Table of Contents
appeared in issue 274.
Lynda, a college freshman, passes her last test to earn the title of junior wizard by casting a complicated spell on an unsuspecting victim: Jason. She expects to turn him into a servant, but the spell backfires and they fall in love.
Lynda discovers that another junior wizard has designs on capturing the Mayor’s office. Lynda fears he will try to take over the city and thereby cause extensive problems for the other wizards. The master wizards tell her that they can’t help her stop him unless he sets foot on their property. With only the assistance of the man who was first her victim and now her lover, she sets out to confront the evil wizard.
Saturday evening found me sitting on the stoop, watching the sunset and trying to figure out what had happened to my life. I let my gaze follow the sun as it descended through the clouds and turned the sky to flame. The campus came to life across the street and the clock tower blazed with a matching orange light, indicating a game of some sort taking place. The streets would soon be packed with participants and onlookers.
I sighed. At least I’m not out there trying to drive in that mess. My eyes strayed to the parking garage and my thoughts winged their way across town.
Jason was gone. He’d headed to his mom’s dinner party more than two hours earlier, claiming the need to dress before anyone arrived. I’ll be back as soon as I can get away from her. I promise. His words echoed in my mind and I looked at my fingernails. Yeah, if she doesn’t shackle you to your bed and post a guard on your room. She doesn’t want you here... and I don’t want you there. Not now. Not tonight. I shivered, looked at the sky and tried not to feel depressed.
My brain disobeyed me and I found myself revisiting the unpleasant events of the afternoon. Our parting hadn’t been the most comfortable of scenes. I winced, thinking about the angry words I’d spewed in Jason’s face and tried not to remember the hurt in his eyes. He’d stood silently, listening to me scream untruths at him then whirled and walked out without responding, slamming the door as he left.
The argument was partly my fault, but Jason was also to blame. He was furious about being forced to help his mother with her social calendar, upset at me for insisting he do so and disgusted with his father for ducking out of town again. I wished for the ability to travel through time, but such wasn’t a power I possessed. I promised myself to apologize the instant he returned and make every effort not to berate him in the future. I raised my head, gazed at the stars, and hoped he got back before morning.
Adding to my black mood were several other worries. For starters, Monday weighed heavily on my mind. I had a job again. Bank Teller trainee. Something I knew nothing about. But experience wasn’t required, just good math skills, so I’d dropped off an application almost two weeks before and they’d called Friday afternoon. I was worried about starting work. Happy worried... but worried. At least I’d be able to pay the bills again... if I didn’t mess up and get fired my first day there.
Another problem was Jason’s car... or rather, the lack thereof. We’d swung past the impound yard Thursday, and discovered it had been towed a week after my graduation. The fee to reclaim it was more than the full cost of a used car from a shyster lot.
We left it there for the city to auction and I spent a few hours feeling guilty. At least Jason’s job was within distance, but mine was across town, and a single car between the two of us was going to get difficult real fast.
I thought about what my self-centered ego had cost Jason, glanced up at the top of the tower and let my thoughts sail toward the fourth floor. I’m not sure whether I wish I’d listened to you or not, I thought at Gino. It would sure make things easier if I had. Except... I like having him around, so I guess I’m glad I didn’t.
The thought made me feel greedy. Jason would be paying for my disregard of his rights for the rest of his life, and I was still thinking about me. I promised myself to make amends and tried not to feel like a worm. It didn’t work.
I sat on the stoop staring across the street at the campus as the sun dropped below the horizon and let my thoughts drift, trying to shake the uneasy feeling that had been growing all day. My front door was only inches behind my back, yet it felt like someone was standing behind me, looking over my shoulder. I fought with the feeling for a while longer then twisted my head around. Exactly what I expected to see. My door and the wall. I released a few unhappy thoughts in Jason’s direction for leaving me alone, smacked myself for being a baby and went back inside. I locked the door too. Then went in the kitchen and started supper.
Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chicken soup later, I was pacing like a caged lion. I checked the lock on the front door, prowled between the kitchen and the living room and stared out the window at the dark, star-speckled sky. A sound made me whirl, sure I would see someone standing there... but I was wrong. Nothing but the couch. And nothing on the couch except the cushions.
The sound came again... from upstairs. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my nerves. The neighbors do walk on my ceiling, I reminded myself. This is ridiculous. I never should have cast that spell. I can’t be this chained to him. Okay... so I like him...
Kathy’s face floated in the air before me, one eyebrow raised. I glared at her. All right, so I’m in love with him, but this is stupid. He’s out of my sight for a couple hours and I’m falling apart!
I stalked across the living room and swept my gaze over the small shelf of books I possessed. I needed something to do to take my mind off things and reading might be the cure. My library consisted mostly of textbooks, but I had a few others. Some on plants, a couple on cooking and one thick volume of detective stories I’d found at a yard sale. I’d bought it because I liked the way the binding looked, but right now it promised enough distraction to get my thoughts off Jason and my nerves under control. I pulled it from the book case and walked back to the couch.
The stories were well written and I made it through three of them, then decided I wasn’t going to wait up. I got off the couch, took my book and went to bed. I didn’t shut my door, though. I pretended to forget, but in reality I wanted to know when Jason came in. I’d probably be asleep anyway, but it made me feel better. I forced myself not to think about him, crawled into bed and went back to reading.
The stories were good and they held my attention, but after a while my eyes got heavy and the one I was reading turned into a dream. As my eyes closed, I seemed to hear something whispering nearby and a section of my bedroom wall opened.
The book fell from my hands as sleep overtook me and its weight settled down on my chest, troubling my dreams. I felt I was drowning and unable to breathe. I fought with the nightmare, struggled up from the depths of an ocean of sleep and my eyes flickered open. I couldn’t move. Bending over my bed, his eyes glowing with red light and a sneer on his face, was Darnell. I screamed... but nothing came out.
Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard