By Mark W. Meier
The Final Spell
Four assistants arrived the next day in a minivan from Bristol. Each of them would do anything necessary if enough money was offered.
My intangible existence allowed me a freedom you couldn’t anticipate, and the magick you’d learned was no hindrance to me. Runes designed to create barriers to spirits didn’t affect me. I watched for months as you practiced spells to dispel spirits in your secret work room, supposedly off limits to my kind.
Good. It was all very good. You practiced attacks and defenses against me, the most dangerous entity you’d ever met. You didn’t realize I’d never teach you anything which would work against me.
On one gray and overcast morning I said, “Let’s put all the parts together and do something impressive.”
You sneered at me across the seedbed of oregano you tended. “It’s about time. I’m nearly fifty years old, and haven’t learned much of anything.”
“Oh, but you have.” Reaching out with my skills I traced a line of dread along your spine. “All these lessons are only parts of a whole I will begin revealing.”
You shivered, but tried to hide it. “Like what?”
You’d been very patient – in fact, more patient than I’d expected. The time had arrived, though five full years later than average.
“It’s cloudy,and we’re nowhere near any busy air traffic corridors. How about we improve a bit on your fire spell?”
I walked through the greenhouse wall and waited outside for you. You’d long since given up being impressed by that trick, but I loved reminding you.
You snorted, then took off your gardening gloves, grabbed a jacket, and exited through the door. “What, light a fire in the air? That sounds about as useful as sinking a rock in a lake.”
Smiling, I pointed to your jacket pocket. “Take those twenty pebbles we’ve been working on for the last two weeks and place them on the ground in a circle about ten feet in diameter.”
You patted the outside of your windbreaker. Your eyes widened as you looked up at me.
“Yes, I put them there.” There were still things you didn’t know I could do. Among those was causing the gray overcast to turn darker and edge closer to the ground.
Dread seeped into your subconsciousness, heightened by the scent of ozone. Despite your unwillingness to comply with my instructions, you did as suggested.As you dropped the last bit of polished granite, I said, “Those stones will now tune magick– like a lens focusing light. They’ll amplify your ability, giving you more control. Now stand in the center of the circle.”
You hesitated to step into the lopsided circle you’d created. Hexes I’d taught you sprang to mind, but you entered – despite your fear. Once you were in the middle of the circle I pointed to the forbidding clouds overhead. “Cast your fire creation spell as high as you can.”
You uttered the incantation and pointed skyward. A moment later a conflagration exploded above the clouds, driving the sky cover back. A gap of blue opened up with a neat ball of yellow-orange fire in the center.
Gap-jawed, you looked on, getting an impressive sunburn in the process. Your arms fell in stunned disbelief as the explosion faded.
“That is what you’ve been working toward.”
A moment later I vanished, leaving you staring at the dwindling fireball.
“An unidentified explosion lit the sky outside Bristol, Wisconsin, this morning,” the TV news anchor read. A small picture-in-picture next to him showed a poorly-shot video of the flare as it died out.
“Cell phone video provided no clue as to the origin of the event, but experts assert this is a normal phenomenon at the end of a meteor’s plunge into Earth’s atmosphere. Channel 7 science reporter Jay Licht has more.”
I waved a hand and your gigantic flat screen turned off. Only old people used large televisions these days. Younger people watched everything on their cell phones.
You grimaced. “Hey, I want to hear about myself. It’s not every day a guy is on the news.”
I added a nearlyimperceptible bit of echo to my voice. “The story isn’t about you, it’s about the explosion.”
“Well, stop playing with my stuff,” you muttered, suddenly uneasy. “It makes me nervous.”
“You’re a wizard. I used to be one. Get used to things happening.”
You gestured, and the TV came back on.
The story ended. “From UW-Bristol, Jay Licht reporting.”
Cursing under your breath, you picked up a glass and placed it in your right palm. The glass then levitated, spinning on its axis as the talking head blathered about a new sports arena somewhere. It was inconsequential tripe, and I said so.
You ignored me.
“Why can I do this,” you said, referring to the rotating glass, “when it took those magic rocks to make the explosion?”
“Two reasons.” I pointed toward the rest of your twelve-glass set and they flew toward me – eleven missiles spinning and orbiting each other in the air. “First, now that you’ve opened yourself up to real magick, it’s much easier. Second, you’ve enchanted some of the nails in the sub-floor of your house. They form a circle, centered where you’re now sitting.”
You glowered at my display of skill andplucked your single glass from where it danced in the air. After smacking it to the countertop you stepped from your stool to face me. If I had a personal space, you’d be invading it.“I enchanted every nail in the sub-floor.”
I smiled, letting my teeth show a pair of canines slightly longer than expected. “Exactly. Wherever you stand in this house you’ll be near enough to a focal point for magick now.”
You turned away to find my glasses had settled into a pyramid surrounding yours. “I want to have a party.”
You didn’t know anyone well enough to invite to a party, so I agreed. “Excellent idea. You can provide the fireworks yourself, but you’ll have to practice a bit more first.”
“There’s a girl I met in town.” You sent all twelve glasses back to the cabinet where they belonged. “She reminds me of someone. I can’t think of who.” More than likely it was your mother. Humans.
I’d already heard about your “girlfriend” Caryn, and how she’d pushed a pamphlet into your hands on a street corner. Every single one of your people answered to me. “Your” bodyguard reported the encounter last week. But at forty-two, she could hardly be considered a “girl.”
“I want you to meet her.”
I laughed. After three visits for coffee and one lunch you wanted me to meet her. “She won’t be able to see me unless she has some skill at magick.” Since she was reported as a church-goer, I couldn’t get too close to her anyway.
“Maybe she can do magick.” You waved, and the television plug removed itself from the wall outlet. A commercial for some miracle cleaning product cut off in mid-sentence.
As a true believer, she wouldn’t want to learn magick. The only reason you did is because you’d left the church after your mother died. Magick was your substitute religion, and you wanted Caryn as your substitute mother.
“Maybe. When you’re done practicing your fireworks and planning your party, you can invite her.”
I could tell you grew suspicious, though you pretended to be mollified. I’d watched enough people like you that I could read you easier than a book. Some would confuse that skill with telepathy, but practice made it simple.
“I’ll do that.” Your eyes narrowed slightly. “She has a lot of friends.”
All you really knew was that she was an amiable person who’d likely attract many diverse people into her circle of influence.
“Then should we practice?” I asked. “Fire is easy, the illusion of fire is harder. Let’s practice making real fiery balls of sparks and work your way up to illusions.”
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