An intriguing challenge from Chuck Wendig. Write 1000 words of flash fiction separated into 10 small chapters. Here is my attempt at just such madness.
The scalpel shakes as my fingers quiver. No time for timidity.
The blade parts the skin of my palm.
I don’t like using the blood magic. Ophelia’s face went white as snow the first time she ever saw it, every time since. We always taught Jacob to steer clear of it.
Now, as the red droplets fall onto the symbol etched before me, I wonder if that was the right lesson.
I know you are wondering where I am. I have not been gone long, but your instincts will tell you something is up.
I tied the glamor hiding the letter to your emotions so that it would arrive at just the right time.
You may want to come after me.
It’s too late.
And don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.
The blood is an undeniable connection to the spell, but…
I did not anticipate how much will it takes to manipulate a security system.
Blow it up? No problem. Talk a computer into opening the doors against protocol? Less likely.
Especially when the systems have magical wards against just such an action.
I grit my teeth and focus my intent.
I need this too much to let a simple computer stop me.
The bulletproof glass door clicks several times then slides open.
I enter the marble floored atrium.
You might remember when we came up with a spell together to move those tiny robots around.
It may not have seemed like much at the time, but you’ll find that even the little experiences in the craft can teach you larger lessons.
The company logo sprawls on the marble.
Caldwell Consulting Associates. Griffin reaching up to grasp a torch with one clawed hand, the other down by its side, clutching a crescent moon that looks suspiciously like a knife.
The memory of a curved knife pressed to Ophelia’s throat summons a red rumbling, pulsing behind my eyes.
They would threaten her to get my help, would they?
They would threaten to pull Jacob into all of this?
Fine. I should not feel bad about this whatsoever.
Or at least I wouldn’t, if…
Life, I am sorry to say, does not get easier as you grow older.
You just get better at dealing with it.
It was never easier for Ophelia to deal with my powers, but she learned to accept me. She will always accept you, Jacob.
The magic might not have hurt us if Caldecott Consulting had not tracked me down.
I suppose I should have seen it coming. In this day and age, of course there would be guns for hire that were willing and able to deploy magical forces.
Maybe if I had been smarter, more careful…
I press against the corner, peeking down the hallway.
No one should have been inside. External security only.
But there he is, Johns. One of Caldecott’s engineers.
He is a practitioner. We can always tell our own, and the meeting between us was no exception.
Johns set up the building’s security, thinking he plugged all the leaks possible from the magic side.
So engrossed is he in his work that he does not see the stun gun coming.
It seems the fat rabbit bulging in my bag is unnecessary.
I enclose myself and Johns in a circle of interlinking brass joints.
This is important, Jacob.
You are young, and there is no telling how much your abilities will grow before it’s all said and done.
Recall that meeting, just a couple weeks ago. The memory might seem fuzzy, but concentrate. It will come if you want it enough. Ophelia was there, and you had a strange experience when meeting that one man’s gaze.
Practitioners can tell each other apart from the normals. I’m not sure why, but if you have used your powers recently, it leaves… a magical aroma.
Only use them when you have to, when there’s no other choice.
Johns moans, starting to come back.
I don’t have long.
The runes almost seem to inscribe themselves as I carve hurriedly into the tile floor.
The server room’s computers through the door cast a glow on my work.
Johns moves his head to look at me. Discovers his limbs aren’t responsive yet.
“Why are you doing this?” he asks.
“You should have left him alone,” I say, calm voice belying my anxiety.
“He would have a good life at Caldecott.”
I cut him off with a slap to the face.
Johns rolls his head, looking at the runes. “Two spells?” His eyes narrow. “One for mass forgetfulness. Make the whole world forget about you, I assume.” Johns smirk fades as his eyes trail further. “Wait, you can’t cast that here. What the hell do you think–?”
His eyes widen.
I reach for him, scalpel glistening.
You’ll see the news report soon, about the explosion, and have that nagging feeling that you recognize Caldecott Consulting.
Just let that memory pass.
They’ll contain the fires, and should find just one body inside. Right next to a bunch of destroyed data servers.
Damned Information Age makes everything so difficult.
I am sorry that I could not find a way to exclude you from the spell.
If you remember nothing else, remember to hide your talents from others. They will find you, otherwise, and use you like they did me.
And also remember that I love you. And Ophelia. Now and always.
The three of us made a good team. I just wish you’d be able to remember.
Please make sure your mother sees this.