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.