Prompt Short Story: Vacation, Schmaycation (Interviews with a Sorceror #3)

As a sorcerer, dealing with people who don’t know you’re a sorcerer can get tricky. Officially, we’re not meant to tell people who don’t already know, or haven’t figured it out for themselves. Sure,  sometimes it’s necessary to…bend those rules a little. But mostly we stick to them. At least, those of us on the right side of decency do.

A few decades ago, I was travelling through the northern end of Canada. I was meant to be on vacation, but seeing as wherever I went there was work, it wasn’t proving to be all that relaxing. So, after yet another scolding from yet another friend, I swore off any work, determined to put my blinkers on and ignore everything but getting some relaxation time.

Yeah. Right.

The second I rolled into this dinky little place, barely worthy of the title of town – I swear to your gods and mine, more fucked up shit goes down in dinky little towns than any giant metropolis. Oh there’s always work – and plenty – in any metropolis, but it’s fairly standard, most of it. You want the really weird shit? You need to travel the back roads to the smaller towns and villages. There’s a reason some of the best horror is set in these places, right?

Anyway, I roll into the main street, off the ice roads, in my truck. The chains are solid and I had it fully serviced before heading up into the snow, so I was gonna ride right through. The day was young and I was headed further north, so I wanted to get some more miles in. But the second I hit the town limits I smelled magic – real strong, and r3al sour. Someone was casting a big spell, right now, and it wasn’t a good one. Unfortunately, promises to friends or not, I hoped they’d understand why I had to stop for this one.

I rolled up to the drugstore on the main street and got out, casting a tracer spell to lead me to where the magic was being done.

It wasn’t far – couldn’t be in this place really – so it only took me a few minutes. Found a perfectly reasonable-looking house, sat on an only slightly dilapidated street. The door was open, so I went in, carefully. Which was good, because just inside there was a lady with a gun pointed in my direction – not right at me, I saw, and her finger rested along the trigger guard, not on the trigger. Someone who knew guns and how to use them safely, then. That could be good or bad…

Whatever this spell was, it was ramping up. That sour smell? It was a taste, now, making my mouth want to screw up around it. As I raised my hands, I started to feel it prickling along my skin.

If I didn’t stop this quick, whatever it was would envelop this whole town, and there was nothing good going to come out of that. The spell getting stronger meant I could start to discern what it was. Mind control? Not quite. More like…mind passivity. Mind control is hard, even the strongest mind control sorcerer can just barely keep a handle on a dozen, a whole town would be impossible. But an air of passivity? Make them calm, make them suggestible, so they’d do the things you wanted and not ask many questions, provided you were there to give them an occasional nudge? Yeah, that was possible, though I estimated this area would require at least 3 powerful sorcerers to build and maintain it.

That meant trouble. Probably down in the basement – I swear most sorcerers live for the tropes.

But before I could try and deal with them, there was this.

“Hi,” I said.

“Don’t move,” she ordered.

It was dark, but I studied her closely. There was a slight giveaway gleam in her eyes – a small golden ring around her pupil; nothing if you weren’t looking for it. It meant one of them had put her under a simple mind control spell – one job, which would continue until the spell wore off. I assumed the job was ‘stop anyone who enters from coming to the basement’.

I took a step towards where I guessed the basement door would be.

Yep. She not only shot sideways, the gun now pointing at my chest, she crashed through a spider plant to do it. The pot shattered under her boots, and soil spilled everywhere. The plant tried gamely to stay upright, but as the soil drained to the floor it began to topple.

She didn’t notice.

So that was that confirmed, then.

Staring at the barrel of the gun I knew I should probably be afraid. But honestly, I’ve had more weapons pointed at me, with far more malice behind them, than I care to remember. In this moment of calm, amidst the chaos of a falling spider plant and a dark spell making my hair start to stand on end, I just felt relief.

She’d never remember any of this.

I launched myself to one side, around the falling plant, quickly building a sleep spell and letting it fly at her.

She stopped, trigger not quite depressed far enough to fire (though I had a healing spell next on my lips just in case), and crumpled to the ground.

I took the gun, applied the safety, took out the magazine, and ejected the round in the chamber – yep, I know gun safety too. After I met my first couple, barrel-end, I took some courses. I can shoot pretty good, too, and it actually helped with the spell aiming.

I laid her out so she was a bit more comfortable looking, and left the gun next to her.

Aside from the plant pot this has all happened quietly, so I hoped for an opening of surprise, but I planned for a reverse ambush. I readied a spell which would send out strands of binding magic, forcing their feet together and arms down at their sides, as if I’d tied rope around them, plus it would force shut their mouths. That would give me the time I needed to knock them all out and hunt down the closest magical law enforcement.

Lucky for me, they were far too deep into their trances to have noticed anything. They all looked remarkably surprised when I threw my spell at them, poor mites.

The nearest law was a few hours away, so I made myself comfortable down there with them and took the time to pick apart their spell, strand by strand. This didn’t just ensure it returned safely to the universe, it also gave me some insight on how it was created. I came out of that encounter with a brand new spell. Not too shabby, for a guy on vacation, right?

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Writing prompt used:

Staring at the barrel of her gun, I knew I should feel afraid. But in all the chaos, only one emotion coursed through my veins. Relief.


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