Do you have a passion? Do you follow it? One of my passions is creative writing. I do it when I can, and nowhere near as often as I would like. With that in mind, I have decided to set myself a little challenge, and here it is. A story, written as I go, posted as I create. I was quite nervous about the concept, but I think it’s going to be a good exercise to keep me on my creative toes. I’ll post episodes as I write them, and hopefully you enjoy the journey as much as I do. And so, without further ado:
MODERN DAY WARLOCK
Episode One – Dockside
Sage McKinnon stepped onto the main deck of the cruise ship Aloha, raising a trembling hand to ward off the sun’s regard.
“We’re about to dock, Ma’am. Would you like to follow the other passengers to the railing?” one of the ship’s crewmen paused, tipping his hat in the direction of the prow. Sage followed his gaze to the throng of passengers vying for position, and shook her head.
“No, thank-you,” she said.
“Don’t care much for the crowds? That new mecha-dock’s sure causing a lot of fuss. Cruddy name, if you ask me,” the crewman gave her a lopsided grin.
“Yeah,” Sage gave him a weak smile, struggling not to stare at the pearlescent sheen on his magically whitened teeth.
“Well, if you prefer a bit of breathing room, why not try the side rail? The view will be almost as good,” the crewman gestured at the Aloha’s deserted side railing.
“Perhaps I will. Thank you,” Sage nodded, stepping sideways.
“Thanks for sailing with us,” the crewman flicked her a two-fingered wave and turned away, his patent leather shoes tapping a cheerful beat across the deck.
Phew. Sage watched him go, forcing her shoulders to relax. Twisting her expression into one of polite interest, she walked slowly to the ship’s edge, stopping to grip the thin railing which ran the circumference of the deck.
The sea below was a steely grey, the waters calm in the shelter of the harbour. The swell lapped gently at the base of a sheer concrete wall which stretched higher than the topmost deck of the five-tier cruise ship. Windows winked within the black expanse, tinted glass that had been magically strengthened to hold back the great weight of the ocean.
Sage jumped as the passengers at the prow of the ship loosed a loud cheer. She turned towards the noise, grasping in vain at her thundering heart. The curve of the cruise ship allowed a view of the docks beyond, where the silhouette of a man stood framed in the narrow passage between two skyscrapers. He knelt and placed both hands on the ground, the air around him shimmering with the faintest tinge of blue.
A water mage? Sage snorted a laugh. The sea in front of the ship began to bubble, and two great gouts of water shot up into the air. Spray from the geysers tilted over the ship, shimmering gold in the afternoon sun. The droplets hung in mid air, tinkling and chirping like a flock of songbirds before plunging onto the ship’s deck. The crowd cheered again as the air filled with the scent of wildflowers. The mage rose from his crouch and lifted one arm in acknowledgement.
Get on with it, Sage sighed, turning her attention back to the steely harbour. It was a grim visage, even with the efforts of the water mage. The cruise ship was alone in a narrow cul de sac, bouyed by the silent grey water and bordered by skyscrapers that blocked all view of the city beyond. If not for the lure of the mecha-dock, Whysper Industries’ once private harbour would never have become a scheduled stop for cruise ships.
The geysers of water fell silent and Sage glanced up to see the water mage taking a bow. The applause of the passengers echoed off the winking walls of the Whysper buildings, and Sage closed her eyes in an attempt to block it out. Her fingers tingled as she clenched the metal railing, her lungs scrambling to draw breath.
No, no, no! Sage’s eyes flew open and she leapt back from the railing as if burnt, fisting her hands into the thin layers of her summer cardigan. Before her, the ship’s white railing now bore shimmering whorls of violet, so dark as to be almost black.
“Great,” Sage looked down at her hands to discover magic curling across her palms, the same shimmering dark energy that had branded the ship’s railing. She watched it move with a morbid fascination, concentrating on taking deep breaths and seeking an inner calm which became more elusive with each episode.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noted the passengers beginning to thin. The gangplank! Sage curled her hands into fists and hastened to join the throng, slipping into the middle of the pack of tourists with an apologetic smile. She spared a glance back at the marked railing, where the magic was already beginning to fade. Given enough time, it would disappear completely.
“Luggage will be available for pickup dockside in about half an hour,” a crewman called, his voice rolling out over the crowd’s excited hum. Sage felt her stomach knot. Half an hour? She glanced back at the fading magic again.
Then the gangplank loomed and suddenly she was clattering down a steel ramp towards the mecha-dock. Where had it come from so suddenly? Distracted from her tingling hands, Sage gaped as she stepped down onto a series of interlocking platforms. Metal? Plastic? She couldn’t tell. It was a dark green colour, and seemed to bob and sway with the swell of the ocean – except when she walked, she felt perfectly stable. On the opposite side of the harbour, the platforms began to rise and stack, contorting until they formed a wide, shallow staircase.
This was it, then, the magical engineering marvel that many of these tourists had travelled around the world to see. Sage looked down at her feet, wondering again what it was made of. Each platform seemed small, and yet it had taken next to no time to assemble, appearing from… somewhere. Surely under the water?
It took a few moments for the tingling to register. Sage blinked, looking around her. Crewmen from the ship were attempting to usher chattering tourists towards the staircase, without any real success. Passengers had spread out acorss the mecha-dock, oohing and aahing and snapping pictures willy nilly, leaving her quite alone. Sage looked down at her hands, but the violet tracings were gone. The tingling inside her spread, moving down towards her feet, towards the dock.
Calm. Stay calm. Sage started for the staircase at the edge of the harbour, which suddenly seemed terribly far away. As she walked, the tingling intensified, stealing the very air from her lungs and setting her heart racing.
No. Please no. Staggering to one side, Sage stopped, bending double as she fought to fill her lungs with air. Violet lines spread out from her feet, twisting across the mecha-dock, covering her dark green platform with the shimmering rainbows of an oil slick. And then the platform disappeared, leaving only the grey ocean beneath.
Oh shit. The freezing water turned her limbs to stone, filled her gaping mouth and swallowed any scream she might have uttered. The tiny, winking light of day was out of reach, and there was only the ocean to witness as Sage sank.