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08.08.01 1:01 p.m.

Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so a simple phrase like "maybe we should just be friends" or "how very perceptive" turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart.

 -Neil Gaiman 

Crash... into me
Yesterday, driving my younger brother home from school, I was in a car accident. Do not worry unduly, I am fine as is the Grape Ape, save that its bumper is visibly bumped and my "That was Zen, This is Tao" bumper sticker was scraped off.
The truck in front of me stopped short, clearly amazed at the $1.42 a gallon gas that was being offered, a savings of exactly one American cent off the gas station he had passed one minute before. So, showing clear logic and awareness, he slammed hard on his brakes. As he had done so with absolutely no notice I was forced to do the same. As was the car behind we, which had significantly less success in his matter. My exact words to Bryan were, "We just avoided getting into an accident!" *BAM!* "And now we have gotten into an accident. Shite."
But it was not my fault, and that is always good. The damage to both cars was pretty minimal and I acted calm, if a bit shaky. I promptly called my parents and told them to help me. It turns out that the guy that hit me used to be one of my mother's students and they bonded over my squished bumper. Aw.

On Saturday, while gentle pressing our wares by, well, not moving or speaking unless spoken to (this is, evidently, the "soft sell"), I felt a great disturbance in the force. No, actually, I just suddenly felt very annoyed. Sorry, I can't be that mystical for you. So I turned around and whom should I see but Mabius (clearly a pseudonym). Ah, now for back story.
Mabius originally found me about five years ago. I was probably 15. I was still a wee one, relatively. Especially considering that she was likely older than twenty at the time. I take nothing she said as truth. She got my number from a girl who I met at the mall (obligatory groan) who flirted with me and flipped out when I reciprocated. But that is another story for another time.
I forget under what pretense she called me. Undoubtedly, it was steeped in pretentious pseudo-mysticism or the like. I cannot recall. But we began speaking on the phone occasionally, discussing witchcraft and the occult. She seemed, to the 15-year-old brain, relatively knowledgeable, save a few glaringly obvious outbursts (once I referred to Satanism as a Left-Hand Path and she flipped out that the left hand is very useful in magick blah blah blah psychotic ignorance-cakes).
While actually fairly ignorant in hindsight, I continued to speak to her. I think it was mostly that she was convincing me, on one plane or another, that she had some kind of special knowledge. She clearly did not, if you have not been paying attention thus far.
I would actually say that she was my first experience with a psychic vampire. I could feel her trying to get to me, trying to squeeze inside my head. She tried to claim she was a part of my past lives.
She was manipulative and quite evil. Honestly, she was one of my best teachers, if only by giving me the example of what not to be and do. I learned to block her to the extent that I could push her out with a force that hurt her.
We actually met in person after it all. I recognized her the instant she stepped off the train, bedecked all in black and dripping with pentacles and spider webs. I was not trapped in them.
We walked around the town, mostly. Much as she wanted to, I did not take her anywhere near my house. The less she honestly knew of me, the better. The entire time she was around me, I had my hands clasped in front of me. I later learned that, in Asian cultures, this is a way to keep your energy to yourself and prevent it from coming in contact with others (think of people bowing to one another). In Asian cultures, this is a sign of respect, but I didn't respect her. I didn't want to look direct at her, a reaction I would note with other people (such as Namahs) in the future.
She said that I was just a boy playing man. I shot back to her that I was playing nothing and I was real. In her presence, I was angry and terse without physical reason. This is just how she made me feel. It was a white-hot wall of negative emotions. I think she must have known that she failed in whatever she wanted to attempt with me. She wanted to get a hotel room and spend the night here, though she lived only forty minutes away. I glared at her and told her she was going home tonight. She sat and wrote a letter to me on the curb. I took it from her and ripped it up. I knew the contents well enough and didn't care to read them.
I went home and did my first cleansing ritual ever, using Noxzema face wash. (Seriously, I don't care what path you follow, Noxzema face wash makes you feel cleansed.)
After this, we never spoke on the phone again. Nothing was really said, she just never called and I certainly had no need.
A few years back, I saw her at the Woodstock Renaissance Festival. I was with Kate at the time and she [Kate] refused to ever shake Mabius's hand. I believe Kate even hissed at her. The entire interplay between the three of us didn't last a minute, but Kate and I made it clear we didn't care for her and she seemed fearful of us both.
It was much the same when she stopped by our booth at the Faire. She asked if I was [Xen] and I replied that some call me that. She opened her mouth to speak. I shot a look at her and cut her off in a voice that originated three feet behind my neck, "I know who you are." She stuttered something about our jewelry and getting back to work and left. As she fled, I spun around to Emily and growled, "That was [Mabius]." Evidently I didn't tell M the whole story, which I have stated here. So I filled her in quickly. M stated that Mabius seemed scared of me. I hope this is the case.
I psychically burned the area and put barriers around the booth to keep her and her kith out and away. She hasn't return and I do not think she will. Not if she has gained any knowledge whatsoever.

Renaissance Faire
We monetarily did better this weekend, though not yet to the expectations of Rozalisa. She informed us Sunday night that, if business does not pick up this upcoming weekend, we couldn't both work. I do not know why people do not buy, but we are going to try different things to increase business (Bongo drums. That's all I'm sayin').
We have given the apprentice a new name. She was speaking to us on Sunday, telling us of her. She said that she was "14 in August." However, to Emily and me, it sounded like she said, "I am 14 and a walrus," a statement we both accepted without question. After we realized the miscommunication, she became Walrus. As such, this is how she will henceforth be referred to in the journal. We are very fond of Walrus, as she is very mature and interesting for her age. Plus, she's so darned adorable in her rennie clothes; I am surprised that more people don't come in just to say "AW!" Say, there's an idea to increase business... no, wait, that is prostitution, isn't it?
Speaking of Namahs, he sped by the booth on Saturday, barely looking in. Maybe my shields worked. We have yet to encounter Venti, which is fine with us, I'm sure.
Saturday morning, after we set up the booth, Emily decided that we should use magick to get rid of the potentially negative energy at the booth that could have been retarding our sales. Just go with it, okay? She went to Rozalisa, who gave her sage incense and told her to do the LBRP, an acronym that M wasn't familiar with. When she returned to the booth, I informed her that LBRP was the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentacle, one she was greatly familiar with. I left to do something (maybe I was getting water or visited the privies, I cannot recall at the moment). While I was gone, Emily was evidently told by someone that what she was doing would never work because she wasn't doing the ritual the way they did. This disheartened her and made her irked for a bit. She said, in a very valid way, that a lot of people become Pagan being they are irritated by the dogma of more mainstream religions, only to impose dogma onto their newfound path. This indeed may be the case as I have witnessed this more than a few times in my past experiences with Pagans.
I'm sorry that this hurt Emily. She was once told when she was younger by someone at this selfsame fair that she was too young to have any real interest in Paganism and Wicca and she should "come back in a few years, when she grows up." I think that being told that her ritual wouldn't work rehashed those memories.
On Sunday, a blonde girl I will call Princess (that was her garb) went by the booth about seven times. Very clearly she was checking me out, even though I engaged her in a long conversation about how great a girlfriend Emily was the second time she walked past. Emily was clearly none too happy about this girl's advances. I was mostly perplexed, as I was clearly with Emily and stated this quite a few times to Princess. Even worse, my attentions to Princess were only worth $15. Clearly I would have been more impressed if she bought some $50 macramé earrings and a $44 locket.
I don't get why we get hit on so much at the faire. The same thing happens at the Haunted Mansion, even when I have fake blood dripped from my every facial orifice and I am pretending to eat insects. Is this somehow sexy and I wasn't informed?

So, driving my cousin Katelynn home from the faire, she disclosed to me that Alison and Zanna had both ranted to her about what a terrible person I am. It is clearly intelligent to bitch about me not only to my dear Conor, but also my own blood cousin. Neither of them would care enough about me to instantly tell me and relate to me how annoying this was. Yup, there is clear thinking and reason occurring here.
Katelynn didn't reveal too much, just that she felt that Zanna was better off before she took Alison as an idol and that she didn't believe what she was told about me (not surprisingly). We had a brief discourse over the sketchiness of having an invisible friend and contrived multiple personalities of whose actions you feel you are not responsible for, as Zanna claims. So, honestly, she doesn't exactly inspire trust and believability in me and, thankfully for me, in others. I hope they both soon get through whatever problems they are having within themselves and can act like a real people and not the caricatures referred to below. I wish to the gods they would leave me the hell out of their dysfunction for now though, because I am very close to taken action over their constant slander of me.
And, just in case Zanna or Alison is reading this, I am not slandering them because everything I have said is true and I am not making wild character attacks and spreading hideous rumors about either of them. Zanna does widely proclaim to have other personalities that she cannot control. If this is true, and I doubt it, I hope she would seek professional mental help. They both have defamed me, evidently quite widely and to the irritation of those to whom they lie. This true is too. I am committing no libel, slander, or defamation, nor would I. I am simply stating that their behavior is immature in my eyes and I would hope they would cease acting like dither-brained high school freshmen whose lives are evidently so boring that said freshmen must make up a fictional world that is against them and arbitrarily hate and hurt other people because their social bond is based on artificiality. Anyone who has been through high school has met one of these creatures and to have these behaviors persist into early adulthood is not kosher.
So if either of them feel the need to rant to me about anything written here, I will kindly refer them to the Journal Rules.

Liz's Liquid Love
Last week, I hung out with Melissa and Liz. We had no set plans, which suited me fine. I just wanted to relax and hang out with friends.
They picked me up and informed me that they needed to return to Melissa's house in order to get love lotion to deliver to a third party. In some worlds, this might be perceived as odd. I didn't even think twice about it.
The parcel was purchased as a joke. As the bottle was full, I took this as truth. Well, mostly full, as Liz accidentally spilled some on her pants. I blew on her in hopes that she would catch fire (yes, I do understand that it only feels hot, it doesn't actually warm up). The third party claimed she wanted it "as a joke." However, her story seemed greatly sketchy, so we think that she was actually using it for its intended purpose! How scary is that?
After making a petty thief of me, we ended up at an painfully brightly lit field pondering what our next move should be. Clearly, to me, it should involve my getting Dunkin' Donuts, as I was pondering why people love Krispy Kreme so much that they will line up for hours to get one. (I still don't get it.) So we ended up back at Melissa's house watching The Family Guy, one of the best shows too few people watch.

reading: Lasher, Anne Rice
listening: Wither Blister Burn & Peel, Stabbing Westward
wanting: Not to get fired.
interesting thought: Love cannot really be defined.
moment of zen: Feeling energy flow out of me.
someday I must: work out regularly or build up a tolerance to sunlight.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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