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Empire of Time series


a science fiction short story by John Argo


A Planet Named Magic by John ArgoTommy found himself shoved by an invisible force, thrown to the ground, kicked in the ribs. As he sat nursing his bruised side, he looked up. An evil-looking figure in a long black cape stood—or rather, hovered—in the middle of Tommy's office. Through the dark cowl, Tommy dimly made out the features of Raddy Blorr, whose mad cackling laugh filled the room. "So, Copper, in the end you get yours. Let me rephrase that. In the end, she gets hers. Or maybe I should say, in the end she gets hers, and you get yours in the end." He leaned close with crazed eyes and shouted: "Right up yours where it belongs!"

"What?" It seemed the only way to respond.

"Your girlfriend!" the apparition boomed, flickering angrily. Blorr raised his hands, and threads of red and blue lightning crackled noisily from his fingertips, sounding like swarming hornets. "Now I am in control, and it feels good, copper. So!"

Another kick from an invisible foot, and Tommy crawled in circles holding his gut, wondering where the next blow was coming from. The thought of Annie being in danger made him feel utterly frantic and helpless.

"So guys like you always get the best girls! Haw, haw, haw. Now it's your turn to see what it feels like. I joined the most powerful of the magic cults." Blorr waved his fist. "Even there, I was an underling, because the lead sorcerers there always get the best of our kind of women. I decided to become the greatest of them all. I have read all the arcane texts. I have mastered the most powerful spells." Blorr's eyes radiated as he stared into some phantasmagoria in which he was God and the galaxies whirled around him. "I hold in my hands such power that no other sorcerer dares to try! One wrong syllable, a mistake in a gesture, a symbol wrongly placed, and the universe can turn against me!" Blorr laughed. "But I make no mistakes, Doone. I want your woman. I will have her now, even as I feel you tracing me through your feeble electronic net, and you will not be able to stop me! Her lunch break is over, and she is even now reaching out to turn on her terminal. In a moment I will rush out of Magic space like a whirlwind of cosmic power. I will transform her into a golden storm of electrons and abduct her far away into the kingdom of the dynamo jungle, where you will never find us. To follow us there would mean death for you, but we will live forever, your woman and I."

Laughing madly, Blorr vanished into thin air. He left a fading halo of evil lechery in the air. Despite his injuries, Tommy Doone heaved himself erect. First he tried calling the bank; there was no answer. Of course—Blorr had killed the connection. Tommy raced for the elevator, holding his side.

Staggering down the street, he threw himself into his police cruiser, turned on the flashers and siren, and raced to the bank. He drew his gun as he raced up the stairs in his torn, ragged raincoat. People turned to stare. As he rode up in the elevator among startled bank workers, he began to wonder if Blorr had merely played some cosmic joke on him.

But when he got to the 40th floor, where Annie worked, the lights were out and startled workers milled about with nothing to do but ask questions. And the battered ribs in Tommy's side were no joke either.

Still waving his gun, Tommy found Annie near her desk. She and a few other women were staring at the black, smoking ruin of her terminal. Tommy put the gun away and took his beloved in his arms. "Are you—?"

"I'm okay, darling," she said, "but you look a mess. You had a visit from Blorr?"

"He got the best of me," Tommy grimly admitted. "But you—you look fine. He said he was coming here to take you under his power with magic spells."

Annie wrinkled her face in a cutesy smile and waved her fingers in a soft arc. "I know. But I saw it coming. I caught him before he could get his fingers on me. He's gone for good, somewhere in bit heaven. He'll never bother anyone again."

"But Annie, how did you know? Are you a magician now too?"

"Silly. Of course not. It's just—."

"Just what?"

"Well, I was taught in school, to always use my—."

"Your what, for heaven's sake!"

"My spell checker, darling. I always use my spell checker. Checks spells like a charm!"


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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.