Tag Archives: fire

The Bigger They Get…

I was a world class magician. Night after night, I performed sold out shows in Las Vegas. The girls, money, and recognition came easily. People claimed I was a prodigy, that great performers like me only came once every generation. And it was true. I had my time in the spotlight. But my career ended abruptly after 12 years. That’s when “Maxx Magic” came on the scene.

He was a nobody for the longest time. Just finishing up high school while I was making six figures a month. But he was young, and by the time he started performing I was old news. I never blamed him, nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I sure as hell resented him.

That’s why I used the last of my savings to buy a ticket to every show on his nationwide tour. I just sat back and observed the first couple shows. And genuinely enjoyed this kid’s magic routine. But he ruined my career, so I also took notes on his most dangerous stunts. The ones with fire and sharpened blades.

I settled on a trick he called “Ticking Inferno”. From what I gathered, it was a simple misdirect. Maxx stepped into a glass room, and while it filled with propane gas his assistant locked the only door. Or so it would seem- Maxx dropped down a trapdoor right as the glass box filled with flames. Predictable, but admittedly well executed.

At the show in Sacramento I made my move. I got there a few hours early and slipped past security. Once my preparations were complete, I blended with the audience filing in. I nearly fought a middle aged woman for my seat. After all, I deserved a good view.

The show proceeded identically to the past few I’d seen. My eyelids drooped, I was beginning to fall asleep. Nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I perked up when Maxx’s assistant rolled out the glass room. I relished the gasps of the crowd as the oversized padlock clicked into place. He fumbled around for a second, acting helpless. It was all an act.

Then it happened. All the confidence drained from his smug face as he stomped on the trapdoor. It refused to budge. I had crammed crates underneath. He pounded his fists desperately against the glass. Stage techs rushed to his aid with the key. They tried shoving it in but to no avail. Glue in the locks. Maxx Magic let out one last blood curdling scream. Then the fire engulfed him. His writhing silhouette pressing up against the glass walls.

While the spectators wailed in terror, I left my seat. No doubt they would check the CCTV footage from before the show. And I needed to get a head start on running.


Side note: I actually won a competition on the ‘Mcscribes & Mcscribblers’ Discord server with this story! The prompt was “The bigger they get the harder they fall”. It’s the first writing competition I have ever entered! I’m 1 for 1 guys! 🙂

-Stay frosty

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Highly Flammable

I felt a familiar white heat build up in the pit of my stomach. I snapped my fingers and released it out the tips of my fingers. As it vented out, wisps of flame crackled into existence. I fished around in my coat pocket and pulled out a thin vial. With a few purposeful movements of my digits I forced the fire into the glass. Once it had been contained I corked it and dropped it back in my pocket.

“Sorry about that Ma’am.” I apologized. “I usually don’t do that in front of people but I just couldn’t contain it any longer. You came in a little earlier than I had expected.”

As a pyromancer I needed to vent occasionally, or risk boiling my internal organs. I already felt calmer, and more collected.

“It’s quite fine Mr. Darby.” The woman winked. “I’ve always found pyromancy to be quite. Interesting.”

I tipped my hat down to hide a blush. She was attractive, but still a client. I needed to be professional.

“Anyways, what brings you in Ms..” I glanced over at the calendar on my computer monitor. “Wells?”

She flashed a flirtatious smirk and reached into her purse. I heard a few pieces of metal clanking against each other. Anxious thoughts set in.

Please don’t have a gun.

Please don’t have a gun.

Her eyes brightened when she found what she was searching for and in one motion, slammed it down on my desk. I let out a long breath as my anxiety released. It was an ID card, with her own face on it.

“Ms. Wells, what is it I’m looking at here?”

“The reason why I need the best investigator on the South side.”

I hated it when clients tried to be coy.

“Well, I’m flattered I really am.” I stared at the card again for something of significance. “But I have no idea what this means.”

“Now, now.” Ms. Wells put loose fists beneath her chin patronizingly. “And I thought you were the best! Take a look into the eyes of that picture.”

I was irritated at her tone, but still slid the ID card closer and held it close to my face. I began to take it apart detail by detail. Maybe I had missed something.

ID card for Ganno DNA Database INC.

Top Level security clearance

Name- Susan Wells

DOB- 12/03/1990

Eyes- Blue

I paused for a second. Blue?

I lowered the card, holding the portrait on the card up to Ms. Wells. Her eyes were a deep hazel, but on the card they were clearly blue.

“‘Scuse me Ma’am, but do you wear colored contact lenses?”

Ms. Wells exploded in excitement, she clapped her hands at a near supersonic speed.

“I see my faith in you was well placed.” She cocked her head. “As for the contacts, I don’t wear them. What’s troubling is that this is my work ID. I’m afraid someone has stolen my face. For whatever reason.”

I furrowed my brow. I had heard of shapeshifters, but they were extremely rare. It fit the profile, they were tricksters. Always looking for a way to take over someone else’s life. I’d never thought I’d see something like this on a case. Ms. Wells stared down at her watch, and jumped onto her feet. She snatched the ID from my hands.

“Oh my! I seem to be running late!” She brushed off her pants and began walking towards the door.

“That’s funny.” I chuckled. “You came in early, and now you’re leaving before your scheduled appointment. I wonder why that is?”

She froze, and slowly turned her head to face me. She was visibly irked by my implications.

“What are you saying?”

I remained silent and gestured for her to take a seat. She rebelliously took another step towards the door.

I snapped my fingers and shot two streams of fire out of my fingernails. The flames flowed out into the air like a gas. I willed them to circle around Ms. Wells in a show of force.

“What are you doing?! You’re ruining EVERYTHING!!”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Ms. Wells nervously stood in silence, paralyzed by fear.

“Come on in.” I called out.

The knob twisted and swung with the heavy oak door. The stranger began to stroll in, but stopped and opened her blue eyes wide when she saw Ms. Wells surrounded by the encircling flames.

“Wha-” The woman began. “Who is this?”

I pointed a finger gun at the woman I had captured.

“This, Ms. Wells is your shapeshifter.”

She gasped. The shapeshifter fidgeted nervously but remained quiet. I continued with my monologue.

“My first clue was when she came in early. The first rule of stealing someone’s identity is to never be at the same place at the same time. She cut it close, but only because she thought that I’d keep you here after she had just accused you of being a shapeshifter. Long enough for her to use your card to sign in to your office at a DNA database, overwrite your file with hers, and report an impostor. You.” I shot a triumphant look at the shapeshifter, but she turned her head away. “By the time you got back to work they’d cart you away and she would have taken control of your life.”

The real Ms. Wells looked shocked. She had a right to be. Her life was almost stolen from her. The flames circling the shapeshifter flickered out.

She noticed this and used the opportunity to reach into her purse.

Please don’t have a-

She lugged a heavy 6-shot revolver out and pulled back the hammer.

Damn.

She alternated pointing the thing at me and Ms. Wells.

“I usually don’t kill because it complicates things.” She spat on the floor. “But it’s easy for me to disappear.”

She strained a slow blink and her skin, bone structure, and voice changed to that of a man in his mid forties. The replicated skin of Ms. Darby shed off all at once in pieces. They lay on the ground, like a pile of dry leaves. I used the time her eyes were shut to rummage in my jacket pocket. I managed a wink towards Ms. Wells when I found the vial. She was fixed on the replica of her own skin, laying carelessly on the floor. Terrified beyond belief, tears muddled her mascara.

“Any more deductions you’d like to make Mr. Darby?” The shapeshifter asked menacingly.

“Yep! Just one!” I smiled. “The skin you just shed is probably flamable!”

The shapeshifter’s eyes widened when I pulled the cork off the vial I had vented into. I flicked it with my index finger, and it gracefully flew through the air and onto the pile of molted skin at the shapeshifter’s feet.

The flames quickly lipped up the being’s legs, and it instinctively dropped the gun to start beating at the fire. The shapeshifter screamed in several voices at once. It was unnerving.

I looked at Ms. Wells with a concerned expression. She nodded her head in agreement and we both sprinted out of my office, down the staircase, and onto the street. We stood there with our hands on our knees, trying to catch our breath. I spied a fiery figure at my window, its arms flailed around wildly.

Suddenly, the chilling sound of glass shattering sounded from above. I covered Ms. Well’s eyes before the body made impact. Though I spared her the image, I could not shield her from the blood, which splattered splotches of red on her blue jeans. All that could be heard were the flames joyfully crackling over charred flesh, and fire engines off in the distance. I knew it was not the right time, but I anxiously asked Ms. Wells a question.

“Soo this is not the first time I’ve burned down my office.” I winced at the awkwardness of my timing. “Can you stick around a while and give a statement? My insurance premium is super high as it is. I don’t want them thinking this was my fault.”

She dug her face into her hands and sobbed deeply. She started shaking, so I put my arms around her torso to comfort her. She was clearly still in shock.

“Shouldn’t have asked. Sorry. I’ll just have them call you.”

The Land of Opportunity

The rabble outstretched their hands feebly as I trudged through the layer of filth coating main street. A hooded figure stood atop a stack of crates, illuminated by the torchlight of the gathering crowd. He preached solidarity and glory to those who followed the ‘righteous path’. A path whose first step is a donation to the Brothers of Raya. Rounding the corner, I nearly collided with a troop of city guard. Formed up and ready to break up the gathering.

A lone streetlamp enlivened the filthy cobblestone leading up Monroe Street. Beneath, a woman rubbed against the pole seductively. Her red hair cast a shadow over her face. I shot her a winning grin.

“Fancy meeting you here Eliza, I was just on my way home”

She chuckled and tossed her hair, revealing a stunning freckled face. She licked her lips.

“Food’s on the table.” Her eyes darted to the ground. “I was hoping we could have dessert before dinner.”

I walked to her till our faces nearly touched. Her breath was warm and smelled of mint. She quivered as my shadow began to envelop her slender figure.

“My darling, how could I refuse?”

I embraced my wife. We joined hands and giggled amongst ourselves, nearly running with anticipation. When we reached the end of the street we stopped in our tracks. I shook my hand free Eliza’s. Her body was taken by fear and could not move an inch. Three scrappy migrant men stood outside the doorway to our home. The skinniest of the three caught us in the corner of his eye and nodded his head. The men sprang to life, catching me off guard with their blinding speed. One clocked me with his right hand, sending me spiraling onto the cobblestone. He positioned himself over my body and mercilessly beat into my face. With each blow came a flash of white, until it suddenly went black.

I woke on a rickety wooden table surrounded by concerned faces looking down. The smell of vomit and ale wafted through the air.

“He’s alive!”

The crowd thrust their mugs into the air and cheered “Glory, glory Brigdania!”.

“Wh-what happened?” I whimpered. The pain was coming back to me.

The group quieted and averted their gaze. A cheery man with a stout red beard pushed his way to the head of the table. Obviously drunk.

“A right shame mate. Gang of migrants jumped you an the missus. Seems they got you down easy. Your lady struggled, I’m sure that’s why they cut her throat.”

The men of the inn beat him away from the table. Then looked back down at me, pity plastered their blank faces. Though sadness did not once cross my mind. It was a smoldering rage that swelled in my chest.

“Fuck the migrants. Fuck ‘em all!” I spat.

I jumped to my feet and from the squeaking table, commanded attention from the concerned people below. My pain had subsided, absorbed by sheer fury.

“Fellow Estuarians! This is our city! There was a time when we felt safe, but it seems so long ago! They dared to attack me and my wife in front of our own home! When does it stop?!”

A blonde woman behind the bar raised her dish rag defiantly.

“When we fight back!”

Others joined in from around the bar.

“Yeah!”

“What gives ‘em the right to push us around!”

“We are Estuarians!”

“This is OUR land!”

“Glory, glory Estuaria!”

The entire inn had come together in resistance. The room erupted into cheer. With white-knuckled fists and drink-fueled hatred. I landed off the table with a heavy thump. I grabbed the lantern from the doorway as made my exit. My kinsmen were quick to follow me with whatever weapons they could muster. The reality of the situation did not set in until we had reached the city commons.

“There are thousands of them.”

The mob that had seconds ago been so full of life now cowered away. The commons, once an empty field in the center of the market district was now little more than one amorphous dump of wood beams and canvas. The refugees packed into hastily constructed shelters. In the dead of night the bustle and chatter of merchants emanated from the miniature city. There were just too many of them. The once cheery red-bearded man slapped his hand against my back.

“Ya gave it a try mate.”

He paused for a moment, as if lost in thought before catching up with the rest of the drunks. This is not the end. I swung the lantern in circles around my shoulder a few times before releasing it into the air. As it flew I felt no remorse. Their screams had intensified by the time I had returned. This time, with more lanterns.