Helkey 1 — The Memory Draught

Having parts of your memory selectively erased is not fun. Not fun at all.

I’m sitting here in fracking Starbucks, watching the damned almond milk in my coffee swirl into a dizzying tempest. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t for the life of me remember what I was thinking about only a minute ago. I’m sure it was important. Otherwise, both my parents wouldn’t be sitting here at this table with me – concern settling over their faces. Worse, there are nagging lost patches. Missing spaces in my recollection of weeks, months, even years gone by. It’s as if my recall has been hit with buckshot and big pieces of my past are now all blown to smithereens.

(Reading via video blog)

I remember taking my AP English finals a few days ago, for sure. Whatever had swiped my memory hadn’t spared me that ordeal. All the pretentious questions and annoying rote bits I had to ‘creatively’ rephrase as if a hundred million students across the world hadn’t done the same thing a bazillion times over. But I can’t at all remember the drive to school or even whether I took the bus that day. It goes on – my fifteenth birthday party two years ago is perfectly clear, complete with the spectacular surprise fireworks launched over the beach by dad as my mischievously grinning fellow ‘gamer-girl’ friends ran a candle-studded D20 cake out to me. But the walk I took later that night with mom is mostly blanked out. All I remember is the start and end of another of her seaside chats – but none of the meat of what passed between us.

I feel robbed and alone. Alone even though both my parents are sitting directly across from me, eyeing me over their own broad and steaming mugs. Their scrutiny makes me feel paralyzed, helpless, and compared to them, ignorant. It’s fracking embarrassing. As if I’m under special, home-care, medical observation. And I don’t even know why.

A few rays cast off by the setting sun stream through the rain-spattered Starbucks window. They shoot out through a break in the clouds and warm my left arm – which immediately begins to itch. I shift the arm away from the light, ignoring the impulse to scratch.

I know why it itches – there’s a mostly invisible magical tattoo etched in my flesh. One that tingles irritably in sunlight or flickers with dark sparks by the light of the moon. An arching and swooping channel for the energy of stored curses all linked to one, powerful, central curse. But I can’t recall what that power is to be used for or, or where it comes from, or how it will manifest. It’s a really important bit to remember, I’m sure. Like any one of us forgetting the password to our smartphone at the exact time we need to call 911.

I pat at my head. Gently probing for damage. Wondering why it aches so badly as I scan the room. Everyone’s just going about their business, taking no notice of myself or my two odd-bird parents across the table from me.

“What the hell were we just talking about anyway?” I ask my dad.

He’s a thin, wiry guy named Robert Mori. About 5’ 11”. Dark hair all spikey and disheveled. His perpetual wry, ironic grin that kind of says – ‘I know Murphy’s a bastard… but yeah, shit gonna happen, so you might as well just grin about it and deal’ painting his face. He turns to my mom – Beatrice Lushael – with eyebrows raised. Her white skin, mithril hair, pale outfit, silver scabbarded rapier, and light-gray boots contrast with his navy jeans, T-shirt, and black leather jacket. Where he’s got the whole cool, edgy writer dude who looks like he owns a motorcycle and listens to heavy metal thing going on, she has an entirely otherworldly vibe. Like her diminutive 5’ 4” frame was instantly teleported out of some different time or place. A where or when full of people that vaguely look like elves or angels or Kryptonians or Vulcans or some other idealized fictional re-rendering of us regular humans.

Me? I’m Myra. Myra Helkey.

I share my dad’s dark, spikey doo. But it is almost shoulder length now and I recently dyed streaks of it red. I sprouted past mom’s height by age 14 and now have at least three inches on her. Regarding my reflection in the pane of glass, I thumb my spiked wrist-band. The combat boots, black leggings, shades of imperial blue flannel shirt unbuttoned with the arms rolled up and a fiery phoenix white T underneath I guess combine to make me look like a tough girl. That or just another punk-ass geek. Although for some reason I wonder if I should have just gone full-out unholy. It feels like an unholy kind of day.

“Looks like it worked,” Mori says in his gravelly voice.

“Yee-ep,” Beatrice replies, somehow musically, a thin smirk gracing her waifish face, “the kid is in the zone.”

My own face must be saying WTF??? in about a hundred ways because she giggles at me.

“Myra, you have the absolute best range of expressions. I can read your mind just by looking at you. You must get it from Mori.” She gently pokes me on my still-aching forehead. It actually starts to feel better when she touches it. Coolness soothing out from the point of soft impact. But I’m still annoyed.

To this, my dad caws out one of his harsh laughs. But he pats my arm reassuringly and says “Be nice, Beatrice. You know it’s one hell of a shock. Give the kid a break, OK?”

“Are you guys gonna key me in or just keep laughing at me and pretending I’m not here?” I’m really getting pissed. And the general continued sense of disorientation isn’t helping. My folks are great and all. Probably some of the best – and that ain’t even half the story. But they sometimes really seem to enjoy jerking peoples’ chains. Even if people, in this case, includes their daughter.

My father turns to me, his dark eyes assessing, revealing mild concern. “Myra, you remember the plan at least, don’t ya? The memory draught?”

Beatrice uncurls her fingers to show a small vial with a purplish liquid sloshing around in it before rolling it back up into her hand – out of sight. Apparently, no-one but the three of us conspirators at the corner table sees any of it. The sight of the memory draught sets off a slow-motion recognition-shock in my already addled brain that takes a few seconds to run its course.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *         *        *        *        *        *        *        *

If you hadn’t already guessed from all the obvious weirdness going down, the memory draught reference should’ve clued you in that something isn’t quite right and that we ain’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. But considering how much trouble I’m having catching up, I can understand how you might be a little confused yourself. So, let me just lay it out on the table for ya: my parents are both mages. Even sensitive items like memory draughts are a part of their all-too-supernatural business, and by extension, mine.

You see, I’m a mage too.

That’s it. Me and my folks are mages. Weird mage people with weird mage names doing weird mage things. Names? You may have wondered about those. My parents and I don’t share names like regular people. Well, in the mundane world we do. There we’re all the Hansens. Boring! But our real names, our mage names, each have a meaning that keys into the source and manifestation of our power. In short, my dad’s name – Mori – means to kill or to die. Pretty ominous, huh? Lushael is a really strange one – it means rain of stars. Yeah. Kinda badass and poetic at the same time – which defines mom to a T. And me, well my name – Helkey – should have a pretty obvious meaning.

We’re all mages and we’re all pretty much constantly involved in some kind of magical drama – be it simple or dastardly complex. For example, twenty minutes ago my mom just waltzed on into Starbucks armed with a deadly-sharp rapier completely unnoticed. Such a thing may seem weird and wildly illegal to you. Something likely to result in arrest or at least some serious questioning at the local down-town police station. But it’s no big deal for mage-types like her. She does it all the time. In fact, considering that various extremely nasty beings might pop up on her unawares at any given moment it’s abso-figgin-lutely necessary that she carry such an item. Besides, it’s no trouble for her to hide the blade’s existence from most casual onlookers. A simple ignore it curse is all she needs to distract the attention of pretty much every mundane away from the lethal 36-inch length of sharpened, enchanted metal dangling from her belt. And that Beatrice is a real master curse-crafter – so don’t get on her bad side, clue?

But a magical contraband memory draught is something on a whole ‘nother level. A sensitive item like that might draw some real attention if any other weirdos like us happen to be lurking around. They might start asking questions and that’s best avoided because those things are dangerous and powerful. Possibly personality-altering. Even the best-channeled ones can be unreliable. They are supposed to be temporary. But the effects can last for any period from hours to years. And parents administering such potent potables to teen-age kids like little ol’ me might be seen as abusive by an outsider.

And besides, even if I’m still not yet cluing in, we obviously do have a plan. A very secret one if I’ve just been given a memory draught chased down with a Starbucks coffee. If mom and dad have given me one of those, big ba-da-boom to the ol’ brain, things, it would be for one heck of a good reason. Which probably means that what I knew before I took the draught was self-endangering.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

My shoulders slump and I settle deeper into my chair as realization begins to spark in my addled brain. I’m feeling kinda sick and unable to force myself to drink the rest of the strong-smelling brew before me. I also feel like a bomb just went off nearby – even though the shop is full of lively, happy, and amicably-chatting, if somehow-foreign, people and not strewn with prone bodies and shattered glass in a tinnitus-ringing aftermath. My stomach does a loop-de-loop like those big upside-down curves of the Lock Ness Monster roller coaster at Bush Gardens.

The plan!

“Holy shit!” I say, perhaps too loudly due to my sudden, shock-inducing recollection:


Mori cracks his best raven-jawed smile and Beatrice nods solemnly. “That, my girl, is indeed the plan,” he replies.

(Want to read the second chapter? Follow this link.)

(Looking for another chapter? You can find it here.)

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  1. I’m so glad to see you writing a new scifi/fantasy piece! I’ve missed seeing your books on the shelves; looking forward to reading this one too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Emi! So good to hear from you! I’m excited to get working on this project. And, yeah, it has been a while. Thanks for dropping in to inspire.


  1. Helkey 2 — The Golden Throne | The Blood of Oesha
  2. Helkey Table of Contents | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  3. Helkey Launch — Modern Climate Fantasy and Stealing Secrets from the Devil | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  4. Helkey 2 — The Golden Throne | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  5. Helkey 3 — A Gilded Tower Among the Pyrocumulus | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  6. Helkey 4 — Greenwash Interns | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  7. Helkey 5 – Hell Gate in the Arch of Time | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  8. Helkey 6 – Exorcising the Demon-Wolf | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  9. Arisen Worlds in Discordant Entanglement — Hell, Earth, Heaven | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  10. Helkey 7 – A Mirror Specter on the Beach of Infernia | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  11. Helkey 8 — Saving Mottle | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  12. The Mysteries of Myra’s Magical Tattoo as Name Curse | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  13. Helkey 9 — St Mary’s Healing Angel | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  14. Helkey — Curses | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  15. Helkey 10 — Appeals to a Wolf’s Heart and Baiting the Devil | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  16. A Curse Rider Goes Forth | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  17. Helkey 12 — Strange Dreams and Stranger Food | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  18. Helkey 13 — Devil Poachers | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  19. Helkey 14 — Liberator of Souls | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  20. Helkey 15 — Ivan the Troll Quits Church, Gets Triggered | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  21. Helkey 16 — Glenda Goodfuture and the Solar Train to Denmark | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  22. Helkey 17 — Gibbens Crane Ghosts Jet Blue | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  23. Helkey 18 — Devil-Hunted Tracks | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  24. Helkey 19 — A Rebellion in Hell | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  25. Helkey 20 — Devil Drivers in a Button Hook | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  26. Helkey 21 — The Wisp Fields of Knife Lake | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  27. Helkey 22 — Ill-Fated Company | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  28. Helkey 23 — Queen of Drivers and Overseers | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  29. Helkey 24 — Flight to Esbjerg With a Helter-Skelter Nightmare in the Sky | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  30. Helkey 25 — Mobile Holy Ground | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  31. Helkey 26 — Fire and Escape | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  32. Helkey 27 — Into the North Sea’s Jagged Teeth | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  33. Helkey 28 — Curse Rider on a Kaiju Storm | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  34. Helkey 29 — Battle of Sunken Crag, A Devils’ Dance | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  35. Battle of Sunken Crag, Predators’ Games | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  36. Helkey 31 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Desperate Moves | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  37. Helkey 32 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Thunderbolts Rise | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  38. Helkey 33 — The Battle of Sunken Crag, Dark Web Revelations | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  39. Helkey 34 — The Battle of Sunken Crag, Darkest Pit, Brightest Light | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  40. Gish Optimized 6: The Barbarian Hellblade Tank, Myra Helkey | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  41. Helkey 35 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Hell’s Platform | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  42. Chapter 36 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Belonging to the Kingdom of the Dead | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop
  43. Helkey 37 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Sea Wolf | Scribbler’s Fantastical Workshop

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