AJ Niblock studied literature and creative writing at the University of Central Missouri. After completing her Master's in Literature and being a college professor for many years, she went back to school and completed a degree in Veterinary Nursing from Harcum College. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, a mini dachshund, and two cats.
Let’s go!!!! I’m trying really hard this month to stay on top of my to do list. So far, things are going okay, not great, but better than the last two months.
If you’re here for a prompt, look no further:
“I wanted to believe him. I really did. But I had trusted him before, and it hadn’t worked out that well. So now when he assured me that…”
Complete the Story
I love prompts like this that are super vague. No names and no real details. This can go anywhere…
If you’re new to my page, let me tell you about my yearly writing goal. (Also, if you would like to share what you’ve written using the prompt, I would love to read it. If you want, I will even post it on my blog).
So, this year, my goal is to write 12 short stories, one each month. At some time, usually near the first half of the month, I share the prompt I’m using, and then I try to finish the story by the end of the month. This year, I’m trying to force myself to write longer stories. My word goal is 1500 per story.
At this point in the year, I’m one story behind! Hopefully I will be caught up soon. The last two months have been bananas. I was sick off and on for most of them, and we were house hunting.
House hunting is done! I still have a freakin’ cough, and it drives me crazy. But it’s getting better.
Anyway, happy reading and writing today and every day! Hope you all have a great month!!
It had been more than two weeks since the fire, but the stink of it was still in her hair, on her skin. She took long showers twice a day, but the smell lingered. When she closed her eyes at night, the images came back to her, images of people screaming as their flesh melted and their body quickly went from solid to liquid to ash.
She didn’t tell anyone she’d been there when it happened. No one knew her part in the disaster, and she absolutely couldn’t tell anyone. No one would believe her anyway.
She was sure her mother would lean in to give her a hug one of these days and smell the fire on her. She explained the extra showers by telling her mother that the warm water was comforting to her.
Her mother didn’t question this because her daughter lost her lifelong friend in the fire. It was perfectly understandable that she would be grieving. And grief is different for everyone. A few extra showers weren’t the worst way to handle it.
Going back to work was out of the question. Luckily her boss, unlike most, told her to take all the time she needed.
At first, she was too afraid to do much more than sit in her room, but she would fall asleep in the middle of the day, and this caused two problems. One, she wasn’t tired at night when she should be sleeping, and two, she would dream about that night over and over again.
After the second time she had the dream, she decided to keep herself awake and tire herself out in the hopes that at night she could sleep peacefully.
She left the house without saying anything to her mom. She was less than ten feet outside the door when her mom texted.
“Do you want me to drop you somewhere?”
“No,” she replied. “Just going for a walk.”
She let the sound of her feet stepping on the pavement lull her into a trance. She kept walking, giving no thought to where her feet were taking her.
After nearly forty-five minutes, she stopped. She let out a deep sigh and looked up. Without meaning to, her feet had taken her back to the scene of the fire.
She looked around at the nothing where a house should have been. The air felt strange to her. The longer she stood there, the more she felt like she wanted to step onto the property and wade through the ashes. There was yellow crime tape flapping in the breeze.
She didn’t let her feet decide this time. She stepped back and then took another step away. As she took her third step away from the yard that used to belong to her friend, a gruff voice asked her, “Do you see anything interesting?”
Interesting? Who would ask that about a home destroyed, burnt down to little more than dust? She couldn’t believe someone would phrase it that way.
“I think the word you’re looking for is horrible,” she said turning around to face whoever had spoken to her.
She looked up at a man wearing the most stereotypical government goon get up she’d ever seen. He was wearing a black suit with a crisp white button shirt, a cheap looking black tie, and ever so slightly too shiny black dress shoes. He had dark aviator sunglasses, and there was a noticeable bump in his jacket where his gun was clearly tucked away.
As she faced him, he pulled a black wallet out of his pocket. He flipped it open revealing his FBI credentials.
Surprise. Surprise, she thought rolling her eyes.
“FBI, ma’am. What’s your interest in this place?” He nodded towards the lot where her friend’s house used to be.
She shook her head. “No interest. My friend used to live here.” She fought off tears. She wasn’t faking being upset, but she wasn’t sure if she was crying for the loss of her friend or if she was afraid.
“And your name is?” asked the agent.
“No one.” She tried to step around him and head home, but he blocked her path.
“That’s not really an answer. And I’m a federal agent. Just answer my question.”
At that moment, she heard the squeal of brakes and then the sound of footsteps quickly closing the distance from a car to her.
“There you are!” her mother shouted. Her mother took one look at the situation and wrapped her arms around her daughter. “We’re going home.” She gave the agent a look that would kill and hauled her daughter into the car.
The agent didn’t object. He didn’t need to. He would find out who the girl was.
As her mother drove away, the agent snapped a quick picture of the license plate and from his phone searched for the information. In less than two minutes, he knew where to find her.
When she got home, she jumped out of the car and ran inside before her mother could say or ask anything. She didn’t know what to say.
Why had she gone there? That was the last place she should have been.
She slammed the door to her room and threw herself across her bed.
She felt like she was losing her mind. As she lay there, images from that night kept flashing through her mind. She saw the flames and could smell the whole house burning around her. She wanted to cover her ears and block out the short-lived screams of her friend’s family. Instead, she sobbed and cried until there was a puddle of snot, spit, and tears on her comforter.
Even then, she didn’t lift her head. She didn’t dare move. She felt her whole body screaming with energy.
She didn’t feel cold. She felt like she was on fire.
She jumped off her bed and looked around frantically. She wasn’t on fire. Her room was the same as it always was. She patted her arms and legs, and then because she didn’t really believe it, she did it again.
She was fine. Nothing was on fire. She scanned around again. The room was fine. She saw the gross wet spot on her bed and let out a sigh. Her mind was playing tricks on her.
That had to be it. She’d snapped. The death of a best friend could so that to someone. That made the most sense.
She slumped against the nearest wall until she was on the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest.
She couldn’t tell anyone what she thought had happened. But if she didn’t tell someone, she was going to continue like she was now, and she could barely function.
They were sitting in her friend’s room, watching Youtube videos without the sound on. She wasn’t supposed to be staying over, but she hated being home alone. Her mother wouldn’t be home until tomorrow.
Her friend had told her to sleep over anyway; they just wouldn’t tell anyone.
As the video ended, her friend selected another one. It was some crap about unlocking your hidden potential. The guy in the video was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed yammering about mediation and looking within.
Blah, blah, blah. She rolled her eyes.
“You don’t believe this crap, do you?” she asked.
Her friend shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s give it a try. He even gives you a link for mediation music.” Her friend clicked on the link and subtle ocean sounds spilled from her phone coupled with someone plucking a harp.
“Whatever,” she said. She thought it was ridiculous, but she crossed her legs and drew in a deep breath.
“Right, just like that,” her friend said.
Then everything else faded away. She opened her eyes because she felt something tickle her cheek.
“Hey, stop that,” she said to her friend. As she looked around, she didn’t see her friend. Instead, she saw the room engulfed in flames. As she got to her feet, she turned to search for her friend. She didn’t see her anywhere.
She did see her friend’s family through the ashes and beams as the house turned into nothing. In less than a minute from the time she opened her eyes, they too were ash.
She looked at herself. Why wasn’t she burning too? What was happening? How could everything be destroyed but her? She didn’t understand, but she had to get away from this.
She ran home. As she moved through the neighborhoods towards her house, she heard sirens screaming in the night. She didn’t let it stop her.
She was in the shower before the first fire engine arrived at the scene. She stayed in there, running cold water trying to figure out if what she’d seen could be real. It couldn’t, could it? No one can be in a fire like that and come out unscathed?
As I’m sure you are all aware, there are so many different types of posts and things to get sucked into on social media.
I recently have been addicted to the AITA posts.
O!M!G! I can’t stop reading them. I get sucked in almost instantly. I have no idea why. Every night for the last couple of weeks, I tell myself I won’t click on even one, but I do anyway! What is wrong with me?
If you aren’t familiar, though I don’t know how you could have missed them if you’re on social media… never mind. It’s probably better if you’ve somehow missed them.
Anyway, if you aren’t familiar, an AITA post is a post where someone is asking, “Am I the Asshole?” and then they proceed to write about some horrible and awkward situation from their life that they are trying to decide if they navigated it in a reasonable way.
Normally, these posts are often tied to family events like weddings or birthday parties, but sometimes they’re just run of the mill things we do throughout our day that somehow escalate into crazy town.
After having read way, way too many of these posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that every body is crazy. Seriously. Everyone needs to cut every other person on the planet some slack.
So the question is why do I get so sucked into someone else’s family drama or run in with a crazy lady at a store?
Short answer, it’s like a car accident. You can’t look away!!! I can’t stop reading. I have to know how it ended. I also love to see everyone’s take on it. Sometimes when I’m like, this person is clearly the a-hole, the rest of the internet is like, NTA (not the asshole).
I often don’t understand normal social behavior, and maybe that’s why I find these posts so fascinating.
But let’s be honest, I just love the drama of it all. Also, I cannot believe some of the crazy requests that brides make. Some of those posts have to be fake, right?
If you haven’t stumbled upon these yet, you’re better off staying away because once you start, you won’t be able to stop. Human curiosity gets the better of most of us though.
Whatever it is you’re enjoying, happy reading and writing today and every day!
In super exciting news, we bought a house! So excited to be moving and living in something that’s ours and not renting again.
In not so super news, I’ve been sick for basically the entire month. At first I had flu like symptoms that lasted like five days, but since that stopped, I’ve had a cough that will not go away. Plus, every third day or so, I feel absolutely exhausted and run a fever.
The cough is driving me crazy. I feel like I shouldn’t leave the house because I don’t want to spread anything plus I feel like every one gives me a dirty look when I cough in public.
All of this adds up to me being behind on everything. I’m behind on my blog, my drafting, my chores, reading, and any other personal project I’m currently working on.
If you came here for a short story prompt, here it is:
“A group of young men strolled down the street as if they were training to be secret agents. It was the kind of town most young people dreamed of escaping, where everyone had their own private fantasy. Some might have ideas about…”
Complete the Story
Whatever is going on for you, I hope you are healthy! And whatever your goals, I wish you good luck and hope you are making progress.
Okay, so if you spend time working on creative projects, even if it’s just a craft project that takes time, you will undoubtably have been tempted to abandon the project and start on something new before you finish the first project.
I admit that I do this with my own craft projects. I tend to have several going at once, and I try, I really do, not to start too many at a time. I find that sometimes taking a break from something I’m not making progress on helps me approach it with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of energy.
The reason I mention this concept is that this same process can be used for my writing projects. However, now that I’ve written four books, I find myself less likely to push one to the side.
I’ve learned to keep new distracting ideas separate from whatever the main project is I’m working on. This is especially important to me when I’m drafting a new book. When I’m drafting, I don’t like to even think about other projects, I don’t read as much, and I usually get behind on my blog too.
For me, the drafting phase, when I’m putting a new story down, needs to be as distraction free as possible. I don’t know why, but for editing, I can work on other things. I think it’s probably because I can only stand to edit for a few hours a day before I need to do something else.
Anyway, I was wondering what the rest of you do with ideas so they don’t distract you?
I write them in my idea journal and save them for another day.
And on that note, go create something wonderful! Happy reading and writing today and every day!
I know most people find the beach relaxing. But when I’m standing there on the shore at high tide, watching the effect the moon has on the great oceans of the world, I find myself wondering what effect it has on my insides, which are more than half water themselves, and I get dizzy. I’m like that, I think too much about things, like how we’re basically made of the same thing as the ocean.
For some, this might make them feel small or even insignificant in the vastness of everything, but for me, it’s the opposite. I feel connected. I’m part of what makes up everything else, and it’s so much like me that on an atomical level, were similar to everything. I find these ideas comforting, some people do not, so I’ve learned to keep them to myself. For me, the beach isn’t a place to relax—it’s a place to reconnect to the greatness of everything.
I push my hands further into the warm sand and breathe deeply in the smell of salt. Sitting there makes me feel dizzy and grounded at the same time. I love the opposition of forces at work in me. I feel off kilter and…
“Dinah! Where are you?” a voice yells, interrupting my train of thought.
I don’t answer and try to remember what I’d just been thinking about before someone shouted my name. I close my eyes and feel the air move across my skin, some of the sand scratches at my face.
It takes a few moments, but I’m able to lose myself again and disconnect and connect to the universe.
The yelling is much closer this time. I’m snapped back to the here and now.
“What?” I shout back at the person now standing a few feet behind me.
“It’s dinner time.” The voice speaks in a more reasonable volume now. “Come on. I’m not coming back out here again.”
I sigh, hoping the noise will reach the person who interrupted my meditation, but I know it’s unlikely. I want her to know she’s annoying me, like always. It’s just the way we’ve always been. We don’t get along and are rarely civil to one another. It’s been worse since our mom died.
I shake my head and clear that thought away. Dwelling on the past won’t change the here and now.
In the kitchen in our shared bungalow, my sister, Alice, is placing dinner on table with enough force that the sandwiches bounce and fall back to the plates, subject to gravity, like the rest of us. The salad bowl suffers the same forces as she practically drops it onto the table.
I know I shouldn’t say anything, but sometimes, I can’t help but be drawn into her drama. “This table belonged to our mother, and her mother before that, and…”
I don’t get to finish my lecture that I know stings her as much as it pains me to speak of our mother out loud.
“Don’t start with me, Dinah.” Alice places a pitcher on the table, splashing water over the lip.
She says my name the same every time—DIE – NAH. I hate the way she says it. She is the only person I know that emphasizes both syllables equally. No one speaks that way; no one except Alice. Alice the menace. Alice the aggravator. Alice the psycho.
I run through my favorite nicknames for her. She hates them. I don’t say them out loud, not this time anyway. I pick up a napkin and dry the table. I know it’s only water, but I love this table. Like the house, it should be treated with respect. Mom always made us take care of everything under this roof.
We eat our dinner without speaking to each other and without looking up at one another. What would we say anyway?
Despite living under the same roof our whole lives, we couldn’t be more different. Our mom always said we’d learn to get along because we were sisters. It hasn’t happened yet though. And I’m too old to believe everything my mom said anyway.
When we were kids, we fought so much our mother threatened to send us each to live with a different family member. She thought some time apart would teach us to miss one another. It didn’t work. After the first week away, our Aunt Carol sent Alice home.
I was only away for a little over twelve hours. I’d been sent to my Aunt Lousie’s house. She didn’t even call my mom. She put me in her car, dropped me on the porch, and drove away without talking to my mom.
When I’d waddled into the house with my bags and started to put my things away, my mom had shaken her head and sighed. She never even asked why they sent me home.
Alice though was furious when she found out. She claimed I was mom’s favorite because she’d let me come home sooner. I never corrected her because I liked making her mad. I still do. I can’t help it.
And here we are, over thirty years into our sisterhood and we still live under the same roof. I stay here because it’s my house, and Alice stays because it’s her house.
In her will, our mother stipulated that we could only keep the house if we lived in it together. If one of us leaves, the other has to go and the house has to be sold.
Our extended family doesn’t want the house to be sold. It’s belonged to one of us for over a century. Traditionally it was inherited by the oldest child, which should have been Alice. Our mom broke with tradition to punish us.
If she were still alive, she would probably say she was teaching us a lesson, but we’re a little old for her tricks now. Despite how much Alice and I fight though, neither one of us has left yet.
I finish eating and clear my dishes. Alice is still sitting at the table though she finished eating before I did.
It’s my turn to clean the kitchen, but I’m not going to do it with her sitting there watching me.
“Can you go do something?” I ask. I clear the serving dishes and even grab her empty plate.
“A lawyer is coming tomorrow,” Alice says gripping her glass of water with both hands and still not making eye contact with me.
“Ok. A lawyer for what?” I ask.
“To discuss the house,” she answers.
“What about the house?” I step back near the table, not understanding what she’s talking about.
She looks nervous and rubs her head between her eyes like she’s trying to force herself to not be frustrated. I’ve seen her do this motion a million times. I just don’t understand what about this moment is frustrating her.
“I’m trying to find out if there is a legal way for one of us to buy the house from the other so that we don’t both have to continue to live here.” She says it flatly.
“You want me to buy you out? Where woould you live?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “No, you misunderstand. I want to buy your half, and I want you to leave.” This time she looks at me.
If looks could kill, I would have been dead on the spot. I open my mouth to speak, but I stop.
“I’ll do the dishes later,” I say.
I remember the day our mom’s lawyer read the will to us. I remember it very clearly. I thought for sure I was going to lose my home that day, but I didn’t.
Alice had protested of course. She’d spouted something about family tradition, and then she’d cursed our mother’s name. She’d stopped listening as the lawyer continued to read the will.
I remember that there was only one exception that would keep the house in one of our’s possession. If one of us died, the other was allowed to stay.
I am running behind with just about everything… I was sick for the last two weeks of February, then family visited, and this week, I’m on day three of a migraine.
I would like to feel okay for a few days in a row to get my act together.
Anywho, if you’re here for an idea, and not me rambling about stuff, here it is:
“It had been more than two weeks since the fire, but the stink of it was still in her hair, on her skin. She took long showers twice a day, but the smell lingered. When she closed her eyes at night, the images came back to her, images of…”
Complete the Story
I hope if you’re reading this, you are having a better week than me.
On a happier note, I recently got the entire run of the Fables comics! I’ve been reading them like mad!
Okay, February is nearly over, and I’ve finally made a list of personal goals I hope to achieve this year. It took me until a few days ago to feel like even thinking about it. The sun came out in the Pacific Northwest. Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing.
Anywho… what are you doing this year? Here is what I’ve got so far:
Read 50 books
I’ve already started this one. I just finished book #8 for the year last night. This is the one goal I set and start every year without fail.
Write 12 short stories
I’ve started this one too. First story of the year: “No Bounds”
Participate in and win NANOWRIMO
This one starts and ends in November.
We are moving! I’m so excited about this one. We’ve already started shopping for houses though we aren’t moving till the summer. I don’t really like where we are now, so I’m ready for a change.
Write 5th novel
This is starting soon. I’m going through my brainstorming phase right now for two projects. I haven’t decided which I want to write first, so I’m hoping by the time I get done jotting things down, one of them strikes me as the one!
Finish recipe cross stitch
This is my first cross stitch project for the year. I started it very late in 2022. It’s actually a recipe for hot chocolate. I’ve been meaning to make it for years. I’ve almost finished the outline (it’s a complicated outline).
Update our wills
So, (pulls out soap box) if you have kids, be sure you have a will. I won’t get into why, but you should!
My husband and I haven’t updated ours since our daughter was an infant. And we both realized there are some major changes we would like to make.
Crochet 3 different projects
I’ve actuallly started this one already too. The first project I’m tackling is jellyfish. I’ve already made two and I’m making several more for family.
I think my next two projects are going to be a dinosaur and Grogu, but that’s not set in stone yet.
I’m trying to learn new things that I haven’t tried before, so for each project I try to pick something that has a technique or stitch that I haven’t done before. I’m teaching myself very slowly.
As you can see, I wasn’t really ready for the year when 2023 began, but I’m finding my way now.
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!
It’s February… you know this, and it’s more than half over all ready. We all know this. However, I am still stuck in the mood where I just can’t seem to get things done. I am blaming the weather. Winter is a time to be less productive, right?
The only thing I’ve managed to achieve is learning new crochet techniques. In fact, I made two really cute jellyfish…
If you’re here for writing, and not my useless ranting about procrastinating, here is the short story prompt for this month:
“I know most people find the beach relaxing. But when I’m standing there on the shore at high tide, watching the effect the moon has on the great oceans of the world, I find myself wondering what effect it has on my insides, which are more than half water themselves, and I get dizzy. I’m like that, I think too much about things, like…”
Complete the Story
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!
He had trouble walking, trouble standing up, trouble buttering his toast. But his mind was as sharp as ever. He had this amazing way with trivia. He could tell you the atomic weight of every element on the periodic table. He could name every bone and muscle in the human body. He recited whole books of the bible like they were common knowledge. He memorized facts from every science text he could get his hands on. He learned to speak ten languages. His ability to memorize astounded people. He didn’t have an eidetic memory. He was just really good at retaining information, and he craved learning new things.
When he’d been a young person, he spent every moment he could at the library. As a teen, he’d been a champion knowledge bowler. In college, he passed classes easily. With his vast wealth of knowledge, he’d been drawn to the sciences. In particular, he was fascinated by theoretical fields. He loved the idea of creating new knowledge.
As he’d aged, he never lost that thirst for learning. He lived alone and spent his free time reading. He also enjoyed puzzles. There wasn’t a crossword he couldn’t finish, and he always did them in pen. It was a point of pride for him that he could solve codes and crack word puzzles that others struggled with.
The one thing he’d failed to consider as he aged was his own genetics. Unfortunately for him, muscular disorders were common in his family. Even as he watched his father fight with a deteriorating body, it didn’t occur to him that he might also get the disease in the future. He never considered the genetic fate awaiting him.
When it finally caught up to him, he was in shock. But mostly, he felt like he was in prison. The prison was his own body. And he wanted out. Using his vast knowledge, he began to formulate a plan.
Victor’s new ambition was to cheat death. The knowledge was out there, somewhere, he just had to figure out how to unlock it.
He sent his assistants in search of esoteric texts, things that in the past he wouldn’t have concerned himself with. He no longer devoted his time to the sciences, not entirely.
As the days ticked by, he became increasingly interested in the sciences of old—things like alchemy and mysticism. It didn’t matter to him that the theories had been debunked centuries ago.
The more he studied ancient “sciences” the more he felt his brain tingling. There was something there. He was sure of it. Surely with his knowledge of modern science, he could find the final steps to these processes that most considered nonsense.
It’s not that he wanted to live forever, not exactly. What he wanted was the ability to heal his body until he was ready to end it. He wanted to control his destiny. And he wanted to give the world that ability to.
Can you imagine the legacy that would live on for the person who finally discovered the process of reverse aging humans? The ability to live forever would mean so many things. It would mean the end of terminal illnesses. It would mean the ability to truly become an expert at something. It would mean so much…
Studying and experimenting became increasingly difficult for him. He was tired so easily. He was lucky if he could accomplish a couple of hours of work each day. His body betrayed him every second. He continued to be increasingly debilitated.
He ended up relying on his assistants more and more. Sometimes he would send them on errands only to be asleep when they returned.
His first break through happened by accident. He was using a combination of archaic knowledge and modern science to heal a wound on his hand. He’d cut himself trying to open a package the previous day.
He drew a spell circle from an ancient text, but he changed the symbols, using modern icons to represent medicine and cells. A pile of herbs burned in a tightly secured bundle in the center. He chanted the words to the original spell and added a few of his own. He used the scientific names for things instead of laymen’s terms.
The proper naming of things was important. Every story about fairies mentioned it. How could something that repeated so often in folk lore not be a lesson humans were supposed to learn?
To call something by it’s true name gave you power over it. To command the trees, to call on animals. Or simply to find the words to work magic, the naming of things was powerful.
And luckily for Victor, science loved naming things.
His chant continued. He kept his voice steady, and the volume level. There was no need to get excited. This was science after all. Leave all that emotional who-haw at the door.
The first spark surprised him. He stuttered a bit, but then he thought maybe he was just imagining it and the sparks disappeared.
He kept chanting. And when something sparked again, he continued. He’d set up a camera before he’d begun. All good science would need verification and would need to be repeatable. This wasn’t his first experiment.
He kept chanting, checking his excitement. As he’d been chanting, one of his assistant’s was counting the number of times Victor made it completely through the spell by tapping a clicker.
As the sparks started to get bigger and brighter, the clicking stopped. The assistant was mesmerized watching what could only be described as a tiny firework show happening over the spell table.
As each spark grew and then burst, the magic dissipated leaving no sign that it had existed to begin with. This continued to for several minutes. Eventually, the residual magic began to build up.
Victor could see the circle drawn on the table’s surface starting to glow one section at a time. When Victor noticed the glow, he started chanting a bit faster. He was getting increasingly tired the longer the spell went on. He needed to see what would happen if the entire circle was glowing.
He chanted and chanted and chanted. The circle continued to glow and one small bit at a time, the diameter began to glow.
When the circle was about three-fourths complete, the assistant took a step forward. His mouth was agape. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The single step of his assistant caused Victor to faulter momentarily. A bit of the circle’s glow faded in response.
Victor shook his head and kept chanting, trying not to let his assistant’s behavior deter him.
After what felt like hours, with sweat dripping from his head and his voice practically gone, Victor succeeded in completing the circle.
Just as the glow connected, drawing the perfect diameter of the spell, Victor stepped forward and placed his hand in the center.
There was a bright flash forcing Victor to shut his eyes.
With his eyes shut, he didn’t see what happened, but he heard a pop and then the room was eerily silent.
As Victor looked at his hand, he couldn’t believe it. The wound was gone. He’d done it. He was healed.
He turned toward the camera and turned his hand so the wound that was clearly visible moments ago could be examined.
He then looked at the table. The spell circle was once again nothing but a drawing on the table. It looked ordinary. There was no glow. No sign that anything had happened to it.
Victor reached out and wiped a small section away. It came away easily.
That’s when Victor turned to where his assistant should have been. There was no one. Nothing. His assistant was gone.
Victor assumed his assistant had fled. Perhaps the light had hurt his eyes or he just needed a moment to collect himself.
Victor didn’t waste any time. He sat at his computer and opened the file that had recorded the whole thing.
He watched, realizing only a few minutes in that he was terribly hungry and tired. He needed to eat. He stopped the video, intending to watch it after a much-needed break. He finally looked at the time on the screen.
Seven hours had passed since they’d started the spell.
Victor couldn’t believe that. He opened the video file once again but didn’t restart it. He looked at the bottom which indicated the total time. Seven hours.
That seemed impossible to him. It had felt exhausting, but Victor rarely went an hour or two without needing a nap these days. The clock had to be wrong.
His hunger, thirst, and bladder were screaming at him. The time would have to wait until he met other needs first.
He didn’t get around to watching the video until the following day. He woke up exhausted and couldn’t remember when he’d felt so tired.
His assistant was late. Victor would have to make his own coffee.
He sat at his desk with his coffee watching the video. He fast forwarded to the part where the sparking started and watched it for several minutes. Then he moved on to the part where the circle began to glow.
As he pressed forward on the video, speeding towards the end, he saw the clock going and going.
He stopped the video when there were only five minutes remaining.
He leaned forward, watching every moment barely able to breath.
As the bright flash occurred and the circle filled with light, he saw his assistant near the table and then he didn’t.
The Victor on the video stepped towards the table and healed his hand, just as he remembered.