December 4, 2017 | Narrative
the wizard man
mortality. magic. also, cats.
He was the wizard of a thousand kings surveying his domain. One nostril smelt it burning. Empty windows pasted thick with circus fliers ran up the high street. His left hand twitched. A Boots and a Ladbrokes. Two towers. The wizard man strode on, his chattering jewelry announcing his presence to the street’s occupants. Tonight, this was a stray cat named Moloch who he had raised from the dead a fortnight before. She had patchy fur and a missing incisor. Moloch walked up to the wizard man and did a figure-eight between his legs. The wizard man picked her up and popped her on his shoulder. She fell off.
Tonight, the wizard man had chosen to wear the purple robe and the gold-and-purple cape. The robe cut off at the knees and some of the stitching irritated his left nipple. That said, it had the most decoration on it—little golden frilly bits and some sort of dragon sewn into the back with the word “blaze” stitched underneath. His beard was long, but dense and well-kept. The cape had a large, vampiric collar. His slippers were pointy. He wore a violet skull-cap. Pointy hats drew far too much attention to yourself these days, and it was better to keep a low profile, thought the wizard man, as a draft caught his cape and made it billow behind him in a flourish of gold and purple.
“Moloch,” began the wizard man, “you chase the smallest pigeons on my high street. You try to devour them because they refuse to stay on the ground with you. Jealous cat. They are magical creatures.”
“I am a scientific thinker, wizard man,” said Moloch, in Cat. “I dissect the birds I catch. I examine them. You wander; I wonder. I ask questions.”
“Do you remember what the doormouse said?” asked the wizard man.
“No, I ate him,” said Moloch.
“Neither can I,” the wizard man sighed. “You cannot fully comprehend what you have already half-eaten.” He conducted a blueish finger through the air and stopped to pick up a fifty-pence piece. He turned to the cat and twirled it between his digits. The coin disappeared behind the ring finger. The wizard man reached behind Moloch’s ear, but the coin wasn’t there. His mouth opened then closed. The wizard man gave the cat a scratch instead.
“I do not need them to answer for me to ask,” purred Moloch. “I’m satisfied to ponder. Some things you can never understand.”
“I understand,” said the wizard man.
They walked up the street together. There was a Rimmel poster at the bus stop with a smiling woman on it. She had a gap in her teeth. He missed her.
“You ever wonder if some birds just go, ‘Fuck it,’ and fly off into space and explode?” asked the cat.
The wizard man chuckled because of course he had. He knew the answer too.
The roar was steadily approaching.
“Mordred’s children, wizard man,” said Moloch. She slipped from between his legs and hopped onto a bit of railing where someone had laid some flowers and empty bottles of Stella for a boy named JACK97-11.
Some had masks, but most were just wearing hoods with scarves pulled up to their eyes. If you look into a druid’s mouth, you can see his buck-teeth and turn him back into a white rabbit. Back in the hat he goes. There was a name in there. Alice. Poor Alice, when she was just small. The wizard man let his hand rest on the hilt of his athame just for a moment. She had a gap in her teeth. There had been a woman once, but her face slipped away from him. Might have been Amy.
They began by smashing the windows. They threw fireballs overhead which landed in empty rooms, announcing their entry with the displacement of clouds of plaster and a splash of red. The beached corpse at Woolworth’s was filling with flies. “I understand,” said the wizard man, looking at his pointy slippers. His bare knees were cold. Boots on fire. He stood in the middle of the road.
The horde parted around him like the sea. Two druids stopped. One of them pushed him in the chest. They cackled. The wizard man laughed his own breathy laugh too. One of them took his cap. He didn’t know their words. Everything smelt of smoke. Someone had managed to find a television.
He was on the ground. Something pulled on his beard. His high street’s city greys were becoming oranges. Druids encircled him. A Woolworth’s bag blew past his face.
“Might have been Agnes,” said the wizard man.
He stood to his full height. The druids began to scamper back. His cloak became gold, and his eyes became fire. He floated over the city.
From above he saw two armies. The druids were hooting and running down the street from one direction. Footmen were marching towards them with their shields. Plod plod. The druids were dancing back and forth, slowly losing ground. The wizard man saw some footmen stop at a pile of gold and purple in the road. One of them turned over a man, and took a small knife off his belt. It went in a bag. They patted this gold and purple thing and carried him off by his hands. He could be balanced, but they could not seem to make him make a noise. His knees gave before they could get him to the van. A cat approached but was shooed away. You could see its ribs through its skin.
“Fuck it,” said the wizard man. He flew into space, and exploded.