Fiction Fragment Friday
This is a story that came from thinking of a handful of individual lines. I wrote the first sentence of the story and the rest just flowed with those lines joining where it made sense. Like you readers I discovered the story as I went without any preconceived notions of it. I knew a few things I wanted to touch on, but the characters and relationships all grew naturally. I was surprised by my own twists as they came out. These are the type stories I have the most fun writing.
I was once again awoken by the sound of my own screaming. I never have any memory of the nightmares, but I know they must be bad to elicit that level of response. Each time I awake drenched in sweat with my skin sticking to my pillowcase. My thoughts struggle to hold onto the dream, but it is gone before I can comprehend what is happening. This had been occurring every night for two weeks and my body was reaching the point of exhaustion due to lack of proper rest. For the sake of my own sanity a solution had to be found.
My mentor always warned me to never use magic that I did not fully understand. Magic is hard enough to get right without adding in the additional difficulty of unknown variables. It was a lesson I had taken to heart, but at this point I was desperate and desperate men don’t always make the best decisions. At that point I would have tried anything.
I took a deep breath and opened my senses to the ethereal energies of the universe. My room had a low humming glow from my own energies seeping into it over time. It is always easy to tell where a practitioner lives because their energy permeates everything around them. This is just the background noise to my life though and is easy to filter out of my perceptions. The energies coming off the dreamcatcher I had hung above my bed were not my own.
Most people think of dreamcatchers as just tourist items to be bought and displayed. This is not an unfair assumption since most available for sale are just that. They are manufactured in bulk or by crafters without any touch of magical ability to them. A true dreamcatcher following the Anishinaabe tradition though thrums with the energy of Asibikaashi. Their purpose is not limited to dreams, but instead provide general protection for infants. We are most vulnerable when we sleep though and strong belief over time can reshape energies. This was my hope when hanging up a magic I did not truly understand over my vulnerable sleeping body.
The energy inside the Dreamweaver radiated with malevolence. Something was caught in the web, and it was filled with hatred. It was not an entity as far as I could tell, but instead energy directed with a purpose. This confirmed my theory that something was targeting me specifically and doing so in such a way that I had no defenses for it. The Dreamweaver had caught some of this energy, but only a fraction of it. It would be enough to track though. I smiled as it seemed my gamble had paid off though I suspected that I would owe a future debt to the Spider Woman.
I set to work tracking my nocturnal attacker. There were several methods that would have the potential of working, but with only a single sample of energy to be expended I needed to go with the most reliable. The trade-off would be in the details. The more specific a location the more likely a failure would occur. A general location was the most I could hope for without risking coming away with nothing. In this case my general location was a subdivision in the suburbs. Limiting the results to twenty houses was actually far more accurate than I had hoped for.
It only took me thirty minutes to reach the neighborhood my tracking spell pointed to. Ten of those were spent stuck in traffic because people around here don’t seem to know how to merge properly when there is road construction. I was unsure if my annoyance was justified or another consequence of not having properly slept in weeks. I was finding myself very irritable than usual and that is not a good trait for one who plays with the very fabric of reality on a daily basis. I focused on my breathing and tried to ensure that I had complete control.
Parking in the cul-de-sac I opened myself up to the energies of the neighborhood. There were things I could tell about a house just based on it’s energy. The first house on the block belongs to newlyweds still fresh and hopeful. The second house had multiple children with a chaotic energy flowing from it. The third emanated the dark energy I associate with someone drying in vain to drink away a depression that needs to be addressed by professionals.
House by house I examined from my car trying to feel any sources of power capable of attacking me in my own home. There was a minor practitioner with so little energy I almost didn’t notice them. I also found a latent talent that had real potential. I made note of these addresses for further follow-up but eliminated them from my list. Only one house radiated with reality altering energy on a level capable of reaching me. I shuddered involuntarily as I felt those energies turn towards me. The owner of that house knew I was here.
A wise man would have taken down the address and done research on who lived there. Tried to determine who my enemy was before moving forward. On a better day I might have been that wise man, but on that day, I was a tired man. I got out of the car and approached the house directly. It is never wise to confront someone in their own home where they are at the height of their power. At that point I just didn’t care. I needed this to be over one way or another.
My knocks on the door were not soft. It would not be unfair to say that I banged on the front door. This likely is why the protective wards triggered and tossed me ten feet across the front lawn. I groaned more in shock than in pain as no actual damage had been done. It was mostly my pride that had taken the brunt of the impact. I was angry and this person whoever they are was bringing out the worst in me for reasons I couldn’t quite understand until the door opened.
“Well, it certainly took you long enough. Also get up you’re crushing my perennials.” It was a voice I could never mistake, but my eyes still went wide at seeing her. There in the doorway was my ex-wife, Evelyn. To say our marriage did not end amiably would be a bit of an understatement. I was responsible for her brother’s death when he started down a dark path and she had tried to sacrifice me to an ancient being to bring him back to life. In case you are wondering that all fits nicely under irreconcilable differences on paperwork if you don’t elaborate for the court.
It suddenly all made sense to me. My home should be a magical fortress with only the most powerful of beings being able to bypass it. She was powerful, but not at that level. In her case she just knew how I thought and how my protections worked. I had tried to create new defenses since the divorce, but if you really know someone it isn’t that hard to figure out ways past. No one knew me better than she did, but also no one could hurt me like her. Despite everything I still had a weakness where she was concerned. I still thought maybe I could save her and bring her back from the path she was on.
“This is petty even for you.” There was no trace of affection in my words. Only those you truly care about can bring out the worst in you.
“Well how else was I going to get your attention?”
“You could try calling.”
She smiled at me seeming to enjoy my frustration. “To do that I would have to unblock you and that’s not going to happen. Now get up and get in here. As much as I hate to admit it, I need your help. Our son had gotten himself into some serious trouble.”
“Our what?” As I said the words, she waved her hand and chanted a few words of Latin. Memories came rushing back to me. We had a child, a boy named William. He should be about thirteen now, but I had not seen him since he was eight. During our divorce she had drugged me and spent a week layering spell after spell on top of me to lock away all memories of him. I never fought for custody because I didn’t know he existed. She had been shaping him on her own for the last five years and he had enough raw power to rival my own before even starting to train.
She must have saw the look of revolution on my face. “Yes, yes, I’m a horrible evil person. Now let’s put all that aside and figure out how we’re going to free our son from a demonic pact he has agreed to. Unlike me he did not negotiate a good deal.” The fact that she thought she had gotten the better of a demon said more about her than anything else. It was pure ego and someday her deal is going to come back to haunt her.
I stood and walked into the house that I now remembered living in. So much had been stolen from me, but for the moment I had it back. I knew that there would be triggers on the spells she placed on me. I not only needed to find a way to save my son, but I also needed to ensure that I would continue to remember him once I did. If possible, I needed to get him away from his mother and start undoing the damage she likely had done. These would not be easy tasks and I suspected that she had been denying me proper rest so I could not focus on them. I certainly had my work cut out for me.