Magic in The Slaughter Chronicles.

Demon Tooth was the first Slaughter Chronicles short story I ever published (originally titled Demon Moon back in 2019) because I wanted to share Squee’s backstory and explore how magic works in my imaginary world.

Usually humans with supernatural abilities can do what they do because they have Void Creature DNA somewhere in their genetic makeup. Even though most Mages look human on the outside because their Void genetics is usually extremely diluted, they are still classified as non-human threats by HADES and Sanctum.

I don’t specifically say it in this story but I hint at one of the characters having a Mage in his family so he himself might have had special talents that helped open the portal.

This story specifically deals with opening a portal into the Void Dimension, something that doesn’t necessarily require a Mage to do. Any normal human can acquire Mage talents and perform feats of “magic” if they have the right tools. Void Creature bones and blood can open portals into the Void dimension and, for example, give a normal squishy human the ability to see the future. Or one version of the future. But there’s a price. There always is.

There aren’t necessarily “spells” or words of power in these universes but there are a lot of rituals that revolve around sacrifice. As the great Terry Pratchett once wrote, “[T]he very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood.” (Hogfather) In order for a non-mage character to perform these rituals or acquire Mage talents, they have to pay for it. Sometimes they can use their own blood, their own life essence, and hope they don’t die in the process. But big rituals, big tasks, require a lot of blood.

Which is why the big rituals rarely get performed and if some idiot tries, they usually don’t do it right. How do I know? The world hasn’t exploded yet…YET.

So, what exactly is Squee?

Squee is a Void Creature that toddled in to our dimension when the four teenage friends in this story opened up a portal into the Void dimension. Now, this story is called Demon Tooth because *spoiler alert* there is a Void Creature artifact that is, yep, you guessed it, a tooth. Is it Squee’s tooth? It was a pretty big tooth in the story and Squee is the size of a soccer ball…was Squee just attracted to the portal and got caught accidentally? Or was Squee the actual creature the four friends were trying to summon and something go horribly wrong?

You’ll have to read the rest of the series to find out. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish more stories for you soon.

In the summer of 2020 I took a U.S. History course: 1619-1877. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to take a history course that heavily analyzed the origins of slavery and the roots of systemic racism in this country. I am not an expert by any means now, but I have a deeper understanding of the conflicts (to say the least) that persist into today.

Note: Some of these articles and journal titles have language that we now consider problematic. At the time of publication, the language was considered normal. This illustrates, to me, the necessity for academia as a whole to update the language we use and the language we preserve.

Columbus and the Recovery of Jerusalem: Abbas Hamdani, Journal of the American Oriental Society vol. 99 no. 1 1979.

The Ohio Indians and the Coming of the American Revolution in Virginia: Woody Holton, The Journal of Southern History vol. 60 no. 3 August 1994.

“Rebel against Rebel”: Enslaved Virginians and the Coming of the American Revolution: Woody Horton. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography vol. 105 no. 2 Spring 1997.

Did Democracy Cause the Recession that Led to the Constitution: Woody Holton.

An “Excess of Democracy”: Or a Shortage?: The Federalists’ Earliest Adversaries: Woody Holton. Journal of the Early Republic vol. 25 no. 3 Fall 2005.

“From the Labours of Others”: The War Bonds Controversy and the Origins of the Constitution in New England: Woody Holton. The William and Mary Quarterly vol. 61 no. 2 April 2004.

Evangelicalism and the Meaning of the Proslavery Argument: The Reverend Thornton Stringfellow of Virginia: Drew Gilpin Faust. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography vol 85 no. 1 1977.

The General Strike and The Coming of the Lord from Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America: W. E. B. Du Bois.

Our Laborers Are Our Property and Each Person Works for Himself: the Ideal and Reality of Free Labor from Half Slave and Half Free: Bruce Levine.

1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy: James Horn.

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Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

after the death of Wislawa Szymborska

February 1, 2012

I take the petit four

of your poem and put

it in my mouth,

let my tongue soak it up—

soft words

dissolving

soft as a

spring weekend

—inhale the sugar flower.

The decadent scrim

of icing glosses over

everything.

The sun rises and the sun

sets and I eat

this cake and you are

no longer here. In this world

a violet grows at the edge

of yard and street,

efficiently crystallizes

into another poet’s

greedy panting

despite your vacant house,

your supercilious cat,

and your mouth that

will never eat cake again.

I am eating

cake and I am not

efficient. Pieces of your

poem clot against my teeth

and I cannot speak.

*

This poem was first published in Requiem Magazine and appears in both my chapbooks. I put it in both Girl + Muse and Lupercalia because I love it and the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska very much. Saying I love her work isn’t enough, really, but it’s the best I can do now.

When I was growing up, as a baby poet in college, surrounded by all the “great voices” my creative writing professors had raging boners for told me I had to read and respect because they were the great, white male voices, Szymborska kept me out of the mindset of conformity and academic elitism because she wrote about real struggle, real human suffering so perfectly. Her and Ginsberg.

Note: My grad school professors were much better than my college professors.

Here’s an article from the Poetry Foundation about the great WS.

Here’s my favorite poem by her.

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Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash

I just want to say I know the cake in this picture isn’t a petit four. I scoured the internet looking for not copywritten pictures of petit fours and couldn’t find one that fitted my feelings. This cake works. If you have a picture of a gorgeous, yummy pastry, please share it with me. Thanks!

Check out my chapbooks here 🙂

(Note: This was a phone conversation. I collect books, Mr. J collects guns. We’d listened to the audiobook last year and this year finished the audiobook of Wise Man’s Fear. It took me forever to convince Mr. J that he would like it.)

Mr. J: I bought another copy of The Name of the Wind.

Me: Did you get the 10th anniversary edition or the illustrated edition?

Mr. J: I don’t know. It’s a book.

Me: Does it say “illustrated” on the cover?

Mr. J: I don’t know, it has pictures on it.

Me: That doesn’t help me. Does it say “illustrated?”

Mr. J: It has words on it.

Me: What words?

Mr. J: I don’t remember I didn’t look at the cover.

Me: How could you not look at the cover?

Mr. J: Books are complicated. Guns are easier.

Me: (laughs) I’m putting that on a t-shirt for you.