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  • Writer's pictureAlec Peche

End of year wrap up

In this newsletter, I thought I would give you a year end wrap up, as well as the first chapter from WITCH’S MEDICINE. Chapter One is at the end of this newsletter. Just a warning that this chapter may be full of errors as it hasn’t been edited yet. The novel is available now for pre-order. The story is a lot like a Jill Quint story, it just has a magical world thrown in for good measure. It will be released on February 16.


The first three titles in the Damian Green series are available on audible. A different narrator is working on the Jill Quint series. VIALS is available in audiobook format and the narrator is working on CHOCOLATE DIAMONDS. It’s so exciting to hear my stories come to life with narration!


2023 has been a slow year of writing. I published two novels and two short stories. It has also been the 10 year anniversary of my first published book. It seems like yesterday when I was trying to figure out how to write a story. I disliked creative writing in school, but in my professional career I was good at verbally telling stories. How that translated to the written word was quite the learning lesson. Also discovering that I was a pantser as opposed to an outlier tripped me up in the beginning. Here’s hoping that 2024 is a more productive writing year.


Two days ago I had an umbilical hernia repaired through surgery. It was an outpatient surgery and my recovery is going well. Yesterday, I walked a mile and did some yard cleanup. Coughing and sneezing hurts, but laughter does not. I have to lay off lifting heavy things and jumping/running for a month. I read a bunch of posts on Reddit about this surgery trying to figure out how much I would be able to do myself. I would say about ninety percent of the posts were wrong. I didn’t need opioids as Tylenol is doing a wonderful job at pain control. The only thing I’ve needed help with is walking the dogs. Before I scheduled this surgery, I agreed to watch a friend’s dog over the Christmas holiday. Their dog+my dog together weigh more than I do. If they jerked me to chase squirrels, I could rip my stitches open, so someone is walking them for me. Also, the one dog always poops on a walk, and I don’t think I could bend over that far to pick up the poop. TMI🫢


All of this is to say that my post anesthesia brain forgot to write this newsletter yesterday. 


Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth. See you next year.



Alec

Witch’s Medicine


Chapter One - draft


Dr. Stephanie Jones paused to look over Lord Gorman Mialynn as she was doing her usual hustle out the door to drive to her work at the Sacramento Trauma Center.


“Are you ready for the human world?”


“Is it so different from the Fae Realm?”


“You’ll be the only magical person and humans are very emotional. You’ll probably decide to tell your king to forget about this world and just let the prisoners run wild here.”


“You forget, I’m a warrior. I have many options on how to deal with difficult humans.”


“Yeah, right,” she mumbled under her breath as she exited the house and approached her car in the garage.


She showed him how to put a seat belt on and backed out of her driveway.


“Can you fly around on your home planet, or do you have a fast way to get around?”


“I can teleport anywhere I need to go. I don’t fly. I don’t have wings.”


“You may want to close your eyes here. It might seem like we’re going to crash or be crashed into at any moment.”


“I will not close my eyes,” Gormon said stiffly.


Stephanie smiled to herself and thought about her wild twenty-four hours. She treated some of the weirdest injuries in her career yesterday at work, had a few unexplained deaths, met Lord Warrior Gormon Mialynn from the fae realm, and learned that a grimoire from his world had placed itself in an old box of her medical school textbooks. The topper to the weird day was she learned she was a witch and she agreed to help the fae realm collect their fifty or so escaped prisoners roaming the earth. Yep, it was just an average day for a forty-six-year-old divorced mother and emergency medicine physician. Thankfully, her daughter was off at college and wasn’t around to question her mother’s sanity.


The previous evening, she performed a variety of medical checks on herself to prove she wasn’t hallucinating or otherwise was experiencing an altered reality. Even as she got ready this morning for work, she wondered whether Gormon would be there in the flesh.


He’d volunteered to accompany her to work and heal patients. As a physician boarded in emergency medicine, she could think of many problems with him being there - legal, moral, ethical. He wasn’t a physician, and did he even know human anatomy? He looked like a human, minus the pointy ears, so she would assume they had similar anatomy.


What convinced her to try letting him heal some of her patients was the death of a patient attacked by his escaped prisoners. They used poisons or caused trauma unlike she had seen before in her twenty years as a fully trained physician. He wasn’t prescribing medicines and wasn’t doing surgery. He was simply healing people with his hands. Maybe there would be a few miracles in her emergency room today. She hoped so—every few days a patient came in with a horrible cancer, or multiple broken bones from an accident and if her warrior friend could offer them pain relief or even accelerate their healing or diminish a tumor that would be a win in her mind.


They worked out a spell in the grimoire whereby she could see him, but he generally used an invisibility cloak when he was moving among humans. The fae realm didn’t want Gormon’s presence to be announced to the human race. He’d crossed over into earth when the fae realm realized that an accidental avalanche prevention detonation caused their suspended animation prison to reactivate and release prisoners. Gormon, with the assistance of a few other fae warriors teleported some of the prisoners back to the realm so they couldn’t hurt earthlings, but some had already escaped into the Lake Tahoe region. He needed help, but his home world was contending with the onslaught of prisoners and what to do with them two-hundred years after sentencing. One of the prisoners whom he’d sent home was a giant who would wreak havoc back in the kingdom before he was contained.


He’d followed his senses to a fairy hiding in a mountain cabin trying to warm up. She relayed what happened in the suspended animation prison and he teleported her home to be reunited with her family. He continued onward until he picked up the signal of the grimoire and approached the woman. She was startled at his presence, and he was startled that she could see him. They discovered that when her hand was on the grimoire, she could see him, if she took her hand off, his invisibility spell worked.


She occasionally glanced at him while she made the twenty-minute commute to the hospital. His eyes widened on occasion at all the cars, the light rail trains, and even the airplanes overhead. He’d asked her about those, and she explained to the best of her ability. His king had warned him that earth used technology that did some of the same things that magic did, just in a different way. Still, it was a strange world.


She pulled into the parking lot, and they exited the car. She once again went over her new spell and watched him appear and disappear before her eyes. That proved to her that hospital staff and patients wouldn’t be able to see him. She sighed and walked inside just as an ambulance was arriving. She took a quick look at the patient board and saw that the department beds were about half full now. The trauma room doors were open, and staff were gathered and ready to do their best for the arriving patient.


She called out, “Dr. Perez, need any assistance? I’m here a few minutes early.” She stood to

the side as the gurney rushed by and into the room. Her colleague answered, “Yeah, take a look at the patient in room 12.”


Stephanie nodded and logged into the patient medical record computer system to see what the details were for this case. She gave the briefest of glances at Gormon to see what he was up to. He was watching the trauma room in rapt fascination. She didn’t understand or trust his healing magic yet and made him promise he would only approach and heal patients that she approved of first.


She read a short summary of the patient, and she could see why Dr. Perez was concerned. This patient was slowly getting worse. Their vital signs were dropping and so far, no one had found out why.


Before she completely decided on what she wanted to do for the patient, she wrote a quick note to Gormon that said, heal the patient in room 12. She got up as if to glance at the activity in the trauma room and slapped the note into Gormon’s hand. She returned to perusing the data and wondered if this patient was like her previous patient harmed by one of the prisoners on the loose. After reviewing all of the data, she walked over to the room. A nurse was on one side of the bed, and Gormon was on the other side with his hand on the patient’s shoulder. His invisibility charm keeping him hidden.


“Oh, hi Dr. Jones. Have you had the chance to review this patient’s chart?”


Stephanie was happy to see it was Barbara Fox at the bedside, who was one of her favorite nurses. Friendly, competent, and caring—the best attributes of the finest nurses.


“Yes. I started my shift a little early and Dr. Perez asked me to look in on this patient. How are her vital signs?”


“In the last few minutes or so, they’ve been improving. I guess the medication is finally working.”


“That’s good to hear. Her story and symptoms sort of remind me of the hiker we had yesterday,” Stephanie said, with concern in her voice. 


“Me too. I suggested to Dr. Perez that we start blood pressure support sooner rather than later. Still, it’s puzzling what is going on.”


Stephanie watched as Gormon released the patient’s shoulder and nodded. She guessed that he’d done what he could for the patient, and she was certainly doing better. She slapped another piece of paper and sent him back to the trauma room. She was curious about what he could do and if he could even get close enough to touch the patient as usually it was crowded with staff in the trauma room.


“Did you find any mysterious arrows piercing the skin?”


“Not yet, but frankly we haven’t searched for them. Now that she seems to have stabilized, I’ll complete my examination and talk with her. She was barely coherent when she arrived about thirty minutes ago.”


Stephanie nodded and left the room confident in nurse Fox’s ability to get the full story from the patient. She was also confident that whatever Gormon had done with healing magic would counter any poison from a fae prisoner. She hated that she didn’t have a good way to communicate with him. She vowed to get a phone for him so she could text him. Perhaps he could speak telepathically to her, but then she wouldn’t be able to reply. She finished adding notes about her patient, then decided to check in with Dr. Perez to see if he needed any additional help as they were at change of shift. The trauma room was empty, so that meant they likely had taken the patient to surgery or radiology.


She looked around for Gormon and was unable to spot him. She redid her spell to be able to see him as she questioned if spells wore off, but still, she couldn’t find him. She wondered if he moved with the trauma patient. While she was distracted with him, a few more patients rolled in, and she needed to refocus on the job at hand. Before she knew it, an hour passed, and she still hadn’t seen Gormon. For all she knew, his king had called him back to his home planet.


Around lunch time, she had a break and grabbed a bite to eat in the physician's lounge. Gormon entered the room and approached her. She had her answer somewhat about whether her spell wore off as it was now four hours since she’d seen him last.


She glanced around the lounge and there were another ten physicians eating their lunch, so she wrote a note on a piece of paper she pulled out of her pocket.


Give me a few minutes to finish my lunch then follow me outside.


He nodded and used the time to glance around the room at the humans. It was a fascinating morning at Stephanie’s hospital as she called it. He’d seen the inside of human bodies and more fluids and smells than he ever expected in his life. He’d also improved the lives of the humans he’d touched and offered his healing energy to. He’d found an area with sick children and visited all of them providing healing. He was exhausted. He needed to eat and meditate. Stephanie stood up in his peripheral vision and he followed her outside of the dining area and down a corridor. She came to a room with a sign of a female wearing a skirt and opened the door. She held it open for him and he followed her inside the small room. There was a toilet and wash basin.


In a low voice she asked, “Where have you been? I thought my spell wore off as I couldn’t see you anywhere.”


“I went to the trauma room as you suggested, and that man was very sick and likely attacked by one of my prisoners. I stayed with him until it seemed like he would make it.”


“Did you go into surgery with him?”


He nodded and all Stephanie could think about was what kind of foreign bacteria and germs he had introduced into the operating room.


“We humans consider the operating room to be a sterile environment. We have staff wear gowns and booties, scrub their hands, and wear gloves so they don’t let the bacteria on their skin contaminate a patient’s wound. I’m scared to think of any foreign germs you brought with you from the fae realm.”


Gormon had puzzled over the garments people put on and the masks. In his world, a healer healed by touch. He didn’t understand the word infection. He would have to study it.


Stephanie was watching him and seemed to sense that he didn’t understand her concern. Instead, she asked, “Was the patient alive when you left them?”


“Of course,” he said, affronted.


Stephanie made a mental note to follow the patient for infection. Of course, if one of the fae prisoners caused the wounds, how would she be able to tell the source of the infection—Gormon or the fae prisoner.


“Our methods of healing must seem quite brutal compared to yours.”


“Yes. I’ve never seen the inside of a body before and so many people were tending to healing.”


“Did you stay with that patient all morning?”


“No. I wandered around and found an area housing children, so I think I healed all of them. I’m quite exhausted and need to go somewhere to meditate and regain my healing touch.”


Stephanie frowned, both pleased and worried he’d healed the children in the pediatric unit. He was a warrior and carried swords. What did he know of sick kids? Then she thought back to a conversation she’d overheard but hadn’t paid attention to in the physician’s lounge. The pediatricians were calling it a lucky day as every one of their patients had improved.


“I need a way to communicate with you. As you’ve seen we have lots of technology here. If I got you a phone, would you learn to use it? It won’t work in your world, but it will work unless there isn’t a nearby cell tower.” Stephanie asked, holding up her phone. “I can show you a text feature that will allow us to write to each other. Even if you could speak into my mind, I can’t speak into yours.”


Gormon looked at her phone and thought about her words. On the one hand, the phone seemed strange with words written on a screen that somehow traveled to another screen, but he couldn’t argue her point.


“Yes, I will do that. I will return my king and update him. Then I will recuperate and return later to your house. You can teach me about this phone device and cell towers. Will you have time to ask the two prisoners where they were attacked? We need to go hunting this evening or more humans will be injured.”


“Yes, I will get details. I don’t know if the patient who you followed to surgery will be recovered enough to talk, but I will try.”


He nodded and asked, “Anything else?”


“No, go and rest.”


He disappeared in front of her eyes. She washed her hands and then left the bathroom hoping no one was waiting for it. She was pleased that the hallway was clear. It was time to return to the emergency department and see what new patients had arrived while she had lunch. She also wanted to find time to question the two patients if they were available.


She assessed the patients awaiting her attention and also checked the status of the first patient that Gormon healed. She was still stable and there were no plans to discharge just yet. Stephanie took care of a few chest pain and pneumonia patients, and someone in a mental health crisis. Each diagnosis came with its own protocol to follow for treatment, so she didn’t have to think too hard about doing all the right things for the patients. She got a break and took time to go see the woman who was their first patient that day having likely encountered a fae prisoner.


“Hello Ms. Stencke. I’m Dr. Jones and I treated you when you first arrived. I’d like to get some more details about what happened before you arrived at the hospital this morning.”


She pulled up a chair and sat facing the young woman with pen and paper in hand.


“I don’t quite know what happened. I was walking around my neighborhood like I do every morning. I had my headphones on and suddenly, I felt dizzy. I sat down on the ground and fortunately someone walking on the opposite side of the street that I often see in my morning walks came over to see what was wrong. The next thing I knew I woke up here.”


“Were you close to your home? Had you just started your walk?”

 

Stephanie watched the women think about her morning, then she said, “I was a block away. Usually, I walk my dog with me, but he had a cut on his paw, so I left him at home. It was a good thing as I don’t think the ambulance would have brought him with me here. I need to get out of here and go home. I usually work from home, and he’ll be wondering where I am.”


“Normally, we would want to observe you overnight as you came in seriously ill, but once we stabilized your vital signs, you’ve been good all day. Do you have a blood pressure monitor at home?”


“No. I’m young and have had no blood pressure problems.”


“Is there someone you could stay with or someone that could stay with you? I wouldn’t discharge you if I thought you were going to have further problems, still, you should take precautions for a few more days as we don’t know what caused your problems to begin with.”


“I wondered if I was stung by an insect or something. I felt a slight prick in the back of my neck before I felt weird.”


“Can you show me where you felt the prick, I’d like to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction there.”


Stephanie examined the area that the patient pointed to at the edge of her hairline and there it was, a tiny arrow. She was grateful that Gormon’s healing magic countered the poison arrow.


“Just a moment, let me grab a dermatoscope. There may be a stinger, or something stuck there, but it just may be my bad eyesight.”


Jill left to grab the magnifying equipment, tweezers, and a specimen cup in her coat pocket. She needed to drop the arrow into the cup without the patient seeing anything. Fortunately, with her back to Stephanie, it wouldn’t be a problem.


Sure enough when Stephanie returned and looked through the magnifying glass, she plucked the arrow out and dropped it in the cup. It was so tiny that it made no sound. She said to her patient, “Sorry, it was a hair that I saw. You do have redness in this area, so I think you were right that you might have some kind of insect bite. Are you allergic to bees?”


“Not that I know, and I don’t recall hearing a bee.”


“Maybe it was an insect with some type of pollen on it that caused this reaction. I’ve swabbed the area, so there should be no residue left on your scalp. I’ll have Nurse Fox prepare your papers for discharge.”


“Thank you, Dr. Jones.”


She nodded and left the room. She debated whether to send the specimen cup to the lab or keep it. They already had one arrow in their possession. Maybe if she sent it with Gorman back to his world, they would learn what the poison was or who was firing the arrows. Gormon wasn’t always going to be around to heal her patients so it would be helpful if she could get a cure for the poison arrows.


The remainder of her shift was uneventful as far as the fae prisoners causing mysterious illnesses. She took a moment to log in and check on the patient that had gone to surgery. From what she read he was still recovering from his injuries and would be unable to talk. She located the ambulance report to see where he picked up. She now had a few points on a map of where the attacks by the fae prisoners had occurred. She signed out her shift to her colleague and was soon leaving her hospital’s parking structure thinking about the fae attacks.


None of them were in suburban Sacramento. The locations were in the counties closer to Lake Tahoe. She had the next day off and perhaps she and Gormon could drive towards the locations. When she got home from work, she was going to study her grimoire to see what useful spells she might learn. She was good at memorialization, and she would need some defensive skills. She would quiz Gormon on the fighting skills of the missing prisoners. Her only hope was he would arrive at her home soon.


She paused to marvel about what an outrageously wild twenty-four hours it had been. She was communicating with a man from another world. She watched him heal people with only his hands. Now she was gearing up to hunt for fae prisoners that were harming her world and planning on exploiting her unknown witch talents to be an equal partner to this warrior. She was facing a dangerous and unknown future and while she thought she should be worried; she was instead eager and excited to take on this new challenge.


 


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