Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Snippet: 8.3.07

This continues the Winchester Mystery House part, and I'm starting to think that I will leave it in the next draft, but as a flashback instead of as part of the current timeline. So... if this story gets published (when! think positive - when.) expect some fairly significant changes to this part.

And to clear up any confusion from last week, much though I would like to take credit for thinking up the Winchester Mystery House, it is a real site in San Jose, CA, and I have been there several times. All of the things I describe in it (except for the part below about Sarah having magic) are a case of fact being stranger than fiction.

Reminder: This material is copyrighted by me, and is still in draft form. It may be altered or even cut before the final, hopefully published, version. Please do not reproduce it anywhere, in any form.

The girl’s head jerked up as she felt her balance shift. She panicked and unbalanced herself even more. I had lurched into a run the moment her feet left the ground, but she was now toppling forward towards the garden two stories below. I was never going to reach her in time, as long as she kept falling at a normal speed.

I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on a spell.

When I looked back up, the girl was still falling. The difference was that she was now floating gently, the way a feather would. I kept running. Since she was now as light as a feather, my arrival caused enough of a wind to push her a bit further out the window. I grabbed her leg before any more errant breezes could carry her out of reach

Her own instinctive flailing got her feet back under her, though they were still well above the ground. I gave her a good shove toward the ground, canceling the Feather spell as I let go.

I heard footsteps pounding in the hall and looked up to see a tour guide running toward me—Melissa, according to her name tag, the same tour guide I had ditched earlier.

“What happened?” She was out of breath, but the question was easy enough to understand.

“I don’t know.” I paused, searching for an excuse she was likely to believe. “I had stopped to tie my shoe, and thought I heard singing. I followed the sound, and it led me to this window.”

Melissa gasped and rushed to the window. “This window is supposed to be kept locked!” She locked the window as she spoke, then spun and scowled up at me. I cut her off before she could accuse me of opening it.

“I didn’t see who opened it. When I reached her, this little girl was already leaning out, trying to catch a butterfly.”

“Oh!” The guide caught her breath, and a look of horror replaced the accusatory glare. Her gaze suddenly shifted past me, and I turned to see the rest of the tour milling uncertainly in the hall. The girl took advantage of my distraction to grab my leg again.

“Just some of our resident ghosts playing a trick on me,” Melissa said behind me. Her gaze was still fixed on the tour, but the fake smile now plastered on her face didn’t quite manage to hide the shock in her eyes. “Head on back down the stairs now, and we’ll finish our tour.”

She waved them along, and the tour group ambled off muttering to each other.

“We need to get her back to the entrance as soon as possible. Would you take her?” She didn’t wait for an answer. I hadn’t expected her to.

I nodded as we left the room. Fortunately she was no longer screaming, though her grip was starting to cut off circulation to my fingers and her already large brown eyes were wide with apprehension. It was all I could manage to not squeeze her hand back with equal force as we started down the staircase; the two-inch deep steps were annoying to walk down on a good day. Descending it with a young girl clinging to my hand was even worse than normal.

Melissa stopped me again just inside the ballroom. The smile on her face now was a lot more realistic than the one she’d worn earlier.

“Through that door,” she said softly. “And thank goodness for the ghosts.”

I don’t believe the ghost stories that the tour guides spout to keep the guests entertained. If you believe them, Sarah Winchester built the mystery house to confuse angry spirits who had already killed her husband and child. That was nonsense.

Sarah Winchester built the house because no one taught her how to be a Watcher.

When I first started getting the hunches that mark me as a Watcher, I could get so distracted by them that I lost track of where I was. It took a little while for anyone to notice that something was wrong, as neither of my parents are Watchers. They originally thought it was just part of my becoming a teenage girl, along with the random fits of tears and hysteria. It wasn’t until a family reunion that my uncle figured out it was time to train me to follow in his footsteps.

If no one had trained me, the alarms going off inside my head would have eventually driven me insane.

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