Misplaced Magick in Manhattan - Part 3
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 SHORT STORY
Misplaced Magick in Manhattan
Missed Part 2? Read it here.
This was freedom. Ever since I died, I've been stuck in that place, but now I followed a small ogre beneath the streetlights of Manhattan, and how it had changed! I couldn't see any stars in the inky black sky because there were lights all around. Automobiles took over the streets like rats, and the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks made me feel almost at home. Where before there were rundown buildings, there now stood corporate offices and glass windows. Though there were still plenty of rundown people in the alleyways and wandering the sidewalks. Some things never change.
A few passersby gave Kioreg a wide berth while others ran right into him as if he weren't there. I still moved through people, and it was apparently still unpleasant. I caused people to rub their arms or shudder, so I was doing my best to navigate around them. I stepped out of the way of a woman talking on a cellphone. Then I found myself partially inside of a blue mailbox. So my interactions with physical objects were still dependent on my mood. Amazed and pleased as I was, my focus was on everything at once instead of the brooding concentration it takes for me to nudge a mug into some prick's lap.
"Are we really going to wander aimlessly through New York in the middle of the night following a beast that's lost its mind?"
"I don't think it's polite to call them a beast," Carl said.
"Virgil's never really been one for manners," I said.
"I am not a beast. And for the last time, I haven't lost my mind!" said Kioreg. His voice grew louder with his frustration, and a couple passing on our right glared down their noses at Kioreg's raised proclamation of sanity. The ogre pulled his hood, again, to make sure he was still obscured. He’d been hiding himself for the entire walk.
Virgil bent toward the shorter ogre and said in a theatrical whisper, "Screaming about how you aren't crazy isn't the best way to convince someone that you aren't crazy."
Kioreg shook his head and pointedly ignored Virgil's prodding. "There has to be someone around here who can point me in the right direction. Though this place is so covered in stone, I doubt we will find many pixies or elves around to help us."
"Pixies and elves." Virgil said this as if someone had told him birds flew upside down. "Eliza, come on. We should really go see the empire state building. It's so much better than we thought it would be. You finally have the opportunity to wander around outside of that damned place, and we're wasting it looking for pixies. Apparently."
"Does it not strike you as strange that I'm now able to move about outside of the cafe?" I said. "If we can't help Kioreg save magick, I'm just as likely to be trapped in one building for all of eternity again! I think it stands to reason that this is more pressing."
"I mean, yes. You're right. It is strange. But remember when people used to sell piss as snake oil? Eliza, we're too old to fall for foolish things like this. I think it's very clear that something happened to you. But magick?"
Carl, looking braver than he had until now, strode next to Kioreg. "If there are pixies or... elves. Where would we find them?"
"Somewhere with lots of flowers or wildlife. Nowhere here, surely."
Carl stopped and glanced back at me over his shoulder. We were both thinking the same thing.
My knowledge of Central Park starts with the name and ends with the way it looks in the holiday movies that play on television at the cafe. But I'm pretty sure that the spritely lights that flicker throughout the grass and trees aren't there in the movies. While I gaze around at the sparkling night with my mouth agape, Virgil comes into my peripheral. He's wearing his customary scowl.
"What are you looking at?"
"You don't see them?" I said, my voice breathy.
"If I did, would I be asking you what you're looking at?"
"I don't see anything either," Carl said. "It's just Central Park at night."
I shook my head. Kioreg glanced around, settled his eye on a particular spark in the distance, and lumbered toward it. His squat stature made his walk more of a waddle, and Virgil snorted a little every time he watched Kioreg take a step. As the ogre made his way back, he called out to us, uncaring of the nighttime joggers and dog walkers who glowered at him.
"The elf in the elm tree over there said to look at something called Pull It Sir Fountain."
Virgil keeled over in a fit of laughter. "Oh my god. We should keep him just for the laughs!"
"Pulitzer Fountain," Carl supplied. "It's on the other side of the park."
I marveled along the way at all the creatures I could now see. Things that I can only assume are gremlins sprinted about in the grass, playing like young mice in the evening dew. There were a few faeries in the air. I giggled when one blew in Carl's ear and he swatted at it, complaining about bugs.
When we reached the fountain, Virgil flopped onto the edge of it in a dramatic display of exhaustion. One which, I'm fairly sure, he couldn't feel during the night hours. Carlisle stayed close to Virgil. Not chummy, but more like he was hiding from a spider. With my newfound vision, I watched the fountain glow. Bright pink radiated out from the stonework, an aura of magick encasing the entire thing.
"How?" I whispered.
"Of course! Clever magickals," Kioreg said with a chuckle. "They've glamoured it!"
"Glamour?" Carl said.
An impish smile flashed beneath Kioreg's snout. "Yes. And if this doesn't make you believe in magick, you are as dense as you look."
Virgil and Carl had a split second to look offended before Kioreg tapped the pinkish glamour, and the illusion shattered. Like confetti at New Year, the glamour flitted away in sparkling lights that blew away on a coming breeze. Virgil fell backward when the wall he’d been sitting on disappeared. He toppled into water that was far deeper than the fountain. I realized that I didn’t know if Virgil could swim! Then he resurfaced. It was Carl’s turn to laugh and point.
A tree the size of which I could never explain filled the center of what used to be the fountain. Aerial roots arced over a surrounding stream that fed into itself. Virgil was pulling himself out of the stream, long, dark hair dripping water and his shirt clinging to his lithe frame.
"What the hell is that?" he demanded as he gained his feet.
I grinned. "The roots of magick."
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.