so, this is a short story I wrote for a pagan fiction anthology called etched offerings.  Of course the amusing bit is: it wasn’t fiction.  Faithfully recounted, as close as I could get it to what happened, in the third person.  hope you like it.

The Banana Thing

“So, sigils,” Arjil said “the basic method is to take your statement of intent- ‘I Want A Banana’, for instance”
He scribbled a finger through the air as if he were writing it out.
“Then you cross out all the redundant letters”
They all watched his swishing finger crossing out the imaginary letters in the air, as if he were actually Doing something.
Most of them were straight up muggles- the younger crowd, elder-teens to twenty-not-much  that hung around the coffeeshop.  A couple of them had gotten into ghost hunting, and in their quest for spooks had freaked themselves out, now they were full of all sorts of questions for the resident weirdo experts.  Arjil was known throughout the coffeeshop crowd as the go-to weirdo for any odd or Other sorts of happenings.
“Then you take the letters left over and combine them into a symbol of sorts- this helps take your intent from your conscious mind to the subconscious, and frees you up to throw your energy at it without having to hold it in your mind”
Robert, the Wiccan flavored resident weirdo expert chimed in. “Just like I was saying about the ritual tools, being a place holder, a symbol for certain thoughts so you can focus more on your intent.”
“Precisely” Arjil nodded.  He doubted if the muggle kids followed even half of their lively debate on the differing perspectives of viewing and dealing with all things supernatural over the last hour or so, sitting out there on the sidewalk, but they listened intently.  Perhaps they’d learned something.
“So, you take this symbol you’ve made” Arjil mimed picking up the imaginary symbol “and you throw the voo at it.”
He made a grand spellcasting gesture with his other hand, and accidentally let power slip into the thought, infusing this imaginary symbol he had, apparently, created.   He felt the stirring of magick and the symbol in his mind shined as it started to go off.
“What the fuck?” He snorted shaking his head, “I don’t wanna cast Banana!”
He crumpled the imaginary sigil into a ball and pretended to toss it away. “No tellin’ what the hell that would do.”
He was just screwing around really, more for the entertainment of  Robert and Olin than anything.  It was just a silly little wizard joke, and they all chuckled at the preposterous notion of accidentally casting Banana.
For about thirty seconds.
“I smell bananas” said one of the kids on the far side of the table.
Everybody kind of laughed.
Arjil figured he was just going along with the joke.  All in good fun.
“No, really, I smell bananas”
“what the hell? I do too”
Wide eyes turned to Arjil as pervasive, unmistakable Banana-whiff came from some mysterious somewhere and descended on the coffeeshop.
Arjil blinked as the smell hit him “what the?…”
Olin died laughing “You just cast Banana.  Dude, I am so never letting you forget this”
“But I didn’t… I mean… I didn’t Mean to cast anything.”
“That’s what makes it fucking funny.” Olin laughed.
“I cannot believe you just did that” Robert choked out, wiping the mirth from his eyes.
“Yeah well, it happens.” said Arjil, with a bemused chuckle..
The muggle contingent just stared, a couple grinning broadly, the rest looking uncomfortable.   Arjil recognized those looks, the dawning comprehension that they had just witnessed bang-done magick.  Right there.
Wild mirth bubbled and rolled from him with a secret glee- they could never un-see that, or un-smell it in this case, but whatever- they would remember, Forever, that magick was real.
Truly that was his mission in this life- to make people see it, to let them believe as they once did, to put that childlike Wonder back into a world gone too cynical.  Whether it was some grand design of the Gods that put him here, or his own Mad impossible quest taken up in self defense against the mundanity he despised, he didn’t know.  He just knew it was what he had to do.  His great Work.  And if it took accidentally casting Banana in front of a bunch of muggles to do it, he was cool with that.
“And That, friends, is why you should always be careful what you wish for.” Said Arjil, seriously.
Everybody laughed again, except for Olin.
Olin got it.
The young man who had started the questions was on about Crossroads, and what constituted a crossroad, and if you had to agree to whatever deal the devil you supposedly met there offered in order to lose your soul like an old blues-man, or if it just happened.
Arjil and Robert both pointed in unison to the intersection just behind them..
“That’s a Crossroads?” Young Adam asked, looking nervous and excited at the same time.
“Any place where two paths cross each other” Said Robert.  “Could be roads, could be rabbit trails in the woods, whatever”
“Or figurative rather than literal” said Arjil,
“The Devil,” he quirked his fingers in quotation marks, ” can show up any place where your life can turn one way or another.  A whole lot of things qualify as crossroads”
“But” Young Adam said, “does it have to be a verbal agreement?”
“You just have to agree. To choose it.” said Arjil.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a contract or something?”
“You just have to agree” Robert echoed.
Arjil was impressed that Robert understood the subtle nature of the magick of crossroads, he seemed young for it, but he had been to war twice now, so he had dealt with crossroads a plenty.
Perhaps sometimes a shadowy figure, some Loa or old god, or the Devil himself did literally show up with an offer.  Most of the time it was just choices- left, right, or keep on truckin’.
Most of the time.
Sometimes there Was somebody there, and Arjil had the odd, sobering feeling that this time, that somebody was him.
“So what is it you’re wanting from a crossroads?” Arjil asked, fixing the young man with a shrewd look.
“What I really want is to find the real deal, to see the supernatural.” Young Adam said. “Do you guys know any places to go? I mean we’ve been to graveyards and down haunted roads and we’ve found some cold spots and things, but…”
“Look” Arjil interrupted “Magick is tricky.  It’s subtle. Most of these things you’re looking for aren’t exactly Here.  They’re somewhere Else- just on the other side of the fence so to speak.  That’s why you mostly can’t see them except as shadows or glimmers out of the corner of your eye.  The specific where doesn’t really matter- it’s everywhere. Its just that in most places that fence, or Veil as some call it,  is too thick to see through. Some places though, the Veil is thin. What you need to learn to find is a Between place.  That’s where the magick happens.”
“What do you mean?” ”
“In the middle of a doorway, alleys, crossroads, clearings in the woods, between two trees, anywhere between here and there, really.  I don’t know why, but they’ve got a particular Resonance to them, a kind of buzz that, once you know what you’re looking for you’ll find them all over the place if you think about them right.  Perhaps because they’re not exactly places, most people don’t think about them much, so they’re free of the static influences of consensual reality and thus the reality of such places is  rendered more mutable- but that’s an entirely different conversation.  Anyway, there’s a big one just down the street.”
Young Adam looked confused for a moment, then he hung his head thinking hard.
“Lets go, right now” He said, trying to be cool and casual, but Arjil could feel the excitement, the wanting of it brewing in him.
“Yup.” thought Arjil “Guess I am, in fact, the Devil at the crossroads tonight.”
He considered for a moment how he felt about that. This was actually a slightly perilous bit of knowledge he was about to teach this kid, and he knew from hard experience that one could get into all sorts of trouble.  Becoming aware of multilayered reality could well break somebody’s brain- and you couldn’t go back, that door closed behind you.
But the he had asked for it.  It’s what he wanted. He had already chased the mystery to this particular crossroads and he had already accepted the deal.  Arjil shrugged and nodded.  This was the sort of thing he did.
“Sure” he said, as he stood up, killed the cold dregs of his coffee, and took up his walking stick with a broad grin “Who else is coming?”
Robert, Olin, Young Adam, a widely grinning kid and his nervous looking girlfriend all followed Arjil as they set off down the street.
They stopped in the middle of a strip of old buildings where one had been torn out, the vestiges of old plaster still clinging to the weathered bricks, the foundation buckled and shot through with weeds.  “This,” said Arjil “is a Between place.”
He could feel the prickle along his skin as he stepped over the threshold where the wall once stood.   He walked with arms outstretched and half lidded eyes till he reached the exact center of the place, where the streetlight was cut off by the buildings shadow.  He loved places like this, so full of possibility, the twilight feeling where anything can happen, and he smiled as he felt the magick ghost around him like a misty cat rubbing against his form.
They all followed- Robert and Olin cautiously, as they could feel it too, Young Adam looking thoughtful, and Grinning boy and Nervous girl huddled together with the resonance kids have on a spookyfun adventure.
“I don’t feel anything” said Young Adam.
“They do. Don’t you?”Arjil said gesturing to Robert and Olin. “Kind of a… buzz, a vibration.”
Olin grinned his maniac grin and nodded- he looked like a demented pointy toothed scarecrow when he got like that.
“Oh yeah,” said Robert. “Stand where he is and close your eyes, tell me what you feel” he gestured for Arjil to step aside.  Young Adam came to stand in the spot, turning in a slow circle.
“I don’t know, like a hum sort of, like a car with lots of base coming down the road from far off or something, kinda.”
“Yes!” said Arjil “That’s the Resonance.”
“Now,” said Robert “what’s really going to screw with you later is if you really felt it, or you just felt it because he said you would.”
Arjil laughed “That’s the bitch of the whole business- most of the time you’re left wondering if that was Really there, or if you just made something out of nothing.  It’s really hard not to go off the deep end- like Ronnie.”
They all knew who Ronnie was.
“You mean mister ‘I stubbed my toe so it must be the work of the arch overfiend lords of hell out to get me’ or ‘I went to a graveyard and the wind blew so Azazimbulakgresheshal the seventh demon of the underworld was coming to eat my soul’?”  Said Olin, his basso voice rumbling with contempt.
“Precisely” said Arjil.
“Fuckin’ dumbass” said Olin.
“Yup.”
“So this is the sort of place ghosts and things happen?” Adam asked, looking around as if he expected some kind of spook to come shambling out of the darkness.
“Yeah, only, most of the time it doesn’t happen.  Most of the time you just get a shivery feeling like you’re being watched, maybe see something out of the corner of your eye, like I said.  But it’s more Likely to happen in places like this.  The Veil’s pretty darn thin here.  Think I’ll wake it up.”
“Ah shit” said Olin as Arjil produced a pen and crossed to one of the walls.
“Are you doing what I Think you’re doing?” Said Robert, his tone somewhere between disapproval and amusement.
Arjil grinned and nodded as he drew the sigil, then turned and went to tag the other side of the alley.
“What’s he doing?” said Young Adam walking over to the wall to see what he had done.
“Well,” said Arjil, turning from his work with a flourish “you remember what I said about Sigils right?  I made one that acts as a crack in the fabric of reality.  It lets the magick seep through more readily to this side of the fence.. And anyone who… Oh, too late.”
Young Adam was peering intently at the symbol on the wall.  It was innocuous looking enough- just an L cut through with a lightning bolt S.  It had arrows on all the ends, and a small dot off to one side.
“What?” said the Grinning Boy
Arjil turned to the two standing in the shadows “Well, part of the intent was to put a splinter in peoples minds if they saw the thing, a doubt, a seed of Wonder. Aside from making their worlds a little more interesting for a bit, it helps make reality itself a little more mutable for those with the knack, by loosening the bonds of consensual reality.”
“More interesting How?” asked the Nervous Girl
Olin coughed significantly, and they all turned toward the mouth of the alley, where a black cat was crossing.  It stopped and stared at them for a long moment, before carrying on with business of its own.
“Like that.” Said Robert.
“Now,” said Arjil, unable to contain his grin,”that Could have just been coincidence.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t” said Olin.
“No, but still. That’s how it happens.” Arjil turned to Young Adam “most of the time, that’s as much as you get.  Could be coincidence.  But Olin, Robert, and I  Know it wasn’t.  Of course we could be deluded or wanting things to be real, but- That Just Happened.  How you choose to take it is up to you, and what kind of world you want to live in.  Want to live in a world where magick happens?- there you go.  If not” he shrugged “you can just write it off and forget about it”
“Nobody’s ever forgetting that you accidentally cast Banana.”  Said Olin, laughing again.
“Point.” said Arjil, and led the way back to the coffeeshop.
****

Now here’s the really amusing thing about this- so I get home and text my girl who was off in Missouri- right after I get done telling her about it the guy she was staying with walks in with a bunch of bananas and has no idea why he bought them.

So, Then she says “since you’re on a roll, I’ll take a chocolate milkshake”. That was amusing so I do the thing again as a joke and think no more of it.  The next day she’s driving and stops somewhere, and since she’s got this milkshake craving she orders one with lunch. Once she’s back in the car, she looks at the recipt- they didn’t charge her for the milkshake.  I used magick to get my love a chocolate milkshake. bang, I win!

Advertisements