Fiction Fragment Friday

Where do I even start with unpacking this story? The first part of it came from a dream where I was learning magic. It was quite a dream and fairly involved, but I took initial inspiration from it and that led to the first paragraph. As I reread and tweaked that paragraph I realized I was writing in the voice of a character I have been building up for a while not. A character I started a novel of and hope to return to soon.

The story flowed naturally as it tends to do when I get into a groove with a character. Then it stopped. Dialog was easy, but when I needed to flesh out the situation and introduce some action it just wasn’t coming. I tried to put through, but in the end left the story unfinished and went to bed. Well more dreams came and with them inspiration. I woke up in the morning and immediately deleted the entire last paragraph I had written. The entire story changed in that moment and once again it just started flowing.

This story while it comes inspired by dreams also ended up having a message to it that I feel like my subconscious is trying to tell me. I am being reminded frequently that I can’t do everything myself. That I don’t need to and it isn’t my responsibility to. That message ended up working it’s way into this story as well.

For previous stories in this world see:

Depending on the person, illusion magic can be something incredibly simple or one of the most difficult forms of energy manipulation known to man.  What determines that difficulty is the person’s ability to visualize images in their head.  Most magic just requires understanding and holding a concept in your mind, but illusion requires an actual mental image.  The most convincing illusions require more than one sense so holding onto a scent or sound within your mind to go with the visual is best.  Once the illusion is in place then you can use your actual senses to improve upon it and hold it together. Just to start though you need to get as close as possible with your mental image or you will never convince anyone.  Not to brag, but in certain areas of magic I am the best in the world.  My illusions, however, are not exactly masterpieces.

 “Uhm, that sucks.  No one’s would believe that’s you magic man.”  The tiny pixie buzzed around the head of my illusion trying very poorly to hold back laughing at me. 

“Come on Lily it isn’t that bad.”  I walked around the mental projection myself taking it all in.  “I bet if you didn’t have magical senses, you’d have no idea it wasn’t me.” 

  “Puh-lease.  Your muscles aren’t anywhere near that big, your stomach is much bigger, and let’s not even talk about that face.”

“What about the face?”  I looked closely at my illusion and had to admit that she was right.  The proportions were all wrong to the point of living firmly in the uncanny valley.  The face really was the worst part though.

          “Weellllll the eyes are all just white with no round colory things in them.  Oh, and the nose is kinda blurry.  Like you can just barely see it.”

          “That’s because I can barely see my real nose.  It’s not like I go around looking in the mirrors I don’t have on my apartment walls.  Too many things can spy though them.”  Even if I was better at holding a mental image there was no way I could form one of myself.  I thought I could at the very least make one that would pass for human from a distance, but Lily was right.  It looked terrible.  I waved my hand and dismissed the illusion.  “Ok, you’re right.  Any suggestions?”

          She flitted around the room and landed on an old dusty shelf staring at me.  Her usual confident look faltered.  “You’re serious, aren’t you?  You actually want to know if I have suggestions?” 

          “Of course I do.  Why wouldn’t I?”

          “Cause I’m just a pixie.  No one ever cares what we think.”  My heart broke seeing the expression on her face.  It was one of pain mixed with hope.  “Most people that know about us just try to run us off or tell us what to do.”

          “Have I ever treated you like that?”

          “Well no.”  She wouldn’t make eye contact with me as she said it.

          “Of course not.  You’re my friend and you’ve even saved my life a few times.  You also notice more than anyone I’ve ever met.”

          “Well of course I do.  You big people wouldn’t find a clue if it flicked you on the nose.  Of course, I suppose you are better than most even other magic men.  Not nearly as stupid and you did save my life first.”

          “So you admit you needed me to chase off that cat?”

          “I admit nothing.  I totally had that beast right where I wanted it.  It just got a lucky shot on my wing, but I wasn’t scared at all.”

          “Right.  Well, any ideas on how to get out of here that might actually work?”  I started searching around the basement for anything we might be able to use while she got her thoughts together.  The place had been stripped of anything useful long ago.  The only recent signs of use were shackles on the wall, blood stains, and sigils carved into the concrete floor.  It had been turned into a dungeon and unless I misread my sigils a sacrificial altar for Bast an Egyptian cat goddess.

          This is why you never go to a high school reunion.  Well maybe they don’t all turn out this poorly, but nothing good will come of them.  In my case I chose to go because people from my graduating class had gone missing and I thought I would investigate.  I knew at least one of the missing women was half fae which meant that whoever was behind it had to be extremely formidable.  It couldn’t have been something mundane which of course in my head meant it was my responsibility.  Sometimes I think I have a hero complex since no one appointed me to this and I certainly don’t get paid for it. 

          Things were actually going pretty well at first.  I met a woman that I barely remembered from school, and we really hit it off.  She was so captivating that I even forgot why I was there for a while.  Maybe it was just that I hadn’t dated or really gotten any sort of affection since the divorce.  It always felt like I had a hole in my life where something was missing that I didn’t even know had been there.  Whatever was going on in my head I let my guard down completely and found myself walking right into a were-cat trap. 

The plus side was I knew what had happened to my classmates.  The downside was I had been chained up in a basement waiting to be sacrificed at midnight.  Of course, the chains were not even a mild inconvenience to get free of for someone with my talents.  The particular talent I had used in this instance was having made friends with a pixie a few months ago.  Lily liked to follow me around when I asked her to stay home.  As frustrating as it was, I couldn’t even complain because this was not the first time, she had saved my life by doing it.  I really needed to figure out what had changed about me where I kept getting caught off-guard when it never used to happen before.  Being seduced by a were-cat without any of my senses telling me she wasn’t purely human was just sloppy.       

          Never underestimate a were-cat.  If they weren’t so independent and traveled in packs like were-wolves they would truly be the most terrifying of were-creatures.  What they lack in strength compared to their brethren they more than make up for in agility, claws, and stealth.  They may be driven as much by instinct in their animal form, but they are true apex predators.  I needed to get out of a trapped basement without any of my gear and avoid alerting the vicious hunter upstairs doing who knew what.  Once I was safe, I could figure out a way to come back and deal with the situation more permanently.

          “I got it.  I can fly through that round hole there outside and ring the doorbell as a distraction.  Then when she’s on the other side of the house you can break a window and crawl out.” 

          I walked over to one of the windows and tapped on one of the steel bars that had been installed over all the windows.  “Good start, but I’m not getting through these.”

          “You know magic man for being one of the world’s most powerful wizards you really can’t seem to do much without your stuff.  Wizards of old would-be tossing fireballs or calling down lighting.”

          “Yeah, because a fireball in a basement with flammable cleaning chemicals and gas pipes is a brilliant idea.”  I stopped myself in mid rant.  “Or maybe it is.  Oh, you’re a genius.”  I started rushing around the basement putting my new plan into motion.

          “Well of course I am and it’s about time you noticed.  Uhm you aren’t really thinking about throwing a fireball, are you?”

          “Just you wait and see,” I said with a grin on my face that might have come off a bit more menacing than I intended based on her reaction. 

I moved quickly but tried to be a quiet as possible as well.  I couldn’t let a squeaky stair give me away.   First, I poured disinfectant spray on the top few stairs.  After dumping what was left of a bleach bottle down the floor drain, I unscrewed the gas pipe leading to the furnace and put the empty bleach bottle over it.  After a moment I shut off the gas and put the lid on the bottle.  I knew it wouldn’t hold the gas long, but I didn’t need it to.  I pulled in a bit of energy and pushed it out into the wind as I opened the bleach bottle into an air vent.  The gas was pushed up and into the house.  My trap was all set.

It took five minutes before I heard the door to the basement being unlocked.  I hid just to the side of the stairs out of site, but at an angle where I could make out feet.  When I saw her step onto the stairs, I raised both my hands and snapped my fingers.  The motion was purely for dramatic effect because why do anything in a boring manor when you can look cool instead.  I did not throw a fireball or anything nearly as flashy.  Instead, I pushed out a tiny bit of energy to create sparks.  That was all it took for the alcohol heavy disinfectant to ignite under her. 

Most people think that anything flammable will catch you on fire.  Alcohol tends to burn very fast, but the vapors burn first.  It is perfect for a flashy ball of flame but not a sustained fire and far from the best way to spread a fire.  That’s not to say it’s safe in any way or that you couldn’t burn down a house with it.  She had changed into blue jeans though and denim has a natural fire resistance to it.  Overall, this would be an extremely scary experience to go through, but not nearly enough to ensure my escape from a being with supernatural healing.  Thankfully that was not the end of my plan. 

The long-haired brunette that has so captivated me earlier in the evening screamed.  I had no way to know if it was from pain or terror, but either would play well into my next move.  I stepped out into view twisting my hands around in wild gestures while a large ball of flame hovered between them.  What I actually was doing was levitating a wadded ball of cloth that I had pulled from the dryer and drenched in cleaning solution before igniting.  Ok fine, I admit it I was holding a flaming ball of her underwear pretending it was pure fire.  It was the perfect size though.  With a bit of energy to put some force behind it I hurled the flaming panties at her head. 

She locked eyes with me and saw the flaming ball of death coming for her.  That is officially what it is called now, and we can just forget what it was before I lit it on fire. With speed an agility an Olympic gymnast would be jealous of she did a backflip trying to dodge the projectile.  Moves like that are not meant for tiny hallways like the one the basement door was in though.  Her body impacted the back wall sending her to the floor in a heap.  The flaming ball of death petered out as it smacked against the wall harmlessly.                 

I had not delayed while she was reacting.  By the time she hit the hallway floor I was leaping through the flames myself and heading for the front door.  If I had all my enchanted gear she wouldn’t have stood a chance, but as it was, I needed the distraction just to get away.  Lily had flown ahead of me and undid all the locks on the door so save me precious seconds.  When running from something with supernatural speed seconds can make all the difference.  I did however spare a moment to glance back as I fled the door and could see she had grabbed a fire extinguisher from the kitchen and was more focused on saving her house than me. 

“Hey buddy you, ok?”  The plain clothed man walking towards me held up a badge. 

          “I think I’m better now,” I said with genuine relief.  Like usual I had been so focused on thinking I needed to do everything myself I never even thought about others looking into the disappearances.  It turns out Venessa was their prime suspect and they had assumed she would strike again at the reunion.  While this officer helped me to his car to get a statement his partners rushed the house.  They had just been looking for any sign to give them probably cause since they didn’t have enough evidence for a search warrant.  The flames visible from the door and a fleeing victim certainly counted.  While I’m not used to being a victim it was kind of nice to not have to save everyone for a change.