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The Seven Chairs: A Harris Burdick

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A bulky, cumbersome cart rolled, jostled, and clanked down the dirt road, drawn by two swiftly galloping horses. The driver sat perched upon the front seat, clenching the reins tightly. He had dark brown curls and sea-green eyes, and his face looked weary, as if he hadn’t had sleep in a while.

“I hope I can get this done fast,” he grumbled, teeth rattling as the vehicle clattered its way over uneven ground. “With my luck, the cursed things will probably fly off if I don’t toss them soon.”

Cade Storm’s luck was odd, if anything. His father was a absent-minded wizard who experimented with making objects more convenient, or granting them special abilities. His mother was an excellent healer who earned most of the family’s income servicing their medium-sized town. They could be considered rich, but they didn’t spend much of the money, so their life was humble enough. The occasional magical mishap occurred, but it had never been too much trouble for the family.

Cade himself had inherited his parents’ talents, and he’d been training for ten of his sixteen years. His parents praised his rapid progress, but he aimed to become a great traveling magic master, renowned all over the country for his heroic deeds. Until then, he was stuck running errands for his parents and living a relatively boring life.

The jerking motion was beginning to bother Cade, and he hoped fervently that he wouldn’t lose his lunch. With no one to talk to, he was left to mull over anything that came to mind.



Cade reached his destination soon after. Yanking on the reins, he drew the exhausted horses to a halt. The boy jumped out of the driver’s seat and stood, wobbling slightly, allowing himself to recover from the uncomfortable ride.

He’d arrived at a glade, surrounded by verdant grass and towering trees. Some sparkling flowers winked at him, evidence of magic. It was a magical place indeed, where separate times and spaces formed a junction point. A Gate to other locations, some of them in other worlds.

Cade unloaded the cart. A few minutes later seven chairs sat on the grass. Each was made out of deep-colored wood, sturdy and finely-crafted. The legs did not wobble, and the backs did not creak. Mounted on the back of each chair was a round disk of pure crystal. The crystals had been designed to project an image to the customers with a greeting and instructions. Cade’s father had created the chairs, but he’d told Cade to speak the message for the recording crystal because the elder wizard was no good with presentations, often forgetting important things and muttering ideas to himself.

The chairs were failed designs, originally intended to levitate and transport disabled people around a house. This batch had too much levitation ability in it, so that the chairs rose up too high for practical purposes.

Cade sighed as he gave the chairs a last looking-over. He’d had fun riding around on the chairs when he was bored. Now he’d have to dispose of them.

A crystal glowed. He watched as a life-size image of himself shimmered into existence and began to speak. “Greetings, dear customer. This is Cade Storm of Storm’s Magical Paraphernalia speaking. I hope this Levi-Chair has found you well and in excellent condition. It will allow you to levitate wherever you wish inside your house for your convenience. You simply need to sit in the chair and say, ‘upward’ and give the name of your destination. Note that the use of this chair is for use indoors only. If there are any defects, please contact Storm’s Magical Paraphernalia at 7 Quicksilver Place. Any questions or comments may be directed to the same address. Thank you for choosing and using our service.” The projection faded out with a light shower of sparkles.

“Well, time to toss these dysfunctional chairs,” Cade declared with mock excitement.

He stepped up to the edge of the glade, gazing down into the crystal clear water. Using a needle, he pricked his finger, allowing a single drop of crimson blood to fall into the water. The surface seemed to glaze over, as if a sheet of glass had been placed on top. “Seven chairs to be displaced, seven chairs to be erased. Release!” The water pulsed with colorful light, shifting through the shades of the rainbow. Mopping sweat from his brow, Cade placed the chairs onto the surface one by one, watching as they sank into the light, vanishing from his sight forever.

When the seventh chair disappeared into the Gate, he stepped back. The glow receded and the water returned to its original state. Seven more sparkling flowers had popped up, marking the number of things that had passed through the Gate.

Cade walked away, back to the cart and his horses. Breathing on the nearest horse’s nose, he whispered, “Let’s go home, pal.” He swung himself into the seat, flicked the reins, and was off, leaving behind the glade, disposal place of the seven chairs.

* * *

Far away, at the south pole, a curtain of radiance draped the sky with color. The aurora australis lit up the heavens, a show for all to admire.

A giant mass of black and white stained the frigid landscape. Emperor penguins stood in silent groups, awed by the sight.

Then, from the curtain of light an object appeared. It was angular and hard, unlike anything they’d ever seen. It descended to the snow-covered ground, and the penguins in its path shied away, gawking at this foreign thing.

Something shiny like ice glowed, then a large figure appeared. It looked like no penguin any of them had ever seen, and the noises it made were likewise incomprehensible.

A single penguin pushed its way to the front, asserting its will upon its weaker companions. It climbed onto the thing, honking ‘upward’ it its penguin language. The thing shot up into the air, shocking and fascinating the audience.

The penguin fell off eventually, and another penguin climbed on. All the penguins wanted to take a turn, and it would be a long time before everyone would get a chance to ride the first of the seven chairs.

* * *

In the boiling heat of a desert, a serpent slithered its way across the baking sand hoping for shade and refuge. It did not have much longer before it would die if it did not find shelter soon.

A blinding glow stopped the snake in its path. It wondered if perhaps he was entering snake Heaven. The light vanished, leaving behind a large object with four legs.

The snake hissed, thinking the newcomer might me a predator. But it remained unmoving and silent, basking in the heat of the sun. Satisfied, the exhausted animal eased its dehydrated body underneath the object, grateful to have found refuge beneath the second of the seven chairs.

* * *

A llama and its master trekked along a mountain path, working their way around enormous boulders and sharp rocks. The climber had been sent on a mission, and now he was getting exhausted. Hours later they found a valley covered in grass. The llama began to munch heartily, while the man, collapsed on the ground, sending a prayer to his gods, asking for assistance on his arduous journey. Perhaps they could grant him the means to fly to alleviate the burden of incessant walking.

Almost immediately after his words broke off, an explosion of light invaded the valley. The man shut his eyes, thanking his gods graciously for sending a sign.

The light died out, depositing a chair in front of the man. He blinked, wondering what this meant. After examining the chair, he sat down, relieved, and said more to himself than to the llama, “Let us turn our heads upward and give thanks for the gift from the sky.” With this uttering, the chair rose sharply off the ground, taking the extremely bewildered man high above the ground.

The llama stared up for a moment, then continued to munch happily on the grass, forgetting about the man and the third of the seven chairs.

* * *

It was the afternoon on a hot summer day in America. A soccer ball whizzed through the air at a goal, the shot that would determine win or tie. The goalie readied himself, but before he could do anything, the light struck, illuminating the whole field with blazing brilliance. The ball connected with his face, knocking him senseless for a moment.

When the light had disappeared, a chair sat in the middle of the field, and all the players stared. People in the audience whipped out their cell phones, calling the news and the press to report a UFO sighting, while the players themselves gathered around to marvel, forgetting the game altogether. A hologram appeared before them, confirming people’s suspicions that a supernatural phenomenon had occurred.

They expected to see an alien, but instead the image of a boy who looked sixteen popped up, starting a long chain of instructions. He spoke English, but he was dressed funnily. Ignoring the note about outside use, one of the boys clambered onto the chair, shouted the magic words and shot off into the heavens while the rest of the boys followed his movements with envy.

The next day the headlines all ranted about the fourth of the seven chairs.

* * *

The fifth one ended up in France. Sister Michelle had come to France from England after retiring and now served as a nun in a cathedral. Sweeping peacefully and humming softly to herself, she brushed over the flagstones with a broom.

The light that came shocked her. She crossed herself, praying to God in a flustered manner. Then she saw the chair, heard the message, and decided to experiment.

When Brother Jacques and Brother Jean came to visit, they received a surprise as they spotted Sister Michelle suspended in midair on the fifth of the seven chairs.

* * *

They were in the middle of filming a movie near the Pyramids of Giza when the flash destroyed the scene. The chair caused a commotion, and the actors and actresses decided to try out the chair.

The director roared for order but no one really cared, not even the crew.

A while later the director decided to include in his movie a scene involving the sixth of the seven chairs.

* * *

The final chair made its appearance in a town twenty miles away from Cade’s home. A street magician had been attempting to make something appear from beneath a cloth when the light blinded everyone.

When the eyes of the audience finally adjusted, they saw a chair in the middle of the performing area. The magician looked every bit as bewildered as they did, but he decided to continue his show using the last of the seven chairs.

* * *

People, animals, and anyone who had the ears to listen knew about the flying chairs and Cade’s appearance, if not his name.

Storm’s Magical Paraphernalia received a flood of calls via crystal balls and mirrors, demanding chairs like the ones sighted. It got to the point where the Storm family had to hire people to answer calls and record orders.

Cade decided to be a shipper who delivered the chairs to the customers, helping other people with his magic along the way.

So, in his own way, Cade had earned the renown that he’d wished for, though not in the way he’d intended. And, unexpectedly, success has emerged from the failure of the seven chairs.





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