lost time incident 27
In many of these introductory comments, I’ve casually alluded to staying indoors all day, writing this newsletter on a Sunday, and otherwise avoiding the fiery ball that roars through the sky. Well, yesterday, the wife and I tried our hands at being social, standing about with friends in a park under the burning sky, out of our element, allowing our skin to pinken. Disaster.
How did the sun even know what to do with us? It shouldn’t even have recognized us.
It’s probably not a bad idea, every once in a while, to revisit your lifestyle choices. Remind yourself why you made certain decision. See if situations have changed.
The sun has not changed.
It is still a friend to plants, and to solar panels, and that’s it.
Do not trust it.
keep the remakes coming
A note: The next section’s story fragment takes place at Beulah Candlewick’s School for Young Magicks, a school for the young and magically gifted. The lure of spellcraft overshadows the fact that its accreditation is dubious and it boasts a terrible graduation rate. Children, it turns out, are not usually responsible enough to be trusted with reality-warping power. Previous installments of this newsletter also contain odds and ends in this setting, should that be of interest.
past, present, Futura
The student stood in front of his wobbly office desk, her hands fidgeting with the hem of her skirt. A child, really, sent to this school to learn how to be a warlock, or a witch, or a soothsayer, or some other variant of dangerous fool. Unlikely to survive the semester.
But as long as as a student was alive and capable of forming sentences, it was his job to see if he could impart some magical knowledge to them. Trevor, the Mage of Shaking Hands, had an obligation. Time to earn that paycheck.
“What was your name again?” he asked.
“Didn’t say,” the student mumbled. “Names are power.”
“Quite right… quite right. Then I will call you Six, because you’re the sixth student to take advantage of my office hours this semester.” On a notepad on his desk, Trevor discreetly wrote down the student’s true name, a parenthetical (“Six”), and the time. “Now… how can I help you.”
“I’m new here. This is my first semester.”
“I see,” said Trevor.
“I’ve had homework where I had to chat with a demon. It… told me things. And my roommate was melted in front of me. She was casting a spell, but with her her accent, I think she pronounced a phrase in the spell incorrectly, or something.” The student, Six, refused to look up. She had the look of someone who was not actually gazing at her shoes, but was seeing instead the vivid memory of a friend’s last melting moments.
“Accents aren’t supposed to matter that much in spell-casting, but go on,” said Trevor.
“I just wanted to ask for a favor. For a reading. I was told you can do that.”
“You want to know the future,” said Trevor.
The student may have nodded. Trevor wasn’t quite sure. She certainly seemed intent on staying still. Not drawing more attention to herself than she had to. “I want to know what’s coming. If I can. So I can be ready.”
“Well. You’ve come to the right place. As a special favor to the students I mentor, I’m happy to do a reading.” Trevor opened his desk and pulled out a long cardboard box. Its sides were decorated with protective runes that he paid little attention to as he pulled off its lid. Inside, the long box was stuffed with tiny cards. “We’ll do a simple one, shall we? Past, present, future?”
His fingers twitched over the tops of the cards and he hummed to himself, waiting for one of the cards to volunteer itself. When he found one between his fingers, he laid it down on the desk in front of him.
“This card represents the Past. Let’s see. It’s the card of Amelia Dunhardt, a certified public accountant. Nice business card. Phone and fax. No email. An old card. That’s telling. The card tells me that you’ve come from money. Your parents have done well for themselves, which is why you can afford to come here. So far, so good?”
Six nodded. “They started putting money aside for tuition when I was four and I taught our cat to talk.”
“Your cat? In English?”
“Yeah,” Six said. “Changed its vocal cords and brain, the vet said.”
“Fascinating,” said Trevor. “Precocious. Okay, now let’s look at the Present.”
His fingers trailed over the business cards, ruffling them together, until one came free.
“This is a customer reward card. Inverted. Only two stamps out of ten. If it were upright, it would be telling me that you’re not reaching your potential. But inverted… you’re working quite hard, but circumstances are still not seeing fit to reward you for your effort. Interesting, interesting. Okay, now, let’s see what you’ve come here to see…”
A third card was set carefully on the table. Trevor allowed his fingertips to trace the embossed lettering that read STERN, ECHOES & LAVENDER. A law firm.
“What does it mean?” asked Six.
“The law. A profession that requires much study. Lots of time among books. A profession that helps those in need to navigate the complexity of the modern world. I think you’ve got a lot of studying in your future. Hit the books. Don’t be intimidated by judgement… a judge serves an essential function as well.”
Trevor carefully placed the business cards at random intervals back in his storage box. “Does that help?” he asked.
A shy smile, a quick thanks, and Six was out the door. It felt good to give a student a bit of hope. To help them believe that just because their friend was melted due to the dangers inherent in attempting to master occult powers, and just because conversations with demons are rarely about pleasant subjects… none of that necessarily meant that things wouldn’t work out.
But things wouldn’t work out.
Trevor opened his office window and a raven swooped down to land on the sill. He placed a finger on the crow’s head and its eyes began to glow.
“Hey, hey. Just a heads up. Did a quick reading for a student named Javice. There’s a lawsuit in her future. Got the STERN, ECHOES & LAVENDER card. That trio of dicks. So tell our lawyers to start sharpening their teeth and look into her family’s background, because she’s not going to make it, and if we’re not ready, it’ll be expensive.”
As Trevor sucked his teeth thoughtfully, the glow faded from the raven’s eyes and it flew off to deliver his message to the Principal.
“Well, that’s too bad,” he muttered, then circled his desk to kick his office door shut. The door’s lock snapped into place. “She seemed nice.”
ending theme song
Took all day to get here, but we got here. The weekend’s end. Or, depending on your time zone, it’s the work week already. Or, if you’re an archaeologist who has dug this string of characters out of a long lost data library: I hope you were entertained. This was all fiction. Please don’t report this as folklore to future social scientists.
Night has fallen. The only sounds are of a cat trying to claw treats out of a container designed to make it hard to get treats out of, and music from Berlin, Germany, streaming out the very device I’m typing these words on. Let’s all get our treats where we can find them.
–Michael Van Vleet