Misplaced Magick in Manhattan - Part 4
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 3? Read it here.
I stared in awe at the mighty tree as we strolled beneath its arcing roots. When we reached the trunk, Kioreg placed a hand to it, and a door dissolved into existence. If I’d been amazed at the magickal life flitting all throughout the park, the inside of the roots of magick was like a fireworks show compared to a party popper. Fairies, pixies, nymphs, gremlins, and creatures the likes of which I’d never seen or heard crowded the space.
The tree was hollow and lined with pathways that spiraled so far upward they disappeared before I could see where they led. The ceiling was like a spot of sparkling magick that extended on into forever. While I was busy collecting my jaw from the floor, Virgil and Carlisle stood at the doorway as if expected to walk into a building set aflame. Kioreg… Where was Kioreg?
I tore my gaze from the light show in time to see a cloaked figure waddling through a doorway at the other edge of the tree. Closing the distance between us was rather like walking several city blocks, and I marveled again at how large the tree was. I reached him just as he was opening another door into the wall. He cursed, though, and spun around to run in another direction. He ran right through me.
“Fornicating trolls! What have you done to me?” He collapsed on the floor in a shivering mass.
Virgil and Carlisle chose that moment to join us.
“Eliza’s rather good at that,” Virgil said.
“Fornicating?” Carl asked.
“Well, yes, but–”
I rolled my eyes, reached to help Kioreg to his feet, remembered myself, and glowered at Virgil. He huffed and yanked the poor ogre up by the hood of his cloak. I hovered beside him like a mother hen over her chicks.
“So so so sorry,” I said. “It’s a side effect of wandering through a ghost, I’m afraid.”“The cold chill of death,” Kioreg whispered. “Bleeding toadstools, that’s unpleasant.”
“Bleeding toadstools?” Virgil exclaimed. “Who the fuck taught you to curse?”
“I’ll give you a curse!” Kioreg shouted.
The sparkling magick around us momentarily slowed. Kioreg cleared his throat, gathered himself, and searched the enormous room. “We have to find it before it’s too late.”
Genuine despair coated his voice as he set off toward what I assumed would become another doorway.
“I still don’t quite understand,” I said, keeping pace with him easily.
Kioreg stopped a grave expression on his squat face. “I am to destroy magick.”
“What?” Carlisle and I exclaimed at once.
“This is my future. I come here from eons in the past to stop my future self from destroying magick.”
“Wait,” Virgil said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “An ogre time-traveled to stop himself from destroying magick in the future. Honestly, how far does this go before we decide this is absolutely loony and go home?”
“Why would you of all creatures destroy magick?” I asked
“I have no idea. Let us hope I never know.” With that, he turned to the wall behind him and opened a doorway.
We started wandering a series of winding hallways and corridors that led to dead ends.
“Hold on,” Virgil said. “Wouldn’t it be beneficial to understand why you would destroy… magick?” He said it as though the word tasted of ash in his mouth.
“At last the living dead decides to see reason,” Kioreg said. “Alas, no. It is forbidden for me to know my future.” The ogre halted as he said it. He scrunched his face in a way that said, ‘Damnit I’ve said too much.’ I knew the look well.
“You’re not supposed to be here, are you?” I asked. “You said someone sent you, but–”
I knew something was amiss but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
“I went to seer against the will of my mentors. As I said, ogres are not commonly magick wielders. Or, well. At the point in time from which I come, none of us are magick wielders save for me. My tribe was so ashamed of me–I–I just wanted to know if what I was doing was right.”
Carlisle had words when I did not. “So you went to a seer. They told you that you would destroy magick.”
“Yes. How can I let the race of ogres be responsible for the destruction of something so beautiful? Even if it’s me? The ogre race, we are not looked upon well. The destruction of magick by our hand, well…”
“It’s too much to bear,” I finished for him.
There was a long silence while Kioreg took a few deep breaths. I could see a tear forming within his one large eye. I reached out to touch his shoulder and stopped myself. Hundreds of years dead, and still I longed just to comfort someone with a simple touch.
Virgil broke the silence. “Well, shit on a werewolf’s tail, the little bastard’s made me feel sorry for him.”
Kioreg’s temper brought him swiftly back to life. “Oh, stuff an imp up your arse you heathenistic zombie!”
“There he is,” Virgil said.
“I don’t have time for this!” Kioreg exclaimed. “No time. No time.”
He was off again, and just as I began to wonder if we would ever find our way back from this place, we reached a yawning cavern. It was a cave. A cave inside of a tree. It was unlike any cave I’d ever seen, and I’d seen quite a few as a young girl exploring in Ireland.
The entire cavern glittered, and when my dazzled vision began making sense of the spectacle, I realized they were crystals. Crystals shaped like acorns and maple seeds and seeds I’d never seen before. And at the center of the cavern was a short ogre with a wrinkled face and a tuft of white hair on the top of his head.
“Well,” Virgil said. “At least you’re not uglier when you get old.”
Kioreg flung a hand from under his cloak and a zap flew from his fingers into Virgil’s shin. Virgil yelped and hopped on one foot while cradling his leg in his hands. It was then that the older ogre turned to face us. He had a vial in his three-fingered hand.
The vial was full of a pulsating black liquid. It had an aura of sickly greenish-yellow emanating from the glass, and the stopper was already pulled from the mouth of the container. In front of the ogre was a pool. Of what I had no idea. It was a silvery swirling mass of energy, and it generated a faint hum that reverberated off of the cave walls. I noticed too that the crystals hummed with it as well. If I listened carefully, I could hear a song. I closed my eyes, entranced by the musicality, and thought I could hear…whispering?
“Stop!” Kioreg bellowed, startling me from my wandering.
The other Kioreg let loose a low, rumbling chuckle. “We are so naive when we are young. Do you have any idea what they will put you through? How they will treat you as you study? Not just the tribes but the wielders as well!”
“Regardless of whether they curse us or drag our bodies with gryphons–”
“What?” Virgil exclaimed.
“--it isn’t worth this!” Kioreg finished, taking a step toward his future self. “It’s up to us to present the modicum of change not fall prey to the constructs that bind us. The ogre race can be more than we are.”
“Bah! We are nothing!” older Kioreg spat then raised the vial in his hand like it was the holy grail and he was King Arthur. “We will all be nothing soon enough.”
Kioreg, the younger one, tried running toward his future self, but his short legs only moved him so quickly. I flickered toward the older ogre and reached a hand to stop him from pouring the vial into the swirling silver, but my hand went straight through. If I could just focus–
The flash of a body barreled through me and into the older ogre. Carlisle sprawled on the floor over top of the squat body, holding his head as if he knocked it on something, teeth chattering with cold. The vial, knocked from older Kioreg’s hand, fell through the air. I watched helpless as the vial descended. Then Virgil, calm and stoic as ever, snatched it from the air.
He heaved a great sigh. “Now can we go to the Empire State Building?”
Kioreg guided us all out of the magickal tree and back into Central Park. He had an air of melancholy about him for the entire trip. Carlisle carried Older Kioreg over his shoulder, becoming more and more comfortable with his vampiric abilities.
I didn’t understand the words he used to replace the glamour, but when he was finished, the pink glow surrounded the Pulitzer Fountain as if it’d never been removed. With an exhausted sigh, Kioreg collapsed on the grass.
“I hate to admit this,” Kioreg said, “stars and imp stool do I hate it.” He looked up at Virgil with a sneer. “You saved magick today.”
“All in a day’s work I suppose,” Virgil said, arms crossed over his chest.
I knelt next to Kioreg. “What is next for you?”
Kioreg contemplated this for a moment and then extended a hand toward me. He murmured more words in a guttural language–I wondered if it was the language of his people–and a swirl of blue and purple extended from his hand and around me.
“This is a binding spell,” he said. “It will keep you grounded to this earth. You will be free to wander so long as you do one thing for me.”
“What is that?”
“If magick is ever in danger, you will feel it. I can’t tell you how you’ll feel it, only that you will know it when it happens. I fear the bitterness I saw in my future self today. I’m unsure I’ll be able to conquer it even through my studies. Should I return to try and destroy magick again…”
“I’ll protect it. I promise.”
Kioreg closed his one eye, and his shoulders pulled down away from his pointed ears. “Thank you,” he said, sounding relieved. “I’ll be taking him with me.”
Kioreg pointed a stubby finger toward Carlisle who gulped.
“Myself,” Kioreg said testily.
“Ah, right.” Carlisle set the ogre down gingerly, stepping away as if afraid he’d be bitten. “Won’t that create a time paradox or something?”
Kioreg waved an uncaring hand. “Temporal magick is easily broken, easily fixed, and terribly finicky all at once. My mentor will know what to do. Hopefully, his plan doesn’t include expelling me from the consortium.” The small ogre rose to his three-toed feet and waddled over to his future self. He glared at Virgil, and as if it cost him a modicum of his spirit, he said, “Thank you.”
Kioreg left our world with the same bang and light with which he entered. And then he was gone.
“Even after three centuries here, we know nothing,” Virgil said. He peered down at New York over the railing of the Empire State Building.
I could tell by the way he occasionally jumped or turned to the side trying to catch a glimpse of something out of his peripheral that his vision was coming on, if not slowly.
“I think it’s fine that we still have things to learn. It makes the world a little brighter,” I said.
Carlisle leaped over the railing, returning from his fourth trip scaling the building. He grinned widely and said, “I did it!”
“Again,” Virgil and I said in unison.
“I’m glad you’re starting to feel comfortable in your own skin,” I said with sincerity. New York really was beautiful from up here. And Virgil had been right. This building was more magnificent than I’d ever thought it could be.
“Thanks! Being a vampire might not be so bad after all,” Carlisle said, still grinning from ear to ear. After a few moments’ silence, he said, “Do you think–do you think we’re magick somehow?”
“What?” Virgil sneered.
“We’re dead, but we’re alive–”
“It took an ogre falling from the sky to make you admit that you’re dead.”
“--isn’t that some kind of magick?”
“It could be,” I said. “I suppose we’ll just have to spend the next few centuries trying to find out.”
Virgil groaned, “I need a drink.”
We watched the streets below. The lights on vehicles and streetlights filled the city, and I was amazed at it. Because all along the roadways, between each bumper, above every lamp post, and filtering through the night sky above, was 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.