Birth of a Magician
by Clyde Andrews
|Table of Contents|
|part 1 of 2|
L.J.P. is both a physician and a magician with a flair for mathematical formulas. He goes only by his initials in order to protect his name from the dark forces. His occult mission is to shield potential magicians from evil sorcerers who will stop at nothing to bring new recruits under their sway.
I clambered about in the dark for the switch to my bedside lamp, the persistent ringing of the phone the reason for this late night annoyance. I was still disoriented and half asleep; after all, getting woken up at an ungodly hour tended to do that to a person.
The phone, unfortunately, continued to pierce the night with its annoying ring; the person on the other end wanted me to answer no matter how long I took. Finding my glasses I eventually answered the phone, noting it was 3:10 in the morning.
“Hello,” I said wearily, sleep still fresh in my mind, clouding my reason.
“It’s, Valerie here, Doctor. I think I’m... going... into labour... I’m about to deliver,” she said, desperate, it seemed, to get the words out; she was obviously in pain.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I said, almost automatically, yawning in the middle of the sentence.”Are you at Anglican Memorial, my dear?”
I was pleased to hear from Valerie, as I was getting more and more concerned for her as her pregnancy progressed. I knew from what she had confided in me during her check-ups that she was having a great amount of difficulty dealing with the disappearance of her boyfriend; Paul I think his name was. Typical, get a girl pregnant, realise the responsibility involved, and then run away at the first given opportunity. Valerie deserved better than that.
“Not yet... but I will be soon.” And with that she hung up.
I then forced myself from my warm bed, finding my slippers beside it. Pity I had to get out of them, get dressed, and venture out into the cold night to the hospital.
Once dressed, I climbed into my faithful old Toyota Corolla, beat up and held together by rust. But it always got me to where I wanted to be and that was good enough; why replace it?
I turned the key; four times before the engine finally turned over, then spluttered and stopped. I knew how the car felt. I took ages, myself, these days to get going, especially when it was cold. I turned the key again and the engine fired once more.
As I waited for the engine to warm up I noticed through the rather dirty side window the full Moon hanging a dusky red in the sky. I frowned at this sight: it was a bad omen if I ever saw one. I dismissed that thought just as quickly as it came into my head; I had no time for pondering: Valerie needed me, particularly as there was no other to see her through the birth of her child. I suppose she chose me to be her obstetrician simply because we seemed to have a connection: purely platonic, but a connection none-the-less.
The hospital, luckily, was only a fifteen minute drive from my house. All told I was there within the hour, a record as far as I was concerned. I was pleased with my progress until I pulled into the hospital car park. Judy was waiting in the ambulance bay. I could see straight away she was either unimpressed, or tired, or both.
“What are you doing here, my dear?” I said as I wound down my window. It naturally squeaked as I did so, causing Judy’s frown to wrinkle deeper. I now knew how Valerie had gotten my home phone number.
“Valerie is about to give birth, Doctor. Quick!” Judy said with a touch of acid in her voice. Her expression then changed to that of concern as she had obviously realised the force in which she had spoken.
“I see,” was all I said. Since when did Judy — the practice’s secretary — admit my patients, I thought? “Is Valerie a relative of yours?” I said in an effort to get to the point of all this.
“No, but she is my friend. I drove her in. I had to help her, she’s all alone... and... well, she is about to have a baby. Quick, L.J.P., she needs you and she’s asking for you.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine, Judy. I have delivered many a child into this world. She’s in safe hands.”
Judy and I approached Valerie’s designated delivery ward. I had slipped into my doctor’s whites while I was in the elevator. Judy seemed on edge: she was almost playing the part of expectant father. I smiled; Judy did have a heart, after all. Which was rather strange: all I ever saw of her at work was her professional facade. Nothing like a birth to bring out someone’s humanity, I thought with a flash of a smile.
I let myself in first, Judy following close behind. I noticed the room was unusually cold; in fact there was such a difference from the rest of the hospital’s air-conditioned environment that I got goose-bumps. Another bad omen, I thought with a sigh. Things were not sitting well so far. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw that Valerie was not in the ward.
“Where’s, Valerie?” Judy blurted, almost at the top of her lungs. She looked at me with her piercing blue eyes. The concern and intent on her face were almost scary. I certainly would not like to cross her too often; it’s a good thing she is not a magician.
I touched her on the shoulder, it was all I could think of to do. I said reassuringly, “I’m sure she just went to the toilet or something, my dear.” I was lying. I could see as my eyes darted about the room that something was definitely wrong, so wrong that I feared for Valerie’s well-being.
“I’ll go check,” Judy said, breaking my concentration.
“Mmm,” was all I said in reply. I could see, even in the darkness of the delivery ward the tell-tale chalk marking on the floor. Magicians were involved. I’d better be on guard, I noted to myself mentally.
I waited for Judy to leave the ward. Once out of sight I immediately inspected the markings on the floor. Magic was certainly afoot, and I needed some answers quickly.
Once in a position to be able to see the marking clearly I raised an eyebrow. Valerie had been transported magically, I could see as plain as day that the chalk markings had created a transport circle. But where was she transported to? And more importantly, why?
Judy re-entered the ward with a panicked look on her face. She was certainly upset, and so she should be: there was certainly something going on here that only a dark magician could or would want to accomplish. My brow furrowed and I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose.
“She’s not been seen, L.J.P.,” Judy stressed.
“I will find her—”
“How? What are you going to do?” she said, cutting me off and on the verge of hysterics. Her pacing the ward with her arms flailing kind of gave it away a little. Why must people get so upset before they know all the facts, I thought?
“Relax, Judy, I will find her,” I said, now trying to get up from a crouch and looking up at her over the top of my gold-rimmed spectacles.
“Relax? Relax?” she screamed. “How can I relax, tell me? Valerie is missing and she’s about to give birth... What’s there to relax about?” And with that she stormed out of the ward.
Where she went only the gods could tell, but I let her be: I could get far more accomplished without her interfering.
I turned my attention back to the chalk drawn circle around the delivery bed. I rubbed my chin in thought, playing with my white-haired goatee. I decided to repair the circle and transport myself to wherever it was Valerie had been abducted to.
I got to it, as something in the back of my mind warned me that time was short. Removing a nice new stick of chalk from my coat pocket I examined the circle. I had to chuckle out loud at its simplicity. I filled in the foot-scuffed parts, and within minutes the circle was complete again, ready to transport.
I stepped into the circle.
* * *
I was momentarily stunned by the transport, and my eyes took a few seconds to adjust — to a gruesome sight. I had materialised in a room, reminiscent of a cellar. In the centre of the room, secured on a podium within an upside-down pentacle was Valerie; in the final stages of labour, screaming from what I could only imagine was the pain of not only birth, but of being abducted. It was just awful, and I closed my eyes for a second in an effort to regain my composure.
The four hooded men around Valerie did appear bothered, nor did they seem to have her welfare in mind. One held a twisted blade for a sacrificial ceremony, some sort of demonic ritual. Oh, darn, I thought, dark magicians never do anything half measure, they always involve some sort of ‘evil’ third party.
Unfortunately I had been noticed. There goes the element of surprise, I sighed, taking my spectacles off and cleaning them methodically with my handkerchief. Waiting for the dark magicians to begin the verbal sparring customary in these encounters.
“Welcome to our coven, L.J.P.,” one of the men said, stepping away from the ceremony and revealing himself to me. He was a handsome fellow. Then again, dark magicians and witches usually are; they rely on it to help them seduce their victims. Valerie, however, didn’t have that luxury; she had been taken against her will, and when she was most vulnerable, too. The poor dear.
“You have me at an advantage, dear fellow,” I smiled.”Now, suppose you introduce yourself so I know who I am about to punish for being a naughty boy.”
“Ahh, L.J.P. always the one with the wisecracks. I’m not going to fall for that so easily,” he almost laughed.”But that’s okay, you can think that, I know you, however. I know that you will not do anything to us while the woman is in danger. I give you fair warning, Doctor: make one move forward and we will remove the child by force and kill her.”
He paused, then raised his arms to the heavens.”We have been given a gift; her child is that gift.” His face darkened with those last words, and suddenly he did not have a friendly smile on his face but a sinister smirk.
Here we go again, I thought. Another megalomaniac waiting for me to show him the error of his ways. Mind you, he did have a point: there were two lives to consider. I had to tread carefully for now. “Oh, just marvellous, we have a group of gifted megalomaniacs now,” I said with a shake of my head.
“Now leave us, go back to the hospital and treat someone else, Doctor,” he spat.”That is where your meagre talents are best served.”
I looked around the cellar for anything I might use to get poor Valerie out of this pickle. I added, “I will not leave. I will wait. Then, dear fellow, I’m afraid I will have to show you the error of your ways.”
The dark magician just laughed, then returned to his ‘business’, whatever that might entail. I knew it would involve copious amounts of chanting, candle-lighting and a sacrifice of some sort. I would act at the sacrifice part.
It was like waiting for the fat lady to sing at an opera as far as I was concerned, and almost like watching one, too: dark magician’s ceremonies seemed to be all about pompous huffing and puffing, prancing and praising, and all in costume. As I said, it was like opera, only more boring.
I used this time to survey my surroundings. The dark magicians, I noticed immediately, had placed a protective magic circle around the pentacle to prevent intruders from entering the ceremony site. How interesting.
I also noticed near the far corner Valerie’s hospital clothes, and beside them, hanging on hooks, some cloaks used by the dark magicians themselves. I smiled a smile that was full and joyous. I had everything I needed to get Valerie out of this mess.
* * *
The ceremony of the dark magicians seemed to be picking up pace. I found that concerning; they usually took far longer even to get started. Perhaps they sensed, as I did, that Valerie was about to deliver her baby. Her screams and constant cries for help seemed to support that hypothesis. All the more reason for me to get a move on.
I sidled over to the pile of clothing in the corner and first inspected the cloaks. I was in luck: the cloaks had hair on them. I just hoped it was human hair, and, more importantly, hair that belonged to our dark magicians. Otherwise someone or something somewhere was going to be in for a rough time.
I had visions of a house cat acting very peculiar once I had spun my magic on those hairs. That thought made me chuckle quietly to myself as I plucked the hairs from the cloaks.
Once satisfied I had obtained enough hair, I turned my attention to Valerie’s belongings, which was only a hospital issue coat anyway. Hopefully there was something more substantial amongst the piles of cloth than just a hair or two. I needed all the help I could get at this stage. I rummaged through it with some success: I found her purse. Marvellous, I thought, I definitely had what I needed. She must have been going through it when she was abducted.
In the purse there was a small mirror, a travel hairbrush, and, to my absolute surprise and good fortune, a nail file. I set my plan into motion. Knowing Valerie’s full name added cream on top of the milk so to speak.
Copyright © 2005 by Clyde Andrews