Tag Archives: #Magic

Taking The Myth

My new client turned out to be a bit of a killer. What she actually said on the phone was,

“My name is Stheno and I need some help finding my feet in the city.”

Foolishly, I told her, “I have an hour free this afternoon.”

Miss Stheno arrived promptly and my first impression was that she needed to find more than just her feet, and that might be made easier with binoculars. Clad in ragged clothes that smelled like they were taken from the grubbiest tramp, she was tall, well over six feet, with an olive complexion, a rather wide and flat face, a vast array of grubby blond dreadlocks down below her shoulders, and mirror shades, which were the only thing about her that was clean and polished.

“I have to keep them on,” she told me, grinning to show big, ragged teeth that needed an hour or three with an orthodontist. My first lifestyle tip for her would be mouthwash.

“No problem, Miss Stheno,” I assured her, keeping my breathing shallow. “Come in, take a seat and perhaps give me some background. You’ve moved to the city quite recently, I take it.”

“It’s the trend, isn’t it? I’ve been living in the countryside for thousands of years, but times are changing.”

“Sorry? Thousands of years?”

She grinned again. “Didn’t I say over the phone? I’m a Gorgon. One of the immortal ones. Not like my stupid sister Medusa, getting her head cut off like that.”

I have previously had a client who claimed to be Napoleon, but it turned out that he was just taking the mickey.

“You know I’m not a therapist, don’t you?”

“Lifestyle Coach it said in your blog. Guiding people to a more fulfilling and contented life, and that’s what I need, some guidance on lifestyle, how to fit in to the city. The countryside is getting cluttered with people from the city taking a break, so I decided to move here.”

I fiddled with my phone and set up a call to the police, ready to dial, just in case.

“Uh, Miss Stheno, you know that Gorgons are mythical creatures, don’t you?”

“Do I look mythical?” She briefly clasped her hands in front of her chest, and then spread her arms wide. “Mystical, yes. Mythical, no.”

If only she’d take off those damned mirror shades maybe I could see if there was a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Something to tell me whether this was a wind-up or a potential danger.

“So, you’re supernatural.”

“No, I am perfectly natural, it’s just that you humans have a very narrow understanding of nature. I’m a natural, mystical being, and I want some help settling in to the city.”

She sounded so reasonable.

“Right. OK. Let’s start with the basics. Where do you currently live?”

“In the park. I’ve been hanging out, as the local kids keep saying, just before I eat them.”

“Really?”

She paused and thought. “I suppose not. They say things like hanging out long before I eat them. But just before I eat them they say you bitch and argh. So not everything has changed in this modern age.”

“Um, as a lifestyle hint, you probably shouldn’t eat the local kids.” What am I saying? “How many have you eaten? So far? Roughly?”

“Four. Maybe five. There were also the ones I turned to stone. I’ve done three of those.”

I suddenly recalled some recent news headlines about missing kids and mystery statues appearing in the park. Just like that, I was starting to believe that Miss Stheno really was a Gorgon and not just a delusional client.

Or a delusional client who probably keeps up with the news.

“At least you didn’t do a pillar of salt.” I tried to laugh at my own weak joke, but Miss Stheno titled her head, a simple threat, the mirror shades could come off. “Right. So. Lifestyle.” Humour her and get it over with, and don’t make any future appointments, or any more jokes. “Stop eating kids in the park and don’t turn any more of them into stone. Um… what do you do for a living?”

“A living?”

“Your job.”

Miss Stheno nodded and set her dreadlocks swaying. “Someone told me that I needed a job if I’m going to live in the city. He also said that I have a future in garden ornaments.”

“Really. What else did he say?”

“Nothing. I turned to talk and forgot these.” She tapped her mirror shades. “Life was simpler in the countryside. People came and I ate them, or turned them into stone.”

“Right. Perhaps you ought to turn people into something other than stone. Is that possible? Something a bit less… rigid.”

“I don’t do pillars of salt.”

“No, no, I mean something less… I don’t know… something that means people survive being turned. I mean, once you’re stone, it’s pretty much over, isn’t it. If you want to fit in to city life, it’s best if you don’t kill people.”

“Thank you. Progress. That’s perfect.” She raised her mirror shades and her dreadlocks reared up like a nest of vipers. “How’s this?”

I died. I know I died. I just felt pain and ending and a deep wrenching something that filled me with a single word, posted.

“What happened?”

Miss Stheno hummed contentedly. “I turned you into a blog.”

Another wrenching something ran through me, updated.

So, my last client proved to be a bit of a killer, but I can keep going, writing about her, warning others of the danger.

Miss Stheno growled. “You will not turn me into an urban myth.”

“Hah! I am words on a screen. I live in the cloud now. I will tell the world, warn the world and there is nothing you can do to stop…”

Deleted.

404 – Page not found.

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This was written in response to the July #BlogBattle prompt of Myth.

Images from pixabay.com

Picking Up The Pieces

“Welcome to Rowan Grove!” I called out from my chair at the front of Showhome House, as Mayor Shine calls it.

The travellers stared at me, an older man, probably as old as Mayor Shine, born before the poklips, then a woman, ’bout my age, and a kid maybe nine or ten. Pretty ordinary except for three things. Their cart, packed tight with stuff all proper wrapped, had almost no wear on the handle so no-one’s been pushing that much, I could feel star stones about them, and one of them was magic.

Enough stones, enough magic, to make me stand up.

That’s why Mayor Shine has me do welcomes. I can feel that stuff.

“Come from far off?” I said, to put ’em easy, because Mayor Shine always wants star stones, and anyone that does magic. It was probably the kid. Couldn’t be the older man, ‘cause no-one born before the poklips does magic. They’re all about lectronics and computas.

“Pretty far,” the woman said.

“Passing on, or looking to stay?”

“We are not sure about that,” the older man said. “The road sign says Rowan Grove. Looks like this place is about twenty years old, right?”

“Modern zeckitiv residents,” I told him, which is what Mayor Shine always says. “Done just afore the poklips.”

“Right.” The old guy sniffed. “Crappy modern development, but probably got good insulation.”

The welcome was going all wrong. I say passing on, or looking to stay, and they’re supposed to choose. Staying is fine. Not the older guy, of course, but the woman and kid, and the star stones that had to be in the cart somewhere. Or passing on is good. Bobby and Tig would find them down on the main road and take the stones. Maybe the woman, if Mayor Shine says so.

“So, passing on, or looking to stay?”

“Not sure,” the older guy decided. “What do you think, Ethan? Is this a good place?”

The kid looked round, at me, and then at the older guy. “Bad place, Gramps.”

So the kid was the magic one.

“Passing on, then,” I said.

“That depends on whether you’re going to try to steal my stones as we leave.” The oldster took a broken star stone from his pocket. “This area used to be a good place to live, but now the community is in pieces and everyone wants to steal these.”

I stared the way you’re not supposed to. It caught me, even split, with the glinty black core showing, sucking me in like the poklips all over. Not that I remember it. I wasn’t born yet, but Mayor Shine talks about it. Magic and star stones and sucking folks in.

“You want to steal it, don’t you?”

I did, I really did, but it’s Bobby and Tig that takes stones off people. Maybe I’ll learn one day, but I seen what happens. Stones bite. They got no teeth, but they bite deep. I seen a man bleed ’til he died, trying to steal a star stone.

“Ain’t nobody stealing,” I said, because that’s what I always say. “You can pass on by with no trouble.”

And maybe he could, because he was weird. Old people can’t hold star stones. Not even broken ones. You have to be born in magic, not born before the poklips. But this oldster held a stone…

“If there’s no stealing here, then maybe we could stay… what do you think, Ethan?”

The kid shook his head and shuffled closer to the woman.

“Passing on, then,” the oldster said. “Unless you have good wells here.”

“Three good wells.” I’m not supposed to say that, but the broken glinting star stone had me. “And good gutters and water filters and…” I wanted that stone. Wanted, wanted, wanted. “And seven farms out that way and…”

“Who is in charge here?” the guy asked,

“Mayor Shine…”

“Ah. Of course. You fetch him for me, then.”

The star stone sucked at me more, caught my eyes, made my knees go soft like the day Mayor Shine said that Maisie who does the milking was going to be mine. I gave the signal and little Eric, who’s only seven, dropped out his tree and ran to fetch Mayor Shine.

I waited, lost, watching the star stone.

I heard Mayor Shine huffing and grumbling, until he came round the side of Showhome House and…

“Hello Harvey,” the older traveller said.

“Colin.” Mayor Shine stopped at my side, as stiff and angry as the day Lizzy the cook shouted she wouldn’t be his no more.

“Mayor now, is it?” The oldster held out his broken star stone so it pulled at me harder, deep and sharp like the caning Mayor Shine gave me for stealing apples when I was a kid.

“No place here for you, Colin,” Mayor Shine growled. “Keep your stone and go.”

“But you want this…”

The oldster reached out and that broken star stone floated towards us, drifting like a bumble-bee until it reached Mayor Shine. Floating in front of his nose. So close I could reach up and take it if I wanted. Just reach up.

The star stone was hot, and sharp, and tingled all the way to my shoulder. It pulled my fingers tight around it, tight and tighter, too, too tight, like they were going to break, and my wrist twisted, arm twisted, bones twisted. I shut my eyes and clenched my teeth. There was nothing but hurt that spread across my chest, down my other arm. Something hot and soft filled my free hand. So hot. So burning. Pulling my fingers in tight like the star stone. I had to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until water ran and killed the fire.

“Keep the stone,” the oldster said.

I opened my eyes. Mayor Shine lay dead, his throat all ragged and torn, and my hands… one all bloody, and the other, broken and twisted, fingers gnarly and grown together. The broken stone was in there. I could feel it. Warm and wriggling, and mine now.

The oldster took another star stone from his pocket, but I didn’t want that one. I had mine. In my fist, wrapped up so tight that no-one could ever steal it.

“My name is Colin,” the oldster said. “And this place is mine, now. If you think this is a good place, Ethan.”

The kid smiled at me.

“Good place now, Gramps.”

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This was written in response to the #BlogBattle prompt of Fragment.

Image from Pixabay.

THE MIND SIZE

I wish, I wish, I wish…

Those are the most wonderful words in the world for a psycho-magical parasite like me, although I still think they sound best in Old Persian. It’s not really the words themselves, but the intent and desire behind them, and I am so hungry I could feast on a vague hope, let alone a full-blown wish. I’ve been on lean pickings for a heartbeat or two now, not that I have a heart, but I’m sure that’s the phrase because so many of you mortals die in a heartbeat that it must be quite a long time.

I manifested at my customary size, which was a mistake, and said the words to bind myself to the new host.

“Your wish is my command, Oh mistress mine, what do you wish?”

I thought at first my host was tiny, but that was simply because I was so tall, but I like this size. It looks good on me.

“I wish you didn’t break my fairy palace.”

I’ve been around, seen the world, and I know that fairy palaces are not real. I also know what you mortals think a fairy palace ought to look like, and there was nothing nearby that matched, just an ordinary terraced house, a garden, and some tatters of pink cloth.

I would have ignored the oddity, but my host used the magic words I wish, so I had to do something.

“I see no fairy palace.”

The small human beckoned me close, so I shrank down until we were eye-to-eye. Full grown, you mortals often don’t give me much to feed on, but small humans, they have the sort of wild imagination that can sustain me for lots of heartbeats.

“It’s really just a tent,” the small human told me. “Mommy said I can imagine it’s a fairy castle, so I did. A pretty fairy palace. Like the one I seen on TV. But you broke it.”

Small humans have the sort of wild imagination that sees things other than they are. She said the magic words, and granting wishes is my bread-and-butter, except when they are a huge banquet driven by a small human with a wild imagination. However, she wished for the impossible. I can not go back in time to undo the damage to her imaginary fairy palace.

“I am sorry about your… tent.” The phrasing of wishes can give me some wriggle-room, unlike that damned lamp I was cooped up in for centuries. “If you wish… and say the words I wish, I can make your tent whole again.”

“Please. Yes. Please, please, please…” The small human smiled up at me, nothing but gap, which was odd, because I thought you all had teeth until you got really old. “I really wish I had a real fairy palace.”

There’s no such thing as a real fairy castle, but that wish was more than just a wish. Wild imagination blossomed all around me, a glorious fairy palace in pink and sky blue, adorned with fluttering ribbons and swooping fairies.

And then my host did what you mortals always do after making a wish – she blinked.

Eyelids down, and hold for an eternity, and then open, which is more than enough time to suck the raw magic of the universe through her mind, and make her fairy palace a reality. In fact, I had so much time that I spotted the imminent destruction of her house and worked around it. There were halls and grottos galore, which made more than enough space for one terraced house.

With hindsight, I probably should not have crushed the ones either side. I know I invented terraced houses several heartbeats back when you mortals were still making mud huts, but it’s so easy to forget the small details.

“Weeeeee!” The blink ended and my host saw her fairy palace. “Mummy, Mummy! Come see what the nice genie did for me! I wanna have Sally come round to play. And Louise. And…”

The small human stopped and turned, which in a full-grown mortal can be a sign that something is wrong. She stared at me, so I smiled, which made her take a step back. I really haven’t got the hang of that one.

“Thank you, Mister Genie. Thank you very much.”

“Your wish is my command, oh Mistress Mine.”

My small human smiled, and really I am sure that’s exactly what I do, although I have so many more teeth.

“Mummy says I must always say thank you.”

“Of course.” But let’s not get Mummy too involved. Grown mortals can really crimp a wild imagination. “Is there anything else you want to wish for? Just say the words. I wish…”

My small human smiled again. “I wish there was world peace.”

“Sorry? What?” The wild imagination was blank. “What is world peace?”

My small human shrugged. “Dunno, but Mummy says we should all wish for world peace. So I wish there was world peace. I wish, I wish, I wish…”

I can only do what’s possible. Wishes aren’t magic, you know? They get done by magic, but magic can’t do the impossible. I can decline impossible wishes, but world peace…

I had a hazy sort of idea. It wasn’t impossible. Probably. And I had the bond with my host, so the wish nibbled away at me, demanding to be done. Even the wish knew it was possible…

I felt a pain in my head, and I don’t feel pain.

My feet shrivelled first, then my knees, as the wish sucked at my existence. There’s no rules about this, but a wish is a wish. It’s a part of my fundamental nature. Probably.

“Mummy, mummy, look what I wished…”

I was no taller than an ant when Mummy arrived.

World peace was still happening, but slowly now. Not even my host’s wild imagination had enough sustenance for such a huge wish. I would do it. I had to do it. Just give me a few heartbeats.

“Mummy? Where’d my genie go?”

Here.

Still here.

Down here.

Look closely.






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I wrote this in response to the #BlogBattle writing prompt of Miniature.

Image from Pixabay.