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(Earlier parts are linked on the Amie’s Fiction page.  I’m working on turning this into a full novel and have revised a lot of it to accommodate a longer and more involved story.)

The boys were just off the side of the bright blue slide, Puccini lying down, licking his paw like it was made of bacon while Webber danced in front of him, barking at the… the thing in front of him.

It was a foot tall purple plant with gold petals draping down from its center like ringlets.

Webber kept barking, darting up to the plant to growl and running away. He pulled back his black doggie lips and barked once, running in, teeth flashing.

One of the golden ringlets reared back.

I was moving before my brain caught up. Concentrated speed rushed through my muscles and I covered the ten feet in a second, swooping Webber up and jerking back before the flower could swing.

I huffed like I’d just ran a five minute mile and my knees knocked together as I shivered. It was always like that when I used my speed. Like I’d downed a triple espresso while snorting cocaine and was just coming down.

The flower turned its face towards me and I swear if a flower can look confused, it did.

I flipped it off and kneeled next to Puccini. A sharp purple quill stuck out of the paw he was licking.

“Ohhhh, baby.” I put Webber down, with a “Sit,” and took Puccini’s paw. He whined and twitched but didn’t pull away. The spire looked deep. He was probably standing right over the monster flower when it shot up.

Ever since the Awakening, weird stuff just happened.

A few plants and animals that’d been perfectly normal before became sentient. Environmental lawyers had a field day. And then they hit the courts with talking animals and flowers that learned sign language to argue for their rights. A friend’s ex worked in Atlanta as a lobbyist for magical creatures’ rights and got a bill passed protecting the rights of sentient trees in Georgia last year. I knew other people who wrote up contracts to license the newly “freed” plants’ produce to their old owners.

Lots of pissed off peach farmers.

Other magical beings appeared randomly, made from thin air. Some people, like me, suddenly got powers. And physical rules just went out for coffee breaks in certain spots.

Magic, running amok as it reestablished itself in the world.

Puccini squirmed against my hold and I made soothing sounds as I grabbed the spike. I pulled it out quickly and Puccini howled, jerking his paw away. But at least I got it.

It was four inches long, thin as a needle, and sharp enough to separate molecules. The first half inch was dark with Puccini’s blood.

“Bitch!” I snapped at the flower. It straightened a petal and pointed at me. I pointed back. “Even think about it and I swear I’m running to the store. Can you say weed-wacker? You may get me with a few of those spikes, but I guarantee it’ll be the last thing you do.”

The petal lowered slowly.

“Yep. That’s what I thought.”

I was threatening to murder a freaking flower. God, life had gotten weird.

I put Puccini down and he went back to licking his paw. I called the magic hotline and told them about the flower and the danger it posed and they said they’d send a witch right over to investigate.

The hotline was a non-profit that had only been up and running for a little over a year. The new witches who’d put it together tracked the magical occurrences, talked to the new sentient beings, determined if they should be moved and if they were dangerous, hired lawyers to help with getting them settled and established in the human world, and put up a website mapping everything new and weird.

They were doing wonderful work. I kept telling myself when I had time, I’d volunteer. You don’t have a lot of weekends free when you’re a baby prosecutor though.

Though, I really should’ve made time. They were finding more and more events every day and couldn’t keep up with it lately according to their website. It was like magical events were building instead of tapering off like the theorists were hypothesizing.

I picked up my boys and walked home.

So much for our exercise for the night.

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