My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter Eleven–Let’s Load Up the Van… I Mean, the Flying Kid

We found Mom waiting patiently right outside the cottage. Turns out she had been tracking me from my cell phone, which I’d carried for the Internet features, and which had a GPS thing in it. I found this weirdly funny. She has the most rare magic known to Anoki, but she tracks me with a cell phone.

“Oh, you found Akana,” Mom said. “She’s your sister as well, but she wandered away when she was a toddler and landed in the Zepha tribe. I don’t know what it is about our family, but there’s this inexplicable non-fear of exploration and independence that seems to have a genetic base. Anyway, you took care of her like you took care of all the children, and she eventually ended up with you, although you didn’t seem to recognize her then. I let her stay. She learned things from you.”

Akana smiled brightly. I guess she never really knew Mom either.

“Where do you live, exactly?” I asked Mom. She took us there.

Her house was nothing super fancy or weird like Katyen’s, and though I could tell it had been redecorated to look various ways (including, I sensed, the entire place looking like orange jelly on April Fool’s day), it looked relatively normal right now. Relatively.

I met my father. He had an odd personality, and would listen to a conversation for a while, then pipe up with a witty comment. He sounded a lot like me, but less chatty and less bold. And a heck of a lot calmer. I figured out where Kaye and Akana got their blonde hair.

I wasn’t sure what to do with my parents’ house in the Zepha tribe, which I’d been occupying, but I needed someone to take care of the greenhouse. I decided to mention it to Tony later, since Mel would be too busy.

An hour later, I saw someone in the sky. Someone with hunter-green wings.

“Tony!”

“My parents said that if I wanted to do Earth magic, then I was going to have to go to you for schooling, if you said yeah. It only took me a few minutes to fly.” He landed, looking windblown and cute (though I’d never say that to his face).

I let him know that I was going to stay here with my parents, probably end up a magic and weapons use teacher, and let him take the greenhouse.

“You’re acting normal,” he said, astonished.

“Which still counts as acting weird because I never do it,” I pointed out.

“Okay, that makes sense. I think,” he said. “Sort of. Maybe weird, perverted sense. I learned that word from you.” He grinned at me. I got this weird impulse to back away slowly, turn, and run the other direction at mach speed.

I was becoming normal, yes, but I felt after my life, I deserved it. Most people work the other way around, but I was so weird that, even when weird is normal for an adventure, I was on a whole different level of weird so that I was weirdly weird while on my mission, and now I’m weirdly normal. Weird.

I still had some questions, though.

“What did I do?” I asked Mom later. We were in the kitchen, tending to biscotti. Kaye and Akana were hanging around in the living room, Kaye chatting excitedly with my dad, talking faster than a Chicagoan, and Akana petting the humongous lump of fur that was vaguely feline (my mom called it a cat). His name was Cat-Flat, and it had nothing to do with lack of roundness, a trait Cat-Flat seemed to have in abundance, and more to do with his… anomalies. “You said you saw me make up spells, but I don’t know what I was doing.”

“Star magic enables you to do the elements Air, Water, Fire, Earth, Light, Darkness, Time, Storm, Dreams, and Star,” Mom said. “You didn’t know that Star magic has an element of its own that no one else can do. You probably never heard of it because Star magic is so rare that it’s always dismissed as a myth until it shows up. It has very little to actually relate to the stars, and more to relate to whatever you use it for. Wardrobe catastrophes. House décor. Problems with child discipline. I once made up a spell that glued children to whatever they touched until they listened. The floor. Their toys. Each other. I did it once when the high school boys were slapping the doorframe to go into school. You should have seen their faces when their hands stuck there. Then I dropped them just before they dislocated their shoulders and watched them land in a heap. But I’m mean that way.” She grinned.

“Kaye can do nine of the ten elements,” she continued. “She can’t do Star magic. She’s a Storm Anoki, like her father; Air and Storm magic are her best elements. And Light. Anything in the sky. She can’t do Earth that well, though. That brings me to my other point. Do you know why that man got possessed by Star magic even though he did not undergo the Commitment Spell?”

“No clue.” I liked how she always asked whether I knew something before explaining it. I hate it when people start telling me stuff I know already because they assume I don’t and I can’t tell them to shut up already like I want.

“This is the nature of Star magic. You have to be a certain kind of person to wield it properly. You have to be good, yes, morally and in magic, but there’s a little more than that. You were grounded in Earth magic. You’re an Earth Anoki before you are a Star Anoki, and you didn’t let it go to your head. You’re strong enough in yourself, and you don’t pretend to be someone you’re not or wish you were something else. You wanted to fly, yes, but you got that already from Akana. Since you were occupying every part of your personality and dreams evenly, it didn’t have a place to take over that didn’t have you and your Earth magic leashing it. Magic is weird. Halfhearted decisions aren’t good in this game. You have to either walk on the coals with confidence, or not walk on them at all, or you’ll get burned.

“Your Earth magic was dominant, and it was also the reason you couldn’t take the village through mutiny or brute force.  People notice hurricanes, people notice tornadoes, and people notice forest fires and volcano eruptions and floods and winds that blow things over. But people can sleep through earthquakes that may cover a certain poisonous plant that would normally kill someone, or a certain rock falls on a certain head. Someone up there makes sure that the right people get killed and the right people stay alive.”

I was thinking, analyzing this conclusion carefully. “If there is someone ‘up there’ who supervises, then why do bad people tend to live so long?”

“Just because we’re watched doesn’t mean that the world is perfect. It’s a cursed place. All we can do is make it as good as possible, but people themselves will always be slightly evil. No matter what. But it does mean that 99% of human worries are needless. They think the earth is going to dissolve into nothingness if cows are around.”

“What?!”

“Cows. I heard. Something about farting.”

“You’re nuts.”

“The humans came up with it!” she insisted, giggling uncontrollably.

“Do you know how Anoki get magical talents, anyway?” I asked, changing the subject off the weird humans. “It seems like they just show up sometimes.”

“Usually it’s because they run into a loose patch of magic, or someone puts too much power into a spell, and the extra power just becomes loose magic. Then when someone finds it, it’s like walking into a cloud of gnats—anyone can feel it, even humans—and if the magic acknowledges the person because they’re the right personality, the right type to carry that magic, then it’s theirs. You ran into the Star magic that I used from the sky to disguise the bodies. I did it there so that it would be unlikely for people to run into it and use it badly. But you could fly, and you were the first to find it. I’m surprised Kaye didn’t, but I’m glad. She would have been possessed. Magic is dangerous. And the Kliid leader you dealt with had run into either your Star magic, or had found Akana’s spell from Raystar and run into mine while flying.”

“Did Akana make that spell up?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I think she did. Her talents are strangely limited, though, to the natural elements and Light. She can’t do other Star magic or make up other spells. I call it Moon magic, because I think she’s discovered a new element. When you did it, it felt to me like Star magic, but Light Anoki can do it—I asked one to try on a rabbit. And it feels like Light magic when Akana does it.”

“I don’t know what to make of that kid,” I said.

“If you don’t accept the magic when you run into it, it doesn’t take. Has Akana refused six different elements? I know you couldn’t do Darkness magic well, even though it came with the Star magic, because you’d only accepted it to get the Star magic. I have to agree with you—I like night, because night is natural, but darkness is created. Night isn’t really dark. There are stars, each the same as the sun, across the sky with you. The moon reminds you that the sun is only on the other side of the world and still exists. Night is natural. Darkness is when you are shut inside a building and someone doesn’t want light there. You can’t see a thing, and sometimes there’s a reason for that.”

“Uh, bad.” I crossed my eyes.

Mom grinned impishly. I don’t know how many moms are as naughty as mine, or if they’re just mainly mischievous. “I remember hearing that one time, on an airline that had older people running it, the pilot said to the passengers, ‘The lights are dimmed to improve your experience if you get tired and to enhance the appearance of the wait staff.’”

“Are you sure?”

“Something like that.”

If she’d approached us with lemon cookies and a huge white smile, I’d have run away fast in the other direction and nicknamed her CreepyGirl. But she hadn’t. She approached us with biscotti and a snigger at our expressions when we’d learned the too-obvious way why her cat was named Cat-Flat. I wasn’t fazed. Well, I was fazed, but that was because of the cat fumes.

I went outside, took flight and  scanned the forest below until I found a clearing. I landed, went home, and mapped it out on paper. Then I used the photocopier, stolen from humans by a Water Anoki with an invisibility spell (and a camera—he took a picture of their faces), to copy it about a million times. I folded them up and stuck them in a bag. I wrote out:

Magic School—All Elements, 9:00-6:00

Schedule: Stay as long as you like throughout the long school day and come as you like. Hiring and registering! Taught by Star Anoki Amanda Unger.

All ages, all elements. 5$ per student per day. Outside, rain or shine, in mapped clearing. Contact me at amandarocks@anokmail.com for more info.

I decided that I might have to make a new email for the school. I erased Amandarocks@anokmail.com and went to the email site. Yes, Anoki have their own email domain. We could have used the humans’, but that would have prevented us from building a website housing a reputation as superstition geeks by making email themes with blurry pictures of Anoki. I know why they’re blurry, too; it’s because the person holding the camera is laughing so hard when they take the picture.

I replaced amandarocks@anokmail.com with starmagicschool@anokmail.com. Scrabbling around for something to shove the maps in, I found an empty Ziploc bag and stapled it to the poster I’d written out. I shoved the maps in the bag and flew (literally) to the grocery store bulletin board. The Skiea tribe was much smaller than the Zepha tribe and lacked the huge money-making megamall, but it did have a pretty big population anyway, and a lot of kids. In case you haven’t caught on, I have a thing for kids. Yeah, I was definitely here.

I went home. I read my book for about an hour, then, on a whim, went to check my email. There were three new messages:

Do you teach Water magic? –mycrazypuffycat@anokmail.com

count me in 🙂 –leafyjaniegirl@anokmail.com

hey Mrs. Unger im gonna join ur school  –imnotschizo@anokmail.com

I responded to each of them. I gave the last one special attention.

Imnotschizo, when I email teachers, I don’t usually use chat speak. And, um… I’m not married. (This is not a proposal.)

I left for the clearing. I didn’t know if anybody would be there already or not—I hadn’t specified a time—but if people were over there, I didn’t want to miss them.

Good thing I did, because five kids had already showed up. Word had traveled of what I’d done in the Zepha and Kliid tribes. People watched. Kind of creepy, really.

But it was twenty-five bucks. I spent the day dodging fireballs and saying shield spells so fast that the words became a blur. This was probably the reason humans thought that all spells had to be some gibberish in a secret language. It makes me crack up.

I was exhausted when I went home. Completely and utterly exhausted. I was also sick of seeing wet sneakers from failed Water spells, sick of seeing people stomping out embers and patting scorched clothes from Fire spells, sick of those little green-and-purple spots blinding me periodically from Light spells, sick of watching someone crack the same stupid joke again and again from Time spells that went wrong (or just because the kid keeps doing it, which is worse, because I can reverse Time spells), and sick of having kids get caught up in their own Air tornadoes, getting dizzy, sick, and throwing up, and then having to pull leaves over it and making ginger extract. And I wanted to do it for weeks on end.

The next day I had fifteen kids. Apparently the Skiea tribe was more magically diverse, or maybe just a hideout for the more weirdly talented Anoki. Or they’d all got caught up in my mom’s magic and were doing the magical equivalent of sitting in radioactive waste. Yeah, that sounded more like my life.

“Kiera! You cannot set your brother on fire! Now sit down, or I’ll really teach you how to fly.”

Kiera sat down quickly, grinning broadly. I turned to another kid, who was intentionally making someone throw up. Sheesh. I grabbed his shirt and pretended to Super-Glue him to the forest floor. I wasn’t mean enough yet to try my mom’s spell, but I was getting close.

“Hey guys, how about a talent show?” I called. “Everybody sit down.”

Everybody… ignored me.

“EVERYBODY SIT DOWN,” I said, and everybody sat down. Immediately.

“Show me what you can do. Up here. Let’s see, who to pick on first?” I scanned the squirming kids, most of them around Tony’s age. “Lina, how about you?”

Lina got up. “I can make a level four hurricane,” she offered.

“Maybe something a little less dangerous that won’t cause us to drown?” I suggested. Lina was an adorable blonde girl, yes, but she was also the Water version of a pyromaniac.

“I’ll make tea from poison, then. Safe tea.” She pulled out a jug from her backpack. “This is the most dangerous stuff a kid can find anywhere. Assassins use it all the time. It’s tasteless, fast, and deadly.”

I was really questioning this kid’s parental supervision.

She poured some poison into a Dixie cup. We’d used them for juice. The poison was a nondescript brown color. Lena flexed her fingers, muttered some spells I couldn’t hear (uh oh), and the poison turned clear. Not that that meant squat. Lena set some branches on the ground, lit them by magic (YIKES), and set the Dixie cup in the flames without burning herself or the glass. Its contents bubbled. Lena grew some plants, picked some leaves, and dropped them in the (water?).  She was really starting to scare me. A minute later, she had some tea, which she fed to a rabbit that did not fall over, dead. We’d waited five minutes in horror.

“It would have died by now, guys!”

None of us questioned how she knew this. Then she fed the actual poison to the rabbit, and it slumped to the ground, dead, after thirty seconds.

“Okay, guys! Let’s give her a hand and everyone remind me to make my own tea!” I made a mental note never to do Star magic around Lena. She’s creepy without making up spells—as is.

“Make your own tea!” several voices chorused.

I laughed at them. This was definitely not normal school. It was much more controlled… and better air conditioned. Not that I was using cooling spells. I smiled. I could definitely do this for a while. Maybe a long while. And if not… I can find my own entertainment. Insert evil grin here.

I don’t know what else to tell you, but if you want to know more about magic…

…meet me in the clearing.

The End

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at 9:11 pm and is filed under Star. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Chapter Eleven–Let’s Load Up the Van… I Mean, the Flying Kid”

  1. Matthew C. Kriner
    11:12 am on January 13th, 2011

    awesome blog, do you have a twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks.

  2. Writer
    3:36 pm on January 20th, 2011

    Twitter and Facebook are for people who have no lives.

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