Twenty Years Later

June 14, 2010
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Twenty Years Later, part I

I was stressed out. Of course, this happened every year, but that didn’t make it any better. It wasn’t just that if the party was bad all of Little Johnny’s friends would make fun of him. It wasn’t that all of Little Johnny’s friends’ parents would make fun of me. I didn’t need to conform to the needs of some people he only sees at these parties anyway. It’s just that if this party failed, both Little Johnny and Margaret would be disappointed, and that’s what mattered. Margaret and I had made a deal: He would do the birthday party while she would handle Christmas. So far, I hadn’t failed, but I’d had a few close calls . The doorbell snapped me out of his reverie.

“Hey kids, guess who’s here?” I shouted. This year, in order to keep his reputation for throwing spectacular parties, he had hired his friend Bjorn. Bjorn was an actual wizard, not one of the many smoke and mirror fakes running around nowadays. He could actually do magic, and as such it was oftentimes very difficult to get work when you market yourself as a wizard in today’s market. Normally he doesn’t do stuff like parties, but he’s both a friend and a bit short on cash. I just had to hope that nothing “bad” would happen when he actually did some real magic.

“We’re not exactly kids anymore, dad. I, for one, am 15,” Little Johnny replied. “You don’t need to do that anymore ‘caus we’re not going to get all excited for the ‘Amazing Martin the Tyranosaur.’”

“You know you loved that party. And I’ve upscaled the entertainment at the parties to fit your ‘advanced’ age. This year its Bjorn the Wizard!”

“Oh Lord.” He turned to whichever girl he was talking to, I never try to keep them straight, with names like Mindy or Cindy or something ending in indy. “Bjorn is one of my dad’s friends. Look up in the phonebook under wizards and you’ll find him. He’s a bit of a crackpot.”

“Oh,” she replied, and laughed. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on your dad. He’s thrown a lot of really good parties over the years.” Hmm, I thought, this indy seems a bit more intelligent than the usual. At that point a deep, sonorous, and so fake it was funny voice boomed out through the house.

“Who wants to be amazed by some REAL magic? I sense disbelievers in this place!” All the lights except the hall went out and Bjorn stood framed in the light. He had a glowing staff, a long coat, and a dark pointed hat that set a rather imposing frame. I hoped Little Johnny was thinking, ‘ok, this might be a bit cooler than I thought.’ Bjorn strode into the center of the room and, using one of the lighted candles, made a fiery message appear in the air bidding everyone to sit down. We did. Margaret was looking at me with one of those LOOKs. This one said, “where did you find this person.” I sent her a look back that hopefully said “college roommate”.

Bjorn did some more fancy stuff with fire, and then proceeded with levitation and basic illusions. I had seen this all before, in my college days, and other (more impressive) stuff besides. Then I sensed he was losing the interest of the fickle teenage minds he was attempting to captivate and enthrall. He sensed it too, and said something I knew was a bad idea and would never have expected him to do for this audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I sense that I am losing your interest. Therefore, as my final trick, I will summon an actual faerie from the Other Side. I must warn you, you must not break the circle I am about to draw. It would be bad.” One of the indy’s asked, “What do you mean by bad?” and he replied, “Imagine every molecule in your body suddenly and violently ceasing to exist .” He then proceeded to draw the circle, make the incantation in Norwegian, and waited for the faerie to appear. Vinny Vince, a fairy I had known from my college days appeared in the circle. He took a look at all the children gathered around him, and then at Bjorn.

“Do you know what this means, wizard? Why have you summoned me? The longer I am here the more likely it is that the Queen will sense you. She will not be pleased. And at a party? What kind of stupidity is this?” he asked. The last time Bjorn and I had seen Vinny, we had ticked off the queen of the Other Side (not recommended). As a rule, we couldn’t summon anything from the other side without risking the wrath of the Queen.

“Just answer a question, I’ll give you some pizza, and you need never mention this to the queen, alright?” Bjorn replied. I couldn’t fathom what had prompted Bjorn to summon a faerie, when he knew the risks. He must have been more desperate then he had been letting on.

“You slimy wizard, you know I can’t resist pizza. Ok, pizza. Then question.”

“You know that’s not how it works, answer the question, then we’ll give- NOOOO!” Little Johnny had tossed the faerie a piece of pizza, breaking the magic circle. Then all hell broke loose. A group of centaurs burst into the room, taking the children, and disappeared back to the Other Side. A disembodied voice, a woman’s voice said, “You have three days to fulfill your obligation to me, or these children die. I’m sure you understand.”

“Wow,” Vinny said, “that was quick.”

“You idiot Vinny! Why did you have to ask for the pizza first? You knew we wouldn’t give it to you,” I said. I went over to Margaret to make sure she was alright.

“It’s the rules,” he replied, “Why did Bjorn summon me at a party? That’s the kind of thing that you do when you want those kids to get kidnapped.”

Margaret managed to stammer, “John, what is going on? What happened to the children? Who are these people?”

“In your college days, did you ever hear of a “superhero” group Called Delta Wolf Squadron? The one with the Blackadder, Merlin, and the Faerie Godfather?” I asked.

She nodded, “I thought they were the absolute worst references ever. I mean, have you ever actually seen any Blackadder episodes?”

“Well, Margaret, that was us in college. In a long and complex story, we kind of made a deal with the Queen of the Other Side which we completely neglected. Now we need to go rescue those kids in three days, and I need you to make excuses to the other children’s parents as to why they can’t be picked up yet. Anything you have to. Its vitally important that regular people don’t know about the Other Side.”

“But,” she stammered, “I don’t understand. What have you done?”

“I can’t explain right now, you just have to trust me. Can you do that?” She nodded. “Good.”

It was time for the Blackadder to ride again.

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