Short Story Sunday: Misplaced Magick in Manhattan - Part 2
Eliza is a ghost living in a cozy cafe in Manhattan. Her centuries-long friend, Virgil, is a vampire. Virgil was turned during the Victorian era, when vampires were staked, and now enjoys the modern perks of living in a world full of paranormal beings. When magick creeps into their lives by way of a mysterious ogre, things get interesting.
SHORT STORY SUNDAY
Misplaced Magick in Manhattan
Missed Part 1? Read it here.
I’d never seen the cafe clear out so quickly. The sound of scooting tables and falling chairs tumbled into silence with even the owner dashing through the still-open door. Nothin’ like the unexpected to drive away the paranormals of New York, I suppose. Although, can’t say I blame them.
“The Capital of the World” has been ruthless to anyone unusual; even when they’re normal. If you’re someone whose eyes blaze red when you’re randy… Well, when things get stranger than you are, that‘s all the reason you need to find a quick exit.
The creature in the cloak lifted its head to reveal a single eye over a pig-snout nose. The orb of its eye rolled backward until it became a flash of white webbed with red capillaries. Then the thing fell forward.
“Whatever it is,” Virgil said, “it smells awful.”
I hovered over to where the creature lay crumpled on the wide plank flooring. It was still breathing, and I was unsure how I felt about that. Though, it wasn’t as if the thing could do me any harm. Probably.
Carl’s voice came from over my shoulder. “What is it?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Probably some braggart with a firecracker.” Virgil was back to lying down on the bench.
“Firecracker?” Carl said. “Are you deaf? It sounded like the earth split open!”
“You should’ve heard the explosives they used in 1863.”
Carl snorted and crouched closer to the body. “They couldn’t have been that loud. It was the eighteenth century.”
“No, he’s right,” I said. “Those hand grenades were -- don’t touch it!”
I reached for the space between Carl’s shoulders to yank on the back of his t-shirt. Amazing, really, that even after being dead this long, my mind still reacts as if I were corporeal. My hand sank through his back and plunged through the front of his chest. Carl cried out, spun in a panic, and flopped over the cloaked bundle on the floor. The bundle grunted, and Carl was shrimping away from me.
“Please do not ever do that again!” he squeaked.
Virgil cackled.”Feels like being run through with a popsicle!” He sat up, bracing himself on the table.
“It’s not funny!” Carl said.
I was preoccupied, watching the cloak rise from the wooden floor. I squinted at it as it brought stubby fingers to its head and blinked its one eye. “What are you?” I whispered.
The eye swiveled, searching for me but landing on Carl who was gaping like a fish out of water. He found his footing and promptly stumbled backward into an overturned chair.
“When is this?” The creature’s voice was gravelly and low. “What year?”
Virgil shifted at blinding speed to catch his new roommate and place himself between Carl and the encroaching stranger. “Honestly, Carlisle, you’re a vampire. Act like it. You! Stop where you are. Where the hell did you come from?”
“I am Kioreg from the Forest of Delorde--"
"Your name sounds like a coffee maker," Carl said.
"Very smooth, Carlisle. Very smooth."
"What is the year?" Kioreg demanded. "Speak quickly, for the fate of magick is in my hands and I haven’t the time for--”
“Magick?” Virgil sputtered.
"Yes! I must locate the roots of magick!"
"There's no such thing as magick."
"Bah!" Kioreg said, flinging short arms into the air. "Do not be naïve!" He tore off his hood and beneath it was a tuft of orange hair and ears so pointed they could put out an eye.
"You really can't be naïve after three hundred years on this planet, my friend. Which, I'm guessing you're not. From this planet, I mean."
"It's 2021," I said.
Kioreg spun at my voice, but his eye saw right through me. I could see by his unfixed gaze. "Who speaks? Show yourself!"
"You're not dead," Carl said. "You can't see her."
Kioreg turned a narrowed eye on the young vampire and snorted. "Ha! Can't I? And I shall prove your friend wrong as well. No magick. Well, watch this."
With a flourish, he wove symbols into the air. His cloak, draped over his forearm, waved back and forth with his motion. I watched as his fingers, of which he only had four, traced sparks into the air. He murmured in a language almost familiar to me. "Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh."
I gasped. "You speak the language of the fae!"
There was a shift in the air, and it was strange. Because I felt it. I felt the air! It turned warm all around me, and I felt a pull in my stomach. Kioreg's eye widened, and I knew I'd come into focus. He pivoted back toward Virgil, pointing a finger, up, toward his face. "Do you believe now?"
"Believe what?" Virgil spat.
"Is your vision poor?" Kioreg said. "Before you stands the spectre of a woman long dead, and--"
"Woman? Eliza?" Virgil laughed. "I could already see her."
While Virgil doubled over, enjoying far too much the affronted look on Kioreg's face, I glided toward the creature and almost laid a hand on his shoulder. I caught myself. Kioreg threw his cloak to the ground with a frustrated grunt.
"I felt it!" I said. "How did you do that?"
I was more solid now. I could feel gravity, though it little affected my presence. I could sense the air, feel the barest movement along my form. I could smell. I wasn't sure what the creature had done, exactly. But I could feel that it was real.
"What are you looking for here?"
"The roots of magic. They are in danger. In my time, in the far past, my mentor had a vision of magick's death. We must stop this. If magick dies, so do all things magickal."
"Am I magickal?" I asked.
"In a way, yes. What keeps your spirit attached to this world is your will to stay. Will drives magick more than most things."
"Alright, Eliza, you're off it too then?" Virgil crossed his arms over his chest.
"This is real! Something's different about me now."
"Well, you look the bloody same to me! And you! Coffee maker! What are you?"
"I am an ogre of the fifth generation."
"An ogre? An ogre that can do magick?" Carl says. "That's not in any books I've read."
"I doubt proper books have lasted long in this time. But you are correct it is unusual for me to wield magick. Where are the roots?" Kioreg looked around desperately.
Virgil wore an incredulous look. Carlisle was gaping again. He was good at that. I was the one who spoke what we were all thinking. "We have no idea where the roots of magick are. Until just now, I wasn't a believer in magick either. It was a thing of fanciful children's stories. Is there a way to trace it?"
Kioreg rubbed at his temples. "I told Merlin I needed a Hel Hound, but no, no. Protect the natives of the realm."
"Hel Hound?" Carl's eyes grew round.
Kioreg snatched his cloak from the floor and put it back on. "I must go."
He marched for the door, and I chased after him.
"Wait! I want to help." There was an excitement thrumming through me that I'd not felt in centuries. A thrill that I needed to feed. "How will you find it?"
"Without the help of a hound or a local who actually knows anything about this place," Kioreg said with obvious irritation. "I'll have to find it the old fashioned way."
"And how is that?" Virgil loomed toward us with his easy stride, and Carlisle was making a point to stay just behind the older vampire's larger form.
Kioreg glared over his shoulder at them. "By searching!"
I had so much fun writing this story. I'm releasing it in a serial fashion over the next few weeks. This is a blog-exclusive short story, so keep checking back to read the rest!
The way this story came about was interesting. I wanted to release stories for you to read without having to buy an ISBN for every endeavor. I posed the question on my Instagram story, asking for setting, character, and plot prompts from you all. You fricking delivered!
The prompts were:
A Victorian vampire and their modern equivalent are roomies in NYC. - @momma_needs_a_coffee
An ogre who somehow ends up in the middle of a huge city in their future. - @flowerwineandbooks
A treehouse that can only be found if you believe in magick. - @azmira2323
Cozy cafe in the nook of an alleyway, with the main character as a ghost. - @authormeghancarlson
Ya'll, I wanted this to be a way to flex my creative writing muscles, and it's a spot-on exercise that did exactly that. I'll be posting another Insta story poll for the next short story soon, so please, please, please check it out and drop a prompt. I'm excited to go again!
A final huge shout-out to my husband, Lindsey, Michelle, my mom, Alex, Amber, and Nik for weighing in on the cover design. I am not visual at all, so these people are why this cover is what it is. Otherwise... Well, it wouldn't have been pretty, hahahaha.