Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 16

The next person to come see me was Sandra. She came in quietly and sat down beside me in the chair, trying not to wake me but I was already awake. When I said hi, she got startled and screamed. Timothy came rushing in, followed by Drew and they demanded an explanation in unison. Sandra explained the situation and they left the room. She turned to me and apologized for causing such a ruckus. I smiled and shrugged the best that I could considering my horizontal position.

“Still in a lot of pain?” Sandra asked gently and I nodded. It was generally easier not to think about or dwell on the amount of pain I was in.

“I’m sorry to hear that, but I wanted to tell you about something that I overheard the other day that I thought you should know.” She said, lowering her voice into a whisper.

“Yes?” I asked her, trying to sit up even more in the bed. I was hoping that she was going to tell me something regarding Drew’s command to shut me up in the room.

“Drew and Timothy were arguing yesterday about what was the best method to help get you better quicker – which they’ve been doing a lot lately. Arguing, I mean.” She was beginning to ramble.

“Yes?” I tried to egg her on. “Yes?”

“Well, they were in the middle of the argument.” She continued, snapping back to attention. “And Timothy asked Drew why he was being so stubborn about listening to other ideas. He wanted to know why Drew thought his plan was best. Timothy asked Drew, ‘What makes you so certain your plan will work?’ and you know what Drew said?”

“What?” I asked. The anticipation was giving me a headache and I silently wished that Sandra would just tell me.

“Drew said that it had to. He told Timothy, “It will work, I’m sure it has to. I wouldn’t be attempting it otherwise. Trust me on this Timothy, I have her very best interests at heart.’ You know how he sealed it and silenced Timothy?” Sandra asked me. I was disappointed because I hadn’t learned any additional information and I wasn’t reassured by Drew’s confidence.

“How?” I asked without any enthusiasm.

“Drew said that he wouldn’t try anything that would end badly because he loves you. ‘I love her,’ he told Timothy and when Timothy said that we all do; love you, I mean. Drew said that Timothy didn’t understand him correctly. He told Timothy that he didn’t just love you, but that he is in love with you. Isn’t that exciting?” Sandra said and I nodded, smiling. The news was a little comforting and reassuring, but I had no way to know if Drew had been telling the truth or if he was just trying to make Timothy go along with his plan.

Sandra left my room smiling and I slid back down into the middle of the bed. I attempted to roll over onto my left side, but the pain became unbearable and I rolled back. It was amazing that I hadn’t gotten any bed sores from being in the same position for such a long time. I knew that I had been laid up in bed for at least a week, but something told me it had been longer.

After Sandra, Andrew and Freddie came in. The conversation with them was centered around small talk and football. When I was awake we carried on small talk; when I was asleep, they talked about football for a while. The two boys left the room claiming that they were going to play football, but I was pretty confident that they just wanted to get out of there and couldn’t think of a better excuse. As they walked out the door, I drifted off to sleep and didn’t wake up until the next morning as Michelle came in.

“Hey.” She said timidly. Michelle and I had never really talked since our initial encounter.

“Hi.” I told her and used my left hand to indicate the chair. “Pull up a seat.”

“How’s your day been?’ She asked sitting down.

“I don’t really know.” I told her honestly. “I’m not even sure what day it is or how many times I’ve been awake today.”

“Oh. It’s Friday.” She informed me. “I don’t know how much you’ve been awake today. I think I’m the only one who you’ve actually talked to.”

“Then I guess I’m good. Did you want to talk about something certain?” I inquired, wanting to get straight to the point.

Michelle just sat there quietly for a couple minutes, picking her words carefully. She had a small sad smile on her lips and I wondered what was going through her head. She was only two years younger than me, but she had been through a lot in her life. She lost her mom six years ago and then had to be tested by Sikal. I felt like she had been dealt a harsh hand in life. Her voice broke into my thoughts and pulled my attention back.

“There wasn’t really anything certain that I wanted to talk to you about,” She told me sincerely. “I just thought I’d come hang out for a little while. I’m kind of on my own out there in the main room. Sandra and Paula are closer in age so they hang out and act like moms to Katie and the guys all just kind of sit around brooding.”

“Guys are generally odd like that.” I said to her and she smiled.

“That’s true, but aren’t girls our age supposed to just sit around and talk about them? Shouldn’t we be focused on finding boyfriends and getting married?” Michelle asked and I tried shrugging again.

“I don’t know. I guess we’re either supposed to be doing that or focusing solely on our careers claiming that we have no interest in guys until we’ve gotten settled in a decent job.” I said, quoting some of the things I’d heard.

When I first became a telemarketer phone operator, I was surprised by the number of people who will listen to the entire advertisement spiel before they just start talking about their lives because they don’t have anyone that they feel comfortable opening up to. My first call like that was pretty awkward, but I got used to it. I even gathered a couple of numbers for phone counseling that I could refer people to. At this moment, I was wishing that I could go to work; anything would have been better than lying in bed doing nothing. I was ten years old again and sick with the flue. My mother said that I couldn’t go to school for the fourth day in a row and I began praying that I’d get better just so I wouldn’t be so bored anymore.

Michelle had stood up from her chair and headed for the doorway. She had probably noticed that I was having a hard time staying focused on the conversation. At the doorway, she paused and looked back at me.

“Hey.” She said, trying to get my attention.

“Hmm?” I mused aloud.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad or even this way.” She said quickly and closed the door behind her. That was the moment when I started realizing just how bad things were. I wished I had asked Michelle when the battle had taken place. Had it been weeks 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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 15

I thought about the other magic mortals and tried to decipher who would break the easiest. If I was going to figure things out, I needed to talk to one of them that would crack under pressure or sympathy. Those were the two methods that I was going to try; if I couldn’t threaten one of them into telling me, then I would try to make them feel bad for me and offer me an explanation to console me. Either way, I needed to know what was happening to me.

I decided that Katie would be the easiest to crack, but the least likely to actually know what’s going on. I had to move on to my second choice. Timothy had looked annoyed by Drew’s plan of just closing the door, so I thought that he might let some information slip through frustration. I chose him as the one who I’d be grilling for news.

Slowly, one by one, each of the magic mortals would come to see me. I felt like I was on my death bed and they were all saying goodbye. Some of the conversations were awkward as people tried to be chipper and other ones felt genuine. It was clear that no one realized that I had heard the plan to shut me away, but I didn’t let on that I knew. I would have to save that for my discussion with Timothy.

The first person to come see me was Katie. I guess maybe they thought she should go first so that they could do damage control afterwards if need be. Just in case Katie mentioned anything she wasn’t supposed to, the people after her could cover it up.

“Tada!” Katie said, springing into the room. She was wearing a soft pink dress and some of my jewelry. She had clearly been playing with my makeup before coming into the room.

“Well, don’t you just look stunning?” I asked jokingly as she climbed up on the bed.

“I hope you don’t mind. I borrowed a few things.” She admitted, indicating a necklace, some lipstick, blush, and a hair barrette.

“And stole some.” I pointed out, gesturing toward her made up face. “You can’t borrow makeup because you can’t return it.”

“That’s true.” She said, sliding the hair barrette into my hair. “You look pretty.”

“Thank you.” I told her smiling. “What brings you in here?”

“Just came to hang out. Everyone else is getting boring and they’re always moody and arguing.” She said simply and I began to envy her innocence and naivety.

“So you thought you’d come see what little ‘ole me was up to?” I asked her.

“Yeah.” She gently placed her hand on my bandaged abdomen. “Does it still hurt?”

“Everyday.” I admitted sadly. “But I’ll be fine.”

“You will?” She asked and I could tell that she didn’t believe me. I wasn’t sure if I believed myself.

“Absolutely. Just a little time to heal and…” I let my voice trail off as I noticed a tear rolling down Katie’s face. The others had been right to plan for damage control; Katie obviously knew something that I wasn’t being told, but I felt wrong trying to weasel it out of her. Instead, I just asked her what the tears were for.

“I-I d-don’t know.” She said sniffling.

“You don’t know why you’re crying?” I asked her soothingly.

“I’m just sad for you, that’s all.” She told me, stroking my hair affectionately and letting her hand linger on the hair barrette she’d placed there moments ago. She quickly corrected herself. “I mean, I’m sad for you because you got cut. It wasn’t fair.”

“Oh. Yeah, that happens sometimes. Life not being fair and all.” I told her.

Katie gave me a hug and said she’d see me later before she left the room. I was alone again for a little while. I realized that I was starting to be overcome with self-pity. I felt like my friends were providing me with a death sentence instead of trying to help and there wasn’t much I could do about it because I was too weak to even get out of the bed. It took all of my strength to get up and go to the bathroom each day. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just take me to an emergency room. Sure it would look slightly odd that I had a giant slash across my stomach surrounded by fire burns, but it wasn’t anything that wasn’t feasible to do without magic. The doctors at the hospital would be able to help, but no one even seemed to be considering that route as an option.

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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, February 9, 2010

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 14

I don’t know when Drew made it back into the bathroom; I woke up back in bed. The only light in the room was a soft amber glow from a nightlight plugged in next to the door. I slid myself up in the bed and rested against the headboard. I was confused about how I’d gotten from one location to the bed. It was like having temporary amnesia except I didn’t know how long it had lasted. Was I in the bathroom earlier today or had it been a couple of days ago? I had no way of knowing; no one was in the room to ask and I couldn’t shout loud enough to try to get anyone’s attention.

I fell back asleep and woke to the sun streaming into my room. I assumed it was only a couple hours later. Drew sat in a chair near the bedside and gave me a small smile when I looked his way.

“How are you feeling?” He asked me, pulling the chair across the floor and closer to the bed.

“I’m pretty goo-” I started to tell him I was fine as a sudden pain shot across my body. It began in my stomach and shot out in various directions like a spider stretching its legs. My body jolted and I felt myself twitch back and forth. I couldn’t communicate the pain I was feeling. It felt like a bomb had been placed inside of my body and just detonated. Or at least, it felt how I imagined a bomb might feel like going off inside my body. I wanted to scream but it hurt just to open my mouth.

“Talk to me!” Drew was screaming. I wanted to tell him that I couldn’t; that it was too painful. “Give me some sort of sign!”

From the corner of my eye, I saw Timothy rush into the room and I wondered if he’d been in the place the whole time. He saw me and his eyes went wide. Rushing over, he threw himself on top of me and tried to restrain my body.

“Andrew!” He yelled from his place. “Get in here. I need your help again.”

My mind clung to his final word. Again. I realized that he must be indicating that this had happened before. I couldn’t remember ever feeling this much pain before. I tried to convince myself that Timothy must have been wrong, but I was finding it hard to trust myself on anything anymore.

Andrew came dashing into the room, throwing the door off its hinges as he came. Timothy gestured toward my other side and Andrew grabbed a hold of my body. Using his own as leverage, he pushed me flat to the bed and then looked at me. Suddenly, his face went white and his eyes darted over to Andrew.

“She’s awake this time?” He asked. I could hear the panic in his voice.

“That’s not important right now.” Timothy replied and projected his voice in the direction of the door. “Freddie bring the straps in!”

“Ten steps ahead of you as always.” Freddie joked as he glided into the room. Stopping two feet from the bed, I saw his mouth drop momentarily. Within seconds, he was back in action and the three boys strapped me flat onto the bed.

I was thankful for the straps even though they confused me. Because I was forced to lie flat, some of the pain was gone. My body wasn’t lifting up and slamming me back down forcefully any longer. The burning pain within the confines of my body was still intense and severe but I tried to focus on the conversation that the three guys were having instead.

“It’s worse.” Freddie commented; the first one to say anything after they had strapped me down.

“She’s awake.” Andrew said again.

“I can see that.” Timothy replied harshly to both of them.

“What do we do?” Freddie asked no one in particular.

“Nothing.” Drew said quietly from his chair. I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t helped them.

“You expect us to do nothing?” Andrew demanded.

“Doing nothing isn’t going to help her!” Timothy said forcefully and turned to face Drew.

“It’s what we should’ve been doing from the beginning and it’s what we’re going to do from now on.” Drew’s voice was calm and steady, but determined. Andrew, Freddie, and Timothy looked like they wanted to protest, but hung their heads in defeat instead. “We do nothing.”

“Is everything okay?’ Sandra asked from the doorway. “Katie asked and I told her it was fine, but she won’t believe me unless I check.”

“Everything’s going to be fine. I promise.” Drew said glancing at each one of them.

“Okay.” Sandra replied.

“After this attack is over, you each spend a little time with her and then we close this door.” Drew said pointing at the bedroom door which connected the room to the rest of the building. “And we don’t open it. We leave it closed, understood? If it’s easier for you, you can leave, but this door does not open again until it’s over. Sandra, tell the rest of them too. I’ll come out and talk to Katie in about five minutes.”

Andrew, Freddie, and Sandra nodded. From my place, I could see Timothy’s jaw clenching and I thought he might say something; instead, he bit his tongue and left, slamming the door behind him. When the door was closed, Drew sighed and glanced over in my direction. I didn’t understand what had just happened. I had figured out that something was going on with me that they wouldn’t tell me, but I didn’t know what it was or what would make it end.

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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, February 7, 2010

Winter Contest Winners!

Our winter contest has ended and we have some winners to announce. Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Keep an eye out for new fiction and new contests in the future!

The Wolf Pack (in honor of Howling) goes to Borostyán!!

The Ghost Pack (in honor of Night's Final Hour) goes to Claire!!

The Magic Pack (in honor of Anthromagic and The Memory Keepers) goes to Donna at Bites!!

We hope you enjoy your prizes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Anthromagic ~ Chapter 13

The rest of the battle I’ve been told in parts. Drew told everyone not to talk about it, but none of them listened. Tismen told me a couple things, Lady Anilesa wrote me a letter with some coded descriptions that I spent weeks trying to decipher. Timothy and Freddie gave me descriptions in a tag-team fashion. One would stand outside my door while the other one sat beside my bed and described events to me, and then they would literally tag each other and trade off duties. It was amusing and made my smile despite my grogginess. Eventually, the one who provided me with the most description – and the goriest details – was Katie. She came into my room one evening and crawled up in bed with me.

“Want to hear a story?” She asked, sliding under the covers.

“I don’t know Katie, I’m pretty tired.” I informed her. My body still felt like it had been put into a blender, frapped, glued back together and then dropped off the top of Mount Everest. The biggest problem was that I felt like no one put me back together after the Everest fall.

“Are you sure?” Katie pleaded. “It’s about one of my three heroes. And it’s a really good story. I promise.”

“Do you pinky promise?” I asked her, clenching my hand but letting the pinky finger stick straight out.

“I haven’t pinky promised in years.” Katie said, sitting up with her knees folded under and immediately wrapping her own finger around mine.

“Well, now you have. Let’s hear your story.” I said as my eyelids drooped.

“Ok. It was a dark and stormy night.” She began and then stopped, cocking her head to the left. “Actually, that’s not true. Let me start over.”

“Go for it.” I said sleepily.

“It was a cloudy, overshadowed day and the troops were all gathering. The hero of the story didn’t know it, but there was a plan and everyone was ready to carry out their duties. Even if it meant dying a horrible death where your bones crush together smashing your organs until your skin stretches so tightly that it rips and splits and your guts some squirting out and making a mess all over –”

I held up my pointer finger and indicated for Katie to be quiet for a moment. My stomach was already queasy and she was making it worse. Jumping up from the bed, I attempted to make my way to the bathroom. As soon as I was standing vertical, my head became fuzzy, my vision blurred and I felt like the room was swaying back and forth in front of me. I could feel that I was about to pass out, but I couldn’t form words to try and get help. I felt a weird since of déjà vu from the battle when I was wounded. Remembering the battle left me feeling panicked which, luckily, prevented me from fainting, but also, unluckily, left me trying to catch my breath.

Holding on to various furniture items as I made my way into the bathroom, I slid down onto the cool tile floor and leaned back against the wall. I didn’t think I was going to vomit anymore but I couldn’t just stand in the room. I probably should have just sat back down on the bed, but my mind wasn’t functioning right at the time. From my place in the bathroom, I heard Drew talking to Katie.

“What happened?” He asked her. Drew sounded worried and stressed. This whole endeavor was really starting to tire him.

“Nothing.” I could barely make Katies voice out through the plastered wall.

“Katie!” Drew snapped at her. “Tell me what happened right now or I’ll…”

“Drew!” I managed to speak up as loud as I could.

The bathroom door was open within two seconds and Drew was on the ground beside me. He put his hand to my forehead and shook his head. “Are you okay? You should be in bed.” He advised me.

“I felt like I was going to be sick.” I explained quietly.

“Do you still feel like that?” He asked me.

“No. But it’s cooler here, if it’s okay, I’m just going to sit here for a few minutes.”

“Okay.” He said standing back up and looking down at me. There was a sadness in his eyes that frightened me. “Just knock on the wall if you need me.”

I nodded and rotated so that I was positioned in a corner between the bathtub and the wall, leaning against both for support. I closed my eyes and heard Drew and Katie talking again.

“Katie,” Drew started the conversation and I could tell that he was trying to be quiet and calm but there was still an edge in his voice. “What happened?”

“I was just talking to her.” Katie said and it sounded like she was on the verge of tears.

“About the battle?” Drew asked her; his voice quivered on the final word.

“No.” Katie told him and I heard feet shuffling on the ground. From what I could gather Katie had left the room in tears. In the distance I could hear a muffled cry. I heard Drew sigh loudly and then curse quietly. I felt like there was something that I wasn’t being told. If I could get Katie to tell me the rest of the story, then maybe I’d be able to figure out what everyone else seemed to know and then maybe I’d know why they were keeping it from me. I knocked on the bathroom wall and waited for Drew to return.

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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.