Chapter 9

An End to His Begining

Eric pressed the pad of his thumb against the glass of the watch face, moving it in circles, soaking in its cool temperature. He was listening to the ticking, trying not to think of anything else trying not to think of

A simple drawing, written in normal ink—

Crimson red spewing over linoleum tile—

The ease of asking permission to end something—

End a human life—

The truth was there was one less person on this planet because of his decision. He killed someone, he took away their breath and buried them in the ground. He made a wife a widow and a son fatherless. 

He killed a man

Eric had to slow his breathing. The news story still haunted him, the same scenes from the evening broadcast played over and over in his head. One shot in particular, a close-up of that broken coffee cup, contents spilled over the counter, over the saucer. That damned broken porcelain would not get out of his head. 

He killed a man. 

It was in preemptive self-defense, but still. He put the watch down on the desk. It used to circle around Miller’s wrist until just a few weeks ago. It was still hard to think, even more so now. What would he have thought? Would he still have given Eric the watch, still passed on his prized possession with pride in his eyes if he knew that Eric would become a killer? Eric buried his head in  his hands. 

He killed a man.

And for what? Self-defence, that’s right. It was self-defense. Marvin was going to kill Eric, obliterate the last person with knowledge of the permissions, and therefore get rid of magic completely. Magic, Eric laughed. Miller always hated when he called it that. The laugh caught in his throat, turning into a strained gasp. Miller wouldn’t ever reprimand him again. Eric wanted everything to stop.

But he had no choice, he had to keep going, keep the permissions alive. He had to make sure the knowledge didn’t die with him. God, if he had killed a man for this, then he couldn’t let that life be lost in vain. He breathed deep, raising his eyes to the ceiling. His gaze caught on something in the rafters, the old videotapes.

He smiled at the memory, Miller showing him those glitchy videos and him writing down everything he could. He had spent months pouring over those tapes, learning everything in them, though it wasn’t much. There were so many gaps in those tapes and Miller had to explain most of it. Miller had done so much work, so much trial and error to figure it all out. Eric was glad it wasn’t him who had to piece it all together like that. 

He looked around the room, now with new eyes. The tapes in the ceiling, the ink, the posters of sanctified shapes on the walls, all the equipment, and tools, this place was a testament to permissions, but it was missing Miller. Without him, there was a hole, a gap in the knowledge. He was an explanation this place needed to be complete.  

Eric reached for a notebook and paper, suddenly enthused. He knew what he had to do.    

Chapter 8

An Invisible Fight

Taken from the Police Record Office of Goshen, Indiana

Chapter 6

High Noon on Monday, March 31st

The salty air whipped through his lungs and he breathed deep, letting it fill him to the brim. Exhaustion blanketed him, pressing him down. He sank into the sand, burying his hands into it, the warmth from the fine white grains seeping first along the pattern of thin scars still healing, then into his calloused palms and aching fingers, turning it all into a heat haze. Now that the projection was done, the tattoos that had flared into prominence on his hands were fading slowly, returning back to his own original skin tone, leaving the pinkish marks in its place. He closed his eyes in simple rest bite, letting the sunlight emanate through his eyelids. The waves roared their approval, their pride in his accomplishment. This was the first time he had tried to call on anything with the markings on his skin, and he made it, he was here—

“¿Qué haces aquí?” a voice asked. He looked up to see a woman silhouetted against the falling sun. She wore a loose shirt flapping in the breeze and pants with the legs rolled up. Hints of colorful embroidery curled around the sleeves and cuffs, like thread vines curling around whatever it pleased. She wore a hat low over her features. 

“Nada, señora,” he said politely. She frowned.

“¿Cómo llegaste a esta playa?” she asked. 

“No me vas a crees,” he said. He moved to stand up but she moved back and held out her hand in a warning.


He stopped and slowly sat down again. “Lo siento.” 

“¿En serio, por qué estás aquí?” she said, “dime rápido.” 

“Necesito visitar un hombre,” he said, “él está aquí, su nombre es Héctor?” 

“¿Héctor? ¿Qué quieres con él?” she asked.

“Quiero hablar,” he said, “solo hablar.” She hesitated for a second but relented.

“¿Te llaman Eric?” she asked.

“Sí, me llaman así,” Eric said.

“Bien. Sígueme,” she said, turning. Eric stood and bid the beach farewell as he followed her inland, the swell of the waves fading with each step.

Chapter 5

What Happened Monday, March 31st?

Footage taken from University News Archive, 2027

Chapter 1

The Begining of His End

This was the third location of the day. If he didn’t find anyone soon—he stopped that train of thought real quick. He was going to find someone. He had to. 

The shelves flanked him on either side, rising up to the industrial ceiling and temperamental lights, each one laden to overflowing with volume after volume of books. Miller was trying his best to not get distracted, but still, titles jumped out at him, beckoning with sweet stories or new knowledge, every book an opportunity. But he focused on the cat’s eye marble in his hand. It hardly moved, only revealing that it was under a projection by its little vibrations. Miller was hoping, waiting for it to nudge a significant amount in his palm, to point him towards another one. Point him towards someone else who could call on the things not of this world. 

A person turned down the aisle he was on, eyes turned up to the spines of the books. Despite the newcomer’s attention being elsewhere, Miller instinctively pulled his hat a little lower, bringing the brim over his face. The last thing he needed was to be noticed or remembered and his face was not something people were likely to forget. Millier hurried on, making his way into the section on forestry. In his haste, that familiar pain in his chest spasmed, twisting around his lungs, constricting suddenly. Miller winced. It was always there now, a low ache he couldn’t ever completely forget, but there was no ignoring that it was getting worse. At Least it wouldn’t bother him for too much longer. 

He kept his gaze on the marble in his hand, and he almost ran into the boy at the end of the aisle. Surprised, he looked up to find a face of confusion framed by a gray hoodie. Miller was about to mumble an apology and move on, sure that it was his own appearance that caused the unsure expression. 

“Did you just throw a marble at me?” the boy asked. 

Miller’s palm was empty. He saw that the marble was sticking to the boy’s hoodie, right in the middle of his chest, thrumming there with a low excitement. Miller felt his breath catch. This was it. This was the one. He had found it, the marble had found another one. He felt a sweet bubble of hope bloom in his chest, momentarily drowning out the ever-present pain in his lungs.

“What?” the boy asked, “why is it doing that?” He seemed absolutely befuddled. 

“Well…” Miller began but didn’t know how to continue. How was he going to explain everything, how to make this kid believe. The boy poked at the glass and tried to get it off, but as soon as he pulled it a few inches away, it flew back and stuck to the same spot again.  

 “Did you put glue on it or something?” he asked, fully aware that there was no glue.

“No, no glue,” Miller said. The boy searched Miller’s eyes for answers.

“Is it magnets?” he asked a tremor in his voice revealing he also knew there were no magnets involved.

Miller shook his head.

“Is it magic?” the boy asked.

“Yes,” Miller said, “that’s probably the best word for it.” The boy said nothing for a moment, but pulled the marble away again, only for it to return to his chest, shaking slightly against the fabric. 

“Prove it,” he said, his expression a dare, “make it stop.”

Millier whispered softly and released the permission. The marble dropped to the floor, landing on the carpet with a dull thunk. The boy chuckled and bent over, retrieving the thing. He handed Miller his marble. Miller took it.

The boy bit his lip, thinking for a moment.

“Teach me,” he said, determination obvious. Even if that wasn’t Miller’s intention, this boy was not going to let him walk away, not now. 

“Teach me magic.”