THE ORDER OF THE SPHINX – ORIGINS

This is a section from a short story preceding my ‘The Order Of The Sphinx’ series, where my young witches’ powers first awaken.  When I revised the first book, I ended up cutting out the entire beginning where they got their powers because the full plot really started months later.  But, waste not want not, I turned that discarded section into its own short.

In this scene, the characters have just be teleported together with no idea how or why and are trying to figure it out. (Warning: rated R for bad language.)

Let me know what you think.  I’m specifically looking for what you think of characters, pacing, descriptions, and if you can feel the MC’s feels:

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What the hell are we doing here?  I pinched my inner arm.  Hard.  Ow!  Okay, not a dream.

“Anyone else thinking alien abduction?” the guy asked, mouth stretching back in a grimace and eyes darting around the yard.

“Actually, yes.”  I looked around us.  Sizeable grey house, iron balcony on the second floor, back porch big enough for the cast of Lost to throw a barbeque on, and a giant backyard framed by trees and a rose garden.  The closest house looked about fifty yards away.

Nice place, really nice, but no answers.

“Does anybody have any idea what the hell’s going on?” I asked.  The tall woman shrugged.

I took a deep breath, pointing to Cameron.  “I know you.”

“We met Cameron and Michelle at school today,” the woman said, nodding at Cameron and the blond.

“And what about him?”  I pointed to the guy.

“He’s my twin.  We were both in class with Cameron.”

“Hence the we; I get it.”  I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs.

This is impossible, skipped through my brain on a turntable.  Not helping.  It happened, therefore it was possible.  Or I’m just crazy.  Again, not helping.

“I’m Sandry, by the way,” I said.

“Izzy and Eric,” the woman said.

“We’re not dead, are we?” Michelle asked, sobbing.

“No,” Izzy and I said at the same time.  Hers came out a lot nicer.

Izzy met my eyes.  There was intelligence and kindness under that pretty packaging.  I could feel her willing me to help keep everyone calm.  I reassessed my first impression of Izzy real fast.

What?  It’s not natural for someone that pretty to be nice, let alone have two brain cells to rub together.

“No,” I repeated, looking at Michelle.  “There’s a reasonable explanation for this and we’ll figure it out.  We just have to stay calm.  It’s Michelle, right?”

Michelle nodded, baby blues red and puffy.

“Fine,” Cameron said, making my head turn to him so fast I almost got whiplash, “if you’re so smart, then tell us, oh great one, how the fuck we were teleported?”  His face pinched up and went red so the water running down it looked like sweat.  Fury poured out of him like sewer sludge.

He’s scared.

How the hell did I know that?

My face flushed and my hands clenched.  He didn’t get to snap at me just because he was scared.  We were all scared.  I bit back my urge to snarl.  Calm.  I had to stay calm.

“I didn’t say I know what happened.  I said we need to figure it out.  Panicking won’t help anything.”

Cameron stepped towards me, hands in fists just like mine.

Okay, like mine times about four.

I twitched into offense pose: arms up, right leg back and holding my weight, left leg ready to take the weight so my right could go to work if he got any closer.  Fighting, I could do.

Izzy stepped between us, staring me down.  “Let’s go inside and talk.”

I nodded, standing straight, and Cameron shrugged, not looking at me as he shoved his hands in his pockets.

I looked at the sliding glass door and Izzy shook her head.  “It’s locked.  We came out the front when we heard the buzzing noises.”

My eyebrows flew up.  “Buzzing?”

“The noise you guys made when you popped in.  Cameron was in the front, Michelle came in the back, and then you.”

“This doesn’t make sense,” I said as we walked around the side of the house.  “It defies all laws of science.  There’s no way this can be happening.”

“If you say it can’t be happening then I guess it’s not,” Cameron said.  “Congratulations, you’ve cracked the fucking puzzle.”

I stomped towards him.  What was I doing?  I had a temper, sure, but I was acting like a hot headed idiot.  Kind of like Cameron.

Was this what true panic was?  Acting irrationally while a small voice inside begged you to stop feeling long enough for it to add up the facts?

“Don’t.”  Izzy stepped in front of me again and took my shoulder.  “You’re tiny.  What are you going to do, kick his shins?”

She did not just say that.  The logic I gathered melted, giving way to nerve endings and emotions.  My eyes narrowed and Izzy took half a step back.

“For your information,” my voice was cold as the raindrops smacking my arms, “I’m a black belt.”

“Oh!” Cameron said.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a ninja in our group.  Look out, people.”  He smirked, singing in a helium voice, “We represent the Ninja Guild, the Ninja Guild.”  He did a few little kicks.  “And in the name of the Ninja Guild,” he twirled around, “we wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land,” and bowed.

The blood rushed to my brain and I pointed a hard finger at Cameron.  “Don’t mock me.”  My hand tingled with warmth and my mind went cold.

“And what are you going to do about it?”

Something inside my mind ruptured.

A lightning bolt slammed down in front of Cameron.

“Fuck!”  He jumped back just in time to avoid being scorched.

I crumpled to the drenched grass like a dropped candy bar wrapper, clutching my chest.  My pleural cavity tightened like a giant was using it as a stress ball.  Every breath made my ribs twinge.  My entire body tingled under my skin and my vision danced.

“I didn’t mean…”  I coughed.  Gods, my heart hurt.  “How?”  I looked at the spot of burnt earth in front of Cameron, it was maybe half a foot in diameter and still smoldering, then up into his eyes.  “I’m sorry.”

“You did that?” Cameron asked.  He sounded more shocked than angry.

I nodded.  It wasn’t possible, people didn’t just conjure lightning when they were mad, but I did apparently.

That scared me almost as much as the inexplicable teleportation.

“I didn’t mean to.  I don’t even know how I did.”  I shivered, rubbing my arms.

Izzy held out a hand and I let her haul me to my feet.  The tightness in my chest eased, but my head throbbed with dull, cold pain.  I rubbed my temples then the middle of my forehead and it didn’t help.

Muttering broke through my frozen ears and I turned.

Michelle’s wide eyes met mine and her mutters got louder.  I could only make out, “Oh my God,” as she backed away.

“Michelle.”  I took a step towards her.

“No!” Michelle squealed, waving her hands.

Wind like a giant’s cold fist slammed my already abused chest and I fell to my ass.  “Ummph!  Ow!”

Michelle looked at her hands.

I pushed myself up.  “Guys, just stay calm and accept that something very strange is going on.”

Michelle took an obvious breath and nodded, lowering her hands and wringing them in front of her.

“Yeah,” Cameron said with a snarl.  “Let’s listen to the crazy women who tried to kill me.  I say we-”

“Calm down and go inside.”  I kept my tone even.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.  Ya know, since my ears are still ringing from the lightning bolt that you,” Cameron pointed at me, yelling over the roar of the storm, “almost fucking fried me with!”

SZZZZZZZ.  POP!

The tree not four feet from me burst into flames.

“Ah!”  I jumped away.  The heat washed up my arm and I crept closer.  Hey, warm was warm at that point.  The flickering light sent dots dancing across my vision and the smoke stung my eyes.  I looked away.

Michelle stared at the tree, face slack and pasty pale.  I could only hope she wasn’t about to pass out.  Eric didn’t look much better.  His face was tight with some half grimace, half grin, and his eyes were big and blinking.

“What did the tree ever do to you?” Izzy asked, voice calm and flat.  I’d think she was used to this insanity if her hands weren’t shaking by her sides.  Still, she was at least trying for calm, which was more than the rest of us could say.

Cameron shrugged, hands trembling as his mouth worked, but Izzy’s weak joke seemed to break Michelle’s stupor.

“This can’t be happening,” Michelle said, backing away.

“Michelle,” I said.

“Michelle,” Izzy echoed, stepping towards her.  “We’ll figure this…”

Michelle bolted, sneakers slipping on the wet grass, making her scramble.

“Wait!” Izzy called, dashing after her.

Michelle stumbled and fell on her face.  She rolled over, clawing at her ankle like bugs were swarming it.  Cameron and I looked at each other and ran to the girls.

I slammed on the breaks, skidding inches on the grass before stopping by Izzy.

Michelle sat at our feet, mouth working like a suffocating fish as she clawed at the muddy, inch thick root wrapping around her ankle like a garden snake.

Izzy looked at me, panic in her eyes.  “Just… um… calm down,” she said to Michelle as the root slid off her and sank back into the ground where it belonged.

Did Izzy do that?  How?

Why couldn’t I get two seconds to freaking think?

What needed to be done?  Getting out of the rain would be good.  Where was Eric?  I turned and he was staring at the burning tree.  The fire sent up a smoke signal that’d make a pair of marooned pirates proud and licked at its neighbor’s branches.

“Cameron,” I pointed at the tree, “do you think you could do something about that before the smoke eats the yard?”

Cameron shrugged.  “How the fuck would I know?”  He looked at the tree, eyebrows scrunching up.  “Fire down?”  The flames puttered out, leaving the sapling charred and smoking.  “Hey, check me out.”

Izzy walked by us and I looked to see if Michelle was up.  She was and looked embarrassed.  I shrugged and Izzy grabbed Eric and walked him back to us.

We stood in a circle, the rain nothing but redundant, we were so soaked.

Why did we all seem calmer?  I turned to Cameron.  “You still pissed?”

He frowned.  “No.  I’m… fine.”

“Me too.  Like somehow the… whatever that was relieved some pressure or something.”

Izzy shrugged.  “Magical jack off?”

Cameron laughed and Michelle squeaked.

“Magic?” I asked.

“Best explanation I’ve got,” Izzy said.

“Okay.”  I cleared my throat.  “Well, let’s get inside.”

Cameron turned to the twins.  “Do you guys have some weird power, too?”

“Weren’t you controlling that root?” I asked Izzy.

“I don’t know how.”  Izzy held up her hands, shaking her head.  “I just wanted her to stop running.”

“So I’m the only one who doesn’t,” Eric said.

“Actually, that is not accurate.”

I jumped at least a foot, head jerking around.  The voice was upper crust British all the way, coming loud and clear over the roar of the wind and thwack of fat raindrops.  I pinched myself again.  I don’t know why I expected it to do anything but sting.

“You do possess powers.  You merely have not triggered them yet.”

We twisted around, heads going every which way like a freaking bobble head convention.  The voice was too close to be outside the range of the porch lights and yet was nowhere in sight.

“I must say, that little display was quite entertaining.  I merely came here to talk.  I was not aware I would be treated to such a show.”

What the hell’s going on?  Don’t we have enough weird shit to deal with?  I whirled around, taking everything in again: rain, lawn, house, the edge of the bushes, but no one else.

“Who the hell are you?  Where the hell are you?”

Laughter colder than the rain poured around us.

Iced fear solidified in my stomach like I was facing down a dentist’s drill without Novocain and I could barely keep from wrapping my arms around myself.

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3 thoughts on “THE ORDER OF THE SPHINX – ORIGINS

  1. OK, just had to go back and reread the beginning, that wasn’t actually the beginning, so I could figure out why it didn’t seem right on first read through. Except for jumping in in the middle and stopping before the end, pretty darn good! Now where’s the rest! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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