October 23

Fictober, Prompt 23 – “You can’t give more than yourself.”

Warnings: implied violent deaths? Nothing onscreen. Fantasy, rural fantasy if that’s a thing. Not quite midwest gothic, but leaning that direction.


Abby paced, agitated and upset, and I could only watch, sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of hot cider to warm my hands. Hers sat abandoned across from me.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said again, stopping only to stare out the window at the rapidly darkening corn fields. “And I’ve got to decide soon, the ritual is in three hours.”

I frowned down at my mug, lips pressed together. I didn’t like the group she was part of, especially the man leading it, but just because she was my sister didn’t mean I could interfere. She had to make her own decisions.

“I’ve learned so much already,” she said, back to pacing. I nodded, still frowning at my mug. That much was true; Abby had been able to harness her strange powers much better, with better control, than she had before, and that was certainly a boon for all of us. It wasn’t that I thought the group was all bad, but something about this ‘ritual’ of theirs made me uneasy. It was supposed to be some cross between a final exam and a party, the leader had told her several weeks ago, a chance to use their new skills and boost their power, and then celebrate.

“I’m not going to tell you what to do,” I told her, my first words in quite some time. She stopped pacing, sighed, and came back to the table at last, reaching out a tentative hand to cover mine where they still clutched at my mug.

“I know you don’t like any of it,” she said.

I shrugged. “You’ve learned a lot, like you said. I don’t like the sound of this ritual, but what I don’t like even more is that you’re not sure about it. That’s the thing you should pay attention to, not what I think.”

Abby blew out a breath and sat back. “I guess you’re right. It’s probably all your fault that I’m feeling weird about it anyway.”

I shrugged again.

“But…I don’t know. Something about it, about the way Master Barrett talks about it sounds a little, well, strange,” she admitted. “Like the sequence of events sounds fine, and it’s fine when the rest of us talk about it, but when he does, it’s just…”

“Which words he uses?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she said, frowning at me now. Not angry, more thoughtful. “Yeah, something like that.”

I grimaced again, but held my tongue. That was one of the things that had sparked my intense dislike of ‘Master Barrett’ shortly after he’d wandered into town several months ago. He’d soon set up camp in the Dirksen’s pole barn and offered to teach those who needed teaching in magical things, and soon enough everyone was chattering about him as though he were the best thing since sliced bread. But whenever I listened to him speak, I couldn’t help but hear double-meanings in his words, and I didn’t like it.

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