Observations: Well, we’re almost there. I won’t jinx anything now. When I hit the 50,000, I’ll write more on the observations and probably have a summary tomorrow.
Total word count: 48,303
You can read previous sections here.
“We should get out of the house,” Moira says.
“I feel strong magic outside. Dark magic.”
I tell Anton what Moira said. He glances from the front door to the deck door. “The doors are too close together. They’ll easily see us or hear us? Do you have another door? A large back window?”
“Even better,” I say and then show him what looks like an ordinary closet door in the back of the house.
He raises an eyebrow. “A closet?”
I open the door to show gaping darkness, then flick on the light. “I think this cabin used to belong to an old moonshiner who needed to make quick getaways. Only Nikki and Rose know about this door and where it leads.”
I lead Anton down the rickety steps, wondering if they’ll hold with his bulk on them, while Moira bounds ahead, the stark white of the tip of her tale wave like a beacon. At the bottom, I flip another switch that lights a tunnelway and then turn off the light for the stairs so that anyone entering the house, if they do decide to break in, which may be a mild term for what they could do, doesn’t see the light from the floor of the “closet.”
Two old stills and other rusting equipment, which I can’t even hazard a guess as to what it could be, line the walls of the room. The room narrows toward a heavy scarred wooden door that’s a little wider than the average door. Cold seeps from under it as the wind kicks around outside.
“And where are we?” he asks as I open the door.
Flurries spiral around us, much quicker than they had been falling when Anton arrived. I press the flashlight app on my phone to show him the platform where the moonshine was evidently made and the steps that lead down to a short path to a dirt road on the back of the hillside.
“This road goes to meets the road that runs in front of my house. They join just around the bend,” I say.
Behind us there’s rumble and then my house explodes. Anton grabs me, pulling me toward the trees as debris rains down on us. Moira maneuvers around the falling bits of my home, a growl rising from her throat. I’m in shock. My mouth forms an “o” and my eyes widen at the destruction
“That was my house? They just blew up my house?” I have to work to keep my voice low, knowing that the intruders would hear the shriek I so wanted to make.
“Yes. I don’t think they were fooling around.”
Nothing is on fire. How could they have blown up my house without there being fire? Not that I wanted there to be fire, but still.
“Powerful magic,” Anton says. “Moira was right.”
I lean against a tree, disbelieving. Someone wants Anton and me dead. And they just destroyed everything I owned, probably thinking they’d blown us up too. I’m shivering and angry and can’t decide whether I want to try to beat them up or run.
“We’d better get a move on. They will soon realize that we weren’t in there.”
“We’re magical beings. Even after we’re dead, for an hour or so, we would give off energy.”
At another time I might have thought that information interesting to know, now it’s just another mind boggling fact that I don’t want to think about.
“Even if we’re in millions of fragments?”
He shrugs. “There would be something. Like little fireflies.”
Moira begins walking along the dirt road followed by Anton, as I trail behind, glancing back into the darkness where the lights of my house should have been glowing yellow. No fire. No sign that my house ever existed. It’s like it all evaporated, except for the rain of debris that used to be my home.
I press my hands in my pockets, just realizing now how cold it is and that the snow is coming down harder.
We are just coming to the bend, when Moira comes running back.
“They’re coming up this road!”
“She’s says they’re coming, Anton. Can they find us easily?”
“I don’t know.”
“What? How can you not know? These are your people.”
“Not my people. I don’t think.”
“I don’t think my people would be trying to kill me. You perhaps. Not me.”
I start jogging toward the eastern side of road that’s thick with woods. At least jogging is one way to get warm. The woods look impassable, especially at night, but Moira races ahead, having a recollection of the trail we have hiked many times since she came to live with me. The trail is steep and now slippery between the sodden leaves and the smooth rocks. The sky is pink tinged that color it gets when it’s snowing, fortunately that helps with vision, although Moira is working with keen eyes and scent. When my footing slides, Anton grabs my elbow to keep me from falling.
“Does your familiar know where she’s going?”
“Yes. I’m hoping they won’t consider that we’ve gone deeper into the woods.”
I wonder if there’s any way to quell the magic that emanates from us or tone it down, so they couldn’t follow. When I ask Anton, he shrugs. “Sure.” He mutters a few words under his breath as we keep moving.
If I was expecting a huge change, nothing happened. Nothing at all. “Did you really do something?”
“A minimal something.”
“It’s powerful enough for us to move without detection.”
“Why didn’t you use it sooner?”
“I presumed it would have taken them longer to realize that we hadn’t been blown up and be on the move.”
After fifteen or twenty minutes, we arrive at the vacation cabin that belongs to a couple from DC, both of whom are lawyers. Cabin is a serious misnomer. It looks like a mountain mansion with floor to ceiling windows, stone walls amidst beautiful western red cedar logs.
“Do we break in?” Anton asks.
I pull my keys from my pocket and find the one for the door. “I take care of the cabin for them and then make sure it’s stocked when they come for a visit.”
I’m shivering so much that the keys shake from my fingers on my first attempt of sliding the key into the lock. Anton rubs my arms, bringing some warmth into them. I slide the key in, turn the lock, and am filled with relief when the door opens. Although the house isn’t set to normal heat, it’s far preferable to the dropping outside temperatures. My fingers automatically reach for the light switch, but Anton catches my hand.
“Perhaps we’ll spend a little time in the dark,” he suggests. In other times I would have thought his low voice saying those words was sexy. Sexy though is so very far from this moment.
He takes a quick tour of the cabin as if the assure himself that we’re safe, but safety feels elusive and distant when I consider that I’ve lost my home, which could have easily included the three of us if Moira had not recognized the evil power of the magic outside. Which makes me wonder how she knew.
“I could feel darkness. Cold nothingness,” she says and shivers. “Only once before have I experienced something like that and when you do, you don’t forget.” I grab a towel from the laundry thinking that I’ll wash things when I get back home. Home. I have no where to live.
“Amazing house,” Anton says when he returns to find me drying Moira. He places a throw blanket over my shoulders. “There’s no cell coverage but they have Wi-Fi. I’ve put in a call to my family. I would normally suggest you call your mother, but I am unsure if she’s trustworthy.”
That’s a slap, but truthful nonetheless. I send a text to Phoebe, letting her know that I’m okay, but that I might also need some help.
I pull the throw around me. “Could they track our cell phones?”
“Possibly, but practitioners of dark magic are usually arrogant enough to believe that their magic is far more powerful than anyone else’s and wouldn’t deign to use human technology.”
end of day 29