the problem with magic

There is no such thing as magic. Not anymore… Real magic is extinct.

I haven’t seen any since… Huh, I can’t remember since when. Funny. I haven’t seen any real magic in an amazingly long time- at least one thousand years, or more. Come to think of it, it’s nearly two thousand years.

I remember Alexandria. Wait, no that’s not right. The last time I recall sensing magic was in the Middle Ages. I didn’t suspect that it’d be the last time I see someone cast a spell. It isn’t been a good, nor a very successful one, more of a petty attempt to hide money.  The man, some filthy carney, speaks the words sloppily, as if not knowing what they meant.

I was disgusted by his attempt- such poorly woven multiplying spell grafted upon a basic privacy charm. I think he tried to equally multiply and to hide his money,  but it backfired on him. Badly. That’s what happens, if you pour fresh pigeon blood over Mandragora roots and mermaid scales, before allowing the full moon to shine upon the ingredients. A spell is like a plant, you can’t just put one on top of the other, you have to wait, so they can grow together. Magic is a living thing, having its own will and its own needs. I’ve always thought Romanies had good instincts for the cycles of nature, and for magic. Obviously not this one…

The spell made his silhouette look like a huge burning shadow. That was before leaving his circus caravan and being mauled to death by two horrified wolf dogs . The man had some hilarious last words: “Not dying, abracadabra.”

If I had known, that this was the last magic user, I would have done something about that spell going wrong.

Then for a time I’ve been following some promising individuals around, alchemists, illusionists and also some scary looking old women. Despite the public opinion, they had not an ounce magic on them. I tried children next. Nothing. You cannot imagine how boring things get, without magic. My last straw were the black cats. Cats always have something peculiar about them, but nothing magical, to my disappointment.

I thought about meddling with the tides of magic, crossing the paths of darkness and light. What I got out of the equation was: war. Don’t get me wrong, I got nothing against some human tears, blood, and despair, but it’s only a cheap substitute. Nothing tastes like magic. Nothing else is able to satisfy my appetite. I have tried everything else.

everyone needs good staff

a chuck wending prompt (X), 5-sentence-story / 100 words

music inspired: Burn my shadow away, by UNCLE (war stories)

Entropy was a bitch, but only because I wasn’t a morning person.

Temperature fell below zero in a blink, my breath formed little vapor clouds.

My shadow bloated and blurred the room, stretching to the corners, fanning out and coaxing my thoughts into reality.

A blood colored velvet Chesterfield dropped to the ground with a thud, and a hot cup of tea wobbled into existence right in front of my left hand.

Really tired of these morons, working for me, nothing but a waste of space and energy… Being the devil, doesn’t make my job easier…

 

Advertising

a chuck wending prompt (link); a 5-sentence-story (max 100 words)

A big, unusual looking white wolf stood on top of the hill, the forest in its back, stretched its hind paws and yawned.

Maybe its sky-colored eyes, or its gold dipped tail, or its huge glistening fangs  made it look so exceptional…

Just before sunrise, the horizon started glowing and writing flashed to rush across the sky, as it always did.

The wolf read it out: “Thank you for choosing Strix Planetary Maintenance Systems.”

“Crap, time to upgrade,” the wolf rolled its eyes.

 

tiger, burning

-a chuck wending friday flash fiction challenge (1000 words)- here

San Chou was a dangerous place. Everyone in Li Jiang knew that. The news of brutal robbery and gruesome rape and murder reached us. Governor Zhang Dee Yang was more than worried. He seemed so distant, I feared he’d fall ill. Even his wife was concerned enough to call for a doctor. After the doctor went, I visited him and we drank tea in the garden.

All together the band of San Chou seemed to be only gossip, but the governor took it seriously. “A good governor is like a  good general, Bolin. Just like a good father, his soldiers trust and obey him, because they love him, not because they fear him. They would never betray or disgrace their general’s name,” he said to me, with the saddest smile. He seemed so fragile, I never seen him so worn out. After all, he was more than my high official, he was a father to me. “The good governor can rely on his subjects, as they equally rely on him. But I can’t rely on the officials in that village. Who knows what they are up to. They must be corrupt. Maybe they supply the band with secret information.”

“Possibly…”I nodded slowly, “but how could one verify?”

“Bolin, that band is like a snake. It finds its way into every crack of the wall… Surprise it! Pull it’s fangs, so it can’t bite. No bite, no venom. Take it’s head, and the body dies slowly.” The governor was right. To restore order in San Chou, it was necessary to free the village from the criminals. The most effective way was to do it from the inside. One capable man could do it. Zhang Dee Yang looked at me with a curious expression, pulled a grimace, which made me laugh. “Bolin! You look so serious, my boy. Take care, your face could get stuck in that expression!” He laughed a warm laugh, one that I missed.

I made up my mind. Zhang Dee Yang saved me, when I was a baby boy, he took me in, nurtured my body and mind. I was more than grateful, that’s why I volunteered for this task. He wasn’t happy, but needed someone to trust in San Chou. That day, the governor sent for a man and a woman. They appeared like shadows from a side of the garden.

I didn’t needed to go alone. And all three of us had better chances to succeed. The way they moved, how they stood and sat, I suspected they were fighters. Really good ones. “This is Fang Hua Xing, beautiful and deadly, her virtue is the dancing of the blades. This is the famous Jinhai Wei Fu, master of the lance. And this is my oldest son, Bolin.” The governor introduced everyone. How did he know such people?

We exchanged courtesies, drank tea and discussed the matter extensively. Fueled by the excitement of my first mission, and the two fighters, I couldn’t sleep a wink. We decided to approach the village from three different directions. In disguise, we would behave like strangers to each other. No one should suspect any trace of links between each other. Especially the connection to the governor of Li Jiang, my father should stay secret, to prevent further disturbances. Our true identities were to remain concealed, so we chose new names too. I went with Monkey, Fang Hua Xing called herself Jade, and Jinhai Wei Fu was Tiger. We all had our specialties, as Jade was a master with swords, Tiger with the lance, my abilities were not so spectacular, I admit. After years of studying, I mastered acupuncture and was sent for training into the monastery of Mt. Songshan.

I reached San Chou on foot, five days after we parted at the governor’s house. Dressed as a wandering astronomer, nobody took noticed of me and I had no trouble reaching the village. In the first hostel I asked after martial arts schools. San Chou had three. That was a start. “If you look for trouble, search for the troublemakers.” My master used to say, and martial arts scholars had a clear stroke of trouble on them. I thought of myself, and my training. The monks were firm, not allowing anger, fear or joy. I thought of the hunger and the many hours of work in the house of Zhang Dee Yang. Master was right, troubled souls had an affinity to martial arts. They were attracted, like moths to the fire.

I paid a boy three wen to show me around. One coin for each school. I gave him another, for food. I heard nothing of Jade and Tiger, so I started my observations and made notes. Each school had one active teacher, and one older master. The number of scholars were variable. Southern Fist had eleven boys, Wing Chun had fifteen and Northern Legs had seven. I tried to remember each of the scholars. It was most likely that the criminals had some training. I had to ask the masters for drop-outs without attracting too much attention. After that, I checked the administration, from the outside it looked fine. Then I caught a glimpse of Tiger. He leaned at the garden wall of a house nearby, in a beam of sunlight and threw me a disgusted look. Where was Jade? What was she doing?

I had a brilliant idea. I went to the entrance of the administration and knocked at the door. A soldier let me in and I demanded to see the high official. Truth was a tool, as much as betrayal could be.

I was shown into a small dark room, with one chair and one table. A thin man came in, walking on a cane, with grey hair and mustache, clothes richly embroiled. As he sat down he nodded and smiled a rapid flash of teeth. Only as he indicated with his hand, I started speaking: “My Lord. I am a wandering scholar, an astronomer. I’m here to warn you. A man I noticed on the other side of the street is spying out the administration.” The man showed no reaction. “I know him from my hostel, where I made a horoscope for him. A very dangerous and brutal man.” He indicated me to stop, stood up and left the room. Surely, to check my claims.

Four soldiers barged in, with drawn swords all pointing at me. The man came back in, with a most satisfied smile. “So we caught you, Monkey. Call miss Jade in, so she can verify. You’ll see that our prisons are as comfortable, as the ones in Li Jiang.”

-to be continued -

A terrible piece of mind

This a 1000 word, flash fiction story, please enjoy.
part 1 - Moonlight Market

Today I got a squishy cargo. A six feet tall sack of white saggy meat. If you’re curious, it’s a human. A human for tonight’s Moonlight Market, an astrologer and seer. A rare offer for the market, really. It’s more of a custom request, than anything else. I’m going to cash up nicely.

My name’s Vespa. I may not look like it, but I’m far older than you may suspect. Since I’m part-part, my body obeys different laws. Today, some idiot calls me a twelve year old saucy bitch. No one calls me that, or anything else. Luckily, I don’t need more than fifteen seconds to cast a nasty curse. Don’t be surprised if you meet a five feet tall rat in Central Park.

Ah, magic! You gotta love it! It’s a big improvement, since it’s allowed to cross the borders. Stretching and bending the frame-laws of one world to its benefit, makes me curious. Living is so much easier and so much more interesting.

What I do for living? I’m a merchant, a businesswoman. And the only law I follow, is the one of supply and demand. Besides, I’m an expert, a professional collector of humans. So when Aunt Nancy requests a human seer, I deliver.

You name it, I supply it for you. Only the best, only quality goods. I’m proud of my reputation, so is Aunt Nancy. I get you anything. What you want: dragon breath, unicorn tears, mermaid scales, dried lightning flowers, seedpods from the Tree of Life… That is, if you can pay for it, cause I’m not cheap.

Aunt Nancy gives me two men, my first two minions. They keep me company and protect me, not that it would be necessary… But you never know, and Aunt Nancy is one worried spidermom. She always takes good care of me, treats me as if I was family. I even owe her my life. I won’t be the one to reject her kindness, I’m not suicidal.

So she gives me Ulysses, my weasel. A midget blessed with a fast mind, fast moving limbs, and a wicked jaw.  He’s always good for a laugh. And there is Isanagi, my elephant. Strong, quiet, calm like a stone and annoyingly overprotective. I suspect, Aunty made them herself, judged by the charms that are seemingly woven into their skins. Branded property of Aunt Nancy.

My carriage is disguised as a black rusty minivan. We stop at the entrance to the Moonlight Market. That is, for tonight, Teardrop Park at the shore of the Hudson. At sunrise, the market will move.

Usually, I let Isanagi drive. He looks better behind the wheel. As we stop, my package, even if bound and gaged, stirs, believing he has a chance to run. Ulysses is faster, he always is. He hits the man with his staff  on his left shoulder, hard enough to make him whimper. That’s gonna be a bruise, but he’ll lay low. From the driver’s seat Isanagi growls.”Hey! Damaged goods are bad goods.” Ulysses rolls his eyes.

“Stop pissing. He’s thinking payback and escape. And more…” Ulysses throws me a submissive look. I caught that other thought too, but I’m not that worried. The little human picks me as his hostage-to-be in his petty escape plan. Which is stupid by the way. I’d never give him anything sharp. No way he can bribe me with money either. Money! Dirty paper. He has nothing I could use, nothing he could offer. Plus, I don’t need to rely on my staff, or my strength. The magical currents of the river, the moon and the morning star are on my side.

As long as we do not enter the market, I got every right to turn my goods into whatever I please. If he’s annoying, I’ll turn him into a hotdog and feed him to the watchdog.

“Cut it out. Aunt Nancy is waiting for us.” I won’t allow any disturbances. I got to maintain a reputation, so I take away the human’s pain and heal his bruise. “Be polite. Show respect.” I advise the man, “speak only when you’re asked. Be honest, it’s ridiculously obvious when you lie.”

“Yes, Miss Vespa.” Weasel and elephant answer together. I cut the man loose, and let him stand up. He’s staring at me confused.

“Do you understand?” I ask him. The man nods, then shakes his head.  “Fine! Off we go.” Isanagi shoves the human out of the carriage and Ulysses and I, we follow them.  At the entrance, the watchdog greets us.

“Welcome to the Moonlight Market, Miss Vespa. Password. Please.” She flashes her fangs, as polite as she can, and wags her tail. I nod a friendly nod.

“I stole my shoelaces from the president.” Instantly she gives way. The human stares me down, and at my shoes. He notices the lack of shoelaces and shakes his head. Ulysses and Isanagi let the watchdog sniff their hands.

“Aunty is already in, the usual spot,” she says, scratching her ear with a hind paw. I thank her and we proceed further into the park. The stalls sit neatly side by side, snuggling up with a misty darkness, that blurs their outlines, some basic privacy charm. In the Moonlight Market, you have to know what you’re looking, in order to find it. Muffled laughter and singing seeps to us, probably from the river. The market is always a big party.

The human stops. He’s terrified. I lean with my mind unto his thoughts, to make him move, to make him numb. Isanagi pushes him forward. The stall we are heading for is nearly at the center of the market. Aunty Nancy is the center of nearly all magical events. It’s a natural place for her to be.

 

I think this is going to be continued 

Future Graveyard

a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge (240 w) here

I plucked out a thin thread from the empty space in front of me.

With a gentle pull, I rotated my index around it. Slowly. With elliptical movements, carefully not to rip it. Always the same, always one thread at the time. I tugged at the fabric of destiny, twirled it between my thumb and index, till it became solid. Not one resisted my hands. I made a ball, in the size of my fist.

It looked like hair, made of pure moonlight. I remembered its glow, when I was still able to see, but that was long ago.

Somewhere around me, on the limestone tiles of the room, there must be over ten thousand orbs of glowing silver.

Decades passed, and what I did, I did every day. Since I got blind, I only imagined, when one day began and when it ended. The only constant occurrences were the food. They always send a child with the food, once a day – probably – always a different child.

But that wasn’t my concern.

My duty was to eliminate the uncertain futures, by pulling the alternative destiny patterns out of the tissue of time. I obliterated parallel events out of the myriads of possibilities. The run in the fabric collapsed the unwanted realities on its own. I only hooked the critical event and tugged, till I felt the cold sigh of perishing on my face.

Muddy Stars

a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge (208 words) here

I sat at my tiny table, a cup of hot green tea in one hand. The table was perched at the northern corner, on my two square meter balcony. Seventeenth story. The wind was icy, but I had great view. A view other people payed for: to my right, the blueish white blotch of  Mount Fuji, to my left, the soft silvern gleaming of the ocean.

Around my apartment building the beads of streetlights and headlights of cars stretched as pulsating arteries of Tokyo. Although it was only about four o’clock pm, it was dark already. The stars and the full moon hid behind thick grey clouds. This January evening  brought the scent of snow.

As the first flakes drifted by, I caught a glimpse of movement. Finally! It was the ghost light of a fox, heading this way. What trouble will you cause, my friend?

As His Majesties first Magician at Court, I had to keep the spiritual peace in the city. A mischievous little fox meant nothing good. They kept sticking their noses into the emperor’s business.

I thought of my tea. Really, it was a sin to let it cool out, but I had work to do.