I’ve honestly never slept better, even if my shoulder is kinda sore from having Witch-Hazel on it. I lift her delicate head off of me and sneak outta bed. Though I get the feeling she’s a heavy sleeper. I stretch my back and arms a little and she doesn’t react.
‘Yeah, she’s out like a light.’
It’s a strange sight to see her in my bed, resting like she wants to be there. She’s in no rush to leave. And I’m not waking her up to get her out of here, just the opposite in fact; I’m about to make her breakfast.
It’s been a while since I’ve cooked for anyone other than myself but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I open the pancake mix and go through the steps of making the batter. I know Witch-Hazel will want it sweet, so I add a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips to the batter. Then a dash of cinnamon for the smell. I melt butter on the pan as it heats up.
I pour the batter on the hot pan and listen to that sizzle.
By the time I make a short stack of them I hear her shuffling on my bed. She shifts some more, then stops. I’m not sure if she’s awake but then I hear her groaning.
“Those gummi worms left a bad taste in my mouth,” she announces.
“I told you not to eat them before you went to sleep. Go brush your teeth, or whatever witches do.” I hear her get up.
“Is that cinnamon?” She asks.
“It is, I’m making breakfast. I have mouthwash in the bathroom, go use it.”
“What the hell is mouthwash?”
“Clean your mouth, girl, or no pancakes!”
‘I bet a mom would act like this.’
That was a weird thought. For several reasons.
I focus again on making breakfast. I fry up some bacon and scramble some eggs. I set two plates for us on the coffee table and Witch-Hazel soon joins me. She has her hair up in a ponytail that makes me think about how slender her neck is. The shirt she’s wearing is a little loose on her and just in between her shoulder blades I see a small shiny patch of skin, like a burn. Before I can get a better look at it, she lets her hair flow down. Whether it was intentional or not I can’t tell.
The Witch makes a bottle float over to her. Its clear glass lets me see the reddish-orange liquid inside. The colors swirl around like oil and water.
“Can you make anything float or just magic stuff?” I ask her.
“Telekinesis wouldn’t be very useful if I couldn’t. Besides, everything on some level is magical,” she explains. “You, along with every living thing, have auras. It radiates out of you and gets absorbed by everything.” She gestures around. “This place has your energy. Your HQ has a great deal of it. Magic permeates everything. But yes, I can make anything float. Within reason.”
“What’s in that bottle?”
“Magic stuff,” she plainly says.
“I made you pancakes, I can’t get more than that?”
“We have a very magic-involved day ahead of us, I don’t want to overload you.”
“It’s a flavoring of sorts. Here, try it.” She pours a bit on my stack of pancakes, it’s a viscous liquid almost like syrup, despite how quickly the colors shift around. I slice a small part of the pancakes and taste the syrup.
It doesn’t have a taste, per se, the pancakes are sweet but the syrup didn’t activate anything on my tongue. Rather, I feel a warmth on the back of my head. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from my own body, but like it’s being projected onto me. Like the sun is shining in this very room. Then comes a smell.
The scent of grass and fresh air fills my lungs. I even feel a breeze blow across my face.
“I can tell by the look in your eyes that you’re feeling it. That summer sun on your back, breeze on your face, and the grass beneath you.”
Just as she says it I feel the tickle of grass on my legs. I see that I’m in my apartment, but all my other senses tell me that I’m sitting on a grassy hill on a sunny day. I only had a little bit so it wears off quickly.
“What is that stuff?”
“I can never remember what it’s called. It has some long uninteresting name,” she answers.
“You don’t know the name of something you brought with you?”
“You know the name of everything in your world, all the time? What’s that?” she points to something.
“That’s a fridge,” I answer
“That’s on me, I made it too easy,” she says with a disappointed face, but she soon cracks a smile and laughs. “These pancakes are delicious, I just thought that they’d be even better on a hillside.”
“Thank you. And one day maybe I’ll take you to a real hill for a picnic.” I turn on the TV and put on a nature documentary. I mute the narrator and let the rolling grass hills do the work. “Close enough, right?”
“Close enough,” she says.
We idly chat while finishing breakfast. While I put away the dishes she grabs the things needed for her device. We head down to the car and she starts assembling it with something that looks a lot like a screwdriver.
“You need me to drive slowly?” I ask her.
“It’s not explosive if that’s what you’re asking,” she responds. “I just need to rig this together.” I start the car and start driving to where I think will be helpful.
“I thought the thing you were gonna make would be entirely magic.”
“Sometimes having a little engineering skill is better than a pure magic construct. Less energy.”
“What is that you’re using?”
“It’s a flathead screwdriver. You’ve never seen one before?”
Feeling incredibly stupid, I decide to change the subject.
“What do you think this necromancer is planning?”
“Whatever it is, can’t be good. Necromancy is an extreme school of magic, only allowed in specific circumstances. If this magician is out here performing it, sometimes tells me they want it kept secret. Which again..” she groans with effort as she tightens a bolt. “Isn’t good.”
“At least they’ll be old, right? The Falecido has been like that for a couple of decades, at least. Unless they were fresh outta magic school they havta be at least fifty or older, yeah?”
“Chronologically speaking yes, but most magical beings aren’t as subdued by age as you might think. As we become more attuned with our magic and the magic around us, our bodies adapt to it. Most people don’t reach their prime physical state until their sixties, and some only get more powerful with age,” she explains. “My mentor, in fact, is a woman of eighty. But looks no older than maybe forty-five.”
“How old are you?” I ask. She laughs a bit.
“I’m twenty-seven, so don’t worry you’re not hanging out with an old lady. How old are you?”
“I don’t know,” I answer. “Tamara found me when I was maybe six or seven? It’s guesswork really.”
“Oh. Right. Sorry.” I shrug.
“It is what it is. Guess you could say I’m a twenty-something-year-old.”
“What does that mean?” I dismiss the comment with a wave.
“Forget it...so you guys live longer?”
“We do, but most of the oldest living magicians died during World War Two. The oldest man I know is around a hundred and thirty.”
“Yeesh. Must’ve seen some crazy shit.”
“Shit you wouldn’t believe.”
“Well a tell me about it later ‘cause we’re here.”
I pull up to where a radio tower is housed. There isn’t much else to see around here. The witch gets out and looks at its peak.
“That’ll do.” I get out of the car as well. “How’d you know about this?”
“The Bay Leaves have a few devices up there as well. Figured one more can’t hurt.” We walk up to the tower. It’s about five hundred and twenty feet tall. There’s a ladder in the middle that leads all the way up. I hold out my hand for the device. She places a small white stone with several line etchings into a nook.
The lines light up with a deep purple that I recognize to be Witch-Hazels magic. She concentrates for a moment, holding her hand over it. Then gives it to me. The device looks like a small satellite dish, except it’s made from some natural material I can’t place. Feels like bone. The rest is steel made into a simple rig to hold the dish in place.
“How’s this supposed to stay up there?”
“It’ll stick to anything you press it against. So just find a nice spot and press it hard.”
“Aight.” The device won’t fit in my pocket so I hold the dish between my teeth as I start to climb. A couple of rungs up I feel Witch-Hazel looking at me. I remove the device.
“I can feel you staring at my ass!”
“Don’t have it be so visible then! What else am I going to look at, gravel?! You decided to wear those tight jeans today!”
‘These jeans do make my ass look great.’
“I don’t know what you mean,” I say while shaking it around a little. “These are my normal climbing jeans.” I go back to climbing.
“How’s the view from up there? It’s great from down here is all I’m saying!”
I halfheartedly roll my eyes and chuckle.
“Herv,” I say with the device still between my teeth.
“What was that?!” She yells up to me.
“Muffin!” I mumble.
“You know I have heightened senses, right? I can hear and see better than you!” I point my middle finger at her.
“Can you see that better than me?!”
“I will fly up there and spank you!” She threatens.
“Then why didn’t you fly up here?!”
“I was going to but you wanted to climb yourself! So very chivalrous!” It’s hard to see from up here but she pretends to swoon like a maid or something. I shake my head and keep climbing.
Finally reaching the top, I look out over the city.
Oleander City; it isn’t the nicest place to live, but most who live here are decent people just trying to make it through the day. You can see the class divide clearly this high up, where uptown stops and downtown begins. A one street difference separates the quality of life in the city.
Of the millions who live, so few know about the deeply evil scheme that goes on in the shadows. And of those few, just Witch-Hazel and I know about the undead that potentially roam the street.
‘It’s a lot to think about.’
I shake my head and focus on the task at hand. I stick the device to the pole, aiming it towards downtown. It stays put and starts slowly pulsing with Witch-Hazels energy. I guess it’s activated.
With nothing else to do up here, I make my way down. I let go and grab the rungs again a couple of seconds later, I get down much faster than I got up.
“Never seen anyone go down a ladder like that before that,” the witch comments as I reach the bottom.
There’s an easy joke in there.
“You haven’t seen me go down on anyone either.”
“And you call me the perv. Let’s get out of here.”
Once we get back to the car I ask,
“So, how accurate is that thing?”
“Depends on how much magical energy they’ll expend, since it’ll be a lot, I’ll have a pinpoint location for them.”
“Hmm, then we’ll roll on them, you ask your questions, then what?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t know what I should do after that.”
She’s quiet for a while.
“You’re a smart witch, I’m sure something’ll come to ya. And I’ll be there to help figure it out.”
She chuckles a bit.
“It might be a while before we get any sign of this necromancer again.”
“Then we can get ready and you can teach me how to fight a zombie maker.”
“I imagine my training in medical care wouldn’t prepare you for it. Just stick close to me when it happens, I’ll keep you safe.” I scoff.
“I can handle it.”
“You say that now,” she comments.
I’m about to respond but my phone starts vibrating in my pocket, which is never a good sign. I pull it out to see Tamara is calling me.
‘She always knows to call at the most inconvenient time.’
“Can you answer and put it on speaker?”
The assassin talks me through the process of answering and “putting it on speaker.” Tamara's voice comes through.
“Hollyhock, where are you right now?”
“I’m getting off Redwood ave, why?”
“There’s something I need picked up nearby, and you’re the closest. It’s already been paid for, so just get it from the guy and take it back to me. It’s important.”
“Got it, text the details,” Hollyhock says. She hangs up the phone. “I sure do get called a lot on my days off. One quick stop, and we’ll get back to who’s gonna keep who safe talk,” she says to me.
“Okay, but it’ll be me protecting you.” She sucks her teeth.
“Don’t get cocky now, you haven’t seen what I’m capable of yet.”
Ch. 12 End.
Bio: I’m a young writer from NYC I want to be a professional writer someday and hope I look good while doing it. I like writing action and romance and even exclusively either. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr for updates and bug me about my stories!