The Trouble with Magicians
by Clyde Andrews
|Table of Contents|
|part 1 of 3|
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.
Valerie glared at the antique clock hanging in her hallway. It read: 1:25 a.m. Shane was late home, and her patience from having to tell him to be home before 10:00 p.m. was wearing thin lately. She had had just about enough of his teenage insubordination and attitude, both of which had got a lot worse in the last couple weeks.
She heard the key turn in the lock, and then the door handle slowly turn. Shane, even though intoxicated, was doing his utmost to make sure he got into the house as quietly as possible, without success. Valerie just stood there, arms folded and brow furrowed.
“You’re late, Shane Upton,” Valerie scorned. “What is the meaning of this?”
Shane looked surprised to see her there, but being seventeen he realised that he was not supposed to care what his mother thought. “So.”
“‘So’? ‘So’? Is that all the explanation I am going to get from you?”
“Yeah.” Shane was swaying from side to side, and in the end he used the hallway side-table to support himself.
“Shane, what’s going on with you lately? I mean, Joel was around this afternoon asking for you. I thought he was your best friend,” Valerie said, placing her hands on her hips. “And you’re drunk, too. This is the third night in a row. And it’s a school night no less. What am I going to do with you, young man?”
“Well, Joel can go jump. I’ve got new friends, ones that appreciate me for who I am, not just useless hangers-on.”
“Appreciate you?” Valerie scorned. “How can anyone appreciate you if you don’t appreciate yourself? Just listen to yourself. Joel has been your friend since kindergarten. Why the sudden change?”
“Nothin’s goin’ on. I’ve just-” Shane was about to justify himself, when he cut himself short. His mood changed, and his eyebrows knitted. “I don’t care, mother?”
“Obviously!” she snorted.
“I’m gonna go to bed.”
“Oh, no you don’t. I think I deserve a better explanation than that for your behaviour.”
Shane scowled at his mother. Pushing himself off the table he began to stagger past her, deliberately ignoring her demands. “I’m goin’ to bed,” he repeated with a slur.
“No, you’re not... I’ve had just about enough of this,” Valerie said moving herself into Shane’s path.
Shane, in a blind moment, raised his hand. “GET OUT OF MY WAY,” he screamed. In that instant a great telekinetic force emanated from his hand, pushing Valerie away like a leaf on the wind. She smacked into the wall, the sound of her head hitting the brickwork loud and stomach-churning. She slumped to the floor cradling her head.
“Oh, my God, Mum, I’m sorry,” Shane said, falling to the floor by his mother’s side.
“I can’t handle you any longer, Shane,” she whispered.
“I said I was sorry, what more do you want?”
“I want my boy back... the one I once knew before he fell in with the wrong crowd,” she said beginning to weep.
“Well, I’m not going to... They’re my friends... Anyway, stuff this for a joke, mother... I’m leaving.”
Before she could pull herself up off the floor the door slammed shut. Shane had gone. In the distance she heard the screeching of tyres; his so-called friends were obviously waiting for him. Valerie could think of nothing else to do but break down and sob.
* * *
L.J.P. entered the practice, and as usual Judy was sitting behind the desk waiting for him to arrive to announce his schedule for the day. This time, however, something seemed odd. Judy looked worried for a start; which was strange, Judy never usually showed any emotion.
“Morning, Judy,” L.J.P. said, trying to avoid hearing about his receptionist’s troubles and yet being polite at the same time.
“He hit her, you know,” Judy said, as if expecting L.J.P. already knew what she was talking about.
L.J.P. gathered himself, then turned to Judy. “What are you talking about, my dear?” L.J.P. had a feeling it was going to be one of those days.
“Shane, of course. He hit, Valerie... last night,” she said. “He was drunk again. She really has to sort that boy out. Nothing but trouble if you ask me... Well, actually, all men are nothing but trouble.”
L.J.P. just let her keep on talking. What she had to say next was just her opinion of life and her existence in it. L.J.P. decided there and then to phone Valerie, just to make sure she was all right. “Where is, Valerie now, Judy?” he said interrupting her.
“Oh, she’s waiting for you in your office,” she said, waving her hand in a dismissive manner and answering the phone at the same time.
“Ahh,” he said flashing Judy a smile, “I’d better go see her straight away then.”
Judy just nodded, now busy with the person on the other end of the phone.
L.J.P. opened his office door. Sitting there was Valerie, looking tired, weary, and above all, upset. In fact she was in quite a state, and all L.J.P. could do to at this stage was comfort her.
“Tell me everything, my dear,” he said quietly as he pulled up a chair and sat beside her.
He then let her vent, and she did not hesitate to tell him about all that had happened over the last few weeks. If there was one thing L.J.P. was good at, it was listening.
“He didn’t hit me, you know... He lost control and used his power. Thankfully he restrained himself just enough so that it was not a lot worse. Well, we both kind of got a little hot under the collar. He didn’t mean it, L.J.P. I know that,” she said. “It’s just... well, it’s this new group of friends he’s been hanging around with lately. I think they know he’s a magician, or at least suspect that he is different, and they kind of inflate his ego, so much so that he now thinks he does not need anybody else.” L.J.P. just smiled reassuringly, nodded his head, and said an appropriate “Ahh” or “I see” in the correct place.
“I’m sure he’s been taking drugs as well as drinking,” she said, turning her body towards L.J.P. “At least two of his teachers at school have phoned me, mentioning their concern for his schoolwork lately. L.J.P. I’m worried, I really am.”
L.J.P. finally said: “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Oh, L.J.P. would you? You’ve just lifted a great weight from my shoulders. I really should have come to you sooner. But I thought I could handle it. He’s just got worse and worse over the last couple of weeks. I’m at my wit’s end. And to top it all off, after the argument, he left. I haven’t seen him since.”
“It’s all right, my dear. Shane is just finding his own path; I’ll make sure he treads the right one.”
Valerie smiled. “Thank you, L.J.P., you’ve been a great friend over the years.”
“It’s a good thing he’s already gone through Magolescence... I don’t think I could handle having a magician as powerful as he is sporadically turning invisible like he did when he went through it,” L.J.P. chuckled. “It’s very difficult talking to teenagers at the best of times, but talking to one when you don’t know where they are, that’s nearly impossible.”
Valerie too cracked a smile. “Yeah, he was like that for nearly three weeks. In the end I had to attach a bell to him so I knew where he was. I’m sure he took it off to check out the girl’s locker room though, but I can’t prove that.”
L.J.P. now laughed out loud. “Teenagers, ahh! Listen, Valerie, don’t worry, I’ll go see him. Now let me look at that rather nasty bump you have on your head.”
“He’s a good boy, L.J.P. it’s just... well, he’s kind of easily led. And what with those powers of his, I’m really afraid of what he might become.”
“I’ll make sure he’s all right, my dear. That’s my job: caring for people.”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you, L.J.P.” she said looking directly into his eyes.
* * *
Shane told them to head for the family holiday home at Phillip Island. He needed the time it took to get down there — about a two-hour drive from the heart of Melbourne — to clear his head after what had happened. Besides he had the key, and what better place to just be himself for a while and chill with his mates?
“Hey, Shane, I’m gonna contact The One. Tell him where we’re goin’ I’ll get him to meet us there, then you can become a member of our Coven for real,” Adam said leaning back from the front passenger seat to talk to Shane. He had his mobile in his hand and was rapidly pressing the buttons, obviously sending a SMS to The One.
“Cool, do you think I’ll get in?” Shane said enthusiastically, but at the same time a little nervous.
“Way easy, mate. Way easy. You’re the most fantastic magician we’ve ever met. The One will be pleased to see you. We need someone with your talents to be with us.”
Shane just nodded. He liked the idea of being in a Coven of young magicians.
In the driver’s seat was a boy named Mitchell, Shane worked out that he was at least nineteen if not older and the oldest member of the Coven. Mitchell, as far as Shane was concerned, was the second in charge of the Coven and he was the one responsible for encouraging Shane to join them, something he had never thanked him for.
Next to Shane was Connor, the youngest member, and the one Shane felt the most connected to. Perhaps it was because he, too, was a new member of this Coven even though he had already been initiated. Shane wondered what the initiation would require; he didn’t fancy running naked through the streets, or standing in cold water for hours on end like most other initiations he had heard about. But he supposed he would just have to wait and see.
They drove in the dead of night down the Princess Highway in relative silence, only breaking it when they opened a can of beer and passed it to each other. Mitchell, Shane noticed, did not drink. After a while all there was left to do was stare out the window, and even that did not offer any relief from the monotony of driving down one long, straight road.
“Stuff this for a joke, I’m bored with this already,” Adam suddenly said, finishing off the last of the beer. “Besides, we’ve run out of booze. Shane, can you speed things up, get us there quicker? You know, use your power.”
“Um, I dunno,” Shane said, genuinely unsure if he could or could not.
“I think it’s time you had a little help, Shane,” Mitchell piped up, looking at Shane through the rear vision mirror. “Adam, give him a pill. They’re in the glove box.”
“Sure thing, Mitch,” Adam said, removing a small bag of white pills. “Here, Shane, have one... it’ll make you... a better magician.”
“Um, sure thing,” Shane said with a shaky voice, but taking one from the bag nonetheless. “What are they?”
“They help channel your powers, Shane. Mainly the herb hemlock, with a few chemicals mixed in, pretty cool stuff really. Go on take one, you’ll be right,” Mitchell grinned.
Shane was not really sure about taking drugs. But in the end he did not want to let his new group of friends down. Looking at it for a brief moment he then swallowed it in one motion. The reaction from the drug was both instant and awesome. There was a brief but dazzling moment of disorientation, then, once his mind settled, Shane could see things he had never seen before in his life. He could see into the minds of all of those around him and at the same time he could reach out with his mind, touch objects and manipulate them, including the car they travelled in. Shane then knew what he had to do.
Shane closed his eyes and concentrated. The car, shimmered, then pulsed, and then disappeared. All he could hear were his mates screaming with joy as they experienced the drug-enhanced magic Shane had produced. Shane was mentally picking up the car and projecting it onto his Phillip Island driveway.
Shane opened his eyes. They were there.
“Oh, my God, Shane, that was awesome,” Adam said, obviously ecstatic at the result.
“You’re all right, Shane,” Mitchell added with a wink. “I’d be proud to include you as a member of our coven.”
Shane felt for the first time in his life that he was part of something. And even though he was cold, sweating, and trembling from the effect of the drug, he smiled.
“Time to hit the sack, boys,” Mitchell yawned. “We have a lot to do later.”
* * *
“I’m sorry, Joel. I have not seen him,” Valerie said to a rather despondent looking teenager standing on her doorstep.
“He ran away, didn’t he, Mrs Upton?”
Valerie sighed, “Yes. Yes he did.”
Joel Archer nodded, then left. He knew where Shane had gone, for Shane had talked about going there a lot lately. He also knew the crowd he had become friends with. Joel became worried by that thought. He then decided to try and talk some sense into his best friend; after all that’s what friends were for.
Valerie watched him as he pulled off the driveway in his parents car, the probationary plate stuck haphazardly on the windscreen.
“I’ll follow him, see where he’ll take me,” L.J.P. said from behind the door.
“Just make sure he’s all right, please, L.J.P.”
“You can count on me, my dear.”
“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: this magician stuff really is all cloak and dagger, isn’t it?”
“Sometimes it is the only way to get things done, my dear.”
Copyright © 2006 by Clyde Andrews