Conference Calling

As the crows flew, it wasn’t far from Dyersburg to the edge of the Ozarks and the Pear Tree Inn and Resort. As roads went, it reminded Morgana why some people measured distance in hours instead of miles. “Madame, will the road construction ever cease?” Smiley pleaded. “I’m out of books.”

Morgana drummed her fingers on the arm-rest and wondered. “If you mean will they finish the road, I suspect they will. If you mean will they stop tearing up highways and slowing traffic, I believe the infernal planes will join the realms of light before that happens.” A witch from Albuquerque had once claimed that souls too bad for Heaven and too good for Hell were assigned to work on the Interstate construction crew in Trinidad, Colorado. Morgana thought that was a pretty good guess. At last, the sign ahead of them switched to “slow” and the conga line of cars and trucks began crawling forward, over the bridge and westward. Continue reading

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Mages, Sorcerers, and Witches

Magic workers in the Familiar stories come in several flavors. Those with Familiars are all lumped as mages, even if what they do is closer to witchcraft or sorcery. But when it comes to cases, although most magic workers are aware of the basics of other traditions and working styles, they tend to fall into three groups, of which mages are the least common. Continue reading

Morgana on the Road

Morgana and Smiley are driving to a meeting.

Morgana glanced into the back seat of her little red SUV. Smiley had stopped staring out the window and was listening to an audio-book. Oh good. I hope it’s not horror. He likes those too much. Worse, he insisted on recounting the goriest plot points in loving detail. She preferred cozy mysteries and historical fiction. She really could have done without him narrating The Shining on a stormy night and scaring her spitless. And he wasn’t pestering her about flying.

She returned her eyes to the road. Traffic had thinned out, but she wasn’t the only vehicle on the road. A few semis lumbered their way westbound, including one from that fake charity that she wished the court would just shut down once and for all. She’d left the house before dawn, and had seen one highway patrol and two county-mounties, but nothing else of great interest. The cruise control held the SUV at two over the limit, fast enough to pass most of the big-rigs but slower than— “You are not Mario Andretti, so don’t drive like him!” A poison-green sports-car whipped around her, wove between a pick-up and a moving-van, and raced over the top of the hill. “Fool.” Well, he’d find Johnny Law for her, not that she was going to speed up. They had guaranteed late arrival at a Familiar-friendly bed-and-breakfast in western Tennessee. “Tell me again about how deforestation is plaguing North America?” She’d seen nothing but trees, unless it was road-cuts, since pulling onto the highway.

Morgana and Smiley had been on the road for longer than her rump preferred before they pulled over for a rest stop, leg-stretch, and general look around. She’d passed two rest areas for various reasons, but this one looked tolerable. The voice from the back seat asked, “Are we there yet?” Continue reading

Homework and House Hunting

Morgana Lorraine and Smiley gave Lelia some homework. And she and Tay are looking for a new place to live. Alan Cypher is the accountant-to-mages and other magic workers.

That night, after feeding Tay and dutifully chomping through a salad with grilled chicken breast strips, Lelia checked her messages. One from Alan Cypher, who said he’d be happy to meet with her, but not this week because of the quarterly rush. Another she did not recognize. “Is this one of your friends?” she asked Tay. He stopped grooming his nethers long enough to look, and shook his head. She deleted it, un-read. The third was a forward from Genevive Altman, her drug counselor and primary magic instructress. “If you are still looking for an apartment, try Mrs. Angela Weber. She has rental properties, and is mage-friendly.” The message from Mrs. Weber said that she had a few rentals open if Mrs. Altman had any tenants she could recommend.

Tay sat up. “You know a Mrs. Weber?” Lelia asked.

He scratched.

“You spat out your oil pill, didn’t you?”

He pointed to himself, eyes wide, as innocent-looking as a ring-tailed lemur could be. She scowled at him. He squirmed. “Um, yeah. I did. And I know the name. She’s a mage, not as active as most.”

Two days later, on Monday, Lelia called the number. “Weber and Drake Property Management. How can I help you?” a woman’s voice answered.

“Good morning, my name is Lelia Chan and I am looking for an apartment to rent. I have a pet, a small indoor animal. No fish.” She would never, ever get a fish-tank, ever. Arthur had bought them salads with smoked fish in them on Saturday night, just out of spite. Lelia imagined it was whatever had been in Bradly’s hundred-gallon saltwater tank and ate heartily. Tay had scolded her for her ill-will, but it had sounded pro forma at best. Continue reading

Thursday Tid-bit

Just when Tay and Lelia thought it was safe to come out from behind the counter at Belle, Book, and Blacklight…

Would that all her problems could be solved so easily. Lelia returned the quartz necklace to its baggie, taped a piece of paper to it with a note about the crack, and added the item number from the invoice. Task done for the moment, and no customers in sight, she sat on the stool behind the counter and wiggled her toes. She really needed to get these boots re-soled and probably buy a pair of insoles, the cushy kind. And to find an apartment that tolerated Familiars. She only had another month in the transitional apartments. She’d finally paid off all her back taxes and fines, so the governments were no longer garnishing her wages, but no one wanted a Familiar and mage as tenants.

“Do you think the manager could have been a little more obvious this morning?” she asked at last.

Tay stuck his tongue out. “Only if she’d used one of those giant flashing highway signs, outlined in neon, with a chorus line standing along the bottom.” Continue reading

Vaguely Familiar

Tay and Lelia ambushed me Sunday night, drat them.

At least Tay waited until the customers left before bursting into laughter so wild that he rolled off the counter. The ring-tailed lemur landed on the anti-fatigue mat with a soft thump, releasing a puff of fur, and giggled a little longer. Lelia rested her head on her arm, carefully, lest she get makeup on her black sleeve. “I cannot—No, I do not want to believe that I heard that,” she managed at last, straightening up and shaking her head.

“You did, I did, the security camera did, heck,” Tay gasped for breath and twirled the end of his long tail. “The entire Internet will probably know before he gets to the end of the block!” Continue reading