WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 01

WarSpell: The Merge

By Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett

Chapter 1

11:37 PM EST, Dec 30 8:37 PM PST

Fresno, CA, KGWN Editing Bay

Carla Jackson dialed the B roll back several frames with her right hand as she picked up her ham and cheese on rye with mayo in her left. She took a bite, still focused on the monitor, then had to move quickly to avoid a lap full of mayonnaise covered ham and cheese as it slid from the soggy pieces of bread. “Shit,” she said, looking at the mess on the floor. She turned in her chair, reaching for napkins, and saw the network feed on monitor three. It was running silent, but it showed a woman, perhaps forty-five and overweight, with one hand raised and the other on a patient in a hospital bed. There was, for a few moments, a glow around the patient. Then it faded and the feed switched back to the anchor desk.

Carla’s assumption was a faith healer using special effects of some sort, i.e. a fraud. But in spite of that her interest was piqued. Why would the network be covering that crap? Curiosity won out over responsibility. I have a few minutes. Besides, I can watch while I clean up the mess. She turned up the volume on the network feed, grabbed a handful of paper towels and watched.

As soon as the volume was up, Carla’s assumption was thrown out the window. Not the assumption that faith healing was a fraud; that was so deeply ingrained that it wasn’t even stated or questioned. The assumption that the faith healer would be Christian was overturned. This, according to the network, was an Intercessor of Prima–whoever or whatever a prima was. “Wait a second. I know I’ve heard that name before.” Carla concentrated, but couldn’t place it.

Then Roy Carson, cameraman extraordinaire and now off-camera feature reporter, came into the editing bay. “There you are. Goofing off, as usual,” he said with a wry grin. Roy’s major complaint in their relationship was that she worked too hard. Not that he didn’t work just as hard.

Carla shot him the finger, and he said, “Promises, promises.”

Carla grinned. “You should be so lucky.” In fact, he had been so lucky on several occasions. They hadn’t moved in together, but they had gotten to the weekend together stage. Not at work, though. The station had rules about that.

Roy grinned, but just then the commentator said, “The hospital has refused to comment.”

“What are you watching?” Roy asked.

“I’m not sure yet. Some faith healer is using special effects as part of their schtick. Says the god is Prima, which is just stupid. They should be saying it’s a Christian saint, at least, if not Jesus. The way they’re doing it, both the fundies and the atheists are going to line up against ’em.”

“Maybe they really believe?” Ray asked more than said, as he sat at a computer.

“And they’re using special effects? I don’t buy it.”

“You’d be surprised,” Ray said, then asked, “What’s that god called again?”

“Prima, and the name sounds familiar for some reason.”

“Well, the internet has Spanish to English translation, then there is a video game, and wiktionary says ‘not comparable.'”

“Game . . . something about game . . . No. Still can’t place it. Anyway, according to Betty the Bitch Ross, the faith healing actually worked. Healed a surgical incision in a few seconds, leaving not even a scar.”

“Bull pucky,” Roy said.

Carla shook her head. Sometimes Roy’s anachronistic phrases were just weird. “Bull pucky? Who says ‘bull pucky’?”

But the network feed went to another clip. It was clearly something taken on a camera phone and uploaded. It was a teenager in a city park. The kid had gang tats, but walked up to a stretch of ground and said something. At which point the camera caught the grass growing back.

“Well, that kid’s out of the gang,” Roy said, “unless he can grow grass as well as grass.”

“Roy, this is starting to get serious.”

“What? Come on! Growing grass in the park?”

“Not just that, Roy. Both these clips are from Boston, but one is from Boston General Hospital and the other is from the other end of town.”

“I don’t buy it,” Roy said as he stood up, “but I’ll get Granger.” John Granger was their boss, the news director for KGWN Fresno.


“Six reports now, boss,” Carla said as Roy returned with John Granger. “Four from Boston, one from Brockton, and one from New Bedford. It seems to be growing.”

What seems to be growing? Roy pulled me out of a budget meeting for this.” John Granger was a short man with a bullet shaped, shaved head. It wasn’t political. He was going bald, so made a choice out of necessity. He was wearing a short sleeved striped shirt with a pocket protector and tan pants. He could afford to lose about twenty pounds of love handles and was scowling his disapproval.

“I don’t know yet. But we have three healings, two by–get this–an ‘intercessor of Prima,’ and one by an ‘intercessor of Thorgan,’ a kid growing grass in a few seconds, a guy flying a winged horse, and another guy walking up a flight of stairs that weren’t there.”

Granger watched for a few minutes as another report came in. It was another healing at Boston General, but the intercessor of a different god. He looked from Carla to Roy, and back to Carla. “All right. Whatever this is, it’s looking like it’s real.” He lifted his right hand and wobbled it in the air. “For some value of real. I still think it’s some sort of coordinated fakery, but even if it is, we need to cover it. You two keep watching. I’m going to call everyone in.”

“Boss, whatever it is, it’s spreading,” Roy reiterated Carla’s earlier point, “and the reports are behind the spread by the time we see them. Assume for just a second that something real is going on. How far has it spread by now?”

11:45 PM EST, Dec 30

Base Commander’s Office

Ft. Benning, Georgia

Josh saw a blinking light on his phone. The hand that automatically reached out to answer it was dark brown, which seemed to be both right and wrong. The Duty Officer, Captain Tim Brown, sounded a bit panicked. “Sir, this is going to sound nuts. There’s a centaur in my office, a real centaur. He says his name is Sergeant Ernest Walker.” The captain paused for a moment, then said, “I haven’t been drinking, sir, and I can prove it.”

Major General Joshua Everett, USA, Post Commander at Fort Benning, Georgia, had been wondering if he was going to have to call the men in white coats. The report on Sergeant Walker was almost a relief. It meant he probably hadn’t gone crazy. And, if he hadn’t gone crazy the memories were valid. His memories told him that a sergeant suddenly becoming a centaur had just one explanation. Magic. Probably used by a wizard. This, in turn, meant that Josh wasn’t the only one who had suddenly realized magic worked, probably. If there were two, why couldn’t there be hundreds or even thousands?