Goodness, is it February already? It is! How the time does fly. I hope everyone who is in the path of the latest polar vortex is slowly defrosting. We didn’t get too hard hit here in North Carolina, but we did have several days below freezing, which is pretty dang cold for us.
Things have been fairly up and down for me. As many of you know, I’m currently on medical leave for late-stage Lyme disease and what has turned out to be a nasty toxic mold exposure. Here, for your delectation, is my literally off-the-charts results for Ochratoxin A exposure:
That was the most impressive result, but there were several more positive results as well. And that probably doesn’t capture my actual levels of exposure, since I failed to do the things you’re apparently supposed to do to get the toxins circulating before taking the test. So goodness only knows how much toxic gunk I actually have inside of me. Judging by how I feel, quite a lot.
Anyway, after a couple of months of avoiding my workplace and sitting around an air purifier, my ability to walk is coming back! A tiny bit. And there have been a lot of other nasty crashes and detoxing side effects. To paraphrase Xander Harris, it not only sounds skippable, it is skippable.
So I’m here to tell you that this toxic mold thing is no joke. Once again, you might find it illuminating to read Julie Rehmeyer’s Through the Shadowlands, which is about part of her toxic mold journey.
But enough about that! It’s time to get down to the serious business of fiction. What with all this fun I’ve been having, I thought I’d share a little excerpt from my short story/novelette “The Dragonbone Wand,” which was inspired in part by my experiences with treatments for Lyme disease and the delightful die-off reactions they trigger. It’s in the fantasy anthology The Magical Book of Wands, which is currently still free on KU if you want to go give it a read.
Available on Amazon here
Here’s that excerpt:
“You are not simply born a dragon, Laela. Well, you are, or rather, you are born with the blood and the gift, but that is not enough. You have to undergo the training. You have to undergo the change.”
“What change?” He didn’t look very changed to me, but perhaps I was missing something. Perhaps it was one of those things where fancy people used fancy words to dress up things that weren’t very fancy or exciting or interesting at all.
“You…the training…you have to change…”
“Change in what way?”
“It will make you stronger,” he said, not looking me in the eye. “That’s all. It will make you stronger.”
“But it will make me weaker first?” I guessed.
“A bit. Sometimes. It can make you…sometimes you don’t feel so good…but you will be fine. I’m sure of it. You will be fine, and you’ll have it over with by the time we arrive, and that will make the training easier, and you’ll be ahead of everyone else. Come here, Laela.” He raised his eyes and looked me straight in the face. “Come here, Laela, and take it. It won’t be so bad, you’ll see.”
I walked over to him, why I couldn’t say. My feet no longer seemed like my feet.
“Only a drop,” he cautioned, holding the vial up to my lips. “One drop, no more.” He tilted the vial.
I was clutching onto the cart to keep from falling. Joki was watching me with dispassionate concern.
“Why does it do that?” I asked. “It was like…being suddenly squeezed all over…or struck by lightning…”
“It just does,” he told me.
“Will it get better?”
“It will. Once you stop taking it. Now come. Let’s see if you’ve left any food for us.”
I tried to get Joki to tell me more about the red liquid and its effects as he made supper—despite his dire words there was no shortage of food for the humans as well as for Tähti—but he put me off with stories that seemed to twist me around more and more as I felt odder and odder, till I accused him of poisoning me.
“No,” he said. “Not like what you mean. It’s the change, working on you. It makes you feel a bit sick at times, is all. But a strong girl like you, I’m sure you’ll survive. Now go to bed, and you’ll feel better in the morning.”
I wanted to argue with him, demand more answers from him, insist on promises that he wouldn’t harm me in the night, but none of the words would come out right, so I crawled over to the cart and made up my bed underneath it, where I lay for a long time, both sleeping and waking, dreaming and seeing, until the stars came out and the moon rose and set, dragging me down into darkness with it.
Thus far I have not actually transformed into a dragon myself, but I remain hopeful. I’m afraid that the real dragons are the spirochetes and molds, though. Probably this would be a good time to meditate on the interdependence of all things, and the fact that we humans are not the masters of the universe that we like to think we are.
In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the giveaways I’m participating in this month:
The Winter Escapes Book Cave Giveaway. Revel in the cold or escape to the warmth with some fantasy!
The Clean Fantasy Creatures Reads. Find some new favorite fantasy creatures!