An Unceasing Hunger

(sequel to The Clockwork Witch, funding now onKickstarter.)

by Michelle D. Sonnier

Arabella left her mother’s office feeling a bit dazed. She paused in the hallway, placing one hand on the wooden balustrade of the stairs leading up to the bedrooms and the other above her heart. Had she really won a victory of sorts over her mother? Would the English Council of Witches become a more modern and civilized governing body because of her? It seemed too easy. Not seven months ago she was an embarrassment and a burden to the family, and now this sudden reversal of fortune gave her the power to make demands, significant demands. Arabella couldn’t really believe it. There had to be some hidden impediment.

She sighed and let her forehead rest on the artfully carved baluster next to her hand. The swirls and dips of stylized ivy wrapping up each spindle brought back memories of gathering on the stairs with her sisters. They had peered down on the parties and meetings their mother hosted, feeling vaguely naughty that they’d given their nannies the slip so they could spy on the excitement below. She closed her eyes and inhaled the comforting scent of the wax polish the housemaids used.

Arabella let her mind wander. She felt the pull of the great clock ticking in the hall. With her third eye, she could see the black streamers of nature-based magic already beginning to bind the mechanisms. As she began to idly tease the wooly bits from the gears she remembered the afternoon she’d freed the clock from its seventeen-year slumber. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and not just a few months.

She plucked another bit of magical flotsam from a clock spring and let it float away on the metaphysical winds. Her brow furrowed as she worked her mental fingers a little deeper to dislodge a particularly stubborn bit. As it came free, a memory buried deep in her psyche jolted her.

Shining golden bands that had been swaddled under the magical roving, the words inscribed along them…




Strange symbols she couldn’t read, yet they thrummed against her soul…




And then there came the voice that spoke to her from some otherwhen… A voice as familiar to her as her own, and yet she could not name it.

Be ready.

What was she supposed to be ready for? Sweat beaded on Arabella’s brow as she remembered the bands and how much she’d had to strain to remove the deeper ones. She’d strained so hard she’d nearly killed herself in the effort to prove to her mother that she had magic in her blood. Then the bands and their messages got mislaid among her memories during the spellsickness that followed and then her desperate bid to survive and pass the Trials.

What did all those words mean? What message should she have taken from them? Arabella’s heart sank toward her stomach as she wondered whether she should have removed all of the bands at once. The last ones had been so difficult. Perhaps she should have waited until she learned more and increased her strength? But if she had not pried them free then would her mother have ever let her leave the house? Would she ever have gotten access to the Trials and the somewhat unpredictable protection she’d gained by passing them? The questions roamed through her mind in search of answers, of which there were none. Her heart began to race and she wondered again what she was supposed to be ready for. What was coming wrapped in ominous words like war and evolution, or the symbols she could not decode?

Footsteps thundering down the staircase yanked Arabella from her reverie. Her eyes flew open and she jerked her head around to see one of the housemaids scurrying down the stairs with her skirts hiked up in the most unladylike way.

“It’s time! It’s time!” She puffed as she skidded around the newel post, almost slipping on the slick marble floor. She dashed past Arabella, heading in the direction of her mother’s office. “Ms. Vivianne’s time is upon her! The babe is coming!”

Michelle D. Sonnier

Michelle D. Sonnier writes dark urban fantasy, steampunk, and anything else that lets her combine the weird and the fantastic in unexpected ways. She even writes horror, although it took her a long time to admit that since she prefers the existential scare over blood and gore. She’s published short stories in a variety of print and online venues, and has upcoming projects with eSpec Books and Otter Libris. You can find her on Facebook (Michelle D. Sonnier, The Writer) or at She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a variable number of cats. The Clockwork Witch is her first full-length novel.



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