I wish I could write like this all the time.
Not the style or the content of the story. The process.
When I started this, all I had was a vague idea of a feeling somewhere between sorrow and rage. Hardly the basis for any kind of plot.
But I went with it. I let the feeling flow and I took a step. Then another. The scene unfolded and before long I was gliding along a river, carried by a current I didn’t even know was there until it swept me from an eddy and propelled me downstream.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to write like that.
It was nice. More than that. It’s been a rough week, and I needed the catharsis of this specific writing session. It was like the universe saw my need and gave my muse a little jolt.
Vye delivered, as she does when it matters.
As for the story, I like it. I hope you do, too. But as is always the case with fiction, there’s more going on than the tale. Even if this particular piece is pure shit (I don’t think it is), I’m grateful for the experience.
Also, I rarely say anything here about world events or political matters. I tend to regulate that kind of thing to my personal Facebook wall where it’s nearly guaranteed to piss someone off.
However, I’m heartbroken today. There’s been far too much violence in recent weeks, from the Orlando nightclub shooting, to unexplainable events earlier this week in Minnesota and Baton Rouge. And then, last night, tragedy hit close to home right here in Dallas.
My struggle to understand the senseless violence that resulted in multiple fatalities at a peaceful protest is part of what fueled my rage when I sat down to write. I doubt I’ll ever understand what drives people to think violence is some sort of answer.
It never is.
Whatever your views or opinions on political matters, racial issues, gun control, and a host of other hot buttons, please, please, please make this a time to set aside differences and recognize that our nation is clearly sick. We will only find recovery in unity.
Let’s find a way to stop the violence.
That’s not much of a segue into fiction, but it’ll have to do.
Peace to you and those you love. Sympathies to the victims of recent violence everywhere.
My veins are on fire. There’s pressure on all sides, and I’m not sure if I want to hit something or cry.
So I scream.
Not a polite little yelp, and not the kind of shrill cry for which horror vixens are known. No, this is guttural. It’s deep and rough. Spittle flies from my lips as my jaw opens impossibly wide. I can feel the origins of it deep in my torso.
I push until there’s no air left in my lungs. They’re far more empty than any cleansing breath I’ve ever taken during some damn yoga class. I pause before the inhale and it feels like time has stopped.
There’s Jonas. He’s got the business edge of a knife pressed against Yara’s throat. Blood beads along the gleaming blade where it bites into her skin. He’s grinning like a predator, all teeth and hungry eyes.
Yara is the picture of peace. She trusts me more than I can understand. This isn’t the first time she’s been perilously close to death, dependent on me to save her. Even as the first wave of pain hits, she blinks like a cat bathing in the sun.
Saskia’s there, too. She and Jonas are inseparable. I can never tell if he goads her on or if she goads him. Either way, they are the Molotov and the match. The combination is bound to be destructive and difficult to contain.
My eyes are fixed on Yara’s neck, but the entire room is open to my field of vision. It’s like I’m looking at it through a panoramic lens. Jonas and Yara are about five feet away, dead center. Saskia’s a little further away and to Yara’s left.
I can’t get to both of them at the same time, leaving Yara in a tough spot.
To make matters worse, I don’t have any more magic left in me. While it’s not literally true that magic drains some kind of life essence, it’s exhausting. To the best of my knowledge it’s never been studied in a proper setting, but every caster I’ve ever known has a breaking point.
The heavier the spells, the faster we run dry.
I’ve been slinging some high caliber stuff. That’s how Yara and I got in the building to begin with. The plan was to rely on my hexes to get us in and her fieldcraft from that point forward. I mean, we’re only here for information. We didn’t expect to run into these two. They’re supposed to out for at least another two hours.
And that’s when it hits me. Barlow sold us out.
The rage finds me. Or I find it. I can feel it in my forearms. A crazed moron with a genuinely creepy grin is about to slice Yara’s throat like a piece of over-ripe fruit, and that’s all kinds of not okay.
Time kicks on again, but in super slow-mo. I begin to move without realizing I’m doing it.
I’m no ninja. Yara can disarm a man and slip into a shadow without making a peep. I have a hard time remembering which direction my own front door swings — in or out. But something primal takes over.
It’s like Yara is manifest in me. I half expect to glance to the side and see her, right there beside me in the driver’s seat of my mind. She’ll give me that cocky little smile and nod. No words. Not her style.
I inhale and step forward at the same time, drawing air into my lungs and pulling myself into the room. Jonas has his gaze fixed on Yara’s delicate skin. Saskia’s too cool for school. She’s rolling her eyes. You know, because killing someone in cold blood is so last season.
Neither of them see me coming.
Two long strides and I’m practically on top of Jonas. My arm slips under his and separates his knife hand from Yara’s throat just as the first drops of blood greet her collarbone. Twisting, I pull the blade away from her and push my opposite shoulder into Jonas with all my body weight behind it.
All 120 pounds.
Oh my God. Fuck you. 142 pounds. Happy?
Jonas is off balance. He tips and I recover. The knife drops and I catch it on its descent, something I would never be able to do if I thought about it first. Saskia is reaching for a small vial on the table to her left. I don’t know what’s in it, but it will probably melt my face so all I can think is, Don’t let the bitch get the bottle.
With a quick flick of my wrist, the knife slips from my hand into her side, finding a new home in the space between two of her lower ribs. Jonas hasn’t even had time to register the pain of hitting the floor ass first.
I decide to help with that and give him a quick little kick.
Return to normal speed.
Jonas grunts. Saskia moans and topples backward into a chair. She’s bleeding and he’s dazed, but it’s not likely either will stay down for long.
“Let’s go,” I say, reaching for Yara’s hand.
She smirks. “You get to have all the fun.”
But she knows I’m running on fumes, so she takes my hand and pulls me down the hall and out the same sidedoor I literally charmed off its hinges barely 10 minutes before.
That feeling. Veins on fire. Pressure. It lifts with a popping sound and I almost pass out in the passenger’s seat of her shitty little Chevy.
My eyes are closed, but I can hear the sound of the road. Park to the tollway. When we’re moving fast, I breathe slower. She pats my leg and nudges me.
“That was impressive,” she says.
“I had no idea what I was doing.”
“But you did it. Thanks. Only…” her voice trails off.
“Yeah?” I ask.
I can feel a headache coming on. That happens when you do too much magic. Or when someone you care about almost dies for the amusement of a psycho.
“Stick to your spells. Next time I’ll handle the wetwork.”
“Deal,” I say. “Hey, can we get a shake? I feel the need for sugar.”
“Sure,” she says, and she turns on the radio. Bieber’s voice greets us like the harbinger of hell. Yara flips the station faster that I can utter the request.
“And that’s why I love you,” I whisper.
We drive away into the night in search of dairy drinks, having only narrowly avoided a complete catastrophe.
But, you know, the weekend’s only starting.
This story contains violence, and in that sense it may seem like a strange thing to write in the wake of recent events. I don’t know how to reconcile that, so I can only ask that you take no offense if you find it disjointed.
I’m primarily mournful, though I won’t deny the faintly burning embers of anger deep within. They’re there, though they’re certainly not pointed at people. I don’t think it does much good to fight hate with hate.
But I want to stomp out this senselessness with all my heart.
Maybe that’s something that resonates with you and maybe it isn’t. Either way, let’s focus on comforting the hurting and healing whatever cultural dysfunction facilitates these kinds of horrible events.
Weird as it may seem, writing this story helped me do that just a little bit. In the end, two people who care about each other drive away having killed no one and without any mortal wounds, themselves.
We should all be so lucky.