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Title: In the Eve of Magic
Author: jsblume
Style/Genre Prose / Fiction / Science Fiction
Description: Have we lost the magic? This is a short story in the style of Twilight Zone.
Notes:

Our world relies on magic to exist and people are starting to lose their belief in it. They have become trapped in the physical world; blinded by the evidence-based practice of Science. Magic has been dismissed as fantasy, and miracles relegated to a God accessible only through our religious leaders. But Science and Magic are two sides of the same coin; under the right conditions, a person can be seduced as easily by Magic as by Science.

Take Kendra Brooks as a case in point. She is a bright, young human resources assistant in a dead-end yet secure government job. A poor economy has her trapped – no advancement, no raise, no place else to go. She struggles to keep her morale up as she works the scientific principles of raising it for her coworkers. She has become disillusioned, which is the first step toward breaking from one side into the other. From the world of Science into the world of Magic.

* * *

Tommy pounded his fist on the conference table. A hint of a wicked grin played on his face. He slouched in his chair which, when taken with his wrinkled shirt and unkempt dirt blond hair, emphasized his I-don’t-care attitude.

"Earth to Ms. Brooks!" he said.

Kendra’s eyes focused, taking in all eyes on her. She tugged at the twists in her hair.

"I’m sorry, what was the question?" she asked.

"The question," Tommy said. "How do we raise morale? You were supposed to find out for us?"

"Oh, yes, of course." Kendra handed out the packets stacked in front of her. "I’ve done a lot of research. I summarized it--"

"Summarizing is good."

"Anyway, that’s what I found."

Tommy spared the packet a bored look. Minutes passed as the other three read the material.

"I guess I don’t see the point of doing any of this," Jackie said. Her jowls sagged even more with the frown, pulling her skin into a gaunt expression.

"Hear! Hear!" Tommy said, pounding the table again.

"I don’t know about that," Matt said, looking nervously around the table without meeting anyone’s eye. "Kendra put a lot of work into this, and some of the ideas sound really good."

"Oh, please," Jackie said. "Everyone knows you’re sweet on her. You’d say anything to get her into bed."

Matt blushed and glanced at Kendra. She didn’t seem to be paying attention, instead staring blankly at her own packet.

"I still think we should at least review her suggestions," Matt said.

"Sure," Jackie said. "We’ll all go back to the quiet of our cubes and read these wonderful tidbits. We’ll reconvene tomorrow morning and come up with the perfect way to make everyone happy."

"That sounds like a plan!" Tommy said, jumping up from his chair. He dropped the packet in the trash as he strode out the door.

Matt hung back while the others left, watching Kendra stare at her packet.

"They’re idiots," Matt said. "I don’t pay any attention to what they say."

"What?"

"The others, on our committee. Idiots"

"Oh. Yeah. They’re right, there’s no point. Nothing ever changes here."

"We could make a change, if we just tried."

Kendra sighed. She walked around the table and collected the packets left behind, including the one in the trash.

"You really belongs in the recycle bin," she said to the stapled stack of paper.

"Um, Kendra?" Matt blushed when her gaze fell on him. "Um--- I--- uh--- is that a new necklace?"

Kendra gently caressed the figure hanging from her neck. The corner of her mouth threatened a smile.

"Yes."

"It’s really nice. What is it?"

"An ankh. The key of life."

"Cool. Where did you find it?"

"Oh, um, you remember that website I was telling you about last week?

"The, uh, Magick Curtain?"

"Yeah."

"Oh, that’s cool. I was, uh," Matt looked at the floor. "I was wondering if---" He looked up and she was gone.

Matt returned to his desk and searched the Internet for the website. He found it easily enough – a handful of pages with tantalizing bits of information about a magical community, and a promise of more if you signed up. Matt hesitated a moment before filling out the form.

Stretching his arms, Matt did a double-take. The clock showed two hours had passed.

"What the---? Where did the time go?"

He glanced back at the computer and started to reach for the keyboard. Yet another intriguing tidbit had appeared on his profile page; the beginning of another breadcrumb trail that would lead him deeper into this magical and mysterious and wonderful world.

He stopped his hands, fingers poised and ready to respond. He willed his hand to click the mouse and close the browser.

He slumped into his chair and shook his head.

"Wow."

Matt walked to Kendra’s cube. She had the website open. It seemed to be responding to her thoughts, because even though her hands rested on the keyboard her fingers barely moved. Her lips moved, as if she was talking to others that appeared on the screen, but no sound emerged from her mouth.

"Kendra."

No response. Matt looked at her desk. A few pagan symbols that he’d seen on the website were placed in front of the monitor. More hung from the cube wall on either side.

"Kendra!" Matt tapped her shoulder.

Kendra blinked. "Oh, hey Matt."

"It’s, uh, break time. Would you like to join me?"

"Sure."

She closed her browser and followed Matt to the break room. Matt selected some chips and a soda from the vending machine and sat down.

"So, I was checking out that website."

Kendra smiled. "It’s great, isn’t it?"

"Yeah, I suppose. What do you like best about it?"

"It’s a happier place. This place," Kendra waived an arm, "is all facts and figures. No fun or feelings."

"It’s not a real place."

"It feels real. Besides, how do you know it’s not?"

"It’s just a website."

"That’s the fact. But it’s not about that, don’t you see?"

Matt shook his head.

"It’s about the magic."

"The magic?"

"Yes! It’s more than what we see or hear or touch or taste or smell. It’s more than that. That’s the magic."

"I don’t get it."

Kendra grabbed his hand, and his heart stopped for a moment.

"Can you feel that?" she asked.

"Y-yes." Matt breathed.

"That is the magic. How we feel about what’s happening, and how we create something different if it doesn’t feel right."

"We can create something different here. That’s what our committee is trying to do."

"Trying to do." Kendra pulled her hand back. "I have to get back to work."

* * *

Tommy drummed his fingers on the conference table.

"I think we should cancel the meeting," Jackie said.

"No!" Matt said. "She’ll be here; she must be running a little late."

"I agree with Jackie," Tommy said. "All in favor?"

"I’ll go get her."

"Sure, Matt," Jackie said. "Why don’t you run along and get your girlfriend?"

"Those two really know how to spoil a lazy day," Tommy said after Matt left.

"Really."

Matt ran back into the conference room minutes later.

"Guys! Come quick! There’s something wrong with Kendra."

Matt ran back out of the room. Tommy shrugged.

"We might as well see what all the excitement is about," Jackie said. "At the very least there might be some new and juicy gossip."

"You go. Me and what’s-his-name here," Tommy gestured at the fifth member of their committee, "will continue the meeting."

Jackie arrived at Kendra’s cube to see Matt shaking her vigorously. Kendra looked catatonic.

"She won’t snap out of it!" Matt said.

"Hm. What is that on her computer?"

"The website!" Matt grabbed the mouse and closed the browser. He looked anxiously back at Kendra. He shook her again. No response.

"Huh. Why don’t you call 9-1-1?"

Matt pulled out his cell phone and dialed.

"9-1-1. What is the nature of your emergency?"

* * *

The power of Magic may operate differently than the power of Science, but the results are the same. Unless you are strong, the power of either will draw you in and consume you. Mankind has long forgotten how to balance the two, and instead have created a barrier between them. Cross that barrier and you are lost forever to another realm.

Copyright @2014 by jsblume. All rights reserved.
jsblume has granted JS Blume Publishing™ non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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