The entries are all in! All 14 of them!* A pretty good haul, eh? To vote, please read through the entries and provide the titles/entry numbers of at least four of them. Voting will last on through the week, ending on August 28, at which point the thread will be locked and I will tally the votes.** Don't vote for yourself unless you are lame.
*(Note: If I've somehow forgotten to include your entry, or if I've somehow transcribed it incorrectly, please let me know so that that can be remedied!)
**The winner gets to pick the next theme. They'll have two or three days to decide before the next contest starts. Also, they get a banner, lol.
making things dissapear
pulling a rabbit from a hat
hearing the future from some seer
magic is none of that
the true magic is of a different brand
magic is the phone in your hand
magic is the computer you look at now
magic is the TV you watch for news
one may ask but how
magic is what we don't understand,
a form of technology we just don't get
100 years past we would be magical to everyone
100 years future we would be advance to none
magic is the future of the land
magic is technology we have not yet met.
Entry #2: Whispering Wizard
The birds go soaring by the window, while my pen glides on paper.
I wave my hand and a book is brought to my hand,
flying through the air without physical force.
I'm writing down my latest spell,
"A small pinch of the finest fruit,
a refined powder brought in with a scoop,
pour some water and allow it to dilute,
and a wave of the wand in a circular loop.
It's one of the most powerful spells ever conceived,
never before has an attempt be made.
If my calculations are correct...
I'll be able to control every season.
Every drop of rain, every chip of rock,
every flowing river, every blade of grass.
Every cloud in the sky, every fish in the sea,
all will belong
My preparations complete, I exit my tower,
not through the door, but with a snap,
and there I stand on the beach.
On the sand in windy weather,
the expansive sea on the horizon.
I remove from my pouch the materials needed,
to sow the seeds of death's arrival.
Feel the world and wave my finger,
every creature appears in my mind.
Every atom that says it is alive
is bent to my will and listens to me.
From here I smile and laugh with the wind,
for I am the most magical one of them all.
Entry #3: The Season Ends, The Party Begins
“Password please,” slurs the fat lady,
With a subtle tinge of acrylic brandy,
I reply “Oddment Tweak!”
Her portrait swings open, with an inebriated hiccough.
The common room gives an explosive roar;
Filibuster’s fireworks dart, zoom, spiral, crash,
Raining chromatic sparks upon the revelling students,
Experienced marauders orchestrating each delightful detonation.
At one side, a gaggle of geese,
Reaching the zenith of their gargle become zebras,
And from there, further transfigured to ravens, badgers, miniature dragons,
Before returning to their giggling human forms,
Discarded Wizard Wheezes decorating the carpet.
And in the centre, the reigning champions,
Aeolian warriors still wearing their crimson garbs,
Celebratory cheering fuelling the fiery atmosphere,
And victorious gestures fuelling fiery thoughts,
With food and drink and sparks and laughter,
On the beautiful cause of commotion I ponder.
Entry #4: Night Delivery
The cold wind ripped through my heavy wool jacket as if it were mere parchment, stinging my nose with its cruel kiss and causing my fingers to contort with its gelid grip. Dainty snowflakes cascaded from the heavens, driven by the harsh gusts coming up the side of the dark mountain. The warm flickering of our oil lanterns upon the bow and stern gave little solace as we silently drifted toward our unknown destination, the soft humming of the screw and blades rhythmic and pulsing.
I had never been that far north before, let alone so high up in an airship in the dead of night. I didn’t know why they had chosen me, either. Sure, I had held my own in a fight or two, and I was a decent caster with bluefire, but I was no warrior, no patriot; but the pay was oddly high, and the suits didn’t look as if they would take no for an answer anyway, so I accepted. Little did I know that I’d be freezing my tail off that close to the northern border with no clue as to why I was there in the first place.
All they said was “bring your blade”, and that I had. I checked the green hilt protruding from the scabbard strapped to my back and gave it a slight pull, ensuring it hadn’t frozen within – that had never happened before, but the thought still made me paranoid, what with the creatures that roamed that cursed mountain range and all. Hopefully our approach by air would be masked enough for us to enter without being noticed.
“Here,” my assigned companion, Gordon Halliwick, whispered. “We’re close.”
Halliwick was a massive, red-faced Irishman from northeast America, with beady eyes, flaming red hair, and a temperament fit for a rabid wolfhound with a belly full of liquor. Though even he, while in the shadow of the mountain, was keen on remaining anonymous among the trees. In his large hands was a lumpy patchwork bag with shoulder straps – parachuting gear.
“What of the ship,” I whispered back as I took the bag, my eyes fraught with concern. “How are we to return?”
“Priority first, destination second,” was all the reply he gave as he slung on his own bag, certainly inspiring little confidence in my half-frozen blood. He glanced at the aft cabin, where the ship’s pilot sat, and gave him a simple farewell wave, which the grey-bearded man returned.
Halliwick checked his own weapons – a battle-weary axe, two revolvers, and an assortment of knives, sound grenades, and a twelve-shot, abnormally lengthy repeater rifle with a silver stock. All I carried was my one sword, simple yet effective, but in this man’s laden presence I was feeling terribly inadequate and underwhelming.
Both our parachutes secure, he motioned me to join him at the side of the ship, which I did without question. He peered over the edge, into the nothingness that was the whitened forestry below. Glimpses of moonlight gave brief snapshots of the ground far, far down, though almost not far enough for a deployable parachute to be effective, in my meager experiences with them.
Halliwick turned away and sat down, pressing his back against the inner hull of the ship. “Okay, listen now. We’re going to jump, deploy our ‘chutes right as we throw ourselves overboard. They won’t glide us down, but the landing will be softer than otherwise. Roll when you hit – check your weapon, make sure it won’t gore you upon landing.”
I reached for the scabbard and found a thin strip of leather and a clasp, snapping it over the hilt to keep it secure.
“Once we hit,” he continued, “ditch the bag and follow after me. But whatever you do, don’t take out that edge – the gleam is too easy to see. No magic either; they can smell it for miles. Hopefully we won’t need them, but you best be set. You know what’s out there, I presume?”
I nodded. “More than I’d like to, I’d reckon.”
“Good. Ready yourself!”
Before I could answer, Halliwick was already gone, tearing at his pull string to open his parachute before he was even in the air, and plummeting to the ground below. Not wanting to fall behind, I did the same and threw myself overboard, a fit of adrenaline surging through my veins as I felt the sudden gut-wrenching feeling of falling. I mimicked his motion best I could, yanking hard upon that pull string, and dared keep my eyes open to the rapidly approaching tree line.
After a brief free fall and a sudden yank on my body, just moments before the ground hit, my parachute gave only enough lift to spare me some severely broken bones, the feathery snow taking care of most the rest of the force as I rolled. It still felt like leaping off a single-storied rooftop, the frozen stiffness in my muscles not doing me any favors. Snow seeded through my jacket and down the back of my neck – if I wasn’t awake before, I sure as hell was then.
Getting my bearings, scarcely able to see my surroundings, I caught eye of Halliwick some twenty meters to my left, his feet churning through the snow. Sensing he would not wait for me, and not wanting to be lost in these alien, infested mountains alone, I sped after him. I cursed his long legs – one step of his equated two of my own.
After a time of rushing across the frozen terrain, we came to a rise and then a steep hill that lifted before us, Halliwick slowing down to a stop and listening to the air: complete silence. The sound of snow falling was omnipresent; so deathly quiet you could hear your own internal organs pulsing in your ears. He looked all around himself, seeming to be analyzing past memories, before deciding upon a heading: up.
Both of us knew they were out there, could somehow sense them hiding in the trees, and we knew beyond our own darkest misgivings that they knew we were there, too, but an uneasy truce ensued – they must not have been hungry; good timing for a trek through their den.
Still, I dared remove the clasp on my sword.
I followed my guide for a time in that anxious situation, wondering if he truly knew where he was going, until my fears were disproven: a massive iron door came into view, protruding from the side of the mountain like a vault, and a faint vapor of steam was escaping from a near grate.
There were people out here? That far into the north? I was troubled by the revelation, though still curious as to why; one further, how that involved me.
Lifting up a thick panel, the ox barely able, Halliwick motioned for me to pull a lever that was underneath. I did, the rusted bar stiff and grating, which set in motion the sounds of clockwork and a steam engine. A breath of warmth washed over the both of us and the door pushed outward, brushing away the piled snow at its base, and revealing a lighted, inviting cavern. The electric light spilled out onto the outside world like a beacon.
“Go now,” Halliwick yelled, foregoing all inhibitions and urging me on.
The sound of huffing breaths and running could be heard carrying on the wind. Knowing all too well what drew near, I dove inside the door, spun, and unsheathed my weapon, baring it more like a shield than a proper sword. I watched from within as Halliwick let the panel drop onto his shoulder so he could pull the lever again to draw the door shut. With his free hand he brandished one of his revolvers and fired three shots outward, curses escaping his breath as the slow door began to pull again to its original position.
“Come on, Halliwick,” I pleaded, my heart racing. “What are you waiting for? Get in here!”
Two more shots rang out before he relented and slipped inside. The consternation at the forefront of my thoughts quickly leaped into horror when a grayish, muscular, human-like arm reached in and swiped at Halliwick’s chest with fearsome claws, barely missing. I looked away as the door closed and crushed the arm, severing it off completely, the nightmarish extremity dropping to the ground and twitching slightly before falling still.
“My god,” I uttered. “Was that…one of them?”
Halliwick did not respond. Instead, he dropped the empty casings from his revolver and reloaded it with fresh rounds, motioning for me to follow.
I gawked at it still, even more terrified than before of what such a thick limb would be attached to – the stories in the papers did them little justice to their actual size. Even Halliwick’s burly arms paled in comparison.
Heavy pounding and scratching could be heard on the other side of the door, and a cold sweat came over me.
“Hey, you,” Halliwick yelled from the far end of the entry room. “Let’s move!”
I purged my thoughts and followed, but kept my sword ready.
We passed through three more similar doors, each as heavy and presumably impenetrable as the last – Halliwick had been disabling the opening mechanisms as we passed, apparently expecting unwanted visitors. The air became gradually warmer the further in we went, the downward-sloping back making our heels clop. Crudely-cut rock flooring soon shifted into even surfaces, then ornate tiles, and even onto plush, opulent carpets. Halliwick stopped at one particular junction and removed his coat, boots, and weapons, neatly placing them inside a cut-out nook. I did the same, though slightly trembled when I sheathed my blade and set it down.
“Is that you, Gordon,” a female voice asked from down the adjacent hall.
Halliwick turned to the voice and nodded. “Rachel.”
A woman wearing a dark shawl and a nurse’s cap came into view, pushing an empty wheelchair. Her expression was one of genuine concern, almost fear-laden. “Why are you here so soon? We still have a few weeks until the next move, don’t we?”
“We did, but no longer. We gotta go – I’d guess it’s only a matter of minutes before the Reds make it this way.”
Reds? I held my peace, but wanted to pummel the man. I was never one for politics, never cared for the war that had recently ended, but now I had been involved. I chided myself for not recognizing the blatant signs and staying out of it, though still I did not know why we were there.
She looked upon Halliwick with pleading gray eyes. “They’re in no shape for travel. Can it not wait until dawn once they’re rested?”
Who? Who in their right mind would hole up in a place like this?
“They’ll be dead by dawn,” he replied crassly. “Make your choice, but we’re leaving in ten minutes, with you and them or not. We barely missed the draugar; two can’t fight an army.”
She looked me in the eye, briefly, but then resumed her walking with the wheelchair. “Let’s hurry then. Follow me.”
Down a couple of halls, one lavishly decorated with riches I had never before laid eyes upon, and past a grand dining hall, we came to a lone, closed wooden door. Rachel gently rapped upon it and went in, taking a dimly-lit lamp with her. She pointed to the ground where we stood, silently commanding we not enter with her. Muffled voices were heard within, that of a man and a woman conversing with the nurse. After a couple of minutes, Rachel set the lamp down inside the room and exited, closing the door behind her.
“They are weak; the curse has been unforgiving these past few nights, though they will ready themselves to go. I presume you came in by airship, but if what you say is true and the draugar have been roused, that leaves only the rail.”
“That’s the plan,” Halliwick replied. After a few moments of waiting, he impatiently checked the time on his pocket watch. “What’s taking them so long?”
“Mind your place, Gordon,” Rachel chided. “No one rushes them, not even God himself.”
He sneered at her. “Come on, kid,” he said to me, clapping me on the shoulder. “Let’s gear up.”
Rachel began to protest. “There will be no weapons of any kind in-“
“Then there will be no rescue,” Halliwick rudely interjected, moving uncomfortable close to her face. “Your posh rules and foolish traditions are going to get those two killed! It’s bloody a miracle they’ve survived as long as they have.” He softened his exterior. “Look, I’m a soldier, not a statesman. Get them up – we have to get out of here.”
Suddenly, a faint echo was heard and wisps of dust sprinkled from the ceiling.
“They’re outside,” was all that Halliwick had to say.
Surprised, I instinctively readied myself, since I had not a weapon in hand, and engulfed my left hand in a dim azure flame – bluefire magic.
“Steady, lad,” Halliwick urged, citing temperance. “Don’t want to go burning us all up before the fight even gets here, now do we?”
“It’s better on a blade,” I answered, letting the fire ebb and expire.
“Then go and fetch it, you daft sludger!”
We retrieved our weapons, Halliwick recommending the boots but that we pass on our coats – he said it would be far warmer where we were going; had only I not taken that statement as a negative connotation. Returning to the room of our unseen patrons, the door opened and three individuals exited.
To my shock, horror, surprise, and many, many other emotions and confused thoughts, the man and woman from within were none other than Malus and Persica Merovingian – crown twins to the throne.
I swore out loudly, to their dismay and a harsh nudge from Halliwick to my ribs.
Those two were supposed to be dead, buried and forgotten; replaced by the new monarchy. If they were still alive, then the new order’s claim to rule….
My thoughts were jostled by another shake of the floors, this one accompanied by a loud crash.
“They’re through the second door!” Halliwick moved closer to the two royals. “Can you run?”
They looked to each other, both appearing gray and withered, despite their tender age of barely into adulthood. “As fast as we have to,” Malus offered.
Rachel, the mouse-like nurse went back in the room for a second and returned, brandishing a triple-barreled shotgun with an attached shell cartridge. “Ready.”
Halliwick chuckled at the sight, unslinging his own rifle and checking the firing chamber. “Lead the way, we’ll cover the rear.”
The five rushed through tunnel after tunnel, descending by spiral staircases and even an elevator, which was promptly cut from its cable by way of Rachel’s shotgun and allowed to plummet down an immeasurable chasm. Rachel noted that it would only slow them down slightly, since there was a near stair, but every moment counted. The sounds of the other two sealed doors failing came one after another, the hideous and teeth-grating wails of the Draugar-kind filling the corridors behind them.
I had tried to forget how the Reds could control the beasts – another reason I never picked up my blade against them when they overthrew the kingdom. No cause was worth that kind of ghastly martyrdom, in my mind.
The shrieks then came closer, blood in their nostrils as they followed our trail. Down a few more flights, we came to a platform hanging over a wide crevasse with a singular rail and a small boxcar mounted with an underbelly steam motor – one scarcely able to fit a few people, let alone provisions. The rail itself went deep into the mountain through a primitively-cut tunnel, a red heat coming through toward us as if it went into the very mouth of hell itself.
It struck me as a one-way escape mechanism, not one for continued use.
“Here!” Halliwick grabbed me by the arm, turning me to face the way we had come. “Get them out,” he yelled behind us to Rachel. “That train can’t carry five and be fast enough to outrun them!”
She complied without question, ushering the twins onto the car and closing the door. One of the windows pushed open and she stuck out her head. “What about you two?”
Halliwick’s only response was “go.”
Rachel’s eyes never left them as the train’s pistons pumped and ushered the car away. A hand reached out, a silent prayer of hope and a wish that our fates had not been so stark.
Despair seeded within me as the only presumed means of escape pressed out of reach and into the abyss. “Is this why you chose me? Someone useful if needed, but just fodder for demons if not?”
“No.” He gripped my shoulder in a reassuring fashion before raising his rifle at the entry to the stairs we had descended. “We chose you because you didn’t choose sides when the chips were down; you didn’t fall in with the fervor as the rest of your caste did, though you never struck us as a coward either when the rest of your order perished. We chose you because we felt you were the kind of man who makes the right choice, even if that means doing nothing, and that’s what our kingdom needed right now – calculated objectivity.” He smiled. “And I chose you for this very moment, one I knew would come, where I would have to place my trust in you.”
He nodded, just as the rotting, hulking forms of a draugar legion flooded down the stairs and onto the platform, rushing at us with ferocious intent.
“If there’s one thing a draugar would hate at this very moment, it’d be the other reason I chose you: bluefire. Here’s your last chance to be a hero, boy! Light ‘em up!”
Sword in hand, I ignited that blue-tinted fire in my fists and spread it onto the silvery edge, creating a fiery weapon that bathed the whole chasm in that azure hue, and swung.
Entry #5: A Grave Mistake
A Grave Mistake
Run... run faster! His ears heard the echoed sound of his pounding feet as he struggled to get away from the magicians... it was just inhumane what they were doing! And now they want me... Real good mess I've gotten myself into this time... He felt sparks whiz past his body as he turned a corner, seeing another grey hallway. It was impossible to get out of this place.
He heard them shout as he kept running towards the stair well in the distance; this was a crucial moment for him. If the turned the corner too soon, he was dead... and that was all too likely an option at this point. I can't let this stay a secret, though... No matter what happens, this must be revealed to the public! He started up the stairs quickly, going two at a time. His black tunic was burnt in places where the magicians’ embers had touched him, and his boots were covered in dirt. His muscles were sore- mainly his legs- from the exertion it took getting away from them... some things he did were completely insane! His brown pants had torn at the bottoms near his boots, were thorns had been conjured by the mages. It was official: he was a wreck.
"It doesn't matter, though; so long as I get away, everything will be fine." He topped the stairs and turned sharply, heading up the second flight. The sound of scuffling was beneath him, giving him hope that he might escape after all. It was still unlikely, though. Again, doesn't matter... just keep moving... He topped the second flight just as the magicians started up them, and quickly exited the building. The cool night air washed over him as he took a deep breath, recovering from the ordeal he'd just been through. Then he started running again.
~ ~ ~
"What do you mean you didn't capture him?" Xeric slammed his fist down on his chairs armrest, demanding an answer... how could they fail him like this? Worriedly running his fingers through white, stringy hair, he looked towards the white cloaked figured before him. The all bore the same expression; fear. That was good, Xeric liked fear... No, he loved it.
"Well, sir... he was just so fast..." the speaker smoothed down his cloak, looking towards Xeric, as if pleading for mercy. As if he could actually get mercy for something like this.
"It doesn't matter how fast he was! What matters is, when those experiments get out to the public we are doomed!" He was yelling, which was probably unnecessary considered the space they were in at the moment… not like it could do any harm, though, right? He didn’t care either way, though; whether they liked it or not, he was going to yell. Their opinion didn’t matter.
“B-but s-sir,” the man was stammering, showing his clear incompetence in this situation… it was ridiculous.
“Don’t “but sir”, me! You will go back out there and find that boy!”
“Of course, sir,” they turned in unison, each one of them wanting to get out of the room more than the next guy. They walked quickly, exiting within seconds.
“Pathetic,” he said as he watched them leave. The door closed quickly as he said it, as if to protect them from some sort of spell he’d use against him. He had, indeed, thought of doing it, though. They better bring the boy back… or there will be consequences. Horrible consequences…
~ ~ ~
Aspen closed the door of his home and let out a puff of air; he was safe… for now. The things they were doing to those humans; it was horrible! All those screams, the blood… how could they even life with themselves? It’s because their monsters, that’s why. They know they can get away with it so… He didn’t want to think about it as he changed into a better set of clothes; a red tunic with black lining the edges. Black pants as well as different boots; it seemed he’d be able to get off to a better start today than he’d thought. He was exhausted from all the snooping he’d been doing, though.
“No need to worry about it, I suppose…” he walked over to his kitchen and dug for some salted meat; it was a perfect meal for the morning, especially when he was running on virtually no sleep. It was a shame he’d have to keep his guard up at all times… he couldn’t afford sleep. Taking bites of the salty meat, chewing on the tough beef, and then swallowing, he glanced at the fireplace. He’d have to board it up or something; there was no telling how a group of their stature would enter his house… especially when they did things like what he saw.
“Just sixteen steps… that’s all I have to take…” Aspen walked closer to the door; he was underground, trying to find that secret. He knew he shouldn’t be trying to, since he’d most likely be killed, but he couldn’t help but wonder what types of things went on down there! It couldn’t hurt too much… could it? Ignoring his logic, he kept walking down the hall towards the eerie chanting only about sixteen steps away. Could he do it? Could he take this final step into the world of magic? He hoped so… It didn’t matter now, he had to do it. The chanting got louder as he walked down the hall, taking each step, counting to sixteen. It wouldn’t be long… just sixteen long steps. Fourteen… thirteen… His feet squeaked on the tiled floors every so often, causing him to shudder inwardly. It was not good when things like this happened; it could give you away easily… and he didn’t want that, not at all. Ten… nine… The chanting was getting louder with each step. He could almost make out the words they were saying as he walked up towards the doorway. Flickering lights could be seen from where he was, but he couldn’t actually see what was happening. The actual ceremony couldn’t be seen from the door way. Three… two… He could feel some sort of presence now, something evil. He didn’t like this at all… something told him he should have stayed home. One…
He poked his head around the doorframe, gasping at what he saw. Seven men stood in a semi-circle around three people, each of the naked and bound to a table with what looked to be… insects? It was probably some incantation, but freaky nonetheless. I don’t like this…. Each of them carried a golden dagger in their hands, white cloaks blowing with some supernatural force. Their chants were indecipherable, as it seemed to be a different language altogether.
Upon closer inspection, he could see that the people strapped to the table were unconscious, probably saving them from any major pain they may face. At least that was one good thing it showed…
The chanting stopped… quiet resonated throughout the room as Aspen listened to his quickening heart-beat. Three of them stepped forward as he watched, the stillness appalling as he watched. How can they be so… calm? It was strange, as if it were all a dream; and perhaps it was a dream? He would never know for sure, all he knew was that this last thing would change his life forever. This one act of… hell, he didn’t even KNOW what it was!
“Father, we give unto you these souls, these mortals… All we ask in return is your power, your protection, your wisdom, guidance!” The three men who had stepped forwards faced each man on the table, raising the golden knives they held. They wouldn’t… would they? They would… Aspen watched the knives fall in despair, as the men on tables were punctured. Dead… Just then a black wind blew him back down the hall way, and evil force was filling the entire area, and everything became darker. The walls burst into flame and lightning struck in random place; it was as if a demon had been unleashed. Maybe he wasn’t too far off on that assumption…
“That doesn’t matter, though… I should just forget that ever happened. Ever,” he came to his senses as he realized that he’d been daydreaming, thinking of the event that took place. Glancing back to his fire place he noticed something off… he’d never started a fire.
~ ~ ~
Xeric filled his lungs with the sweet, sweet smell of blood; he loved it, just like many other strange things in this world. Death, blood, fear, sadness… he yearned for them all, he strived for them! To some he’d seem completely insane, thinking like this. They were wrong, though; he was sane… more so than ever. He just had a little more evil in him than most.
“Tarco,” he stood from his chair as the black robed mage entered, ready to serve. “I can’t trust those fools to deal with the boy, so I need you to do so. I want you to make him suffer.” Xeric looked towards the ground, it was splattered with blood. Shrugging, Xeric flicked his wrist, using a small amount of magic to put it all in a cup for later; he may need it for something. Should he drink it as a snack for later? In truth, he didn’t even know what he would do with it. He just wanted to have it.
“It shall be done, sir. He will be dead by the end of the week.” The man in black disappeared soon after, already on the lookout for his prey. Good… once this nuisance is out of the way, I can continue my plans. Maybe I’ll be able to finish after all…
~ ~ ~
“What the hell is happening?” Aspen looked at his door, which seemed to be on fire. Along with this, several other things were wrong with his house… things he didn’t like. “Alright, who’s there?” He looked towards the window and saw darkness, even though it was almost midday. Things were getting strange….
“Aspen… you’ve made a mistake…” The voice was a whisper, sounding as if it had floated away in the wind. There was no malice, no lies… it was just a fact. He’d made a mistake; even Aspen himself could see this. How do I right it, though? If I tell the public, I’ll die. If I don’t, I may still die… Grah! Aspen heard something fall as he stood. Quickly looking back and seeing his broom, he turned his attention to the fire place and window; those were the most notable things in the room at the moment. Never mind a door on fire… This is just like when that… thing had happened… He walked over to the fire place, taking soft, cautious steps. It wouldn’t do to have himself turned to ashes just because of one slip of the foot; who knew what else was happening here?
Just as he took that one crucial step, though, he knew things were over… because the fire sparked higher than before. They were much higher than before. He looked over towards the flames, shocked into complete stillness, and wondered how this could have happened. He had been so careful in his planning! Even after things had gone wrong, he’d made sure he wasn’t followed. “Silly human,” Aspen felt a sharp pain in the back of his head… then he hit the floor.
Aspen looked towards the man above him in fear, he struggled to move, but was unable to. He could barely breathe, too. A crawling sensation permeated the stillness around him, as he heard the same chants as before. No… no… no… NO! He struggled harder as the chants grew louder, he couldn’t let this happen! If it did… what would become of him? He didn’t want to know, so he just kept struggling. Then, the chanting stopped.
Words were said, unable to be heard by him as he felt some sort of nausea settle into his body; he felt as if he were going to explode. Then, Aspen saw the glint of gold metal above him, and realized he was as good as dead.
And then he was.
Entry #6: An Ignorant Yet Intoxicating Faith in Magic
An Ignorant Yet Intoxicating Faith In Magic
Why do we insist that it’s real?
We know that it’s fake.
And yet we hold strong in our belief.
Are we fools?
We are tired?
Made sick by our reality,
And made well by its illusion.
Perhaps that’s why we keep our faith in anything.
Because we’re decrepit,
And we’re lonely,
Alone in the depths,
of my lonely heart,
I try my hardest,
to gain it,
to feel it,
Even though it is lost,
and can not be found,
I'll try my best,
I will get it,
it will be mine
Without it I'm nothing,
but with it I'm everything,
what I want to be,
what I am.
This object, so dear,
so confusing, so rare,
on day it will be mine,
one day, I will have,
Entry #8: The Same Routine
The sun was setting behind the distant forest. Anyone who was anyone knew what time it was for: sleeping. Every returned from either work, playing outside, picnics, vacations, or shopping, just to catch time to go and rest for the night. Once everything was calm and settled in, the lights or towns and houses all were turned off. Night was finally around for the denizens, and a tranquil night it was, tranquil indeed.
There was one house, however, whose light was still on. After a few minutes the light was hastily turned off, and the downstairs’ door was opened. A man emerged from his house, dressed in black attire, except for his white gloves, looking like he was camouflaging with the natural, scenic darkness. The man sauntered out of the town, and into a field near a lake. A great lake, full with dark navy blue water with a bright orb reflecting off of it, was a beautiful sight to be seen, but the good people of the town were all asleep.
Once the man made it into the field, and was comfortable with the night’s demeanor, he took his white gloves off, and raised his bare hands to the sky. His gaze was on the moon, it was a full moon tonight, something that he longed for. He murmured a secret and short chant. The result of the chant made the field illuminated with small lamps, going in circles around the lank. Now the great lake was dancing with light, and the orb from the moon had some friends to play with, and the lights danced with the moon.
Smiling, the man walked closer to the lake. He pointed his fingers to a small patch of dead grass, which were a few meters away from the descent into the lake. Another little murmur made two chairs sprung up from the ground. The chairs were made out of the underground roots from a close tree, and the seats were pointing to the lake, with its dancing reflections.
The bare field was missing something. What was it? The man looked around, and finally came to a conclusion: it lacked flowers. So with a quick gesture to the field, he made flowers spring to life all around the lake. The lively lake was now accompanied by a myriad of flowers, and two chairs. The man sighed, it was almost perfect, but some thing still needed added to his imagination night.
He made his gait to over to the chairs; how perfect they looked in front of flowers and a lake. He sat in the chair to the left of the other, and with a gentle whisper, made a lady appear in the seat beside him. The lady was also in a attire of black, matching the man who summoned her. Her hair, being a fine light brown during the day, was almost as dark as her dress she wore.
They both looked at each other, and shared gazes and smiles. Everything was perfect, just what the man wanted. They slowly looked back to the lake, the moon was over head, and the lamps danced in the poles. The hearty lake looked warm and happy, after making friends with the lamps and orbs. There was a gentle monsoon, it brushed across the field, and made all the flowers dance with each other. It was all romantic, and astonishing.
After hours of watching the Moon slowly make its way across the sky, it was time for everything to return to its natural state. Being a gentleman, the man helped the lady out of her chair, and put his arm around her shoulder and walked with her away from the lake and its life. As they walked away, the lights slowly degraded back into the soil, the flowers withered into grass, and the chairs grew into trees. The lady on the other hand, stayed a bit longer: the man and the lady walked throughout the town, silence from society and civilization were appealing to the man. The lady was not used to anything in the town, so the man described everything they saw: cars, stores, fountains, bikes, and lights. Excitement was clear in the man’s face, but there was a bit of a saddening look in his eyes, for he knew that as soon as the sun peaks through the eastern plains, the woman will dissipate into thin air; leaving him alone.
They spent the last of her hours talking about each other, getting to know the other person well, before they parted for life. The man looked out side, and to his dismay, the sky was getting brighter. Time was getting the best of him as it normally did. The lady, with no knowing of her departure, looked at the man, smiled and gestured for him to come close to her. He did what she asked, but his eyes began to become filled with tears, and he tried his best to hide them from her, but she saw his emotions before he could shun them from her. She touched his face, gently and passionately, and whispered to him, with a romantic gaze in her eyes.
“I love you, my dear magician.”
The tears came pouring out of his closed eyes, and without any control, he gave her his farewell kiss. It lasted for a brief few seconds, as the ruined allotted time ran out, and the sun became visible in the horizon. He opened his eyes, the area in where she was previously was empty; she had vanished. His tears grew more and more, and so did his love. He was doing the same routine ever since the actual lady died seven years ago from an accident, and every night, for the rest of his life. He continued the cycle hoping one day, she would remember him the way she did before she parted from him and life.
Entry #9: A Magical Mind
A Magical Mind
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a tall, but average-sized man. He was around six foot tall, and his skin was a light tan, his hair a dark brown, almost black, with frost-like white and gray strands of hair sticking out, his face had a few wrinkles on it. “You've been an excellent audience tonight,” he said, his deep blue eyes glimmering, as he lifted his top hat and bowed. He stood upright, and straightened his mustache, pulling the ends and they sprang back, into a classic mustache.
He smiled as he straightened his bow tie, his hands in white gloves, his black suit over his white shirt, and a blond, blue-eyed woman walked out, her high-heels clicking on the ground as she pushed a cart with a box on it, her red, glossy lipstick a ruby-like shade. Her somewhat tight outfit was black and white, just as the suit the magician wore.
“For my next and final trick, I will be having my beautiful assistant, Miss Emilia Brown, and my stalwart lad, the dashing Jack McCartney!” he announced, as a young man with light brown hair and green eyes walked out, flashing a green like that of an emerald, as the crowd applauded, a few men in it whistling at the woman assistant. Jack re-adjusted his bow tie, as he smiled.
“Ready, Graham?” he asked, and the magician nodded, as Emilia pulled from the box a stand and a sword.
“We have shown you things beyond your wildest imaginations – the catching of bullets, the dismemberment of men – and the putting them back together! - the beautiful transformation of woman, to tiger! But now, ladies and gentlemen, I, Graham Johnson, will show you the most mesmerizing spectacle of all magic! I will present to you, the kiss of life itself!” he announced, as Jack set up the stand's stabilizers. Emilia handed the sword to Graham, who looked into the audience.
“Does anyone doubt me when I say this sword is sharp?” he asked, and there were a few spectators nodding, most shaking their heads. “For those of you who do not believe me, and those with a faint heat, I highly advise you do not watch this trick,” he said, as he set the sword into the stand. The lightning shifted as Jack and Graham both gave proof of the blade's sharpness, the point of it drawing blood on their fingers, that they showed to the audience, as Emilia stood on the stage, before Graham came back onto the stage.
Jack was still showing proof of the blood drawn as Graham lifted Emilia, who was smiling at the audience now, as he lowered her onto the sharp blade.
She lay rested on it, before suddenly she dropped. The audience gasped, seeing clearly the sword going into her in the back, and out through the stomach. Her body fell limp, as he looked around, and slowly rotated her, to show the sword was not simply going around her. The lighting shifted to a reddish tint, as Graham walked forward, on the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, my assistant has been impaled – and is in fact now dead. Any who protest to this notion, come forth, and see the limbs,” he said, and no one moved, until a young man stood up, dressed just as formally as the magician, and nervously began to walk up to the stage, apologizing to people he walked in front of, his blond hair and green eyes somewhat pale, as he shook Graham's hand.
“What's your name?” he asked, the young man, who had a somewhat large nose.
“Robert Micheals,” the young man answered, and Graham nodded slowly, soberly
“Well, Robert, feel free to gather all the evidence you need that she is in fact dead,” he said, and the young man approached the body of the deceased assistant, and moved the limbs, which fell limply again.
He departed the stage, with a sober look on his face, as Graham walked over to his assistant and looked. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, I do the impossible – I bring back, from the dead, the beautiful Emilia Brown!” he said, as he kissed his assistant on the lips, and her eyes opened, as he began to lift her off of the sword, the audience applauding richly in awe and amazement and he set her down. The audience members began to stand and clap, whistling, as the two bowed, Jack having disappeared off stage during the whole ordeal.
“Thank you, thank you, you've been a great audience! Absolutely fantastic!” Graham said, as he laughed happily. “Thank you, thank you – and don't forget a round of applause for Emilia Brown!”
As the applause died down, the auditorium lightning returned to full, and Graham walked backstage, followed by Emilia.
Graham opened a door and walked into a personal changing room taking off his top hat and setting it onto a stand, before slipping off his shoes and putting on white leather lace-up shoes, running the laces through. He gave a sigh of relief as he took his suit off. He threw it to the side and kept his white button-up that had been underneath, and pulled his black pans off, replacing them with a pair of oxford bags, that touched the ground at the bottom, as he slipped a pocket watch into them, hooking the chain to the waistline. He put his bow tie back on and slipped a V-necked sweater on, as he smiled. “Looking good, Graham,” he joked, and laughed, combing his hair back and walking out.
“E-excuse me, Mr. Johnson?” asked a feminine voice nervously, and Graham looked over to see a blond woman with blue eyes standing there, in a garçonne fashion, her dress ending around her knees, her legs a nice, tan shade, with high-heels on her feet. She wore a cloche that held her short blond hair and had a very pronounced Cupid's bow on her upper lip, as she nervously looked around.
“Yes, my dear?” Graham asked, as he walked over, and smiled. “May I help you?”
“I have a l-letter for you – from my brother,” she said, as she pulled out an envelope, and the magician took it, and smiled. He looked at the envelope and opened it.
“How did you get back here?” he asked, looking up for a second and she hesitated.
“I just w-walked over through the s-stage, Mr. Johnson,” she said, and Graham nodded, making a mental note to make sure that didn't happen again.
He looked down at the letter.
Dear Graham Johnson,
I've been at several of your shows, that is how I know of your talents as an illusionist – and I am very impressed! I am also a magician, as you are – although my talents stay particularly in crafting the tools and props, not so much the execution. If you would meet me at my shop on Friday, June 22nd, it'd be very appreciated. It's on Chistoff Street, on the intersection with 3rd Street, called the Corners' Emporium.
“Thank you, Miss...?”
“Corners. Sarah Corners,” she said, and he paused. “You'll see my brother's store when you get there, sir,” she said, and he nodded – she curtsied. “Good night, Mister Johnson,” she said, before turning and leaving.
“Good night to you too, Miss Corners,” he said, smiling, as Emilia walked out of her dressing room, wearing an elegant, knee-length dress, leggings going up under her dress, her black sandals having almost two inch heels. She too had a cloche now, as she smiled – her lipstick was still a ruby red.
“She one of your numerous affairs, Graham?” she asked, the just slightly older man's face turning red as he stammered, flustered. Emilia laughed at his reaction, and sighed. “I know you only have an eye for me, darling, don't worry,” she said, as she walked over to him, and kissed him, embracing him.
Graham hugged her back and smiled. “I wouldn't stray from you for all the flappers in the world, my love,” he said, kissing her back gently. His assistant, and fiancee, smiled happily and held his hand, before letting go of him with his arms, and standing by him.
“So what did she come for?” she asked, curiously, and he showed her the letter.
“Her brother wanted to talk to me at his shop, claims to be a magician prop maker,” Graham explained, as he started walking to the door into the alley, his fiancee shadowing him as he opened the door, letting her now lead the way out into the alley where a Phantom I was sitting, its body painted a solid blue, and the two split apart to open doors on opposite sides of the car, Graham passing a spare tire and stepping into the cab, as Emilia did the same.
“The 22nd is tomorrow, I'll have to check out that store in the morning,” he said, as he turned the key in the car. The engine roared to life, and Graham transitioned it into forward gear, and started out o the alley, pulling out onto a somewhat busy street in New York, with people bustling by, talking, headed to their apartments and homes, cars occasionally stopping, to pick up family and friends, and the Phantom I kept on its way, turning onto a less busy street, and driving into a smaller neighborhood on the outskirts of New York, where Graham and Emilia lived.
They slept peacefully that night.
“Welcome to the Corners' Emporium!” a voice resounded through the shop, as the door opened, hitting a bell. The ring had subsided as soon as it had started, as Graham stepped through, wearing a plaid sweater over a white shirt, a driver's hat low on his head, as he looked around.
“Neil Corners?” he asked as he walked towards the counter of the store, several props that would be excellent for a magician or illusionist to use on shelves – there were rings, stands, books, cabinets, all the works. Behind the counter he saw a back door, and heard a shuffling beneath the counter.
“Ah, you must be Graham Johnson! Just call me Neil, please,” said the voice again, as Graham looked around, before Neil stood up from behind the counter.
He had a wild look in his eye and his hair was black and white, his white shirt under a black suit and tie, as he smiled, in one hand a black walking stick that had an sphere on the top, that was gold. His piercing blue eyes were behind a pair of glasses, the glasses colored gold and with a thin, wire-like frame.
“My sister delivered the letter then?” he asked, and Graham nodded. “Excellent! Follow me then, Graham – I can just call you Graham right? Good! - I need to talk to you in private.”
Graham followed the man like a shadow, into the back door, hearing the door shut behind him. “So you want to talk about a show then, I suppose?” Graham asked, and Neil made a mental fiat to remain silent for the time being as he turned a light switch, revealing a stairway that led down.
As they reached the bottom, around a ten feet under the ground, the basement gave way to a decent-sized store room, with more advanced devices, that reminded Graham of Nikola Tesla's several inventions and patents – on a wall he saw a photograph of a man with a light bulb in his hands, glowing, despite no wires attaching to it, the man having an expression of awe at the seemingly miraculous event that was occurring before his eyes.
“Would you call yourself a magician, or an illusionist, Graham?” Neil asked, as he opened a Frigidaire refrigerator, and pulled out a glass bottle of Hires Root Beer, and offered it to Graham. Graham accepted it and thanked him before pausing, the man sitting in a chair in front of him and gesturing for him to take a seat in a comfortable looking armchair, with red silk and a very pillowy set of armrests.
“An illusionist, I suppose – true magic doesn't exist, after all,” he said, as he tilted the bottle up to drink from it, Neil doing the same.
“Ah, of course – we are both grown men, both talented in sleight of hand,” he said, and smiled, before pausing, his mouth letting out a mix between an “ah” and an “uh”. “And what would you say if I told you it did exist?” he asked, and Graham laughed.
“I'd say you're not a very good magician if you've ever been tricked into believing it was real magic!” Graham laughed loudly, and took another drink of the root beer.
Neil shrugged and looked at the root beer. “What if I told you you were drinking some home brewed bathtub gin?” he asked, and Graham looked at the bottle, before taking another drink. A miraculous look appeared on his face as he put the bottle back down.
“How did you...?” he asked, looking at it. “What illusion did you set up that worked that fast? Something with densities of the liquid I assume? A brilliant trick, Neil, absolutely brilliant! You must let me know how it works – it would be a very popular trick for parties!” Graham said, excitedly, imagining the possibilities of being able to change drinks at a party, without anyone noticing. And what a way to sneak past the police, and bypass the Prohibition officers. He'd be able to make a small fortune that way!
“No trick,” Neil said, and smiled. “Try it again.”
Graham did so, and with even more awe, found that the liquid had become root beer again, and looked in the bottle, maybe to see a filter or some such. “Impossible!” he said, as he looked at him. “You have to tell me how you do this, that's just amazing!”
“A magician never tells his secrets,” Neil said, waving a finger and laughing. “If I told you that was magic, what would you say?”
“Well, it couldn't be – there is no such thing as magic! It has an explanation in science, without a doubt!” Graham protested, looking at Neil.
“It's pure magic. No trickery. How could I possibly make something that elaborate without true magic?” he asked, and Graham paused, pondering it for a moment, before sighing.
“How?” he asked after his thinking, and Neil just smiled. “Magic! But how?”
“Honestly? No idea how it works, but it's there! It does! It's not illusions, it's magic!” Neil laughed and took a big drink of the root beer. “You'd have to ask the others about how it works, they'd know,” he said, as he set the drink down again.
“There are more?” Graham asked, and Neil nodded. “And... why did you choose to tell me that it was real?” he asked, after a pause, and Neil paused.
“Well, the reasoning was that you'd be willing to help us.” Neil got up slowly, with a sigh, and put the bottle of root beer in the garbage. “First, the non-magic magicians are called illusionists – the magic ones are just magicians. A more respectable title than wizard, really,” he said, and Graham nodded, before there was a suspension in the conversation.
“What do you need me to help with?”
“AH! Yes, yes, I needed help, or rather, we do – there's a magician who might pose a threat to the Order,” Neil explained, as he pulled out a piece of paper, and handed it to Graham. “He'd recognize one of us magicians right off the bat – but, an illusionist! He'd never suspect you're working with us.” Graham accepted the paper and looked at it. It was a train ticket to Boston.
“Who's the magician? And what's the Order?” Graham leaned forward in his seat as Neil sat back down in front of him, and paused, to form the words, before going.
“The Order is, ah, well... let's say that there's a way things work. A law – but not a legal law. Like, ah, ah, ah... a law of nature! Yes, a law of nature!” Neil pulled out a paper again, and blew his nose in it, tossing it into a garbage bin. He grinned at making the shot. “The Order is what we call it, in the circles of magicians. And the Order occasionally can be broken – but only by very powerful magicians.
“This magician, Mark Yale, is a very powerful magician, and a threat to the Order. So the International Association of Magicians, or I.A.M, ” he pronounced it as if he were saying 'I am'. “Is wanting to send someone in to check him out, make sure he isn't attempting to break the Order. And I figure the best way to check him out is by sending an illusionist who knows that magicians are really using magic, so that he can report back to us if anything that can't be explained with illusions is going on,” Neil finished as Graham blinked, trying to take this all in.
“So why can't a magician go in and tell the difference?” Graham asked, and Neil laughed.
“Hardly tell the difference, me myself, anymore. I'm not sure what you can do with smoke and mirrors, and what you can't, because I don't have them as a limitation. I just do magic. But, generally, anything you can fake, can be done with magic.”
“I'll do it!” Graham exclaimed, standing up.
“When you get to Boston, another magician will you meet you there, and tell you what to do from there. Good luck, Graham.” Neil stood up, and shook Graham's hand, before the illusionist left.
“Emilia, honey!” Graham said, as his fiancee walked in the door, grocery bags in her arms, the man walking over to the beautiful, young woman, her green dress going perfectly with her eyes, and he took some of the grocery bags.
“Hey, sugar,” she said, as Graham kissed her on the cheek. “Be careful, the sugar is in that bag.” She kissed him back and he smiled a humorous smile, as they carried the paper bags to their kitchen, setting them down.
“Hey, Emilia, I'm going to be out of town for a while, not sure how long,” he said, and his fiancee sighed. “It's for something important, trust me.” He hugged her softly.
“Graham, our wedding is in a week...”
“I'll be back in time for it, I promise, honey,” hey said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. She kissed him back, and hugged him back.
“You better be, Graham, you tend to be late for things.” She kissed him again, and he gently squeezed her.
“I won't be this time, Emilia. I promise,” he affirmed, and kissed her passionately, the two of them holding their lips together for what seemed like an amaranth-like amount of time, whereas in reality their lips were only interlocked in each other for almost a minute, before the two pulled apart, and Graham suddenly lifted Emilia up, holding her like a fireman would carry someone out of a burning building, and she smiled, wrapping her arms around her metaphorical hero, and kissed him again.
He carried her up the staircase to their room, where he gently lay her onto the bed, and she smiled warmly. “But I'm not in my night clothes, Graham,” she said, and he smiled.
“We're getting married in a week, I can help you,” he said and kissed her again, playfully, and she purred gently.
“ALL ABOARD!” a conductor yelled, as Graham looked back to his fiancee, who he would be bonded to in wedlock in only six days now, on Friday. Emilia smiled, her amethyst lipstick giving off a healthy, violet-red glimmer as the sun hit it, and he waved to her, boarding the train, and she blew him a kiss. He felt his heart feel like it had wings as the conductor took his ticket and he took a seat on the train, to Boston.
His fiancee was waving, holding a purse, her blue eyes glimmering, as he waved back, already missing her, his body feeling tired from the fear of something happening to either of them before the wedding that would mark the best day of his life. He sighed, but knew what he had to do. He had to go to Boston, find Mark Yale, and stop him from disrupting the Order.
When the train finally stopped in Boston, Graham stepped off of it, seeing a man in a black tuxedo with a fedora watching him slowly, and he approached the stranger, who smiled, as he put a cigar in his mouth, and lit it, the smoke from his lighter clouding Graham's vision of his green, snake-like eyes and slightly scared face.
“So you're the illusionist that Neil sent, eh?” he asked, with a laugh, and Graham nodded. “Walk with me, boy.”
Graham followed the tall, intimidating man, who whistled at a pair of girls walking by, who paid no mind to his gesture. He muttered a curse under his breath as the two girls giggled at something that one of them said, and the man got into a car, Graham getting in beside him.
“Tell the driver to take us to the hotel on Cambridge Street,” the man said, and Graham nodded, telling the driver that.
The driver tilted his driver's hat forward and the two men sat in the back of the car. “I'm Leopold Bloom,” he said, extending a hand. “Used to be a producer on Broadway, until I had a flop. Moved to Boston after that, lovely place.” Graham shook his hand, and the man smiled. “I know about you, Neil told me you're to follow and report on Mark Yale, correct?”
Graham nodded as the car turned, people in streets talking, and Graham looked around. “If you want to visit a speakeasy, there's a fine one with plenty of flappers in the hotel basement,” the man said, and Graham nodded.
“Thanks, I'll take the liquor and pass on the girls, though,” he said, and Leo shrugged and laughed.
“More for me, then!”
The car slowly stopped as it parked out front of the hotel, and Graham got out. “I'll meet up on you later, Graham. See you around.”
The car drove off as Graham walked into the lobby of the hotel, where a receptionist met him, and found the reservations to his room, number 231 on the second story. Graham went up an elevator with his luggage, which had already been at the hotel, in the lobby, the train obviously having left it there from knowing where he would stay.
His room had a lamp and a radio, next to a twin-sized bed, and he set his luggage in the room, before he heard a phone ringing. He saw the phone was on the wall by the bathroom, and answered.
“Hello? Oh, sure, send him up,” he said, before hanging up. He sat in a comfortable looking chair, which was incredibly uncomfortable in reality, and closed his eyes for a bit before checking his pocket watch. The time was around five.
The door opened, and a man with a black sweater over a gray button-up with a gray bow-tie walked in, smiling, his slick brown hair having a little shine to it as he smiled, re-adjusting his spectacles as his brown eyes looked around the room calmly.
“Graham! Ah, what a pleasure, I heard you were in Boston, your wife phoned me, and I had to come and visit!” the man said, grinning, as he walked over and Graham stood up, hugging him, before sitting on his bed as the man sat on the chair. “This chair is awfully uncomfortable, isn't it?” he asked, and Graham laughed.
“It is! And Emilia's my fiancee, not my wife, you're her brother, you should know that! And the wedding is on Friday, remember?” he asked, and the man shrugged.
“So, what have you been up to, Jack?”
Jack shrugged, and pushed his glasses back up his nose. “Oh, you know, this and that! Been buying lots of stocks, I'm planning to sell soon, get rich when they're high!” he said with a grin, and Graham nodded.
“Just don't depend on them, never know when they'll drop,” Graham pointed out, but Jack ignored it.
“So, what are you doing here in Boston with your wedding a week away?” he asked, and Graham hesitated. “Magician stuff?”
“Well, yeah. Magician stuff.”
“A show? Why didn't Emilia come if you have a show here?”
“I'm, ah, not sure you'd believe me...”
“Oh, try me! I'm sure I will.”
Graham swallowed, before looking out the window, then deciding it'd be best just to tell his best friend since high school, who was to be his best man at his wedding on Friday, the truth.
“Well... I visited a guy yesterday, who claimed that magic is really magic, or at least, it can be, and he told me this guy, Mark Yale, was having magic shows, and he's a threat to the rest of the magicians, pretty much,” Graham said, before Jack started laughing.
“You are such a joker, Graham! Great story, sounds like a book I'd buy, maybe a penny dreadful about things going wrong and dreadful?”
“No, I'm serious, Jack! It's real! I saw it with my own eyes!” Graham said, and Jack looked at Graham's eyes. He sighed a sigh of defeat.
“Fine. I know that look you have, it's a serious one. But really, magic? Real? Are you sure you aren't being duped?” he asked, and Graham nodded.
“He turned sarsaparilla into alcohol,” he said, and Jack grinned.
“Damn, I could go for some booze right now!” Jack laughed, and Graham gave a devious grin. “What's the grin for?”
“I hear that there's a speakeasy down in the basement,” he said, and the two paused, before immediately racing to the door, wanting to get to the illegal bar first.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” said a man with brown hair and eyes, wearing a black suit with a white coat over it, a black tie under the suit, a white shirt underneath of it. He wore a top hat, and had a cane in his hand, the cane black with a white top, as he walked onto the stage. “I am Mark Yale, magician and master of illusions!” he declared, as he grinned out at the audience.
“Many of you, with no doubt, have heard of the late, great Harry Houdini, I am sure! Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I will be doing something so dangerous that he himself was too fearful to attempt it!” he declared, as the crowd watched with great anticipation and focus.
Amongst the audience, Graham sat, wearing his best suit, watching the show. He looked over to the exit, where Leo was standing, watching the stage – he was posing as a security guard, and no one was noticing his presence.
A great contraption rose from the ground as curtains were pulled apart, two Tesla coils rising from the ground, a tank of water behind them, two blond assistants in a tight-fighting outfit that sparkled smiled, the two gorgeous women on each Tesla coil, stepping off the platform they were on and walking to Mark's sides, as he put an arm on each of them, smiling.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I will escape from that tank of water, from chains! To make this show even more daring, if I cannot escape in 30 seconds, two Tesla coils will turn on, electrocuting me to death instantly! And even if I escape, I have to disable the two coils before they activate, or suffer the same fate!” he announced, and the two assistant lifted him up, and he smiled.
They set him down before stripping him to his boxers and a simple shirt, and began to put on him a straightjacket. They began to put chains around his body, and lifted him up, onto a shackle above the tank of water, and lowered him in.
Graham watched with fascination as the man struggled, the chains eventually falling off, drifting to the bottom of the tank, his hair flowing in the water. Another of the chains fell off, as the time left clicked down to twenty seconds. A burst of bubbles came from his mouth as he struggled harder.
More chains fell, and he was only in the straightjacket now, as the time clicked down to ten seconds. He fought to get the straightjacket off harder and harder, his eyes widening as it became five seconds.
The Tesla coils burst on, the electricity jolting through the air, the audience gasping as it hit the tank, and his body stopped moving. The straightjacket fell off, and Graham's eyes widened as the tank door on top opened, as Mark Yale pulled himself out of it. More gasps happened as he jumped out of the tank, the Tesla coils sending bolts of electricity through the air, none of them hitting his soaked body, as he grabbed a lever and pulled it. The coils turned off, as the audience stood up and applauding, Graham joining in to blend in, and also impressed.
This has to be magic, he thought to himself, clapping, as Mark smiled, and the two beautiful assistants put a towel over him to dry him off. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be back after some other very good magicians do their show, before coming back to do one that has never before attempted!” he said, as the two girls walked with him offstage, giggling as he gently pinched them, and Graham got up, walking out of the stands, Leo following behind him.
“He's definitely using magic,” Graham said, and Leo nodded. “No way to explain that, without it,” he said, and Leo nodded, pulling out a cigar and lighting it as they walked outside.
“So, what are you gonna do about it, Graham?” he asked, and Graham paused.
“What was I supposed to?” he asked, and Leo shrugged.
“Tell Neil when you get back. But I think you should do something else.” Leo blew a plume of smoke out and smiled. “Follow him, and find a way to stop him yourself.”
Graham paused, and hesitated, as Leo rose an eyebrow intimidatingly. “I... I don't know about that...”
“Do you have time? He's clearly doing things that break the Order, Graham! You have to take care of things now!”
“I'll follow him, Leo. I'll take care of it,” Graham said, and Leo smirked at him.
“Good. That's what I wanted to hear,” he said, patting Graham on the back. “I'll trust you to do the rest.” He left, Graham standing there, before returning back into the theater where some other magicians were on the stage, performing.
When Mark re-appeared on stage, he was re-dressed and smiling. “Ladies and gentlemen! I now will preform an act that has never before been done! An act of magic so spectacular, it will leave every single one of you breathless!” he said, as a platform descended, slowly, two doorways across from each other, visible from the side by the audience, and he smiled, as the two doorways reached the floor.
A drum roll began as he stood at one end of the two doors, and began to run.
He passed through the first door, and vanished.
But just as he vanished, he appeared at the other doorway, running through, smiling, the audience standing and applauding, whistling, completely in awe at how he had done it, and Graham was no exception, except he knew something no one else did.
It was magic.
“Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen! I hope you've all enjoyed the show as much as I have, I've done my best to entertain! Thank you again, a thousand good nights to each of you!” he said, bowing, as his two assistants walked out and curtsied, beaming at the audience.
As the applause died down, Graham surreptitiously left, and quickly got into a car, and pulled out in front of the alley in the back, and waited. He watched as Mark Yale and his two assistants left, dressed in casual wear, and entered a black car, and drove off, exiting the alley, Graham now following.
“Emilia?” a voice asked, on the phone, as Emilia lifted it to her ear, late at night. “It's me, Jack. I'm worried about Graham.”
“Why? Did he get hurt?” she panicked.
“No, no, he said that magic is real, Emilia. I think he's cracked, says some guy wants him to do something in Boston.”
Emilia gasped, and sighed.
“Keep an eye on him for me, Jack... you know how much he means to me...”
“He means a lot to me, too, Emilia. He's my best friend.”
“Thanks, Jack... promise you'll try to keep him out of trouble?”
“Best as I can, sis.”
“Thanks, Jack. Good night!”
Emilia hung up the phone and sighed, and walked back to her bedroom, turning off the lamp on the night desk next to her as she crawled into the bed, and looked up at the ceiling, and sighed silently...
Magic... How could Graham, a magician who knew it was all illusions, truly believe it was magic? Maybe he had just lied to Jack, as a joke or something...
Graham watched from the road as Mark got out of the black car at his place, alone. He had dropped his assistants off at their hotel and had gone to his home, just outside of Boston. Usually he toured, and his assistants lived in New York, but had been touring with him, and were now preparing to head home.
As Mark walked into his house, unaware of the car parked outside of his property, Graham got out of the car.
“Hello, Graham,” a voice said, spooking him – he turned to see Leo, smoking a cigar. “Don't act shocked, you know I'm magic,” he said, and laughed, blowing a puff of smoke out of his mouth.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, and Leo smiled.
“Making sure you do the job right.” He walked away, now, before looking back. “If you don't, I will. You know what to do.”
Graham nodded, before taking out his bobby-pin, and screwdriver, and began to pick the gate's lock, opening it. He opened it, and it creaked, as he squeezed between the narrow area between the gate and the rest of the picket-fence. He quickly sprinted across to the door of the house, and opened it, sneaking into the living room of Mark's house.
He heard the door to the bathroom shut, and ducked behind a chair, seeing the shadow of Mark pass through the hallway, and into another room, where he heard the sound of a bed being laid on, the springs creaking. He heard a radio flicker on, talking about the stock market rising, that you want to buy stocks now, that everyone should be buying. The roaring twenties, said the analyst, were going to lead to stocks going up more and more in value.
He pulled out his pocket watch and squinted to see it, and saw it was close to midnight. He waited, and casually strolled into the kitchen of the house. It was a nice kitchen, with a refrigerator and oven, and then there was a set of knives. He grabbed the knife, and nodded, feeling the cutting blade of it. It was sharp.
He knew what he had to do, he had to set things right, stop this man from disrupting things.
He walked into the bedroom, silently, the sleeping form of Mark Yale there, in the blankets. Graham paused, for a second.
I have a fiancee... he thought, before he heard a noise. He turned, seeing Leo. He was holding a gun.
“Do your job, Graham. Or I'll take care of it and you,” he said, smiling, aiming the gun.
“But...I... I'm getting married Friday...” he whispered, and Leo shrugged. “I can't...”
“Do it, Graham!” Leo aimed the gun at Graham now, and laughed. “Do it!”
Graham nodded, and gripped the knife tightly. “I'm sorry...” he said, as Mark started to open his eyes.
The knife pierced into his chest, his words were garbled in gurgling blood as he coughed, his eyes showing sheer fear as he looked at Graham, and Graham just looked at him, before walking away, leaving the knife there, in the man's chest. He had done his job, he would come home, get married. No one would know it was him. No one knew his name. No one would need to know. He walked out of the bedroom, and to the kitchen, and opened the refrigerator, finding an illegal bottle of booze. He grabbed it, and opened it, before taking a drink.
He walked back to the room with it, and put it next to the dead man, before leaving. Maybe it'd look like there was an accident.
Two days later, on Monday, Graham returned home. The body of Mark Yale had been found, and police were looking for suspects. Leo had told Graham that if he was found, he'd make sure he got out of trouble, before vanishing, on the train ride home. So far he wasn't a suspect, but he was still nervous.
“Graham, we need to talk,” Emilia said, as her fiancee sat down at the diner table, with four days until their wedding, the dinner made by Emilia chicken breast.
“Yes, angel?” Graham asked as he cut into his chicken breast, and she looked at him.
“Jack said that you think magic is real,” she said, and he paused. “Don't even try lying your way out of this!” she yelled, before he sighed.
“It is real, Emilia. I can't deny it,” he said, taking a bite. “I saw things that were unexplainable, things that couldn't have been set up in advance!”
“Graham! You can't be serious!” she sighed. “Fine, you can believe it, but I don't want a part of it,” she conceded, taking a bit of her chicken.
“It is real, Emilia. I wish you would believe, but if you don't, it's your choice,” he said, and took another bite of his chicken.
“It's that shop you went to, isn't it?” she asked, and he nodded. “I knew that girl was nothing but trouble! Where is it? I'm going there first thing in the morning!” she announced, and Graham nodded.
“Right, then. I need to visit soon myself.”
The rest of their dinner was silent. The two of them went to bed that night, without even so much of a word to each other. It was their first true fight, and as they fell asleep, Emilia wondered if things were going to go as well as they had seemed to be...
Emilia entered Corners' Emporium, and looked around, before seeing the owner, Neil Corners, and walking over to him, a don't-mess-with-me look on her face as her dress waved with her steps. “Excuse me, Mr. Corners? I need a word with you,” she said, glaring at him.
“About...?” he asked, giving his best to maintain a smile, a nervous one at that. “Something about my wares...?”
“My fiancee, Mr. Corners. You gave him some idea that magic was real or some balderdash like that, and he's just got back from that trip to Boston you sent him on, what did you send him to do?” she crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.
“Magic? It's all illusions, of course. Ma'am, I would never tell a man it is anything else – that would be bad for business, to start making people think nonsense,” he said, and she didn't stop. “I sent him to Boston to watch a show, Mark Yale – told him it was hard to believe it wasn't real magic, but never that it was.”
“Mark Yale? You mean the magician who died?” Emilia asked, and paused. “No, that's a silly thought, I almost thought he might have...”
“I'll talk to him, Miss...?”
“Miss Brown. Yes, I'll talk to him... Actually, is he home?” he asked, and she nodded. “Can I have his address? I'll visit him now.”
Emilia gave the address to Neil, who said he'd visit that day, in a bit, before Emilia left.
Neil knocked on the door, and Graham opened it, smiling. “Neil! I was about to go tell you that I took care of Yale!” he said, and Neil looked around, before walking in.
“Did... did you kill him?” he asked, and Graham nodded. Neil gave an aggravated groan, and rubbed his temples, before looking up at Graham again. “Why?”
“The guy you had help me, Leo, he told me to,” Graham responded, and Neil nodded.
“Okay, well, that's good to know.” Neil turned before pausing. “Graham, meet me at the house on Ledworth Street, tonight, okay?” he asked, and Graham nodded, before Neil left.
Graham waited, until around seven, when he left, kissing Emilia on the cheek (she had gotten home for dinner and was reading) as he left, telling her he was going to meet a friend on Ledworth Street. He said Neil had visited when she asked, putting her mind at ease.
The drive was fast and easy, and he looked at the tall manor, before seeing a valet opening the gate for him – he walked in, up to the large mansion-like home, and entered, before there was a thump on his head, and he was knocked to the floor, but not unconscious yet.
“Good work,” Leo said to Neil, who smiled. “He's telling too many people...” Graham heard the two talking but couldn't make out any of the words as he felt consciousness drain away, and lay there on the floor, unconscious now.
When he awoke, he was tied to a chair, in a dark room, a light shining on him. Leo walked out of the darkness and smiled. “So you're telling people what's going on, eh?”
“N-no! J-just my fiancee and soon-to-be brother-in-law!”
“Too many, I think,” Leo said, as he tapped his cigar, ash falling off of it. He gave a sick grin, and pressed the cigar to Graham's arm, and the man screamed, as Leo laughed. “You did good, killing Yale. Did us a favor. We aren't letting you remember though, we don't trust you,” he said, and Graham struggled.
And then there was a bang. “The hell was that?!” Leo yelled, turning, as Neil raced in.
“The police are here!” he yelled, and there were curses from both of the two, before Leo backhanded Graham, the ropes falling off, Graham following Leo and Neil as they raced to hide in a closet.
“This is the police, you are on abandoned, dangerous premises! Evacuate immediately or force will be used!” a voice called, as Graham blinked. Abandoned? Hardly!
The door opened to the room, as Graham backed further into the closet, Neil and Leo wondering how the police got here, before Leo vanished, and Neil swore something about not knowing how to do that.
“Graham, please! Neil is with me, he says he needs you to cooperate! Please, Graham! I love you!” Emilia's voice called, and Graham's eyes widened. He looked at Neil and growled.
“You! You're an imposter!” he yelled, punching the man in the face, and he yelped, the closet door swinging open and Graham bursting out.
“Graham!” Emilia called out, hugging him tightly. “Oh thank god you're alright...” she said, as he saw a man who looked just like Neil behind her, and the police grabbed him.
“You're under arrest for trespassing,” they said, handcuffing him. He saw the imposter Neil watching, and smiling.
“What about him! Right there!” Graham yelled pointing at the imposter Neil, but the police didn't respond for a moment.
“Who? Where?” they asked, looking at the spot, no one there.
Graham blinked. “Don't you see him? The imposter Neil! The one who told me to kill Mark Yale! He and his partner, Leopold Bloom!”he yelled, and the police constable blinked.
“You mean you killed Mr. Yale?”
“Yes! I admit it! He was a risk to the Order! He was using real magic! It was magic!”
“I think we have a mental case, best take the man to the mental home,” he said, and walked out. “Thank you, ma'am, good thing you told us your fiancee was here. Sorry about the... events... though,” he said, and Emilia nodded, tears rolling down her face. Her fiancee, her husband-to-be, was a madman, raving about magic, things he had seen, that there were real magic users out there, before the police put him in the car.
The real Neil sighed and put his hand on her shoulder, comfortingly, as Graham looked out the door of the police car, to see Neil and Leo watching him.
The manor was falling apart, in reality. It was rotting, collapsing in parts. The gate was broken apart. The windowpanes were shattered, from too many boys playing ball far too close. The door to the home was hanging on a single hinge from too many bold and daring young men going into the home at night to prove it wasn't haunted. The weeping willow outside it wept in silence, for the sad, sad things that occurred in that home, for the deaths that had happened there, for the happy couple broke there, for the collapsing floorboards and the creaking roof shingles.
It wept with Emilia, and she wept with it, as the willow branches blew in the wind ever-so-gently.
It wept, unceasingly, never having a happy moment in its long, long life.
Three months passed, the wedding day was moved to when Graham would be released from the asylum, with two meetings with the psychotherapist a week, for what had been labeled as paranoid schizophrenia. He had been allowed asylum instead of prison due to his mental illness. And today, September 30th, 1928, was his wedding day.
“I'd like to make a speech!” Graham said, standing up, looking out at the crowd of family and friends. “First, I'd like to thank everyone for being there for me during my... episode. But, most of all, I'd like to thank Emilia, my beautiful wife, for being the one who got me the help I needed,” he said, and there was some clapping. He looked out and saw Leo and the fake Neil standing there, watching him coldly. He moved on. “I want to thank my best friend, best man, and brother-in-law, Jack Brown, for all the times he's been there for me, and for visiting me when I was in the asylum,” he continued, his drink still in the air.
“And I want to thank all of you for wishing me and Emilia best of luck!” he said, before sitting back down and drinking from the cup. There was more clapping. He smiled at his new wife, and kissed her, before looking over to see the illusions walking away, disappointed in him for now ignoring them. He was getting better.
He mentally realized the irony of this all and had to smile. He always loved irony.
After the wedding, he had gone to the restroom, and as he was washing his hands, a man walked up to him. “Hello, Graham,” he said, and Graham looked up to see an old man, with gray hair and a wrinkled face, wearing spectacles. He had a tuxedo on, and smiled.
“Hello,...?” he led a question, as if to ask who the stranger was.
“I'm Albert Branderson, I heard about your shows,” he said, and Graham hesitated, before deciding to let the man continue. “I was wondering if you would consider... re-considering what my colleague Neil told you.”
“You're in my head,” Graham said, ignoring the man as he started to walk past the man. “You're not real, you're in my head.”
The man grabbed Graham's shoulder and spun him around. “I am very real, Graham. How do you know that the others are real, if you know I'm not? You can feel me now, can't you?” he asked, and Graham hesitated. The man had a point. “You can feel this can't you?” he asked, as he snapped his fingers and a cane appeared in his hand, and he hit Graham with it. Graham yelped.
“I can!” he exclaimed, awe struck again.
“Good. Then I can trust you to kill for me, to protect the Order? We're very disappointed in you for giving up,” he said, and Graham hesitated. “I know you have a family, but we can arrange things to make your life a living Hell otherwise, Graham.”
Graham's eyes widened, and he growled.
“No, leave them out of this.”
“Then do what we require of you, Graham. I need you to kill a magician tomorrow for me. He is Mark Yale's twin brother, and he's in New York for the funeral.”
“I won't kill him tomorrow, I can't. I just got married!” Graham yelled, and Albert shrugged.
“Him or your wife, Graham.”
And with that he vanished out the door, and Graham quickly left the bathroom, catching up to his wife, to the wedding car. He didn't mention this to her, on the way home.
The next evening, Graham and Emilia were getting home from dinner. Graham occasionally saw Leo there, but ignored him. He was sure that Leo was imaginary – there was no way that he could exist, he was too impossible, he followed Graham too much, no one else could see him.
He opened her door, and then as they approached the front door, he opened that for her. “I need a drink,” Emilia declared after her new husband closed the door. Graham had decided Albert was imaginary too. The idea that he was wrong on them being imaginary was too absurd.
Graham started upstairs, before deciding to get a drink too, and upon walking into the kitchen he saw Albert there, holding a gun at his wife, behind her head.
“Don't you dare!” he roared, lunging through the air, Emilia turning, to see Graham tackling the man – only, that is, she just saw him as tackling the air as if a man was there, and she screamed.
“Graham! What are you doing?” she yelled, and he realized now this man was fake. He coughed, and stood up.
“I wasn't sure, it looked like someone was there,” he said, and she sighed.
“Graham if this is going to be a problem...”
“At least you know that if someone had been threatening you with a gun I'd have tackled them to save you,” he said, and hugged her, as she felt herself give a heavy sigh again.
“I guess you're right...”
“Oh, you think you're great? Eh? Well I know you aren't! You're a has-been!” yelled Albert, but Graham toned him out as he focused on holding his wife, who he now kissed.
“How about we go to bed?” he asked, and she smiled, before nodding.
“I'd like that very much.”
And so they went to bed, Graham trying to tone out the noise, until Albert just gave up and left.
What he had said about illusions being everywhere still effected this. He could never truly be sure anymore, of anyone. But he had to take the good. He knew that now. He couldn't kill someone for any reason, he never knew if they were real or not or if the reason was real or not. And really, he never could know.
Entry #10: Wonders of the Sky
“Wonders of the Sky”
People called him a traveler. He called himself an explorer.
“What do you explore?” they would ask.
“The world,” he would answer. “I explore the world, looking for the impossible wonders that I know lie in wait for me somewhere out there.”
Along his travels, he became known, in nine different languages, as the Wanderer, the one who wandered the planet, searching for…. What exactly he was searching for was one of the great mysteries of the time.
There were those who wanted desperately to help the Wanderer in his massive search. These devout few called themselves the Followers, the self-proclaimed “chosen” ones who tagged along behind the Wanderer in his wanderings, aspiring to discover what it was that he was looking for.
One day, while the Wanderer happened to be looking the great, mysterious Stonehenge up, down, and all around, one of his Followers approached him slowly. Now this was unusual, as the Wanderer almost always ignored the Followers, and the Followers tended to watch him from a good distance. Well, this daring Follower chose to take a risk and ask the one simple question that would change the Followers’ movement for the remainder of the Wanderer’s long, unknown journey.
“Excuse me, sir,” the Follower began cautiously, “but I was just wondering: what sort of ‘impossible wonders’ are you searching for?”
The Wanderer looked up from Stonehenge, beginning to observe instead this curious stranger standing in the center of the ring of towering stone structures. The two of them—the short, middle-aged man who wandered the Earth, and the tall, skinny, young man who had dared to ask a forbidden yet pressing question—just stood there for a while, looking into each other’s eyes.
It was not until after the two men had been standing there idly for ten minutes that a smile began creeping its way into visibility on the Wanderer’s face. The Follower did not know what to make of this, but he stood his ground. Then, the self-proclaimed explorer spoke.
“I am looking for magic,” the Wanderer declared. At that moment, there was a great stir in the crowd of Followers listening from afar. “Magic?” What could he possibly mean by “magic?” A couple of the more confused Followers broke off from the crowd just then with the intention of visiting the nearest bookshop in order to purchase the Harry Potter series for the Wanderer. Unfortunately for them, the Follower-Who-Dared—as he came to be known—decided a mere minute after they had left to ask the Wanderer the very question that was now on the other Followers’ minds.
“Magic, sir?” inquired the Follower-Who-Dared.
“Yes,” the Wanderer replied. “I am searching for wonders so impossible that they could only be magical.”
The Follower-Who-Dared then decided to dare further. “Have you come close to finding any of these wonders yet, sir?”
The Wanderer frowned, making the Follower-Who-Dared a tad nervous. “No, I haven’t. Not in the Amazon Rainforest, not in the city of New York, not in the old shrines and temples of Japan, not in the small villages of India, not in the savannas of Africa, not in the Welsh countryside, and not even in the impossible, ancient monument we stand beside as we speak. I am beginning to fear the worst: perhaps there is no such thing as magic.”
The nearby Followers were aghast after hearing the Wanderer’s last statement. Had their “master” given up all hope of success? Was their journey at a close? Was there really no magic to be found anywhere on this Earth?
These questions began eating away at the Followers. Some began to cry. Others just left, returning home. Still others even went a little insane. However, minutes later, the Wanderer continued.
“Despite this…horrifying notion, I have decided to try one final location, although I must admit that I am not optimistic.” The Follower-Who-Dared just stared at the Wanderer, filled with dread and despair, as a single teardrop began snaking its way down his idol’s cheek. As the teardrop hit the green grass of Stonehenge, he felt something die inside himself, and he fell to his knees.
The Wanderer turned away, ashamed.
The next morning, the Wanderer, along with his remaining Followers, boarded an airplane at London-Heathrow Airport, bound for the American Midwest, where great, rolling plains—and the final destination on his long, wonderful, sad journey—awaited him.
Throughout the long flight, the atmosphere in the Followers’ cabin was somber at its best. Every one of them knew that this was likely the end of their quest and that the chances of the Wanderer finding what he was looking for were utterly ill.
The Wanderer himself was exceptionally distraught, to the point that he began trying everything he could think of to distract himself from thinking about the upcoming step in his journey, the very last. First, he tried taking a nap. When he realized that he would not be falling asleep on that rumbling jet, he resorted to picking up and opening SkyMall. He soon discovered that, while some of the items shown in the catalog would be nice to have, there was no way he would be able to afford them. Finally, he took two sleeping pills—more than he had ever been willing to take at once—and in fifteen minutes, he managed to fall into a long, troubled sleep.
Seven hours later, the plane landed. The Wanderer felt woozy from the double dose of sleeping pills, but he still managed to drag himself off the plane, through customs, and out the airport doors, his Followers following fairly close behind him, most of them afraid that their exhausted idol would collapse without warning.
The Wanderer took a taxi (whose driver he paid a hefty sum in order to be driven out by the plains) to the side of a quiet road that stretched through the plains themselves. By the time the taxi arrived at his destination, the effect of the sleeping pills had worn off.
The very fact that the Wanderer had taken a taxi caused a big problem for the Followers in that the plains were big, and they had no idea where exactly the Wanderer was going to be dropped off. In addition, none of the Followers had any mode of transportation with which to follow the Wanderer’s taxi and keep up. In the end, they were forced to wait for the Wanderer’s return, booking a block of rooms at the airport hotel.
Thus, the Wanderer began his final search for magic without begin shadowed by his Followers. He closely examined the tall grass that surrounded his legs up to his knees. He silently circled a vigilant prairie dog that was sniffing the cool evening air above ground. He stopped to look at every different thing, living or not, that he could find, searching for any magic that would be the only explanation for its existence.
It was getting dark, and the Wanderer still had not found any magic in the seemingly endless plains. Still, he continued his search, which quickly became desperate. Soon, he was running around frantically, flashlight in hand, looking around at everything. Grief soon overcame the Wanderer. He gripped his head with both hands and broke out in huge, painful sobs. He felt his legs carry him backward, trying to get away.
And then, he tripped. Until his back hit the ground, it had seemed perfectly innocent and ordinary. The Wanderer had tripped on a patch of tangled grass while walking backward. However, it changed his life. For as he lay there on his back in the middle of the silent American plains, he saw what he had been looking for for years. He saw magic…in the sky.
The Wanderer saw the stars of the night sky.
As he looked up into the twinkling lights above him, undisturbed by artificial light or clouds, he found himself floating away from his body, drifting towards the breathtaking sky. It was not long before he found himself surrounded by the beautiful shards of shining light, letting the magic of the stars bring him before their brilliant majesty. He spent what seemed like hours, even days, observing the stars up close, finding no flaws and no explanation, all the while confirming his belief that he had found magic at last.
The stars. Huge spheres of burning gas and plasma, lighting the vacuum of space and the surface of Earth at night. So perfect, so…beautiful. And as each one dies, many more are born, yet they are not alive. How could it be anything else besides magic? The night sky was the most beautiful thing that the Wanderer had ever seen. Magic.
As he lay there in the grass, however, he felt his years catch up to him. He suddenly felt old and
tired and ragged. His long journey had come to an end, and there was nothing left to find.
And so, as the Wanderer lay there, looking up at the magic above him, he felt his soul pass on as he died with a smile so bright still shining on his face.
And if one were to look down at his lifeless body, one would still see in his eyes the magical twinkle of the stars.
Entry #11: The Ballroom
“I think I’m going to become a Mormon,” Benny said as he swatted at a fly buzzing around his head.
I looked over at him, but against the sun all I could make out was the outline of his dark hair and cinnamon skin. “You know they can’t drink beer?”
Benny looked down at the can in his hand and hung his head in shame, he looked like a pin-up boy for the reservation, “♥♥♥♥,” was all he could say.
I nodded in silent agreement and turned back to the warm Miller in my hand, pondering his sudden statement of decided religion. “This about your dad?”
Benny shook his head, “He don’t know what he’s talkin’ about half of the time; the other half he’s drunk off his ass. He believes in all these fairy fantasies and is paranoid as hell when he’s sober. It’s always the same old story about how I need to respect my elders. Have you looked at him, Sheila?” Benny spit into the gravel next to the trailer. My mother jokingly called it her flower bed. It’s probably the best water her flowers had received all year. I kept my smart comment to myself, storing it away, for when Benny was in a better mood.
I stood up partly because the holes in the aluminum steps to my trailer were starting to dig a little deeper than what was appreciated, and partly because I was starting to feel uncomfortable with where the conversation was headed.
I could now look directly at Benjamin Nez, and his young round face glistened in the light of the falling sun. He wouldn’t look me in the eye, he hardly ever did. I didn’t know what to say. These conversations happened a lot between us. I always felt awkward as if I were supposed to have an answer that no one else had found yet. Benny was born four months before me, yet somehow I was the one responsible for answering life’s impossible questions. ♥♥♥♥. I kicked a piece of gravel with my hand-me-down, navy blue, converse sneaker. A hole was wearing in the side, but I had a hard time parting with my most prized pair of shoes.
The sun was almost gone now and an evening wind was whispering through the trees and the long strands of dead grass growing in the canyon. I shuddered as a sudden chill struck me through my wind breaker.
“Might rain. Let’s go inside,” I suggested and we emptied what was left of the beer onto the ground and added the cans to bed of my father’s old Chevy and clanked through the door, latching it behind us.
My uncle sat on the couch across from the door and the old tube television set. He smiled as we came in, “Hey, where the hell you two been all day? You hang out with the Begay daughters at the lake?” My uncle bounced his eyebrows up and down suggestively.
♥♥♥♥. We wish. I saw Benny give me a sideways glance, and my uncle laughed, “♥♥♥♥, I’m just messin’ with you two. Why you so serious? Who died?” My uncle pointed with his bottom lip to the worn out “love seat” that faced the kitchen.
“Mom still at work?” I asked.
My uncle smacked his lips together as he said, “Yup. Called earlier, told me to tell you that there’s plenty of frozen dinners in the freezer, and not to wake up your dad. He has to head out to the oil fields at three in the morning if he wants to get done in time to see the big game.”
Benny scratched his head, “Sheila thinks it’s gonna rain.”
Uncle Nodded. “What the newsman said too. They also had a story about some psycho killing a local family, so I don’t want you boys out in the dark. Okay?”
Benny shrugged, “Hey, can I sleep here tonight, Uncle?”
My uncle nodded, and threw his head to the side, gesturing down the hall, “There’s more blankets in the closet there. I think that’s a good idea, ‘cause I gotta head back to my place and feed my cat. Don’t’ want Sheila alone.”
I opened the musty hallway closet, and was a attacked by several dust bunnies that danced around our heads under the light like a sudden desert snow storm. I inhaled it, breathing in the wonders of clean dirt and washed linens. Then, almost reluctantly handed the blankets over to Benny who took them and headed toward the bedroom at the end of the narrow hallway, which was mine. I watched him meticulously straighten out the blankets, and wondered why he didn’t just plop them on the floor like he usually did. Something must have really been weighing on his mind.
The rain began as soft clattering against the aluminum siding of the trailer, slowly growing louder and louder each passing minute. I wondered if a trailer would float. Would the waters make the San Juan expand? Would god send me a message soon to collect all of the livestock and move them in, so that we could sail for forty nights like Noah?
Benny and I finished our microwave dinners in silence. I was heavy silence though, as if we each had something to say on the tips of our tongues, but we had a large river rock in our mouths. Like our words were weighed down like those of the whole community, so much to yell at the world, but where to start, and whose ears would listen? Whose ears were big enough to carry worries, the hate, the love, and the division of my people?
I looked at the T.V. dinner box, with a picture that looked nothing like the resulting fare. I wondered if the Mexicans knew that Hormel was slandering their name? Maybe they had rocks in their mouths too.
I grabbed both dinner boxes from the table and threw them into the trash as Benny finished up.
“You wanna watch some tube?” I asked, jutting my bottom lip toward the television set.
Benny shook his head, “Nah, I’m sleepy. Think I’ll just go to bed.”
I nodded and followed him to my bedroom, making sure the rest of the lights were out.
I dreamt of dancers in bright woven fabrics, singing in the Navajo tongue. They sang about the beginning of time, of magic, of light and darkness. I danced with them, caught up in the music, my feet taking me on a journey I didn’t fully understand. I saw grandma. She wore her best pair of turquoise earrings and a brightly colored red, blue, and yellow dress made of finely woven sheep’s wool.
I called out to her, but when she turned her eyes toward me, her eyes were as dark as midnight, they seemed soulless, and a paralyzing grasp of evil made my body shudder and my blood turn to ice in my veins. I woke in a cold sweat.
When I looked down where Benny was supposed to be asleep, the tangled blankets lay there empty. I looked up and around the room. My door was ajar.
“♥♥♥♥!” I whispered vehemently as I pulled my pants on and stumbled down the hallway in the dark.
I couldn’t find him anywhere. I turned on the lights in the living room and repeated myself twenty times in my head. Should I wake father? I checked the time, just past two in the morning. No, dad would be pissed. He’d have to head to work in a couple of hours anyway.
Desperately, I knelt down and felt the carpet next to the door. Wet. I threw open the door and was immediately pelted in the face with freezing cold rain, “Benny!” I cried out.
I could see a silhouette of someone next to the road. It had to be him.
I ran back to my room, grabbed a dirty shirt from the floor and threw it over my head and grabbed my father’s twenty-two from the gun cabinet in the spare room along with the big plastic eighties flash light. I slipped out the back door and chased off in the direction I last saw Benny.
Oh god, what was he doing?
I made it to the road and saw him casually walking on the other side, as if he were heading to school. I chased after him, throwing the gun over my shoulder by the strap and shouting, “Benny!”
I wondered if he were sleep walking. Maybe I shouldn’t wake him? I couldn’t remember why you don’t wake a sleep walking person, but knew I had heard it somewhere. Damn it, Benny.
I was following Benny more slowly now, still calling out to him once in a while. The rain had worked through my shirt now and it seemed the large old trees on this part of town were reaching out with cold fingers of shade from the moon. Thunder was quickly followed by lightning and for some reason my mind went straight to the empty look of my grandmother from my dream and I shuddered.
We’d made it out next to cliffs next to the highway now and Benny was starting to climb. It only took a few minutes to realize where he was headed. The Ballroom.
The Ballroom was a large cave up above the highway that ran through town. The older kids liked to tell scary stories about how it was where the dead danced at night under a full moon. It was probably just called the Ballroom because it used to be where our ancestors held their spiritual ceremonies and dance. Some stupid bilaganna probably named it that.
I crawled up the loose, wet sandstone behind him. Of all the places around he could sleepwalk to, he chooses someplace likely full of rattle snakes, and up a steep enough hill, that he keeps kicking stones down at me. I’d slug him good for this one.
I couldn’t see him as he entered the cave, but I knew he went in there, there was nowhere else to go. I stood just in the lip of the cave and lifted my flashlight up so I could look around for him. Maybe I could convince him in his sleep to go home. My light scanned across the primitive writing on the wall. They were pictographs of men hunting.
“Benny?” I asked, probably too quiet for him to hear, I felt I was invading someone’s home.
A cold chill ran down my spine and my flashlight stopped on Benny’s back. He was hunched over on his heels, shuddering and chanting in Navajo, things that definitely shouldn’t be said. Then he stood, something in his hand like a piece of clothing and pressed it against his face.
That’s when I smelled it. Dead meat, like a dead coyote left to the elements.
Benny began screaming and I pulled the gun from over my shoulder and turned the safety off to defend him. Then he stood and turned toward me, with dark, soulless eyes that wore his father’s bleeding face.
That’s when I shot him.
My father and I went to the police when I got back home. I don’t even know how I got there. When the police saw how Benny had mutilated his parent’s bodies, they called what I had done self-defense.
I won’t go back to the ballroom. I still think about Benny though. Did he truly master ancient magic to become a skinwalker, or was he just sick of his father beating him? Had he killed them earlier, and did he think that by becoming a Mormon, his soul would be saved?
I came to only one real conclusion, that I should take dreams of my grandmother more seriously now.
Entry #12 Plague of Mice
Plague of Mice
A world for us. This is all we ask for. A simple place to eat and sleep, going about our precious lives in luxury.
“Our people can’t live like this.”
“Mice were never meant to live this way”
“Something must to done about this atrocity.”
The Golden Age seems so distant now. It was a time where we could scurry around and make merry at any hour. The landscape was littered with delectable morsels. Our bellies were always full, and our gracious hosts were none the wiser. That is of course until that accursed yellow-eyed monster made its home here. It hunted and killed our kind as if for mere sport, and out host seemed grateful to see our lifeless bodies. Many of our brothers and sisters and sons and daughters were lost to its twisted game.
Even during time of crisis, life finds a way to renew itself. Buds will still unravel into pungent blossoms. New pups shall always be born, albeit significantly less than in previous seasons. Twenty pups arrived this season; that is abysmal for a colony of our magnitude. Since the litters have been so small for the past few seasons, our leader, Hanta personally inspects all newborn mice. All pups are taken to the colony’s central meeting spot when they are a week old where he can inspect all of them in search of only the strongest of mice. Finally, Hanta arrived at the lastborn pup.
“Dear sweet guardian above! Look at him with his blazing white fur. Who whelped such an abomination? Step forward now!”
The pup’s mother stepped forward. The age of darkness cast on our colony left her with only her misfit son to present.
“How dare you let that …thing come anywhere near my eyes. Our golden brown coats serve a purpose you know. A pup like this would only become a victim to the dangers of the outside world. What is this abomination’s name?”
“Simon is to be kept within the nest. The last thing we need is his obscenely colored fur attracting unneeded attention. “
With Simon’s fate sealed, Hanta fled to his chamber not be seen for the rest of the day. Within his chamber lied but one piece in the very center: a statue. This was the statue of Canidae, the guardian deity of all mice. Hanta bowed in front of this ominous effigy.
“Oh great Canidae, strongest of all creatures, give my colony strength in these times of great hardship. Damn the soul who has put us through such a dark age…”
This is where Simon’s tragic tale begins.
Soon, the pups started to grow and become stronger. As was usual in their colony, all of the little ones were sent away to Hanta to guide them on the path towards greatness for the colony as we were before them. All that is, except for Simon, whose ivory coat was barred from entering the outside world. He was allowed to participate in a single lesson, a lesson about the guardian deity, Canidae. They gathered in Hanta’s chamber around the colossal statue honoring him. All the pups, fur as brown as earth, stood in a single straight line in front of their leader. Simon stood among them like a lone, solitary snowflake on an autumn field.
“How many of your mothers have told you about Canidae?”
The pups returned his query with confused gazes. A few looked around hoping someone would know, but one disgruntled cough from Hanta quickly snapped them back into place.
“I see. Canidae is the guardian of all mice. Long ago, ancestors were endlessly hunted worse they we are now by many other savage creatures. Just before one of these beasts killed the last mice, Canidae shot right our of nowhere, snatched it up in his fearsome maw and crushed its throat as if it were a twig. Ever since that day, our ancestors worshipped this noble creature, and spoke of a time where we would all be carved in his fearsome and powerful image, but only in a time of great peril for our kind. If only that day would come soon, little ones.” Hanta gazed up into the Canidae’s massive pupils with a concerned look in his eyes.
The pups listened intently to Hanta’s tale. They all seemed entranced by such a great tale of their ancestral hero. Simon broke the silence and wonder with a question to the great and noble Hanta “Hanta sir, if Canidae protected us then, where is he now? Is this crisis not important enough? Maybe the ancient ones were wrong.”
Hanta’s complete engrossment in the fierce idol was shattered by Simon’s innocent, yet grossly enraging question. “Pups, you are dismissed. All except you, Simon.” he said, trying to keep his short temper in check in front of their future hope. As soon as all the little brown mice scurried our of his chamber, Hanta addressed the lastborn misfit of the colony.
“So, Simon, you denounce the word of out ancestors? The eyewitnesses to the great and powerful being known as Canidae? How dare you simply dismiss generations of belief as if it were nothing but an outlandish yarn you foolish white speck!”
“I-I am sorry sir. I just wanted to ask why he hasn’t returned.” This was commonplace for Simon by now. He has known of Hanta’s hatred of him ever since he was born.
“You never question the thoughts of the ancestors. This is your punishment.” Hanta readied his claws, shining knifes forged over years of use. They pointed at Simon in preparation for a swift and painful blow. Hanta dashed at great speed toward him, Simon too frightened to move even a centimeter from his spot. It was then, right before the claws hit their mark, that Hanta’s entire body was enveloped in a bizarre aura that stopped him dead in his tracks. He was then thrown back at high speed and collided with Canidae’s statue with the sickening sound of shattering bones. Hanta fell to the ground limp and seemingly lifeless. Simon finally found his legs and dashed out of the chamber, shock and traumatized by the events that had occurred. Unbeknownst to Simon, his life would never be the same after the moment. He had discovered this extremely odd yet wondrous gift. He was a psychic mouse, an occurrence that had never happened until then, and has never happened since.
Simon knew what he had to do with the astounding abilities given to him; he must slay the bane of his entire colony. After the incident at Hanta’s chamber, Simon had gone into hiding, with only his mother to support him. He honed his skills while hidden away from outside mice; hidden from Hanta, his normal kin and their mothers. He knew he could not explain this gift to anyone, for no one would understand. Even his own mother knew not of the power her son had locked away inside him. After what seemed like an eternity away from the outside world, Simon stumbled out of his home in the dead of night and made his way swiftly to the hole, the gateway to the outside and the world he was told never to visit. The frozen air hit him immediately like a thousand fresh nails. The landscape all around him was a dense white, as white as his coat. The piles of chilly, white earth provided the greatest of camouflage. Slowly but surely, he headed for the huge wooden monolith that stand beside his nest. He had a hunch the whiskered fiend made its home there. He creeped towards the massive prism until he finally came into contact with a splintery edge. A hole was chewed into the outer boarder by the unheard from explorers that came before him. After squirming through the not so finished breech, his enemy lay in sleep before him. That whiskered devil that has hunted his kind since before he was born. He breathed deeply, collecting his strength. He closed his eyes and stood perfectly still, paws clenched, under the mock doorway created just for him. A faint glow collected in the whites of his eyes. It slowly grew in intensity until the intense light was enough that it caused his target to stir. Simon lost focus. The whiskered devil twitched its huge ears. Its nose wrinkled ever so slightly and it began to wake. It opened it eyes revealing soulless yellow pupils which immediately spotted the small mouse invading its home. With blinding speed and dexterity, the creature swatted Simon across the room with what seemed like no effort at all. Simon smacked against the wall with a paralyzing force and slid down to the cold wooden floor. The creature trotted over to him, sniffed his limp body, and slowly turned his back only to be caught in a cloud of stunning aura. It careened towards the hard floor with such force that it broke straight through to the frosty dirt below. It slowly rose up still under Simon’s binding control. A deafening sound came from the beast, the combines sound of breaking bones and yowls of sheer pain. The cracking and tearing became louder along with the bloodcurdling screeches until the creatures head popped clean off of its contorted, broken shoulders. It let one last yowl and it’s movement ceased forever, falling to the floor. Simon regained his ability to move and slowly made his way to the bloody mess that once was the evil that shook his entire colony. Simon knew he must bring back proof of the beast’s defeat. He looked at the creature’s eyes, the eyes of a cold-blooded killer. Its left eye popped out of its lifeless socket and floated to Simon’s hand. This was the perfect proof of its defeat because no one could deny that this was the eye of a murderer.
Upon his return to the nest, the sun had already shone itself and some mice were already out doing the day’s foraging. They paused and stared at the white pelt that was banned from the outside holding a gruesome yellow orb that marked the killing of their most hated foe. The mice immediately rushed over to Simon and asked him a barrage of questions.
“Why are you out of the nest?”
“Is that the devil’s eye?”
“Did you kill our colony’s greatest bane?”
“Is it really dead? Are you the hero?”
Simon gave them a reassuring nod. “The beast is gone my brothers and sisters. The dark age is no more!”
The small band of mice let out a great cheer. The evil being that haunted their way of life was no more, and they could live out their lives in peace and prosperity. They lifted Simon up and triumphantly carried him into the nest and straight to Hanta’s chamber. Hanta, who had grown old and bitter at the white mouse who crippled him, stood in front of the statue of Canidae.
“Who dares disturb me?”
“Oh great Hanta. Simon, the white abomination of our colony had done us the greatest of all services! He has slain the whiskered devil that has been a bane on our society for the longest time. He brings to you the fearsome creatures eye.”
“Simon? The little white speck that crippled me for life? The same Simon that slammed my body against Canidae’s idol and took away my keen sense of smell leaving me useless for foraging? The very same Simon that also crushed my tail to bits and smashed most of my teeth right out of my skull? That Simon?”
Simon hung his head in shame. He never meant to hurt their leader so badly. He never meant to hurt him at all.
“Hanta sir, I have slain the evil monster using the same power that has crippled you. It will no longer hunt our kind to near extinction, and we can finally continue or Golden Age. I give to you this gleaming trophy from the beast to prove it had perished. “
“Simon, ever since you have doomed me to never again provide for my own colony, I have been researching our ancient ancestors. You know, the ones you said were wrong about Canidae’s noble deed. It turns out Canidae can return and give us his image as our own, but under one condition, the sacrifice of one who has performed a labor equal to that of his. I knew, Simon. I knew after what you did to me, the evil one would be a simple task for you to accomplish. I knew after your crimes against me you would train to become stronger and defeat this beast. I know because you have the same personality I had at your young age. I aspired to greatness just like you have. I became leader of the colony, and you will become the one who will catapult our race to greater heights. There will be a plague of mice if you will Simon, and we will conquer a world that has done us wrong, shatter the bones of those who hunted us, and completely annihilate everything that stands in our way. It will be the Golden Age, Simon, the Golden Age of mice!”
Enraged my his leader’s words, Simon threw the eyeball aside and charged towards Hanta, only to be deflected by two, much larger mice. Hanta spoke again.
“I order he be placed in a barren chamber and be sealed up until preparations are made. Don’t even try to use your powers, Simon. I know you would never use them on flesh and blood again.”
The two large mice grabbed Simon by his front legs and dragged him all the way across the nest to an empty den, which was then quickly sealed up to prevent his escape. Trapped in total darkness and sorrow, Simon could do nothing, but wait for his gruesome fate to call for him.
In Hanta’s chamber, a group of strong mice had gathered and encircled the statue of the noble beast Canidae. They lifted it up with no effort and began the process of carrying it all the way to the main chamber in preparation for a huge event. Claws were sharpened on the stones outside which were then brought in the nest to be used as a makeshift platform. Hanta gathered all the mice both old and young in the main chamber and awaited for the construction to be complete.
“My brothers and sisters, long have we awaited the day the mouse could rise up to be something even greater, and now that day has arrived. With the savage beast dead, we can finally achieve this dream of being forged into Canidae’s fierce image. Never again will be tortured by this cruel world for being small pests. We will rise from out underground homes as kings, and we will slaughter those who have forsaken us. Our time for revenge has arrived! Quick! Bring out the prisoner. From this moment on, we shall all be the children of the great Canidae. Receive our prayer, great Canidae.”
“Receive our prayer, great Canidae!”
The crowd roared with awe and excitement at their leader’s words. The time they had been yearning to arrive is finally here, and the mice could not wait to see their new image as Hanta had promised them. Simon was dragged out of his pitch black enclosure. His eyes were wide open with an unimaginable amount of fear. His deed may have seemed great, but what he was about to do was to be even greater. He saw the expectant faces of the crowd. He saw his former classmates, their mothers, his mother; he saw them all, all cheering for his death. Simon was thrown onto and held down on the solemn stone slab, the slab that would be his deathbed, and his ticket to paradise. Hanta rose to speak to the crowd again.
“Brothers! Prepare your claws. They must be swift and dexterous to protect our sacrifice from immediate death. For the ritual to work he must stay alive until the end of his contribution.”
The two burly mice who has dragged Simon to his doom stood over him with sharpened claws, waiting for the signal from Hanta on when to start their gory duty. There Simon lay: motionless and filled to the brim with unspeakable horror. Then, after what seemed to me a millennium, Hanta began.
“Oh great and powerful Canidae, one of swift gait and powerful bite, look down upon our suffering and accept our grand sacrifice.”
“Receive our prayer, Canidae, and accept our sacrifice.”
“This mouse has done a deed worthy of your greatness, Canidae, and it is on this holy day that we give him to you to transform us into your fierce image. Your claws, like those of the swiftest savage.”
“Your claws, like those of the swiftest savage.”
“Your paws, like those that pound on the earth with a blinding swiftness.”
“Your paws, like those that pound the earth with a blinding swiftness.”
“Your eyes. Eyes that can spot the most invisible of prey.”
“Your eyes. Eyes that can spot the most invisible of prey”
“Your nose to detect the most minute of scents.”
“Your nose to detect the most minute of scents.”
“Your maw to crush the throat of any enemy.”
“Your maw to crush the throat of any enemy.”
“Your ears to pick up their children’s dull whimpers.”
“Your ears to pick up their children’s dull whimpers.”
“And finally, the heart of a noble hero.”
“The heart of a noble hero.”
The ritual was over. Simon was nothing more than a writhing husk slowly fading into oblivion. As the parts were places on the statue, it began to give off a sinister maroon glow. Suddenly, all the mice screamed in indescribable agony. Their entire bodies slowly and painfully melted away into a churning blood red goo. The extreme horror was accompanied by the sounds of maniacal laughter emanating from the statue’s ominous glow. The bloody pool rose and fell like ocean waves, and it slowly formed new beings from its liquid form. Beasts black as night shot out of the ground to the wide world above. Their eyes glowed with the same sinister aura that surrounded the Canidae statue as they scanned their surroundings. A new world lay before them. One all their own.
Entry #13: Luna Scamander
“Plimpy Pie in twenty minutes, dear!” The blithe airy voice floated in from the kitchen, forming a smile on Rolf Scamander’s lips as it reached his ears. He knew that this phrase would be followed by the return of his wife to the living room, and sure enough, Luna waltzed in a moment after her voice, trailing flour from her long blonde hair and clenching one hand within the other.
“What took you so long today, dear? And why are you- oh my, what’s happened to your hand?”
“My wand has left me again,” sighed Luna, staring at him with her wide silver-grey eyes. “But Hermione gave me a – what was it – ‘cook’s book’ on my last birthday, so I‘m making lunch like a Muggle today. Fire without magic is not as easy as it sounds.” As if to demonstrate she opened her hand with a faint wince to reveal a red line scalded deep into the palm.
Rolf twitched slightly, and straightened up his spectacles. “Are you sure? I’ll go and look for your wand, or help you make it myself.”
“No thanks. It’ll turn up eventually, it always does. I’ve finished now and besides, even without a wand my cooking is still tastier than yours.” Rolf smiled a lopsided sort of smile. A remark like that from anyone else might have hurt, but he knew that his wife would only say such a thing if it were an inescapable truth. Taking her injured hand, he fished his own wand from his robe and pressed the tip into the seared flesh.
“Episkey. There, that should do it. So, what are you planning after lunch, my dear?”
“Dabberblimps,” Luna replied, watching the blistered skin bubble away and return to its normal unblemished state. “I’m going down to the pond to see if we’ve caught any yet. So long as the boys don’t wake up,” she added, gesturing to two silk slings in the corner of the room in which their sons were swaddled.
“They won’t; they sleep like angels in those hammocks you made. Make sure you take note of the exact number of the little critters you see.”
“Of course, dear. But today is all about you!” she exclaimed suddenly, throwing her hands up in excitement. “Look at you, all dressed up in lovely robes and ready for your big lecture!”
“Ah, don’t make such a big deal out of it, please,” said Rolf. “The Ottery St Catchpole Magizoologists’ Convention... alright, it’s a big deal, sure, but how many people will actually come and listen to me? The Daily Prophet weren’t very kind reviewing my Crumple-Horned Snorkack seminar last month...”
“Now don’t talk silly!” Luna said, squeezing his hand. “You’ll be fine, because you know more about the feeding habits of the Umgubular Slashkilter than anyone else in the world. Those witches and wizards should be thrilled to hear what you have to say.”
Inspired, Rolf returned to redrafting his speech notes with vigour. As Luna gazed at him working there was an impatient hoot from the window. Luna took the mail from the owl with a small curtsy, and returned to sitting by her husband to open them.
“Oh, how lovely! We have our first letters for the boys! Look, one from the Weasleys and one from the Potters. That’s nice. Listen... None of them expected twins... They’ll all be over to visit at Christmas... Albus started school last week, and so did Rose... oh, Ron has just bought his first car – Dad doesn’t trust cars, he says they are crude Muggle magic... ‘Neville will no doubt forget to send a letter but he gives his congratulations too’... they hope we’re all well, that’s nice... ‘All the best, Hermione, Ron, Rose and Hugo Weasley’... ‘Best wishes, Harry, Ginny, James, Albus and Lily Potter’.”
Rolf’s quill froze mid-sentence. “Did you... Harry Potter? You met the Harry Potter?!”
“Oh yes,” Luna said airily. “We were at Hogwarts together. We fought Voldemort and the Death Eaters too. He told me I was his friend. I thought that was a very nice thing for him to say. I think he is my friend too.”
“Remarkable! You must tell me more about your school days sometime... oh, Twaddlesticks!” Rolf muttered, observing the large black puddle where the quill had been resting. He swallowed and turned to face his wife. “You realise this does mean we have a little problem, Luna.”
“We do?” Luna queried, her eyes protruding more than ever.
“Well, money is getting quite short. We spent the last of the funds the Magical Creatures Department granted us looking for those Heliopaths on the Greek islands. They said it was one failed expedition too many. And we can’t get by with just the sponsorship of The Quibbler alone. Not any more, now that we have more mouths to feed.”
“Oh.” Luna’s head lowered as she sank back in the chair. “Maybe you’re right, Rolf. I shall have to leave the exploring up to you while I take care of Lorcan and Lysander. I suppose I can still look for Dabberblimps that way...”
Rolf twitched again. The twinkle was dimming in her eyes, and her voice had become heavy and low. This called for immediate remedial action. “Hey, don’t be like that, dear. We can take turns on expeditions, or once we scrape together a few Galleons we can hire someone to look after them while we’re away. Or better still, once the boys are a bit older they will come with us and we can explore the world together! Won’t that be nice?” He reached for his wand again and whispered gently into it “Orchideous!”
Looking up, Luna gave a squeak of happiness, and plucked the bouquet of flowers that sprouted from the tip of Rolf’s wand. Disaster averted, he thought. As his wife leant across to smother him with hugs and kisses he felt the same familiar rush of affection for Luna, for the unbridled joy she showed every time he performed this tiny charm, as though it were the first time he had ever done it. His happy thoughts were interrupted by the vociferous chiming of the clock.
“Merlin’s beard!” he cried, leaping to his feet. “I have to go right away! Where are my notes? What about my robes? How am I looking?”
“Thank you. See you soon. Love you.” Rolf exhaled deeply, threw one more kiss each at Luna and his sons, and Disapparated in a whirl of parchments.
Luna beamed for a few moments at the empty space where her husband had stood, then wandered away towards the garden, before deciding that the smell of burning Plimpy coming from the kitchen was perhaps a more pressing issue.
Defense Against the Dark Arts is useless, thought Dustin, or at least this professor is. Honest, I doubt he knows the first thing about wand work. Dustin sighed and went back to writing along the side of his notes.
At the present moment, Professor Lockhart was relaying a story about one of his many handsome adventures. He hopped up onto his desk, his wand held out towards the class. “And at the moment,” he said, rolling up his sleeves, “I whirled my want—like this—and I said to the Count, ‘Be gone, villain! Or you will be quite sorry!’” He hopped to the ground and started walking down a row of desks. “And I chased him, just like this, yes. If only you children could have seen the look on the scoundrel’s face!” He paused at Dustin’s desk, “Ah, good, good, you’re taking notes.”
Dustin looked up. He blinked at the professor and casually brought his hand over to cover his roll of parchment. “Ah, yeah. Just jotting down a few things.”
Professor Lockhart smiled at him. “Lad, I know you weren’t taking notes,” he laughed, “Now, move your hand so that I may see what it is that you’ve been scribbling.”
Dustin stifled a sigh and complied. The professor looked over his shoulder and read for a moment. Then he straightened up and beamed at him.
“You know,” he said, “I’ve penned a few poems myself. I’ve been collecting them for years now. Ought to get a book out, eh? What do you think?”
“Um,” said Dustin, “Actually, these are just some lyrics I’ve been working on… Like, for songs. I don’t think I’m much of a poet, really.”
“Ah! Lyrics!” He took some steps forward, a bounce to the way he walked. “I was in a band in my schooldays, you know. We called ourselves The Gilded Hearts. Yes, we were quite good! Caused a bit of a buzz, actually! Now, I led the group, for after all, I really do have the face for that sort of thing and blah blah blah.”
DO EEEEEETTTTT (In case I have the wrong number, it's Wonders of the Sky)
It blew my mind. It made me cry from how much it moved me. It's fan-tas-tic, it was just beautiful and I was like *glimmering eyes* *angelic voices singing* when I finished it. I loved it. It deserves ten thousand votes but I can only give it 1 so I'll just put it down four times anyways. Place holders for when I find something that moves me even half as much as it. I loved it. So much. Words do not describe it. It was amazing. Amazing. Just beautiful. I mean seriously, seriously beautiful.
2 Whispering Wizard, I liked the dynamics 3 The Season Ends, the Party Begins, Really fun, detailed read 13 Luna Scamander, Definitely Luna, loved the whole “home sweet home” feel to it. 11 The Ballroom, Swearing, yes, and god, I wish this were longer