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Silver Bullet -- Lessons

Today we turned in the final version of Silver Bullet so that it will be out in the fall. Just the copyedits to go!

In celebration of that milestone, I thought I'd post a piece from early in the book. This directly follows the scene I posted a while back, Sheeply Misadvantures.

In which Stasi is teaching Lewis how to use his abilities, and a crisis intervenes. I would really love to hear what you think of the lesson and of unwinding events!

Alma stuck her head around the kitchen door. "How's it going?"

Stasi gathered all the cards up and was shuffling again. "Lewis is going to read for me," she said. "His very first reading."

"That sounds interesting," Alma said. "Do you mind if I watch?"

"Not if Lewis doesn't," Stasi said.

"Sure. Great. If you want." Lewis got up and pulled out a chair for her. "Sit down."

Alma sat down. "So what are you reading on?"

"I'm not going to tell him the question," Stasi said. "I always read blind."

Alma's brow twitched. "And that's a mark of a very confident clairvoyant," she said to Lewis. "I always need to know the question."

"Do you read?"

"I'm terrible at it," Alma said cheerfully. "I've tried, but it's not at all my medium. I dowse." She shrugged. "Different skills."

"Oh yes." Stasi handed Lewis the shuffled deck with a smile. "Now, what I want you to do is shuffle the cards while I think about the question."

"This doesn’t have sheep trucks in it, right?"

"I promise it's a fair question," Stasi said. She gave him an insouciant grin. "About things that are, not probabilities."


"What I do is close my eyes while I shuffle, or let them defocus a little, and just think about the person asking. I don't try to guess what their question is. I don't try to make the cards do anything. I just open a conduit. I think about them. I repeat their name over and over in my head while holding as clear a mental picture of them as I can."

"I can do that." Lewis closed his eyes, feeling the cards slick in his hands. Warm. Were they supposed to be warm? They were paper. How could they be warm? Stasi. Concentrate. Stasi. Stasi Stasi Stasi. Was that her real name? Would it work if he didn't use her real name? Stasi. Stasi Stasi Stasi. Put Stasi in the cards. Put the thing she was asking in the cards. Stasi. Stasi. Try to see her in his mind. Put her in the cards. Stasi. Stasi.

"I think you have it," she said.

He opened his eyes. The deck was warm in his hands. "It feels hot," he said.

She nodded. "Good. That's good. Lots of people perceive energy as heat. Go ahead and turn the first one over. It's the central issue, the heart of the matter."

Lewis turned the card and put it down. "Ok, that's weird." A man hung upside down from a tree, suspended by one ankle with his hands tied behind him, a halo around his head. A story. A story about it. "Like St. Peter?" he said. "Upside down on a cross?"

"Sacrifice," Stasi said. "To be or have been the sacrifice. That's the Hanged Man."

Alma stirred in her chair. "This is a Rider-Waite deck, coming out of the Golden Dawn, the same lodge tradition we follow. The poet W.B. Yeats, who did belong to the Golden Dawn, by the way, connected the Hanged Man to the story of the Fisher King, the Grail King. I think that symbolism is inherent in this deck."

"I would agree," Stasi said. She didn’t look at Alma.

"I don't know that story," Lewis said.

"Turn the card, darling. Turn the next one and put it across. That's the challenge to the situation."

"Ok." Lewis tensed, expecting something awful. But it wasn't. A woman sat enthroned in profile, a sword in her hands upraised before her as if to prevent anyone from coming too close, while behind her clouds roiled and birds soared.

"Queen of Swords," Alma said.

"You know them?" Lewis asked. "I thought you didn’t do this."

"I can't read them," Alma said. "I know the symbols from years of working as a Hermeticist. But I can’t actually do the reading." She tapped the card with one finger. "The Queen of Swords, a woman of intelligence and courage, perhaps a widow or a woman who has lost her child, quick on her feet and keen as a blade. The Lady of Air, storm and sunrise and all things that soar."

"That's beautiful," Lewis said.

From the living room there was the sudden ringing of the telephone cutting across everything.

"Who would be calling at this time of night?" Alma wondered.

"I don't know," Lewis said, glancing at his watch. "It's nearly nine."

There was the sound of Mitch's voice answering, a rumble he couldn’t quite make out over the radio. A long conversation, it sounded like. Apprehension uncurled, winding its way down Lewis' back. He got to his feet, putting the deck down on the table in front of Stasi. He went down the hall and hovered in the doorway.

Mitch was frowning into the phone. "Yes, of course," he said. "We can be there by midnight. We'll follow 501 South on the Beaver Creek side to Pueblo. And then 50 out to Florence."

"Who's going to Pueblo?" Al asked.

Mitch was scribbling notes with a pencil on the back of the newspaper. "And then back up on the other side of Beaver Creek to Cheyenne Mountain. Got it."

A grid, Lewis thought. An air grid for search and rescue. Adrenaline shot through his body, and the next words confirmed it.

"We've got it, Colonel Sampson," Mitch said. "Yes, sir." He hung up.

"What happened?" Alma asked.

Mitch straightened up. "That was Colonel Sampson with the Reserves in Denver," he said. "There's a plane missing. It was on its way from Flagstaff to Denver and it's six hours overdue. Nobody's called, nobody's seen it. So we have to assume it's down." He looked at Lewis. "We're called as reservists. I've got our section of the grid going south from Colorado Springs and working our way west."

"Will you be able to see in the dark?" Stasi asked. "How are you going to see in the dark?"

"The moon's two days past full," Mitch said. "And there's snowcover in the mountains. We'll be able to see." He looked at Lewis. "You game?"

"Of course," Lewis said. "Let me run upstairs and put on heavier clothes."

"Me too," Mitch said. "It's going to be a little chilly."

"It's twenty degrees out there!" Stasi said. "And the middle of the night!"

"That's why we need to find them," Mitch said. He looked at Lewis, worry written all over him. "We know them. It's a Comanche Air plane. Paul Rayburn's the pilot."

"Oh crap," Lewis said. Rayburn was a good pilot, he’d proved that in the Great Passenger Derby, and if he was six hours late something had gone pear shaped. "Let's go get them," he said. He didn't add, and hope they're still in one piece to get.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
Now! Now! Now! Whew, okay, that's out of my system.

I liked the little details. Lewis wondering if using a probably fake name will work and Stasi knew when Lewis had 'it'.
Jul. 8th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you're excited! :)

We all wonder what Stasi's real name is. I actually have no idea! In Silver Bullet we find out she was using the name Judy Denisov when she was in Tijuana, but that's not her real name either. (Since Denisov is another character in War and Peace!)
Jul. 7th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
Sigh. Silver Bullet can NOT get here quick enough! I'm interested to see how Stasi will fit into the group dynamic, especially since I don't think that Jerry has warmed up to her in any serious way.

Can't wait to see the guys being rescue aviators!
Jul. 8th, 2013 02:44 pm (UTC)
No, Jerry's not really warming up to Stasi! And the rumor of their engagement pursuing him doesn't really help. On the other hand, someone else is warming up to Stasi nicely.... :)

I love the rescue aviation in Silver Bullet. Melissa wrote most of that, and it's really top notch.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )