Stories To Be

Bits and Pieces of my stories. Some posts here will be continuances of a story. Some will be details or ideas for a scene or other part of a story that isn't next but I don't want to forget. Each post will be titled with the name of the story it belongs to, to keep things from being confusing.

Stories In Progress

  • Bane of Death
  • Tabled Unfinished Stories

  • Troia
  • The Lost Song
  • New Mutants: Angel
  • The Unending Story
  • Finished Stories

  • End, The - Feint of Heart Warning
  • Faith Winterfields
  • Flight
  • Chronicles of Gaia
  • Project, The
  • What's At S.T.E.A.K.
  • Poems

  • Sense of Wonder
  • Happiness In Health
  • Thoughts
  • Anticipation (of News)
  • Family

  • Please let me know what you think!  Comment or e-mail me.  Both positive and negitive critiques expected!

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    6 Red 

    Enter huge office building (describe: more squat and wide with varying levels than tall high rise). Down wide hall way, off to right as hallway corners to the right wall tapers to half high and over looks large open area three stories high. Go by employees, half of which (or more?) are beyond life: lank apparitions with a black shadow inside hinting at an interior skeleton float inches above the floor as they move, speaking with black skeletons surrounded by the faintest aura suggesting a body, or soul, still exists. The rest of the mingling employees are as alive and well as you. Turn the corner, headed for the grand staircase that leads down to the open floor. From behind one of a double door set opens and upper up guy walks out with smile on his face. Behind him a meeting in the high mucky muck (describe better) meeting room is ending, people gathering and getting up and moving.

    As he approaches, he looks directly at you and says jubilantly "(something to the effect of 'I finally sold the place' or 'I'm getting a ton for this place')".

    Is there a thought of disbelief here?

    "And I'm taking (Woman's name) with me," he declares as you and he begin to pass. But he stops and glances down to the far floor. "Anyone else who claims her will have to throw me for her!" he adds with nearly a laugh and a shake of his hand like he is rolling dice, as you keep moving, looking back at him.

    "But no one can leave the company," you assert, quoting the rules, though still almost believing him because of his apparent certainty.

    His response is only the sly smile and calm look of a knowing man.

    Surprised, and a bit unsure what to do with that information, you continue to the stairs, and down the fanning out double flight. At the bottom you spot (Woman's name from above) next to one of the Black Jack (Craps?) tables. You tell her "(something about what you know, and that he's postulated taking her with him)". She reacts (somehow) and heads off.

    ... very sketchy here.
    A game kinda starts. Two child siblings come over and want to play, have money, so you push the dealer and the one player into their correct positions - explaining the set up as you do - the oldest child starts to walk away but you convince him/her back, set the children up and start teaching them the game. Something happens in distance, catches at least the oldest's attention, and s/he looses all his/her money while not paying attention.
    You're pulled off? Something happens with Nina character, can't remember what. But indications she is taking you under her wing, will help you rise in the company.
    ... very sketchy part ends.

    You show up at a meeting that has been called. Lecture hall layout, this being the front area of the large open floor where you just were. Looks like all the company's living employees are in attendance. You head towards the edge of the center seating which is all on the floor in the front, not rising up like the rest. Before you can sit, you hear someone make a calling for you attention sound. Look up, and see a woman shake her head slightly, her expression telling you that's the wrong thing to do. She motions for you to look to your left. You turn, and just behind you is Nina, taking a seat right next to the first dais. You head over, and politely ask about sitting next to her. To your surprise, and disheartenment, she says an apologetic no, that the seat is reserved. You move one seat over and indicate taking that chair if it's okay. She not paying attention, as a slightly higher up man comes by and she offers him the seat. To her obvious dismay he flat out denies her, and steps onto the dais to take a seat. As a cover to whatever she is feeling, she moves one chair away. Instead of now being in the seat next to her, you move back one row to sit behind her, but you choose the chair to her left instead of her right, placing you right next to the dais.

    The "meeting" begins. Lots of stuffy procedural stuff (describe) to get out of the way starts first. While that goes on, you start digging in your bag for (something). Nina leans back. "Are you analyzing samples?" she asks of your job duties with a touch of surprise, obviously mislead by the bag. "We have other people for that," she informs you, her demeanor clearly implying you both are above that kind of work. She puts her arm up on the back of her chair to look you squarely. "'The Blood Sickness can last two years.' Gentle, 25," she quotes to you. She looks down at the bag. A little quieter she adds, "'Or less.' Gentle, 26," and turns back to pay attention to the presentation.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @8:43 AM
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    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    December: NaNoWriMo and BoD 

    Well, NaNoWriMo ended last night, and I didn't win. The "power of the deadline" met "the power of the vacation", and lost.

    But I did manage to get over 30,000 words before the contest ended. That's still an accomplishment to me.

    I was SO sure I was going to win. But when you get blocked for ideas it's hard to keep going, and then being in another state with family and friends and relaxing... oh well. Just going to have to try again next year.

    In the meantime, I'm going to try and keep writing Bane of Death. If you have any comments, critiques, or whatnot on the stuff I've written thus far, please start sending them to me! At some point this month I should be starting to go through the current prose and fixing it up.

    Lastly, chapters 5, 6, and 8 are up on the website now. Chapters 7 and 9 are also up, but are not necessarily complete.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @6:36 PM
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    NaNoWriMo Multi-Day
    - Future Scene 3 

    1206 words.

    Late one afternoon at work, Alicia's phone rang. When she answered it, Melinda was on the other end.

    "It's the hospital," Melinda said.

    "Thanks," Alicia replied, indicating she'd take it. Melinda transferred the call. "This is Alicia," she said to tell the caller the call had been answered.

    A male voice Alicia recognized but couldn't quite place the name for spoke, "Alicia, we were wondering if you could come in today," the man asked.

    "Uh...," Alicia replied, partially surprised by the request and partially stalling as she looked around for her date book. "Let me check." She pulled out the date book and began flipping through it. "Why?" she asked as she did so, wondering what was going on that would make them call her.

    "We've had a lot more patients than normal show up, all day long, and the influx isn't slowing down. It's that news report they ran last night," he grumbled. "Now everyone wants to be treated here. Emergency's been overflowing so much they started simply passing on serious cases to the rest of the hospital, and have been admitting many others without examination. Basically, we're very understaffed and are calling all the volunteers to see if we can get enough people to pitch in until we get through it all."

    "Ah," Alicia replied. She hadn't seen the news report on the hospital, so it must have been on a station other than the one she normally watched for news.

    Her schedule told her she was all clear for the day after work ended. "Yeah, I can be there. I work until five, I'll grab dinner on the way, so how is six?"

    "That will be fine. Thanks," the man answered.

    "You're welcome," Alicia responded. Then they both hung up.

    That evening Alicia worked almost as much as she had at the office, except at the hospital she was on her feet pretty much the entire time. Things got so cramped full of patients, the hospital starting diverting some to other nearby hospitals. But most of the patients refused to go, deciding instead to wait their turn to be seen and treated here. Of course priority at a hospital is not first come, first served. It's worst case handled first. Some patients had been waiting since the afternoon. With so many people coming in still, a request was made by the emergency department for someone from each of the other departments to come down and help filter through them all. Alicia offered to go.

    By midnight things had only calmed down to what was normal for the early evening, but Alicia was beat and she knew she had to be at work the next morning. With an apology, she called it a night. Following her head, so did a few of the other volunteers. The hospital staff on duty thanked them all for their help anyway, and faced the remaining sea of waiting patients with as much good manners as they could muster.

    At work the next day and the day after, people were talking about the hospital. By lunch time the second day Alicia was curious. "What's going on?" she asked a group standing around the lab's small kitchen.

    "We're talking about the hospital," Marion informed Alicia. "Did you see the news last night?"

    "Oh, about the success rate?" Alicia asked, a bit disinterested. She'd heard all she'd wanted to two days before while actually at the hospital.

    "No, no," Mark replied with enthusiasm. "Last night's report. It turns out the," he mage quote mark gestures with his fingers, "Dream Team, isn't doing any better than any other hospital staff in the state."

    "Yeah, they were debunked on ABC and CBS," Joan confirmed with a swish of the water in her cup. "But only the supposed Fab Five, the hospital itself still has the same stats."

    "NBC's report said there are miracles going on in that hospital," Marion added. "If you believe in such things."

    "I do," Joan replied. "And why not?"

    At that point the conversation plunged into a religious debate. Alicia quickly excused herself from it, not feeling in the right mood to be in such a discussion. She made a mental note to watch, or at least record the news that night since she was helping out again at the hospital after work, to see what else was being said. It would be better to be prepared than surprised the next time she showed up for her normal shift.

    That night things were again very busy, but otherwise not very notable. Alicia went home exhausted, debating whether to call in to work the next day or not as she fell sleep.

    It wasn't until she showed up for her standard volunteer shift that things took a turn. There were reporters galore outside the hospital when she drove up. From the looks of things, most of them had also just arrived. Part of her wanted to ask why, to see what was going on. But something in her stomach told her she should just walk right on by, that she already knew what they were looking for and she didn't want to tell them the answer.

    Alicia managed to navigate through the crowd of curiosity that all the news vans had drawn. But once inside the level of curiosity didn't ease. All the patients had questions. Some of the nurses wondered if any of the doctors would get interviewed, and not so secretly hoped they would be interviewed themselves. Soon the chief resident came around and told all the staff there were under no circumstances to speak to the media, unless the hospital's liaison was with them and gave them the okay. Otherwise the only response they were to give was "No comment". The volunteers were asked to follow the same, or to go home.

    Alicia did her best to put the news crews out of her mind and not let them hinder her work. Most of the others did the same, they were professionals after all. Eventually the reporters grew tired of the run around and dead ends they were getting, or were called off to other stories.

    A few minutes after Alicia's time was up, Justin, one of the other volunteers who worked the same shift, returned from having headed out with a frown on his face.

    "I wanted to warn you, there's some guy with a microphone out there," Justin said. "He was pretty aggressive with me too."

    "Thanks," Alicia replied, her face darkening slightly.

    "If you want, I'll walk out with you," he offered.

    "Was he that bad?" Alicia asked. Justin nodded. Alicia nodded in return. "Then that's probably a good idea."

    On their way out to the parking lot, the reporter was still there and shoved his microphone in their faces as he started to ask questions. Justin grabbed the microphone and shoved it out of the way. "Look man," he said to the reporter with anger, "I already told you once to get out of my face. Don't make me tell you again," he threatened, intent heavy in his voice.

    The reporter backed off, though not sounding happy about it. Justin made sure Alicia got to her car fine, then Alicia drove him to his.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @1:03 AM
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    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 30
    -Future Scene 4 

    1447 words. I finally had some inspiration last night, for a full scene.

    (This part is dedicated to the nameless unknowns, and where the inspiration for this scene came from.)

    Tracy and Alicia rode along the river on their bicycles. They traveled fast enough to make it worth their while, exercise wise, but still slow enough that they could talk to each other. They chatted about things that had happened since they had last seen each other: how work had been, their families, recent weather and news, the lack of men in their lives, the drama amongst their common friends - all the usual topics.

    Today was the second day they rode together for exercise. It had been Tracy's idea. "Thanks so much for doing this with me," she said to Alicia for the umpteenth time.

    Alicia smiled at her friend's repetitiveness. "It's no problem, really," she reassured Tracy. "And it's not like I can't use the exercise!"

    "Yeah maybe," Tracy replied with only a touch of agreement in her voice. "I'm so bad at exercising. I mean, I can start doing it alright, but I just can't seem to keep it up! A friend at work said she works out with a partner, and that really helps keep her doing it 'cause they are each others motivation. She says it's a lot harder to bail on exercising when it means bailing on someone else and not just yourself."

    "So if one of us doesn't want to come out bicycling, we shouldn't tell the other in case both of us don't want to go?" Alicia asked with humor.

    Tracy chuckled. "I suppose if we're both lazy this plan isn't going to work well."

    They turned at a corner and started up one of the pedestrian bridges that crossed the river. It was made of cement but paved with bricks and lined with carvings. There weren't nearly as many people along the river nor on the bridges as on the weekends, but there were still enough this evening to force Tracy and Alicia to slow down as the crossed the river so as not to hit any of the people standing around looking at the view.

    Right after they passed the high point of the bridge, Alicia could have sworn she had just passed D. She looked back to be sure, and much to her dismay it was D. Frowning, she stopped, put her kick stand down, and got off her bicycle.

    "Alicia?" Tracy called from up ahead as soon as she noticed her friend was no longer with her. She turned around and started pedaling back.

    "Hang on," Alicia answered without looking back. As she approached D she scanned the bridge for any clues of what might be about to happen. At first she didn't see anything unusual. Couples holding hands. Bicyclists, joggers, and power walkers. A group of teens hanging out next to one side of the bridge joking around with each other. For a moment Alicia thought perhaps one of them was going to do something stupid and take a joke too far. But she felt D was on the wrong side of the bridge for that.

    She looked opposite the teens, and saw someone standing alone staring out over the river. Nothing usual there either.

    "Something wrong?" Tracy asked from beside Alicia, causing Alicia to jump slightly in surprise.

    Alicia glanced at Tracy as her nerves calmed, then she looked back at D, who suddenly disappeared. "Uh, I'm not sure," Alicia replied honestly. She glanced around the bridge again, to see if D had moved or was indeed gone. The only thing that had changed was the person who had been gazing across the river was now talking to a lady. The lady held up a camera to the person and smiled her thanks. As she turned to get into position, Alicia saw the other person, a young man, wipe his eyes as he turned away from the river to take the lady's picture. The lady didn't appear to notice. After the picture was taken, and the camera returned to its owner, the man moved back to the side of the bridge. And D reappeared.

    As Alicia started to run over, the young man looked down at the river and cursed.

    "No! Wait!" Alicia yelled out to him.

    The young man made no sign of realizing she was calling to him. He quickly climbed up onto the thick cement wall. "No one cares," Alicia heard him say to himself as he stood up, not seeming like he was going to pause in his attempt.

    She managed to touch his leg before he stepped off. "I do," she said quickly. "Please don't jump."

    The young man looked down at her, quite surprised. "Please?" Alicia repeated.

    Tracy caught up with Alicia, coming to a stop on the other side of the young man. She looked from one to the other, completely unsure of what to say. "Don't do it," was the first thing that popped into her head.

    "We can talk," Alicia offered. "What you're about to do is permanent. Do you realize that? You can't be that bad off."

    "At least tell us what's wrong, maybe we can help," Tracy added.

    He nodded, and bent down. He put his hands on the wall and slide his feet out from under him, on the side where there was a bridge beneath them. He sat down, ran one hand through his hair, and started to cry as he poured his heart out.

    They found out his name was Daniel, and that he hadn't really wanted to kill himself but he hadn't felt like he had a reason not to. Things in all parts of his life had gone very bad over the last year or two. He told them he had come here for a last shot. That if anyone had have asked him if he was okay, he wouldn't jump. He said that for a moment he thought the woman with the camera was going to be that person, that he would tell her everything and she would call someone and it all would be okay. But she simply wanted her picture taken, and he was a nice guy so he did that for her.

    "We will call someone," Tracy assured him. "Things will be okay."

    He nodded. "Thank you," he replied gratefully. Then he looked up at Alicia. "I didn't even see you. How did you know?"

    Alicia shrugged a bit sheepishly. "Uh...," instinctively she looked around for D, but did not see her. "Just a feeling I had." Alicia put her hand on his arm. "Come on, let us take you somewhere. You shouldn't be here anymore."

    Daniel nodded. Tracy got the bicycles and followed as Alicia led Daniel off the bridge. Once they were away, they called 911 to find out who they could call to come for Daniel. Then they found a bench to sit on and talk while they waited for help to arrive.

    Once Daniel was safely in the hands of professionals, Tracy looked over to Alicia with the same question on her face that Daniel had asked on the bridge.

    "What?" Alicia asked in response to the look.

    "How DID you know?" Tracy asked. "His back was to us and we were moving too fast for you to have seen what was on his face," she pointed out. "He looked like anyone else standing on the bridge watching the waters. And even if we had have been walking by and noticed he was crying..." she fell quiet for a moment, then looked down at her hands. "We probably would have acted like everyone else and just minded our own business," she admitted softly. "When did that become a rule of society?"

    Alicia nodded slowly. "If I hadn't have seen what told me he was about to kill himself, yeah, you're right, we would have just gone by without a thought."

    Tracy looked back to Alicia curiously. "What did you see?"

    Alicia bit her lower lip and rolled her eyes away from Tracy. Finally she thought of something to tell Tracy. "I suppose you could say I had a premonition."

    Tracy gave Alicia a dubious look. "Does this go back to that thing you don't want to tell me because you don't want things to change between us?"

    Alicia's face scrunched up and she nodded.

    Tracy smiled broadly. "The important thing is you saved a man's life," she said to change the subject. "Someone who needed saving from himself." She moved over to Alicia and put her arm around Alicia's shoulders. "You're a hero! You know what that means, right?"

    Alicia thought a moment. "Ice cream?"

    "You bet!" Tracy replied. "Whatever kind you want."

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @11:55 PM
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    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 22
    - Chapter 5 End 

    819 words

    "No," Alicia said as a thought occurred to her that made her change her mind. "Back to the hospital. In case Martin's still waiting for me." She looked down. "I hope he's not too worried."

    Back at the hospital Martin was getting worried. Alicia was supposed to have met him after her conversation with D. Allowing time for it to have gone into deep topics, he still didn't expect what was supposed to have been a few minute discussion to run longer than, what, half an hour? Maybe an hour? After he had been waiting much more than an hour, he decided to go get Alicia. It was getting late and he needed to be getting home.

    He wasn't up in the intensive care ward for more than a couple minutes when one of the staff intercepted him. "Sorry sir, you can't be here," Martin was told.

    "I'm just looking for a friend of mine," Martin replied apologetically. "Alicia? Do you know her?"

    "No sir," the faculty member answered. She held up her arm and began corralling him down the hall. "Now if you could-"

    "Have you seen any woman walking around up here?" Martin pushed. "She's a volunteer. I'm supposed to pick her up."

    "I'm sorry sir, I haven't seen anyone who's not supposed to be here but you," the woman replied. "If you would please leave...." She let her statement trail off, but Martin knew that the threat of having security called was implied.

    "Alight," he agreed. "I'm going."

    She watched him as he walked away, to make sure he was leaving.

    Martin looked around as he headed out. For a moment he mused on whether or not he'd like to be able to see and talk to D like Alicia could. Then, at least, he would be able to ask what had happened, where she'd gone. But then he'd also have to deal with being able to see and hear D all the time, and that he really had no desire to contend with. He didn't envy Alicia that ability. To Martin, D was passive only when he wanted to be, aggressive by nature, and basically downright scary. It seemed to Martin that Alicia perceived D differently. Martin wondered if D treated Alicia differently because she was different. D had called Alicia his curse, but yet he had acted protective of her. It was a confusing situation in and of itself, and then throwing on top of it that D had some sort of a personality, well things became as complex as real life situations.

    Martin next checked in Alicia's department. The staff on duty there told him they had not seen Alicia either, and where sure she hadn't been around in the last hour or two. Martin sighed. Where then could she be?

    He headed back down to the hospital's entrance, in case he had some how passed her and she was now down there waiting for him. She wasn't. Martin didn't know what to do next. He couldn't keep waiting all night, and it was starting to get late. If only he had a way to contact her, to make sure she was safe. It was really odd that he couldn't find her, that it had been so long. He was becoming very worried by this point. He looked up at the ceiling, and randomly wondered if there was any way he could have her paged. Having no other ideas to work with, he headed over to the information desk to ask.

    Just then Alicia walked in, from outside the hospital. She looked annoyed and somewhat frazzled. Relief swept through Martin. But annoyance of his own was right on it's heels. Why had she been outside? Why didn't she tell him that's where she was going after she had talked to D? What had taken her so long?

    "What happened?" he asked to cover all his concerns and questions at once.

    Alicia motioned him away from the information desk. They fell into step next to each other as Alicia headed back outside.

    "I'm sorry," she said first once they were out of everyone's earshot. Then she frowned. "It's high time I had a cell phone. I'm buying one tomorrow," she commented.

    Martin turned a partially confused and partially worried face her way. "A cell phone? Alicia, what happened?" His tone was concerned now where it had been strained before.

    "I was kidnaped," she told him. Before he could voice anything to match the shocked expression on his face she shook her head and added, "Everything's okay, for now. Apparently there's a religion based around this whole thing." She gestured off into the distance. "Around me, that is." She sighed heavily. "I'm tired. Can we go home?"

    Martin nodded. "But you'll fill me in on this later, right?" he asked in a manner that indicated he expected it whether or not she agreed.

    Alicia agreed.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @4:41 PM
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    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 17-
    Future Scene 2 

    1425 words. I know part of this directly contradicts earlier writings, those are going to be changed in the rewrites.

    "Reverend Golms?"

    Golms turned around to see Alicia standing in the doorway to the sanctuary looking apprehensive. He smiled to try and put her at ease. "Yes, Alicia?"

    "I hope I'm not intruding," she said as she took a couple steps in.

    Golms raised a finger, but before he could put words of reminder to his gesture, Alicia stepped back to the doorway. She bent over and took off her shoes as she had been instructed to do the first time she had been here. Then she walked in towards Golms.

    "Never could you be intruding in a church of the Light," he told her with an ingratiating smile. "What can I do for you?"

    Alicia looked around as she approached him. "I was hoping," she began cautiously, then paused. The lilies from before that had not been potted were now replaced with fresh cut ones. The potted ones were still around, but all the flowers were rearranged. Stargazer Lilies were now the ones on the alter. She suddenly felt more at ease. "I was hoping," she started again, looking back at Golms with a happier expression and normal tone in her voice, "that you could tell me what happened to the ones that came before me."

    "Ah," Golms replied with a knowing nod. He steepled his fingers, holding them against his lips for several seconds as he tried to think of how to go about this conversation. Finally he looked back to Alicia and parted his hands. "Have you... saved more than one person simultaneously yet?" he asked.

    Alicia's eyebrows dipped together with confusion. "No. At least, I don't think so."

    Golms looked off to one side. "Hm."

    "I mean, not intentionally," she amended.

    He nodded. "The more you actively use your abilities, the more control you will gain over them." He leaned slightly towards her. "Tell me this. Have you felt what it is like to use them?"

    Alicia shook her head slowly. "I have noticed I can feel how close a person is to death if I pay attention. I have also seen signs in D, her expression or mood or even how close she gets to people," Alicia answered instead.

    "Hm," Golms replied again.

    "Why?" Alicia asked. "What does it feel like?"

    "I do not rightfully know," he replied. "Past Lights have given descriptions, but it is nothing anyone else has felt. The most common description is a surge of power."

    "How did they-" Alicia started to ask again, but suddenly decided to switch to another question that she was momentarily more interested in. "So I can keep more than one person from dying at the same time?"

    "Yes," he replied confidently.


    He shrugged. "Only you can figure that out. But I can tell you that you need to look inside yourself. Find the center of your strength, connect to your soul, and you can do more than you imagine."

    Alicia slid herself into a pew and looked to him expectantly. Her expression was the same kind a child gets when expecting to hear a good story. "Like what?"

    "You want to know what happened to those who came before you," he stated rather than asked. She nodded. He smiled. "My god-mother knew the last Light." Golms looked up to the skylight as a wistful expression crossed his face. "He expended himself almost a decade before I was born, but her stories were so vivid I could have sworn I was there."

    "Expended himself?" Alicia questioned with wonder.

    Golms nodded slightly. "To stop the Spanish Flu."

    Alicia looked at Golms in confusion.

    He chuckled. "The flu pandemic of nineteen seventeen to nineteen nineteen. It didn't actually start in Spain, but that's who got the blame." He paused reverently. "It was the worst killer the world had seen in centuries, took more lives than the world war that was going on at the time." He looked back to Alicia. "The first year no one really died from it. But it grew in strength. By the winter of nineteen nineteen it had grown in the numbers it claimed too. Millions were dying. And all over the world, not just in Europe. The Light determined that was why he had been created, to stop the disease from becoming the next Black Plague."

    "So he worked himself to death trying to save everyone?" Alicia summarized with a touch of awe.

    Golms half smiled. "No, Alicia. He did what we call expending." Golms turned towards the alter. "That is when the Light casts him, or her, self beyond the confines of the mortal body." He gestured with his arms, then threw them up towards the sky. "That Light shone himself across the entire world as if he were the sun itself! Burning away the Spanish Flu!" Golms held his arms up a few dramatic seconds more. Then turned back to Alicia. "He disappeared, literally, in a blaze of light. Threw himself into his power, and sent it where it needed to go to do what he wanted, to stop the senseless death."

    Alicia sat speechless just staring at Golms. He smiled lovingly back at her.

    "You may not find your purpose to be the same as his was. It is rare for that to be how a Light expends, in a sudden flash of raw power. Some Lights expended themselves so slowly or methodically that they lived out long lives. Some stand up to be a constant beacon for a period of time, protecting an area as a lighthouse illuminates a coastline, before finally burning out. And some...," Golms shrugged. "Well, we don't have records of every Light. The ways some of them left us were not witnessed."

    Alicia closed her eyes for a moment, leaned back and swallowed. "Wow." She opened her eyes again and looked around. "I.... Wow. Okay."

    Golms pointed out of the sanctuary. "There is a library here, with information on the Lights of the past. You can read though it whenever you wish." He gave her an apologetic shrug. "It is incomplete though. The Master Church is the only one with a full set of information."

    Alicia looked at him. "Where is the master church?"

    "For the last four centuries it has resided in England," Golms told her.

    "It moves?" she asked.

    "It can," Golms nodded. "Our religion changes every hundred years. If a Light wishes the Master Church moved, then it is moved."

    "Every hundred years?" Alicia echoed.

    Golms smiled again, this time with humor at the situation of him teaching the Light. "That is how often a new Light comes. Every one hundred years. And while each of you have fundamental personality traits in common, you are all different in your own ways. So with each new Light, the religion changes to adapt." He gestured towards some flowers. "That is why the only flower we now display are lilies. Because they are your favorite, and to you flowers bring happiness."

    Alicia looked over towards the lilies on the alter. "How did you know?"

    He paused so as to phrase his reply in the best manner so as not to be taken negatively. "Because the reoccurrence of the Light is so regular, and the first sign is the same every time, we know when to look and what to look for." He regarded her to make sure she was okay with what he was saying. "We've known about you since you were a child, watching to see when you would become aware of yourself. One day, for no apparent reason, you walked up to one of us and said your favorite flower was the lily. It was taken quite seriously."

    Alicia pursed her lips and nodded slowly. The she took a deep breath. "So, my personal preferences shape how the churches change," she recapped. "And I don't technically die, at least not in the same way as everyone else."

    Golms nodded she was correct. "It helps the religion keep up with times," he added. "Each Light is affected by the ways of the world at the time, which in turns affects us. It's proven to be very successful arrangement."

    Alicia shrugged. "Sure. Makes sense."

    Golms gave a relieved sigh. "Oh good. Then... you wouldn't be adverse to providing direction?" he hazarded to ask.

    Alicia looked up at him. "Direction?" She tilted her head to one side. "Wait, are you asking me to lead you all?"

    Golms smiled. "Yes."

    "No," she replied firmly.

    Golms held up his hands. "That's okay. There is plenty of time if you change your mind."

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @11:54 PM
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    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    BoD Milestone: 25,000 words! 

    Well, yesterday was the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, half the month is over! And so is the "requirement" for my novel. Bane of Death crossed the 25,000 word line last night!

    Thanks to all the people who have been supporting me in this effort by reading (and letting me know you're reading), by being a sounding board, and by helping with ideas. The list so far is:
    Amy O.
    Kevin B.
    Dave V.
    The work crew

    And of course: Mom, Dad, and God. :)

    If you're reading, please let me know! It really does help to know who's interested. I might even list you in that little blurb the author puts in the front of the book!

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @10:45 AM
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    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 15
    - Past Scene 

    539 words. One scene I realized I missed is back right after the car accident. It introduces Tracy at an earlier point in the story.

    At Alicia's request, the hospital had called her parents. It took them less time than it should have to make it to visit her.

    "Alicia!" her mother called from the doorway to the room she was being kept in. "Are you alright?!"

    "Mom! Dad!" Alicia replied with a grin through a pain killer induced haze. "Oh I'm swell! How are you?"

    "She's going to be fine until those drugs wear off," her father observed.

    "They wouldn't say what was wrong," her mother continued right over Alicia's father. "Just that you had been in an accident and were keeping you overnight."

    Alicia scrunched her face up and waved her mother off. "What-ev-er! Hey Mom, look! I got a cast. Isn't it great?" With her left hand she tapped the case that traveled from her wrist up over her right shoulder. "All stiff and everything!"

    Alicia's mother regarded the cast with a sigh and shake of her head. "You're not going to be able to take care of yourself with that," she said.

    "Yeah," Alicia agreed with a grin. "And I can't turn my head either, see?" She tried to demonstrate, but between the neck brace and the pain her neck shot her as a reminder she didn't get far. "Ow," she complained with real emotion.

    "If it hurts, don't do that, silly!" a voice from the doorway admonished playfully.

    Alicia carefully looked over. "Tracy!" she identified her best friend with glee. "So nice of you to come! Here, sit here," she said and patted the air next to her.

    "Ah ha, yeah," Tracy said as comprehension hit her. She looked to Alicia's parents. "Those must be some good drugs."

    "Only the best," a nurse replied as he walked in behind Tracy. "I'm sorry," he informed them, "but can't all be here, visiting hours are almost over."

    "Awww!" Alicia replied and started to pout.

    Tracy smiled. "That's okay, I just had to make sure she was alright."

    "Oh no, Tracy," Alicia's father said, motioning for her to stay. "We're going to go get Alicia some things she'll need from her place. Why don't you stay until we get back?"

    "That'd be great," Tracy replied. "Thanks, Dad Monroe. And thanks for calling me, Mom Monroe."

    "We know how close you two are," Alicia's mother replied with a smile.

    "There never was a better friend," Alicia agreed.

    The nurse nodded the arrangement would be fine, and left the room.

    Tracy gently hugged Alicia, who returned the hug with her good arm.

    Then Tracy regarded Alicia's parents as they headed out. "Wait a minute, how did you two beat me here?"

    "Our daughter is in the hospital," Alicia's mother replied as if that explained it all.

    Tracy shook her head with a small smile. "You do know she was in a car accident, right? Didn't learn anything from that?"

    "Since when did you start talking to us like that?" Alicia's mother asked.

    Tracy stifled a laugh. "Sorry. Won't happen again."

    "I'm sure," Alicia's father replied with a tone that indicated he wasn't at all upset, and that he didn't believe her. "Come on," he said to his wife. "The sooner we leave the sooner we'll be back."

    Alicia's mother nodded and they headed out.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @11:27 PM
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    NaNoWriMo Day 15
    - Future Scene 

    2,504 words

    Holiday cheer was in full swing by the time Alicia and Martin arrived at the party. People cheering, singing, dancing, and of course drinking. It was loud enough to be heard well outside the doors to the restaurant.

    It was a company affair, but the invitation that had been e-mailed around had said "and guest." Those who were married brought their spouses. Alicia had asked around, and found out that everyone she knew was bringing someone, even if it was just a friend. Not wanting to feel left out, Alicia had asked Martin to escort her. He had gladly accepted.

    At the entrance to the restaurant the company had rented out, Martin smiled at her and held the door. "Ladies first," he said, sweeping his arm out and ending with a slight bow.

    Alicia chuckled. "Why thank you, sir."

    Inside Martin took Alicia's coat from her and headed off to the coat check room. Alicia mingled near the entrance, saying hello to those who passed by that she recognized and taking in the ambiance while she waited for Martin to return. In one corner a large Christmas tree stood as tall as the ceiling. It was decked out in tinsel, colorful balls as large as a fist, gold and silver trim, and flashing lights, and underneath it lay boxes of various sizes with large red and green decorative bows. The opposite wall was draped with blue and lined with menorahs. It was apparent the restaurant didn't want to leave any yule time holiday out. Each table in the place had a mock goat's horn cornucopia full of fake flowers but real fruits and cheeses. To help blend the differences throughout, white cotton fake snow had been placed over all the molding. The overhead lights were low, but candles were everywhere giving the place a comfortable glow.

    When Martin returned, the two headed into the room at large to begin scouring the tables for a pair of open seats. Once found, Alicia poured some water into her glass, took a drink, and then set it in from of her chair to lay claim to it. Martin laughed and followed suit. Then he asked her to dance. She agreed, and soon then where out cutting a rug with the best of the still sober.

    Dinner wasn't on the menu for the evening. But dessert was! It was served buffet style, a choice of three pies, four ice creams, and little torts and other finger food type sweets. Alicia, having not eaten much beforehand, filled her plate and headed back to her table. There she found Melinda talking with Martin. Melinda turned to Alicia and smiled at her approach.

    "Alicia, your boyfriend is so sweet! Where have you been hiding him?" Melinda asked with a small laugh.

    Alicia stood startled for a second. "Uh...." She looked quickly to Martin and then back to Melinda. "We're not," she said slowly as her eyes darted back to Martin trying to judge his reaction, "boyfriend and girlfriend."

    "Really?" Melinda asked, looking to Martin. Then she broke into a smile and shrugged slightly. "Oops. I just assumed! He knows so much about you. Sorry."

    "It's okay," Martin assured her.

    "We're good friends," Alicia added, sliding into her chair hoping it would make things feel a little less awkward. She set down her plate and looked up at Melinda. "How are your children?" she asked to change the subject.

    "Oh they're doing fine," Melinda replied, and started in on how excited the children were about Christmas, and what each one wanted, and what each one would actually be getting from Santa. During the slightly one-sided conversation Alicia hazarded a sideways glance at Martin. He was smiling and listening without any indication he had been slighted by her comment to Melinda.

    After most people had finished eating, David, the local company's vice-president, called for everyone's attention. He gave a nice, if a bit long, speech about the employees and the usual pleasantries a boss makes speeches about. Then he called up the administrative assistants and asked them to help pass out holiday cards to all the employees present. After the first few received their cards and opened them, whispers picked up and passed on the surprise news. Quickly everyone wanted to get their own card as well, for there were gift cards in the envelopes! But of course everyone kept their excitement in check and waited patiently for the administrative assistants to make it to them. Soon people were laughing and talking, some even starting to sing again.

    It was in the middle of all this exuberance when Alicia thought she saw D enter the restaurant. Knowing D was not one to mill about, Alicia promptly excused herself from the conversation she was in. She weaved through the crowd towards the front door, looking around for any indications of what might be able to happen. Much to her dismay, she did find D near the front of the restaurant.

    D seemed to be shadowing a specific group of three people, but none Alicia recognized. One, who was the tallest, had his hands in his pockets with arms held tight against himself, and seemed to be shaking slightly. The look on his face seemed to indicate he didn't feel very well. The second, who was the shortest, kept glancing at the first and had a nervous expression on his face. The third seemed fine, and possibly even ignorant to the moods of the other two as he looked around the room seemingly searching for someone.

    Glancing around to make sure no one was paying much attention, Alicia grabbed D by the arm and pulled her a couple steps away. "No," she told D in a forceful whisper.

    Both of D's eyebrows went up. "Well we'll just see, now won't we?"

    "You leave him alone," Alicia ordered D, still whispering.

    "Ah, why do you assume it's him I'm here for?" D replied.

    "Then who?" Alicia asked.

    D pursed her lips and shook her head, saying nothing.

    "Come on, D!" Alicia said with enough annoyance to raise her voice above a whisper.

    Just then the three men pulled out guns pulled masks over their faces, and started yelling for everyone to get down. Plenty of screams and one shot into the ceiling later, everyone was either lying or crouching on the floor. The man who had seemed fine turned out also to be the one in charge. He sent the shorter one to the other side of the room, leaving the taller one near Alicia's side, and went to the center of the restaurant himself.

    "Okay people. Turn over your wallets and jewelry, and those gift cards, and we'll be out of here right quick," he said in a loud booming voice. "Don't worry about your wallets and purses in the coat room," he continued with a grin, "we already got those!"

    He motioned for the other two to start collecting things. Instead of helping to collect the items as well, he stood and kept looking around, switching his watchfulness from the people on the floor to out the window.

    Alicia glanced up to see where D had gone. It wasn't hard to spot D as she was the only one not a robber that was still standing. She stood looking away from Alicia, thereby not giving away who the victim or victims were going to be.

    Alicia then looked around for Martin. She knew something was going to happen very soon, but had no idea what to do about it! As she scanned across the restaurant's floor, she saw one of her co-workers, Kyle, making ready to do something stupid. He had managed to get hold of a knife, and seemed to be fixing to lunge at the nearest robber when the man wasn't looking, which was the one closest to Alicia as well. Kyle's wife started to beg him not to do anything, but he quickly shushed her. Alicia a few feet too far away to grab him herself. She looked to the center of the room to see that the lead bandit had noticed Kyle as well, but was making no motion to preemptively stop him.

    Just as Kyle started up to jump on the taller robber, the lead one leveled his gun. Alicia tried to reach for Kyle, screaming out, "NO!"

    The shot went off, causing others to scream in terror, and Kyle fell to the floor. As his head hit the ground it looked like his feet had slid out from under him. Kyle's wife grabbed his arm and started yelling his name.

    The lead bandit yelled over everyone. "STAY DOWN. I MEAN IT! AND SHUT UP!"

    The other two turned shocked expressions Kyle's way. If it wasn't evident before one of them was willing to shoot, it certainly was now, even to them.

    Sounds quickly fell to that of muffled crying and whispered, if frightful, assurances. Alicia watched Kyle and his wife with fear in her eyes and chest. After a few moments Kyle turned his head to his wife and discreetly pointed to a chair that had been a foot or two away from him. Several of the people around them turned their heads to look, and saw a bullet hole through the chair's back. Kyle's wife grabbed him and wept gratefully into his shoulder, trying not to be loud.

    When she looked up to find D, Alicia saw D with a passive expression on her face and standing closer to the robber in charge than before. Suddenly she had an idea.

    Between each person he took items from the taller robber was looking up at the one in charge, just to be sure. When he was close enough, Alicia carefully reached out and lightly touched his the back of his ankle. When he next looked up, he saw D. "Hey you!" he said, taking a step towards D, which made Alicia loose her contact with him. Immediately he froze, his eyes going wide.

    The one in charge looked from the taller robber to where he'd been looking, then back to him. "What?" the one in charge asked.

    "Uh...," the taller one shook his head to clear his vision, looked around quickly, then turned to the one in charge. "Nothing. Sorry," he said quickly.

    "Then get back to work!" the lead robber ordered.

    The taller one stepped back close enough to Alicia for her to reach him again. She touched his shoe. He hadn't looked down yet, so D reappeared to him just as she had disappeared. The robber yelled in fear.

    "What?!" the one in charge demanded to know.

    With his gun, the taller one pointed to D, who the others couldn't see. "Ghost!" he accused.

    The lead robber looked at the other one like he was crazy.

    The shorter robber was already making his way over. "Don't panic!" he begged. "Don't! Don't go anything!" he implored the one in charge. "I got him! I got him."

    Begrudgingly the lead bandit narrowed his eyes, but neither said nor did anything else.

    Right before the shorter robber made it to the taller one Alicia took her hand off his shoe, which made him jump again. This time he dropped his gun. Everyone in the immediate area flinched, but the gun didn't go off.

    The lead robber had clearly had enough. As the shorter one retrieved the gun and tried to calm the taller one, the lead barreled over, stepping on hands and legs along the way. While their attention was all on each other, Alicia slid herself closer to the tall and short robbers, hoping to get close enough that she'd be able to reach the one in charge. She managed to do it, and touched both the lead one and the taller one at the same time.

    Sure enough, the tall one pointed to D and yelled. "There!"

    Both of the others turned to where he indicated, but short one didn't see.

    However the lead one did. "You! Get on the floor!" he ordered.

    D did not oblige. Instead she scowled at Alicia.

    The lead robber leveled his gun at D. "GET DOWN!" he ordered.

    Those already on the floor started looking around, wondering what was going on.

    Without another word the bandit in charge fired on D. Who of course was unaffected. For the first time the lead robber was caught off guard. He fired again, to be sure he had actually shot right.

    "It IS a ghost!" the taller one yelled in terror. He grabbed at the shorter one. "Let's get out of here!"

    Not sure what was going on, the shorter one hesitated only long enough for the one in charge to fire a third time at the air. Then he nodded and the two bolted.

    "There's no such things as ghosts!" the formerly in charge robber yelled after them. He turned back towards D. "And I'll prove it!" He took careful aim, and Alicia saw the next shot go through D's head. The robber took a step towards D with the leg Alicia was not touching. "What the hell are you?!" he demanded to know. He took another step forward, breaking Alicia's contact. As D suddenly disappeared to him, he froze. "What the-"

    As the robber stepped backwards he stumbled over the person next to Alicia, which caused him to fall ungracefully to the floor, losing his gun in the process. Kyle was on it immediately. And then D was gone. To Alicia as well. She sighed with relief.

    The bandit jumped up and fought his way to the door. Then he was gone.

    People started picking themselves off the floor, checking each other to make sure they were alright, and calling the police. Kyle unloaded the gun as a couple of people came over to him smiling.

    "How did you get out oft he way of that bullet!?" they asked him.

    "Man, I don't know!" Kyle laughed in a manner that indicated he was relieved, not amused. "If I hadn't slipped on that water...," he shook his head with amazement.

    "If you ask me, you were lucky," another co-worker said to him.

    "I was damn lucky," Kyle agreed.

    Martin quickly found Alicia, who was still sitting on the floor, looking off out the window. "Are you okay?"

    Alicia nodded.

    "I saw you save that guy," whispered to her. "Good job."

    Alicia shrugged. "That wasn't the half of it," she told him, starting to shake as what had just happened the last couple minutes sunk in.

    He offered a hand to help her up. "What did you do?" he asked in a whisper.

    Alicia held up her hands and gave him an innocent look.

    He looked at her curiously, then a thought struck him as he looked at her hands. "Was D the ghost?" he asked.

    Alicia laughed. "Yup!"

    Martin laughed with her as he helped her up. "That's inspired!"

    They smiled at each other, then Alicia went to join Kyle's wife in chastising him.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @10:58 PM
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    Monday, November 14, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 13B
    - Chapter 4 En Totale 

    2750 words. I'm caught back up, both word count wise and story wise.

    The next day went as well as Alicia could have hoped. Tracy showed up a little after three thirty in the afternoon, and they spent the rest of the day together having fun. Even mundane things like grocery shopping were fun to Alicia that day. After the last week and a half, time with Tracy was exactly what Alicia needed. It wasn't that she'd been feeling lonely, in fact she hadn't at all due to how often she saw Martin and the time she was spending at the hospital. But she also hadn't had any normalcy either. She wasn't working. She was still recovering from a serious auto accident and coping with a broken arm. And beyond all that, she was trying to come to terms with the fact that she had a unique and powerful gift. Tracy brought a sense of a normal life back to her. Made her feel like her old usual self again. Something Martin and the hospital couldn't do.

    Alicia did have Tracy detour from their girls' day once for a short visit to the hospital.

    "You're not sick of that place yet?" Tracy had asked her on their way.

    "Not really," Alicia replied with shrug. "I don't know, maybe." She pressed her lips together, then turned her head towards Tracy. "But I made a promise. So it doesn't really matter."

    Tracy's expression indicated it didn't much matter to her either. "Then we'd better keep it," she replied in reference to the promise.

    Alicia only stayed long enough to sit with Maria until the older woman feel asleep. She was worried about Tracy. Or more specifically about Tracy meeting D. As much as Alicia wanted to tell her best friend about the biggest news ever in her life, she wanted more be able to hold onto Tracy as she was now. Alicia didn't expect Tracy would stop being her friend if Tracy knew about D and everything else, but she knew it would change how Tracy thought of her. Perhaps even how Tracy might treat her. How could it not? Alicia already thought if herself differently. And right now she couldn't handle it if Tracy changed too.

    On their way out, Tracy looked at Alicia with admiration.

    "What?" Alicia asked.

    "You visit that lady every day, don't you," Tracy said.

    Alicia nodded. "I promised her I would."

    Tracy linked her arm into Alicia's as they walked. "You're a really good person," Tracy told her.

    Alicia smiled, but quickly the smile faded. She pulled away from Tracy.

    "What?" Tracy asked.

    "Tracy, I have something to tell you," Alicia started to say, but hesitated. "I don't really want to, because I don't want things to change between us." She stopped walking, and looked to her friend.

    "Then don't tell me," Tracy said as if it were the obvious solution, and kept right on walking.

    "But I shouldn't keep things from you. We're best friends, it's not right."

    Tracy turned towards Alicia with a very serious expression. "Alicia, you ARE my best friend. And that means I don't need to know anything you don't want to tell me. I trust you. I trust your judgement. If you ever feel it becomes necessary, I know that you'll tell me whatever it is. So, unless that every happens, forget about it."

    Alicia smiled gratefully. She closed the distance between her and Tracy, and gave Tracy a big tight hug. "I love you," she said.

    "I love you too," Tracy replied. Then she partially broke the hug by leaning back. "Come on, before we both end up in tears! We still have lots to do tonight!"

    They both laughed lightly. Alicia nodded and let go of Tracy. "Right. So where are we having dinner?"


    Two days later Alicia was back to work. One of her friends from the office, Melinda, offered to drive her to and from work every day since she was relatively on the way, which Alicia gratefully accepted. Until the doctors decided she could move to a small cast that didn't completely immobilize her right arm, she wasn't allowed to drive. That had been fine while she was on sick leave, but now it would have been a big problem. She couldn't ask Martin to talk even more time out of his days to help her get to work and back. And Tracy and her parents lived far enough away that they weren't even possibilities. But accepting her work friend's offer meant she wouldn't cause anyone much of an imposition, so long as she adjusted her schedule to accommodate Melinda's schedule. Melinda had school age children, and so she worked seven-thirty until four instead of nine to five like most of those at the lab. Alicia arranged with Susan for a temporarily altered schedule, and everyone was happy.

    On the hospital front, Martin still made sure she made it twice a week for her normal volunteer schedule. He also brought her most every evening for her visit with Maria. The evenings he couldn't, Tracy brought her or Alicia took a cab. Things worked well like that for almost two weeks.

    Then came the evening when Alicia and Martin arrived at the hospital to find Maria wasn't in her bed. She didn't have to ask the nurse on duty where Maria was. Every day Maria had been that much worse. She always told Alicia she felt better when Alicia was there, and eventually would fall asleep with a smile. And the next day she was always grateful when Alicia arrived. But last night when Alicia had arrived, Maria had thanked Alicia differently. She thanked Alicia for giving her the time she had needed for all her children to come visit her, so she could say all she needed to say them. She said her son, the last of her children to visit, had left that morning. And that meant the last person she had to say something to was Alicia. She had patted Alicia's hand with a smile, and thanked Alicia again. Then she said Alicia didn't have to come visit anymore, and sent Alicia away before she had fallen asleep. Alicia had come today anyway.

    Martin put his arm around her shoulder. "Are you okay?"

    It was a stupid question. The tears welling in her eyes had already told the answer to that question. "I knew she was slipping away from me," Alicia whispered. "She was such as nice person. Always had something good to say. And interesting stories. I sometimes wondered if we had have been in school together if we would have been friends." Alicia tried to laugh. "From all her stories, she would have gotten me into so much trouble," she said and started to cry instead.

    Martin pulled her into a hug.

    "Why couldn't I save her?" Alicia asked. "Why didn't I spend more time with her?"

    "She didn't want you to," Martin replied, trying to make Alicia feel better. "She just wanted enough time to say good bye to everyone properly. You gave her that."

    Alicia nodded slowly and tried to calm herself. "But I don't understand. Aren't I supposed to be able to save anyone?"

    For a moment Martin floundered for an answer. "Maybe...," he slowly said, "...not? Maybe, there are some things beyond even your gift."

    "Or maybe I didn't do it right," Alicia thought out loud. "I bet I have to be there, all the time, when D is around."

    Martin hesitated to agree. That went back to their discussion in the car a couple weeks before. It was a question he was glad he didn't have to wrestle with.

    "I'm going to go talk to D," Alicia told him as she pulled away from him. When he didn't follow her to the door, she stopped and looked back at him. "Not coming?"

    Martin inhaled an held his breath for a moment. "Noo," he said as he exhaled audibly. "I don't think D would like that."

    Alicia knew that meant he didn't think he would like what D might do. "Alright. I'll meet you downstairs?"

    Martin nodded.

    Not seeing D around the floor she was currently on, Alicia headed up to intensive care.

    "Hi D," Alicia said as she walked down the corridor.

    D stepped out from one of the rooms. "Alicia," she greeted neutrally.

    The two looked at each other. It had been a while since they had spoken. Alicia wondered what D was thinking.

    "I won't be by every day anymore," Alicia said. "At least for now."

    "I know," D replied.

    "Unless...," Alicia let her voice trail off as she tried to put words to her train of thought. "Why couldn't I save Maria?"

    D tiled her head slightly. "Everyone dies Alicia. Whether you prevent it or not at a given point in their lives, eventually they will die."

    Alicia knew that was the truth, even though it didn't explain why Alicia had failed Maria. She dropped her head some and lowered her voice. "D, what happens to a person after they die?" Alicia asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.

    D remained silent for several moments, so long that Alicia looked up to make sure D was still there. "D?" Alicia prompted.

    "I can't give you that answer," D finally replied.

    Alicia narrowed her eyes at D. "Can't? Or won't?"

    "Can't," D said firmly.

    "Don't you know?" Alicia asked a bit incredulously. "You are Death after all. Where do you take people when they die?"

    "It is," D tried to explain, "different, for you and I."

    "What does that have to do with it?" Alicia replied with confusion. "Of course we're different. You're not human."

    "Exactly," D agreed. "Our perceptions are different. Understand that all I know of your world is what you and your kind tell me. That and how and when death occurs."

    "So... what? You can't tell me because you don't know how?"

    "That's close enough," D answered with a nod.

    Alicia shook her head. "Okay," she said, giving up on that topic. "Answer me this then. Am I on your list?"

    D gave her a small smile. "Now Alicia, you know I can't tell you that. No one should have such foreknowledge of their destiny."

    "Come on D," Alicia pleaded. "I'm not asking for when! I just want to know IF I'm going to die. I mean, is it possible? Is it definite? Is it not?"

    D considered a moment, but then shook her head. "I will not tell you. But I will tell you why," she said before Alicia could protest. "No matter what answer I give you, you would start acting differently. If I said no you can't die, you would act cocky or brave or take risks you otherwise wouldn't, knowing you couldn't die. If I said yes you will die, then you would start constantly looking over your shoulder when I am around or questioning every decision with repercussions, wondering if this was the moment. No matter the answer, it is still foreknowledge for you. And so I will not tell you."

    Alicia sighed. "I suppose that's fair." She thought a moment. "One more question before I go."


    "I know there have been others before me with the same, um, powers as I have," Alicia stated.

    D nodded.

    "Are they still around?"

    D shook her head. "Thankfully there has only ever been one at a time."

    "What happened to them?" Alicia asked.

    D held up her finger. "Ah ah. You said only one more question."

    Alicia huffed. "Oh come on D, if they aren't around anymore, how did they die?"

    "Who said they died?" D replied, looking genuinely surprised.

    Alicia immediately fell back into confusion. "Are you saying they didn't die? You just said they aren't around anymore."

    D held up her hand. "Enough questions for today." She started to walk away. "And don't expect me to answer them later either. Some things you have to figure out for yourself."

    Alicia watched D disappear down the hall. Her mouth hung open for a while afterwards. Eventually she pulled herself out of her thoughts and headed for the elevators.

    On the first floor as she passed by, Alicia wasn't too surprised to find the emergency room so busy. It was more than usual for this time of day, but not totally uncommon, especially if there had been some sort of accident or disaster. She decided to poke around on her way to meet Martin, to see if things were serious. If they were, she'd stay to help in her way.

    Dozens of people were milling around, packing the place so much it was hard to see past the people around her. She gently pushed her way thru, silently checking on everyone. About half were bleeding from non-life threatening wounds. A few seemed to have cold symptoms and complained of high fevers, but nothing severe. The rest were in for various aches and pains, or were accompanying their children or friend.

    Satisfied she wasn't needed, Alicia started to make her way back towards the door into the hospital, from which should would then make her way to the front to meet up with Martin. Suddenly she felt hands on her left arm and shoulder. She turned to see who wanted her attention, and found a man she did not recognize, and who did not look ill. He was distinctly looking towards the floor. Before she could ask him what he wanted she realized there was also a hand under her right shoulder and a fourth on her lower back that was starting to push her. "Hey!" she said with annoyance. "Watch what your doing!"

    "I'm sorry," a woman apologized with sincerity from behind Alicia. But she kept pushing. Alicia looked back at the woman, who also was looking down, not seemingly watching where she was going.

    Alicia quickly realized she was being lead toward the emergency room doors to the outside. She tried to pull out of the man's hold on her arm, but he tightened his grip. She tried to plant her feet to keep from being moved any further, but the woman behind her tapped the back of her knee with just enough force to make it bend, causing Alicia to loose her balance and stumble forward.

    "Help!" Alicia called out. Just then a handful of other people around the emergency room called out for help as well.

    "Don't worry, we've got you Alicia," the man said in an assuring voice, no doubt for any who had turned their way at Alicia's call.

    Her eyes widened in fear. Not only was she being kidnaped, but it was well planned! Someone calling for help in the emergency room was not the attention getting thing Alicia needed it to be right then. Before she could think of something else to do, they had her out the doors. And sure enough, there was a car waiting. Which of course hadn't drawn any suspicion because there was a driver behind the wheel who kept looking towards the emergency room doors as if waiting for someone.

    The man and woman put Alicia in the back seat of the car. Then the woman joined her. The man got into the front passenger seat and looked at the driver, who was a young male. "Let's go," the man said to the younger.

    The first thing Alicia did was test the handle of the door next to her. Child locked. She hadn't expected any less, but she felt she had to try anyway. Next she looked around at the people in the car with her. As far as she could tell, none of them had guns. But she was still a captive nonetheless.

    "Where are you taking me?" Alicia asked.

    "We mean you no harm," the woman next to her said first to assure her she was safe. "We are taking you to the first church."

    "The first church of what?" Alicia asked with a touch of uncertainty.

    "Of the Light!" the driver responded enthusiastically.

    The man next to him pointed out the windshield. "Just drive," he told the youth.

    Alicia frowned. "Look, I don't know what's going on here but-"

    "You will," the woman promised. "Please don't worry. The Reverend will explain everything for you."

    Alicia took a deep breath to calm her nerves, hoping she could believe the woman, and trying to believe that they couldn't do anything to kill her anyway. She would just have to bide her time until she could find a way out.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @12:55 AM
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    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 13A
    - Chapter 5 Beginning 

    2535 words. I'm a bit out of order with this post because I wanted to write this stuff since it was new in my mind which meant it should have been the easy stuff to write, and I need to make up for not writing the last two days. But I'm not sure yet what happened before Alicia got here. Chapter four, when I write it, should cover the missing stuff.

    "She's here!" Alex announced excitedly to the older man sitting hunched over an equally old desk.

    Reverend Golms looked up from the letter he was penning to the young man at his office door. "What was that?"

    Alex was practically jumping up and down. He waved his arm fiercely with his first finger extended and pointing towards the floor. "Here! Here!" he repeated quickly, trying to get Reverend Golms to understand. "She's HERE!"

    Golms laid his quill down. "By she, I assume you mean the Light?" he asked patiently.

    "Yes sir!" Alex's face brightened again at Golms' understanding.

    Golms set aside his letter to let the ink dry on what had been written so far. He opened the desk's only drawer and carefully pulled out a package wrapped in brown paper sealed with packing tape. He had sent for it the day the Light had proven she knew what she could do. It had arrived from the master church two days ago. Golms had not yet opened it, he knew what was in it and its contents were not for him. It was only proper that the Light be the first to receive it.

    "Come on, come on," Alex said, as if he could somehow infuse the Reverend with his enthusiasm and get the man to hurry if only he tried hard enough.

    Golms' smiled at Alex. "You should not rush things of this importance."

    "How can you be so calm!" Alex nearly yelled, using both his arms to express the frustration his anticipation was causing him.

    "Truely," Golms replied in the same pleasant educating voice as before, "she is not going anywhere."

    Alex's face fell. "Yeah, but...." He looked out the door, back to the Reverend, out the door, and back again.

    Golms chuckled to himself. The impatience in Alex mirrored the same Golms' himself had felt the first time he had met the Light. The last Light that was. He had been about the same age as Alex was now. He understood the restlessness of youth, even if it occasionally grated on him these days. He found comfort in knowing that it would be tempered by time, as his own had been. But until then he was up against youth, and to youth Now was more important than time.

    Golms stood. He had made the poor boy wait long enough. "Let's go meet her," he said as he walked around his desk.

    Alex grinned from ear to ear. "She's in the sanctuary."

    In the sanctuary Alicia was looking around. The most noticeable difference was all the carpeting. Every surface that was a floor or a stair was carpeted, thankfully, as without her shoes her feet would have gotten cold on hard wood floor. Otherwise the place both looked like her church's, and did not at the same time. It was as if the church's set up had been rearranged. There was a typical alter, with a white cloth over it and several candles on it in matching intricately designed candlesticks, but it was in the center of the sanctuary and not on the dais. There was also a symbol embroidered in white on the alter cloth. A set of concentric circles that became so small it was uncertain if a circle or a point was at the center.

    In the longer direction of the rectangular room there was a pulpit to one side of the alter, and a podium on the other. They were spaced half way between the alter and the respective walls. Though the podium was made of marble instead of wood like everything else in the room. At what would have been considered the front of the sanctuary, were the dais was, were choir lofts and an organ. The few windows the place had where made of stained glass, though the scenes were not of anything readily recognizable to Alicia. Most of them seemed to be just a myriad of colors and shapes, with an occasionally recognizable tree or cloud or halo of light. The pews where standard; made of wood that matched the room's walls, hymnals resting in holders built into the back, no divisions to separate families nor fancy boxes for the better off. But they were placed all around the sanctuary facing the alter in the center. On the walls without windows were electric candelabra, and small shelves currently occupied by flowers. Various flowers, potted and cut, were arranged around the pews as well. Eventually Alicia realized the most significance difference between this church and her own was the lack of a cross at the front of the sanctuary, or anywhere in it for that matter.

    When she looked up, she found ornate chandeliers of electric candles hanging all around the place above the pews. But where the pews ended so did the chandeliers. In the center of the room the wood ceiling was painted white, and directly above the alter was a skylight. When the sun shone down through the skylight there was a stark contrast between the center of the sanctuary and the rest of it, which seemed shrouded in shadows.

    Alicia tried to picture what the place would feel like at night, when the electric candles would be on. Or even how it might be when the moon shone through the skylight! She imagined it would be beautiful. The thought of that made her smile slightly, and she started to feel somewhat at ease. Even after her thoughts returned to how she had been brought here.

    She turned to look back at the sanctuary's main entrance, large wooden double doors. Her two "escorts" were still there on bended knee, but they weren't so reverent that they wouldn't jump up at her approach.

    The woman held up her hand with her palm facing Alicia and her arm fully extend. "What can I do for you?" the woman offered.

    Alicia took the gestured to mean she should stop coming closer. "I can't leave, can I," she asked more as a statement seeking confirmation.

    "Please do not leave," the woman implored Alicia. "You have not met the Reverend yet. He will answer your questions. I promise."

    From the tone of the woman's voice, Alicia wondered if she would be allowed to leave if she forced the issue. But she was not sure enough yet to test.

    Alicia continued to meander around the sanctuary. This time she stopped at the first potted plant, noting they were lilies, her favorite flower. These happened to be Tiger lilies, easily recognizable by the red-orange pedals with black markings. She bent over to inhale their fragrance, smiling at the scent even though it wasn't that of Stargazer lilies, then moved on. As she passed the next set of flowers, she noticed they were lilies as well. Simple orange in color. She stopped walked, and looked around the room again, this time specifically at the flowers. She saw yellow lilies, the soft pink color marking Asiatic lilies, the beautiful red fading into white coloration spotted with darker red that signified Stargazer lilies, more orange lilies, and more Tiger lilies. Every flower in the place was a lily of one variety or another. And the ones on and surrounding the alter were pure white Oriental lilies.

    For a moment Alicia stood in awe. When she regained herself she headed directly for the alter. The sweet smell of the white Orientals greeted her. She paused a moment to appreciate them, then scanned the sanctuary for the nearest Stargazer lilies. She quickly headed for them, and smiled happily.

    "I'm glad you like them," a new voice said from behind her.

    Alicia turned to see two men entering the sanctuary, one getting up there in years, one noticeably young. The younger one Alicia recognized as the driver of the car that had brought her here, he was carrying a package of some kind. The older one was wearing some sort of robes that Alicia could only assume where religious in nature.

    They walked over to Alicia, the younger falling a couple steps behind. The older started to extended his right hand to her, but on seeing her cast quickly switched and held out his left as an offer to shake. "I am Reverend John Golms," he introduced himself.

    The other three people in the room looked very surprised at Golms' action. Alex stifled himself from protesting, but his face indicated quite clearly Golms' had done something wrong.

    "Alicia Monroe," she said, accepting his offer of shaking hands with him, glad someone was finally treating her like a person. As they let go she looked around. "Please tell me you can tell me what's going on here?"

    Golms nodded. "I apologize if any of this has been unsettling." He moved to the stand next to a pew and motioned for her to join him. "You have to forgive us all. We have been trained to act in specific ways to you." He sat and looked to Alex. "It is hard for some to know when it is better to not stand on ceremony."

    Alicia sat next to him. But couldn't think of anything to say just yet.

    Golms turned a smile to her. "This is one of those times, for you do not yet understand."

    "No, I don't," Alicia agreed. "I've had too many surprises in my life as of late. Please just tell me."

    "Of course," Golms' nodded. "You have been brought here because you are the Light. The one we wait for, and when you arrive, the one we worship."

    Some part of Alicia wanted to jump to her feet and get away. But she forced herself to sit and look Golm's in the face. She was tired of all the big news that kept changing her life, and wanted answers. "The Light?" she prompted.

    "Yes. The one who always wins the fight against death," Golms' explained.

    Alicia nodded slowly. "So you know."

    "Oh yes," he answered. "More than you, I'm sure." He motioned to Alex for to package. "This is for you."

    Alex came only close enough to hand the package over to Alicia. As he held it out to her he held up his opposite hand palm facing her with his arm fully extended.

    Alicia accepted the package from him with a dubious look on her face.

    "Something wrong?" Golms' asked.

    "Why do they hold up their hand like that at me?" she asked.

    "Ah. It is only proper when addressing or presenting something to the Light," Golm's explained. "It is a sign of our respect of your abilities as well as a reminder that we are not to touch you without permission, lest we see what we should not."

    "You mean D?" Alicia replied. Then she nodded. "Yeah, apparently D doesn't like others being able to talk to her," she said thinking back to the encounter between D and Martin at the hospital.

    Alicia looked down at the package in her hand. There was a UPS tracking label on it. Curious, she peeled off the tape and opened the paper. A simple, unmarked, but quite sturdy wood box was inside. She found the top lifted easily off the box, and so opened it, setting the top on the pew next to her. Inside the box was a small leather bound book that looked almost like a journal. On its front was imprinted a symbol that matched the one on the alter cloth.

    "That is for you," Golm's told her. "In the front is some information on your abilities. The rest is blank, for you to fill in as you desire."

    Alicia lifted the book out of the box and opened it. The pages that were written on were done so in elegant calligraphy, and apparently by hand. Someone had spent a lot of effort preparing it for her. Suddenly realization sunk in.

    Alicia snapped her attention to Golms', trying to hide her concern. "Is this," she waved her hand around to indicate the sanctuary, "a religion?"

    He nodded.

    "Based on me?" Alicia asked, her face starting to betray the panic that was growing inside her.

    "It is based on the Light. Who currently is you, yes," Golm's answered.

    Now Alicia did stand up and step away from him. She shook her head slightly for several moments while trying to figure out what to say. "You can't expect me to-"

    Golm's stood to face her. "We expect nothing from you. Except that you do what you were created for." He indicated the door. "You are quite free to leave."

    Alicia looked towards the door, but instead of rushing to it she first looked back at Golms. "This is too much," she told him.

    "Alex will drive you wherever you wish to go," Golms said, not giving any indication to what she had said. "You know where we are if you wish to know more or if you need somewhere to clear your mind." He paused. "Or if you need somewhere to stay."

    Alicia frowned at him. "Why would I need somewhere to stay?"

    "Your friend Martin will not be the first to figure things out," Golms answered. "It is only a matter of time. And there is no telling what the reaction will be in this day and age."

    "How do you know about Martin?" Alicia demanded to know.

    "We sent him the letter," Golms replied simply.

    Alicia fell silent, contemplating all Golms had told her. "Okay," she said at last. "I'm going to be okay with all of this, for now." She looked at the journal still in her hand. "There are things I want to know." She looked up a Golms. "But I'm not comfortable being center of a religion."

    "You will be," Golms assured her. "There is plenty of time. You'll get used to it."

    "You will have to tell me exactly what I will be getting used to," Alicia informed him. "But right now I need to let people know that I'm okay."

    "Of course," Golms replied with understanding. "We will be here when you get back."

    "Right," Alicia said, and shook herself slightly as if shaking off an unwanted feeling. She looked around. "How do I get out of here?"

    Alex held his palm up to her again. "This way," he said, sweeping his other hand around to indicate he would lead her out.

    Alicia looked back at Golms. "That," she said pointing at Alex's upheld palm, "is going to get annoying."

    Golms just smiled at her. Alicia shook her head, then turned back to Alex and sighed. She walked past him towards the double doors. The woman opened one for her. "Thank you," Alicia said politely as she walked through.

    Alex walked behind her. On the other side of the doors he held up his palm again and pointed down a hall. "This way." He led her out of the church and to the car she had been brought in. Then he turned to her again, and held up his palm. "Where would you like to go?"

    Alicia rolled her eyes at the gesture. For a minute she considered calling a cab. But decided not to spend the money since it seemed she didn't have to. "Home," she finally answered him.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @4:27 PM
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    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 12
    - Chapter 3 Finished 

    64 words. Got stuck today, not wanting to write. Gr. I might have just irrecoverably hurt myself in this contest. But on the up side, Jessie helped me work out part of the plot. That'll be in tomorrow's writing.

    Alicia called Martin next, but his voice mail answered. So she simply left a message saying not to come tomorrow, that her best friend Tracy was coming over so she'd have Tracy take her to the hospital. Then she called her mother.


    "Hi Mom," Alicia answered.

    "Hi sweetheart, what's up?" her mother replied happily.

    "Not much. I just wanted to say I love you."

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @10:54 PM
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    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 10
    - Chapter 3 More Cont. 

    1,468 words.

    On the drive home Martin rubbed his side where Alicia had hit him with her elbow as if it were still in pain, and glanced over at her. "So, we're not telling anyone I take it?"

    Alicia half smiled at his mock pain. "That wasn't my reason for poking you."

    "That's what you call a poke? Yikes!" He laughed. Which made Alicia smile a little more.

    "Okay, fine. That wasn't my reason for smacking you with my arm," she corrected her statement with emphasis. "Better?"

    Martin smiled. "Yes."

    Alicia shook her head slightly at him, then shifted in her seat to gaze out her window. "Natalie and the kids didn't need to know how close they came to losing Doug."

    "Yeah, I guess you're right," Martin admitted. "Natalie wouldn't have wanted to know."

    "Nope," Alicia agreed. "But... since you brought it up." She paused, then sighed.

    "What?" Martin prompted.

    "Maybe we shouldn't be telling anyone about me," she said in a way that indicated she wasn't sure if she wanted to keep things a secret.

    "Why?" Martin wondered aloud.

    "Well, honestly, because of Maria," Alicia answered. "I mean, if I a helping her, that's great. And I do want to. But, well, there are a lot of people in that hospital...."

    "Alicia, you aren't required to help everyone," Martin told her.

    "I know. But it almost seems unfair. I have the ability to save them all, don't I?"

    "Theoretically," Martin answered as best he could.

    She turned her eyes to the sky. "Then shouldn't I?" Martin didn't answer. She dropped her head and closed her eyes in shame. "I feel so selfish."

    "For what?" Martin asked with attitude in his voice.

    "Because. I don't want to live at the hospital."

    "And you shouldn't," Martin informed her.

    "But that's where D is. All the time. If I am going to stop her, that's where I need to be," Alicia explained.

    Martin diverted his attention from her as they approached the intersection of the accident. He slowed down, carefully making his way through. Several more moments passed in silence.

    Finally Martin cut the tension. "You still have your own life to live," he said. "You can't let your gift run your life, or ruin it. Think about it this way. Before you found out, you went around acting like every other normal person. Yet you were helping people along the way without even realizing it. Well, now you know. That means you can actively help people now, maybe even go out of your way for others. But, you still have to keep your day job. And the things that make you happy."

    Alicia nodded slowly.

    "You're right," Martin added. "We shouldn't be telling people. The last thing you need is people mobbing you at the hospital every time you go to help someone."

    "Just what I need," Alicia said, rolling her eyes. "I bet D would love that."

    "Oh yeah. They'd probably keep you from getting in his way! Very much counterproductive." He chuckled slightly. "So, no telling anyone then?"

    "Well," Alicia hesitated with thought. "I think I am going to tell my parents."

    Martin gave her an 'oh really' look. "Oh yeah?" he asked to match it.

    "They are my parents after all," she replied. "I can't just keep something this important from them."

    Martin bobbed his head. "Of course not."

    At Alicia's apartment building Martin pulled into the parking lot to let her out. She closed the door behind her, then immediately turned around and motioned for him to open the window.

    "Forget something?" he asked.

    "No," she said, then smiled. "I just want to thank you. You know, for driving me all over, and making sure I'm okay, and everything."

    He smiled back. "No problem. Besides, this is a rental, so it doesn't really matter how many miles I put on it!"

    She chuckled slightly. "I suppose not. Well, thanks again."

    "You're welcome," he replied sincerely. "See you tomorrow."

    When Alicia got into her apartment, she turned on the lights, dropped her keys and purse by the door, and sighed. "This place is a dump," she commented to no one as she looked around. Usually her place only passable for clean. As in she managed to keep it picked up most of the time, but real cleaning happened about once a month at best. With a broken right arm, and being right handed, she had found it nigh impossible to keep her place even low clutter. The thought of hiring a maid service crossed her mind, but she knew she couldn't afford it. "Oh well," she said, and sighed again. "Let's see what's for dinner."

    There was practically nothing in her refrigerator. She hadn't been to the grocery store since the accident. She frowned at the empty space for a moment, then opened the freezer. Two frozen dinners sat encrusted with ice crystals, signifying they'd been in there for quite a long while. "You'll have to do," she said as she pulled one out and looked at it.

    Minutes later the microwave dinged, and Alicia had a nice hot mediocre meal ready for eating. She sat down in front of the tv with it. But as soon as she was done eating she turned off the tv, it wasn't at all what she wanted to do.

    She moped around her apartment for a little while, collecting clothes and picking up other miscellaneous items, but not at all interesting in doing that either. Finally she flopped down on her couch.

    "Why am I so depressed?" she asked noone. She sighed heavily. "Do I miss work?" She shook her head. "No, not really," she grumbled. She rolled her head to one side. Soon she was picking at the loose strings on her couch. Once she'd had enough of that, she sat up and looked around.

    "Am I lonely?" she wondered. She shrugged to herself. "I don't think so." She looked around more, and soon her gaze landed on her phone. "Oh! I was going to call Mom," she reminded herself. "I should go visit her and Dad this weekend."

    She walked over and picked up the phone. But as she started dialing, she thought of someone else. She pressed the phone's hook down, let go, then started a new number.

    "Hello?" a voice on the other side answered after a couple rings.

    "Tracy? It's Alicia."

    "Alicia!" Tracy replied, the joy evident in her voice. Just the sound of it made Alicia feel better. "It's been almost a week! How are you? How's your arm?" Tracy asked.

    "Oh I'm fine. My arm's pretty much the same. Sorry I didn't call a few days ago."

    "Oh that's okay. It's not like I called you either. Things around here have been SO busy!"

    "Yeah," Alicia nodded. "I know how it's gets for you." She paused a moment. "I miss you."

    "I miss you too, sweetheart," Tracy replied. "Are we still on for this weekend?"

    Alicia cringed inwardly. So much for Mom and Dad. "Of course," she replied.

    "You sound a little down," Tracy said with concern. "You sure you're okay?"

    "Oh I'm fine," Alicia told her.

    "You said that already," Tracy retorted. "Come on, you can tell me."

    Alicia sighed slowly. "Ah. It's just that this place is a mess 'cause I can't clean it properly. I'm all out of clean clothes. And I have almost no food in the house, not that I can cook now either. I guess I'm just feeling a little annoyed at feeling a little helpless."

    "Well that's understandable," Tracy assured her. After a moment she said, "Tell you what. I'll take off work a little early tomorrow and come out to see you. We can go shopping, get a good meal in you, and take care of the house work, okay?"

    "You don't have to that," Alicia said with sincerity.

    "I know I don't," Tracy replied with matching tone. "But I want to. Besides, it's an excuse to get to see you sooner!"

    Alicia smiled at her best friend's ability to make her feel important. "Sounds good," she said, the smile carrying to her voice. "I can't wait."

    "Good," Tracy said, "What kind of ice cream do you want me to bring?"

    It was tradition for the two of them to start off a shopping excursion with ice cream, the reasoning was so they wouldn't loose steam part of the way through. "Um, how about Strawberry this time," Alicia suggested.

    "Oh that's easy," Tracy replied. "Come on, give me a challenge!"

    "What can I say, I'm in the mood for fruit," Alicia replied with a shrug.

    "That's fine," Tracy replied with a laugh. "Well, I have to go now. But I'll see you tomorrow."

    "Okay. See you tomorrow," Alicia echoed.

    "Bye," they said together, and hung up.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @10:28 PM
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    BoD Milestone: 15,000 words! 

    Bane of Death broke 15,000 words last night. It is now officially a novelette! Woo hoo!

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @10:47 AM
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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    NaNoWriMo Day 9
    - Chapter 3 Continued 

    1,904 words.

    When Alicia turned back to face D only, she noticed D didn't seem quite as menacing. The way D stood, the shade of her clothing, even the features of her face seemed a little less intimidating and mean. "Did you change?" Alicia asked.

    D tilted her head slightly. "I don't know. Did you change me?"

    Alicia shook off the eeriness by shaking her head. "Never mind," she mumbled.

    Martin looked at Alicia out of the corners of his eyes. D hadn't appeared to change to him. "You okay?" he asked Alicia.

    "Yeah," she answered quickly, looking to D and not him.

    "Do you have any questions?" D asked, almost a bit too innocently for Alicia's liking.

    "Plenty!" She announced. "Starting with... why are you being so helpful?"

    D nodded in understanding. "Because, ideally, the more you know, the less conflict we will have to go through."

    "Okay then," Alicia said as she thought about that, and what she wanted to ask next.

    "I have a question," Martin piped up with.

    D slowly turned to look at Martin. He said nothing, but his face gave off the impression he was going to say something, so Martin waited. Finally D did speak. "I have all the time in the world. You don't. So perhaps you should ask your question now."

    "Oh, sorry," Martin automatically replied with out of common courtesy. Then mentally scowled at himself for apologizing for nothing. "What I'd like to know," he immediately moved on to, "is does Alicia's gift have a purpose? Besides the obvious. As in, was she given it for a specific reason?"

    "As far as I know," D started to answer, then slowly walked around Martin while watching him the entire way, causing a creepy feeling that made the hairs on Martin's neck and arms to stand on end. D's head then turned to look at Alicia. "Only to be the bane of my existence."

    Alicia looked D straight in the eye. "Do you know how far my powers go?" she asked.

    D smiled. "Yes."

    Alicia frowned at the smile, it was not one of joy but one of 'I know something you don't know!'

    "Will you tell me?" Alicia asked.

    "No," D replied simply.

    Alicia scowled at D, then looked questioningly to Martin. He shrugged.

    Alicia turned back to D. "Okay... how about this. Do you remember the first time we met?"

    D nodded. "Yes. But I doubt you do."

    "Oh?" Alicia replied. "I remember the fire when I was three, but we didn't actually meet then. We didn't meet until the amusement park."

    "We met before then," D corrected her. She gestured towards Alicia with her hand. "But ask your question."

    Alicia pondered for a moment. "I wanted to ask, when I called to you to help the man I was with, I understand now why you didn't do anything. But why did you say to me that you couldn't help him?"

    D held out her arms. "Because I couldn't. You were right next to him."

    "You mean you couldn't help him die," Alicia stated.

    "Death is not always a bad thing," D informed her. "Sometimes it is a help."

    Alicia's brows furrowed. "I couldn't conceive of how!"

    Even Martin was frowning. "Death may be a natural thing, when not helped along. But I have to agree with Alicia."

    "No one asked you," D told Martin with an edged tone.

    "You don't like me, do you?" Martin asked.

    "It is not a matter of like or dislike," D replied.

    "Then what is your problem with me?"

    "You should not be able to see me," D informed him, but not as the answer to his question. "We should not be able to have this conversation."

    "That's the problem?" Martin asked, his voice full of doubt.

    To Alicia, D fell silent and just stared at Martin for several moments as if trying to stare him down.

    To Martin, D was suddenly looming over him. In the blink of an eye the up until this point maintenance worker image had been replaced with the image of the first mad father he had ever dealt with as a teenage boy taking a girl out on a date, except it was D's face and not that father's. "My problem with you," D said in a deep growl that sent chills up Martin's spine, "is that I do not know what you are going to fill her head with."

    "I- I- I'm not-" Martin stammered.

    "I expect you are the reason she became aware of what she does to me," D continued in a lowered volume, forcing Martin to strain to hear what was being said. "And it is clear she has become attached to you for it."

    Martin shook his head rapidly. "No sir," he contradicted, part of his mind thinking he was back talking to that girl's father, all of him feeling like it as he started to sweat. "I mean, yes sir!" he quickly corrected himself. "But, we won't be doing anything because of that."

    "You had better not," D warned. "For your own sake."

    The moment D turned back toward Alicia, the scene around Martin returned to normal. Except that D retained the clothing that father had worn. Martin took his hand off Alicia's shoulder and shrunk a couple steps away from her.

    Alicia saw Martin the whole time he and D stared intently at each other. She saw his fear and that he appeared to be talking to D. But she hadn't heard a word Martin nor D had said. When D turned back to her and Martin backed off, it was clear who had one the contest of wills.

    "What was that?" Alicia demanded to know.

    "That was me getting him to stop interfering," D informed her. "Now we can continue our conversation."

    Alicia watched Martin for a moment. He had his hands in his pockets, and was looking down as he shuffled his feet. "Martin?"

    "Yeah, what?" he asked, looking around quickly to make sure no one else was there but him and her.

    "Arrrrrre you alright?" Alicia asked.

    "Oh yeah, fine!" he said in that way men do when they want to make it seem like nothing is wrong.

    She nodded slowly, not believing him, but not pushing the issue. "Okay." She returned her attention to D. "So you say we met before then. When did we first meet?"

    "At your birth," D told her.

    "My... birth?" Alicia echoed, not at all expecting that to have been the answer.

    "Yes," D confirmed. "Your birth. Have you been told anything about it?"

    "Sure," Alicia replied with a wave of her hand. "Long labor, big head. All the typical stuff mothers say to guilt their children."

    D's head shook slowly. "It was a long and hard labor for her. I was there at your birth, because she was supposed to have died then."

    Alicia was beyond stunned. She stood wide eyed, mouth open, attempting to form words but failing.

    "I see we're not going to be able to talk any more right now," D commented aloud. She put a hand on Alicia's shoulder. "Go home. Hug your mother. I'll be here when you're ready with more questions." And with that, D walked off down the hall.

    Alicia turned to Martin. "Uh...."

    Martin nodded. "Yeah."

    "I'd like to go home now," Alicia finally managed to say.

    "Oh, okay," Martin replied. "You ah," he pointed over his shoulder with a thumb, "you don't want to go visit Doug first?"

    Alicia looked off and blinked once before her memory kicked back in. "Oh right. Yeah," she looked directly at Martin. "Yes. Let's go see Doug. Then I'll go visit Mom."

    Martin raised an eyebrow. "Your mom?"

    Alicia smiled. "Apparently, she was the first person I ever saved."

    "Ah," he replied. "Nice."

    "Come on," Alicia said as she started towards the elevators.

    In Doug's room Alicia and Martin found the whole family gathered around Doug. Natalie was humming and packing up Doug's things. The older child ran up to Alicia with a huge grin. "Daddy is coming home tonight!"

    "So I heard," Alicia replied with a smile. She looked over to Doug. "I came to wish you well."

    Natalie walked over to her husband and put her arm around his shoulders. "Thank you," she said to Alicia. "You've been so nice to us." She looked down at her husband. "It's been such a help to Doug to have a friend here for him."

    "You don't know the half of it," Martin mumbled under his breath. Alicia jabbed her elbow into his ribs to quiet him.

    "It's been my pleasure," Alicia told them. "I'm just glad to see you get better and be heading home," she said to Doug.

    "Thank you," Doug replied. "I'm glad to be going home!" He took his wife's hand. "You know, at first, I didn't think I was going to pull through."

    "Hush!" Natalie admonished him. "I won't hear such things. You did, and that's what matters."

    Alicia smirked at the couple. "We'll be going now."

    "Thank you again," Doug said, "for everything."

    "You're welcome," Alicia replied.

    As she and Martin headed towards the door, another voice called to her. "Alicia?"

    The voice belonged to Doug's roommate Maria. She was a sweet but lonely elderly woman. She was a widow, and the rest of her family was spread out across the country, none of them living nearby. Her eldest daughter had flown in when Maria first entered the hospital, but the daughter had to leave a few days later to get back to her job so she wouldn't loose it. Alicia didn't know why Maria was in the hospital, but she had been there starting the same day as Doug. Every time Alicia visited Doug, Maria would call to her as she left.

    Alicia walked over to Maria's bed. "Hello Maria,"she said with patience.

    "Alicia," Maria repeated, this time with concern. She reached out for Alicia. "You're still going to come visit me, right? After Doug leaves?"

    Alicia exhaled softly. "I'll come see you after each of my shifts," she promised.

    "Does that mean everyday?" Maria asked.

    "Twice a week," Alicia told her.

    "No. No. Every day," Maria pleaded. "You have to come every day."

    Alicia gently pulled Maria's hand off her. "I'm not sure I can."

    "But you have to!" Maria insisted with fear in her voice.

    Alicia turned a concerned expression to Martin. "Why?" she asked Maria.

    "Because every day they say to each other that I'm not going to make it. I can hear it in the doctors' voices. But every day you come visit, and make me feel safe enough to fall sleep. And every morning I wake up." She grabbed Alicia's arm again. "Please."

    Alicia looked down on Maria, then back up to Martin with a question on her face. He nodded to indicate he would keep driving her.

    "Okay," she finally said. She took Maria's hand off her again, placing it gently on Maria's stomach. "I'll visit everyday."

    Maria sighed in relief. "Thank you. My daughter, she said she can come back this weekend," Maria started saying as she relaxed in her bed. "And she'll be bringing my grandchildren." Maria's voice trailed off as she rambled herself to sleep.

    Alicia stood by Maria's bed, looking down on her.

    Soon Martin came over and took her by the shoulders. "Come on," he said quietly.

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    posted by Jennifer Michelle  @11:47 PM
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