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The Science of Magic

Marrillo read the dusty, leather bound book slowly. He was still convinced he had made a mistake. These were the same spells and ideas wizards had been using for a thousand years and everyone said the rituals to perform magic were random. It simply wasn't possible that hundreds of wizards had spent their lives learning these spells and missed the connections. Every wizard learned from his first lesson that magic had no order or set rules. Spells were born from the chaos of the universe and the only way to discover more was through random trial and error that could take a lifetime to learn a single spell that might not even be useful. But Marrillo had found a pattern. It wasn't a clear pattern yet and he didn't understand it completely but the closer he looked the more of those small connections he saw. He already had theories on how to make a dozen different spells and he was even able to guess what they might do. It was a power that generations of wizards had dreamed of.

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Paul slammed the newspaper on Cedric's desk and said, "How the hell did the newspapers get this before me?"

You’d have covered it up. Someone had to make sure people knew," Cedric answered.

"I would have studied it! We can't just announce something this important when we don't know anything about it except that it's a fish," Paul said.

"A fish found in ice from Europa," Cedric said.

"The President gave a speech today announcing a manned mission. A hundred billion dollar trip. Billions we should spent on schools, hospitals and public infrastructure!" Paul said, his eyes bulged, and the vein in her forehead throbbed.

"We're at the heart of the greatest discovery in human history," Cedric said and ran his finger over the newsprint photo of the perfectly formed fish which looked more alien in print than it had in the laboratory.

Paul stood up, the red disappearing from his face and he said "We’ll be celebrities."

Cedric glanced at the black and white picture and said, "You're right," then he paused for a minute and said, "But you know I don’t like being in public. I'd rather you take the credit, like the other times. I'll stay here and study the fish. Someone has to get a skin sample."

Paul looked at the picture for a few seconds then said, "I thought you were angry about that, but if it’s what you want."




The news anchor droned on about half a dozen subjects but, like everyone else on the planet, Cedric was only interested in the shuttle in orbit of Europa. It held twelve men and women ready to complete the greatest scientific mission ever created by mankind.

The mission had done a lot of good in Cedric’s opinion. Countries were working together like never before and the research for the trip had improved recycling and manufacturing techniques. But all of that was secondary to the real mission. They were here to explore an ecosystem that was advanced enough to have fish and as the massive ship began to descend towards Europa Cedric began to wonder if he had went to far.

That was because Cedric knew they wouldn't find any fish. There were no fish. In fact there had been no signs of life at all.

When they discover that there would be a witch hunt. And since it was Paul who had taken the credit for Cedric's work it was Paul who would be blamed and no one would ever question Cedric who had never been allowed to have his name on anything connected with the small rubber fish that was currently in the Smithsonian.



The Park

From time to time I visit a small park south of my hometown. It’s a fairly average park with a baseball field, a small river, picnic benches and a few miles of paths that meander through the woods. It is those paths that brought me to the park. I like to bring a small lunch and a book and wander from bench to bench. It's a way for someone who spends too much time at a computer to get outside and exercise without being to bored. Not that the park doesn’t bore me. That’s what the book is for. It’s also why I noticed something odd. Not that I really thought much about it at first. It was simply a story I told myself to keep my mind busy, but over time the other explanations began to disappear.

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An Eternity


Fear threatened to overwhelm Sean the helmet was attached to his head. The psychiatrist tried not to admit that fear even to himself but how could he not be afraid. Two men had been driven insane by the device he was wearing but it was his job to heal them and the only way he could start doing that was to understand what had caused the insanity.


He had already sat in the chair for almost two hours as they monitored his brain waves and adjusted the machinery to it. He had done his best to put the others at ease as he waited. He told jokes to the scientists as they attached monitors to watch his heartbeat and told the nurse about his cat. He only dropped when they pull the straps tight over his arms so he couldn't injure them when he began thrashing.


"The machine will turn off automatically after thirty seconds."


"And if I take my thumb off the button it will turn off immediately," Sean said.


"Correct. Start whenever you want."


Sean took three deep breaths. He didn't understand the machine well. He thought not knowing might help protect him. What he did know was that it was designed to let him see the paranormal world. A spirit world which had driven two trained paranormal investigators insane.


After a few seconds he pushed the button and waited, uncertain what to expect. The room became fuzzy then cleared. The room was no more than twenty foot square and held hundreds of people. They moved slowly passing through each other and never showing any sign that they saw any of the others.


As the machinery continued to power up the walls faded away and the landscape came into view. It was a flat, white plain filled with millions of people none of them interacting with any of the others. How had this caused men to suddenly become violent? They had recognized something he hadn't? He tried not to think about it too much. Better to think about it when it was less real.


But as he watched the faces. No one looked up, no one spoke and no one smiled and Sean began to understand.


These people were here because there was no place else to go. This was all there was. To wander isolated and alone in a world without even landscapes to entertain and to do it for eternity. If there was a God he didn't care and the truth began to eat at Sean's mind and as he let go of the button he began to pull at his restraints.


"You have to let me out." Sean said as he struggled against the bands of cloth which held him down. The image of those people wouldn't leave his mind, an eternity with no hope, no joy, with nothing.


The thought continued to push inside his skull while he continued to pull against the straps unable to face knowledge that no matter how long he lived, no matter what he did he would end up in that endless nothingness.



 A Game of Secrets



Stillon pulled the wide leather straps around his chest tight pulling his wings as flat against his body as he could stand. He then pulled on the thick, scratchy, woolen robe over his head to hide the lumps on his back. Once that was done he turned slowly in front of the mirror to make certain that there was nothing to draw attention to him. He then unlocked his door and stepped into the hallway that led to the main room of the inn.


He could hear the sound of the bard from down the hall but he ignored it. That his hearing was better than a humans was another one of the things he hid and he had gotten good at it. He hardly thought about the things he hid anymore. Instead he focused on the smell of baking bread and cheap ale as he sat down at the counter listening to the calming sound of music from they gray haired bard.


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