Note to the Reader: The following snippets are rough draft chapters of my current WIP MG fiction novel CAUGHT IN THE ACT: THE SPELL.


I, the Keeper of the Mind, call upon you,

Here in this year four plus three.

Earth, Fire, Water, Air, I command thee.

On this dark night, the sixth night of magic

I will gather the knowledge of the world.

Around me, the power I have has curled.

I will travel when the paths of the past open.

When they cross with the strands of now.

I will gain the knowledge I crave, with the month Vulcan did avow.

Just as I did in the future

I will take the mind from the eye, but at the sequence three and four.

Here in the wardrobe, the knowledge from my athame I will store.

Then the stage of the world will be mine.

On it, one, two, I will direct every player.

Writer of all lines, I will be the ruler, the seer.

“It didn’t work did it?” Arayla swished into the room, cloak billowing.

“No!” Darrick flung the contents of his ritual table.

He paced the stone floor of his hidden room flipping pages in his worn bound book. All around them candles burned a blue-hot angry flame. With each step Darrick took heat and shot higher leaving black smoke to shadow the walls. At the edge of the overturned ritual table his long bookcase shimmered, the silver drifting light rippled in the black air.

Arayla didn’t wait to come. She could have simply “looked” to see if he had succeeded in his latest plan, but there were some things that had to be seen with her own eyes. This was one of them.

Flipping to the last page, Darrick raised his head. “What did you do?” He stalked to her. “Everything was perfect. You interfered. What did you do?”

“Everything I could.” Arayla folded her arms. “Everything possible.”

“Take it back.”

“You know that’s not how I work.”

“I’ve waited too long for this. A thousand years.”

“You’re out of time.”


“You can’t win, Darrick. All those lives you stole—it’s for nothing now.”

“No.” Darrick looked across the room. The guise was slipping. Fatigue and frustration were starting to show. “Get out, Arayla. I have to think.”

“I’m not leaving.”

“You are.” Darrick flicked his wrist and walked away.

A glassy blue haze shot up from the floor and filled Arayla’s vision.

“Damn it. Darrick, you can’t keep me out.”

Arayla pounded her fists against the shield of blue light. She knew it did no good. She swore at herself as well as him for not paying more attention to learning this as a kid. In her happy childhood—the daughter and sister of witches—she never thought she’d have to learn how to invade someone’s space when she wasn’t wanted. And her parents were not alive to ask.

Arayla spun away vowing to wait him out. He couldn’t hold her at bay and channel his power toward the spell at the same time. Clearing her mind, she listened through the wall of the shield.

I, the Keeper of the Mind, call upon you,

Here in this year four plus three.

Earth, Fire, Water, Air, I command thee.

She recognized his words and began her own.

Spirits of the South, East, North and West,

May this night of the seventh year be blessed.

Blessed be, goddess of all, I ask for your loving presence

I call upon you, plead your assistance.

With eyes closed, she felt powerful, like she was truly winning, like her words held more strength than his. The flow of the phrases felt easy. She drifted with their rhythm, floating.

When her feet hit something solid, her eyes flew open. Somehow, she had moved. In a blink her vision took in her surroundings. The sun was setting. Manure and the scent of early spring dirt filled her nostrils. She seemed to be in a wide space between a house and a large barn. Have I been transported?

“Well, sister dear, I didn’t know you were coming.”

Arayla whirled. Her brother’s sneering-smiling features glared at her.

“What happened?” Arayla walked closer to Darrick.

“It worked.”

Created by Author, using NightCafe


“So do you really think you burned down some guy’s barn?” Travis asked.

“Yes,” Josh whispered and looked to the front of the room where Ms. Abbernathy was grading their science tests. “Look at this.” Josh held out his hand. The single red welt across his fingers had bubbled into tiny blisters. “I picked up the lantern you were holding. It burned my palm. So, I dropped it. See.” Josh pushed his hand toward Travis’ face.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” Travis said.

“How else do you explain it?”

“Maybe you smashed your hand in the lever of your seat on the plane.” Travis squinted his eyes.

“Smashing your hand does not do this.” Josh pointed to his hand again.

“Maybe you burned it on the coffee pot at the hotel room and don’t remember.”

“What?” Josh’s voice rose.

“Joshua Talbert!” Ms. Abbernathy’s shrill voice carried from the front of the room.

Josh bent his head. “Yes?”

“Have you finished the assigned work for today?” Ms. Abbernathy asked.


“Well, maybe you and Mr. Muldoon should stay in at lunch and finish.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Josh glared over at Travis.

“Sorry,” he mouthed.

The bell rang and the other students shuffled out of the classroom. Each sending Josh and Travis bewildered looks as they left.

“I’ll go get your lunches from the cooks,” Ms. Abbernathy said and left, her heeled shoes making clicking noises as she walked away down the hall.

The greenish walls closed in around them as the silence of the space filled their ears. Josh always thought being in an empty classroom had that eerie creepy feeling of loneliness.

“Sorry, Man,” Travis said.

“Don’t worry about it. I’d rather be in here than out there where Elyse will drive us crazy about getting into trouble, and how I didn’t show her the burn and why and why and why and why.” Josh rubbed his forehead.

“Maybe Miss Abbernathy will let us go early if we get this finished.” Travis looked back at his paper on Classification of Animals.

“I doubt it. But we’d better have it done.” Josh clicked his mechanical pencil and started writing, wishing he could remember the little rhyme thing that helped him remember the whole kingdom, phylum, class, order stuff.

As he worked, he could hear Travis’ pencil making little scratching noises on the paper beside him. Josh didn’t really wish that he was as good at science as Travis, but as the minutes clicked by, he did wish that it made a bit more sense.

“Here are your lunches, boys.” Ms. Abbernathy set the trays on the desks in front of Travis and Josh. “You’ll have to take them back when you’re through. I have a meeting.”

“Thanks,” Josh and Travis muttered together.

“Cool,” Travis jumped up. “Turkey dinner and mashed potatoes! Dang, she only brought me one roll,” Travis sat down at his tray. “Come on. Let’s eat,” Travis urged through bites of sweet potatoes and melted marshmallows.

“I’ll be right there. I just need to look up this last word,” Josh flipped the pages of his science book and eyed the home-made meal.

The scent of the food drifted to his nose. He didn’t think he’d ever smelled turkey gravy and the glue scented air of a classroom mixed in the same sniff. The gravy scent won out, and Josh was thankful for the zillionth time that he went to a small country school where the cooks still made everything from scratch. The rolls they made were almost as good as his mother’s.

Scanning the glossary again, Josh asked, “Hey, did you find the order for the armadillo?”

Josh saw Travis’ lips move as if to answer but only heard a loud whooshing whistle. A flash of light shot at him, and he was jerked out of his seat. He threw out his hands to catch himself, but there was nothing to grab. He was floating or rather flying in a void of nothingness. A spiral of light drew him closer. He was speeding up. Wind plastered his hair back. Josh could see the ground racing toward him. He put his hands out, knowing if he landed like this, he’d break his arms, probably even his neck. He tried to keep his eyes open. Instead, he cringed and shut them. But he didn’t hit. With a soft thud, he landed on his feet.

Josh opened one eye and looked around. He was standing beneath an apple tree on deep green grass. The petals from the fading blooms drifted on the breeze. With both eyes open, Josh whirled about. Around him, in all directions, there were just fields, grasses swaying in the breeze, and maybe a far-off house. Beneath a nearby tree, Josh spotted what looked like a kid sleeping. He walked closer to get a better look. Sure enough. It was Travis or the same guy he saw in the barn the day before. Josh leaned down to look at him, trying to figure out what to do. Wake him up? The decision was made for him when a distant voice hollered, “Noah!”

The boy jerked up. His eyes grew round and surprised, when he saw Josh. “What are you doing here? I got in trouble because of you!”

“Noah!” The voice called again.

“Coming Mother!” The boy yelled and took off.

“Noah?” Josh muttered as he watched the boy go. Josh shook his head and looked back at his feet. In front of his right foot lay a tattered little book. “Weird.” Josh picked it up.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Josh could hear Travis calling him. Snap, flash, jerk, Josh was in the spiral again. Backwards he flew and thunk, he landed. He opened one eye and looked around. Travis’ eyes were round and surprised.

Josh opened both eyes and looked at Travis, his mouth gaping open.

“What! What the heck happened?” Travis’ voice sounded almost scared.

“How am I supposed to know?”

“Whatever happened—happened to you. I was sitting here, and all of a sudden you fell out of your chair and lay on the floor like you were dead or something. Freaked me out!” Travis waived his arms above his head.

“I got shoved through this tunnel thing, and I landed in an orchard with this kid named Noah.” Josh motioned with his hands trying to explain.

“Noah? Who’s that?”

“No idea.” Josh felt dazed. Like what had just happened was a dream.

“Did you fall asleep?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You were talking to me. Then you just fell out of your chair.”

“Weird.” Josh stood up to sit at his desk again.

“What else happened?” Travis pulled his chair closer and sat down.

Josh told him everything he could remember about the boy he found sleeping. “Then when his mother called him, he jumped up all scared and yelled at me for getting him in trouble. Then he took off.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah.” Josh looked down. “No. I found a little book.” As soon as Josh said it, he realized he had it gripped in his hand. His knuckles were purple as he put it on his desk.

“Whoa,” Travis whispered.

“I thought I might be able to figure out what was going on if I looked at the book. But, I never got to. I could hear your voice, and suddenly I was here again.”

“What’s it say?” Travis pointed at the book.

Josh flipped through the thin pages. All the words were in a stiff practiced handwriting, like he was looking at someone’s journal. Turning to the first page, Josh saw in large bold letters: NOAH WEBSTER

“Who’s Noah Webster?” Travis asked.

“I don’t know. Is he the dictionary guy or the pirate?” Josh turned to the first page and began to read.

Created by Author, using NightCafe