Archive | November 2012

Perfection Unleased Excerpt – Jade Kerrion

In the midst of my post-Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo euphoria, I get to add the uber high of my very first EVER guest blog post!

To say that I am squeeing my pants over this is an understatement. The ever fabulous Jade Kerrion has graciously provided an excerpt from her novel: Perfection Unleashed. It is the first in the Double Helix series.

She was also kind enough to provide me with copies of the series. Reading these is one of my rewards for getting through NaNo without killing anyone 😉 So look out for reviews in the coming months!

Without further ramblings from yours truly (inane ramblings will resume tomorrow), I ecstatically present to you: Jade Kerrion and Perfection Unleashed!

Author Bio:

Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Drawing rave reviews for its originality and vision, and described as “a breakout piece of science fiction,” Perfection Unleashed, and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, are available in print and e-book through Amazon and other major retailers.

About The Double Helix series: 

His genetic code sourced from the best that humanity offers, Galahad embodies the pinnacle of perfection. When Zara Itani, a mercenary whose abrasive arrogance exceeds her beauty, frees him from his laboratory prison, she offers him the chance to claim everything that had ever been denied him, beginning with his humanity.

Perfection cannot be unleashed without repercussions, and Galahad’s freedom shatters Danyael Sabre’s life.

An alpha empath, Danyael is rare and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. He wields the power to heal or kill with a touch, but craves only privacy and solitude—both impossible dreams for the man who was used as Galahad’s physical template.

Galahad and Danyael, two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, and the other to escape it.

The award-winning Double Helix series, consisting of Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, and Perfect Weapon, will challenge your notions of perfection and humanity, and lead you in a celebration of courage and compassion. Science fiction, urban fantasy, and action-adventure readers will enjoy this thrilling roller-coaster ride as it twists and turns through a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution.

Where you can find Jade and the Double Helix Series!

Connect with Jade Kerrion: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Perfection Unleashed: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Perfect Betrayal: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Perfect Weapon: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

****

Chapter One from Perfection Unleashed, the first in the Double Helix series…

~*~*~

On another Friday night, she might have been out at a Georgetown bar, accepting drinks from attractive men and allowing them to delude themselves into imagining that they might be the lucky one to take her home.

Tonight, she had work to do.

The hem of the white lab coat brushed about her legs as she strode toward the double doors that barred entry to the western wing. No one paid her any attention. Scientists and lab technicians scurried past her, nodding at her with absent-minded politeness. On Friday evening, with the weekend beckoning, no one thought about security.

Where men faltered, technology kept going.

The corridor seemed endlessly long, and the security cameras that pivoted on their ceiling-mounted frames bore into her back. She knew that her image likely featured on one or more of the many monitors at the security desk, but a combination of training and nerves of steel steadied her. She resisted the urge to twitch or to hurry her pace.

Each step brought her closer to an ominously glowing red eye on the security panel beside the door. Undeterred, she waved her badge over the panel. Moments later, the security panel flashed to green and a heavy lock slid back. Another small triumph. It usually took a series of them to make a victory.

She lowered her head, ostensibly to look down at the tablet in her hand. Her long, dark hair fell forward, concealing the lower half of her face from the security camera as she walked through the open door. “Entering the western wing,” she murmured, trusting the concealed microphone to pick up on her whisper.

“Good luck,” Carlos’s voice responded through the tiny earpiece inserted in her right ear. “All’s clear out here.”

“I’m really glad the security pass I programmed for you actually worked,” Xin added, a whimsical tone in her voice.

Zara was glad, too. She had a solid plan. Two of her finest associates backed her up—Carlos Sanchez waiting in the car concealed off road outside Pioneer Labs, and Mu Xin poised in front of a computer in her Alexandria home—but she could come up with a list of a half-dozen things that could still go wrong.

“I’ve finished checking the employee log against the National Mutant Registry,” Xin continued. “You’ve lucked out, Zara. Apparently Pioneer Labs isn’t big into hiring mutants. You won’t have to contend with any telepaths or telekinetics tonight.”

Good. That was one thing she could strike off her list.

Another long hallway stretched in front of her, but the glass-enclosed research station on the left drew her attention. Two lab technicians huddled around a network of computers, their attention focused on the output pouring from the whirling terminals. Her gaze drifted over the lab technicians and focused on Roland Rakehell and Michael Cochran, the famous co-creators of “Galahad”, the perfect human. The two scientists stood in contemplative discussion in front of a liquid-filled fiberglass chamber.

The man floating within the sensory deprivation tank, his head encased in a metallic hood and his face covered by breathing apparatus, writhed in agony. Wires monitoring heart rate and brain waves trailed from his naked body. Jagged edges leaped hysterically off the computer readouts as mind and body convulsed, shuddering with madness and pain.

One of the lab technicians spoke up, “Professor, his brain waves indicate that he is waking.”

Roland Rakehell glanced at his watch. “Right on time,” he noted, his voice tinged with disappointment. “I guess the miracles can’t come thick and fast every single day.”

“We made him human, not superhuman,” Michael Cochran said. “Besides, we don’t really have time to record a miracle today.” He glanced at the two technicians. “Roland and I are meeting investors for dinner, and we have to leave now. Take Galahad back to his room. Make sure he gets something to eat.”

Silently she pushed away from the viewing area and continued down the corridor. Her violet eyes betrayed the faintest flicker of confusion and consternation.

Galahad.

She would never have imagined it, but apparently the scientists had no qualms treating their prized creation like a common lab animal.

“Xin?” she murmured quietly.

“Right here,” was the immediate response.

“Approaching the suite.”

“I’m one step ahead of you,” Xin said. “I’ve gotten through the security system and rerouted all the cameras in the suite to a static video feed. You’re clear to enter.”

The second door opened into a large suite pressed up against the western wall of the laboratory complex. No gentle ambient lighting there, just harsh pools of unforgiving white light blazing over the bed and table, leaving the rest of the large suite in muted shadows.

Was it through deliberate design or neglectful oversight that no attempt had been made to humanize Galahad’s living quarters? Empty shelves lined the wall. The small metal table and matching chair were severe, the narrow bed unwelcoming. She had seen third-world hospital wards offer far more comfort to its occupants.

Footsteps echoed, drawing closer, and then paused outside the door. There was no time to waste. She strode across the room, slipping into the shadows that obscured the far side of the suite moments before the door slid open again.

The two technicians she had seen earlier half-dragged, half-carried Galahad into the room. It staggered with exhaustion, trying to stand on its own. The technicians hauled Galahad up and dumped it unceremoniously in a wet, shivering heap on the bed.

One of the technicians cast a backward glance at the unmoving figure on the bed. “Pete, are you sure he’s going to be okay?” he asked the other.

“Eventually. It usually takes him a while to recover,” Pete assured the younger man. He pulled out two sealed nutrient bars from his pocket and tossed them onto the table. “Let’s go.”

“I think we should at least get him a towel or put him under the sheets.”

Pete snapped. “How many times do I have to say it? Let him be, Jack. He doesn’t want to be helped, though God knows I’ve tried often enough. He wants to be able to do things for himself, at least here, in this room. It’s the only dignity he has left; let’s leave that to him.”

“It was bad today.”

The older man inhaled deeply, sparing a quick glance back. Galahad trembled so hard it seemed as if it would shatter. It curled into a fetal ball, perhaps to protect itself from further violation. “I know. And the best thing we can do for him right now is leave him alone,” Pete said as he stepped out of the room and allowed the door to seal shut behind them.

The impact was thunderous—not audibly—but she felt it nonetheless. It was the sealing of a prison cell.

Zara had wondered what kind of luxuries and privileges the incomparable Galahad—the pinnacle of genetic perfection—enjoyed. Now she knew the answer.

She watched in silence as Galahad stirred, slowly standing and leaning on the wall for support as it staggered toward the bathroom. She had yet to get a good look at its face, but the blazing light did not leave much of its body to imagination. It was slender but well muscled, powerful and graceful, in spite of its obvious exhaustion—the promise of perfection come into fruition.

She waited through the sound of running water. Patience had never been easy for her, but she possessed the instincts of a hunter closing in on its quarry. Her patience was rewarded when it finally returned to the room, dressed simply in loose-fitting white cotton drawstring pants and a tunic of the same material. As it stepped into the blazing circle of light, her eyes narrowed briefly, and then a faint smile of easy appreciation curved her lips.

She had studied the surveillance video feed Xin had hacked from the central computers of Pioneer Labs the day before, but the wide-angle lenses had not captured anything approximating the full impact of Galahad’s beauty. Its rare and lovely color—pale blond hair paired with dark eyes—stood out and attracted immediate attention, but the longer she looked, the more beauty she saw in its exquisitely chiseled features, as flawless as a Michelangelo masterpiece. Galahad was stunningly beautiful—would be stunningly beautiful, whatever the color of its hair or eyes. The scientists had certainly done well; more than well.

Galahad made its way over to a rattan chair, moving with greater ease. It was regaining its strength, though she did not think that it was anywhere near optimal form, not when it had almost collapsed with exhaustion on the way to the bathroom ten minutes earlier. It curled up in the chair and closed its eyes, looking oddly content, despite the fact that it did not fit very well into the chair. Within a minute, she realized from the even rise and fall of its chest with every breath, that it had fallen asleep.

It was time to get to work.

Galahad did not stir as she silently crossed the room. A*STAR had demanded fresh DNA samples obtained as directly from the source as possible. Hair or skin samples would be acceptable, and both were typically abundant in a bathroom. She pulled test tube and tweezers from the pocket of her lab coat and knelt to examine the bathroom counter.

Something flickered in the corner of her vision.

Instinct and trained reflexes took over. In a flash, her dagger was in her hand. She spun, the black serrated blade slicing outward.

Galahad reacted with uncanny speed. It dove to the side, dropping into a roll and coming up in a battle crouch. Her dagger slashed through the air where Galahad had been standing a moment before. Galahad’s dark eyes narrowed as it assessed her. Its body shifted into motion, preparing to defend itself.

She too reassessed, readjusted. Her attack should not have missed. Galahad’s battle instincts had been trained and polished to perfection. Apparently it was more than a common lab animal.

Her dagger lashed out once again in a graceful, snake-like motion, and Galahad evaded by dodging to one side. The blade sliced harmlessly through the air so close to Galahad that it must have felt the chill breath of the dagger’s passing against its skin.

Galahad’s silent and sinuously graceful movements were driven by so much speed and agility that strength—although abundant—was superfluous. It matched her, step for step, dodging each attack with a grace that made their deadly waltz seem choreographed. There was no doubt that Galahad was good, far better than anyone she had ever contended with. In spite of its obvious fatigue after a long and difficult day, Galahad possessed flawless timing and impeccable spatial precision, allowing it to escape injury by fractions of a second and a hairsbreadth. It had nerves of steel. It taunted her with its proximity and tempted the kiss of her blade, never straying too far as it sought an opening.

She saw the dark eyes glitter dangerously and knew that something in it had shifted, had changed. She thrust her blade at its face.

In less than a heartbeat, it was over.

With a swiftness that left her stunned, Galahad twisted its hand to catch her wrist in an iron grip. It sidestepped, yanked her forward, and drove its knee into her thigh. Her leg weakened and collapsed. Its superior weight drove her to the ground and kept her there without any visible effort.

A perfectly sequenced attack, executed with flawless precision and stunning speed.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, she recognized the inevitable outcome as it eased the dagger from between her nerveless fingers. She cursed soundlessly. She had underestimated its skill, perhaps to her folly. It suddenly released her, pulled her to her feet, and then stepped away from her. Some emotion she could not decipher rippled over its flawless features, and to her amazement, it flipped the dagger over in its hand and held it out, hilt first, to her. “I don’t know why I’m fighting you. You came to kill me; I should thank you for your kindness.”

She reached out and accepted the dagger from Galahad as her mind raced to understand the incomprehensible. Galahad held her gaze only for a moment before it lowered its eyes and looked away. She saw its throat work as it fought an internal battle to suppress its survival instincts, and then it turned its back on her deliberately and walked out of the bathroom.

She could have struck the fatal blow. Galahad was offering her the chance. She could pull Galahad’s head back and apply the faintest pressure to the dagger’s blade across its jugular. She could extract the tissue sample she had been sent to collect, and then leave, her mission completed.

She could not bring herself to do it. Oddly enough, something in her wanted it—wanted him—to live.

“Zara?” she heard Xin’s voice softly inquiring in her ear, her tone concerned.

“I’m all right,” she murmured. “Give me a minute.” She paused by the bathroom door and watched him make his way toward the wide windows. He kept his back to her as he stared out at the manicured lawns around Pioneer Labs. Was he waiting for her to strike?

Well, she could play the waiting game too. She followed him and then turned, casually leaning against the window as she looked up at him, her gaze coolly challenging.

Several moments passed.

Finally he broke the silence. “Who sent you?” he asked quietly without looking at her.

She had expected the question, but not the calm, neutral tone in which it was asked. No anger. No hatred. No fear. Just a simple question, driven more by politeness than by any real need to know. “Does it matter?”

He inhaled deeply and released his breath in a soft sigh as she neatly evaded his inquiry. He tried another question. “Are you from around here?”

“Washington, D.C.”

“I’ve seen media clips of that city. It’s beautiful.”

She offered a nonchalant shrug as a response to his statement. “It’s pretty enough, I suppose. I take it you’ve never been there.”

“I don’t get out much, and the last time was a good while ago.” He shrugged, a graceful motion that belied the bitterness in his voice. “I’ve seen media clips endorsed by Purest Humanity and other pro-humanist groups. There is no place for me in your world.”

It was pointless to deny the obvious, but before she could open her mouth to toss out the retort on the edge of her tongue, an animal-like cry resonated through the complex. It was a ghastly sound, starting at a low pitch akin to the sound a lost puppy might make and then rising until it was a banshee’s scream. “What was that?”

“It’s an experiment in another part of the building.”

“It doesn’t sound like anything I recognize. What is it?”

He tossed her question back at her: “Does it matter?”

“Not if you don’t care.”

“It’s been going on for as long as I can remember.”

His matter-of-fact statement was like fuel to fire. Her eyes flashed. “And you feel nothing? No anger? No pity? You’re inhuman.”

“I thought you’d already decided that,” was his mild rejoinder. “Isn’t that why the pro-humanist groups want me killed?”

She hesitated. Somewhere along the way—she was not even sure when—she had stopped thinking of Galahad as an “it” and had started relating to it as a “he”. She had attributed to him all the responsibilities of being human, but none of its rights or privileges, in effect placing him in the worst possible no-win situation. She recalled his anguished convulsions in the sensory deprivation chamber. How much pity did she expect him to dredge up for another creature in a position no different from his own? Very little. In fact, none at all.

She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The anger subsided. “Do they conduct experiments on you too?” she asked softly.

He stiffened. Without meeting her gaze, he answered the question, choosing his words with care. “I…yes, they do, sometimes.”

“What did they do to you today?”

He averted his gaze and bit down hard on his lower lip. He shook his head, said nothing.

“You looked like hell when they brought you back. I want to know, please.”

He was silent for so long she thought he was never going to answer the question, but then he spoke in a measured, neutral tone. “They gave me a highly concentrated sleeping pill and then injected a hallucinogen, to induce nightmares. They wanted to see if I could overcome the effects of the sleeping pill to wake up.”

“Did you?’

Another long pause. His reply was a softly anguished whisper. “No.”

“How long did the experiment last?”

“About eight hours, perhaps nine.” He laughed, low and melodic, but it was a humorless sound. “I slept all day, and I’m exhausted.”

“Why do they do that?”

“It’s simple; because they can. Humans and their derivatives, the clones and in vitros, have rights. I’m considered non-human, in large part because of the successful lobbying of pro-humanist groups, and I don’t have rights.” Galahad released his breath in a soft sigh. Long eyelashes closed over dark, pain-filled orbs as he inhaled deeply. He opened his eyes and met her gaze directly, holding it for a long, silent moment. The corner of his lips tugged up again in a bittersweet half smile. “I’m tired. I need to lie down. You can do what you need to do whenever you want.”

“Wait!” She grabbed his arm as he turned away from her. “You want me to kill you?”

“Isn’t that what you came to do?”

“Do you actually want to die?”

He waved his hand to encompass the breadth and width of the impersonal and deliberately dehumanizing room. “I’m not sure this should count as living.”

“But you’re not human.”

“No,” he agreed, his voice even. “No, but I am alive…just like any other human. This isolation drives me crazy. I know this is not the way others live. This isn’t living.”

He looked away. His pain was real, his anger compelling. In spite of it, she had seen him smile a few times and wondered whether his twisted half-smile could ever be coaxed into becoming something more. In silence, she watched as he turned his back on her and walked to his rattan chair. He seemed tired, emotional weariness draining his physical strength. Slowly he settled into the chair, drawing his legs up and curling into a vaguely comfortable position. Apparently he had chosen to deliberately ignore her. He was tuning her out and was once again trying to find solace in the few things he had left, such as a worn chair and his own company, trying to get through each cheerless day and lonely night.

Outside, a rabbit, safe from predators in the falling dusk, emerged from its burrow and hopped across the small patch of grass in front of the large windows of the suite. Zara watched as a faint smile touched his face, briefly transforming it. His personality seemed wrapped around a core that was equal parts weary indifference and tightly controlled bitterness, but there was still enough left in him to savor the small crumbs that life saw fit to throw his way. If his quiet strength had amazed her, his enduring courage humbled her. As she watched him, she knew he had won the battle he had wanted, so badly, to lose. He had proved his right to live, even though there was no purpose in living in a place like this. He knew that fact intimately, and so did she.

Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

“Zara, we’ve got trouble.” Carlos’s voice cut through the silence of her thoughts, his habitual calmness edged with tension. “Lots of vehicles incoming. Purest Humanity logos. Could be a protest forming; they look seriously pissed.”

She took a few steps away from Galahad. Annoyance disguised flickers of anxiety in her voice. “They’re about two days too early. They’ve been gathering on Christmas Eve each year.”

“Well, looks like someone had a change of plans. I’m estimating about forty…fifty cars, at least twice as many people.”

“They won’t get through the gate,” Xin said. “It was designed to keep out APCs.”

“Uh…The gate just opened…Por dios…They’re driving in!”

“What?”

“No kidding, I swear to God.” The tension in Carlos’s voice escalated. “Someone must be screwing around with the security system.”

Zara suppressed a hiss of irritation. “Find that person, Xin, and disable his access. I don’t want to have to fight my way out of here.”

“I’m on it, but I can’t guarantee they won’t get to you. If they’re already through the gate, they’ll be pounding on the front door in seconds. You don’t have time; get moving. And Zara, if you don’t take Galahad with you, he’s as good as dead.”

Zara’s mind raced through the options available to her, the possibilities. She shrugged, dismissing the many logical reasons why she should not do what she was about to do, and took her first step down her path with a terse and coolly decisive order. “He’s coming with me. I’ll get us out of the building. Carlos, stand by for an extraction.”

“Copy that.”

She stepped toward Galahad. “You need to change into something else.” The thin cotton tunic and pants he wore would not provide sufficient protection from the chilly night air. Besides, his clothes looked like something issued to long-term residents of mental hospitals. Something with fewer negative institutional implications would work better at keeping him as inconspicuous as possible.

He blinked in surprise, her voice jerking him back to reality, and he looked up at her. “There is nothing else to wear,” he said. He released his breath in a soft sigh, his gaze drifting away from her to the rabbit outside the window.

Nothing else? A quick search of the suite confirmed his words. The only pieces of clothing in the suite’s large and mostly empty walk-in closet were several pieces of identical white cotton tunics and pants, a subtle but highly effective dehumanizing strategy. “We’re leaving anyway,” she told him as she returned into the living area of the suite. “Get up. We’re going.”

He stared at her in bewilderment. “Going?”

Zara exercised exquisite politeness and reminded herself to be patient with him. “I’m getting you out of here.”

A glimmer of understanding tinged with wary hope swirled through the confusion in his sin-black eyes, but he still did not move from the chair. “I thought you came to kill me.”

Not precisely, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing if he kept believing it, especially if it would make him more tractable. Things were complicated enough; an uncooperative captive would heighten the stakes and the danger of their situation. “I’ve changed my mind.”

“Changed your mind?”

“It’s a woman’s prerogative,” she told him, a wicked smile curving her lips. Her tone softened slightly. As huge as this step seemed for her, it must seem even larger for him. “I want to help you. Will you come with me?”

He met her gaze, held it for a long moment, and then finally smiled. “Yes.”

The simplicity of his answer staggered her, to say nothing of the heart-stopping power of his smile. It was a smile that could melt iron. “You trust me,” she said, “but you don’t even know my name.”

“It would be ungracious not to trust someone who has already passed up on several opportunities to kill me.” He uncurled from his chair and stood. His manners were at least as exquisite as his looks. He made no mention of the fact that he had beaten her in a fair fight and then refused to follow up on his advantage.

Maybe he considered it irrelevant. The important point was that she did not. The fight she had lost had, after all, been the critical turning point. She smiled up at him, suddenly realizing that his dark, fathomless eyes did not seem nearly as distant and empty as they had several minutes earlier. “I’m Zara Itani.”

He smiled faintly, the warmth from his smile briefly lighting up his eyes. “Zara, I’m Galahad.”

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I should invent brain bleach…

I have this bff. We’ve known each other long enough that our friendship is old enough to drink.

One of our little rituals involves my drive to work (which is godawfully long and a pain in my hinie, I’ll explain why another day). I spend a lot of time in the car, so I listen to music. Specifically Jack FM, which plays just music so I don’t get bored listening to some ninny blather about stuff I couldn’t possibly care less about. (Poor grammar FTW!)

So, I text her a line or two of a song and she sings back.

The other day I texted her this:

“You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record baby, right round, round, round!”

AE: You just sang the whole song. I have nothing to add but “ditto”!

me: That’s okay. You can just think of *****.com! (No, I won’t link it here. It’s NSFW. I find it insanely hilarious. If you MUST know, email me.)

Please note at this juncture that I was not intentionally breaking my friend. I just can’t hear the song without thinking of the website. So I shared, assuming that she’d already seen it. I was so very wrong.

AE: I just clicked on that. OMFG!!!

me: hahahahahahahahahahahaahahhaahaha

AE: I threw up a little in my mouth.

me: Bahahahahahahahahahaha

AE: I’m in a serious meeting, too. Thanks a LOT.

me: (laughing out loud in the bank and getting funny looks) Oh god. Can’t breathe. I may die. So worth it.

I’m sure she wishes that there were such a think as brain bleach and that she had some. I need to figure out how to invent it. Cause seriously, there are some things you just can’t unsee.

Proof that I am not all ceiling cat: I may have shared said website with many, many of my friends.

Should you choose to email me wanting the URL, please be forewarned. When I say NSFW, I truly mean it 🙂

Ferrets!

So during last night’s desperate attempt to catch up with my NaNo word count, @kseniaanske decided it would be fun to do a ferret sprint.

As I love me some furry little critters, I couldn’t resist the challenge.

The first story is up on her blog. Go read it and stay tuned for the others (including mine!)

A gets full credit for this bit, because he suggested it!

Here’s mine now, just because the whole thing amuses the pants off me.  Enjoy!

****

Meg had been in school now for about three months. She felt like she was really getting the hang of this whole magic thing. Flying had been scary as hell, but thrilling all at the same time and once she’d gained a bit of confidence, Dana’d had to threaten her with no flying for a month to get her to land.

Today was her first lesson in conjuring. She’d been up most of the night with these grand ideas of floating sugar castles and whirling ice storms. Did she have any real idea what conjuring involved? Absolutely not.

Dana walked into the work room with a particularly smug look on her face. Prickles of worry started to gnaw away at Meg’s excitement. Sure, it had only been a few months, but she’d already learned to be wary of that look.

“So. Are you ready to learn conjuration?” Dana practically purred.

Aw hell. This was gonna be bad. But there was no way she was backing down now. So Meg nodded. How bad could it be, really?

“That’s the spirit. How familiar are you with ferrets?” Dana perched on a stool, looking not unlike a pixie bent on destruction.

“I know of them. Mom always said no, because they were ‘wily little creeps’ and there was no way she was letting them into her house. Something about chewing.”

“She’s not wrong. They’re from the weasel family and they also have scent glands, like skunks.”

“Okay, wily, chewy, stinky. Got it. So what do ferrets have to do with conjuration?” Meg’s impatience was growing. She was tired of talking. She wanted to do. Was this a glaring Achilles heel that Dana was going to exploit? You’re darn skippy it was.

Dana smiled a slow, toothy smile.

Meg paled, her freckles jumping off her face as it turned papery. Patience, she berated herself. How many times over the last few months had Dana nailed her for lacking patience? Her eyebrows had only just grown back from the last lesson.

“Conjuration isn’t too hard, dear. You’re really just bringing something to you from somewhere else. It works similarly to the fetching charm that you learned your first month here.”

That didn’t sound too bad…

“In this case though, you’re going to picture ferrets in your mind and will them into the cage on the table.” Dana demonstrated. “You see how easy it is?”

“Totally. I’ve got this.” Meg concentrated on the ferret in the cage. She closed her eyes and saw another appear right next to it. There was a soft pop, like a bubble. Meg smiled. Nailed it!

She opened her eyes and looked in triumph on the two ferrets in the cage.

Pop! Pop, pop, pop.

Ferrets started popping up all over the workroom. Furry, squirming bodies covered the floor and every available surface. They crawled over her lap, around her shoulders, nestling in her hair, and nuzzling her ears.

Oh gods. What had gone wrong?

Meg turned to Dana, only to see her teacher doubled over with tears streaming down her face. Also, curiously free of ferrets.

“Did I not mention that you have to be very specific about quantity and when to stop delivering the objects that you conjure? It must be an age thing. The memory is the first to go and all that.” Dana clung to the table, gasping for breath.

“Funny. Hysterical even. Are you done yet?” Meg was starting to panic. These things were multiplying like tribbles.

Dana gave one last whoop of laughter and waved the ferrets away.

NaNoWriMo WIP Snippet

As promised, here is a snippet of the WIP I’m writing for NaNoWriMo.

My usual disclaimer applies. This is a very rough draft. I’ll be overjoyed at any feedback or constructive criticism, just try to remember that constructive is the operative word here 😉

***

Meg settled Mr. Floppy on her bed against the pillow and looked around. It wasn’t quite home, but it would do. She’d made it as comfortable as she could, but it still seemed stark and impersonal somehow. She wished that it looked more like her room. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel so homesick.

Everyone had walked with her to the school’s entrance. It was actually an old boarded up storefront next to an antique store that no one ever went to. There’d been hugs and kisses and more than a few tears.

She’d gotten a few nifty presents from her friends. A journal she could write notes in that would appear in a matching journal that Kristen had. It was better than email, especially considering that her laptop wouldn’t function at the school.

Trey had, naturally, given her a completely inappropriate box of magical pranks. Candy to turn your teeth green, disappearing ink, stink bombs, and other things she was afraid to touch. Nevermind the fact that she’d have no one but herself and the mysterious teacher to use them on.

Jamie gave her a whistle. She’d thanked him, confused, and tucked it into her pocket.

He’d reached into her pocket and pulled it back out.

“Blow.”

Meg blinked.

“You know what I mean. Perv.”

So she’d blown the whistle. It was even weirder because it didn’t make any noise. “I think it’s broken, sweetie.”

“Not at all. It’s magic, goof. If you’re in trouble, blow the whistle. It lights up my bracelet,” he shoved said bracelet under her nose and sure enough, it was flashing red. “I can come rescue you and bring the calvary along with me,”

Wow. That was pretty neat. Also, totally like him to give her something to defend herself with.

“Gee, and here I was thinking you didn’t care.”

Meg had stalled as long as she could, but eventually all the goodbyes had been said and a last round of hugs given.

She’d stepped through the door and into the school.

It was incredible. Gold laced marble floors, warmly glowing chandeliers, dark rich wood. There were even tapestries hanging on the walls for crying out loud. Soft and rich, depicting all kinds of scenes that Meg had read about in fairy tales and never thought were actually based in truth.

She’d looked around, wondering if she was supposed to check in and where. It was so quiet that Meg felt like she was in a library and worried that she might be breathing too loud.

Meg’s bags had torn themselves from her grip and started floating off up the stairs. Bemused, she’d followed. Clearly being alone at school was far more literal than she’d thought it would be.

So now she was sitting in her room, missing her parents and familiar surroundings, trying not to cry. She refused to give in to such a childish thing as tears on her very first day. The tears started to leak out anyway. She needed a distraction, like now, or she’d be bawling like a baby.

She seized on her Dad’s demonstration of magic powers. Her room could look more like home. Thanking her Dad, Meg closed her eyes and concentrated. She didn’t want it to look just like home, that would only make things worse. But it needed to look more like her.

As she pictured things, the room around her transformed. The plain white walls, became papered in delicately swirled blues and greens, the loops and whorls resembling ocean waves. The bare wooden floor acquired a plush, blue carpet that felt silky and warm under her feet.

Next, a comfy green couch appeared in front of the fireplace with a low stone coffee table in front of it. Bookshelves grew into the wall next to the fireplace and a spacious desk settled itself under the window.

Much better. This was a room she could live in for the next year. Feeling happier, but a bit drained, Meg lay down and snuggled her bunny. A short nap wouldn’t hurt and she was sure that if she had to be somewhere, she’d be fetched.

Friday! Thank goodness!

It’s been a heck of a week, guys.

First with the falling and squishing my tender bits, and then with winning a writing contest (SQUEEE) it’s been busy.

First off I have to thank A for being my sounding board for my entry into Allie’s contest! He helped me tweak it and make it much more betterer.

Second of all. Holy poop, the 7th was our anniversary and I totally spaced. Mea culpa, darling.

So the rest of the week went a little like this…

Background: Last Friday a new driver crashed her car through the fence surrounding work’s property. It’s a wrought iron fence and she hit it pretty darn hard. Her gas tank exploded. Luckily, she walked away.

More background: When I started working here a little more than a year ago, I had a limited set of responsibilities and I was happy with that. A few months later, the girl filling in for the head admin and all that goodness got a new job and left me. So then I was doing her job, the jobs she was covering, and my job. I was basically four people or so. Then a few months ago, we FINALLY hired a new head admin. So I was down to about 2.l5 people while he took over the rest of it. Life was better again and less stressful. I wasn’t answering directly to the board of directors anymore and my stress levels returned to normal. At the beginning of October, the poor guy had a very serious medical problem. Largely due to stress.

So here I am. Back to being four people, answering to the president of the board of directors. And having migraines again. Joy.

Pres: I need you to do x, y, z, and this other long ass list of things that you already do anyway, but I have no clue, so I’m going to tell you to do it.

me: Okay, I’ll take care of it. I’m saying this because there’s no point in explaining to you that I’ve already done half of what you just listed because it’s MY JOB. Also, I need you to come into the office because I have papers that you need to sign.

Pres: Okay, I’ll be there Wednesday.

Wednesday comes and goes. I leave between 4 and 4:30 because I get to work between 7 and 7:30. She has been told this.

I’m driving home on Wednesday.

Pres: I’m here and you’re not.

me: I’m on my way home.

Pres: I realize that. I didn’t know you left early!

me: I told you that weeks ago.

Pres: well fine. I’ll see if I can come in tomorrow. In the meantime make sure you tell this other person who doesn’t handle any of your work everything you are doing cause I need to know it all.

me: Sure thing.

Head meeting steering wheel in 5… 4… 3…

At work the next day, getting reports of what happened when Pres was there and I wasn’t.

Staffer 1: She said that she will decide what the staff party is for Christmas and that we shouldn’t be trying to make suggestions.

me: Umm. Oh. Okay then.

Staffer 2: She told me to get rid of the part-time people and bring on only full time staff now.

me: WHAAAAAAT?!?!

Staffer 2: Yeah. So whichever ones can’t move to full time, I have to fire.

Enter migraine. Oh how I’ve missed you blinding pain and nausea. Really, it’s been too long. We should do this more often. Says me, only NEVER.

There just aren’t enough words for how big a mistake the whole concept of that order is. I was totally stunned. Still am. Also, my eyeballs are trying to jump out of my head.

On brighter notes not dealing with crazed bosses who are clearly off their meds…

  • Another non-profit wants to partner with us for Christmas stuff, so it looks like we’ll be able to make that special for a bunch of families and kids. Yay!
  • Fizzygrrl GOT AN AGENT!! (While this really should have it’s own post, I am in pain, so she’s getting bolded mention here.) I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. It’s all kinds of awesome. Everyone go say: Conga-rats!!
  • I’m a bit beind on my NaNo word count and I haven’t posted ANYTHING yet, my apologies. I will catch up this weekend and see if there’s a snippet or six that are good enough to postify for your reading pleasure!
  • It’s past time to start my Christmas present knitting/crocheting. EEP!
  • If all goes well this weekend, next week will bring us reviews of – American Horror Story: Asylum (which is pretty awesome), Dishonored (in which I “just watch” A play), and hopefully a book!!

Feel free to share any migraine inducing work stories to help cheer me up, lol!

 

Allie B’s First Kiss Contest

I don’t often toot my own horn. Actually, I never toot my own horn. But darn it. I’m excited! So TOOT!! TOOT TOOT TOOT! The other entries were astounding, which makes this even more stunning to me. Hell, even being in the top three is simply incredible, having read a couple of the other submissions. Being in such talented company is humbling and elating all at once.
Talk about a motivation boost!
Thank you Allie, Jolene, Nyrae, and Leigh. And thank you to the others who submitted for being so freaking GOOD, you are an inspiration and I hope to always write in your league.

I’m a menace to myself – Redux

So remember when I said I was clumsy and I fell a lot?

And how I said that I’m a menace to myself?

Fortunately, I’m also able to recognize the humor in these situations I get myself into and laugh. Cause really, if I didn’t laugh at myself, I’d feel all sorry for myself and whinge and then everyone would be annoyed, including me.

Also, let’s face it. It’s funny as hell when people hurt themselves through ridiculous means. That’s why America’s Funniest Home Videos was (or is?) so popular. Watching the dad get nailed in the groin by the little kid with the bat/ball/helmet/whatever is freaking hysterical.

Some background!

I have to get up at an obscene hour. Anything before 9am is rude. I get up at 5:45. Even with daylight saving time, I get up before the sun does. Because of this, I have to get to bed at a stupidly early hour (I’m a night owl, so this is really rough on me).

I’m trying to catch up on the last season of Once Upon a Time so that I can watch the current season, which is filling up my DVR. Sadly, it was time to go to bed, but I really wanted to watch another episode before I went to sleep.

So there I am, zooming through my nightly routine. I’ve showered in almost record time, for me anyway, and I had just done the turban thingie with the towel that girls do, so that our hair doesn’t drip all over us. Cause really, if you don’t do that, it totally defeats the purpose of trying to dry off anyway, as you keep getting wet all over again.

I’d just tucked the ends of the towel under and then I slipped and fell, landing firmly on my knee and a soft squishy part of my anatomy that STILL FREAKING HURTS.

Hint: I can sit down just fine.

Also, I now know what it feels like to have a mammogram, and I’m really not looking forward to the real thing. Cause holy crap… OUCH.

I’m not sure what’s sadder. The fact that I managed to fall down in the shower (this is not the first time this has happened to me, btw), or  the fact that my first thought was: If I had the little rubber safety ducks in my shower like Sheldon, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

Thankfully, I didn’t dislocate anything and didn’t need to be rushed to the hospital. Nor do I have the Chinese characters for Courage, Soup, or anything else tattooed to my bits.

See? There’s always a bright side.

I think I’ll stop at Target and pick up some duckies, though.