It was Tuesday evening and Harold was masturbating again. He had spent the day scouring the internet for everything his beer-addled right hand could type out and now, during his eighth session since noon, he found himself at his living room desk spiraling down a fetish chain of self-gratifying abuse. As his journey climaxed, a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder startled him to the floor as his front door magically swung open. Harold yelped in fear and slapped his laptop shut. “What the hell, man?” he shouted as he covered his genitals with one hand. The other threatened with his commemorative Sopranos Season 5 letter opener as though it were not deemed safe for use by infants. “Who are you?” In stepped an old man wearing a felt hat and tattered robes with a gnarled walking staff and an ink spattered notebook tucked under his arm. He cracked a yellowed smiled, “Do you know who I am, Harold Potomac?” “The fuckin’ Highlander,” Harold snapped. He was right to be frightened, he had triple locked that door fearing that anyone could walk in on his romantic evening alone. “How did you get into my home?!” The old man chuckled and tapped the flattened, crusty shag carpeting with his staff. “Because I, Harold Potomac, heir to the Potomac Spool Fortune, am a wizard – a wizard of the highest order, no less!” Harold took a moment to consider what the old man had just revealed. “Castle doctrine,” he shrieked as he flung the letter opener at the man he was now absolutely convinced was a hobo on PCP here to steal anything easily sold on the streets – or Harold’s Christmas Morning stash of PCP. The plastic cast dagger, manufactured in China with less than 3% polonium content, shot across the room and froze inches before the old man. The face of Tony Soprano, squat and frustrated at something unfinished, spun in the air before flying across the room and landing in Harold’s wall. “Are you frightened?” the old man asked. “Please, allow me to present my Certificate of Wizardly Authenticity.” He snapped his fingers and a scroll of parchment apparated from the void. “By Order of the Ministry,” Harold read aloud, “I hereby swear and guarantee that the bearer of this certificate is a wizard, indubitably.” The old man beamed with pride as he rolled the parchment back into his robes. “Do you want drugs?” Harold asked. “I don’t have money if you just want to rob me for drugs, but I can spot you for an eight ball if you need some powder on your nose.” “You misunderstand,” the wizard sighed. “Which, at this point, I can’t understand. You have the gift, Harold. The gift of magic – and I’ve come to inform you… of your destiny.” “My… my destiny?” Harold said, confused as any man would be when being informed of his fate while holding his member. “Yes,” the old wizard said as he moved in closer to Harold and lowered his voice. “There is a force of great evil which threatens our way of life, nay this entire world.” He waved his hand and the front door slammed shut, “An evil that you must destroy.” “How?” Harold whimpered. “I’m just an unemployed schlub.” “Oh but you are more than that – take this.” The old man gave a toilet brush to his new student. “Take it in your hands.” “It’s a toilet brush.” “Disguised with magic to conceal your identity. See that little wad of paper on the end there? It’s a topaz. Can you feel it?” “What?” The wizard twirled his hands as he chuckled in awe, “The power.” Harold squinted at the little branch in disbelief. “Not really.” “Let’s start with something easy then, how about a Spell of Unlocking?” “Is that how you opened the door?” “No, alas my powers have been locked away by an evil sorcerer – a sorcerer that you will destroy.” “With magic,” Harold replied with a sneer. “Precisely! Now, take the wand and point it at something. Try your computer.” Harold shook his head, “You want me to unlock my computer?” “Like this,” the wizard said with three light taps with his staff. The CD-ROM drive roared and slid open. “You can use a Spell of Unlocking for any number of things, from opening doors to tapping into the true potential of a living being.” “How does any of that make sense?” Harold scoffed. “If you don’t have any magic then how did you unlock my door? How do I even know you’re a wizard and not some colorful, patchwork hobo?” “Oh, the chronic masturbator is going to tell the wizard how magic is supposed to work. Hrm? Did you attend wizard night school while supporting a wife, three kids, and a secret family in Omaha, Nebraska? Some of us don’t live off of trust funds from our wealthy yet tragically murdered parents. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Some of us have to work for a living until we have our Associate’s in Enchanting and Lesser Rhystics – now cast the damned spell and embrace your destiny!” “H–how…” Harold stuttered. “How do you know that my parents–” The wizard smiled, “Oh, I’ve known you since before you were born, 9 months to the day. You hate the color green because it reminds you of the green Jell-O they used to serve in the hospitals you spent your childhood in. When you’re alone at night you talk to yourself just to hear something besides the clock. You tell everyone you worry about the time because you’re a busy investor but really you were born with a degenerative heart condition and you have to take your medicine every hour. No one knows that you’re more of afraid of dying alone than dying at all.” “…how did you know that?” “Because there is a destiny awaiting you – and I will show you how to meet the die which fortune has cast.” “Like this?” Harold asked with a sigh and a flick of his wand towards his window. The latch flipped open and the glass slid up. Rain showered into his house, soaking his carpet. “How do I stop it?” Harold shrieked. “With a Spell of Locking. Or Closing.” The wizard shut the window and locked it. “I always get the two confused. Same with the families – and let me tell you, call your wife ‘Gregory’ during orgasm? There’s no talking to her, completely irrational, causes a fuss in front of the entire neighborhood Juneteenth barbeque.” Curious as to what else he could do with such a spell, Harold’s sights turned on his beloved house cat, asleep on his couch. He flicked his wand at the cat the same way he had at the window. The cat screeched then turned inside out, anus-out-of-mouth. “…Nug… Nugget?” “Well,” the wizard huffed. “I guess that was all the little guy was ever going to amount to.” “Reverse! Reverse!” Harold slashed the air with his wand. The television switched on. The ceiling fan began to spin violently. The toaster danced in from the kitchen and began singing the opening bars to “Thunderkiss 65.” “Why?!” Harold gasped. “Yours is a great magic – you must learn to control it or you risk destroying all that you love.” The wizard clapped his hands and the television switched off. The ceiling fan halted. The toaster flipped over sideways and sparked, igniting the floor. Harold shrieked and instinctively pointed the wand at the smoldering carpet. The wizard shambled over to the fire, pulled his stained sweat pants down around his knees, and doused the flames. “Are… are you…?” Harold said over the inhuman din of the wizard’s stream, too confused and infuriated to complete a thought, much less take this opportunity to put on underwear. “Are you… pissing on my carpet?” “It was your magic, Harold,” the wizard chirped over the gushing roar of his bladder. “Your powers compelled me to extinguish the fire, and so… I obeyed.” “Really? Wait, you said your powers were sealed by an evil sorcerer, how did you stop all of that?” “Oh… I…” the wizard said with a wink. “Let’s just say I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.” “So how did it happen?” “Well,” the wizard sighed and he plopped down on Harold’s sofa. “It all began when I was a young man, about your age give or take a century. There I was, sitting by myself at the Kit Kat Club when in strolls a young buck by the name of Avery Cornelius Chesterfelt. He was in the business of names and he was gathering a list of investors. With the liquor weighing on my mind and the wool he drew over my eyes I signed away everything.” Harold cleared his throat, “This doesn’t answer my question.” “Don’t you get it? It wasn’t an investors list I signed… turns out there really isn’t such a thing as an investor’s list. It was a book of names I signed, and once he had my name in his book he had my magic. He sealed my powers in his book that night – and now that wicked Avery roams the world, using my powers for ill. But there is another way, a way to give my remaining powers to a worthy soul who can slay the evil sorcerer in my place.” The wizard took Harold’s hands in his own. “Will you do this?” he pleaded. “Please, Harold. You must; the fate of the world rest on your shoulders.” Harold thought the prospect over, the only thing better than being rich was being a hero – and a rich hero? “I’ll do it.” “Wondiferous!” The wizard jived back to the front door and walked outside. “Come, come – this way.” Harold made for his bedroom, “Yea, just let me put on some clothes and I’ll–” “No time!” The wizard took him by the arm and led him out to the driveway. “There,” he said, pointing at a hairy ape in a wifebeater and jeans. “The tow truck driver?” Harold asked, pointing to the alleged sorcerer. “Shy away your eyes, just a glance from him and you could be turned to stone. Do not be fooled by his appearance, go – cast detect magic.” “Um...” Harold said, twirling his wand in a circle. “Oh, yeah,” he lied, eager to impress his new teacher, “he’s definitely magical.” “He is a polymorph, a shapeshifter, an immortal.” The tow truck operator began attaching cables to a beat up 2001 Camry with a blue frame and two red bumpers. The wizard leaned in to Harold’s ear, “See how he blends in with non-caster society? Do you see how dangerous he could be if we allow him to escape? To travel the world, assuming any form he wishes?” “Don’t worry,” Harold said with resolve. “He won’t escape today.” “That he will not,” the wizard said with a pat on Harold’s back. “I’ve taught you all that any mage can hope to know. Go, slay the evil sorcerer! Fulfill your destiny!” Harold stiffened, held his wand high, and charged for the tow truck driver. “Avery Chesterfeld! I am Harold Potomac! I have been sent here by the wizard, uh…” He suddenly realized he never learned his teacher’s name. “By a wizard! And I call you out!” The tow truck driver either did not hear Harold or did not care to respond as he continued to hook the near-junked Camry onto his truck. Blinded by the future in store for him, Harold readied his wand. “Is that a gun?!” The driver asked as he retrieved his tazer and fired the electrodes directly at Harold’s bare chest. “Castle Doctrine! Castle Doctrine!” Harold fell to the hard concrete with a sick thud, his arms flailing, his core writhing in agony, his teeth gnashing. With a suppressed howl and a sloppy fart Harold Potomac died in obscurity, naked and in the streets, covered in his own filth. The wizard nudged Harold’s corpse with his foot. “Well, butternuts.” “Is he… is he dead?” the driver stammered. “Heart condition. And as for you – well? What will it be?” “The depends,” the tow driver replied. “You got the 50 bucks or what? Either I get paid or your piece of shit jalopy goes with me to the lot.” The wizard shook his fists in the air, “I have paid you in coin, you devil! Coin worth far more than your non-caster fifty bucks.” The driver tumbled three fat lumps of pyrite, the wizard’s payment, in his palm. “Yeah, see, this ain’t money. I don’t know what the hell this is. How did you pull this shit out of my ear?” The wizard’s head fell with a heavy sigh. “Fine, one moment.” He hiked his sweat pants up under his bathrobe, marched to the house next door and, with a wave of his hand, threw the door open. “Who the hell are you?” a woman inside the house yelled. “Gretchen Willis? You do not know me but I am a wizard – a wizard of the highest order – and I have come to inform you… of your destiny.”
Gerald Sallier belonged to a tightly-knit salon of ne’er-do-wells who spent their time crafting slash fiction starring the cast of FRIENDS and genocidal dictators throughout human history. He nurses an esoteric mercurochrome habit while penning dystopic thrillers. He’s got some stories on Amazon.