Black Magic ManbyCrazzyGuy©
Hey, everyone, this is, as hinted at, going to be my side series. I've wanted to write this one for a while now, and this was the product of hanging out in coffee houses and writing on napkins. I hope you enjoy!
Most college seniors don't immediately evaluate the tactical situation of the bars they cruise. But I'm not the average college senior, either.
I sat at the edge of the booth, sipping on my beer. I'd been invited out with my roommate and his friends, and since it was a Friday, and I had nothing better to do, I had decided on it. There was just one problem.
I don't get drunk. My parents had both been witches. And as witches, with the ability to do magic, I had been slammed with the metabolism required to do it. Alcohol, for some reason just went through my system. It really defeated the purpose of going to a bar, but I also liked to get out of the dorm.
I nursed my beer, ignoring the conversation about dumb professors and who got shot down by who. I'm not one for gossip. I was glancing around the bar. No monsters tonight. There had been a vampire a few weeks ago, that had been picking up co-eds and dumping them in random places after getting his fill.
I'd chased him off, for now, I hoped. I wasn't a supernatural big shot, even in the relatively small college town of Calvin, Oregon. I'd come into my gift late for a witch, or so I've been told. But even so, with limited resources, limited abilities, and almost no support, I'd somehow ended up becoming a monster hunter.
Nothing really stood out for me. No excessively pale people, nobody who particularly looked like a serial killer.
My night got ruined, though, when the cops came. Detective Greg Carsten walked straight for my booth. He was a blond man, tall and with features like a bulldog. He had almost pink skin that seemed to burn whenever get got in any form of sun.
"Jake Sinclair," He said as he walked to the table.
All of my roommate's friends turned to look at me, and I immediately felt once more like the social pariah tended to establish myself as. "Yea, Greg. What can I do for you?"
He looked down at me. "I'm going to ask you to come with me."
That made everyone at the table stare. I was new on campus, relatively. Where my roommate and his buddies had been here for three years, I was a transfer student. I hadn't been around for long. And here I was, with a cop asking me to come along.
"Yea, sure," I stood up. "Want to pat me down?"
"No, nothing like that." He said. Greg cleared his throat. "I'll tell you in the car."
Greg led me out to the car. He hadn't cuffed me or anything, so that only left two possibilities. Either he didn't want to embarrass me in front of the fellows-unlikely-or he needed my help.
We walked out to the parking lot of the bar, where his police SUV was parked illegally. I nibbled on my lip, a nervous moment as I watched him unlock the doors. "In front." He grumbled.
That told me what this was. I was a consultant, not a suspect. I got into the passenger's seat. Once we were underway, I spoke. "Want to tell me what's going on, Greg?"
"Arson." Greg grunted. "It happened in one of the dorms." He must have noticed my expression in the dark, because he said. "Don't worry, kid. It isn't yours."
We started to drive back to Cascade University. Once we got onto the large expanse of land the campus inhabited, he started towards the dorms. He parked us out in front of one of the Greek houses. I don't know my Greek. Latin, Gaelic, some old English? Sure. Greek wasn't a really magical language, so I had never bothered with it.
We got out of the car, and the stench of smoke, burnt objects, and several more natural smells reached my nose. "God, I hate frat houses."
"Hate it enough to torch one?"
"You'd have to really hate someone to use magic like this." I answered. 'If it was a fire mage, well, I'll be able to tell when we get inside."
Greg walked us over to a CSU van. It looked like the whole Calvin County Sheriff's Department was here, in addition with the city's Fire Department. Calvin was a college town, primarily, and so because university was in session, it meant that this was treated like a national emergency.
"Hey, Greg," Said a crime tech. "Who's the kid?"
"Consultant." Greg said, tonelessly. "I need gloves and booties for him."
The crime tech looked me over, and shrugged. "Sheriff know about him?"
"Yea, don't you worry about that." Carsten glared at the crime tech.
Properly cowed, the tech handed out plastic foot coverings and rubber gloves to me. I put them on, and we started off towards the frat house. As we walked, Carsten dug into his pocket and pulled out a box of Tic-Tacs. "Here."
"What's that for?" I asked, furrowing my brow.
Greg rolled his eyes. "So you don't smell like booze."
"Don't get drunk." I rolled my eyes. "But whatever." I grabbed the box, and emptied out a couple of mints to pop them in my mouth. "Sheriff know I'm coming?"
"Yea. He's not happy, but he's still not convinced you're the real deal."
"Took care of that vampire for you." I smiled a little.
Greg glared at me. Even if I was four inches taller than him, he made me feel like I was a foot shorter when he glared. He was simply a big, mean bastard.
We walked inside of the frat house. There were a few kids in the house's living room, giving statements to deputies. I ignored them, as Greg leaded me upstairs. "Hey, can I get a consultant's badge?"
"No," Carsten grunted. "We don't pay you."
"Yes, as my wallet likes to remind me. Why not? I offer a service entirely unique."
He snorted. "Yea, we're a small county, that mostly consists of one college town. We've got the money to toss out for a witch."
I sighed. "Of course."
We walked up to the second floor. The fire's remnants weren't hard to find. The smell of smoke was prominent in the air. We walked to the second floor on the left, which didn't have a door any more. We walked to the door, my feet squishing against the carpet. It was wet, a sign that the sprinklers and a fire extinguisher had made relatively short work of the fire, as there was one on the floor next to the door.
Sheriff Timothy Kim squatted next to a charred corpse. He was a short, plump Asian man with a friendly face. He was a hometown boy, one of the reasons he'd been elected Sheriff, along with the promise of keeping the college safe and running â€" the main income for the county.
"Greg, Mister Sinclair." He nodded to each of us. "You brought him in, Carsten?"
"Yes, sir." He said. "I thought he'd be a big he-"
I cut in. "This isn't one of mine."
Both of them turned to me. "What?"
I sniffed the air again, just to make sure. "There's the smell of gasoline here."
Kim glared at me. "And why's that make a difference?"
"Because a witch doesn't need an accelerator." I shrugged. "Seriously? None of you guys smell it?"
Both of them shook their heads. "We haven't had a chance to call in an Arson investigator from the fire department yet. He's still at home."
"Well, listen, the next time you guys get a fire like this, get his opinion before you get mine." I grumbled. "Why did you think this was one of mine anyways?"
Kim shrugged. "The fire was mostly contained to this room." He answered.
"Looks like the sprinklers took care of that, as well as maybe some kid with a fire extinguisher."
Kim sighed. "Just great. All right, Mister Sinclair. You're free to go." He looked disappointed. To me, that made me happy. The arson investigator could get some use, and it meant that one of mine wasn't involved in killing someone. The charred corpse reminded me of barbecue gone bad, and made me want to toss my lunch from the smell.
"Great." I looked to Greg. "Any chance I could get a ride back to my-" The look on the detective's voice told me no. "All right, I'll be heading home. Next time, call me before you yank me from Happy Hour."
I left the frat house, and started back across the campus grounds towards my dorm. As I walked, the smell of the charred corpse started to get to me. It had stuck with me since I saw it, made me sick. I fought the urge to lose my dinner, and lost. I found a garbage can, and proceeded to puke my guts out.
I stood hunched over the can for a few minutes until I was sure I wasn't going to throw up further.
"Hey," A voice called behind me. "You all right?"
I was still a bit woozy, but I forced myself to turn around. "Az, now is not a good time."
"Nonsense," said the owner of the voice. He was tall, about my height, with golden hair pulled back in a tail. He had the build of one of those guys from that movie about the Spartans. He wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt and jeans. He wore sunglasses, even at eight in the evening. "It's always a good time to speak to you, Jacob Michael Sinclair."
Names hold a very specific place in magic. When a being can speak your full name correctly, as you would yourself, it holds a power over you. I shuddered as he did that exact thing. "Az, don't use my Name like that unless you want my attention."
Az didn't mind much. I knew what his full name was. He was my residential advisor, but he was also...something else. He'd known from the moment he set eyes on me that I was a witch. "But I do want your attention. You were drinking earlier, but not that much. What's got you puking your guts out like an Olympic-class sorority girl?"
"The cops wanted me to take a look at a body. I've never done a dead body before. At least, not one burned to death." I had my experience with death, but I'd never been dragged to a crime scene like that before. It was an experience I wasn't keen on repeating.
"I'm sorry. Would you like something for your stomach?"
I nodded. "Yes, please." I pulled myself up straight, my knees just a little unsteady. I walked over to Az, and we started towards the dorm. "So what has you out? I mean, beyond it being a Friday evening."
"I was looking for you, actually." He said. "I know you've been asked by the cops to investigate a few things before, right?"
I glared. Az knew way more about me than I liked. "Yea, the corpse wasn't the only thing."
"Indeed." He smiled, just a little. "I've got something related to the Arcane. Something that hasn't been reported to the cops, but still a crime in a sort."
I furrowed my brow, glancing at the man. He always wore sunglasses, which made it hard for me to ever put a read on him. It was annoying as crap. "What is it?"
"A number of victims, all claiming the same thing. They go out to a bar, grab a few drinks. They wake up the next morning. Can't remember what happens, but they've had sex. Symptoms that follow for the victims include exhaustion, depression, and a generally 'drained' feeling."
"Sounds like a vampire." I answered. Az frowned. "But they aren't bouncing back, like a vampire's vic would, do they?"
"No. It's much worse than a vampire would do, even if they nearly killed their victim. One of the victims committed suicide last week, Jake."
I stopped in my tracks. That was new. I'd never heard of something like that. "Suicide? Az, that's...What does that?"
"Do you want to find out?" He stopped as well, turning to face me. His gaze, even behind those glasses, bored into me.
Az knew my weakness. I was curious as all hell. And I couldn't resist a chance to help someone. "Yea, I do. Tell me what I need to do, Az."
"You've got class tomorrow?"
"Yea, I do." Saturday mornings were my folk lore and mythology class. "Doing my morning swim, then I get to sit through that."
He nodded. "All right. I'll see you after classes are done. Then we'll get to work."
I started to wonder, as we walked back to the dorms, how much I'd landed myself into. Part of me almost wanted the charred corpse.
The next morning, I pulled myself out of bed with great reluctance. However, I had a schedule I liked to keep. I grabbed my athletic duffel, and headed down to the pool.
The indoor pool was heated like an oven, which I was incredibly thankful for. I changed into my swim trunks, did some stretches, and did my morning workout.
I wasn't a fish, but I definitely liked swimming. It was a way for me to get some time with myself, and I'd never been a fan of jogging. I thought back on last night as I swam. I wasn't investigating a murder, like I would have been if I'd jumped into the arson. Now I was looking at a series of date rapes and suicides. Joy.
After I finished my laps, I pulled myself out of the pool and grabbed my towel. As I started to dry off, I got the feeling that I was being watched. Slowly, I looked around, and saw that, in fact, I was being watched.
A girl, another student I guessed, was looking at me. She had a little smirk on her face. "I knew there was a reason I come here in the mornings."
I tied off my towel at my waist, finding myself blushing just slightly. "Uh, thanks." I cleared my throat.
She had a duffel next to her, but she didn't look like she'd been swimming earlier. "You know, I came in to do my workout, but...well, you were much more interesting than swimming." Her dark eyes flashed playfully.
She was an athletic girl, I could tell that. She wore a blue tank-top and sweats, both of which clung to her toned frame rather favorably. Her dark hair was cut short, almost boyishly.
"Uh, can I ask why?" I kept myself in shape, but I didn't consider myself especially attractive. Of course, I'd spent most of the past two years studying and keeping my head buried in a book somewhere.
She stood, and slowly, started to walk towards me. "It's not too often I smell witch."
That sent my brain into a frenzy. She knew I was a witch? She was either a vampire or a were then. My mind decided on the latter. Most vampires didn't have a tan in February. "And what makes you think I'm a witch?"
She laughed at that. She stopped a few steps from me. "Because witches always have that nice, oak-ish smell." The woman took another step, and closed her eyes, inhaling. "Not often I see a male one, though, and definitely not one who's young and attractive."
"You know, normally, I like to get a girl's name before she sniffs me up."
"Kelly." She answered. "And I suppose that means I get to know your name, Mister Witch?" Her voice was low, practically growling.
"It's Jake." I answered. I wasn't too well-known around the supernatural community, but I'd met one or two Arcanes in my run-ins with that vampire a few weeks back. I wondered if word had started spreading.
"Well, Jake," She said. "I'll be seeing you around." She brushed past me, and I felt her just slightly rub against me as she headed to the door. I watched, her hips rolling, as she walked away. She looked over her shoulder, back to me. "How about you and I go grab dinner sometime?"
"I don't have your number or anything." I answered.
She flashed a grin, showing off her razor sharp canines. "Don't worry, Jake the Witch, I'll find you. Witch is such a fun scent." She left the pool, hips still rolling.
That was weird. And sort of hot. I can't remember the last time I'd been hit on. My first two years of college were spent in a library, studying my ass off. I hadn't seriously dated much in that time, and I'd had even less flings or anything like that. I wasn't the type, anyways.
I was left with a lingering sensation of lust. Kelly the Were was certainly something else. I'm a sucker for a gal with legs. I left it at a pleasant memory, for the moment, and headed off to shower.
My Folklore and Mythology course was a late starter. It was the fourth week of the course, and this was the first meeting of the class. I'd picked it up due to my Criminology course getting canceled, and I still wanted to keep a full schedule.
I found my way into the Anthropology building, and found the lecture hall for the class. Cascade University was an arts magnet, but it had a pretty strong social science department. But even that wouldn't help a late-starting Saturday morning class.
Calling the room a lecture hall was generous, I found out. In reality, it was just a classroom. I took a seat on the row farthest from the door, positioned so I could watch it. You never knew when some psychotic monster would burst in.
Only a few students were there at the moment. We swapped the usual "Am I here for the right class?" jabber, and more students filed into the room. At ten, the professor, a tall, gaunt man in his mid-forties, entered the room. In a low, grunting voice, he introduced himself as Professor Campbell. He took role, for the sake of figuring out who was actually taking the class, and he went about distributing his green sheet and started talking about what they'd be covering.
I flipped through the syllabus, and chuckled.
"What's that?" An auburn-haired girl next to me asked, her voice a whisper.
I glanced over to her, and cleared my throat. Did I have a sign on me that said "Cute women, pay attention to me!" today? "Oh, uh, just week nine." I said. "I was curious if they were going to cover that."
Week nine was about Calvin's own folklore. The town had been founded in the 1840s, and ever since it had been plagued with weird happenstance. Earthquakes, serial killers, and other odd circumstances had been occurring for the past century and a half. And somehow, the city had grown to include a university and a teeming student population. More food for the monsters, the cynical part of me thought.
"Huh," The girl next to me looked over it. "What's so special about this town?"
"Got a lot of history," I answered. "A lot of it."
The girl smiled. "Know a bit about it?"
"Yea, a bit." Like the fact that the nastiest demon summoning in the past century had nearly happened here. As it turns out, your choice of college shouldn't be determined on whether it's sitting on a dimensional weak point, but I had this whole thing of wanting to do good. Blame my upbringing.
As I focused my attention back on Professor Campbell's lecture, my mind kept drifting back to Kelly. She, whatever she was, was really cute, and my libido sure didn't want to make me forget it.
The rest of the class wound down, and we got our first reading assignments. Campbell dismissed the class, and I grabbed my things. I wasn't even out the door when I saw Az waiting for me.
"Don't waist any time, do you?"
"I prefer not to." He said.
I joined him in the hallway. "So, where are we off to?"
"The victim I'd like us to interview lives in an off-campus apartment. I'll drive." He said, and he led me from the building.
We got into Az's car, which was an older sedan, but it seemed well-kept. "So, Az, I have to ask." I said once he was driving us off the campus. "What are you?"
"Once upon a time? I was something very powerful." He smiled. "But not as much anymore."
I rolled my eyes. Getting a straight answer out of Az was like pulling teeth. "You've demonstrated the ability to find me even when you shouldn't be able to. You also know about witches, and so I'd guess the rest of the supernatural as well." I bit at my lip. "I'm going to take my wildest shot in the dark. Are you a Guardian?"
"And how'd you learn about Guardians, Jake?"
"When your mother's a witch, you hear about all the stories. Guardians were one of them. But they only protect witches in special cases, don't they?"
Az smiled. "And who's not to say you're a special case, Jake Sinclair?" He changed the subject quickly. "Do you have a familiar?"
"A familiar? No." I shrugged. "I've never really seen the use for one."
"Familiars, especially a pet of some sort will help you keep an eye on your dorm even when you're out. Keep you from getting a nasty surprise, and if someone ever tries breaking in, you'll know. It's a shared sensory experience. Familiars also give a witch a stronger grounding. They can work more complicated magicks with a familiar."