Daniel hooked around the threshold of the door to peer into the lobby.
“Far end,” Sundown said, crouching, watching.
He followed her line of sight. Near the opposite end of the wide hall, where the boys had been playing their game, stood one of the youth in blue bandana and trenchcoat, arms outstretched, encircled in a white light that was emanating from the ground. The boy’s lips were moving but Daniel couldn’t make out what he was saying over the screeching and shaking of the building.
“Is he … summoning?” Daniel asked, incredulous.
“Nope,” Sundown said, taking a step out into the lobby. “He’s summoned. It’s done.”
The door opened to a grated catwalk, revealing another section of the Junction just as large as the makeshift skate park but a storey or so sunken. The catwalk ran down the middle of the room, ending — much like the rails Daniel had seen when they first arrived — abruptly, with scaffolding holding the pathway-to-nothing in place. To the detectives’ left, a spindly staircase was bolted to the wall. Sundown held the railing as she made her way down.
The staircase disappeared into grey mud. The walls of this section seemed raw, as though their flesh had been torn off; in truth, this room felt more like a sub-basement that had never been meant to see the light of day. The air was moist and damp with tendrils of black moss reaching out across sections of the coarse bricks. The corners were bathed in shadow, in stark contrast to the pool of sunlight that streamed into the middle of the room from a gaping wound in the roof overhead. This is where they found the Everseer.
Daniel sat in the slider quietly, feeling physically and mentally exhausted. He fiddled with the bubble, readjusting it to the cuff of his shirt. Sundown hadn’t said anything since returning to the slider. How had she known that he had magic?
“I take it you’re going to strap me in once we get to the Junction?” he said after a moment.
“Why, are you forfeiting?”
“You mean I passed your second test?”
Daniel went over the events of the ride thus far. The Grid question, then – what? Was it really a test to see if he had magic, or was there something else? What else could his partner have gleaned from pitching him out of the slider? What a question, he thought.
“We’re almost there, so you do want to keep playing or not?”
“Are you going to throw me out of the vehicle again?”
Daniel did his best to remain as neutral as possible. “What do you propose?” He was disappointed to hear the annoyance in his words.
Sundown was still smiling. “Three questions. You get two out of three right by the time we get to the Junction and I’ll let you keep playing detective with me.”
Daniel chose to look straight ahead rather than allow Sundown’s continuing pleasure at his frustration further seep into his body. “And who’s going to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t correct? You?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. “It seems a little stacked against me.”
She let out a snicker. “Welcome to the boden.”
Blame it on the narrative inquiry course I took in the summer, or the year-end, but I’m feeling retrospective, meta even. (Or maybe, this is just another permutation of my overdeveloped ability to procrastinate? Either way,) I want to write about writing …
I’ve been methodically wading through the homestretch of my novel for the better part of a year now. I use the word wading because these last few miles have turned out to be more of a bog than the smooth, downhill trek I had always envisioned. My boots get stuck in scenes. I get turned around in the mist. Sometimes I lose entire sequences in the mud. Just yesterday, I realized I’m missing a side B plotline that was always in my brain but never fully materialized on the screen. All of this to say that I’ve been thinking alot about writing, writing this novel in particular, and seeing more of the process with each resolute trudge. There’s something ahead in the mist and it is terrifying – an ending, not just of the story but of something far more visceral. Continue reading
He had studied conflict resolution, human psychology, workplace dynamics … none of which had prepared him for the resolute indifference currently being exercised by his partner. A frog is a frog. That was the last thing his sister, Maddie, had said to him before he had left for the boden. She spoke in dreamtongue now because the spark they had used to waken her had been tainted. It can’t be anything else, no matter how much it wants to be a salamander. Was Sundown the salamander? A creature of fire, it wasn’t entirely unfitting.
Daniel took a seat, exhaling, expelling as much negative energy as he could, and decided to try and wait out his new partner.
Two detectives walked by on their way into the captain’s office, sharing a smirk.
“Who’s this, Sunny? Mail order groom?”
“New intern,” Sundown muttered without bothering to open her eyes.
Daniel opened his mouth to say something but the two men had already left. He returned his attention to Sundown, finding his patience expended. “Are you going to tell me about what happened this morning?”
“Not right now.”
My mother died on December 26, 2015. Due to a complication from the vasculitis she had been battling for two years, she had to have emergency surgery and shortly thereafter, had a stroke and then another. She simply never woke up.
I tend not to say “I lost my mother” when I have to tell people. It’s a weird thing to say, isn’t it? To have lost something implies ownership of responsibility. I’m not responsible for my mother’s death and I certainly didn’t misplace her. This, of course, speaks to the very clumsy way we have for talking about death.