Prompt Kittens, pizza, saltine crackers, telepathy, a radio contest, magic, a six-pack of beer, and existential angst.
The kittens in the box were making quite the noise for kittens. Sounded like I was starving them, but I wasn’t. I bought Fancy Feast for rioting little furballs. Fancy Feast. I could have bought something dull and tasting like ground up butts and bills. But, no, I went fancy and this is the return I get.
I found them abandoned on the side of the road. I’m an asshole but not the kind of asshole that leaves kittens abandoned on the side of the road. I was going to have to bring them to a no-kill shelter when I had time. Listening to the radio intently over the symphony of meows I pulled yesterday’s pizza box close to me. I heavily doused it with some hot sauce to spice it up a bit. Then took some saltine crackers from the sleeve and crushed them on top. I grabbed a beer from the six-pack by on the corner of the table even though it was now warm. Still helped breakfast go down. I rolled back in my armchair and gnawed on the pizza. It was a little past two in the afternoon, but I’d had a rough night last night. Planned for another this night. Planned on just pickling my brain. There was a contest on the radio I aimed to win as the highlight of my day.
Boss said I was officially on two-week vacation since I nearly fried my brain. She said I should use it to get my shit together. By that, she meant all that meditation crap other psychics did to cleanse their mind of one job and prepare for another. What made us seem flaky was psychics like that. I was doing it the way they used to do it before everything became so tea time and get your zen on bullcrap. I drank away the last job and all the damned horrific residual images implanted in my brain from that sick as fuck man.
My ears perked to the contest on the radio, that I had been waiting on for hours, just at the same time as my telepathy picked up three people in the parking lot. I mean there were people all around me in the damn apartment building. I was tuning out a constant buzz of their mundane nonsense. It was just three of the two were wizards and their minds were like shards of ice through the brainpan. Really drew the attention of psychic because they had very unpleasant minds. Not that they had naughty little secrets but the mind itself was a screeching, humming, and painful thing to hear.
I did the only sensible thing when assaulted with such powerful brains. I downed a beer. And cracked another. It was possible they were here for a normal. A mundane. I doubted it. Wizards were insanely arrogant. Touching a mundane like tarnished their magical reputation or something. Like the nullness of it rubbed off on them. That meant they were here for me. Close to being completely ignored by their sort, but occasionally useful to them. We were just psychics. Just above mundanes really. Animals with an extra sense in there. Hardly worthy of associating with a wizard.
Fuck em’ I thought as they pounded on my door thinking loud thoughts at me.
–Fuck off.– I sent loudly, smacking with force into all three brains. There was a pause and I wondered for a second if I had won.
Well, the door crashed inward but that was hardly impressive since it was a damned piece of crap. I was pointing a gun at them as soon as I heard the noise. Two wizards stood with a man between them. One wizard pointed a ball of light at me. I bet it wasn’t a warm and fuzzy feeling light ball. The man between them had seen better days. Looked like someone had gone old school on him and beaten the crap out of him. Busted lip, eye swollen shut, bruised cheekbone and blood running down his face from a cut on his forehead. Archaic for a wizard. Something had pissed them right off.
I shoved a bite of my pizza into my mouth and chomped on it. I gestured to them with my gun and then to the man, “So what is this all about then? By the by, the door was rather unlocked. Dramatic entrance, but a little low on the intelligence factor.”
That didn’t go over well. The first wizard’s eyes actually crackled with electricity and that was never a good sign. He asked, “Are you Michael Haus?” while rubbing an amulet stitched to his collar.
I was going to tell him he was on vacation but it came out, “Yes.” I clenched my teeth. “Never beneath a wizard to use a truth charm illegally.”
The second scowled and said, “We heard you are the best sane telepath in the area. We need you to read this man. You will be compensated.”
“Right,” I said with a slow nod. “Go to the office and they will assign someone to you.”
“You are the best and this is an emergency,” the first wizard said.
“What is your name?” I ask him. I was not about to do some sort of illegal gig for some wizard on the side.
The Bones were a significant wizard clan through Canada. They had a branch of the clan in the city.
“And your friend?”
“I expect a new door. And damn healthy compensation. First of all, why can’t you just whoo hoo him with a truth spell?”
“He is not affected by our magic.”
I leaned back and sipped my beer. “Ah. A void. A mundane void. Don’t respond to any of your magic. That is a drag. See you tried to beat it out of him.”
“These guys are crazy!” the man said. “They think they have magic. They are some sort of cult.”
“They are very cultish,” I told him seriously. The man would never believe in magic being a void and mundanes were not supposed to know about it anyway.
“You have to help me,” he begged.
“So what happened?”
“He stole something from us that is precious. It manifests differently on the magical plane than the mundane so we have no idea how it looked to him. He is a kleptomaniac apparently. We need it back.”
“What is it and how did he take it. Klepto or not you guys don’t exactly have a clubhouse someone strolls into,” I said. “Even Voids can be harmed by fireball up the ass.”
“We had a gala. He was a guest. Since it was a charity event for the city there were quite a few mundanes,” Martin said, actually being able to say with without any disgust but his friend grimaced.
“Must have been an ordeal,” I muttered.
“The object in question is only at risk for a short period of time. As it was that night. One of the clan was wearing it when he managed to steal it off her. Once we tracked down which guest it was by process of elimination it was just a matter of getting him.”
“You’re talking about the Bone SoulCross aren’t you? That bonds to the leader of your funhouse? But since your leader recently died peacefully by spontaneous combustion then it was given to someone else. It needs three days to bond.”
That earned me a most fierce scowl. Likely that I knew of their precious SoulCross and binding ritual that all clans had. We picked up a thing or two at the Agency. “Yes,” he said. “It is extremely dangerous in someone else’s hands.”
“Fine. Sit him down.” I motioned to the recliner across from me. They didn’t bother brushing off the papers I had on it, just pushed the man down onto the cushion.
“Now Ted, what did you steal from these freaky ass people that have been chasing you?”
“How did you know my name?” he asked.
His mind was pretty chaotic. And the name thing threw him. “I’m psychic,” I said. “I get a vibe for things,” I said. Trying to keep it mild. A Void would have a hard time understanding anything paranormal. Proof is in the pudding, as people say. Whatever the fuck that means. Well, it meant he had no damn pudding.
What I said seemed to calm him down. The shakes at least just became tremors. His eyes were still wide as saucers. As they would be having been kidnapped by two guys mumbling strange words they called spells and waving their arms around.
“Now, what did you steal from these fruitcakes?”
“I steal so much! I don’t even remember!”
But what he thought was an image of a necklace with a little amulet on it.
“So you stole a necklace or the amulet that you put on a necklace. What did you do with it?”
He gawked at me but in his head, the face of a woman appeared.
“Did you give it to your girlfriend?”
I then actually saw a flash of it being put around her neck.
“What is her address? Where does she live?”
This required a little layer digging for me when he didn’t show what I needed but I got it. I looked around for a pen or paper. But just saw pizza, empty beer, and smokes. Martin handed me an iPad open on a note screen. I typed in the address and handed it back.
Ted paled considerably. Looked like there wasn’t enough blood to keep him upright. “They won’t hurt her will they?”
“No, of course not. She won’t be like you, so they will just go get it back and she will not mind in the least,” I said. “You, on the other hand, have to stop it with the clever fingers.”
I looked back at Martin. “Payment, please. Cash.”
He went over to my kitchenette made a reaching motion to his side and pulled money from the air. I wasn’t impressed because I knew of their pocket space before. Even lost a bet to how much they could put in there. It was a lot.
“What are you going to do with Teddie here?” I asked.
“That is none of your concern,” Allen said.
“He is a mundane, guys. He is harmless. He didn’t know what the damn thing was. He just could not keep his hands off the shiny.” Wizards hated voids with a passion. That genetic glitch made them immune to personal magic and thus a lot of a wizard’s repertoire. No wizard liked not having power over someone.
I stood up slowly and wobbled a little. After all this was done I needed to walk down to the liquor store and finish my job to drink to oblivion. “I have an idea.”
I went back to my bedroom and rummaged around in the closet till I found my kit of poisons and drugs. I prepared a needle with a specific drug and went back up front. “Knock him out with this and bring him home. I will send my friend there to see if she can do her blocking of memories with him. Case closed.”
I jabbed Ted in the arm injected.
“So be it. There was no order to kill him,” Martin said.
“Just would be easier,” Allen said.
Hours after they were gone I stewed into my six beer. I was so tired of work at the Agency. Peering into minds of filth, shame, and trivial crap. It made me want to be physically ill. Or the pizza did. Why even have the ability if it never really helped anyone and it just saturated me with their mental waste until I choked on it.
By the time I grabbed the whiskey I was wondering why I was born at all. Why be blessed or cursed with such an ability. Minds should remain private. Ted, for example, wasn’t a kleptomaniac. He was a thief that specialized in wizard items. Knowing that I could have gotten him killed. His girlfriend was his partner and was, in fact, holding the artifact around her neck. I’d saved his life. I’d saved it because, well, when it came down to it wizards were pricks. They really did deserve to have their ass handed to them once in a while. The guy was likely hired by another wizard anyway. Wasn’t sure I saved her though. If they investigated her just a little and she wasn’t a void, then she was dead. Still, a void in the know about supernatural things and making a profit on it, amused me.
Everything I said to the wizards was true. However, they come, break down my door and interrupt my binge drinking? Then I had no plans on telling them Ted’s whole story. He would live to steal another day as long as he stayed away from his partner.