Something of Magic

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[The music drifted out of the club like a vibrating pulse. I could feel it in my bones. The night was alive with possibility. I could even imagine myself] going back home. Coming through the portal had felt like this, like it was pounding through my bones and veins and head. But that had been months ago, and there was no magic in this land to construct a portal from.

Jake waved a hand in front of my eyes, jerking me back to the present. “Earth to Hollander. Come on, we’re going in.”

I pasted a smile on my face, though I didn’t feel it. Jake was the closest thing I had to a friend in this realm, and though he didn’t know the truth of where I was from, he tolerated any behaviors from me that were odd to him, and from him I learned a lot of cultural details I could pick up so I didn’t come off so… well, weird. It was getting difficult as my translation magic wore off though. I was studying English as diligently as I could, but overall I was barely able to keep up. But I was keeping up.

I had made the mistake of telling Jake I had never been to a “club.” Well, here we were. He ushered me in past an enormous man who was scanning the incoming crowd, and I was struck with the thought that the man would have been a knight in my homeland, comfortable in a suit of armor. But I knew enough about this world now to know not to bow to anyone.

We passed through into the club proper, and the music was oppressive, vibrating through my body. I didn’t like it, being reminded of that portal, of a mistake that had left me stranded. People were, oddly enough, dancing to the sound, but it was again nothing like home. The people here jumped and twisted and writhed in a sea of bodies. Dances back home had had power, had brought and stored magic, had meant something. This here was just sweat and noise. Yet somehow the participants engaged fully in it, without any result. Whatever, Jake was leading me over to a bar, which I knew enough about now to know the drinks contained no magics or potions. That had been a shock itself, that people could seem to enjoy such flat and empty food and drink. But Jake got me a beer and I drank it, because I was thirsty. Even if I knew it would never slake my thirst for power and magic.

The music thrummed, and the people danced, and I watched. Jake bought drinks for a couple of women, and one of them wordlessly took my hand and pulled me into the crowd of dancers. She swayed and wrapped herself around me, and I tried to do the same but despite the heat and sweat generated it was nothing. I was only making motions, as was she. We might as well have been walking in place. But it seemed to affect her enough to kiss me.

I was startled. Not by the kiss, but by something in it. Under the heat and wetness of her tongue, I thought I felt more. Something of home, something of magic. My heart leapt, and I kissed her back deeply, trying to draw it out again but it had faded. We pulled apart gasping. She dragged me to the doors.

The cool night winds struck us as we exited and they might as well have blinded me because I stumbled down the steps and fell into her arms. She laughed and kissed me again, and again I felt it, lying dormant underneath. Magic.

I pulled away and tried to ask about it. “Are you—”

She put a finger to my lips, then to her lips, then took my hand and led me down the street. I felt silly for even thinking to ask. She couldn’t be from my world. But she had some sort of spark in her, something that was resonating with me.

We walked about a kilometer, and climbed steps to an apartment. It was tidy and filled with the unembellished furniture of this world. I tried to speak again as we entered, but she locked her lips onto mine and pulled me into the bedroom. I don’t know what I was trying to say anyway. She hadn’t brought me there to talk. We kissed and felt and moved against each other, me trying to catch that spark again, any hint of it, expecting it to come full strength at any moment, for magic to fill the room and our bodies. For something to happen. She trying to keep me from talking, taking me into her with barely a gasp.

We tried and tried. She got what she wanted: we didn’t speak. But even when I released into her, for all the effort I felt nothing.

There was no magic here.

The spark had been only a hope and wish, perhaps imagined. It was only sweat on flesh, flesh on flesh, powerless fluids. Nothing.

She let me back out into the cold night, like a dog at bedtime. The empty sweat was still drying on my forehead and arms. I looked at the lights around me, the cars driving past, and it was all devoid of magic. I had been chasing a dream. There was no way home, and there was nothing to hold me over.

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