that people forgot long ago. The wood is rotten and charred in many places. There’s an eerie smoke smell that lingers in the house. Mildewed furniture is scattered and strewn about the rooms. The only thing that is still useable is the front porch swing.

We fill the rooms with stories of times gone by and eventually end up snuggling on the porch swing. It is well into the night before we find our way back to the car and head home.

* * * * *

We go on five more dates before he takes me to the old house again. When I ask him why, he tells me that tonight is going to be a very special night. We eat a lavish spread once more and retire to the porch. He asks me what I like about the old house.

“I love this swing.” I tell him, leaning my head on his shoulder.

“So, this swing.” James rocks the swing slowly. “What else do you love about this house?”

“I love that I’m sharing it with you.” I smile up at him, bringing my lips to his.

“Anything else?”

“Why are you asking?” I’m completely intrigued by the randomness of his questions until something hits me. “You’re not planning on restoring this place are you? You’re not the owner.”

“No, I’m not the owner. But I am thinking of doing something – just not remodeling a dilapidated house.” James says, pushing the swing back with his feet. “I’m thinking of surprising you.”

“Good luck with that James,” I tell him, pushing the swing back with my own feet. We find ourselves deposited on the floor soon.

“You’ll be in the mountains for the next full moon, right?” He asks, with a gleam in his eye.

“Yes. Why?”

“Because that seems like the perfect opportunity to surprise you.” James obviously has a plan. And it is a good one if it involves the full moon and me. I’m going to have to find some way out of going to the mountains. I want to watch James try to pull off a surprise.

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Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.