Sweets Off the Wheel May-Hem Spinalong

Clue the Two

To get the answer, multiplied together the clues should be.
Search the text below for the corresponding numbers three.
(The numbers are based not on numerals in text but in frequency.)

Meditation is key to accomplish a task of insanity.
A misplaced foot can lead to failure and tragedy.
What one is not supposed to do, often does she.


You must show the math and PM the answer to me.


Chapter 1

“Okay, I can do this,” Rashida said to herself softly, her voice cracking a bit. “Shit,” she said, more convincingly; she didn’t feel nearly ready for this task, never would. But she had no choice.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, trying to calm the panic rising within her and quell the thoughts of how utterly ridiculous what she was doing is. She opened her eyes, pulled out an elastic hair tie to put up her long, tight curls in the closest approximation of a ponytail her hair would let her do, and she fished out of her pocket the compass that would guide her way. It was small, encased in bronze pitted and darkened with age. Underneath the scratched glass cover, the small reptilian claw, digits curled but for one that pointed the way toward her goal, looked almost as if it were still attached to its body. It showed no signs of age like the bronze casing did, and the arm looked healthy, scaly skin still vibrant with greens and blues and an occasional flash of sparkling gold. Etched in the bronze beneath the lizard-claw pointer were symbols that were a mystery to her, directional coordinates that had nothing to do with the Earth’s poles. Maybe. She didn’t have time to learn everything about her new reality and the compass’ full utility; for now, knowing that it pointed the way to the closest nexus was enough.

The claw in the compass pointed ahead of her, southeast, she thought. Despite the sun blazing overhead, air pressing down heavy and wet, cicadas warbling cacophonously in the distance, the swampy forest that stretched before her was dark and ominously quiet. Roots jutted up from the watery muck like angry little teeth, reaching for her, silently straining to devour her.

Cautiously, Rashida took a step forward, into the hungry, oppressive forest, following the barest hint of a path ahead of her. Three steps later, she stumbled on a fallen branch, catching herself on some dangling vines, perilously close to falling face-first into the muck ahead of her. She righted herself and tried to continue on, but the foot she had thrust ahead to help catch herself was stuck in the mud. She tried to pull her leg free, and it came out of the calf-high rubber boot. Sighing, she braced her free foot on the path, grabbed the dangling vines with one hand, and squatted down to grab the boot out of the muck with her other hand. It came free with a squelching sound, and she put her foot back into it.

Walking more carefully, she slowly made her way deeper into the swamp, brushing Spanish moss, vines, and dangling branches out of her way, swatting swarms of mosquitoes that rushed at her as if they had been starved for months. Mosquitoes were the only other living creatures she saw in the swamp, and it seemed to her that they told all of their buzzing buddies that she was a tasty feast. She wearied of swatting at them, but every bite, a reflexive slap stung her skin where a mosquito had been. Every inch of her itched; she had red welts all over her creamy brown skin; and she had been sweating profusely since the moment she stepped into the swamp. She felt rivers of sweat streaming down her back, pooling at the top of the tight jeans that made her legs uncomfortably warm and didn’t seem to offer any protection from the mosquitoes’ bites.

The bugs and her discomfort made it more difficult to traverse the swamp. She stumbled often, she fell to her knees more than once, and in one particularly bad patch, she spent fifteen minutes digging out both of her boots, leaving her hands caked with mud and her feet and socks soaked and muddy. She wiped her hands as clean as she could on the sides of her jeans, but there was little she could do for her wet, dirty feet. Mud and sweat coated her face and clothes, her tan-highlighted curls grew limp and heavy with the humidity, and her feet squelched uncomfortably within her boots. Rashida perched on a somewhat solid patch of dirt to take a rest and have a drink of water. Despite the wetness of the air that made it hard to breathe, she felt dehydrated from all the sweating. She slid her water bottle back into the sleeve on her belt and pulled the compass out of her pocket to check her direction. The scaly claw spun about and quivered, pointing further east.

She grabbed her phone and pressed the power button to check how much time had passed. Her phone turned on, and a swirl of characters streamed in all directions, her background photo swirling into an unrecognizable jumble. She felt like screaming. What the hell am I doing here? Rashida thought, frantically. She already felt unprepared to face the challenge in front of her, and technology she had always relied upon couldn’t help her here if she got into trouble. She just wanted to take a shower, wrap up in the blanket her mother crocheted for her, and drink an entire bottle of wine, calories be damned.

At the thought of her mother, she sobered, her heart dropped, and she felt a helplessness so powerful she had to choke back the wail that threatened to escape her lips.

Clamping down on her thoughts and brushing away the stream of tears that mingled with the sweat and mud on her face, she stood up suddenly and lurched forward in the direction the claw had pointed, shoving her phone and the compass back into her pocket. She tried to focus on her goal, on putting one foot forward onto solid ground, followed by another foot forward onto somewhat solid ground.

Her mind felt numb, wanting to think about her mother but shying away from it, and she stumbled yet again. She caught herself before falling face-first into a murky puddle. As she straightened up, she saw a movement on a fallen, rotten log at the edge of the water off to her left, leaving ripples on the puddle’s surface. Surprised, because she had seen no other creature besides mosquitoes since stepping into the swamp, she studied the log, hoping to catch a glimpse of what had just dove behind the log into the water.

She saw no further movement, but slowly, she noticed something else: a writhing shimmering, colored like marbled, bloody, raw meat.

She felt icy dread crystallizing in her gut, and the shimmering red aura blinked out of sight. It was a trap, she knew, meant to distract her or lead her away from her goal, perhaps to just kill her outright.

Were there other traps, ones that I didn't even notice? Rashida wondered, uncertainty growing inside her. She tried to focus on the spot she had seen the shimmering, focusing on identifying the aura like she had been taught. Gritting her teeth, she growled in frustration, curling up her fist and banging it against her leg. Damnit! It laid traps for me, it knows I’m coming here, how can I possibly defeat this creature if I can’t even see the traps it set?

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, centering herself, trying to control her rising panic, her doubts, her discomfort.

Breathe. Exhale. Breathe. Exhale. She felt calmer, her breathing less ragged, the storm raging through her mind quieting. Focus. Build your energy. Open your eyes slowly.

Her eyelids raised at a glacier’s pace. She saw a riot of colors erupt from behind her eyelashes. Each tree, each mucky depression, each dangling chain of Spanish moss had its own hue, its own energy, greens, blues, bright pink, flaming yellows, all swirling, distinct but inseparable, binding the land, the creatures, the plants all together with the power of water, stone, life. One by one, Rashida filtered out the noise in the swamp, focusing only on the writhing meat-colored auras, the traps the creature had set for her. It was like getting her vision checked at the eye doctor—“1, or 2? 3, or 4?” One by one, the filters were removed, until everything looked normal, except for the dark, malicious intent of the traps swirling on logs, on the path ahead, dangling overhead on branches and vines.

This exercise pushed her doubts to the back of her mind; she felt ready, she was powerful and capable. If she could so quickly identify and filter all of the auras in such a vast, wild ecosystem, what chance did the creature stand against her? She confidently strode forward, feeling like the path was suddenly easier. She stumbled no more, her feet finding solid ground with each step, her power helping her avoid the traps the creature had laid for her. She exalted in her new confidence and reveled in the power she felt.

She stopped. All light had disappeared, like flipping a switch. How did it grow dark so soon? It should still be afternoon right now! Rashida thought frantically. She felt suddenly exhausted and hungry, and her legs burned from miles she didn’t remember treading. She looked around, trying to see whether she recognized a particular tree or fallen log. The panic swelling within her burst out of her mouth in a short, shrill yelp. She could barely see in the darkness that pressed in on her. The darkness felt solid, she could feel it pushing at her, trying to crush the air from her lungs. She wished she had brought a flashlight. She reached into her pocket, fishing for her phone, hoping the flashlight app might somehow still work despite the phone’s malfunction. She stiffened—her phone and the compass weren’t in her pocket, where she had shoved them the last time she checked her direction. Her fingers flew to her belt, checked each pocket, pulled out the water bottle from its pouch several times in her frantic search. She even took off each boot to check within to make sure she hadn’t somehow put them in there.

She felt goosebumps on her arms and the back of her neck. She had lost her phone. More important, she had lost her compass. She must have been caught by one of the traps the creature had laid for her. Who knows how long I was wandering around this swamp? How the hell will I find the creature now? I have no idea where I am, or where its home is, she worried. I’m lucky to still be alive. It could have killed me while I traipsed around. She shivered, cold realization of how close she had come to death sobering her.

Defeated, she sank down to her knees in the soft dirt. Despair clenched her stomach, she bent over, muscles cramping like she would vomit. She gagged, and cried, and hit the ground with her fist.

The ground hit her back with a rush of power.

Stunned, she paused mid-wail. She “tasted” the power, rolled it around in her mind like swishing a fine wine in her mouth. It didn’t feel like the power that had laid the traps for her, it felt more organic, like a cool summer’s breeze, none of the taste of rotting detritus and malice that had flavored the aura of the traps.

Rashida’s power flowed out of her, through her palms into the earth, like water flowing down a mountain seeking the sea. She found angry, pulsing tendrils of energy that were draining the swamp of that multicolored jumble of power, draining the very life force of the earth and all life in the swamp. The tendrils of power wrapped around tree roots, branched into watery pits, speared into fallen logs, and dangled down from branches to suck up all the energy they could find. The creature is draining this swam. The trees are stuck here, but all the larger animals must have left to escape the creature. Grimly, she thought, Or maybe the animals all died.

Rashida shoved her power deeper into the ground, flowing along these tendrils like electricity along a metal wire, tracing them back to their source. Her questing power was soon blocked by a dense force, a wall of power that kept her from tracking the tendrils back to the creature that had turned this swamp into this dark, menacing land.

Her power spread around the wall, finding its edges, looking for a crack to break through. Before she could explore it fully, she felt a jolt and a sizzle that snapped her power back into her with a force that left her breathless and her palms smoking with heat. Gasping like a fish out of water, she struggled to breathe while waving her hands in front of her in a futile attempt to cool them off.

Her doubts disappeared as she regained her ability to breathe. Her palms were crisp from the power of the creature’s defenses; she would have to visit a doctor when she completed her mission. That could wait—she would not be deterred, not when she was so close. The creature was scared of her, she knew. It was hiding, trying to distract her, hurting her just enough in the hopes that she would back off. But it just solidified her resolve, made her more intent on facing the creature.

Almost effortlessly, Rashida gathered her power. She felt it well up inside her, vast, swirling, dense eddies of power filling her up, continuing to build and build. With the power continuing to rush into her, she glided through the swamp toward the barrier she had felt while tracking the creature’s power. It was nearby, and she found herself in a clearing, one large tree sitting on top of a small island. She felt the energy here, tingling and electric; she was right, the creature had made its home on top of the nexus in this swamp. It was siphoning the power of the trees and the wildlife, amplified by the energy of the nexus, like a never-ending all-you-can-eat buffet.

At the edge of the island, standing in the mucky water that encircled it, Rashida reached out one seared hand toward where she knew the barrier to be. The invisible energy felt like a brick wall, solid and unyielding. She directed the vast, swirling energy within her into her outstretched hand and pushed that power into the blockade. The thrust of power made the fallen branches and grass on the island dance as the earth beneath shuddered. She forced more power into the wall, focusing it narrowly, trying to punch a hole through. She felt the barrier crumbling, the creature’s power chipping and flying away like bricks being hit by a sledgehammer.

The wall fell all at once, and Rashida stepped forward onto the island, shimmering with the power swirling around her. She paused as what she saw before her changed and shifted. The tree at the top of the hill writhed and reformed, branches shifting and clumping to both sides, sludge and rotting debris dripping from a collection of branches in the center that looked uncomfortably like a face, with two hollows that seemed to suck in the darkness of the swamp. The darkness swirled into orbs, and she felt those dark orbs staring at her.

Rashida felt sudden pity for the creature, and the rushing eddies of power slowed and trickled away from her. The creature cowered in front of her, shaking and afraid, trying to make itself small so it wouldn’t be noticed, like a child hiding in the corner behind the couch to escape the attention of his angry, drunken father who is yelling at and hitting his mother. She didn’t like being feared; she had never thought of herself as someone who could terrify anything, let alone the powerful creature that was trembling and timid at her approach.

That moment of doubt was all the creature needed. It lurched forward and struck Rashida across the chest with one of the clusters of branches that served as its arms. Rashida tumbled through the air, landing on her back with a hard thump on a patch of ground ten feet away. Her body felt broken, she struggled to breathe, and her tank top dangled in shreds from the blow. The creature crouched on the hill, swirling dark eyes on her battered body, arm-branches thrust into the earth in front of it.

Rashida felt a tingle as the creature fed on the power of the swamp, growing stronger, but she couldn’t focus, couldn’t gather her own power while she winced at the pain in her chest with each gasp for air. She grabbed at her belt, fumbling for the ornate knife hanging from it. She ripped it out of its sheath and felt the hilt grow warm at her touch. The warmth spread throughout her body, making her breathing easier, lessening the aches in her body and the crushing pain in her chest. The sharp blade glowed in the darkness. The creature’s head twitched, its attention shifting to the dagger in Rashida’s hand. A low, crackling rumble emerged from the creature’s face; it was growling at her, and it started toward her in a rolling, lurching gait.

Without thinking, Rashida thrust her free hand against the ground. With a fwomp that felt like air violently whooshing into a vacuum, her power expanded throughout the swamp. Distantly, she could feel her power touching every tree, every pool of murky water, every mosquito nymph wriggling in the water, even every mosquito buzzing through the air full of her blood. She drew the energy of the swamp into her, severing the creature’s power tendril by tendril until it cowered before her in unfeigned fear.

Rashida got her legs beneath her and stood up, still stiff and beaten despite the gentle healing warmth of her blade. She held her free hand up toward the creature and shoved all of the power she had collected toward it. The air rippled and shimmered with the rush of that energy, the moisture in the air turning into a cloud of steam as the power shot forward. The creature convulsed and shuddered. Loud pops and snaps of wet wood burning were drowned out by a keening wail, an impossible cry of pain coming from the steaming mound of branches and muck. The steam turned to black smoke as the creature burst into flame with the heat of the power Rashida thrust into it. Its cry ended suddenly, but the pops and snaps of its limbs disintegrating and burning continued until only a pile of dense, black ash remained.

Rashida felt the power unclench within her, flowing back to the swamp, leaving her feeling empty, alone, incomplete.

She fell to her knees in exhaustion, her heart pounding and her mind scrubbed clean, barely able to comprehend what she had done, let alone rejoice at accomplishing her goal. She counted her heartbeats, feeling her racing heart slow as she calmed and came back to herself.

…fourteen, fifteen…, she counted, and by the next heartbeat, she had collapsed in a heap, unconscious.

17 Responses to Sweets Off the Wheel May-Hem Spinalong

  1. Hello friends! Have fun spinning!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm lame, I just followed the doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm lame, I just followed the doctor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. those who follow the Doctor are far from lame, they have the most exciting adventures

      Delete
  4. This is happay, have fun spinning!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Woo hoo!! Way to go Happay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. couldn't have done it without you!

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  6. Woohoo! Great Job Sherlock.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Woohoo!!!!! this is bettycrackpot

    ReplyDelete
  8. Way to go, Rachel! Now what?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. now we wait for the Master to reappear with more fun

      Delete
    2. now we wait for the Master to reappear with more fun

      Delete
  9. It's the 16th over here now...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wakey wakey Ken... Have some coffee?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't yet, I was too busy doing final editing and clue-writing for you!

      You posted while I was formatting everything. Go! Read!

      Delete

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