The Signs of Magic

The ANSS predicted the earthquake. The timing coincided with the growing category four hurricane, Hidalgo. Anyone with any sense had vacated the coast several days ago. Even the radicals and the chasers had started packing up this morning. Hidalgo’s caress was just now starting to feel like pawing, but the quake was due any hour. There weren’t many that wanted to witness their rock solid reality ripple like the waves.

Ajay didn’t plan on missing it. His days were numbered anyway.

Dusk bled into the day dressed in a murderous gray. There would be daylight enough to see when the ground heaved. The whitecaps would be hard to miss until much later tonight, but even if he couldn’t see them, he knew those barking waves would return. His mind focused on that narrow space of time in between, that window of percussion between quake and storm. That singular moment had summoned Ajay to this stone bench at the edge of the world. There was power at work here that promised him a future once more. This was magic, and he gave himself over to it completely.

The metal signs keened behind him in the parking lot. The saw blade chorus evoked the songs of the great mammals and the spirits of Atlantis, and Ajay closed his eyes and swam the depths. The sand raking across him became the kisses of passing fins, and he bared his soul to the ocean, seeking the gateway.

He took the first tremor for a gust of wind, but the second gripped his core and yanked him from his reverie. His ball sack was taught and painful with fear as he rose to stand upon the dancing sand. Several drunken strides bolstered his spirit though, and he pounded across the beach toward the salty spray.

The great heave deep in the sea bed opened rifts that had lain dormant for millennia. The shockwaves summoned water without care for life or location or purpose, seeking only to redistribute the chaos once more into universal balance. Ajay watched the water peel away from the beach head, revealing an ancient marine landscape and treasures untold. He raced for the ocean floor, eyes searching before the waters could regroup and hurtle toward him. There! His eyes found the marker he sought, his eyes just making out the murky stairs.

The great wave was already coming, a horizon of false night advancing. The titanic mass of water surged into a curl as Ajay’s mind dismissed the equations of time and distance and resistance he had been calculating. He focused his will on one single point along the continuum, reaching the gateway. He would make it. He had to. One thought otherwise could spell disaster, because all magic was based upon that simplest of tenets, belief.

And with a final rasping lunge, he hurled himself toward the magical gate as the wall of water passed overhead, washing away his existence.

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