Silver Flash Fic

Continuing with the Amethyst Saga with more from Dylan’s POV, 1000 words using; a full moon, an iron gate, suitcase

 

As conferences went, this one was uncomfortable. The two families sat around the large table in the Cunninghams’ kitchen, and no one said a word. Dylan scowled out of the window. The full moon cast strange shadows, and they’d turned the old iron gate to the orchard into modern sculpture. His coffee had cooled, so he sent a trickle of energy through it to heat it up. Beside him, David flinched.

 

“Sorry,” Dylan muttered.

 

“Not a problem,” David said quietly. “Just took me by surprise, that’s all.”

 

“You can feel it when I use the gift?”

 

“Yes. Like a nail down a chalkboard.” He chuckled. “I’m more sensitive to—Damn it!” He screwed up his face as if in pain, and Dylan winced in sympathy.

 

“Davy?” His mother leaned closer. “Are you all right?”

 

“Yes, Mum.”

 

“This is getting us nowhere,” Ruth announced. “We wanted to send Dylan to Megan in Bath. I think they should both go.”

 

Colin nodded. “My sister has room enough, and she’s all for keeping Dylan out of the Institute’s way.” A murmur of agreement ran around the table, but David stirred uneasily.

 

“That might not be a good idea,” he said.

 

“Why not?” Colin demanded. “Seems like the perfect solution to me. They can pack a suitcase and go tonight. There are so many sacred places there, you’ll be well-shielded.”

 

“Exactly. They—” David stopped, lips pressed into a thin pale line. “It’s a-an obvious p-p-place— Sorry. I can’t!”

 

“It’s okay,” Dylan said quickly, shooting his father a glare. “Take it easy. Just nod or shake your head: the PI know Bath is a haven for Unregistereds?”

 

He nodded, looking as if he was about to throw up.

 

“Do they carry out sweeps?” Charlie asked. Again David nodded, sweat standing out on his brow.

 

“Stopping anyone wearing sunglasses on a dull day?” Put like that it sounded stupid, but the reality of it chilled Dylan’s blood. David nodded, his breathing uneven.

 

“Never mind sunglasses,” Charlie growled. “I bet they get hold of the opticians’ records for the names and addresses of whoever buys tinted contact lenses.”

 

David nodded once and lunged from his chair. He made it to the cloakroom by the back door and Dylan could hear him retching. His own stomach heaved in sympathy.

 

“Wait a minute,” Colin said, his voice suddenly cold. “If David’s had his memories blocked or wiped, how come he knows that?”

 

“Because he’s fighting it,” Dylan snapped impatiently. “He’s trying to break free. Knock it off, Dad. Davy isn’t the enemy here. You’re as bad as Paul for jumping to conclusions.”

 

“I’m not accusing the boy of anything,” Colin said curtly. “I just—”

 

“I should hope not,” Charlie interrupted. “Davy’s a victim, damn it!”

 

“Whoa, whoa,” the two women said in chorus. “Calm down, everyone,” Ruth continued. “Whatever was done to him, Davy is obviously trying to help us.”

 

“I know that!” her husband said. “But maybe they did more than block his memories. Perhaps they planted something, a command, an instruction.”

 

“You’ve been reading the tabloids again,” Colin growled. “It makes sense the Institute will be watching Bath, and every other place where there are long traditions of worship. Stands to reason after all. Unregistereds will think they’re safe there, all that holy ground hiding their power signatures or whatever they are.”

 

“We have a common goal,” Patricia said. “Keeping our boys safe and out of the Institute’s clutches. Perhaps we should remember that and do something about it, with as much of their help as they can give us.”

 

David came back into the kitchen then, white as a sheet and visibly shaking. “Sorry,” he mumbled again. Dylan steadied him with a hand on his shoulder as he sank back into his chair.

 

“But they can’t stay here!” Ruth protested. “It’s too risky!”

 

“And if the Institute is keeping an eye on Davy somehow, if he ups and disappears, that’s going to catch their attention like a shot!”

 

The argument broke out around them and for a moment Dylan thought David was about to pass out. He leaned towards him until their foreheads were nearly touching. His friend’s hair was growing back, a cap of golden velvet, and Dylan wondered what it would feel like to stroke his fingertips over the new growth. He shoved the impulse away.

 

“Listen,” he said, voice no more than a whisper. “What do you want to do? Stay or go?”

 

“I don’t know,” David said as quietly. “Maybe the Adepts do keep an eye on-on— Damn it! We need books, better ones than those you have. They’re mostly superstition. I can show you…” He paused, but nothing seemed to happen and he sighed his relief. “Perhaps I can help you with your t-tal—”

 

“Talent?”

 

David gave a shaky smile. “Yeah. When we were kids we used to be able to pretty much guess what the other was thinking. If we could get that back, it might make a difference.”

 

“Yeah. But you’re blocked from your talents, so even if you could talk about it, how can you help me?”

 

David’s shoulders sagged, and he scrubbed wearily at his scalp. “Fuck it!” He stood up and thrust away from the table, his chair rocking back and clattering to the floor. “I have to break this!” He staggered and clutched his head. “God! The bastards—have to— They want—”

 

“Davy!” Patricia shot to her feet and reached for him but the table rose a foot in the air and slammed down. The Welsh dresser swayed, its drawers flew across the kitchen and plates, mugs, pots and pans became missiles. Everyone ducked for cover.

 

“Davy!”

 

Dylan grabbed hold of him, held him close. “It’s okay,” he said quietly. “It’s okay. We’ll find a way.” David slumped in his embrace and the kitchenware crashed to the floor in a jarring cacophony.

 

“So much for blocking his bloody talent,” Colin muttered.

 

 * * * * *

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Julie Hayes (m/m) http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com

Catriana Sommers http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com/

Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk

L. M. Brown (m/m) http://lmbrownauthor.blogspot.com/

Freddy MacKay (m/m) http://freddymackay.blogspot.com

Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/

West Thornhill (m/m) http://wthornhillauthor.blogspot.com/

Lindsay Klug (m/f) www.ichbineinteufel.blogspot.com

Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

Elyzabeth M. VaLey (m/f) http://inadreambeyond.blogspot.com/

More from my Amethyst Universe… Prompts used: key, paper, raw meat

 

Adept David Weston

 

I didn’t want to go further than our patch of the Forest. Not yet. Not until my hair had grown, at least. So I stayed around Dylan’s home and mine, and watched the wariness in our parents’ eyes gradually fade away. But I couldn’t hide forever, and a few days after my return Paul Grant turned up, wanting to know why Dylan hadn’t been around town. We were in the Cunninghams’ back orchard when Paul arrived, and his appalled expression when he saw me would have been funny if it hadn’t hurt so much. Regardless of Dylan’s assurances, the distrust in Paul’s eyes was painfully obvious. We’d been friends as children, not as close as Dylan and me, but good friends all the same. Now, despite my sun glasses, battered jeans and faded tee-shirt, my shaven head was enough to mark me as a potential threat as far as he was concerned. Dylan’s scowl didn’t help the situation.

 

“For God’s sake!” he snapped. “Dave is okay! I trust him, and I’m the one most at risk here. That should be good enough for you.”

 

“Sorry, but it isn’t. So he’s a PI reject–that isn’t going to stop him from running to them and shopping you!”

 

“I’m not going to shop anyone,” I said curtly. Luckily I had years of practise at keeping my temper, showing nothing of my true feelings. Somehow, I had to win him over. The support of Dylan’s friends could prove to be a key part of the mission First Weaver Sinclair had given me. “Least of all Dylan.”

 

Paul ignored me. “We knew him eleven years ago, when we were kids. They’ve had all that time to brainwash him. How come they’ve suddenly decided to chuck him out now? If he’s that much of a failure, it took them a bloody long time to find out he’s not up to their standards.”

 

“I’m a borderline case,” I said, squinting through the stab of pain in my temples.

 

“And you oh-so-conveniently can’t talk about it,” Paul sneered. “I don’t buy it, Weston.”

 

I didn’t hide my wince. “I’m sorry, Paul,” I said quietly, as sincerely as I could. “I wish there was something I could do or say to convince you I’m no threat to Dylan or anyone else. The Inst–” I broke off, took a deep breath and tried again. “The I-Inst-t–”

 

“See? That’s what I mean!” Paul pushed hard at my shoulder, rocking me back a pace. “I’m not saying you’ll do it deliberately, but they’ve messed with your mind! Why would they do that if they had nothing to hide? What if they programmed you? Planted commands you don’t know about, until they decide to activate you?”

 

“What?” Dylan began to laugh. “Are you serious? Are you actually listening to yourself? You sound like a raving loony spouting conspiracy theories!”

 

“I’m not a bloody robot, but Paul might be right,” I muttered. “Though I don’t know why they would.” A needle-sharp twinge reminded me to be careful with my choice of words. God, I wished I could contact Weaver Sinclair. She would be able to lift the block, find a way for us to turn this whole situation to our advantage. But I had been whisked out of my normal routine and isolated from everyone in the Institute, while Magister Constantine created a barrier in my mind only another Magister or senior Adept could remove. Or a Weaver. It had been imposed from without, and I could do nothing to weaken it from within. If I could, I would have done so the moment I was back in my old home. Paul’s reaction to me was no surprise, nor would he be the only suspicious one. “Whatever, I want this block gone as much as you do!”

 

“We’ll find a way,” Dylan said confidently. “There might be something in Great-Granddad’s books.”

 

“You’re never going to show him them?” Paul’s horror drove his voice up a few octaves to a squawk.

 

“You bet I am. Come on, they’re up in our attic.”

 

We followed him, of course. It was just like old times. Almost.

 

* * * *

 

The books were old, hand-written ledgers with foxed pages and frayed corners. Dylan took one off the shelf and I half-expected it to fall apart when he opened it, but the paper was in surprisingly good condition. So were the inked words: sharp and clean, with no fading at all.

 

Some of the ledger’s pages were devoted to smallholding accounts, but others were recipes of some kind–spells, I suddenly realised, along with the amulets, talismans and decoctions that went with them. Spells. The Institute didn’t sanction such things. They were little more than superstitions, after all, and the rest of the paraphernalia simply focus points. The recipes were another matter entirely, but would do nothing about my barriers. Disappointed, I closed the ledger and put it back.

 

“‘When the moon is full’,” Paul read aloud, “‘the patient is to take a piece of raw meat and go out into the garden. They should rub the meat on their wart and bury it beneath a rowan tree. Or if none are nearby, a hawthorn. When the meat has rotted away to nothing, the wart will disappear.’ This has to be a joke.”

 

“It’s not the meat,” I said absently, taking down another book. “Or anything else. It’s the—”

 

“Intent,” Dylan and I said at the same time. We looked at each other and grinned.

 

“Okay, okay,” Paul said, his smile growing reluctantly. “But only if you have weird eyes.”

 

“And haven’t had your talent shut away out of your reach,” Dylan added quietly, and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “It must be like having a limb cut off,” he continued. I felt him shiver and his grip on my shoulder tightened. “We’ll find a way to fix you, Davy.”

 

“One way or another,” Paul finished, his gaze cold. “That’s a promise.”

 

* * * *

 

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Catriana Somers http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com/

Freddy MacKay (m/m) http://freddymackay.blogspot.com

Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/

Pender Mackie (m/m) http://pendermackie.blogspot.com

Sui Lynn (m/m) http://suidlynn.blogspot.com/?zx=57a5d3d27a15dbfa

Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk

Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

 

 

 

I’m continuing my explorations of the people in my Amethyst world, this week using the prompts – star, candle, speaker:

 

First Weaver Lillian Sinclair

 

“Weaving is possibly the most specialised of talents, and the rarest.” The speaker paused briefly to take a sip of water, her brown-spotted and claw-like hand shaking slightly. Despite her age, her voice was firm and clear, carrying easily to the back row of the small auditorium. In her other hand was a black walking stick, its handle carved in the form of a raven. She leaned on it hardly at all. “As the Magisters have already told you, most of the Adepts’ abilities are easily compartmented in the paranormal range: varying skill-levels in telepathy, psychometry, telekinesis, supra-intuition, retro-cognition and the para-healing variants.

 

“You will discover that others, such as precognition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, are infrequently exhibited and,” First Weaver Sinclair paused again to sweep her stern amethyst gaze across each student’s face, and skim past the lone figure in the upper tier as if he was invisible, “frankly, not encouraged by the Psionics Institute. They smack too much of the occult, and the Institute does not approve of the occult.” The final six words were underscored by a hard rap of her cane on the floor. “The occult is unpredictable, unmanageable and untidy, three things the Institute Will. Not. Tolerate.” Three more cracks and afterwards the auditorium was so silent, a listener might hear dust motes fall to the ancient boards.

 

After another sip of water, the First Weaver drew herself up to her imperious five feet and half an inch, gathering her black jacket around her like a short cape. Like everyone she wore the Institute’s uniform of black slacks and tunic, lightened only by the tunic’s purple collar. Her jacket was her only concession to her age; she felt the cold more than most. “A Weaver can manipulate one or several of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. It is another, older, name for certain aspects of telekinesis.” She did not mention that a very few courageous individuals insisted weaving sat firmly in the occult corner. The word ‘Elemental’ was as unwelcome as ‘occult’, and Lillian only used it in the privacy of her own thoughts. Thoughts she kept barricaded behind walls of adamant against intruders.

 

“It has been many years since the Weaving talent appeared among us,” she continued, and it was an official truth. Unofficially, Lillian knew better, but that secret she buried deep in her heart. “So if any of you can manifest a spark to light a candle, a droplet, a grain of sand or a slight draught, do not imagine you will automatically gain the coveted rank of Weaver. Should any of the telekinesis variants be your forte, it will be many years before you could hope to qualify for the Weaver assessments.

 

“Your induction lectures are now concluded. You may leave in silent order, and proceed to the cafeteria. You have one hour before your individual assessments begin.” Lillian didn’t wait for the neophytes to file out of the auditorium. She walked slowly offstage and made her way through the corridors to the Central Library.

 

Despite its name and the high book lined walls, this was more of a Common Room for the senior Adepts and Magisters, and at this time of the day it was usually empty. Lillian sat in her chair by the fire, her cane planted between her knees, both hands on the ebony raven, and waited.

 

Magister Constantine joined her some five minutes later.

 

“A promising bunch,” he said by way of greeting.

 

“Three or four, perhaps,” she answered coolly. “The rest are merely average.”

 

Constantine nodded. “We need more new blood.” He sighed and shook his head. “When the Institute first opened, we had more neophytes flooding to us on a daily basis than we could handle. Now, those twelve out there are all we’ve garnered in a year, and eight of them had to be coerced away from their families. I shudder to think how many Unregistereds are out there.”

 

“Probably not as many as you suspect. Our records show the upsurge of Talents in the general population is cyclical for some reason, and from the reports out of the Procreation Research Department, they are finding the same pattern.”

 

“Perhaps. Nevertheless, I’ve put in place the first wave of Seekers; the Pendle Hill area, the New Forest, Lindisfarne, the Scottish Highlands, Anglesey—”

 

“Pft!” Lillian stamped her cane on the floor. “What good will that do? Our star is declining! I told the Council years ago they’d chosen the wrong path. Coercion! Threats! Abductions and manipulations! Hearts and minds should be seduced, not threatened! Is it any wonder the Institute is hated and feared?”

 

“Better that than indifference!” Constantine snapped. “Too late now, in any case. We work with what we have, which means we gather in more neophytes and school them.”

 

“And use them as breeding stock,” she added scornfully.

 

“Yes! Because we cannot risk the populace turning on us! History has shown us what comes next—it’s called a Witch-hunt, First Weaver, and you and I would be the ones pressed to death, burnt at the stake, or hung. The rest of the Council are not prepared to let that happen. I would think, for your own sake, you’re working towards the same ends.”

 

The scorn in her eyes lashed at him. “Don’t be such a child, Magister Constantine. Look at me; I’m the hag, the archetypal crone. I’m well aware of my fate should a transmuted Inquisition arise.”

 

“Good. I’m glad to hear it.” He rose and walked away, moving a little too quickly for it not to be a retreat. When the door closed behind him, Lillian slumped back in her chair, resting her shaven head on the cushions. Oh, Davy, she thought. Be safe. Your talents are too valuable to lose… Though how her protégé was supposed to circumvent the Council’s plans now, she did not know. It would have been better if he was here, in the heart of the Institute, helping her subvert it from within.

 

* * * * *

 

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Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

Amethyst 4 – Dylan Cunningham

 

Prompt Used – we can’t let this continue

 

Dave was back. Elation rocketed through me and for a long time I didn’t think any further than that. We’d been kids when he’d disappeared, best friends and blood-brothers thanks to a solemn piratical ceremony and a sharp piece of flint when we were seven. I still had the small scar on the ball of my left thumb.

 

The day his eyes first began to change, he’d been mopey and short tempered for a few days, and complaining of headaches. I’d teased him–of course I did, that’s what best friends and blood-brothers are for, right? Usually he joined in and insulted me right back, but not that time. He’d struck out at me, knocking me on my arse, and taken off running through the woods behind our homes. I’d chased after him, tackled him to the ground and we’d rolled in the bracken, scuffling like fox cubs. When he scrambled to his feet and backed away, he’d been laughing and crying at the same time.

 

“You’re glowing!” he’d shouted, knuckling his eyes. “Everything’s glowing, Lan, and it won’t stop”

 

“What?” I’d stood up and grabbed his arms, holding him still. He was taller than me, but not by much. “Did you hit your head?” I’d peered into his eyes and seen the bright blue fracturing with purplish shards. “Dave,” I’d said. “Your eyes have gone funny.”

 

“They have?”

 

I’d nodded. “They’d got weird-coloured bits in–” Then I’d realized what that meant and all the horror stories I’d ever heard flooded into my head. But I hadn’t pushed him away. I’d held him tighter. “Davy,|” I’d whispered, “you’re turning into one of Them!”

 

“No!” He’d wrenched away from me. “Don’t be stupid!”

 

I’d followed and took hold of him again. “Don’t worry,” I’d said. “We can hide in the forest and They’ll never find you!”

 

God, we’d been so young and naive.

*

I dreamed that old memory over and over that night, and by the time dawn painted the forest with pale light I was up and running through the dew-soaked grass. I vaulted the wooden fence separating our orchard from the forest proper, and plunged into the waist-deep bracken. It soon thinned out under the hazel and birch, sycamore, beech and oak, and I found the overgrown but faint path I’d made as a child. Found it and followed it, running fast and free.

 

The last time I’d run this trail was the day the Westons handed Dave overt to the Institute. I’d fled to the den he and I had made deep in the forest behind walls of dense holly and ivy. I needed it now because I wanted to be heading for the Westons’ home and David.

 

“Until we know what the Institute has sent back,” Dad had said last night, “and why.” Those words still reverberated in my head. And they hurt. Maybe because they were cold hard commonsense and the truth. But I couldn’t believe Davy would be so changed that he’d betray me. Had he been excluded? That would mean blocked and memory-wiped, or so the rumours went.

 

The holly barrier was suddenly in front of me, far sooner than I’d expected, and the narrow gap formed by a fallen tree was even narrower. I sprang up onto the trunk and lunged between the sharp leaves, hardly breaking my stride, moving too fast to stop when pressure hit between my eyes. I’d never felt it before, but I knew instinctively what it was. An Adept was close by and he would have sensed me the moment I sensed him.

 

Davy.

 

I skidded to a halt where the first shattered branches clawed dead arms to the sky and stared at him. He stood in front of the makeshift door of our den, poised on the edge of flight, and he was a stranger. A dear familiar stranger. And, God, he was tall, and handsome, and—

 

“Dylan?” he said.

 

“What happened to your hair?” I blurted.

 

He laughed and it sounded more like a sob. “They cut it off.”

 

“Fuckers.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

We moved at the same time, striding towards each other and meeting in a rib-crushing embrace in the middle of the clearing. He wasn’t taller than me any more, and he smelled of morning and green and summer. I didn’t want to let him go and by the way his arms stayed locked around me, he felt the same way.

 

We stood there for a long time. When we finally broke apart he kept one hand on my shoulder as if he thought I’d disappear if he let go. His eyes, his incredible, beautiful amethyst eyes were wild, haunted.

 

“Davy,” I began.

 

“Unregistered,” he said at the same time.

 

“Yes. It hit me late, only a couple of years ago. God, Davy, I wish we could have kept you away from them!”

 

“Me, too,” he whispered.

 

“Have you been Excluded?” I asked. “I never heard they let Adepts have holidays at home. What happened?”

 

“They don’t.” He took a deep shuddering breath, let it out in small gasps as if it hurt him. “I—” He tried to say something, and screwed his face up in pain. “They—I—” His breathing became ragged, as if his lungs weren’t functioning properly.

 

“Whoa!” I caught him by the upper arms. “Don’t try to speak! You’re blocked?”

 

Davy nodded, his expression miserable and hurting. “Standard procedure,” he said.

 

The old anger flared up in me. It had been smouldering in me for years, ever since I was nine and the Psionics Institute took my blood-brother away. The helicopter a few weeks ago had started the fire and this was fuel to the flames.

 

“We can’t let this continue! They can’t keep getting away with ruining people’s lives!”

 

“Break the block,” he said. “Break it and I—” He broke off with a choked cry, clutching his head. I pulled him close and wrapped one arm around his waist, the other around his shoulders.

 

“I will,” I vowed.

 

TBC

 

Now clicky on these links for some great Silver Flash Fics:

 

Sui Lynn (m/m) http://suidlynn.blogspot.com/?zx=57a5d3d27a15dbfa
Catriana Somers http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com/
Julie Hayes (m/m) http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com
Freddy MacKay http://freddymackay.blogspot.com
Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/
Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk
West Thornhill (m/m) http://wthornhillauthor.blogspot.com/
Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

More characters from the Amethyst AU…

 

Amethyst 3 – Patricia Weston

 

Prompt used – This is getting awfully complicated.

 

Davie was a child when they took him away. No. I have to be honest. He was a child when we gave him to the Psionics Institute, a beautiful, golden-haired angel…  Well, as much of an angel as any nine year old can be, which meant, of course, he possessed a healthy dose of impishness, not to mention downright naughtiness at times. Just a normal boy. So when we received the phone call that told us he would be returned to us at six in the evening of the next day, we didn’t give a thought to anything other than our boy was coming home.

 

I was on tenterhooks from the moment Charlie put the phone down. We’d hugged each other, holding on for dear life, and I for one could hardly dare believe it. Even though I didn’t go far from the front room windows from the moment I got up the next day, I still found it difficult to imagine he really would be home in a matter of hours. Those hours seemed like days, dragging their feet ominously. Returned to us? What did that mean? Would he have to go back? Our emotions swung from nervous elation to dread. The weather didn’t help. A summer storm swept in from the southwest, hammering into the trees until they roared like surf on rocks and turning the track to our house into a river of mud.

 

A large black car pulled into the track, wings of brown water arching back from its wheels. Moments later it stopped outside our front door. Charlie and I both rushed to the door and jerked it open. A man stood there, a suitcase at his feet and the car was driving off. I gazed up into my son’s face and saw a stranger. He was taller than Charlie at just over six feet, wide shouldered and lean. His face was strong-boned, handsome, with dark gold brows and thick lashes shielding those beautiful, frightening amethyst eyes. His thick blond hair was gone. His scalp was shaved bare, and the skin over his skull was lightly tanned. He wore the tailored black trousers and tunic of the Psionics Institute, and somehow all that darkness threw his features into high relief.

 

“Mum?” he said in a rich, resonating voice. “Dad?” Suddenly I saw past the intimidating surface to the man beneath. He was tired, unsure of his welcome, and scared. And he was my son. I couldn’t speak. I just wrapped my arms around him and held him as close as I could. Then Charlie joined in, hugging us both. I was crying, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

 

David didn’t cry. I could feel the tension in him; he was strung taut as a bow string, and it took a few minutes for him to lift his arms and hug us back. That was when I first began to be afraid. He was twenty years old, a man grown, and we’d had no hand in his development since he was nine. Yes, he was my son. He was also the stranger on the doorstep and I had no idea what kind of person the Institute had returned to me.

 

Or why he had been returned.

 

“Your old room’s all ready for you,” I managed to say, but I couldn’t stop the fear from choking my voice to a shaking quaver, “and dinner will be ready very soon. Go and freshen up, my dear, and we can catch up on all our news later.” He nodded and stood away from us, not meeting our eyes. We watched him walk up the stairs and turn left on the landing, then he disappeared into his bedroom.

 

“Bloody hell,” Charlie whispered. “He’s the image of my old dad. Only tall, like your family. Pattie, what do we tell Ruth and Colin?”

 

“Oh, my God…” I’d forgotten about the Cunninghams in my shock and excitement, and now a sick feeling lodged under my breastbone. Ruth had been a close friend since our childhood, just as Charlie and Colin had known each other for years before they met us. Our sons had been born only a few months apart and had been inseparable as children — Dylan had moped for months when Davie went away. And Dylan was an Unregistered, as late into the talent as Davie was early.

 

“I’ll go over and warn them,” Charlie said quietly, “tell them to get Dylan away for a while. We can’t risk — ” He stopped, his face growing pale, and for a moment I thought I would throw up. I knew what he’d been about to say;  we can’t risk Davie finding out and calling in the Institute. We’d helped Ruth and Colin protect Dylan from the moment the transition began, and that wasn’t going to change now. I shook my head.

 

“This is getting awfully complicated, and I should have foreseen it,” I said. “I’ll go. If Davie asks, tell him the truth. I’ve gone to tell Ruth and Colin we have our boy home for a while.” I paused long enough to put on wellingtons and a waterproof coat, and hurried out through the kitchen door. As soon as I was screened from the house by the trees and bushes, I ran.

 

 

 

The rain stopped just as I reached their back door. The family was in the kitchen, Dylan washing the dinner dishes, Ruth and Colin wiping up and putting away. I half-tripped as I came in, and Colin caught me, laughing at my breathless clumsiness.

 

“Steady on, lass. Where’s the fire?”

 

“Davie’s home,” I panted. “Holiday — or  maybe — I don’t know if — memory-wiped — ” Ruth dropped the plate she was holding and it shattered on the tiled floor. But my eyes were on Dylan. His delighted smile lit up his face.

 

“Dave’s home,” he said wonderingly. “That’s — fantastic!” He snatched a towel from its rack beside the sink, dried his hands and started for the door. I caught his arm at the same time Colin grabbed his shoulder.

 

“Where are you going?” his father demanded.

 

“To see Dave, of course,” Dylan answered impatiently.

 

“You can’t!” Colin and I said in chorus. “It might not be safe,” I continued. “He-he’s like a stranger…”

 

“Pat’s right,” Colin said. “Until we know what the Institute has sent back, and why, it’d be best if you keep away. In fact, you should go and stay with your Aunt Megan in Bath for a while.” That was a stroke of genius. Megan lived in a flat above a shop in the older part of the city, not far from the Roman Baths and the Temple of Minerva. Excavations in the cellar there had unearthed another, smaller temple to Nodens. In effect, she lived on — or above — sacred ground, and that made Adepts undetectable to each other, as long as their eyes were disguised.

 

“No,” Dylan said. “This is Dave. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt me — us.”

 

“We don’t know that,” Ruth said, putting her arms around his shoulders and mine. “At least wait until we know more. Go to Megan and we’ll keep you up to date with — ”

 

“No,” he said again, gently but firmly. “I’ll leave it until tomorrow, but that’s all. Dave’s my friend, Mum. My best friend.”

 

“Once, he was,” I said heavily. “But is he now? We don’t know what that place has done to him!” All my fear broke through, and so did the grief, both old and new. “I don’t know if he is my son any more!” My voice echoed in the large kitchen, and the silence that followed was filled with foreboding.

 

tbc

 

Now clicky on these links for some great Free Flash Fic:

 

West Thornhill (m/m) http://wthornhillauthor.blogspot.com/
Julie Hayes (m/m) http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com
Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk
Lindsay Klug (m/f) www.ichbineinteufel.blogspot.com
Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/
Catriana Sommers http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com/
Heather Lin (m/f) http://heatherlin88.blogspot.com/
Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

I missed last week’s prompt because I was away at the UK Author and Readers Meet, so I’ve incorporated one of the prompts from that with some of this week’s in a continuation of my Amethyst background stories – which needs a proper title, btw. I’m using the Silver Flash Challenge to explore this world and its people, taking 1st person views of it. This time I’m with Adept David Weston.

 

The prompts I’ve used are:

 

“I know I’ve said it before, but this really is your last chance.”
the color of night
school
candle
elixir

 

Amethyst – Adept David Weston

 

“Well?” Magister Constantine asked as the helicopter circled away the small town. “Anything?” Lymington lay below us, its street lights meandering streams of golden light across the night. The woodland, and open moors of heather, bracken and gorse that made up the New Forest were mostly black, illuminated only by the occasional flare of vehicles’ headlights.

 

I shook my head. “No, sir. Nothing at all.” Which was very close to a lie. I’d picked up something, a hint so ephemeral and swiftly gone I could have thought it my imagination. But we were passing over one of the churches at the time and it might have been the energy of holy ground. Or it might have been an Unregistered seeking the camouflage of the church to mask him or her from us.

 

“Adept Weston, do I need to remind you that, as an Adept skilled in long-range detection, your success rate has been abysmally low of late?” His tone was casual, as if he commented on the weather, and I couldn’t stop my shiver of unease.

 

“No, sir,” I answered. I wanted to say I couldn’t find what wasn’t there, but that would have been interpreted as insolence and I’d regret it once we returned to base. Penalties were at best painful, at worse—well, several days and nights in the Infirmary weren’t unusual.

 

“I’m glad you realize it,” Magister Constantine continued smoothly. “One might almost begin to think your ability had suddenly deserted you.” He paused, but I had nothing to say. “This is your home town, and we have gained many students here in past years. But none since you. As I said at our briefing before we left Whitehall, I find it hard to believe such a rich mine of talents has suddenly petered out. Not unlike your sensing ability and my patience…”

 

I swallowed the bile at the back of my throat. “Magister, I – ” Ice slid down my spine and I lost what I intended to say. All four of the Magisters at the Psionics Institute were intimidating in their own ways, but Constantine was outright terrifying. I’d graduated only eighteen months ago, and I’d been allocated to the Sweeps right from the start. All Adepts have their own particular speciality; my sensory range was a lot wider than most, and the Institute wanted every Unregistered they could get their hands on, even though the older ones proved more difficult to train.

 

Every year, fewer children were found through voluntary registration, and I could understand why. In the unlikely event I ever fathered a son or daughter, if they inherited my talent and knowing what I know now, I’d move heaven and earth to keep them from the Institute. I looked away from the view outside the chopper’s cockpit and met his gaze. In the dim light from the instruments, his eyes were the color of night, fathomless and impenetrable. “Magister,” I said as levelly as I could. “I sensed nothing but the sacred ground we crossed, that’s all.” I waited and did not make the mistake of looking away.

 

The weight of his stare was chillingly oppressive, and his mental probes threaded through the layers of my thoughts like spectral fingers. He neither moved nor spoke for what seemed an age. Then he nodded. “Then we will have to take other measures,” he said. “The New Forest has always had an impressive collection of folklore on witches,” his scorn filled that one word, “and the arcane. Some of our most powerful Magisters and Weavers have come from this area and others like it. So. It’s time you returned home, Adept. Visit your old school friends, convince them you are a pathetic failure with your very slight talent locked away, and find me the Unregistered.”

 

“But, sir, they’ll know I’m a spy! Or at least suspect I am.”

 

“No. You won’t be the first reject sent back to where they came from with their memories and talents behind barriers. Yours won’t be. of course. But you will be partially blocked. You won’t be able to speak out of turn. I know I’ve said it before,” he continued, “but this really is your last chance. You will be a failure in truth, and the usual consequences will apply regardless of your talents.”

 

His probes hadn’t touched the deeper, hidden levels of my mind, but that was little consolation. The thought of the ‘usual consequences’ made something in my belly flutter like the flame of a candle in the wind, and I tasted bile again. When they were done with me, I would have lost eleven years of my life and be unable to reach the powers within me. If the Council was inclined to be lenient. If they weren’t, I’d be more than mind-blind, I’d be a drooling empty shell.

 

“Yes, Magister,” I whispered.

 

****

 

A week later, I was back in my family home near Lymington, a five hundred year old cottage in four acres of pasture and orchards. I’d been allowed to contact my parents the day before – for the first time since I’d been Registered – and now I sat on the narrow bed in my room, wondering how it had grown so small. For the last eleven years I’d lived in a cramped two-roomed monkish apartment in the Institute in London’s Whitehall, and called that Spartan, book-lined place home. Now, looking around me at a child’s assortment of books, toys, and collections of oddities, I remembered what home truly was. And was no longer. My mother and father were afraid. Of me. Of what I represented in my black trousers and tunic with its purple collar buttoned close about my throat, and my shaved head.

 

A framed photograph stood on the dressing table. I reached over and picked it up. Mum and Dad were hugging each other and laughing at me – I was hanging upside down, using a branch of our apple tree as a trapeze, and my hair was flying in a wild blond tangle. Memory supplied the details: this had been taken the day before my ninth birthday. Three days later, the headaches started, dazzling auras flared everywhere I looked, and my eyes began to change. I’d come into the talent a lot younger than most, and Mum and Dad didn’t want to register me. But they didn’t have a choice. My schoolteacher had noticed my changing eyes. She called home and said she’d report them to the authorities and register me herself, if they didn’t.

 

I ran my hand over my scalp and rejoiced that now I was away from the Institute, I could let my hair grow out. Besides, I’d gain no information if I walked around looking as if I’d come fresh from Whitehall. After all, though I had to check in with Weaver Thompson on a regular basis, Magister Constantine hadn’t given me a timescale. Any Unregistereds I met would be able to tell I had the potential for talent, even if my eyes were hidden, but they wouldn’t be able to discover if I was blocked or not without the kind of deep probe only a fully trained Magister or Weaver could perform.

 

What I’d do about any Unregistered I encountered, I hadn’t yet decided.

 

“Davie!” Mum’s voice echoed up the stairwell. “Dinner’s ready, love.”

 

“I’m on my way,” I called back. I unbuttoned my shirt and yanked it off, and rooted through my suitcase to find something, anything, more casual. All I had was a plain gray tee-shirt I wore in bed. It was clean, so it would do. I was a PI Reject now, and I could dress like a normal person. I pulled it on and hurried down the stairs.

 

The food-scents wafting from the kitchen were enough to make my stomach rumble and my mouth water. Food at the Institute was plenty and health-promoting, but basic. When I walked into the dining room, my mother was putting a familiar earthenware casserole on the table and Dad was already seated at the head of the table.

 

“There you are,” Mum said brightly, nervously. “Come and sit down, dear. It’s beef stew, your favourite, and apple pie to follow.”

 

“It all smells wonderful, Mum,” I blurted, and gave her a quick hug. And pretended not to notice her flinch. I sat down and offered her a smile that felt strange on my face, as if my muscles had forgotten how to do it. “Now I know I’m home. No one cooks like you.”

 

Tears filled her eyes and her fixed smile wobbled a little. “It’s so good to see you again,” she whispered. “You’ve grown so tall – we had no news of you until yesterday – eleven years, five months, fourteen days – you might as well have died!”

 

“He’s here now, sweetheart,” Dad said gruffly. “That’s the main thing.” He picked up the bottle of Merlot and filled our glasses, then raised his to me in a toast. “Welcome home, Davie.”

 

“It’s good to be here,” I said, my own voice thick with emotion. “I – missed you both.” I couldn’t say more, so I sipped the wine. It slipped down my throat like the finest elixir, and I nearly choked. Just a middle of the range supermarket plonk, and it tasted like heaven.

 

Mum made a small hiccupping sound that might have been a swallowed sob, and she leaned across to pat my hand.

 

We ate in silence for a while, and the meal tasted even better than it smelled. But I could feel their questions like ants crawling over my skin. They’d been told nothing other than I was coming back. I’d been thoroughly briefed on my cover story, now all I needed was an opening. Dad gave it to me.

 

“So, um,” he began cautiously. “Is this a holiday for you? How long do we have you for?”

 

“Not a holiday,” I answered. I glanced down and scraped up the last of the custard and apple pie in my bowl. Lying to my parents didn’t come easily, even though I mixed some truths in with the lies. “I sort of blotted my copybook. More than once. And I’m not exactly the most talented Registered they have. I was hauled up in front of the Magisters’ Council and I’ve been excluded.”

 

“That’s unusual, isn’t it?” Dad asked, at the same time as Mum’s whispered, “Oh, my goodness…”

 

I shrugged. “Not really. They don’t publicize it, but they’re not that keen to keep hold of the substandard. Like me.”

 

“Well, thank God for that!” Mum said, some of her tension leaving her. She took a healthy swallow of her wine. “Their loss is our gain. My God, you’re home! I can’t believe it!”

 

“Me, either,” I said. “They wiped my memories so I don’t remember what it was like in PI.” Another lie. It was a cross between a University and a monastery. “But I’m glad to be out. Damn it, I’ve got eleven years of news to catch up on!” I thought about safe topics, and plumped for our next-door neighbours. Not that next door meant across the garden fence. Like us, they lived in an old cottage in the Forest, and it was half a mile away. “Are the Cunninghams still in Oak Cottage?”

 

Mum dropped her glass, the red wine spreading like blood across the white table cloth.

 

tbc

 

For delightful free reads, check out the other Flashing Silvers!

 

West Thornhill (m/m) http://wthornhillauthor.blogspot.com/
Julie Hayes (m/m) http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com
Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk
Lindsay Klug (m/m) www.ichbineinteufel.blogspot.com
Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/
Sui Lynn (m/m) http://suidlynn.blogspot.com/?zx=57a5d3d27a15dbfa
Catriana Somers http://catrianasmuse.blogspot.com/
Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

Pender Mackie ( m/m) http://pendermackie.blogspot.com

SILVER FLASH FICS are stories between 500 and 1000 words long, written to a phrase and/or word prompts by authors in Silver Publishing’s stable. Every week a new challenge is issued, and I’ve joined in for the first time.

 

This week, in honour of the release of the last Harry Potter movie, the phrases are: mischief managed; dark chocolate. The words are: church, star, phone.

 

This Flash Fic is G rated.

 

“Mischief managed.” Dylan started giggling again. “That is so cool,” he slurred for the umpteenth time since we’d staggered out of the cinema. We weren’t drunk so much as dazed after hours of a Potter-Marathon shown in our local single-screen fleapit, though the visible signs were the same. Most of the crowd seemed caught in the same euphoria.

 

“Bet you could do it,” I muttered enviously. “Make a map like that. And a wand. I want a wand.”

 

“Nah, it’s not the way magic works. You need a focus point, yes, but it’s all in what you want to happen and the energy comes from inside you. From what I’ve read, you can’t actually make something from the ground up with magic. Like the Marauders’ Map. Though maybe you could charge an existing map…” It wasn’t the first time he’d tried to explain to me, his best friend, the weird gift that had foisted itself upon him about a year ago. Since he didn’t understand it himself, despite the limited research he’d been able to do, it was hardly surprising I didn’t either.

 

Dylan had come into his magic later than most. Though ‘most’ was a bit of a misnomer, considering it affected such a tiny number of the population. Usually it showed up between ten and twelve, when puberty kicked in. Dylan had been seventeen when his dark chocolate brown eyes first began to show the telltale slivers of purple. Now, at eighteen, his eyes were banded amethysts, pupils only a few shades darker that the irises, and he wore brown-tinted contacts most of the time.

 

His parents hadn’t registered him at the Psionics Institute when they noticed the first signs of amethyst the way they should have done. Us country folk tended to avoid the big city ways as a matter of course, and walk our own paths. No one really knew what went on in the Institute. A handful of students entered every year, and emerged as Adepts ten years later, changed: aloof, confident in their powers, equally certain of their superiority. Every one of them ended up in high-powered, influential careers.

 

Most of the general public were very wary of them.

 

Dylan’s parents, Ruth and Colin Cunningham, always—but very quietly—maintained that the Adepts weren’t meant to live apart from the rest of us.

 

If anyone should know, it would be the Cunninghams. Colin’s grandmother had been an Adept, back in the old days when they had a different name. Witches.

 

“You’re thinking again,” Dylan said. “I can tell. You get this strained expression, like you’re constip—”

 

“Shut up!” I snickered and elbowed him in the ribs. “What about Quidditch? Now, that is beyond cool.”

 

“On a broomstick? Instant haemorrhoids, I swear. But flying…” He sounded wistful. “I think I’d like that.”

 

“This, from the bloke who won’t get on a plane?” I scoffed. I stuck out my arms and swooped around the corner into the lane that ran past St Michael’s church, making plane noises.

 

“It’ll be different!” he insisted, grinning at me. “I’d be in control, not some pilot I can’t see and don’t know.”

 

“Really? Like a car driver who always gets sick as a passenger?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Bollocks,” I said, but any answer he might have made was cut short by the strident ring of his mobile phone. “You were supposed to turn that off in the cinema.”

 

Dylan ignored me, staring at the text message, grimness settling on his features. I didn’t need to be an Adept to know what it said. I’d seen that expression before and the reason for it hit like a bucket of ice-water. On the small screen would be four letters. ‘Duck’.

 

The Institute did low-level sweeps in a small helicopter every now and then, scanning the country for the psychic energy signatures of the unregistered. That didn’t mean every low-flying aircraft was from the PI, but no one took any chances. The few of us who knew about Dylan’s eyes had cobbled together an early warning system, with his number in first position on our speed dials.

 

Now, memory of hours of Harry Pottering long gone, I listened intently. Yes, there it was, the thwapeta-thwapeta of helicopter blades slicing the air, and that sound was gradually coming closer.

 

“Go!” I snapped, giving him a hard shove towards the churchyard. He didn’t need telling twice. We shinned over the low wall and ducked into the deep shade of the yew trees. For whatever reason, the holy ground of any religion masked the psychic signals; standing on it, Adepts couldn’t recognise each other even face to face or in full body contact, as long as their eyes were disguised.

 

“Sod it, I hate this!” Dylan hissed. The chopper passed over us and disappeared into the night. Silence—or as near silence as you can get in a small market town at chucking-out time—settled around us. A star or two glittered through the light pollution and a cold breeze sprang up, making us shiver.

 

“Yeah,” I muttered. “I wish to God we could do something about it.”

 

There was a moment of breath-held stillness.

 

Dylan stepped away from the tree. Against the sodium yellow of the spotlights illuminating the ancient bulk of St Michael’s, Dylan’s black silhouette stood tall and somehow imposing. For the first time I truly realised just how much potential was contained within the man I’d known all my life.

 

“Yes,” he said. “I will.”

 

 

* * * * *

Go visit the other Silver Flashers and read some great stories!

West Thornhill (m/m) http://wthornhillauthor.blogspot.com

 

Julie Hayes (m/m) http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com

 

Victoria Blisse (m/f) http://www.victoriablisse.co.uk

 

Lindsay Klug (m/m) www.ichbineinteufel.blogspot.com

 

Lily Sawyer (m/m) http://lilysawyerbooks.blogspot.com/

 

Sui Lynn (m/m) http://suidlynn.blogspot.com/?zx=57a5d3d27a15dbfa

 

Pender Mackie (m/m) http://pendermackie.blogspot.com

 

Heather Lin (m/f) http://heatherlin88.blogspot.com/

 

Ryssa Edwards (m/m) http://www.ryssaedwards.net/blog/

 

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