Black Magic - Chapter 7 (Revised)

Chapter 7


            As I made the drive back home, I thought about everything we had talked about.  To be honest, it was quite intimidating.  Of course we still talked of the magic on the way back to her house, or whatever it was.  She asked me one question about Bret and I rambled on for the next twenty minutes.  I told her everything, not that it was necessary.  I’m sure she knew all of the food he ate at the game last Friday.  She didn’t ask a lot of questions.  She just let me talk, and talk I did.  It sounded like I had been obsessing over the boy for years, and not that I had just met him the previous week.  I guess it meant, no matter how much I tried to convince everyone otherwise, I had fallen for the big lug. 

            After I stopped rambling about Bret, I asked her a question that had been bothering me for most of the late afternoon.  It basically had to do with how people who didn’t have innate abilities were able to still use the magic.  What could be used as a focus?  Her answer was a little ambiguous.  A focus could be either one of two things.  A traditional witch is known to able to cast spells using special recipes which I guess she was saying that it could be thought of as a focus points.  She used the Wicca practice as an example.  Of course when ever I think of Wicca, I think of the movie The Craft.  I had all ways loved that movie.  Some people focus arcane energy, as she called it, with something like a pendant or such, however it was very rare.  According to Debra, most people who used magic either fit into the innate ability or spell casting category.  Of course it seemed to me that spell casters would seem to be the more powerful of the two.  My reasoning was that people with an innate ability had their limitations, while people who were spell casters could do just about any kind of damage, as long as they knew the spell for it.  She countered by saying the speed of a person who uses an innate ability far outweighs the seemingly endless capabilities of a spell caster.  It didn’t matter what spell a spell caster might be able to cast when they didn’t have the opportunity to cast it.  She also added something I thought was interesting.  Spells cast by a spell caster wasn’t always reliable and could be quite unpredictable.  One lapse in focus could be disastrous.  That was in direct opposite of the spells, she did still refer to them as spells, cast by a person with innate abilities.  Those spells always hit their intended target and nothing else.  I had to think she was speaking of me here, because as far as I knew she had no ability to use black magic.  Of course, she could have the ability and I just didn’t know it.  That had brought up another question.  How did she know I was able to things other than fire?  Her answer was that she didn’t know.  She kind of guessed.   It was all about percentages.  It was likely the magic was more than what it appeared to be, even though that wasn’t always the case.  In my case it was more luck than anything that she was able to figure out through her own abilities.  There was one thing I didn’t mention when were out there, even though I was pretty sure Debra had all ready knew how I felt.  I had the distinct feeling someone was following us.  It seemed weird because there was no one around while we were in the park.  If there were, I was sure we would have seen them.  There was too much open space for someone to try and hide and be successful.  That didn’t stop the feeling of dread that I was being followed the entire time I was out there.  As a matter of fact, the feeling didn’t go away until I had gotten home.

            When I had gotten home, I noticed an unfamiliar car in our driveway, and I was instantly suspicious because my parents were not ones to have visitors in the middle of the week.  My parents weren’t usually home at decent hour to be able to entertain anyone unless they planned on doing it at god awful hours.  The car itself was not anything of any importance.  It wasn’t a Mercedes or Lexus, which told me that it wasn’t any of my Mom or Dad’s co-workers.  I didn’t really expect it to be, because my parents also didn’t spend their off time mingling with their colleagues.   The car was a little more modest four door, American made sedan.  It could have been one of my family members had stopped by unexpectedly.  Maybe it was my aunt who I was sure was going to make my life hell, but have been surprisingly quiet as of late.  If it was her, then she must have gotten a new car. 

            I quickly got my answer as soon as I walked into the house and started to pass the living room.  Sitting with my mom was Detective Solorio.  I knew at some point I was going to see him again.  The look on my mother’s face was non-committal; however she seemed to playing the role of the good host to the detective.  As much as Solorio had turned down everything I had offered him, he had a bunch of food in front of him this time.  Maybe he was just hungry.  He was the perfect gentleman as he started to stand as I entered the living room.  I just as quickly told him to stay seated.

            “So what can I do for you today, detective?” I asked him.  I wasn’t the least bit worried about anything.  I had started to believe what Debra had told me about there being no reason to worry. 

            “Actually, I was here as a follow-up,” he said.  “I wanted to ask you some more questions, but your mom is not going to allow it.”
            “Yeah,” my mother chimed in.  “In case you haven’t noticed, Valerie is still a minor, even though she might not look like it.  You have to my permission to interview her, which was something you ignored the first time you were here.”

            “Typical lawyer,” the detective said almost under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear.  If I could hear him then I know my mother with her supersonic ears heard him.  I expected my mother to make some smart remark, but she only flashed an evil grin.  The detective continued on.  “I did some background on Scott Roberts and I found out some things I thought you should know.”

            I glanced at my mother, and she didn’t seem all that surprised, so the good detective must have already spilled the beans to her. 

            The detective didn’t wait for any kind of response from me.  “Scott Roberts was one bad fellow,” he started.  “A real low-life.  The guy’s rap sheet is more than a mile long.  However, that wasn’t what really caught my attention as far as you were concerned.”

            “I don’t know why I would be concerned at all about him.”  I could afford to be like this.  I knew more about the situation than he did.  “I told you that I had no idea who he was.”

            He looked at my mom, and smiled.  “I see the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”  My mom didn’t give him any reaction, so he continued on.  “Just hear me out for while.  You’ll see where I’m going with this.

            “Scott spent some time in the Navy.  Luckily a buddy of mine who is also a navy vet actually knew him and was able to give me a little background on him.  He was a pretty hateful fellow.  The military doesn’t like racist people in their ranks, and according to my sources he didn’t try to hide his hatred for minorities.  The Navy booted him, and he went downhill from there.  I’ve been able to find out that his family wasn’t all that great either.  They seem to share the same views.”

            “That is not surprising,” my mom said.    “Intolerance is taught.  It’s not an inherited quality.”

            “Right,” the detective agreed.  “That brings us to you.  His family seems to be causing a lot of problems.”

            “How’s that?” I asked. 

            “They seem to have interest in you.”  He regarded me closely.  “You see they know you two ran into each other at the gas station.  They seem to think you have something to do with his death, even though there is no evidence that would show that.”  They didn’t know how right they were.  Solorio continued on.  “They are putting a lot of pressure on us to charge you with something, or they are going to take matters into their own hands.”

            I scoffed at this for reasons that the detective couldn’t even imagine.  He didn’t seem shocked at my skepticism

            “Now they don’t really know any details about you. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure how they knew you existed.  Personally, I don’t think you have much to worry about.  Still, I thought you should know that his brothers are a lot worse than he is.  I wanted you to be careful.  I couldn’t stand by and not tell you what was going on.”

            “Well, we thank you for that,” my mom said.  Detective Solorio stood up to leave, so I guessed the conversation was over.  I couldn’t believe that was all that he showed up for.  Mom walked him over to the door and she was surprisingly chummy with him.  I got the feeling that she had known him before.  As she passed me, Mom gave me a look that told me that I was going to hear about this later on.  I couldn’t wait.

As soon as the detective was out the door, she came back into the living room and said, “So is there anything else you want to tell me?”

“There isn’t much to tell,” I answered her.  “I don’t even know who that guy was, and I’m sure Detective Solorio told you what I had told him.”

“That might be true, but I want you to tell me.”

So I did as I was told.  Of course I didn’t say anything about what happened after I got that fateful flat tire.  My story didn’t deviate from the one I had told the detective a day ago, however I could tell by the look on my mom’s face that she was quite skeptical.  I didn’t tell her anything that was blatantly false.  I had just left out some very important details.  Uncharacteristically, she didn’t pepper me with questions while I was talking.

After I was done, she asked, “Why didn’t you say anything about this before?”

“I didn’t think it mattered.  Like I said, I didn’t even know him.”

“But you’ve seen him?”

“I only saw him for a total of five seconds.  I never even spoke to him.”

Mom looked at me for a few seconds before letting it go.  However she did say, “You’re not telling me everything. There is something else going on here.  Just be careful.  The truth always have a way of coming out.”  With that she left, and went back to her office leaving me standing there looking at her back.



            “Caleb wants to do what?” I asked Angel when she met me after Advanced Biology on the way too lunch.  I was a bouncing off the walls most of the morning, due to a very good night of sleep, because using the magic seemed to sap a lot of my energy.  The first thing I did after talking to my mom was eat, not surprisingly.   Then I went straight to bed and I was out before my head had even reached the pillow.  The result was me waking up more refreshed than I had in a long while.  Bret almost didn’t know what to do with me this morning, but he sure did get a kick out of it.  I don’t think he had ever seen me that animated, and he took my good natured ribbing of him in stride.  However, this was the first time I had talked to Angel in two days, and she had yet to explain her absence yesterday, and there was no way I was going to believe she was sick, especially since both her and Caleb were suspiciously absent the day before. 

“He wants the four of us to go to the football game on Friday night,” she answered.  “He brought up the idea yesterday.  And don’t try to use the excuse that you have to work.  I checked the schedule last night, so I know that you’re off.”

            The two of them had certainly thought this through.  “I’m not really into the whole double dating thing,” I said.  “I’m more of a one man type of girl, so the group thing doesn’t really do anything for me.”

            “Don’t be gross,” she shot back.  I was starting to wonder why it was only okay for her to be vile.

            “Besides, won’t you be busy doing your rah-rah duties?”  I asked.  “And is the football team even worth watching?”

            “Hello, I’m a winter cheerleader.  There is no way I could be on the fall squad.  Caleb would beat up the male cheerleaders for trying to look up my skirt.”

            “What?  You guys have male cheerleaders here?” I asked, and when she didn’t respond, I continued.  “I would have never pegged Caleb to be the jealous type.  Oh right, I forgot. He has to protect his investment.”

            “I can’t help that I’m worth good protection,” she said.  “And what do you mean by asking if the football team was worth watching?”

            “I was just saying,” I started.  “The way you were talking about the basketball team made me wonder if any of our sports teams were worth watching.”

            “Don’t let the boys here you say that,” Angel warned.  “They might take it personally.  And don’t you play a sport yourself, Miss State Champ.”

            “I don’t think track is considered to be a spectator sport at the high school level.”  I added, “And I’m not afraid of the boys either.  If your man wants to be a total downer at the game, I’ll take his hotdog and beat him upside the head with it.”

We both laughed at the ridiculousness of beating someone with a hotdog as we entered the cafeteria.  We got our food, which was actually something decent for a change, and headed to our usual place.  However, for a change of pace, the boys were actually there waiting on us, and because of it, I wondered if Hell had frozen over.

After we sat down, Angel couldn’t wait even a second before trying to cause trouble.  “Caleb, Val said if you act like a downer tomorrow night, she was going to take your hotdog and beat you in the head with it.”

“Is that even possible,” Caleb asked incredulously.  His expression was priceless.  I couldn’t even think of the words to describe it.  A deer caught in headlights was an understatement.

“Knowing her it probably is,” Bret said.  “And be careful, she hits pretty hard too.  I have the bruises on my biceps to prove it.”  He then rolled up his sleeve to supposedly show bruises that must of have been invisible.  He was probably just doing it to show off his biceps.

“And what did you do to get those bruises?” Angel asked him.  It was as if she could actually see his invisible bruises, but she was still quite suspicious.

“What do you mean?  I didn’t do anything,” Bret said feigning innocence.  The look on both Caleb’s and Angel’s faces said what they thought about that. 

“Val, what did he do?” Angel asked me.

“He said he liked my girl body parts,” I responded.

“You, jackass,” Caleb said to Bret while Angel kicked him underneath the table.  For the first time I saw Bret wince in pain, so she must have kicked him pretty hard.  “You know,” Caleb continued.  “You make it really hard to feel any sympathy for the horribleness that was your relationship with Kendra when you say things like that.”

 “Oh good you’re talking about me,” came a voice that ruined what ever good spirits that we were in.  “Hey Bret, Caleb, and Angel.”  I wasn’t lost on me that she purposefully didn’t acknowledge my presence.  She must still be smarting over the fact I got something that she wanted, even as it was her fault because she had it and then let it get away.  However, maybe it was good she didn’t because I could easily tell that she wasn’t happy to see Angel either.

“What do you want?” Angel asked.

            “I just wanted to let you guys know that the class is making nominations for the Homecoming Court.  As I’m the student body president, I’m in charge of all of the Homecoming Festivities.”

            “Well aren’t you just the lucky one,” Bret said not at all impressed.  “Don’t you think we know this all ready?”

            She ignored him and continued on.  “I just wanted to let you know that the three of you have been nominated for the court, along with me of course.  Bret I’m sorry that you’re new girlfriend has yet to be nominated.  Maybe you’ll get to dance with me after we win.”

            “I would denounce my throne if that were to happen.”

            “And Val’s nomination could easily be arranged,” Angel said.

            “What difference would that make?” she asked.

            “Obviously a lot,” I said for the first time since this harpy had showed up and ruined my lunch.  “Especially since you just went out of your way to rub my non-nomination in my face, it would be a justified outcome if you lost.  It would say a lot about what people thought of your personality, or lack there of, if you get beaten by someone who has only been here a week.”

            Oh was she mad.  Bret and Caleb were snickering.  “I see for someone who had just got here, you sure do have a lot to say.”

            I didn’t miss a beat in my response.  “And I see you still haven’t learned what home training is.  I guess you decided not to inflate your IQ to be higher than a Category Five Moron.”

            This brought out laughs from the entire table and boy was she pissed.  “I ought to slap you into next week.”

            I jumped up from my seat, “Bitch, that would be the last mistake that you ever make.”

            “Oh, girl fight,” Caleb said, but Bret quickly stepped in between us.

            “Kendra,” he said.  “Believe me when I say that wouldn’t be very wise.”  The bell rang ending lunch.  “Val, come on.”  Bret led me away from her, while the other two were laughing.   Angel, of course, got up to follow leaving Caleb there all by himself, which seemed to be oddly fitting. 

            “I think that went rather well,” Angel said as the three of us left the cafeteria.

            “I guess you could say that,” Bret said.  “Considering,”

            “Considering what?” I asked.

            “Considering that you didn’t beat the crap out of her,” Bret said.  “I like watching girls fight as much as the next guy, but she isn’t really worth it.”

“Maybe not to you,” Angel said.  “I’m sure I can think of a couple of reasons why it would be worth it. Just the entertainment factor is reason enough.”

“Well, now we don’t have to worry about it,” I said.  I don’t really think I would have beaten her up anyway.  Well at least, I wouldn’t have thrown the first punch.

“I’m sure you mom would be ecstatic if you happen to get yourself suspended three days for fighting,” Bret said.

I didn’t answer him right off the bat.  “Actually, it wouldn’t be that bad if I had won, which not to sound conceited, I probably would have.”

“Why would that matter?” Angel asked quite amused. 

“You obviously don’t know my parents as well as you think,” I said to her.  She had met my parents on multiple occasions, and Mom and Dad seemed to like her well enough.  “Now don’t get me wrong.  I would hear about it for years either way.  My mom, and my dad for that matter, had always told my brother and me if we ever got into a fight in school, then we had better win.  We’d get in a lot more trouble if we got our asses beat.”

“Wait,” Bret said. “So it’s okay for you to fight as long as you win?”

“No. That is not what I said, Bret.  Selective attention spans are only useful while watching reality TV.”  I continued.  “We’d get in trouble regardless, but we’d get in more trouble if we lose.  Basically, my parents are of the opinion of that we’re going to get in trouble regardless, so we had better do what ever it takes to win to make it somewhat worth it.”

“That seems mighty convenient,” Bret said.  “Talk about setting a good example.”

“And this is coming from the King of Gaffes,” Angel said.

“I take offense to that,” Bret said.  “I always speak the truth and set a good example.”

“What does that have to with anything?” I asked.  “Do you even know what a gaffe is?”

“Seriously,” Angel agreed.  “Have you heard how you talked to your girlfriend?  You make the Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate sound disciplined.”

“And the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate sound like a Rhodes Scholar,” I added.

“Oh my God,” Angel said laughing.  “Have you seen her?  How can she run for a job and don’t even know what she would be doing if she wins?”

“Enough you two,” Bret sighed.  “I see Caleb and I are going to have to keep the two of you separated.”

“What are you feeling threatened by two helpless girls?” I asked.

Bret scoffed at this.  “You two? Helpless?  I really don’t think so.”

“Well at least he has some kind of awareness, even though it isn’t of the coveted self-aware persuasion,” I said to Angel.

“Only because he would know what would happen if he wasn’t,” Angel responded.

Luckily for Bret, we had gotten to where he had to separate himself from my arm.  I really didn’t know how much he could have taken us having fun at his expense.  Despite all of this, it was funny how everyone had elevated Bret and I to boyfriend and girlfriend status, and what was even funnier was that I wasn’t stopping it.  It was no shock to anyone that Bret wasn’t going to; however, I was surprisingly fine with it.  That should be good news to Bret but bad news to at least one other person.  Kendra, of course, was not included.  I still hadn’t figured out one way or the other about who I was supposed to be watching out for.  Everyone was giving me reasons to suspect them, and none of them was really doing anything any different from what they were doing before.  It was all a matter of when I actually started to pay attention, the little things became big things.  From Angel’s ability to insert herself into everything that matters between Bret and myself to Blaine being incredibly nosy about things that have nothing to do with him whatsoever, was making my head spin.  Add to Caleb just being a totally weird person with reactions to situations that weren’t normal, and I was almost wishing that I hadn’t went to Debra’s house a couple of days ago.  Then there was the whole Caleb was gay thing that didn’t make any sense what so ever. 

Of course with Calculus class was about the start, I didn’t have time to think about those things if I still wanted to have a chance to go to college.  Angel and I left Bret behind, with him sneaking in a kiss before he left us, and after Angel’s total drama “you’re like my brother” drama fit, he gave her a peck on the cheek.  Angel got quiet really quick, and flashed the biggest smile I had ever seen.  The smile disappeared just as quickly as it appeared, but it was way too late.  Interesting. 


I had made the decision when I got home to practice with the magic a little more.  It was nice and easy to use it while Debra was around, but I had also wanted to see how I would react when she wasn’t.  I really wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react any different, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any huge issues while trying to attempt something.

However, I started my time after school as I normally with my usual jog.  It took a little bit more out of me than usual, but it was probably all totally in my head, because I had taken the previous day off.  I had broken the routine that my body had become accustomed to so I had to work a little harder than normal to complete the same distance.  It actually felt a little better to actually be breathing a little harder than expected when I was done running.  Then, of course, there was my after run meal; and I had the thought that I shouldn’t really make fun of Bret about how much food he ate.  I think I eat more than any girl I know.  As a matter of fact most girls I knew around my age were so skinny I wanted to buy then all at least five burgers each just so I didn’t have to look at protruding bones in really sickening areas. 

There was a state park a couple of miles from the development where I lived, and I decided to make the drive out there after I had changed into a clean pair of sweats and a plain white shirt.  For once I was glad I was actually going to save at least some gas by not driving all the way down to the city.  The park was a place I had found after the first week of moving into town and it was a pretty nice, though rather small for state park standards.  It was also the place where our cross-country team ran, and I got very acquainted with the course when I met the coach, who was also one of the track coaches.  He had the bright idea to try to get me to join the cross-country team, but I wasn’t having it.   

After I had driven out of my development, the familiar feeling of being followed crept up on me again.  I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from to save my life.  I was by no means some national spy, who was knowledgeable on how to keep from being followed, but after checking my mirrors constantly, I didn’t see any kind of suspicious vehicles, and after I had arrived at the park, I had decided that I was just being paranoid.

I made it to the park in no time flat, drove to a part of the park I only knew about from driving to the exit on a previous visit.  I parked the car and got out, and there was no one around.  There must not have been a cross-country meet today, even though it was still a little early.   Most people were still in school, so I wasn’t really expecting a lot of people to be here.  I didn’t really spend a whole lot of time hanging around near my car, and instead started to look for a place that was isolated and didn’t attract a lot of attention.  I passed the picnic tables near the parking area and headed towards what I guessed was supposed to pass as woods here in the desert.  There wasn’t much green grass and even though I couldn’t say that trees were nonexistent, there was way too much sun light shining through the tree tops which meant the woods were not exactly dense.  I started down the one trail that was visible, and it wound downhill in between the mounds of sand and tumbleweeds.  After a few minutes of walking I came across a clearing where there was a pile of leaves that had no business being out here.  There wasn’t a tree in close proximity, so someone must have put them there. 

I stopped for a second and considered what I actually wanted to accomplish.  I wanted to make sure I was in area where there wasn’t anyway someone would stumble into what I was about to do.  The reasons for this were obvious.  I really didn’t want to accidentally hurt anyone, and it was kind of hard to keep a secret when it is broadcast to the world. Spending my life as a lab rat was counter productive to what I had planned for the future.  I had also originally wanted to test the limits of what I could do.  However, after thinking it through a little more, I had decided against it.  Despite Debra telling me I couldn’t really harm myself unless I really wanted to, I wasn’t totally convinced.  It was probably more of my paranoia, but I was still a little weary about burning myself up or electrocuting myself.  I still remembered the last time I used the magic.  Debra didn’t stand anywhere near where the she wanted me to target the magic, and I took that to mean that she wanted to make sure she didn’t get burned up or swept into an errant tornado. 

Despite all of those things, I still had some goals as to why I was out here.  Every time I had previously used the magic, it was always pretty powerful.  I had always destroyed my target.  I was curious as to if I was able to tone it down a few notches.  It was really an interesting concept, and to be honest, I totally believed it could be done, but Mom had always said practice makes perfect.

After surveying the immediate area to make sure no one was around, I got to work.  I decided to start with the pile of leaves.  It didn’t take much effort to do what I wanted.  Only a passing thought sufficed.  However, the effects on the leaves were insignificant as compared to how it effect started.   Before the leaves even moved, if could feel the wind as the magic energy started to change.  The loose fitting sweats I was wearing started to flap a little in the wind, and my hair, which I had wore down for the first time in a couple of days, started to flap in the breeze I had conjured up.  It was the first time I had felt any of the actual effects of the magic I had used, probably because I wasn’t really paying attention the other times I had used it.  The strength of the wind wasn’t strong.  It wasn’t anything different than what I had felt while living in the city during those Santa Ana Winds which seem to cause massive fire damage.  The breeze didn’t travel from me to the leaves, which was what I had expected.  It started a new breeze on the pile of leaves, while the breeze around me disappeared.  The leaves started to twirl in the breeze in a rising circle, and it was not unlike what I had seen on rainy days when there was a lot of wind.  It was a beautiful site, and I loved every second of it, and I usually don’t amuse easily.  The spell effect didn’t last for more than about thirty seconds.    

That was something I wanted to extend on the next spell.  When the first spell dissipated, one of the leaves had floated over and landed right in front of me.  I didn’t pick it up but instead focused my mind on making the leaf hot, like starting a fire with a magnifying glass or a pair of eye glasses.  As with before, I could feel the effect of the spell before those effects could be seen.  It was like spell preparation that was blindly fast, and the heat on the back of my neck was jarring.  The feeling was gone as soon as I noticed it, and the leaf started to get hot right in the center.  As the heat increased, a trail of smoke started to appear out of the spot on the center of the leaf.   The center spot got so hot the heat burned a perfectly round hole in the center of the leaf.  The hole grew but stayed in a perfect circle, and it didn’t stop until I shifted my focus away from it.   Again, mission accomplished. 

The one thing I can say about my continued use of the magic was the more I used it, the more confident I became in my abilities.  I think this was part of Debra had meant when she said the magic became easier to use with each use.  Having confidence always made even the most difficult tasks seem much easier.  I knew I probably shouldn’t keep using the magic on frivolous things, but I didn’t want to stop.  There was a weird connection to the arcane energy I felt all around me.  I felt one with it, as if we were the same entity.  As much as that should have freaked me out, I started to walk farther down the trail to find something else to practice on.  I followed the winding path, and the more I walked the darker it became.  The tree tops seemed higher and a lot more dense than the parts of the trail I had previously passed.   The trail really started to wind something fierce, and I was glad I had a pretty good sense of direction because otherwise I wasn’t so sure I would be able to find my way out of here.  There was also more grass here.  It was almost as if I had walked into a totally different place it started to look so different.

After another four winding turns, I came to a pile of branches that were curiously blocking the patch, preventing me from advancing any further.  These weren’t small sticks.  They were pretty huge, but not overly thick.  What made it seem so out of place was it didn’t look like the branches ended up here from a natural occurrence.  Someone had placed them there.  After considering whether to turn back, I had an idea.  I quickly summoned the wind, and the spell effect was stronger than it was just minutes before, it wasn’t nearly as strong as when I conjured the lopsided tornado the day before.  However the wind was strong enough I could hear it as the breeze went from left to right picking, up the branches that blocked my path and effortlessly tossed them aside.  It was a total clean sweep as there wasn’t a branch left in the path after the spell broke.  The interesting part of what just happened was I didn’t have to think about how strong I wanted the spell to be.  I had just thought of moving the branches, but only enough so that I could pass.  The strength of the spell was only enough to do exactly what I wanted, and nothing more.  It was as if the energy had a mind of its own and knew exactly how strong the wind had to be to accomplish what I had set out to do.  Obviously my command of the magic was a lot more complex than I originally believed it to be.  Using video game elements to damage things was too simplistic a concept, and there was no doubt in my mind that Debra knew this.  However, I was sure I wouldn’t have understood even if she had tried to explain it to me.   I was sure she had gone through the same things when she was learning how to control her own abilities.   As I continued through forward on the dirt trail, I pondered how much I could actually learn to do with the magic.  I had the distinct suspicion that the more I used the magic, the stronger and more diverse it would become.  However, I didn’t try to test my abilities further.  I had stumbled into a homeless person’s camp.  There were dirty sleeping bags and trash littered all over the trail.  Who ever made this place their home, must have been the person who had moved those branches to block the trail, probably to keep other homeless people out of their camp.  It must have taken a lot time to do, because there was a considerable amount of branches blocking the trail.  Then again time is all a homeless person really had.  I decided to turn back head back to my car because if there was one thing I learned while living in downtown San Diego all of those years ,was homeless people really was not fond of people trampling through their camps, and I didn’t know the state of mind of the person who had made this place their home.  I really didn’t feel like dealing with crazy people.  Having one person die by my hands was enough for a lifetime.

I easily made my way back to my car, and got home in no time flat, and I had the house all to myself.  I had no idea where my brother was.  He was home less than my parents were.  As was becoming the norm after using the magic, I became tired; however I wasn’t anywhere nearly as tired as the last few attempts of using the magic and I wasn’t the least bit hungry.  I went upstairs and took a long relaxing bath before sitting down and doing my homework, forever being the good student.  Bret had called as promised while I was studying those damn Shostak words.  We spent an hour on the phone studying together, and he was intensely focused on the task at hand.  There were no crazy remarks or flirting from him this particular evening.  The explanation for that was simple, it was Thursday, and the test was the first thing in the morning.  Now or never was the time to learn them.  After we finally got tired of bouncing words that we would probably never use again off of each other, we ended the conversation, as he said that he was again heading to the batting cages before heading to the gym.  I finished my reading assignment for the next day and then decided to take a nap before I became couch potato for the night.  On my way to bed, I glanced at the painting above my bed and again it seemed to have changed on me.  Whoever painted it should have sold it to the Louvre, I was sure she would have made a lot money off it.  I wasn’t sure the French would have been able to afford it.  This time the girl’s hair wasn’t just hanging down past her shoulders.  It was up as if flapping in the breeze and I could see the white strokes which were supposed to represent the wind spell.  It was actually a really beautiful sight, even if it was ridiculously crazy.  I couldn’t come with an explanation for it, and I didn’t know what could have done it.    

I climbed into bed and quickly went to sleep, but before I could get into a true deep slumber, my cell phone rang jolting me upright.   I was instantly annoyed, and it took me a few seconds in the dark to locate it on my desk.  A familiar voice came through my receiver when I answered. 

“Good evening, Val.  It’s Detective Solorio,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

“Oh, it’s you,” I said.  My annoyance continued in spite of the cute detective.  How did he get my number anyway?  Mom must have given it to him, even though there was no good reason for her to do so.  “You know, you have the ability to contact me when all I really want to do is sleep.”

“Sleep?” the detective asked.  “You’re a state champion athlete.  I didn’t believe your mother when she told me you sleep a lot.

“What do you want?”  So my suspicions that he knew my mother were correct.  It seemed they were friends and not just casual acquaintances. 

“I have been doing a little background research on Mr. Roberts and I found that he knows some very interesting people.”

“I’m sure he does,” I retorted.  “People like him always seem to know interesting people.  They are just not who most people would want to know.”

“I’m sure you’d want to know this person.”  The detective didn’t flinch in response.  If he was friends with my mother, he obviously knew how to ignore smartass comments.  He continued, “As a matter of fact, I sure you might know them already.”

“That’s quite a leap.  Are you grasping at straws again?”

“Pretty much.  However, I think I might have grabbed a pretty long one this time.”

“Oh do tell.”  I had become curious.  The good detective was really starting to become a great ally as foretold.

“Well, I started to do a little research on his family, and I found out a couple of things.”

“I thought you were doing that already?”

“I was,” he confirmed.  “However, this time I did a computer search of his parents, and I found that he has a different father than his younger brothers.  It seems his mother had an affair with a married man who happens to live in Spring Hill.”

“So what?”

“This man also has other kids including one who happens to be around your age, which means you probably go to school with them and might know them as well.”

“Then again,” I started.   “I might not.  “You have to remember I’m the new girl at this school.  I’ve only been going there the last two weeks, and not the last three years.”

“Oh I think you do?”

“Well, damn, just spit it out then?”  He sure was trying to drag this out for dramatic effect, and it wasn’t having the effect that he wanted.  It was making me more annoyed instead.

“I know you don’t talk that way around Denise.  She would have your ass.”  Then he told me, and it turned out it did have the dramatic effect that he wanted.  I was in shock because I did know the person, and man, hearing the name made me want to vomit.

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Novel / Novella
writing ajodom
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