Previous Eli had sent me a text about coming home late, which left me with plenty of time to figure out a plan. The day before I’d stopped by an office supply store in Tallow and bought supplies for my new office. I also bought a large whiteboard and a set of erasable markers. I …
The Southern Magicks
Dexter was trained in the magical art of Mediumship by his Gran who gave him an appreciation for the danger posed to those with rare magical abilities. Assuming that his friends and family are normal non-magical humans Dexter works to keep his secret from them. After a demon attack, he discovers that his home town Dunn is the centre of a large and prosperous magical community. A community many have his closest family and friends have been part of his entire life. Now his secret is out in open Dexter must work for the magical law enforcement agency run by his family.
Previous When I walked back to my office to collect my bag, I found an activated phone with the same number was sitting on my desk. Attached to the front was a post-it note with a hand-drawn smiley face. I knew it was from Eli because he was the only person who knew I lacked …
The idea behind the USB stick was simple. I’d copy the photos onto it, and I’d get caught by Cory. Everyone would think I had taken the pictures on the phone even though mine had its last bath around the same time. I would break the USB stick and give it to Cory when he caught me in the act. I hoped he hadn’t looked at the phone or given it to Lowe. I hadn’t seen him, which meant he had more important things to do than deal with my bullshit.
I wanted to piss him off.
Dexter was trained in the magical art of Mediumship by his Gran who gave him an appreciation for the danger posed to those with rare magical abilities. Assuming that his friends and family are normal non-magical humans Dexter works to keep his secret from them. After a demon attack, he discovers that his hometown Dunn is the centre of a large and prosperous magical community. A community many of his closest family and friends have been part of his entire life. Now his secret is out in open Dexter must work for the magical law enforcement agency run by his family, learning the truth about what it means to be a Death Mage. Unable to get one ghost out of his head Dexter is drawn to solving her murder with journals of the detective initially tasked with solving the case.
When I arrived at work, there was a printer, furniture catalogue and a pile of textbooks on my desk. In front of the furniture catalogue was a note from Grandfather, ‘pick something nice and get studying’. Below the sentence was a schedule for classes that didn’t start until July. They had pressed the restart button on the life I’d barely begun. Two months until I could start at the university. I hoped they didn’t expect me to sit here like a good little boy until then.
I sat down at the computer and turned it on. The last account signed in to the computer was now ccorvin. Cory had set up the printer. I logged into the computer and opened my email. The email from Cory was comprised of a single wink emoji and several attached forms relevant to writing a report about the exorcism of Nora Rowe. Forms that had to be handwritten. The directions document clarified that only printed forms filled with the worker’s own hand would be accepted. Beside my mouse was a fresh packet of pens.
I threw the furniture catalogue in the bin. The last thing I needed right now was my colleagues seeing me getting new furniture.
I was halfway through the forms and almost ready to get lunch when there was a knock at the door. “Come in.”“Dexter Lacy?”
I looked up. I had expected Cory, Grandfather or maybe Mason. The woman who had spoken looked straight at my face. It felt as though she was looking through me and into my soul, the blood had drained from her face. She blinked, in a second the look vanished back into hard professionalism that predated her years, she couldn’t have been older than forty. If pressed, I’d give her age as thirty-five the same as my eldest brother, Mason.
“You must be Dexter.”
Why had she asked a few seconds ago? “Must? I have a feeling you already know.”
She carefully sat down without breaking eye contact with me. “My name is Andrea Dominguez, and I am the Head Detective looking into the demon incident you were involved with.”
Out of all the dumb shit I did, this one was high on the list. After Cory left me at my car after an afternoon of shopping, I drove into town and parked behind the pub. Then walked into the pub and snuck out the back through the kitchen while something distracted the staff.
I walked from the pub towards Herald Park. Even though I had an excuse to be in the Town Hall, I knew I was being watched, and I didn’t want anyone to see me enter. I had the feeling Alexander Lowe worked for the Beckham Agency rather than Dunn, maybe even Nate Island directly. Lacy Senior, Grandfather and the other board members of the Agency who I was sure included Mayor Chesterfield’s father wouldn’t want him indicted on fraud charges. I was shaking by the time I reached the edge of Herald Park. There was a small wooden footbridge over the river hidden from view. I’d used it to go to the park and play cricket with Kat, her siblings and Ned while we waited for Grandfather to finish work. That had been before we learnt its sickly secrets. Back then we’d been clueless about why Aunt Olivia was spitting mad when she found out her children had been playing there.
I was alone in the dark park, but every step I took, I expected to come face to face with a knife-wielding ice addict.
I inserted the key in the lock and let myself in. I closed the door so quickly I almost caught myself in it. I’d still be welcome, right? I knew now there had to be magic guarding the place. A man like Lowe wouldn’t stay out because of a silly insignificant thing called ‘breaking and entering’ being illegal. I knew that he was the type to run around in a red ski mask, pushing Nate Island’s law on anyone who strayed across his path. I wondered when he’d approach me; now I could no longer help him.
When I joined him on the stairs, Cory had opened the front pocket of his satchel. The pocket unrolled to reveal a long row of smaller round pockets. It almost touched the ground and held hundreds of writing implements, from cheap pens and expensive art markers to chalk or oil pastels. He pulled a pristine piece of chalk from a pocket halfway down his thigh and handed it to me. “It’s far from the best tool to draw a ghost trap, but it’s the easiest for a Novice Mage to use. Please be careful, that’s a stick of what’s considered the best chalk in existence and the company is no longer in operation. There’ll be duals to death over the last piece.”
He pulled a notepad and small pencil from the front pocket of his suit jacket. He drew a circle with a rounded pattern in the middle that was a cross between a cartoon flower and a pentagram. “I want you to draw this. Ideally on a piece of clean, hard floor.”
I carefully studied the sigil after he handed it to me. “There’s no clean floor in there.”
“What we’re about to do isn’t ideal, but it’s a safer choice.” Cory handed me an A4 piece of black cardstock. “You may as well copy it out here. Draw another exactly the same on the palm of your hand but leave a slight gap, that can be closed in a small single stroke. Damage either with your sweaty fingers, and we die.”
He gave me a look so serious I laughed. “We die? I’m pretty sure it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen.” I felt like a Kindergarten student doing arts and crafts. I carefully copied the sigil, drawing it in the same order Cory had. When I finished, he nodded at the door handle, and I opened the door.
My heart leapt into my throat when Cory pulled his car to a stop outside Nora Rowe’s house. Time unwound, and suddenly I was four weeks back fighting for my life against her ghost. I’d been so sure of myself back then, even though I’d barely escaped. Had it only been a month ago? I felt like an entirely unfamiliar person. I jumped from my thoughts when Cory opened his door. “Are you coming?”I slowly turned to look at him. “Yes.” “Great. Let’s clean up your mess.”I followed him from the car. “I hardly think it’s my mess.”“You didn’t report a hostile ghost.”“I… I…”“I what? Didn’t want anyone to know your precious little secret?
The next morning I dressed in my only suit and met Grandfather in the front lobby of the Agency. It surprised me when Grandfather pressed the button for B1: A when we walked into the elevator. Were there offices in the basement or was he showing me something else? The hall we walked into was dark.
As Grandfather left the elevator, the motion lights flicked on with an electric buzz. The walls were lined with a dark wood panel and the floors worn chipped faded lino, had seen better days before I was even born. A directory and public toilet outside the elevator betrayed the level’s once-prosperous status. The floor was listed as B1: A ‘Living Magicks: Non-Flora/Fauna’. Before I looked at the names listed for each office, he chastised me for not following. I could hear folksy pop music in the hall as we passed the quiet offices. They had pinned the wooden double doors at the end of the hall open, and the room itself was an ample office space turned common room.
There were several people in the room, and most were talking in a single group while they downed a second coffee or tea. The workday hadn’t started for this department. We’d walked halfway across the room when Grandfather’s cell rang. He waved a finger at me, answered the phone and walked from the room. The instant he crossed the threshold, the other people in the room turned to look at me in unison.
Grandfather looked me straight in the eyes and sighed. “Evelyn has been a thorn in my side for fifty-two years. I didn’t even know she existed until I married her best friend. Do you know why people didn’t like the Gerstle family practising Death Magic? Because it was forbidden magic until the ’80s. Even the magical community was superstitious and heavily religious until recently.” He tapped the desk with a finger. “It’s not illegal for those outside of the Mage community to learn magic, but they are not supposed to live in our communities. Your Gran broke that rule when she moved to Dunn with that boy toy of hers.”
I forced myself to meet his eyes and pooled my fear into anger. “I don’t understand what you’re saying. Are you telling me Gran has magic t-.” The words died in my mouth when I saw the look on his face. His features hardened. He pointed his finger at me. “I’m not fucking stupid, Dexter. No one is falling for this fucking crap anymore. I turned a blind eye for too long to avoid getting you and her in trouble, and it almost got you killed. No fucking more, I’m putting a leash on your neck and separating you from her influence. I should have done it the first moment I suspected… I just wanted one of my grandkids to live a normal, safe life, without the danger of magic constantly bearing down on them.”
“Forced to be normal. How is that fair?”