“C’mon, I’ve almost got it,” Hazel growled through clenched teeth. Her jaw was set. The incantation words flowed through her mind on an airy breeze. They danced just out of her reach. She moved her hands with a series of fluid gestures and began to recite. In all, it only took about 3 or 4 seconds to cast the spell…when it worked. And even when it worked something about her magic was always different.
A small cloud of smoke puffed and fizzled up from her head. She felt a slight burning sensation on her scalp. The Selsun Blue side was working.
“Awww Hazey you’re like…….THIS close. You can do it. Just like I showed you.” Michelle was trying not to giggle but she smiled sadly at the young woman.
“You showed me…nothing,” Hazel huffed. “You showed me wisps of flame and bowls of water. That doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not your fault it’s just that…I dunno. Maybe I have a learning disability…like dyslexia or something.”
“Hah! Hazel that’s not it. You’re just too stressed out. Look at you. You just barely got home from work, you’re still dressed in your work clothes, and we’ve been practicing for five hours already. And I know you’re slamming your head into this wall on the weekends too.” Hazel began to protest but Michelle held her hand up. “Don’t even pretend you’re not. I know you’re spending a good twelve hours or more on Saturday just…lighting stuff on fire.”
“…trying to,” Hazel muttered. She was frustrated. Exhausted she could deal with. Frustrated she was familiar with. Failure was an altogether new feeling and it was bringing her to new emotions. Disappointment, sadness, even a little fear. Casting spells always came so naturally to her. Granted, they always had some unexpected side-effect. Well almost always. If she had to guess it felt like nearly 80% of the time something completely random happened with the spell-effect. Regardless, Michelle was literally spoon-feeding her the spells. They were supposed to be simple. The way in which she was trying to cast them felt horribly alien. Michelle…and her amulet…used magic in a completely different, albeit fascinating, but a very confusing nonetheless way.
“I’m sorry. I wish I could explain it to you better. I’m not a very good teacher, am I?” Michelle looked dejected.
Hazel’s face softened. “I’m sorry Missy. It’s not you. We just practice magic differently. And I’m still learning so much about myself. One of these days. I’m confident though, with enough time — even a hundred hours — that I can learn the spells. This one is just gonna take time.” Michelle put her hand on Hazel’s shoulder and handed her a towel. Her brow was damp with sweat. She was concentrating really hard.
“Let’s put it away for tonight. You’ve worked really hard. It’s time for me to go home, for you to take a shower, and to go to bed on time so you’re not late to work again tomorrow.”
“Okay, Missy. You’re right. Time for bed…”
“Hazel…” Michelle said insistently.
“Lashe…” she said more sternly.
Hazel giggle. “Seriously?”
“You can’t just blow me off. I know you’re gonna try to pull another all-nighter.”
“No I’m not?” caught…red-handed! Was she that predictable?
“Promise me you’re going to take a shower and then go straight to bed.”
“Fine. Whatever. This weekend I’m making that silly little spell my bitch!”
“You go girl! Hey, is Matt expected back anytime soon?”
“Who knows? We just hired a doctor — no money to pay him. We probably should have hired a damn lawyer!”
“Oh man! I really feel for him. You guys take care while he’s gone. I’ll come on over tomorrow night after work. That’ll be our last session until I get back from my road trip. I’m going back west to return Antipode’s amulet. I also got a text message that yet another amulet surfaced – very similar to the rest.”
“Well that sounds exciting! I can’t wait to continue studying your amulet after I grab that book from the old man’s library.”
“Hazel, you don’t have to go home. I’m sure there are other copies of that book…right?”
“No, it’s time. Missy, I’ve been gone for a while and I’m ready to face them.”
“That’s really brave of you. I can’t wait to hear about it when I get back.”
“Goodnight Missy,” Hazel yawned and hugged the other girl. “Thanks again for everything. One of these days I’m gonna get so frustrated I might just take you up on that offer of introduction. Teaching myself has definitely taken its toll.”
“Good night Hazey. Get some rest. You’ve got a lot of life left to live. No need to rush through it all.”
You said you would go straight to bed.
And? I’m just checking my email.
That’s not straight to bed. You promised.
Who the hell are you, my mother?
Ugh! I hope not. Well I guess it’s okay. Your hair is still wet so might as well be productive while it dries.
Now we’re talking!
NO! How dare you! You can be very persuasive sometimes, y’know that?
This is creepy.
Hazel flips over to one of the minimized windows on her fourth screen from the top. One of her searching programs chimed in with a notification that Professor Harrison Dannilek (also known as Emperor Danilek, the current ruler/dictator of Suriname), is scheduled to arrive later today for a small diplomatic meeting being held in Silver City over the next few days. Jesus! This was the lead we’ve been waiting for!
Let’s see what Goggle pulls up about current political meetings, committees in session, foreign diplomats coming to town, etc. A quick search returns: Century Station is hosting a small international conference designed to help arbitrate treaties, land use, human rights, extradition, and other political issues.
Okay, let’s see what other messages or notifications I may have missed:
The Kieromin Iron Company has contacted the Atlas Salvage company to discuss hiring their services in locating the wreck of the Crescent Moon and stripping it of metal for salvage. The Beacon Insurance company has also contacted Morgan Diving and Salvage to discuss investigating the wreckage of the Crescent Moon as a part of their investigation.
• The claim was filed by the Suriname company that owned the Crescent Moon, ETM (Empresa Transporte Marítimo).
• The Kieromin Iron Company is an iron-making firm whose origins harken back to the 1870’s – the early days of Century Station.
Alright! I’ll drop everyone an email since I probably won’t see them in the morning…
BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO WORK ON TIME!!!!!
Where’s Matilda when you need ’er?