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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 16

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My head hit the floor, and I might have blacked out for an instant as I struggled to breathe. I tried to shove her away, but she'd filled my mouth with something that tasted like propellant.

"Turn over," she said, and arms made strong from battling waves manhandled me onto my stomach. There must have been something in that handkerchief, because I couldn't resist. My arms jerked up behind me, and I froze, tears starting from the pain. Please dont dislocate them, please, I thought, going passive in her grip.

With a satisfied harrumph, she slipped a ring of charmed silver around my wrist and zipped it tight. I groaned when the ever-after washed out of me. It hurt like an old ache, even if the line was nasty, and I tried to breathe through my nose. My circle fell, but I didn't think Oliver was going to hit me with his flaming ball of puking death. Not with Brooke sitting on me.

"My God," Oliver whispered over the sound of the witch retching in the corner. "Did you feel what came out of her? She could have leveled the house!"

I wheezed when Brooke got up off me, and Oliver's sensible shoes scuffed into view. "Her aura is blacker than any I've ever seen," he added scornfully, and I grunted when Brooke's foot wedged under my ribs, and she rolled me over. Three faces peered down at me, Brooke, Oliver, and he youngest, gawky guy, again conscious and holding his head. A faint sparkling sifted from the high windows, and I closed my eyes. Jax. Nick mew what had happened here and done nothing to help. Same old Nick.

"Oliver, get Amanda unspelled, will you?" Brooke said as she held her wrist. "And check on Wyatt while you're at it. I don't know why you use four ley-line skills. You're not good with them."

"Because you insisted on doing this too close to the ocean for my charms to work," he snarled.

"What does it matter? We've got her."

Interesting, I thought as I finally got that wad out of my mouth.

"Barely," Oliver said, and Brooke arched her eyebrows and nudged me in the ribs. "I didn't like this, and I still don't," he added. "We could have gotten a demon instead."

"Don't be silly, she's not a demon. She's just a witch," Brooke said. "A stupid one at that, who thinks she is in control and clearly isn't. Besides, it's not illegal to summon demons."

"It should be." Oliver was still breathing hard from the exertion, and starting to sweat.

"I think the media made her out to be more than she is." Brooke peered at me like I was a bug. "She didn't do one spell. She had the opportunity and the motive."

"It was a demon name that wizard used to summon her," Oliver protested, examining the eyes of the witch I'd knocked out before then clapping him on the back in support.

"We only have his say-so that it was a demon name," Brooke said. "He could have lied, trying to pay us off with a wooden coin painted gold."

From out of my sight, Amanda rasped between her gagging, "Oliver. Some help, please?"

Expression thoughtful, Oliver and the gawky witch went to take care of Amanda and Wyatt, leaving only Brooke. I glared at her, grunting when she nudged me with her toe.

"A witch couldn't have broken a coven circle, phone or not," she whispered, looking almost hungry. "No, you're something special, Rachel."

"I'm going to take my something special and shove it up your ass," I muttered, helpless.

Lips pressed, Brooke flipped me over. I immediately turned back, but she had taken my phone from my back pocket, and I stiffened when I heard Ivy, telling me she was going to kill me if I didn't answer her. Brooke smirked at my glare and closed the top, breaking the connection before tucking it in her pocket. The sound of chanting drifted to me, and finally Amanda stopped retching.

Brooke leaned close under the pretense of pulling me to a seated position. "Why didn't you call your demon? You know how. I can see the smut on you."

I lifted my chin. "I'm not a black witch," I said, but a sharp tug on my arm cut my argument short. "Ow! Watch it, will you?" I was sitting upright as the others came back and ringed me in a justice that went all the way back to our beginnings. No one would know. And in time, no one would care.

"Rachel Morgan," Brooke intoned, and I knew this was it. "You hereby have the choice of becoming magically neutered and rendered incapable of bearing children - or permanent imprisonment in Alcatraz."

I stared at them, appalled. "You are bullies. All of you," I said, then yelped when Wyatt shoved me over. My breath whooshed out, and I flipped the hair from my eyes, glaring at them.

"Alcatraz it is," Brooke said, pleased.

The heat was on against the damp chill in the low-ceilinged room where we ate, but I still felt cold.
It was noon according to the clock past the gates that separated us from the kitchen, but it was three by my internal clock, and I was hungry. The scrambled eggs in front of me were not going to pass my tongue, however. They looked good enough, but the sulfur in them would give me a migraine. It smelled funny in here, sort of a mix of dead fish and decayed redwood.

Depressed, I picked at a piece of toast, thinking the butter tasted off. Not enough salt? I wondered, dropping it. I almost wiped my hands on my spiffy-keen, orange jumpsuit, but stopped at the last moment. Not knowing when I'd get a new one, I licked my fingers instead. Across from me was my upstairs neighbor, a sallow-looking witch who had ignored me so far as he dipped his toast into his coffee before eating it. To my left was Mary. I'd met her earlier by way of conversation around the wall between us, and my first sight of her had been a shock; the woman was so thin she looked ill. To my right was a middle-aged guy who never spoke. Most everyone was talking. Alcatraz wasn't a big place, and it was kind of... homey. Maybe it was because we were on an island with no ley lines, surrounded by salt water. There simply was no escape.

Unhappy, I pushed my tray away and sat with my plastic coffee mug. I'd been here since the midnight boat brought me over with a load of canned goods, handcuffed to a pole in the middle of the boat. Since then, I'd showered in salt water in a big empty room - as if being on an island surrounded by salt water wouldn't take care of earth charms on its own - reshowered in freshwater, been poked, prodded, gossiped over, and given a new band of charmed silver with my name on it. It had been a relief to finally get to my cell, where I fell into an exhausted sleep hours before everyone else. I felt like a dog at the pound. And like a dog, I worried that my owner wouldn't come pick me up. I hoped it was Ceri who summoned me out of here, not Al. I couldn't call Al for help while I wore charmed silver, but he could summon me. I had to believe that I'd be summoned by someone, eventually.

At least I'd gotten the cremation ashes off me, I thought as Mary jostled my elbow, and I blinked when her smile showed she was missing a tooth.

"You heard about the food then?" she said, glancing at my tray, pushed to the middle.

"What do you mean?" I took a sip of coffee.

"They drug it," she said, and the guy across from us shrugged, continuing to tuck in.

I didn't swallow, my mouth full of coffee as my gaze went between them, wondering if it was truth or prison razzing. The big guy across from me seemed to be enjoying his breakfast, but Mary looked like she hadn't eaten in years.

"It is!" she said, eyes wide in her thin face. "They put in an amino acid that binds to the receptors in your brain to chemically strip you of your ability to do magic if you eat enough."

I spit the coffee out, and the guy across the table guffawed as he chewed. Feeling ill, I set the coffee aside, and Mary nodded, adding enthusiastically, "Your sentence is based on how much of your ability they want to take away. I've got thirty years left."

The witch across from me finished his eggs and eyed mine. "You'd get early parole and be out of here by spring if you'd eat," he said.

Mary cackled at that, and I glanced at the guards, busy not caring. "So how long are you in for, Rachel?" she asked, eyes on the demon scar on my wrist. She obviously knew what it was. "Life," I whispered, and Mary cringed.

"Sorry. I guess you should eat, then. I got sixty years for killing my neighbor," she said proudly. "His damned dog kept peeing on my monkshood."

"Monkshood Mary... ," I said, recollection raising my eyebrows. "You re Monkshood Mary? Hey! I read about you in school!"

She beamed, extending her hand. "Hey, Charles, see? I'm still famous. Glad to make your acquaintance," she said as if having rehearsed it a thousand times, and I took her bird-light hand, feeling like it might break in my grip.

"I'm Charles," the man across from me said, and his hand engulfed mine. "That there is Ralph," he added, nodding to the silent man on my right. "He doesn't talk much. Been kinda down since the cell next to him went empty last year."

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