Monday, October 22, 2012

Noitisnart ni Niahmas

Boo!  Just checking to see if you're awake.  Welcome to my Halloween story!  As always, this is a first draft, and as such, some things may be just a touch wonky.  But, it's going to be good wonky, trust me.  Oh, and always, Copyright 2012, by Raymond Frazee.  Enjoy.

Noitisnart ni Niahmas

Part Four

The gusting wind made Laurie look up from his dinner and glance out the patio door. It was barely cracked, allowing the house one last chance for a bit of airing out, before the weather turned completely bad.

It was completely dark now, and Laurie knew the full moon was up. He knew this because he’d been following the rising and setting of the moon since—well, since just after Halloween. He’d always been interested in the sky before then, but after what took place a couple of weeks back, he’d begun paying special attention to the stars, the planets, and the moon.

He wasn’t certain why, but he felt it was important.

Laurie remembered everything about that Halloween. The change and the flight to Wales; sending Tegwin the Dragon off to bed. The landing, the greeting from the other women who accepted her as their own. Celeste coming up and giving her a hug, asking her how she managed to get the big lizard off to beddy-bye, and the amazed look that crossed her face when Laurie said she didn’t know.

The women standing about the fire; then, about 1 AM, all of them disrobing to dance about “skyclad”. Laurie undressed along with Celeste, and she remembered how, even in her nakedness, she never felt strange because she was a woman, or ashamed because she was under to stars, in the coolness of the Welsh evening, moving about in a dance with dozens of witches, gathered to celebrate one of their holiest nights.

Then, later, after they were finished with the dance, an people stood and spoke, Celeste took her by the hand, and together they slowly walked between the two bonfires . . .

After that things grew hazy. It seemed like they regained their clothing some time later, and then they flew somewhere—back through another window, back to the U.S., back to the house. Then touching down in the backyard, going inside, and . . .

Laurie woke up the next morning, in bed, back in his own body. Celeste and Witchbaby were gone—and he could find no evidence of her going. Even the pumpkin she said she’d left outside for the trick or treaters was sitting on the dining room table, empty, but there.

He’d called her several times since Halloween. The phone rang, but there was never any answer. It wouldn’t even go to voice mail. Laurie had once let the phone ring for five minutes, and no one picked up, no automated voice told him to leave a message.

It was as if Celeste had dropped off the face of the world.

Laurie put it out of his mind. It was difficult, because Halloween had meant so much for him, had brought about a change . . . Yeah, no kidding. How changed can one get?

He signed once more, then returned to picking at the meat pie he’d cooked a few hours before. Boring Sunday afternoon; looking to be a boring evening. Off to sleep later, then up in the morning and away to another boring day at work—

There was a scratching at the patio door. Laurie looked up, saw no one there. He was about to do more food picking when he heard it again. Only it wasn’t a scratching—it was pawing.

He got up and headed towards the door. With the light on in the dining room, it was difficult to see anything beyond the slightly open door, but Laurie saw no one there. He was about to turn away when he saw a flash of something—not at eye level, but lower, near the floor.

It was a cat.

Rain was starting to fall as Laurie opened the screen door. “Hey, what you doing?” he said to the cat, who sat there looking up, its mouth half open in a silent meow. “Well, come on in.” He waved his hand, and the cat stood and trotted inside.

Laurie picked the cat up, clutching it close to his chest. It was a Siamese, though if the size, and the extent of the markings were any indication, he was willing to bet the cat was only about a year old. He gently rubbed the cat’s head, and was rewarded with a loud purr. “Aren’t you the happy kitty!” he said. He checked around the neck: no collar. “What are you doing out?” he asked. Not that he expected an answer, but the cat looked up into his face and meowed softly.

He lowered the cat to the floor and let it slip from his grasp. “I’ll get you some water,” he said, then proceeded to fill a small bowl from the jug he kept in the refrigerator. The moment he set down the bowl, the cat was there, lapping away. He scratched the cat between the shoulder blades, looking for an RF chip. Nothing.

“I can’t imagine someone letting you out,” he said. “I guess when the weather is better you can head home—or maybe in the morning.” The cat stopped drinking and turned. It looked up, then meowed once again, then returned to drinking.

He watched the cat for a few seconds, then walked into the living room and sat. The television was already on, turned to one of the Showtime channels, meaning he had no idea what was on. That was how he normally did his weekend: put on some background noise and do what is needed to get through the day. Then—

Laurie couldn’t remember what he’d done today.

The weekends had become that way. Hell, the weekdays were like that as well. Ever since Halloween, life seemed way too . . . boring. He hated that. He hated that after the wonder he’d experience a couple of weeks before, he was stuck being—


The wand Celeste had given him—no, not him, her . . . The wand was sitting on the coffee table. He leaned over and picked it up, then stared at it in his left hand for almost a minute. Did I really use this? he thought. Was I actually flying a broom? And where is it if I did? Did I chase away a dragon? He flicked the wand tip at the lamp across the room, half smiling. If there is magic, why can’t I find it again?

He shook his head. Laurie had begun to believe that everything that had happened with Halloween and Celeste had all been due to drugs. There was no other answer. And yet there was something he remembered . . .

It was after they walked between the bonfires. Naked, they hugged each other, then Celeste brushed the hair back from her face. “You’re changed,” she’d said. “Walking between the bonfires is a symbol of being reborn, of being purged of all that had come before. You aren’t the person you were before tonight. You’re someone who we’ve never seen before—the real Laurie.” She slowly caressed her cheek. “You have magic in you; you know how to call it forth. You need only reach inside and make it real. You are ready. You only need—”

That was it, though. Laurie couldn’t remember what Celeste had said after that. He knew it was important, but he was damned by what she’d said—if she’d said anything at all. “It had to be drugs.”

Just then the cat jumped into his lap. He laughed, because he’d never heard the cat approach. That’s how cats are, though. You never hear them coming. The cat curled up in his lap and began to purr. Without thinking, he began rubbing a spot between the cat’s ears. The purring became louder as the feline became more content.

Smiling, Laurie said, “You like that, don’t you?” The cat’s head turned, and it meowed in as if responding. “Yes, you like being petted that way.” The Siamese meowed again, a touch louder this time. Laurie knew this about Siamese; they loved to meow, they loved to communicate with people. “Ah, you’re so pretty . . .” This time the cat reached out with a paw and kneed his leg, meowing twice before looking straight ahead as it relaxed.

“You are the talkative one, aren’t you?” Laurie ran his hand over the cat’s back. “You Siamese; you guys make so much noise. It’s like you have a—”

It came to him in that moment—what Celeste had said to him that night. It rang in his mind—

You only need find your voice.”

Laurie knew how he’d made Tegwin leave. Nothing he said in English mattered, because Tegwin was a Welsh dragon, and English words had no power over her. But he’d not spoken English when he ordered off to bed—

“It was Irish Gaelic.” He remembered telling Celeste when he’d—when she’d landed. “I spoke Gaelic!” she said so proudly. “I have no idea how, but I did.” He still didn’t know, but it didn’t matter now. Laurie knew that whatever magic she possessed, it had an outlet.

He only need know what voice to use.

“That’s why it never worked when I tried speaking backwards!” He thought that maybe he could have spoke backwards, but the idea was taking hold that he could speak words backwards as perfectly as possible, but unless he said it in the proper voice, it wouldn’t matter jack-all.

As much as he hated to do so, he picked the cat up and laid it—he gave the animal a quick check: her—aside. He stood, then pointed the wand at the table lamp across the room. Taking a deep breath, he cleared his mind. Just let it come, he thought. Let it all come out; if it’s there, I’ll say the words.
“Levitate,” he said in a quiet voice.

Nothing happened.

Laurie knew that was the word. He knew that they were literally the same word, said the same way, even if one was Irish Gaelic. What’s wrong? Why didn’t it move? Maybe there’s more . . .

Still pointing the wand, he said clearly, “Levitate as an tábla.”

Nothing happened.

Okay, that was more of a statement, he thought, but I’m still shooting blanks. I told it to levitate off the table, and it’s still there. What the hell is wrong?

The moment of silence past quickly, because Laurie knew it wasn’t something that was wrong—rather, it was something different:

Him. He was different.

When Tegwin flew off to sleep, he’d been she. It wasn’t the Laurie who stood here now who told her to get her ass to bed—it had been Laurie the beautiful, red-haired witch. The witch of Celeste’s dreams. And the walk between the bonfires . . . You’re changed. Walking between the bonfires is a symbol of being reborn, of being purged of all that had come before. You aren’t the person you were before tonight. You’re someone who we’ve never seen before—the real Laurie.

The real Laurie was a woman, and lovely, and a witch who could work magic.

Just as Celeste had said.

“Oh, boy.” Laurie was in a bind. He had no way to contact Celeste. He had no way to tell her he was ready, that he wanted to do magic . . . That he wanted to be the “Real Laurie.”

He wanted to do this, and . . .

He wanted to be with Celeste. He knew this, too. He wanted to be that dream witch, because he now remembered what had happened during those spacey moments while they were in Wales, and what they did once they returned here.

Laurie knew it all. He knew what they’d each said to the other. And what awaited him if he decided to choose this new path.

“How the hell am I going to do this?” he asked. Turning to the cat, he said, “I’m not sure I know what to do.”

The cat stared back, and the look upon its face was a combination of serendipity and attentiveness. If Laurie didn’t know better, he could swear she was telling him, “Yes, you do. You know what to do.”

Laurie did know. It’s all inside, just as Celeste said. It’s not just magic: the real Laurie is there, too. She’s inside. I just have to pull her out . . .

He wasn’t certain he could make this work, but there was only one way of seeing. He held the wand over his head, touching the tip to his hair. “Bí ar an Laurie fíor,” he said softly.

As had happened when Celeste ordered the transformation, everything happened instantly. One moment he was standing in the living room in his pajamas, and the next—Poof! Laurie was still in pajamas, but they now hung loosely on this body—

Her body.

She dropped her wand to her side, reaching for her hair with her free hand. “It worked!” she yelled. Turning to the cat, she smiled and said, “Look at that, will ya? I turned myself back into my witchy self.” The cat stood and stretched, then jumped down onto the floor. She came over and wrapped herself around Laurie’s ankles.

“Oh, yeah. You do like me, don’t you?” Laurie suspected that the cat hadn’t just shown up on her back patio this evening. She suspected that perhaps, just perhaps . . . Celeste was watching, and had Witchbaby make some calls.

It’s the full moon, and if there were ever going to be magical power around, it’s now. Laurie figured now was a good time to see if her theory were true. She pointed the wand at the lamp. “Levitate as an tábla.” The lamp rose from the table, hovering maybe a foot above the surface. She moved the wand to the right, and the lamp followed. “Fill ar ais ar an tábla,” she ordered, and the lamp set back where it had been about twenty seconds earlier.

“Well, kitty,” Laurie said, “it looks like I’m back in business.” She looked about, then down at her clothes. “I know what I want to do, but first . . .” She figured that if she wanted to alter what she had on, she wouldn’t need her want. “Cuir ar outfit taisteal,” she said, and her pajamas transformed into black boots, thermal tights, a black dress and matching gloves. She touched the pointy hat now set upon her head. Just what the well-dressed witch needs for traveling, she thought.

“Come on, kitty!” Laurie marched to the patio door, then headed outside, closing it only after the cat had joined her. The wind was blowing about five miles per hour, and there was a light drizzle, but Laurie felt little discomfort. This isn’t that good, and yet . . . It’s witch’s weather. It doesn’t feel all that bad.

“It’s time to do some flying . . .” She pointed the wand at the air before her. “Tabhair mo giolcach!” A second later the broom she’d flown on Halloween appeared, hovering before her. Laurie slid the wand up the sleeve of her right arm, then laid her left hand upon the broom. “I feel like I’m back with an old friend.”

She mounted the broom, settling herself onto it comfortably. Laurie looked down at the cat, who was looking back up at her. “I can’t keep calling you kitty, so . . .” She thought a few seconds. “It’s a full moon, and you’re a Siamese, which is Asian, so . . . how about Chinese goddess of the moon?” She patted the handle. “Come on, Chang’e. You wanna join me, or not?”

Chang’e hopped up on the broom. Just as Witchbaby had done, she walked to the end of the handle, then laid down, appearing comfortable and unperturbed. “Yeah, you know exactly what you’re doing, don’t you?” The response was a single, low meow.

Laurie began to rise above the back yard. She didn’t need to think about what she wanted to do; she knew. She wanted to find Celeste, tell her what she’d done, what she was doing . . . what she’d thought about not just in the last couple of minutes, but what had been on her mind for weeks, ever since their flight to Wales. Laurie knew the path she wanted to walk, the places she wanted to go.

She knew that wherever that path led, she wanted her dream witch at her side.

She didn’t know where Celeste was right now—not exactly. She now had this feeling that wherever Celeste was, it was night;, but it wasn’t windy, and it wasn’t as cold, and it wasn’t drizzling.

Laurie knew where to find her.

She pushed forward, and the broom rocketed into the sky. For the first time in weeks she felt alive—hell, she knew she hadn’t felt like this in years. A while back she’d imagined her life reaching a dead end and being over. But that wasn’t the case, not right now. Not as she rode a broom into the sky, now almost five hundred feet over her town, and continuing to climb.

No, she’s walked between the bonfires—or was lead, as she was beginning to suspect. She must have known I liked her, she thought, reaching a thousand feet, and continuing to climb. Celeste had to know. But being who she is, knowing what she’d love, and maybe knowing that, like this, I’d also be a witch . . . Laurie nodded at Chang’e. “She wanted a witch who’d love her. And she knew . . . She knew I’d love her back.” The cat looked back, her eyes twinkling, and gave Laurie a very quick meow.

Laurie laughed, then looked at the clouds closing in around her. “I need to get to Celeste,” she mumbled. She’s not here, but I know where she’s at. I know where she’s waiting for me . . . For she did understand why Celeste hadn’t been around, why she had disappeared after Halloween, and why she was so far away right now. She’s been waiting for me to figure this out, to decide upon the life I wanted. And she’s been waiting for me—waiting to teach me magic.

She pointed her wand at the clouds before her. “Tabhair dom ar aghaidh go dtí an Bhreatain Bheag!” she shouted. Within seconds the same effect she’d seen Celeste produce on Halloween appeared fifty feet before her.

As she flew into the portal that would take Chang’e and her to the site of the coven party near Rhandirmwyn, Wales, she knew it might be months, if not years before she saw her home again. It would be fine; that she understood. But it would be a long time before she set foot in it again.

Not that it mattered. The home represented a life that no longer existed, and on the other side of this gateway—that was the life she’d chosen.

That was the life she wanted.

That would be her life as a witch.

The dream witch—

Of her loved one.

She flew into the gateway, smiling, knowing what she’d find on the other side.

The End

And like it says, that is the end.  Hope you enjoyed the story.  Next week, I will have a final comment before jumping onto The Crazy Train.

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