A Spell Gone Wrong

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This post was originally published through Patreon on February 28, 2017.

I hunker on the bare stone floor, shrouded in darkness, and scream. The room is silent, ghostly. I can see a sliver of moonlight leak through the bottom of the caged window like the tip of a dragon’s fingernail, but it’s swallowed at once by a palpable black void.

My home, it seems even the entire world, is gone, undone by my careless words.

My master was there when I uttered the phrase that brought about this ruin. He was smiling, encouraging me to continue, and I was eager to please. Then I opened my mouth, and he must have spied the latent syllables on my lips, for I glimpsed the sudden twist of his own, perhaps a warning in the making, just before I let loose a hailstorm of destruction.

Avenhalom.

The mystical word rolled off my tongue so easily. It tasted sweet, like honeyed milk. But as soon as the last syllable escaped my lips, I knew something had gone wrong. The sweetness turned bitter like ash, then acrid like charred flesh. I felt the air around me part like the Red Sea, and I became dizzy and lightheaded.

Stunned, I crumpled to the ground, assailed by a deafening, high-pitched whine. Then the world burst in a violent explosion that tore through my entire chest. I slipped inside myself, and the world turned black.

I woke on the dusty floor of an alien world that only vaguely resembled the home I’d once known. Everything had been consumed by darkness, made empty in a way I can’t describe. My master was gone, and with stomach-twisting certainty, I knew that I would see him no more.

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I Only Had To Bleed

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This post was originally published through Patreon on July 12, 2017.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
—Ernest Hemingway

I huddle over my desk beneath the soft light of an incandescent lamp, brow furrowed, and stare down at the empty pages of my notebook. There’s a world out there somewhere, waiting for me to give it life. But I cannot find the words, and without them this other world can remain only a pale shadow, suspended in the half-life of the imagination.

I hear a thousand screams, a million, all from denizens of this other world. “We want life,” they say. “Please, give it to us.” Their cries have become a fire that burns me from the inside out, until my soul can bear the pain no longer.

“All right,” I say. “I’ll try,” and the screams die down to an expectant whisper.

I tremble. I know the words will come if I ask them to, but they require a sacrifice, an offering as old as humanity, and I am afraid. I glance around the dim surroundings of my study, bite my lip, and turn back to the notebook at my desk. Resolved not to stall any longer, I pick up the pen, and in a single practiced motion I stab downward and break open an emotional artery.

The pain is tremendous, and at first, the words come in fits and starts. I have to drag each of them from my head kicking and screaming, sharp, sticking barbs that tear skin and flesh as I pull them out into the light. I want to stop and lick my wound. But if I do then it will heal, and my sacrifice will have been in vain.

So I toil through the night, through ice and fire, dredging up the best and the worst of myself as an offering, a vessel into which that other world might enjoy the coveted fruits of existence.

Just before dawn I finish, bloodied and bruised. The inhabitants of that world whisper their thanks. Tears well at the corners of my eyes.

It was nothing, I think. I only had to bleed.

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Old Friend

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This post was originally published through Patreon on January 11, 2017.

“Lisa.”

Her name is the first thing she hears. She opens her eyes, and the blackness over her vision lifts like a veil. Light. It nearly blinds her. She narrows her eyes to slits, and the scene resolves into a pair of burning globes in a sea of roiling green.

Where am I?

She rolls onto her side and becomes aware of the rocky ground beneath.

She wonders again: Where am I?

“Lisa.”

“Who’s there?”

Anxiety takes root. She staggers to her feet and beholds the alien landscape once more. She notes the sea of green is actually a sky, though not like any sky she’s seen before, and that the globes suspended within are actually twin suns.

What is this place?

“It is home.”

“This isn’t my home,” she says aloud. Then she pauses. Isn’t it? She can conjure no memory of her origins. Once more, she panics. She scrambles to dredge up something from that inaccessible part of her mind and comes up short.

“Who are you?” she asks.

“A friend. You will remember in time.”

The cryptic reply, though frustrating, is strangely comforting. It grazes a segment of her heart that was previously hidden, and it entices her, makes her want to learn more.

“Come.” The word is not a command but a request, humble and filled with unfathomable love.

“How?” She wants to follow, but she doesn’t know how.

“That is a question I cannot answer. You must find your own way.”

“I can’t go to you,” she argues, “if I don’t know how to find you.”

“Follow my voice, have faith, and all will be clear in time.”

She hesitates, examines her heart, and discovers a trust she hasn’t recognized until now, the quiet, logic-defying certainty that the voice is telling the truth, that it can lead her down the proper path. She takes one step forward.

Then another.

Then another.

In the centuries that follow, she will see many wonders, and though the voice will only be an infrequent companion, she will find it reveals enough to keep her headed in the right direction. She will grow in wisdom and love, and at the end of her journey—at the end of time—she will be greeted by the source of that voice not as a stranger, but as an old and constant friend.

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