View Full Version : [NSW-Fic] The Barque

11-20-2008, 10:33 PM
A child's story I've been working on. It'a hung up around page 65 (FIgure three posts) but I wonder what you guys would think?

The Barque


On a Pale Horse, sort of…

The town of Sunrise California basked between the cooling breeze of the ocean, and the heat of the slopes of the mountains. Autumn had yet to set in here in the north of California. Children whined because summer was over, and soon school would begin again.

The old car came over the hill, wheezing as if it would die in the attempt. It reached the rim, decided it could make it down the hill, and settled back into a rattling purr. The driver Shannon Taylor was a woman in her fifties, eyes flashing as she flipped on her sunglasses. Below her the town spread in the haphazard way that older settlements had. Roads went where the ground allowed them, houses either on the flats along the coast or perched on short piers against the sharp climbing hills. She judged that except for the standard upkeep the state did to maintain the roads, no planner had ever been here to rationalize it.

She nudged the girl beside her. “Hey, kid! Home is ahead!”

Morganna shifted, eyes narrow slits against the afternoon sun. “Home is back in Frisco.” She replied, leaning back.

“Not for a year.” The older woman replied. “I promised-”

“Yeah, I know. You promised Judy you would run her shop until someone was selected to take over by the coven, so when she died I had to leave the sights, to come to this dump.” The girl stated as if quoting a well-heard speech. “The coven promised it would take a year, but since they are as organized as you are, that may stretch until I’m fifty.”

“We just don’t rush.”

“Mom, rushing is grabbing a pan off a fire when it catches fire. You guys make procrastination a spectator sport. If the coven had been Solomon, the kid would have been bookends. Or been in his third year of college before he decided.”

The older woman shrugged. Her daughter was right about that.

The first houses shot past, and she eased down on the brakes. Galahad, as she had called the car since she had gotten it had a heart of iron. But the brakes were... well spongy was too soft a word.

They came around the corner, and the town lay before them like a portrait. The docks held dozens of fishing boats, and a few cabin cruisers. There was little traffic, which surprised her after the lunatic rush of the city. A sign with SUNRISE POP 2219 came past them.

“So where is this shop?” The girl asked.

“I have no idea.” The girl looked at her askance. “Hey, remember? ‘Procrastination as a spectator sport‘ remember? I forgot to ask.”

“And the house?”

“Oh that was easy! It’s her family home for six generations!” Shannon answered brightly and a little on the manic side.

Morganna looked at her for a long moment. “And you didn’t bother to write down that address either did you?” Her mother’s hurt silence was more than enough of an answer. “From what I have been told by friends in the building back home, you can actually ask for directions from gas stations.”

“You said something like that in Garberville.”

“Yes I did.” The girl said placidly. “And again when we crossed the border into Oregon when you turned north instead of west.”

“Well we didn’t have a map.” Shannon protested.

“Yes you did.” Morganna waved toward the right side rear passenger window. “You used in to seal the hole right after we left Frisco.”

“Well it was raining into the car!”

“We could have used the raincoat-”

“Then I would have gotten soaked plugging the hole!”

“There is that.”

Carlos Lopez looked up from his book as the 1950 Buick Road Master pulled in. That old thing probably used more gas than any two cars in town combined! The door opened, and two women, one in her teens climbed out. The older woman went over to the pump, starting to use her card to start it but the younger hurried over, took the card away from her, and inserted it instead. She punched buttons, and allowed the older to pump the gas. The younger walked into the store. The cold blue eyes, and ice white hair running in a silver sheet to her waist struck him with a chill.

“Is there a map of the town?” She asked. Her voice was soft, but there was no hesitation in it.

“We ran out. But we have the one on the wall.” He motioned. She walked over, hands clasped behind her back.

“Now if only my mother had found out the address.” She murmured. “Is there a phone book?”

He passed it over, and she went to the yellow pages, then to the white pages, making a note. Her finger ran down like a brush stroke, stopping at a name. “821 East Driftwood?”

He pointed, and began giving directions. She nodded, thanked him absently and left. He looked at the page. She had stopped at a name he recognized. Judy Defenesh. He puzzled. Wasn’t that the old witch?


“Bet you can’t put it through the upstairs bedroom window.” Roger Stanton said.

His partner in crime Nolan Banks laughed. “Watch me.”

A big pale white car had turned toward them, and Nolan looked up at the Defenesh house. The old woman had died suddenly nine months ago, and since no one had liked her, the local kids had taken the house for a legitimate target. He picked up a rock, and as the car passed, he threw. There was a smashing sound, and glass fell in a glittering rain.

“Crap!” Roger said. The car had turned into the driveway, and two women got out. One of them, an older woman looked like she was ready to chase them down. The boys took off running.

The girl looked at the shattered windows. “I think they know what kind of woman aunt Judy was.” She replied levelly.

“Those... Visigoths!” Her mother railed.

“Mother, if you are going to rant about someone, you should actually enter the 21st century. The modern term is Vandals.”

“Modern?” She looked at her daughter. “They were another tribe at the time.”

The girl sighed. “I know that, mother, but all you will get is a confused look calling them Visigoths. They will think you mean the little vampire wannabes with their make up.” She reached into the car. “If you would begin moving stuff inside, I will see how much glass we’ll have to buy.”

“But assurance-”

“Insurance, mother.” She sighed. “Welcome to the new millennium.”


Turner Harcourt looked out his window. A pair of women were at the old Defenesh house. From the look of it, they were about to move in. “Mabel!”

His wife, as deaf as a post walked toward him slowly. Sure she was in her seventies, but she did everything slowly. The woman stopped, pulling out her glasses, and gazed owlishly across. “Maybe relatives?”

“Don’t matter.” Turner said. “The city council decided to tear that old eyesore down, and nothing is going to stop them.”

“Turner, you might be a good husband, but you don’t have the brains it takes to pour water out of a sea boot.” Mabel said. “They can do that if there are no heirs, but if there are, they can‘t.” She looked at him with a slight smirk. It had been Turner that had gone door to door in the neighborhood to get a petition signed to trash the old place back in the 60s, then in the 70s, and so on once a decade. Yet for reasons no one could quite understand, the house still stood defiant.

The house was from the 16th century, a residence built by a Spanish Don back when this had been a land grant from the Spanish king. It had been built on the promontory, front facing not the land, but the sea. Attempts by other citizens to declare it a landmark had been stopped by Turner.

Unlike the average California Spanish building it had been built of brick and fieldstone. In fact the primitive brickyard that owner had constructed was a local tourist attraction. Or would be if the tourists ever discovered the town. Back in 1851 when California had become a territory, Turner’s grandfather had pushed to turn that land grant into the town of Sunrise, removing the old Bahía De Los Fantasmas from the map. The Don had died, but before the house could be leveled his daughter arrived. Old man Harcourt had tried bribery, even tried to actually buy the house. But the young woman refused. He had turned, as a lot of unscrupulous men will to violence. The attempts all failed. When ’bandits’ decided to live in the at the time sequestered house, they ran into a patrol of the US Army which just happened to be in the area. The one attempt to ‘accidentally’ set it afire had failed when the town was hit by the worst storm in history which had leveled just about the rest of the town, but spared the Hacienda.

Turner’s father had gone about it differently. He’d started the development that surrounded it now and at one point had offered almost a million dollars for it. A fortune in 1942.

But every attempt for three generations up until now had failed to remove that Spanish Baroque monstrosity.

“I’ll sue!”

“For what?” His wife asked. “Daring to own a house you don’t like?”


“By my count, fifteen windows including those larger ones in the sitting room.” Morganna said. “I don’t know if insurance will cover them all.”

“But vandals broke them!”

The girl sighed. “Mother, insurance companies are going to ask why the damage covers over nine months with neither complaint nor claim.”

“Well the Coven-”

“I know, couldn’t figure out who to send.” She clicked the pen. “First we need to get either plywood or new glass out here tonight. And someone capable of putting up the covering until proper repairs can be done.”

“I can work a drill!” Her mother shrilled.

The girl pictured Shannon operating anything using electricity, and shuddered. Bad enough when it was a Mr. Coffee! “Mother, it would be best for us to pay a professional. Besides, you have to fight the Insurance people about the damage.”

“Yes!” Her mother now was in her Quest mode. She walked over to the phone, then held it confused. “The phone-”

“Was shut off when aunt Judy died.” Morganna reminded her gently. “We had better use the car.”

There was an old man storming across the street, and they stopped to watch him.

“Get out of that house!” He tried to roar. It came out a breathless whine.

“Are you all right sir?” Morganna asked. She walked over, taking his arm, “Please, sit down. Calm down.”

“No! I want that house gone, and the city council promised me it would be!” He tried to struggle, but the girl was stronger than she looked. He found himself on the porch with a cup of water in his hands. The water had a smell of flowers about it.

“Are you feeling better now?” The woman asked.

“Yes, sure.” He sipped. the floral scent went to his head, and he found himself calming down. “I have the assurance of the city council that this house would be leveled.”

The women shared a look. “We have notified the city council, sir. The house can be leveled only under city regulation as being abandoned. However it did not belong to my aunt Judith. It belongs to our consortium in San Francisco. All taxes are current, and except for the windows that have been shattered, there is nothing that cannot be fixed readily, so they had not even bothered to condemn it, which is the first legal step before demolition. They in fact have done nothing within the law that would allow them to level it.

“I am sorry that it offends you, but we need somewhere to live while we await the new owner of my aunt’s shop.”

“Aunt? I checked her out in the database. Judith Defenesh had no relatives. And she died intestate!”

“That is quite correct. Aunt is a title of respect for a friend of my mother. However if you had bothered to check the title of the house, you would have discovered that she was only the caretaker, as we shall be until our replacements arrive.”

“But...” He glared, standing. “I will see this house leveled if I have to rent the bulldozer myself!” He stormed back across the street.

“What an odd little man.” Shannon commented. “What about this house would cause such... ire?”

“Mother, you know the house’s history. After 500 years, there must be a lot of people in this town that don’t like it.”

“But why must he be our neighbor?” Shannon wailed.

“Mother, just refuse to do your welcome wagon bit. That will ruin his life.”

She cheered up at that.

The Magician

Getting Ready

It wasn’t far. There wasn’t anything very far away in the town. While her mother did battle with the insurance company, Morganna asked for directions to the nearest lumberyard. Like a lot of small towns, the lumberyard also doubled as a full-scale hardware store and probably would have done the duty of general store if there had not been one. She picked her required supplies, hardware, and an electric drill. She used the card from the coven, asking that it all be delivered, and that the plywood be used to cover the windows. It cost extra, but she didn‘t complain. A bit farther down the street was the phone company, then the city hall where all utilities were handled. She also turned on the utilities and phone for the shop.

She returned to the insurance company, where her mother was still going at it hammer and tongs. They might think they would win by wearing her down, but trying to fight Shannon’s full-fledged ire with common sense and intransigence was like fighting a forest fire with a super soaker.

Morganna looked around. It would definitely be a while. She went into a small shop, and armed with the address, walked down the street to the light, turning right.

The shop sat a block off the beach between the main coastal road, and the sand itself.


The paint had faded the window was dusty. At least it hadn’t been broken. She opened the door, entering the space redolent with smells of herbs. She ran a hand along the rack of candles. Her fingers came away dusty. She had known her aunt was a slob, but this was unconscionable! There was dust that looked to be three years deep on the bookshelves!

She found the cleaning gear, and starting at the window, began to clean.

People walked past outside, most dressed in swimsuits. School didn’t start until the next Monday, and she regretted the fact she was still considered a child by the world around her. She would have gladly stayed in the store working all the time! She was dumping trash and paused at the back door curious. There were scratches, as if someone had broken in. But they weren’t new. Maybe someone had slipped in after Judy’s death. But there was no sign that anything was missing.

A middle-aged woman came past then stopped as Morganna returned to her cleaning. She tried the door hesitantly. Morganna walked over unlocking it. “May I help you?”

“Is the store open again?”

“Not yet, ma’am.” Morganna replied. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“Lady Judith sold me some... things. I wanted to get some more.”

Morganna made a motion with her hand, and the woman looked at it confused. So not one of the special customers. “I have no money for change-”

“Oh that’s all right! I know if you are running the shop, you can be trusted. May I?”

Morganna let her in. It was an easy sale. Some oil, candles, a bit of incense. A book had been ordered, and it had arrived before her aunt’s death. She took the crisp 20s, and made a note. “We shall be here in the morning to finish cleaning and inventory. You may pick up your change then.” She handed the woman a hand written receipt.

She wanted to get back to cleaning, but it was as if that woman had been the first leak in a dam. Her mother arrived right before dark. Together, her mother handling the register, and Morganna cleaning, they finished out the day.

Morganna sighed in contentment, looking the store over. The shelves and their contents dusted, a list of things they needs, such as labels for the jars on the high shelves and cash register tape. Her mother had just taken a credit card and was about to run it through the card reader.

“Mother, no!” The card was sliding already, and her mother looked up at her in confusion.

There was a flash, and the building went dark.

“What was that?” A woman asked in a hushed whisper.

“That was the transformer.” Morganna replied. The transformer on the pole at the corner was smoking. She sighed. “Madam, I am sorry, but I believe the building has faulty wiring. Using the card reader must have shorted out the system.” She looked at her mother, who merely stood there looking back. Morganna bustled over bumping the older woman aside. “Since this is not your fault, I will allow you to take your purchases, and return with funds later.”

“Oh I can’t do that!”

“Please, I insist.”

“Oh, well. I promise I will be by in the morning with a check.”

“That will be sufficient, madam.” She looked at the other people standing in line. “Ladies, if you do not have cash or checks, I am afraid we cannot help you at this time.” She walked past the people, flipping the sign from open to closed.

Only one customer left without having paid. None left empty handed. Morganna went through the building locking it up then stopped beside the register. Her mother looked down, silent.


“I forgot, okay?”

“We cannot keep coming up with explanations for this, mother. Please, if you love me do not touch anything electrical except for the phone.”

“All right.”

They stopped at the store, bought groceries, and returned to the house.

The windows of the house had been covered, and a note told her that a contractor would be out to replace the windows the next day. Morganna opened the door, flipping the switch.

In electric light, the house was almost garish. She made a note to buy low wattage lights the next day.

They found clean dishes, and made a cold dinner. Once that was done, Shannon walked outside, pacing the property line as she whispered. Once that was done, they went to bed.


With scales aloft...

Monday dawned cool and wet. Morganna went through her clothes, picking something out that looked her age rather than her normal flowing clothes. Bad enough to start at a new school, but to stand out as too garish! She stripped off most of the jewelry she habitually wore, leaving only her necklace. Her records were in a sealed envelope, and she picked it up.

Shannon was still in bed. She smiled looking at the petulant face her mother had in her dreams.

The high school was less than a quarter mile away, and she walked it deep in thought. This would be a first for her, since she had been home schooled her entire life. The modern building abutted on the grade school, across from the junior high. Cars and busses were coming in, and children of all ages poured out. She dodged through the crowd, entering the building. She was directed to the office, and delivered her records to a secretary. As the halls began to fall silent outside, she was given her class schedule (Subject to revision if she proved more adept than they anticipated) and directed to her class.

A woman with thick glasses was standing at a desk, reading a list of names. She looked up with annoyance, then took the paper from Morganna. She read it, snorted, then motioned at an empty seat. She made a note, and finished calling the roll.

“Most of you know me. For those who don’t, I am Miss Churchill. We will be studying the history of California this year, and especially our town. Before we go on, I would like to introduce our new student. Morganna Taylor has just moved to town. Please give her a warm Sunrise welcome.”

Morganna pulled out her notebook, and clicked a pen.

“Most people don’t remember but back in the late 16th century, where our town now sits was owned by a Spaniard named Francesco Dela Cruz.” She stopped. “Yes, Morganna?”

“Don Francesco de Montoya Dela Cruz.” She corrected.

“I have never heard him called de Montoya.” The teacher challenged.

“His family was related to King Phillip. He was born in 1551, and served under Medina-Sedonia during the Spanish Armada. The actual land grant was given to his father Armando de Montoya Dela Cruz in 1530.” She looked around at the stunned faces of her classmates. “The organization my mother works for does genealogical studies.” Everyone in the class was looking at her. She decided not to talk unless called from this point on.

The rest of the class was the usual mixture of truth, half-truth and out and out lies a home-schooled child would expect from modern education in history. When so many different agencies and organizations have a say in what can be printed in a textbook, all you really end up with is homogenous pap.

However it was not her place to correct the school, so Morganna silently took notes where fact and ‘history’ went separate ways.

Her classes were boring in a lot of ways. The math was two years behind what she had learned, though Algebra looked like it would still stump her. Her English class was reading books she had finished in the fifth grade, so she requested permission to go ahead of the curriculum. Her teacher was impressed. Not many people had written the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at 12, and written a 30 page report on it.

The day broke at lunch. Morganna went through the line, avoiding everything but the salad. It wasn’t that she was a vegetarian; merely that it was the only thing that appealed to her.

She chose a table outside, eating alone and silent. So far-

She spun, her hand slapping aside the soccer ball that almost beaned her. A student a few feet from her ran over, picking it up. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

“You’re pretty quick. New student?”


“Why not try out for the girl’s soccer team?”

She looked at him, shaking her head. “No.”

He smiled ruefully. “A pity. They need someone beyond the captain that is any good this year.” He sketched a salute, and ran back to the friends he had been with.

She finished her meal, took the tray inside, and returned to the table. She had brought the Half Blood Prince with her, and opened the book. There were times she wished Hogwarts was real. But the people she knew weren’t that well organized.

There was a taunting sound, and she turned to look toward the cafeteria. A girl with long black hair came running out, followed by half a dozen students.

“Jesus Freak!” They shouted over and over. The girl backed away, and Morganna found she’d had quite enough.

“Stop it!”

The students turned, looked at her, and ignored her. But when they began again she walked over, standing between the girl and her tormentors.

“I see none of your mothers taught any manners.” She said. “Not only picking on someone in a group, but taunting them over what they have been taught. What religion any of you have is weak and pallid in comparison, and this is the way you show it.”

“Maybe we should pick on you then?” The oldest boy snarled.

“You are out of your league, little man. Walk away.”

The boy straightened, his head turning. “Maybe-”

His punch never landed. Morganna stepped aside, caught his wrist, and turned to follow his movement. The boy squawked, then slammed into the wall with bruising force.

“Anyone else?” She asked sweetly. The others backed away. She sniffed, turning to walk toward the girl that was still cowering against the wall.

“Stand like a woman. Not a whipped dog.” Morganna said tartly. “I have a table right there.”

The girl nodded numbly. She was shorter than Morganna, her eyes wide with shock.

“They always pick on me.” The girl finally said as they sat.

“Not if I am around.” Morganna said. “I am Morganna Taylor.”

“Sabrina. Sabrina Wright.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

“Thank god that you were there.”

“Tell me, why are they so... vehement?” She saw the look of incomprehension. “Why do they pick on your religion?”

“My parents are of the Wisterians.” She waved a hand. “Most have not heard of it-”

“The Wisterians are a sect of Christianity that believes that good works are more important than money. They have no churches believing every person comes to god in their own way, and instead of tithing to an organized body, do so by helping others with time, work and money. They believe that god will give them wisdom if they study the bible, yet expects their members to be part of the world to better understand it.” Morganna replied pedantically. “Begun in 1814 by members of the Mennonite sect who broke away because of scriptural disagreements.”

“Oh!” The girl looked at her with hope in her eyes. “Are you a member?”

“No. I learned about it in comparative religion.”

Sabrina’s head furrowed. “But California doesn’t allow them to teach that beyond symbolism.”

“I was home schooled.” She didn’t add her mother’s favorite line, that the only way to understand an enemy is to study them.

Lunch ended, and she returned to class. Sabrina was in two of them. Science, and P.E.

Phys Ed was the last class on her schedule, and she changed with the class into shorts and a tee shirt.

“All right you little wimps. You’ve had three months of slacking off, but you’re back here now, and that means work!” The coach, a husky blonde woman with rippling muscles roared as she picked up a soccer ball. “The team last year was pathetic, and you, my little lovelies, will supply some badly needed bodies for it. So! Half of you there, half there in alphabetical order. You!” She pointed at the large girl that had been a member of the taunting crowd, “Captain of the Blues. You!” She pointed at a stunned Sabrina, “Captain of the Reds. You have three minutes to field a team.” She walked over, throwing strips of cloth to mark the teams.

“I don’t know what to do!” Sabrina wailed. “Why didn’t she pick Shawna or Brie?”

“Throwing you in at the deep end.” Morganna replied. She looked around. “Trust me.”

Sabrina listened, and in a tremulous voice chose eight girls as the team, with herself and Morganna added to that group. Morganna spoke with her again.

“All right. You know what to do. Don’t pass the ball to me, whatever you do. Will you be goalie, Morganna?“

She nodded and ran to the net.


All is fair...

Janice Polk, the captain of the Blues sneered. Three of the girls on her side had been playing in the junior high team. And she faced what? A dozen girls that probably didn’t even know what the ball was for!

“All right, you three keep it moving. Run their butts ragged. Me, I’m going to go right up the middle and plant it in that cow’s face.” She motioned toward Morganna.

The whistle sounded, and the blues almost immediately had control. Most of the girls of both sides were inefficient or lackluster players. The four girls on the blue team that had already played for their schools easily outdistanced or outmaneuvered their opponents. Janice got in position, took a pass, and sent the ball bulleting toward the net.

Morganna seemed to levitate, her hand catching the ball and throwing it halfway back down the field.

The Reds were as bad as Janice had thought except for that one cow. The Blues controlled the ball throughout, but could not break the defense. By the end of the period the score stood at 0-0.

The coach blew the whistle. “All right, hit the showers! Taylor!” She crooked a finger. Morganna walked over. She was hot, sweaty, and frankly irritated at the entire debacle. She had never wanted to be good at what she did. It was like being praised because your hair is straight!

“You’re pretty good.” The Coach said. “Did you play for your last school?”

“I was home schooled, Coach.”

“Where did you learn that?”

“I have always been athletic.”

“Why not try for the team?”

“Coach, may I be frank?”

The Coach looked at her. “Speak your piece.”

“Janice Polk is already on that team if I am not mistaken.”

“Yeah. So?”

“I cannot play on a team where I don’t feel comfortable with my teammates. She is a bully and abusive, and I will not play with her.”

“It’s her or you then?” The Coach asked threateningly.

“No, ma’am. She is already part of the team. I merely refuse to join it.”

“We could use you.” The comment was almost a plea.

“No thank you, ma’am.”

“Fine, Hit the showers.”

Morganna walked into the locker room. There was a red streak running down the lockers from the one she’d locked her clothes in. She touched it, smelling the liquid. Transmission fluid.

There was chuckling and snickering from the area around the showers. She shook her head, and then made a motion with her hand.

There was a blast of sound, followed by a blood-curdling scream. Morganna grinned, going to the Coach’s office.

“What?” The teacher snarled.

“I need a trash bag, coach. Someone dumped a bottle of transmission fluid in my locker.”

The coach handed her the bag, walking after her. The other girls were out of the shower. She looked at the mess, then at the silent class.

“This happens again, and I’ll suspend the one that does it.” She spun on her heel, and went back to her office.

Morganna opened the locker, shoveling everything out. She tied off the bag, holding it in one hand while she looked at the others. “This happens again, and the water will be boiling, not freezing.”

She walked out of the gym, still in her gym clothes.

“Wait up!” She looked back, stopping to wait as Sabrina came running up. “I wanted to thank you.”

“Why?” Morganna asked, confused. “I did what had to be done.”

“But most students don’t think of it that way.” Sabrina hugged her books. “The cliques run together, and they ignore what other cliques do. If you’re not a member, you’re nobody.”

“Then form a clique of your own.”


“Start a ‘we’ll go our own way’ clique. Meetings when anyone decides to have them.”

Sabrina giggled. Morganna smiled.

“Listen, Sabrina, I have to get to the shop to help my mother.”

“I’ll go help too!” Sabrina seemed to grow, then shrink. “That is, if you’ll let me.”

“Let you!” Morganna snorted. “What can stop you except yourself?”

11-20-2008, 10:44 PM
The Fool

The Clique of Cliques

Morganna had been joking when she had suggested it. But Sabrina was one of those rare souls that took everything, both hurtful and praiseful to heart.

When she got to school the next day there were posters on every bulletin board, and in every class.







Honestly, did that kid ever sleep?

Morganna went through her classes the way she went into a fight, calm, watching and remembering everything. There was a buzz of conversation. After all, while there were clubs at the school (She had already been invited to join about seven of then) this was the first actual challenge to the cliques that did exist.

Unfortunately it is the normal human herd tendency. If you are a jock, you tend to hang with the jocks. Computer nerds and the genius level kids tend to run together in their own packs, racial boundaries cause even more, as do financial ones. Without looking Morganna figured there were maybe a dozen cliques in the school, and if there was a ‘red headed-left handed-Irish’ one she would not have been a bit surprised.

As much as she liked the quiet girl, Morganna expected this idea to last as long as a pint of Irish whiskey at a wake.

At lunch she looked over the pathetic selection, chose a fruit plate and chocolate milk, and stepped outside to the table she had used the day before.

It was full.

So were the five other tables. She saw a hand wave at her, and saw Sabrina sitting with three others. She came over.

“Morganna, this is Brie, Sandra, and Lil.” Sabrina said motioning to each. They had immediately crossed the racial barrier here. Brie had a deep chocolate skin color with flowing brown hair and snapping green eyes. Sandra was so white bread you expected she lived in a 50s sitcom. Lil was a pert little Eurasian girl. She nodded to them, and began to eat.

“They want to have a ‘We’ll go our own way’ clique of their own, but Bree suggested that we have different groups under the same banner.”

“Such as?” Morganna looked at the girls. What did these three share?

“Bree is a writer on-line. She mentioned it to Lil and Sandra heard about it, so they want to start a writer’s branch of ‘go our own way’.”

“Sabrina, I think you’re going to over engineer this concept.” Morganna commented. “The idea of a clique is to define your own differences from the herd. They have that already.”

“True.” Sandra spoke so softly Morganna had to lean toward her a bit. “But a small clique is like a small tribe. The bigger tribes like to push them around. So if we’re part of a larger clique...”

“Ah.” Morganna nodded. “That would make sense then.” She looked at Sabrina. “Are these all?”

Sabrina gave a brittle laugh. “No. They are all around us.”

A shadow fell across Morganna, and a hand stuck out in her face. She looked at it, then up at the face. “Roger Stanton. This is my friend Nolan Banks.”

She looked at the two boys. “Yes, I saw you both Saturday.”

“You did?” Nolan asked.

“When you threw a rock through the window of our house.”

Nolan froze, and then looked down. Morganna was sure a toe was digging at the concrete. “Yeah, well, around here you have to have something to do for fun.”

“I tend to read.” Morganna said. “The police and my mother do not get upset when I do.”

“Well, sorry.”

“I am willing to bet you won’t do it again.” She looked at the two boys. “All right, what is your idea for a separate but equal clique?”

“Well, we love the Scooby Doo stories-”

“Oh gods.” Morganna rubbed her head. “If you have a talking dog, you can walk away right now!”

“No, nothing like that.” Roger said. “I always liked the Hardy Boys mysteries too.” He leaned forward. “Did you know the house you live in is haunted?”

“The term you forgot is alleged to be.” Morganna corrected. “So you are nosy little buggers that try to find mysteries to solve?”

“Like Nolan said. You have to have something to do for fun, and in this town it’s either be nosy or be violent.”

Morganna shrugged. “What else?” She asked Sabrina.

“We have a group that like reenactments, another group that plays role playing games, a group of witches-”

“A what?” Sabrina pointed at the far table, where half a dozen girls sat. Morganna looked at them appraisingly, then shook her head. “Goth baby wannabes is what they are.”

“Well they say they’re witches.” Roger said.

“I could say I was six foot tall and Norwegian, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth either.” Morganna said. She looked around at the students that lounged around. Every eye of the thirty or so was on the table she was at. Her mother had always told her to watch her words. Words have power. If your words cause someone to do something, you are at least partially responsible.

She considered, biting her lip. “We’ll never even get started at organizing with this many people without more time.”

“We?” Sabrina asked.

“Yeah.” She smiled. “Think of it as an over-active sense of responsibility.”

Sabrina looked at her oddly, then stood clapping her hands. “May I have your-”

“Shut up freak!” Someone shouted. Every eye went from Sabrina to Janice Polk and her crowd. The boy who was the putative leader sneered at the crowd. “Well if it isn’t the ‘we’re not good enough’ club meeting. A pity, you chose our section of grass to hold it on. So push off.”

Morganna reached up, pushing Sabrina back down as she stood. She walked around the edge of the group, facing the bully and his gang. “I would suggest you walk away, little man. Before something bad happens to you again.”

“You think you can take all of us?” He motioned toward the others.

“Without breaking a sweat.” Morganna replied levelly.

“What is the meaning of this, Hiram?” Someone shouted. Morganna looked away, covering her face to hide her grin. Hiram?

The boy looked up at the teacher bearing down on them. “Nothing Miss Rayburn.”

She stopped, looking at the students seated and standing. “Perhaps you and your friends can find somewhere else to be then?”

He snarled, looking at Morganna. His eyes said this isn’t over. “Sure, Miss Rayburn. He sauntered off, followed by his pack.

Angelica Rayburn looked at his back, then at Morganna. “I believe you... dealt with him yesterday, Miss Taylor.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Have you thought about setting up an Aikido club?”

“No, ma’am.” Morganna replied. “I find most students my age don’t have the patience to learn it.”

“They might surprise you. They surprise me every year.” The teacher smiled at her, and turned to walk away.

Morganna watched her, then turned back to Sabrina. “Since the peanut gallery has left, do you want to make an announcement?”

“Oh, yes. Since we don’t have enough time to go through what everyone wants to incorporate into this group, perhaps we can meet after school?”

“When?” This came from one of the Goth babies.

“How about Saturday afternoon?” Sabrina asked. “At the picnic area of the park?”

There was a rumble among the crowd, then nods of assent. The bell rang and they scattered like a slow motion grenade blast. Morganna sighed again. Next time just keep your mouth shut!

The High Priestess

An alliance

Saturday dawned crisp. The summer heat had broken, and for the next month or so it would be comfortable. Morganna made breakfast. Her mother just didn’t do mornings very well. She snarled as Morganna set her cup of tea and the pot down, again when the plate with pancakes was delivered, then again when the syrup arrived. After that Morganna left her alone. She remembered an old commercial one of her friends had showed her from the 7-11 chain of a werewolf snarling until it got its coffee. That was her mother sans fur.

The best way to deal with her mother before 9AM or breakfast whichever came first was to stand outside a locked and barred door and shove the food under the door with a pole.

A long pole.

Her own breakfast was ham and eggs with hash browns, with Earl Grey tea instead of the Irish Breakfast variety her so mother desperately needed in the morning.

Shannon sighed, pushing the plate away. She poured a second cup of tea, and smiled. “So how has school been?”

“Like an adult going through puberty again.” Morganna said. “Here I am, ten years ahead of my class in reading level, behind in math, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and all the coach can think of is how I would make her soccer team better!”

“You could-”

“No.” Morganna drained her cup, and poured another. “You taught me how to deal with bullies, and having to pretend to like one long enough to play the same game on the same team was not on that list.”

Shannon sighed. “I am wishing I gave you a more... sedate name.”

Morganna sighed. “Mother, I like the Morrigu, I understand and accept their ways of dealing with problems. Morganna is just the youngest of them as you know.”

“She was also portrayed as a cold hearted little number.”

“Only if you read the Christianized Arthurian legends.”

“I just didn’t want you to go through this year with no friends.”

“Mother I have at least one person from school that will call me friend, and she is organizing a clique of her own. In fact we are meeting at the park this afternoon.”


“Have I ever lied to you, mother?”

“No.” Shannon looked at the cup. “What sort of clique is she forming?”

“An ‘I don’t belong to any clique’ clique.”

“Where did she come up with that idea.”

“Mea culpa.”

“So you are helping because you caused it?”

“Got it in one.”

“Then it must be.” Shannon played with a spot of tea on the table. “I will have to find someone to take your place at least part time.” She stood. “I’ll warm up the car.”

Morganna cleared the table, putting the dishes in the sink to soak until they returned. They had considered a dishwasher, but her mother’s proclivity for destruction with electrical objects had to be taken into account.

After all of these years, Morganna had finally decided that it was because Shannon simply didn’t trust any electronic or electrical devices. The telephone worked, because she could see the need for it and they were around before she was born. Which didn’t explain what she did to any kind of musical device. Radios were all right but a record player would pretend that it was on a skeet range. Tapes would end up reversed somehow, and CDs would fry. Everything else electronic made her nervous, and that nervousness caused the machinery to do a lot of things they were not intended to do. Blowing up was only one of the fun options. She remembered the ATM in San Francisco that began spraying twenty-dollar bills everywhere.

It also explained the car. As much as Shannon yearned to be green, to pollute as little as possible, she didn’t like or trust computers, and every car manufactured today had computers and electronics in them. The problem was she knew they had computers.

She checked the door on the way out, locking it. Shannon had the car snorting and backfiring. She climbed in, and they were off. The car made it to the store through sheer bloodymindness. Morganna coughed at the pall of smoke as she climbed out.

The first hour was quiet. The beach was busy, but as long as the weather is warm enough, that is always true. She spent the time unpacking boxes and placing the items where they belonged.

A little after 10, Sabrina arrived. Morganna put her to work putting the books in alphabetical order in their sections. The girl had been appalled about subject matter, but was willing. They finished, moving to the herbs. Before they knew it, it was noon. After a leisurely lunch, the girls headed across town to the park.

There were half a dozen places that might have been called parks, but this one fit the idealized dream. An acre of tree, gentle paths, and grass. They sat on a bench near the edge of the street, talking about school.

The soon to be members of the ‘go our own way’ clique began to arrive. Morganna took out her notebook, and made a list as they arrived. She noticed they arrived almost in formations. Brie Lil and Sandra together. Roger and Nolan, a small group dressed in something more suitable to a Renaissance Faire. The last to arrive were the Goth babies.

Morganna looked at them as they approached. All girls, all but one what would be defined as outsiders. The kind of kid picked on because they were too fat, too skinny, or maybe just odd in their mannerisms. Judy Mitchell, who claimed the name ‘Astrea’, led them. All were in dark clothing, some in flowing dresses that quite honestly needed a figure to flatter, which they were lacking in most cases. Only ‘Astrea’ herself had a figure that fit what she was wearing.

As they stood at the table, Morganna made a motion with one hand. There was no response.

She recorded their names, and a short time later Sabrina stood. “Welcome to our first meeting-”

“Second!” Roger called.

Sabrina blushed at the catcalls. “All right, second. Now it was suggested at the last meeting that we have separate groups under the same banner. Roger and Nolan want to start a mystery group. Judy-“

“Astrea.” Came the whip like retort. Maybe she wanted to be called a variation of ‘star’ because of the size of her ego Morganna thought.

“Astrea wants to start a Wiccan group, Monroe over there a reenactment group. Were there any others?”

“After seeing her in action, I would like to see Morganna teaching an Aikido class.” Someone in the group said.

Morganna considered it. The martial art was fun if you actually tried to learn it. “I will offer it next week when we go back to school again.”

There was even an automotive club. Morganna knew that there already was such a clique, but these were kids that were looking at ways to improve the performance of their own rides, and the head of the group, Maria Lopez, wanted to allow anyone, not just the male motor heads to have a chance.

By the end there were eleven groups under the ‘clique of our own banner’. The next meeting was set simply. If anyone had a problem with other cliques or had plans they needed help with, they would call one. Until then nothing was planned. On that note they separated into their own groups as the meeting came to a formal end.

Astrea stood, and her followers came over to the table. “Your mother runs the herb shop down by the beach?” Morganna nodded. “Will she allow us to use your back room for meetings after hours?”

Morganna considered. Her mother had a low opinion of wannabes for the same reason she had been leery of starting a martial arts club. But it was, after all, the store her mother was running. “I will ask her.”

“Good.” The girl turned, waving theatrically. “Let us go!”

“I have to get back to the store.” Morganna said standing. Sabrina stood, walking with her.

“Why don’t you like her?” Sabrina asked. Morganna started at the question.

“What do you mean?”

“You talk differently when you don’t like or trust someone.” Sabrina observed. “Your voice grows cold when you speak to those you really don’t like, but with her you come across as overly polite.” She shrugged. “I would say that she isn’t someone you feel comfortable with.”

Morganna sighed. Damn, the girl was too good at this! “Let’s just say that my mother and I come from a long line of people of an alternate religion. Having someone grab it as their own irritates me.”

Sabrina looked at her for a long time. “I can understand that. The local churches tend to be irritated with my family for the same reason.”

“But you didn’t come into town, make a broad gesture, and tell everyone ‘We’re the only ones doing it right’.”

“But we can’t do that!” Sabrina laughed. “The first precept is that man is prone to error, and pride causes so many errors that you must always guard against it!”

“And you will notice that except for my mother’s flamboyant dress, we don’t go around shoving our religion in other people’s faces either.” Her mother always wore flowing dresses, and enough jewelry to set off a metal detector from half a meter away. Most considered it garish rather than a religious statement.

“How did you...”

“Become a witch?” Morganna asked. Sabrina nodded. “The same way you became a Wisterian. My mother was a member of the coven since her birth. The primary difference between our faith and most Christian sects is that we don’t think ‘once a witch always a witch’. That is one reason we study other religions. Perhaps you feel compelled to go another way. If a form of Christianity feels more comfortable, by all means, go and do what feels right.

“Like your own faith we also do not proselyte. We try to get people to understand that faith is something everyone has and ours is just as valid as theirs.”

“What about atheists?”

“They have faith, it’s just that they don’t have faith in a supreme being.”

“I never thought of it that way before.”

They reached the store. There was a sign on the card reader saying ‘Out of order’.

“I’m glad you’re back. A shipment of candles and books came in.” She waved toward the back, and returned to talking with the customer she was helping.

“So she’s...”

“Probably not.” Morganna told her. “We do sell candles, and herbs, but they have other uses. You could make a dinner with most of the herbs. Our co-religionists are more circumspect than that.” She stopped at the register, looking under the counter. “Mother, where is Aunt Judy’s diary?”

“I moved it in the back. Look on the restricted shelf.”

The girls went into the back. Morganna picked up a knife, and sliced a box open. “If you’ll start unpacking that, I can check up on our friend Astrea.” She went to the special shelf, pulling down a journal. “Ah, here she is.” Morganna read silently. “Well I see she won’t be using the shop.”

“Why not?”

“Aunt Judy was not very complementary. ’Has a delusion of competency. Aggressive in her demands for acceptance’.” Morganna shook her head. “I will ask mother. After all I said I would. But when I do, I know mother will look here as I did.”

That done, the girls began the process of unpacking the candles, once they were separated by size and type, Sabrina meticulously recorded numbers and sizes, checking them against the invoice. Once the first ones had been done, Morganna began moving them out into the store.

They were astonished when Shannon came into the back to tell them the store was closing. They had been so engrossed in what they had been doing that the time had flown.

“Well you have done so much to help, young woman.” She said, looking at Sabrina. “Would you join us for dinner?”

“I’d like that. But I have to call my parents for permission.” Samantha led her to the phone, and Sabrina called. Her parents assured themselves that the girl had not coerced a meal out of her benefactors, and that was that.

They got in the car, and Shannon started it with a lot of banging and sotto voce cursing. “Well, maybe Sabrina can answer a question for me.”

“I’ll try.”

Shannon looked at her seriously. Then spoke in a voice begging for all the knowledge in the world in one question. “Which restaurant is best in town?"

Queen of Swords Reversed

The best restaurant in town was named Joachim's a Mexican seafood restaurant. Shannon drove over to the parking lot and got into it without too much damage.

“I really have to get the car worked on.” She said as it chugged for ten or fifteen seconds after she had turned it off.

“Maybe Maria Lopez and her motley crew can do it?” Sabrina asked.

“I don’t know. How would we get hold of her?”

Sabrina chuckled. “Her grandfather Joachim Lopez started this place!”

They went in, were seated, and nibbled on chips as they waited. Maria came by, smiling brightly at them. She promised to have a couple friends over to the house the next morning.

They ordered a family platter of Camarones con Cebollitas Rojas y Ajo (Shrimp with Shallots & Garlic) and Tacos De Camarones with. Shannon toyed with the idea of a Strawberry Margarita, but since she would have been drinking alone, she ordered lemonade for herself and Morganna, a soda for Sabrina instead, but had them all served in a Margarita glasses. “I am such a wicked person!” She shrilled girlishly, licking the salt off her own glass before drinking. Morganna rolled her eyes, catching the giggle from Sabrina.

“So you’re… Witches?” Sabrina asked.

“For seventeen generations.” Shannon replied gaily. “My several times Great Grandmother ran away from England to get away from an overbearing husband, and founded her own coven in Western Pennsylvania not long after Salem.”

“Salem was where they burned witches.” Sabrina said.

“Two popular misconceptions.” Shannon harrumphed. “First, of the fourteen people tried only one admitted to being a witch. A black slave by the name of Tituba. She was sent to jail for five years, then sold back into slavery.

“Of the others, twelve were accused and denied it. All were convicted and hung. The last refused to plead in court, and was crushed to death with stones.”

“Why did they do that?”

“English law of the time.” Morganna told her. “Under the law if you were charged, you had to plead guilty or innocent. Since a guilty verdict meant all your property was seized by the crown, they needed this. If you refused, they would lay a large plank on you, and pile stones on you until you either plead, or died. But under law, when he died, they couldn’t seize his property.”

“So we have always been very circumspect about whom we tell.” Shannon said. “As much as they like to use the bible verse ‘suffer not a witch to live,’ most people forget that the original translation was ‘poisoner’.” She sighed. “In the last century or so people have begun to become a little more tolerant, but there are still problems.”

“Mother, there is one problem we might have.” Morganna explained about the request to use the shop, and Aunt Judy’s notes.

“Well I can understand why that might be a problem.” Shannon considered. “Do you think the refusal would be better coming from you or I?”

“I don’t understand.” Sabrina said. “If Astrea is a witch and wants to meet, why can’t you help her?”

The mother and daughter looked at each other. Shannon shrugged. “My dear, there has always been a certain… hostility to those of our faith. It may have been almost five hundred years since many were slaughtered in Europe just because their guilt was presumed, but we still remember that it has happened, and can happen again.

“Those that join our faith do so for a variety of reasons. Some from their own search for faith, just as those that join a mainstream sect do so because of an acceptance of that faith’s beliefs. Perhaps because they feel left out by those around them and are consciously in rebellion. But some do it because they believe it a gesture of empowerment.

“But there is also the rumor that draws so many that being a witch also means having power. They want to wield that power even if they are not capable or worthy of it. They feel that by naming themselves as witches, even when they don’t even understand what they are saying, makes them better or stronger.”

“But it’s only a religion! There’s no magic any more.”

Shannon and Morganna exchanged a look. “As you say, my dear girl.” Shannon demurred.

They finished the meal, and Shannon paid.

“Oh no.” Sabrina whispered. The two women followed her gaze. Across the room, the Mitchell family was seated, and Astrea excused herself to glide over to them. Shannon looked at her, and made a gesture with her hand, which the girl ignored.

“Have you asked her?” She whispered.

Morganna nodded. “We cannot allow you to use the store for meetings, Astrea. Sorry.”

The girl flinched as if she had been slapped. The excitement in her eyes changed to fury in an eye blink. “So you are going to deny us? How dare you!”

“What is done in my store is my responsibility.” Shannon replied softly. “I will not allow you to besmirch that.”

“As if you have any authority over me! Where were you trained? What level are you?”

“Where I was trained is none of your business. As for levels, why should they be important?” Shannon shook her head. “A student never stops learning.”

“Bull.” The girl snapped. “If you won’t help me, then I will find someone who will. So thanks for nothing!” She spun on her heel, and stormed back to her family.

“That could have gone better.” Shannon said softly. “Well, let’s get you home, Sabrina.”

Astrea wanted to scream but her father was abrupt about public scenes, so she ate silently as she fumed. How dare she deny it? Since she was always a bit moody, no one really noticed. Patrick and Blaine her twin brothers were going on about the jobs they had been offered. Pat had been a rather poor student, and his job offer was from one of the fishing boats he had worked on during the summer. Blaine however…

She snarled inwardly. Blaine was the golden child. Smart, handsome, breezing through tests as if he knew all the answers. Able to pick and choose from the girls in his senior class. He had just won a scholarship to Stanford and already looking forward to a life as a doctor.

Then there was her… Attractive enough, but not in Blaine’s league, not as lazy or slovenly as Patrick, but not as smart as Blaine, she was a middle child without a younger sibling.

She so wanted to stand out! This had been her chance, and two different old women had denied her that chance. That old biddy Defenesh had told her not only no but hell no. Now Morganna’s mother had driven the final nail into the coffin of her hopes.

She glared at the three women. She had though Morganna might have been a friend, but she was wrong. She was a cold heartless thing and her mother with her platitudes was no better!

She remembered the book. The old woman had died, and her body hadn’t even been buried when Astrea had broken in. She had wanted to trash the place, but her attention had been drawn to a bookcase set in a steel cage. She had gone in, and looked at the works. Most were in languages and alphabets she didn’t understand. But one was in German; Die Schwergängigkeit und das Freigeben von Seelen. When she had translated the title, she was ecstatic. The binding and the freeing of Souls. It had taken her all these months to translate the index and especially the one spell in the grimoire that interested her. Rache mit den Toten gewinnen. To gain revenge with the dead.

She considered her plans with satisfaction.

As soon as they got home, she grabbed the hand held phone, and went to her sanctum, dialing as she stalked up the stairs.

“What do you mean she refused?” Cathy Hollis whined.

“What is so hard to understand, Maldita?” Astrea asked her sarcastically. “She. Said. No.”

“But she’s-“

“No, she’s not one of us.” Astrea snapped. “She’s a pretender. She’s just like all the others but we’ll get even.”

There was a long pause. “What do you mean by that?” The girl asked her.

“I am going to call Cleopatra and Nightshade. You call Talia and Mellisande. We’re meeting in the park tonight. You can also tell them that anyone who is not there by midnight will be included in my vengeance.”

There was an even longer pause. “Judy-“

“Not Judy!” Astrea growled. “After tomorrow everyone in the world will know who I am and none of them will be calling me Judy!”

“All right.” Cathy had always been a follower and never a leader. Never pretty enough for the boys at school to look at, and too smart for them to feel comfortable around. She would do what she was told.

Astrea dialed the next number, and as she did, she remembered the catchy little song she had heard when her parents had watched a play named the Mikado. “I’m sure they won’t be missed. I’ve got a little list.” She sang as she dialed.

11-28-2008, 10:21 PM
A week and 50 hits. Why hasn't anyone said anything?

11-29-2008, 12:50 AM
A week and 50 hits. Why hasn't anyone said anything?
I think that it is because no one appretiates good work. :xp:

I think that you did a great job in these several chapters. I like how Morganna seems to be a person that seems to be good at everything, standing up for other people, and kinda teaching tolerance at the same time. I also wonder if there will be any problems that will arise with Morganna being a 'witch' and Sibrina being a Christian, that is if you decide to continue the story.

Again, I think that you did a good job, and it is a pleasure to read your work.

The Doctor
11-29-2008, 02:06 AM
A week and 50 hits. Why hasn't anyone said anything?

You should know better than anyone that people don't comment very often on threads in here, even if they're reading intently.

11-29-2008, 11:06 PM
You should know better than anyone that people don't comment very often on threads in here, even if they're reading intently.

Hey, I get to whimper and whine just like anyone else.

Bee Hoon
12-01-2008, 01:04 AM
Not many people had written the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at 12, and written a 30 page report on it.Did you mean read?

Astrea wanted to scream but her father was abrupt about public scenesMm?

There's a few more errors in grammar and punctuation here and there. All in all, I like it! I love Shannon and Morgana. Judy (yes, Judy :p) is such a petty girl--it'll be fascinating (like a car crash >.<) to see what her mean little scheme is!

P.S. <3 witches!

12-01-2008, 11:02 PM
Did you mean read?


There's a few more errors in grammar and punctuation here and there. All in all, I like it! I love Shannon and Morgana. Judy (yes, Judy :p) is such a petty girl--it'll be fascinating (like a car crash >.<) to see what her mean little scheme is!

P.S. <3 witches! The comment about the book (You're right, read, not written) is real. My ex wife read the book and wrote a 30 page report at that age, and her teacher said she wasn't going to bother reading it because anyone crazy enough to have read it might have actually written it.

Bee Hoon
12-04-2008, 09:29 AM
Wow O_o talk about precocious!