Searching For Magic
Chapter 5

When I got home, Omar was leaning forward on the sofa looking at a photo. He looked up at me. "Hey," he said. "Paula came by. She had more information."

I came over and I sat down beside him, and I looked at the picture. It showed two young women - Paula, and a black girl whom I assumed was Debbie. "That's her, huh?" I asked.

Omar nodded and sighed. "Yeah," he said. He leaned back. "Guess we know why the police decided to call it an accident. Girl like that, they don't care. If she was some pretty white girl, ya know... it'd be another story." He shook his head.

I swallowed. "Yeah," I said quietly.

Omar shook his head. "It's... damn. Makes you wanna just... I dunno, burn something down, something." He closed his eyes. "I wanna help. I wanna find the guy who did this, and..."

"Bite a few holes into him?" I finished.

He snorted. "Well, maybe not that," he said. "But ya know, get some justice done."

I nodded. "What are you thinking?" I asked.

"The lake," he said. "I'm gonna check out the lake. 'Cause the police probably didn't look very hard."

"Whatcha gonna look for?" I asked.

"Well, if she was some kinda human sacrifice, maybe there's something out there like... weird symbols. Or something. Dunno. Guess I'll look for anything kinda weird," he said.

"All right," I said. I looked at him, wondering if something had happened to someone he was close to. Not that he'd need to lose someone close to him to care or anything, but he acted shaken in a way that went deeper than being upset on principle. "Let me know if you need anything."

"I will," he said quietly. He leaned on my shoulder and sighed.

I picked up my notebook and wrote down some thoughts on what I'd seen today. Patricia wasn't the type of person I could see myself being friends with, but nothing about her screamed "I'm a murderer" just yet. The class didn't involve anything I'd exactly consider sinister.

Now I just had to wait and see what happened next.

Thursday was pretty normal. Omar and I had work during the day, and we spent our evening on our usual routine of dinner and news, followed by going outside to check the rat traps.

Now, I'm going to talk about a pretty common question I get - no, Omar doesn't go out and drink the blood of criminals or whatever. I know a lot of people think that a vampire can get by like this. If you're one of these people, I want to ask you: how many people do you know personally who'd really and honestly deserve that? Maybe you know a few people that the world would be better off without, but it's probably not more than a few. If you had time and resources and no other real hobbies, you could maybe track down more people like this, but it would take a lot of your time. And maybe that's the kind of lifestyle you'd want to live, I don't know. But Omar is not, and he doesn't exactly enjoy inflicting violence on people.

Most people with a conscience don't.

Friday evening came. Omar went to the lake to look around, and I went to the farmhouse. I got there a little early, though not as early as Nancy, who was outside leaning against her car when I arrived. She walked over to me as soon as I climbed out. "Oh, thank goodness you're here. I can go inside without looking bad now," she said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I didn't want to run late, so I left early, but I left too early." She swatted at her arm. "These mosquitos are eating me up, but I don't wanna go inside alone, because... it won't look as bad if I go in with someone else."

"Makes sense, I guess," I said. She had a point, I thought. If Patricia would be upset over us coming in early, her anger would be directed at two people rather than one, so it would only hit us half as hard. Or so I figured. I walked up to the door and knocked, and in a few seconds Patricia opened it and let us inside. "You're here early," she said.

"Yeah, I know," I said. "I thought there'd be more traffic so I left early." I shrugged.

If Patricia was actually annoyed at our early arrival, she didn't say anything. Nancy was apparently encouraged by this, because she cleared her throat and looked at Patricia. "Hey, I was wondering something," she said.

"Yes?" Patricia asked.

"What do you know about faeries?" she asked tentatively. "Are they real?"

"Oh yeah, they're real," Patricia said, her tone turning icy.

"Yeah, I read some things about people seeing some," Nancy said. "Are they nice?"

Patricia snorted. "Nice? Honey, if you start seeing faeries, you'd better stock up on iron. Have you never read any old fairytales? Or is it just Disney and Shirley Temple for you?"

Nancy's face fell and she stepped back. "Sorry," she mumbled.

"I told you last time, magic isn't a toy; it's not something you trifle with-"

I cleared my throat. "Okay, look, I don't think she needs you reading the riot act to her. She gets the picture."

Patricia frowned at me. "I'm just telling her the facts. If she can't handle them, then she shouldn't be here."

I was about to ask Patricia since when telling someone the facts meant you had to had to insult them when the door suddenly opened and a new face stepped in. It was a man with tanned skin and sun-bleached hair, wearing a denim jacket. "Hey, Patricia," he said. "And - you must be students?"

Nancy nodded.

"Yeah, I'm Adry," I said. "Nice to meet you." I held out my hand for him to shake.

"Craig, my name's Craig," he said. "I'll be teaching when everybody gets here." He glanced at his watch. "Shouldn't be long. I'm gonna grab a drink."

Craig disappeared into the kitchen and I sat down on the sofa. Nancy sat down beside me and fidgeted with an amethyst ring on her finger.

I closed my eyes, faint memories of my distant past coming back to me. "I think I remember hearing about people who worked with the faeries," I said. "I don't think they were exactly Cinderella's faerie godmother, I don't think it's as black and white as Patricia thinks."

Nancy looked at me. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," I said. "Of course, I don't know if they were for real or if they were just faking, but..." I shrugged.

She nodded. "Mm, I guess."

Soon the other students came in and sat down, and Craig came back in and stood over by the easel. "So it's nice to meet you all," he said. "I'm Craig McNealy. And what are your names?"

The other students introduced themselves.

"Perfect," Craig said when he was done. He looked at the easel, where the drawing of the human nervous system was still displayed. "Today, we're going to talk about raising energy. You see this here?" He pointed to the oval around the figure of the body. "This represents your aura. Your personal power. Everybody has one, but most people's are pretty weak. Now let's get one thing clear, okay? You can't be good at magic with a weak aura. And you can't have a strong aura if you're weak-willed. You need to be determined. Disciplined."

He looked at all of us to make sure we were paying attention. We were.

"Now, some people think they can just sit around meditating all day, and that's going to be enough," he said. "But it's not. So I'm gonna tell you what you need to do. I think last time, Patricia talked to you about keeping a clean aura, right? Well, now we're gonna talk about that. Keeping a clean aura means not getting bogged down by other people's energies. So if you go to your cousin's house and he starts complaining about the rent? You got all that dark energy rolling into your aura." He waved his hands in a rolling gesture. "Same thing if you go into a bad neighborhood. Or if you watch horror movies, or listen to bad music, like rock 'n roll."

Ronnie's eyebrows shot up. "What's wrong with rock 'n roll?" he asked. "You sure it's just not messing with ya because you're just... allergic to it? Like my cousin, he eats oranges and he gets hives for days."

Us students laughed. Craig fixed Ronnie with an icy stare. "I've been practicing magic for fifteen years," he said. "You go ahead and listen to rock 'n roll music if you want, but don't give the others bad ideas."

The good mood died immediately; or at least for most of us. Nicole was looking at Craig with a doe-eyed expression.

"Now, if you find that you can't do any magic, that can be a sign that your aura's been compromised," Craig said. "And once you got a compromised aura, you gotta fix it. You can do it by cleansing it, or charging it. Just depends on what's wrong with it."

From there, it was your typical stuff about cleansing with smoke or ritual baths or whatever, and the importance of eating right and staying away from allegedly spiritually polluting things. I had to agree with Ronnie; I couldn't see how rock 'n roll could mess up anyone's aura unless they just had an allergy to good music. Then he instructed us on how to pull energy from the earth and the sky, which basically involved standing around and trying to visualize it pulling into our bodies. I didn't feel anything, and I don't think anybody else did either - especially Nicole, who was moaning theatrically in Craig's general direction.

After the class was over, we were told to practice this in addition to our meditations. After leaving, I picked up a few groceries, and went back home. Omar was gone, so I cleaned up the apartment and made a small dinner before going to bed.

It was about four in the morning when I woke up to a frigidly cold arm draped over my chest. My eyes shot open and I gasped, and I looked to my right to see Omar lying beside me. "Didn't find anything," he mumbled.

"Omar, my love, my dear, my precious soulmate," I said, lifting his arm from my chest, "There are ways to wake me up, and this isn't one of them." I dropped his arm next to me.

"Hmm? Oh, sorry. Turned on the car heat. Thought I'd be warmer," he mumbled. He sat up a little and looked down at me. "Anyway, like I said, didn't find anything. Didn't cover the whole place, though," he said. "So how 'bout you?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Just met a new teacher," he said. "Don't like him, but what else is new?"

He nodded. "Well, yeah, any institution that's got whoever murdered Debbie - what kinda people do you expect 'em to have?"

"Yeah, that's a good point," I said.

"Wouldn't be surprised if they're all guilty," he muttered darkly.

I reached over and wrapped my arms around Omar, cold body and all. "I wish there was more I could do."

"Yeah, yeah me too," he said. "For now, though... just gotta keep looking."

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