It’s All Fun & Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye, An Ear, Two Fingers And A Nipple

…which is why you don’t roughhouse with lepers

 

 

Amnesia & Magic

 Part Seventeen

I’m reading the first page, which is in English and all about asking Mother Earth to bless this ritual and confer Her wisdom and a bunch of other stuff. It takes me about a minute and as the last word leaves my lips everything goes crazy.

The cave starts to melt away, replaced by a clearing in the middle of a forest made up of really big trees.

Animals start coming out of the forest. Many of them look like they’ve stepped out of a book of fairy tales.

There are people coming into the clearing. They aren’t Humans or Elves. Not sure if all of them are actually “people”.

I’m glowing like a spotlight.

Dak is laughing out loud.

Then he’s got two knives in his hands (note to self: chide Bill on his frisking skills) and he’s moving faster than any Elf I’ve ever seen and he’s stabbing all of the FBI agents, including Bill. They fall, but there’s no blood and they look paralyzed. Dak is yelling something in Elvish.

He’s about to stab Hoover when the fed hits him with a spell that turns him to stone. I move to attack him, but then stop, because he’s got a gun pointed at Dak.

He’s made of soft limestone, so bullets will knock off big chunks of him. He’ll be in very bad shape when the spell wears off.” He’s smiling this “I’ve got all the cards” smile at me and I swear I’m going to knock it off his face when all of this is over.

Then he loses the smile and tells me to get on with things as he moves in close enough to read the book.

The book is open to the pages the Oldest One mentioned. There are my three choices, but I can also see the faintest image of what Hoover can see. It’s a ritual that will bring all of the Power from the Elven world into our human world. Hoover actually giggles as he reads it. My fist aches to punch him until I’m ready to drop. Instead, I read my three choices, which boil down to…

1: The elves return to their world and that’s it for Magic on Earth forever. The effects of all spells ever cast are negated.

2: Things stay as they are, but the elves channel even more magic to us, this time without the debilitating physical effects.

3: The two worlds merge into one, which they had been about a million years ago.

I can see good and bad in all of these, which makes me hesitate. Then the Oldest One clears his throat and Hoover pulls a second pistol on Dak. All of the people and animals are looking at me.

I take a few more seconds, then make my choice. I swear that I can hear my grandmother laughing.

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This Is Not My Beautiful Mouse

…this is not my beautiful knife

 

Sorry this was so late coming, Gentle Readers.

 

Amnesia & Magic

Part Sixteen

The Oldest One smiles and nods his head.

Yes, we’ll be chatting. I’m going to tell you a few things about what is coming up. We don’t have much time, despite how things look.”

I glance around and notice that everyone is not exactly frozen, just really slowed down. I also notice that Dak is grinning ever so slightly. What’s he thinking about? Then my train of thought gets back on the right track. Time to have more secrets revealed.

When you get inside the cave, I’ll be there. I’ll make you do a little ritual and then you’ll open the book and some things will happen fast. Don’t worry about them. When things calm down, you’ll see that the book is open to a page that shows three chants and what they do. They’ll be in English, because you’d mess them up if you tried Elvish. You’ll have to choose which one of them you want to do, then do it. After that, really big stuff will happen and I can finally die. The rest of you will have a new world to live in.”

A world of my choosing?” I’m feeling a little pressure here, to say nothing of some self doubt.

Yes. You’ll choose what you think is best for the world.”

I can’t catch a break. Then something pops into my head.

Wait! If my choices are in English, Hoover will be able to read them, and you can bet he will. If I start reading the wrong choice, he’ll shoot Dak.”

The old Elf smiles again.

Don’t worry, Hoover and the others will only see what the book wants them to see. Besides, the boy will be fine. I must go now. I’ll see you again in a minute. Stop worrying, because your choice will be the right one.”

And then he’s gone and I’m walking along and I’m thinking how much I missed just chasing down criminals & cheating spouses and stuff. Dak gives me a quick glance and I’m not sure, but Bill might have flicked me a quick look.

We walk into the cave about twenty yards and sure enough, there’s the Oldest One looking just as he did a minute ago. The cave is lit by torches and seems to go back a long way. Without saying a word, the Oldest One motions for us to follow him and then heads deeper into the mountain.

Eyes open, men!,” Hoover says. Then he turns to an agent and says, “Osgood, take the book and the ring.”

Some little voice in my head tells me to go along with this, so I hand over the book and the ring. As soon as he has them in his hands, Agent Osgood keels over dead.

No, not just dead, but dead and turned into some sort of powder. The book and the ring are undamaged, which is more than I can say for everybodys nerves.

I pick up the ring and book and say, “So, Eddie, who should I give it to next?”

He is not amused and I notice that all of the remaining agents except Bill have taken a step back. Dak is trying very hard not to laugh.

After another blood vessel popping moment, Hoover turns away from me and starts walking. We all follow.

When we reach the rear of the cave, it’s really beautiful. There are crystals and those things that point up and down like spikes and even some bats. The Oldest one is standing on a rock formation that looks kind of like an altar. In front of it is a flat space covered with runes carved into the stone. He points to a spot opposite him on our side of the runes, so I go stand there. Hoover is right next to me, Bill is behind him and Callahan is standing behind Dak. Other agents are surrounding us. I notice that Dak is still grinning, then the Oldest One speaks.

With the ring on your finger and your mind clear, open the book and read the first page, Bringer Forth.”

Okay, it’s showtime.

The Girl With Green Nipples Goes To Rome

…Rome, Georgia

 

Amnesia & Magic

Part Fourteen

About a hundred yards behind us and coming up fast is a thirty foot tall humanoid creature that looks like it’s made out of the very forest around us. It’s got soil and pine needles and rocks and even little trees in it. The eyes look like hollow pits, there isn’t a nose and the mouth is about 4 feet wide. Did I mention that it’s gaining on the car?

A forest elemental,” Dak yells, his eyes the size of silver dollars. “They hardly ever come into this world. Somebody must have summoned it.”

I swerve to avoid hitting a tree after nearly losing control of Honey. I need to keep my eyes on the road. It would be good to outrun this thing, but the road has gotten twisty. A glance in the rear view mirror lets me see that the elemental is maybe fifty yards back.

Dak, what do you know about these things? How can we kill it or outrun it or just get it off our ass?”

He pauses to think for a few seconds, which in our current situation feels like three weeks. I’m of out of Magic, at least as far as Honey is concerned, and I don’t know if I can use the ring or book to do anything. Damn it, I’m a private eye, not a Wizard.

The one thing I do know is that bringing Magical creatures into our world is really big Magic and they don’t stick around long. Of course, that Dragon that flattened half of Mexico City was only around for about half an hour and the Trolls that robbed the Louvre popped out of our world in under fifteen minutes. Unless the elemental vanished in the next couple of minutes, we are in a very bad way.

After taking about half of forever, Dak finally answers me.

Killing it would be almost impossible, Mick. Elementals are real strong and this one can draw more strength from the forest. We won’t be able to outrun it, either. I don’t know why it’s chasing us. Most elementals don’t care about people unless they are summoned or the person has something it wants.”

Ok, so somebody had summoned this thing and sicced it on us. Could have been any powerful Wizard, but my money was on the Green Man. On the plus side, that didn’t necessarily mean that green bastard knew where we were. On the minus side, the elemental was now very close behind us. What the hell could a Wizard have offered it to make us a target? What would an elemental really want?

Then it hits me and I stop the car.

Dak looks at me like I’m nuts, which I mat well be. The elemental skids to a stop behind us and almost falls on it’s ass. I get out of the car and stand facing it in what I hope looks like a friendly stance. Part of my mind is yelling “RUN!” and another part is hoping I don’t wet myself. If I’m wrong about what the elemental wants, both parts might win.

The big guy looks at me, kind of warily. I don’t think he was expecting this.

Hello there, noble elemental of the forest. I greet you with respect. Before you do as you have been ordered, may I ask you a question?”

After a moment, the elemental nods and I start breathing again. Undies still dry at this point.

Am I right in assuming that whoever summoned you told you that your reward would be getting to return to your world?”

He nods again. Son of a bitch, I guessed right!

Well then, if I can send you home right now, would you let me?”

I had no idea an elemental could look surprised. Then, he nods and smiles. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s a smile.

Ok then, let me give it a try.”

I take the book out of my pocket and hold it close. I can feel Magical Power coursing through me. I have no idea how to cast a spell, but I think I might be able to break one with good old raw power. I open my mind to only one thought: breaking the spell on this elemental. Then, I give a good hard push.

I’m not sure how much power I used, but it must have been enough, because first I saw a green aura around the elemental, then it was gone. After that, the elemental faded away and I got dizzy and the next thing I know, Dak is splashing water on my face.

Holy crap, Mick, you did it!”

Yeah, I sure did, didn’t I?”

Dak helps me up and we get back into Honey, then start off down the road. We’re getting close to Klamath Falls, maybe another two hours to go. After that, Mount Shasta is only couple of hours away. I have no idea where I’m supposed to meet this “Oldest One” that Granny mentioned, but I figure he’s somewhere near our final destination.

I start thinking of everything that might happen between here and there. I also think of what could happen before I get a chance to read the book. In fact, I spend about an hour thinking before I start bouncing ideas of Dak. Yeah, sure, he’s a kid, but he’s smart and he can at least ask me questions I haven’t thought of, which he does.

By the time we stop for lunch, gas and a road map or two in Klamath Falls, I’ve got maybe half a dozen plans for dealing with various scenarios. Most of them are scarily full of holes, but once we’re on the road, Dak and I manage to fill in a couple of those holes. The drive to Mount Shasta is pretty much filled with non-stop “but what if” and “if this happens, then we” talk.

We’ve just turned off the highway onto the road to the mountain when a big black car does the same thing. I’ve been wondering when this would happen. Fortunately, Dak and I are prepared for this.

The car is coming up fast when Dak slides over to take the wheel and I throw open my door, swing my upper body out and give the mugs in that car both barrels of a shotgun. Their grill takes half the blast and the rest shatters the windshield. Quick as a wink, I’m back inside, Dak takes the shotgun and slides over and I hit the gas.

Despite a punctured radiator and no front glass, the goons are still behind us and now they’re pissed off and shooting. Bullets are whizzing by us and a couple hit the back of Honey. That pisses me off, so while Dak steers, I lean out the window and cut loose with Gladys. I his the goon riding shotgun in the throat and he goes down. I pop off two more shots when I hear Dak yelling, “Mick, look at the sky!”

I look up and see clouds forming in an otherwise clear sky, Then those Magical vines appear and I realize the goons were a distraction to keep us from noticing the Green Man’s arrival. All I can do is punch the gas and try to outrun him.

Except that those vines shoot over us and when they touch down, they form a wall across the road just as we enter a flat treeless area. A moment later, the Green Man steps out of those vines, his hands crackling with energy. Before we can do anything, a bolt of black lightning hits Honey and we stop dead.

Not only has he stopped the car, but Dak and I are moving far too slowly to do anything. I can’t even speak clearly. Even thinking is hard.

The Green man is 50 feet away now, walking towards us, laughing. My clearest thought is that he is one ugly son of a bitch.

The Rare And Beautiful Yellow Winged Eggdropper Stork Of Potawango Island

…the drop eggs on other creatures just for the hell of it.

 

Amnesia & Magic

Part Eleven

After a few seconds, I recognize who it is: my grandmother, Fawn. Well, actually, I only recognize her because I’ve seen old paintings and a couple of old photographs of her as a young woman, which is how she looks now.

She’s not beautiful like my mom, but she’s very pretty and much taller than I expected. She’s slender, not very busty and her hair hangs in braids nearly to her waist. She looks a whole lot like my Aunt Mari.

Hello, Little Fox. Bet you weren’t expecting this.”

She’s grinning that crooked little grin I remember so well. She sits down on a stump in front of me, a stump that wasn’t there a second ago. Dreams are cool like that.

Hello, Granny. You look good.”

Yeah, I do, don’t I? Everybody on this side looks their best. You ought to see your grandfather. Boy, what a fine looking man he is! Always ready for a lay down in the grass, too, just like when we were young on the other side.”

Other side? So, I’m dreaming about Heaven? Granny looks at me and then laughs.

This is only partly a dream, sweetie. It’s mostly a meeting so you can be prepared for what’s coming.” She pats my hands and I feel six years old again.

Wait a damned minute! I never said that stuff about dreaming out loud!

You read my mind? You can do that over here. Or in dreams. Or wherever the hell we are?”

She laughs some more. Now she’s holding my hands.

Oh, yeah, thoughts and words are pretty interchangeable here. Of course, I could always read you like a book. You’re too much like your papa for me not to.”

Yeah, she was right on that count. Of all us kids, I was the most like Dad, stubborn, curious, reckless, cunning and fast on my feet. I got my smarts and my ability to read people from Mama.

Granny gently squeezes my hands now.

Time to tell you what I can, Little Fox. You’ve got a dream about you and Bill coming up soon. Hubba hubba!”

I’m blushing. Granny always was a risque old gal.

So you know you’re carrying some big magic and you know the names of the book and the ring. That’s good, but there’s more you need to know.” She’s looking much more serious now.

You know about how the Elves came back to our world a hundred years ago. You know how the white people found out that Magic lived in the Elves, and how some humans could channel the Magic to cast spells. You know history after that. Most elves lived in the North, so when the South would not free slaves, the government used Magic to make them. Black folks were freed and nobody cared much about hating them anymore, because every eye was on the Elves and how to use their power. Same for Chinese, Mexicans, Irish and the rest of us. No time to worry about skin color unless it was green.

Sounds good, and it was, but not for the Elves.”

Granny’ right, the world changed almost overnight, and not always gently. There were wars, spying, magical battles and we won’t even get into how things were between those embracing Magic and those who controlled the various religions.

But what the humans, and I mean damned near all humans, didn’t know is that some Native Peoples…us here in North America…some folks in Ireland & Scotland…certain groups across Europe…had known the Elves would come back. Hell, girl, we’d known it for five thousand years. We remembered them from the last time they were here back when we lived among them. It was back then that we made a pact with them. Now, it’s time for you and a few others to fulfill that pact.”

You know, when this is all over, I’m going to take Holmes and Watson and we’re going to jump into Honey and I’m going to drive to the middle of nowhere and rent a cabin and live in No Responsibility Land for a few weeks.

Granny unbuttons her blouse then, and without a trace of embarrassment lifts up her right breast (which I have to admit looks way perkier than you’d ever imagine a granny breast looking) to show me a “Y” shaped scar. At that point, you could have walked up and strangled me, no trouble, because I was dumbstruck. I have the exact same scar under my right breast. It’s always been there, all my life. My parents told me it happened when I was a toddler and I fell on a sharp stick.

It’s not a big scar, maybe half an inch long, but it’s way lighter than the rest of my skin and it has never gone away. It also dawns on me now that nobody, not even Bill, who knew that territory well, has ever commented on it since I was little and my parents told me about it. Nobody. Not even me.

Again, Granny chuckles as she read my mind.

Nobody mentioned it because nobody ever saw it. You could see it, but you didn’t mention it to anyone because it’s a secret mark, made with Old Magic. It marks you as one of our line. Your cousins ‘Netta and Susie have it, too. We always mark three, in case the first choice gets killed. Gotta say, you came close more than once, Little Fox. Good thing you survived, because ‘Netta is as good as white these days and Susie is way to fat for all this running around.”

When I take that vacation, I’m bringing a case of tequila with me. Maybe two.

Granny buttons up her shirt and continues.

Way back, when the Elves were about to leave our world for awhile, they had this big meeting and read some signs and stuff. They saw the future and knew that the humans would steal their Magic and cause their people to weaken and die. They decided to create the ring and the book and put a whole bunch of Magic into them. It cost them dearly.”

I have to ask her. “How dearly, Granny?”

She looks very sad as she says, “When the Elves came back in 1835, the total world population was three hundred thousand. Before they created the ring and book, it was over six million. Most gave up their lives to put Power into those two relics.”

Over five and a half million lives, freely given up. Why?

To save their people and maybe ours. See, the book has been picking up Power over the last century. Every time an Elf, Mage or Wizard dies, their Power goes into it. That’s a bunch of Magic, right there.”

But what do we have to do with it? Were we just keeping the book & ring safe?”

Oh yeah, we did that, although it was really easy for the first four thousand nine hundred years. Nobody could detect it. Once the Elves came back, we had to move it around pretty often. We were selected, we Daughters of Teena, to guard the book and produce the Bringer Forth, which is you. Some of the original daughters traveled to far off lands and married into other tribes of Native People. They did that because, well, because they had to to make the Prophecy work. And now you have the relics and by dawn on the day after tomorrow, you’ll have used them and then things will be ok, one way or another.”

I love Granny, but she does take forever to get to a point.

“Yeah, ok, so I’ve got a day and a half to get to Mount Shasta and, I assume, read this book while wearing the ring? Is that right?”

I may have said that in a less than calm voice.

Granny nods. “Yep, that’s pretty much it. Well, you’ll also have to speak to the Oldest One and maybe shoot a few people. Oh, and you’ll need to trust your gut a couple of times when your head says the wrong thing. And that Elf boy, don’t let him get out of your sight.”

She pats me on the head then.

Well, sweetie, it’s time for me to go. You’ve got a naughty dream to get to and I’m supposed to go “berry picking” with your grandpa. Heh heh…“berry picking”. Good luck, Little Fox. I love you.”

She starts walking away and I want to run after her, but the forest is slowly changing into a room at the Hotel Coronado in San Diego. All I can do is watch, but then she turns back for a moment.

Oh yeah, honey, make sure you put on the ring as soon as you wake up.”

And then she and the forest are gone and I’m in a fancy hotel room with my ex husband, a bottle of champagne and silk sheets.

I’m thinking Granny is right about this dream.

The World According To Carp

…it’s a rather fishy tale

 

Amnesia & Magic

Part Nine

I haven’t seen Bill in five years, since the FBI consulted with me on the Dotsy Dugan case. He’s gotten some gray hair at his temples and it makes him look even sexier than he did before. Parts of me react involuntarily to that.

He’s smiling, but it’s a grim smile, his “I’m glad to see you, but this is serious smile”. He stops just in front of the car and beckons me out with a wave of his hand. I figure if he wanted to arrest me, there would be other agents with him, so I get out and ask him what’s up.

You look good, Mick. The new hairstyle suits you.” His deep voice sounds like it’s coming through a static filled radio. That means this is a waking dream and I’m really still in the car. Pretty hefty Magic and he must be within a mile or two of our current position. I’m thinking the Mage he has casting this spell is really earning their pay.

I look him up and down. As always, he’s well dressed and carrying three guns, judging from the way his suit moves. That’s a .45 in his shoulder holster and I figure it’s still a .38 in his left pocket and strapped to his left ankle. Bill is a southpaw.

You’re looking good yourself, big boy. Now what’s this all about?” I’m not feeling as cocky as I try to sound. I doubt that I fool him.

I’ll give it too you short and fast”

That would be a first.

You’ve got three Wizards after you. Well, maybe two if you managed to kill Leems back there, which, by the way, was a damned clever bit of thinking. The other two are Olivia Saint James and The Green Man. Saint James has sent out at least fifty thugs and a dozen Mages. She’s put a high bounty on whatever it is you have. The Green Man is coming after you all by himself. The good news is that for some reason, all of them insist that you be taken alive and in good condition. The government wants to gives you a chance to surrender to them before they call out their big guns. This is your chance. I told them not to hold their breath.”

Ok, this is a big bunch of information to process. Olivia Saint James almost never leaves her castle in Wales, but she can channel a lot of Power through her pet Mages. She’s dangerous, but not unstoppable. The Green Man is almost unstoppable. Early on, he goofed up some spell that turned him green, ugly and not quite human. He doesn’t need to sleep or eat much and like Tanner Leems, he’s not on a first name basis with sanity. Very dangerous, even if he is coming alone.

Of course, both of them are small change compared to the power of the United States Government and it’s army of Wizards & Mages and Federal Agents. I am, as my Uncle Max used to say, “screwed, blewed and tattooed”.

Except that Bill used “them” and “their” when referring to the government, not the “we” or “our” that he would usually use. That was big and it was meant to tell me that maybe he was not totally on board with the government’s plan. Could it be that the big lug is going soft? I like that idea.

I give him a smile. “I’ll deal with Olivia’s thugs and The Green Man. You can tell your bosses that they can kiss my beautiful bronze ass. Anything else you want to say to me? I’m kind of on a tight schedule here.”

Bill chuckles and runs his right hand through his blonde hair. That has always been our signal to listen carefully to what was next said. He is having second thoughts about the Feds!

Only that I hope you know how deep you’re in and I’m hoping you get out alive so we can go back up to Astoria some day. I’d like to have a glass of wine with you again. And I do still love you, Mick.”

Well, mixed messages there. I know he still loves me and I do still love him. On the other hand, out trip up the coast from San Francisco to Astoria, Oregon was a comedy of errors. Everything that could go wrong did and it soured us on vacations for a couple of years. But his message means that something that happened on that trip was germane to my present situation. I’ll have to do some thinking on that.

I nod and he smiles. Then things get blurry and in a heartbeat I’m sitting in Honey and Dak is shaking his head and asking what just happened. I give him a quick rundown and he expresses a good deal of amazement over how powerful the Feds are in the Magic department.

We start off down the road at a slightly less than suicidal speed and I’ve got Dak helping me watch for anything that looks like trouble. I’m pretty relieved when twenty minutes pass without an attempt on our lives. I hope whatever is waiting at the cabin is worth the damage my nerves are taking.

I slow down to take the turnoff that will run another five miles to the cabin. We get about a mile when it hits me…the wine! Holy shit!

See, on that disaster of a vacation, our old Ford broke down and we had to stay overnight in a barn belonging to a farmer while his son repaired the car. The farmer brought us a bottle of homemade blackberry wine to help keep us warm, although I’m sure the half dozen quilts his wife brought out, along with enough food for six hungry lumberjacks, would have kept us warm enough.

Anyway, we were most of the way through that bottle when we got into one of our discussions about the FBI and all the Magical Power it was accumulating. Bill was telling me I was paranoid and I told him that it was J. Edgar who was paranoid and that much power should not be controlled by one man. He said if he ever believed that Hoover was going to abuse his office and the resources of the FBI, he’d do whatever he could to stop him. I told him that he’d better damned well let me know so I could help him.

And then today he had shown me that he wasn’t on board like he used to be and he had given me clues. At this point in my thinking, I’m sweating bullets because This adds up to one big answer.

Hoover wants the ring and book so he can do a power play. And the only real power play a guy in his position can make is to take over the government.

I think I might pass out.

I take a few deep breaths and speed up as much as the overgrown country lane will allow. Dak is giving me worried looks, but remaining quiet. After a couple of minutes, we arrive at what is left of the cabin.

There’s a tug at my heart to see the old place so rundown and overgrown, but I don’t have time for reminiscing. About a hundred yards downhill from the cabin is the spot where our fort used to be, the spot where all of us kids and sometimes my dad and uncles used to hang out. Nothing left of it, but I see a postcard on the pine tree just left of it. No writing on it, just a postcard saying “Greetings From Mount Shasta!” and showing a picture of that old volcano. Not the most subtle of clues, but it would work. I wonder who put it there? Obviously, I have a mysterious ally.

I let Dak know that we’re going to hit the road again, so he runs behind a tree to take a leak. I do likewise behind a bush and then we head back to Honey.

We’re almost inside the car when three things happen. We see the Green Man descending from the clouds on what looks like vines made of Magical energy, we see about thirty of Olivia’s Ugly minions pour over a nearby hill and an FBI airship comes over the nearby redwoods announcing via loudspeakers that we should drop all weapons and lie down on the ground.

Three ways screwed, oh yeah. No, make that four ways, because it was sure as hell that these guys were all going to fight over my head. Nope, no good would come of this.

Get in the car, Dak, and hang on. This is going to get dangerous.”

No sooner do we shut the doors that an Olivia minion casts a spell at the Green Man while he’s popping one off at the airship. Naturally, the airship unleashes a volley of hexes.

I have one trick that might buy us a few minutes of travel time, but it’s a long shot. What the hell, I’m thinking. I go for it and activate a spell by pushing a small silver button on the dashboard.

How To Make Big Money Without Doing Hardly Any Work!

…just send for our informative booklet, only $15.00 each.

 

Part Eight

The energy ball sends sparks and miniature lightning bolts off all around the Hornet and she slows down by about 20 miles an hour. The other car is coming up fast when one of the counterspells I had put on her kicks in and fire engulfs us right before blasting backward and hitting hard. Our power increases and I’m trying not to skid off the road. A glance in the rear view mirror shows me the big car has stopped and four guys are jumping out. Just as we head around a turn, I notice that one is a tall thin Wizard.

Leems!” I growl it with such hate that Dak, who was turned looking over the seat at the flaming car, jumps.

Sorry, Dak, but that Wizard back there is a very powerful and very bad man.”

Dak nods. “I know he is. Every Elf around knows who Tanner Leems is. In San Francisco, he’s just as powerful as Mr. Hong. Maybe more powerful.”

I wasn’t sure Leems was as powerful as the “God Wizard of Chinatown”, but I knew he was just as dangerous and almost certainly crazier. Worse yet, he was the son of a Wizard, a rare and deadly thing. The children of Wizards who had the “talent” learned Magic a hell of a lot faster than other Wizards and it almost always drove them mad. If they were twisted little monsters like young Tanner Leems had been, they were just about the most dangerous thing around.

We hit a straight stretch and I floor it. Leems would have that car back on the road in a minute or two and I need some room to think.

So, I’ve got a Wizard on my ass and he knows my car has protection. If he has some way of contacting people ahead of me, this is going to be a short drive. We’re maybe three miles from a small town set around a big intersection. I need to keep heading north, but even if he doesn’t catch up to me, there will be plenty of folks who see us go screaming through town. Hell, it’s probable that he’ll get there while they’re still goggling in our direction.

I can turn west, but that’s an old farm road and it’s twisty and dangerous and one slow tractor will pretty much stop us. Going east won’t get us and closer to Mendocino and will take us back to the new highway, which I’m sure is thick with cops now. Shit!

Dak is back to watching our rear and he tells me he can see the other car and it’s coming up crazy fast. I get a look just before we have to take a turn in the road and yeah, that car is flying low. Looks like we’ve got a race on and I’ll be zooming though the town ahead with a Wizard right behind me. I slide around the turn and punch the gas. All the while, I’m thinking of what options Honey has for dealing with this situation.

I can see the town up ahead and Dak says they black car is maybe 100 yards behind us and coming up fast. I flip up a hidden panel and there are three switches. Just before we shoot through the stop sign and across that intersection, I flip the blue switch.

I’m lucky that nobody is anywhere near the intersection as we fly through it, all the while leaving three dozen shiny little items for Leems and his buddies to drive over. A few seconds later, the car hits the field of caltrops and all four tires blow out. Dak and I both watch because we’ve never seen what happens when four tires blow out at 90 miles an hour. We both find it impressive.

First, the car begins fishtailing, then it goes into a short slide sideways down the road, then it rolls over maybe fifteen times before sliding another hundred feet on it’s roof. Amazingly, it doesn’t hit any buildings or people. As we crest a hill, the last thing we see is a crowd gathering, but nobody getting out of the car.

“That was nuts!”, Dak yells. “The tires blew out and it was all over!”

I have to grin at his assessment. Leems may have had the Magical end of things covered, but he hadn’t thought of a little good old fashioned booby trapping. With any luck, the evil son of a bitch was dead now.

We put plenty of distance between us and the town. After another hour with no sign of a tail, I relax and start talking to Dak about Magic and Elves and things like that. He doesn’t know much more than I do about Magic, but it helps pass the time. Before we know it, another hour has passed and we’re getting pretty near the turnoff that will take us to my family’s old cabin just south of Mendocino.

As I drive along, I’m noticing that things outside don’t quite look right. Everything looks slightly out of focus. I go to mention this to Dak, but he’s slack jawed and staring off into space. Then I notice Honey is slowing down to a crawl. Then she stops.

There’s Magic at work, but I don’t seem too affected by it. Maybe moving a bit slower than normal, but my thoughts are clear.

I’m sitting in my stopped car, wondering what will happen next when I see the man step out from behind a redwood.

The Twelve Things You Should Know About Dinosaurs

…#3: Never poke one with a stick!

Amnesia & Magic

Part Seven

As my vision clears and I start to stand up, Hoagie gets his arm around my waist to help me up and Lillian hands me a glass of water. My head clears pretty fast and I know that Dak and I need to get on the road ASAP.

How long was I out?”, I ask Hoagie. He doesn’t look too worried about my little fainting episode.

Maybe three minutes. Feeling better now that you’ve got it all back?”

I nod. “I told you what I was doing before the mindwipe, didn’t I?”

He grins and nods his head before getting back to those sandwiches, which by now are smelling really great.

I’m still a little unsteady, so Dak and Lilian help me back to the counter. I drink the water, then down the lemonade. At that point, I notice the tea and figure I’ll be needing a long bathroom break soon.

Despite the previous liquids, I take the cup of tea and down it in a couple of swallows, which is the best way to drink most Elven herbal teas, because they taste terrible. I’m getting no immediate effect, so I’m thinking the fun will start later. I was not told what this tea would do.

Hoagie bags up the sandwiches and some napkins and a couple of cupcakes. Lillian fills up a bottle with lemonade. Dak and I both get hugs from Lilian and handshakes from Hoagie, who gives me some advice.

Two things, Mick. First off, avoid the new highway up to Mendocino. Take the back road that your dad used to use. The highway is going to be full of cops and that Hornet of yours sticks out like a whore in church. Next thing is, check the trunk of the car. You didn’t ask, but I figured I’d stock it up while it was parked down at Tiburon. You never know what you might need.”

I thank him and we start heading for the door. Before we step outside, I take a look at the street. Nothing hinky going on, so we go out. The car is untouched and I go around to open the trunk.

Holy cow! Hoagie has the entire trunk packed full of guns, knives, camping equipment, food, blankets, a first aid kit and a quart of tequila. I love that guy!

“Dak, do you know how to use a gun?”

No, I don’t. Not much use for one in the city. But I know how to use one of these.”

He picks up a big Bowie knife and hefts it in his hand, then he takes another. He looks at me and grins.

Good enough. Climb in and let’s get out of here.”

In less than a minute, we’re heading down the road. No tails that I can see, but where magic is concerned, that doesn’t mean much.

Once we’re on the highway, I speed up until I’m passing everything else. We get about twenty miles when I see the turnoff for the old Coast Road. It’s not very wide and it’s beginning to show the lack of maintenance, but it also has almost no traffic, so I punch it and we’re zipping along at 70 miles an hour. Dak breaks out the sandwiches and we start chowing down.

If you don’t mind me asking, Miss Mick, where are we going and what’s going on?”

He’s a polite kid. I like that.

First of all, just call me Mick. The Miss part makes me sound like an old maid teacher. As to what’s going on, we’re delivering the book and ring to somebody. An Elf, I’m sure, but I don’t know his or her name. Don’t know where he or she is, either. The setup was that I’d find clues that would lead to a meeting place. Once I’m there, I hand over the book and ring and that’s it. Well, at least it was until your dad started telling me I was the Bringer Forth and there was a damned prophecy. Now I’m confused as all hell. Whatever the book and ring are about, they were so important that the Wizard who hired me strongly suggested that I have my mind wiped or I’d never get out of the city alive. I left myself some notes to help me along and now you know the whole deal.”

Can I see the book and ring?”

I figure it’s not gonna hurt anything, so I hand them over. Dak sees them and his face

gets a look like I suppose would be on Grandma Silvia’s if she suddenly met Jesus and the Virgin Mary in person. It was a bit unnerving to me, the decades lapsed Baptist choir girl.

That’s the Ring of Taeena and the Book of Changes! This is really powerful stuff! No, this is THE powerful stuff! Holy shit, Mick, we can’t EVER let a human get hold of this!”

Oh, great, I wasn’t nearly nervous enough.

How powerful are we talking, Dak?”

He looks at me with eyes that could not get any wider.

End of the world powerful”

That has about two seconds to soak in when a big black car shows up in the rear view mirror and starts gaining on us. It’s way too big and expensive to be Feds, so I’m thinking it’s gotta be a Wizard.

I have just enough time to tell Dak to hang on when I see a ball of purple light shoot out of the window of the black car and come streaking towards us. Both sides of the road are lined with pines and there’s nowhere to dodge and then the ball of energy hits.