Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Long Distance

Fact: it is 3:33 a.m. 
Fact: knowing that the Internet is a living creature and not something from Outside the universe makes me trust it even less.
Fact: I don’t trust cell phones for many reasons; their internet connection is only part of that.

My cell phone is ringing, though I never turn it on. I’m used to that: anyone who truly needs to reach a wandering magician will get through to me, and Jay tends to call me regardless of whether I actually have a phone or not. Having a phone ring inside your head and then an eleven year old kid who isn’t human happily telling you about his day means I tend to keep it near me now. This time it reaches a sixth ring without going to the machine, dialling from a 1-877 number. I stare at the phone, which at least rings a little softer. I am almost tempted to take it into the second bedroom of the house that decided to let a magician stay in it, but siccing Dana on a solicitor would be rather cruel – and not just because she is a fae.

I pick the phone up on the eighth ring. “Hello?”

“Oh, hello! This is Carol, calling to see if you have considered a free trial of –.”

“How did you get this number?”

“Sir, please calm down. May I remind you that this call may be recorded for quality–.”

“This phone is warded.” I thread power into my voice. “How did you get this number?”

“I – I – I need to get my manager,” she whispers.

I blink, staring down at the phone. It tries to play hold music, then settles on silence. I have no idea what she was even trying to sell, or even who she is working for. Magic answers need as much as desire, and I use the pause and then hold back a gasp with an effort. Dana is a focus, but only one of many. So many people in the world, anger at solicitors a haze of terrible desire, the rage so potent that I acted without thought.

I close my eyes for a moment, whisper words of focus, and ward myself against my own magic. It is about as uncomfortable as it sounds, but it makes some distance, clears my thoughts a little.

“This is Skip, manager for Hidalgo Holdings Ltd,” a man’s voice says. “How can I help you?”

“I doubt you can.” I keep my voice as even as I can. “Even my mother cannot call my phone if I don’t desire it: what are you selling?”

“We sell subscriptions to various magazines, free trials that –.”

“What are you selling?” I ask again, and this time let a little of the magic into my voice.

“I – information. Information about you. What magazines you want to buy are passed on to our suppliers, along with your line as an active line with a receptive caller, our call list bought by other companies from us in a – I’m not supposed to be telling you this, sir.”

“I imagine not. I would like to speak to Carol again. Please.”

The please has a power all its own, which is good because I don’t trust myself to use more of my magic. Not given what it is saturated with at the moment. “H-hello,” she says, her voice cracking a little.

“I did not mean to scare you or to wound.” It is a gift as much as curse to speak truths that cannot be ignored.

“Well, it happens often enough,” she says, her laugh weak and fragile.

“Yes. Yes, it does,” I whisper, and I can feel the anger building in the magic, pressing against me inside and out. “Mere understanding will not destroy this anger, Carol. Where would you desire hate, if you could?”

“Lawyers,” she says, and there is anger in her own voice, and old hurt under it. I don’t get her story. I can’t do that and hold this anger back, not right now.

I thank her and hang up, putting the phone back. “Not all lawyers are terrible, as not all politicians are monsters,” I say quietly to what waits in the world around me. “But there are monsters worthy of your fear, monsters that deserve the kind of rage that could tear worlds apart. In time, I will need this anger. For now, I would like to place it somewhere where it can do no harm at all. For your sakes as much as my own.”

I gather the anger with my magic, pull all the hate inside. I’m not enough to hold it all without being consumed; I am not sure even the fae are. So I close my eyes and place it the only place I can think of, and far away Jay stirs slightly and goes back to sleep, unaware of what I have placed inside him for future need.

I left him and Charlie with a promise not to use him, and I am already breaking it. Knowing he will forgive me does not make it better at all. I close my eyes, fall back asleep, and welcome the ugly dreams that will result from my failure.

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