Watching an idea unfurl its tiny wings after being hatched, and then nurturing that idea until it is on the cusp of flight is nerve-wracking and awesome. Releasing it into the wind, hoping that it soars and survives until it creates tiny ideas of its own is every thinkers dream. On the other hand, having a tiny, malformed idea leap from the safety of your brain and plummet to its death in the fiery pits of “hell, no!” is devastating. When you’ve experienced it once, you began to develop a severe aversion to all things related to defeat. Kakorrhaphiophobia, as far as I know, is defined as the fear of failure. Standing outside of my house, in the blazing sunlight, staring at the sleek, unnecessarily long, black sedan Atlantia sent for us was making me develop a severe case of kakorrhaphiophobia, to use the word in a sentence.
“This is a bad idea,” I warned my companions. “We’re going to fail to meet her standards and expectations, and I have a strong aversion to failure of any kind; therefore, this is a baaaaad idea.” I made sure to stress the word “bad” just so they’d know I was serious.
Sami winced. “I did apologize for failing the spell.”
“No,” I replied to the contrite woman. “No, you did not. You apologized for killing me, which is not the same thing!”
“You guys,” Kenzie broke in. “I think we’re scaring the nice driver man. We don’t want to scare the nice driver man; he could drive us into an alley and violently murder us. Some of us. Let’s not anger the nice driver man.”
“I like this kid,” Book chimed in blithely. “Keep this kid. Learn from this kid.”
“I’m not getting in this car,” I proclaimed. “I’m developing symptoms of sudden onset I-can’t-get-in-this-car disease. And, I fear, that it is catching. Y’all feel anything?” I glanced around hopefully. “Anybody? Anybody at all?” I stomped my foot, or tried to; it sank a couple of inches beneath the concrete in my driveway, and I frowned. “See? I might fly out of the car if I try to ride in it!”
The driver frowned and looked in my general direction, waving a hand near his ear, as if shooing away a bug. He was White, middle-aged, mostly human, and wearing a very strained smile on his face. Somewhere in his ancestry was a witch; he could almost see and hear me, and it was beginning to worry him. A frown line was appearing in his tanned forehead that his shaggy blonde hair did not quite cover. He scratched at his armpit through his shiny black undertaker suit with his free hand. His other hand was occupied with holding the back door open for us, silently urging us to get in, shut up, and ride. Which, of course, we weren’t doing in an orderly, timely fashion. I assumed we were on a schedule, the details of which my mother did not deign to inform us of. Pouting, I glared at Sami.
“You have to anchor me.”
“If you lose me, I’ll haunt you.”
“I know, Master.”
“Keep a tight hold on my bag. It contains everything I might need if one of you has to cast a retrieval spe-”
“Yes, Kiera, dammit! I know! Just get in the car!”
I got in the car albeit slowly and making sure to loudly voice my displeasure. Kenzie got in first, sliding all the way over to the door on the opposite side. Sami grunted and scooched me into the middle section of the backseat before making herself small against me. I had to hand it to the the driver, though. Other than an involuntary twitch of surprise at Sami’s outburst, he made no sounds or sudden moves, and did not ask about the “empty” space that Sami and Kenzie were straining away from. I did hear him mutter, “These Northern gals have some strange way about them,” under his breath as he closed the door behind us, but paid it no mind. I only hoped that Atlantia planned to tip him well for his services.
The car ride was smooth, though it took longer than I remembered. Had it really been that long since I’d laid eyes on my home? Had it not been for finding out about possibly gaining a new body, the time lapse most likely would have been even longer. Especially now that I knew I never truly escaped my mother’s clutches.
As the streets and buildings began to look familiar and trigger rather unpleasant memories, I fidgeted, wishing that, just this once, I could fade on command and slip right out of the moving vehicle.
“I knew you were scared of the Headmistress,” Kenzie practically sang. “I knew it! You’re human, after all.”
“Who asked you?” I snapped.
The gleaming metal gates loomed before us. Astonishingly, I instantly became heavily solid, and started to sweat. I saw the driver’s eyebrow go up in surprise in the rear view mirror; wisely, he said nothing. I felt a vibration in my bones, the likes of which I’d never before felt. My stomach churned, and my heart, which, technically, I no longer had, began to slam against my ribcage. The interior of the car suddenly felt small and restrictive.
“I have to get out of here.” I didn’t recognize my own voice. It sounded tiny, tinny, and frightened. “You guys, I have to get out of here. Let me out. Please. Let me out!” I thumped on the clear divider that separated us form the driver. “Stop the car. Stop the car! I have to get out! Let me out!” I punctuated my distress with an open-handed slap against the strong, clear material. A thin crack appeared and spider-webbed outward in a size and shape that vaguely matched my palm.
“Whoa, Boss Lady, chill out!” Kenzie attempted to grab my hands. “Sami, help me!” But even I could see that Samilla would be no help.
She’d fixed her gaze on some faraway point in the distance, and her skin looked gray and drained of blood. Her lips were moving, but words weren’t coming out. As I observed, fighting against my own rising panic, Sami began to sway and shiver.
“Well,” Book chirped, soundly oddly cheerful, “I’m approximately ninety-nine percent certain that that is not supposed to happen.”