Here’s another snippet from my new book The Best Bite. In this scene Bastien has had a bit of a contretemps with his budding powers…
He stared morosely into the flames. This fire was much larger than that first tiny flame sprouting from his fingers. It had started the same, but it had quickly grown bigger than a bonfire. Actually, now it was bigger than a frickin’ house fire. He’d tried everything he could to put it out. At this point all he could do was watch as it devoured the woods behind his house.
It would be nice if you put that out. Some of these trees are quite old.
“And just how do you suggest I do that, father?” He didn’t even bother to hide his sarcasm. With this inferno raging before him the last thing he needed was endless mind prattling. He needed a bloody big fire extinguisher and post haste!
Will it so.
Bastien threw his hands up in fury and actually stomped in a circle. “You think I haven’t done everything I can think of to douse this bloody blaze?” he roared, and was aghast when the flames devouring his family forest blazed even hotter.
The flames seeming to snarl as they stretched toward the sky, moving unreasonably fast like wild, freed animals racing for a distant gate. Their home was fairly isolated, but it was only a matter of time before someone saw the smoke and called the fire department, if they hadn’t already.
Begging and pleading, you ridiculous boy.Thinking only of the humiliation in admitting that you accidentally set your own forest ablaze. Fear of jail, by God. You are a witch descendant from a long and proud line. You are Suirre! Order the flames to die.
Bastien shook his head in anguish. “Stop!” he cried. “Stop now! I order you to extinguish immediately! God help me, stop!”
The flames continued to burn, but the flame seemed to snarl less angrily.
Is that all you’ve got? Once you sense the advantage, press forward. Go hard! Isn’t that what you young people say?
Bastien narrowed his eyes and walked toward the flames with his hands out, fingers clenched like a magical boxer. “I said end!” He roared.
The flames immediately responded, became sluggish, snapping sullenly lower and lower to the earth.
“End this, now, completely.”
The last flame sputtered and reluctantly died with an audible snap of extinguished fury.
Bastien fell to the ground on his butt and looked at the devastation he’d caused. “Good grief,” he whispered.
Good, his father said, his pride tangible even in his mind, but Bastien only shook his head. His father wisely kept silent, no doubt sensing his son was near the breaking point.
Looking at the ruins of what had formerly been a majestic and beautiful wood Bastien felt utterly deflated. He was exhausted from worrying about what might happen next. He was getting tired of watching every thought, of devouring old magic texts until his eyes felt like sandpaper, and his jaws were sore from yawning.
Just the other day in the hallway, he’d heard a girl’s thoughts. She thought his lack of sleep and resulting gauntness poetically lovely. She’d wondered if there was anything she could do to make him feel better. He’d had to force himself not to roll his eyes, the silly twit. Yes, he was suffering, but it wasn’t the least bit romantic, and what could the girl possibly do to help him? She had no idea someone like him even existed.
Then his films classmate Peada appeared. She’d smiled at him like she always did, and the little frisson that tickled him each time he saw her had been more aggressive that day. The other girl melted away as though she had never been.
His eyes narrowed as he watched Peada walk by; her hunger had been palpable. Was she on a diet, and if so what for? She was already quite slender…
Now, faced with endless stalks of charred trees and blackened earth, ash and gently smoking rock where lush greenery had once thrived, Bastien wished for his father with all his heart. “Come home,” he whispered, voice cracking.
Would that I could, my boy, but I cannot. There is nothing I would like more than to guide you through your transition in person, but I dare not come near you right now. To do so might lead to your death. I cannot explain why at present, but chin up old fellow! We must wait to meet again, until you are strong enough to defend yourself. Know that I am proud of the strength you’ve shown dealing with this life change alone.
But I need you. Bastien barely bit back the words, nodding as he pushed himself to his feet. He wasn’t sure his father could see him where ever he was, but he dashed a hand across his face to remove any tears that might have fallen without his permission and stood scowling with hands on hips.
“Now to fix this mess,” he muttered, eying the charred husks that had once been his forest.
He began to recite the simple growth and renewal spell he’d learned from one of his first storybooks as a child. It turned out to be a grammar school primer for fledgling witches, one his father had claimed was lost one day when he’d turned five. He remembered being heartbroken. It had been his favorite book, and with good reason. Each time he read from it wonderful things happened. His toys had come to life and marched around the room. Or his cocker spaniel had talked instead of barked.
Now he grinned when grass began to shoot up from the charred earth and the knarled, blackened trees began to painfully but certainly right themselves and regrow their bark. It felt good to do something restorative with this new power. But he wished things would go faster. This rate of growth wasn’t much faster than what might have occurred naturally.
As though his mind had telegraphed his desire, which it had, the grass grew in thicker, faster, the trees snapped upright with vigor, and the earth rumbled softly as the black of the burn flaked off and melted into the ground.
He watched for awhile, then turned to go back inside. He had to go to school, and he was already running late.
“Please,” he prayed quietly. “Don’t let anything else happen today.”