WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 18
James waved Chris to stay as the rest filed out. “You said phone calls, Chris. Who else has called?”
“Mike DeRoy offered his support, which I’ll believe when I see it. Missy Hartman insists that magic doesn’t exist.”
“And how does the ideologue from La La Land explain the healings and the dragons?”
“Alien invaders,” Chris said with a straight face.
James cracked up. “No magic, but hyper drives and little green men are fine?”
“She might have a point, Mr. President.” Chris still had a straight face.
“Chris, don’t tell me you’re taking Missy Heartless seriously. The woman has never had an original thought in her life. If it’s not in the party platform, it’s a right wing conspiracy. All while she’s in bed with every damned too-big-to-fail bank in the U.S.”
“Sir, I know you don’t like her. And I know why, when the two of you ran against each other, it got pretty brutal,” Chris said. “On both sides.”
James held up his hands “It’s not that, Chris. I’m a big boy. I can take my licks in the political ring and not hold grudges.” At Chris’ look, James modified his claim. “Well, no more than the next guy. My problem with Missy Hartman is that she thinks she has all the answers, which makes it impossible for her to learn. She’s as doctrinaire as any fundamentalist preacher who ever insisted that the earth was created at nine AM, January first, in 5023 BCE.”
James knew that Chris got along fairly well with the house minority leader. He even knew that he was overstating things a bit. But Missy Hartman looked for easy answers. Government good, corporation bad. Diplomacy good, military bad. Soak the rich. Any sexual contact between a man and a woman must be assumed to be rape until proven otherwise. Any conflict between a police officer and a minority was the fault of the police. Anyone who wanted to own a gun was unqualified to possess one because only a nut would want a gun. And, of course, if it weren’t for the evil big oil conspiracy, we would be able to end climate change. That one particularly bothered James because of her labeling him as the Senator from Exxon during the primaries five years ago.
The truth was all those issues were much more complicated. On all those issues, especially in James’s mind the last, because China and Russia were not going to decrease their emissions just because the US said so. Climate change warming was going to happen, and the only option James could see was to adapt to it. At least that was the only option that he’d been able to see before the Merge. “Chris, find out how the Merged might be able to effect environmental concerns.”
“Yes, Mr. President.” Chris’ voice made it clear that he was following James’ thoughts all too well.
6:45 AM MST, Jan 1
The hotel breakfast was waffles from a self-serve waffle maker, overdone turkey sausage, equally overdone scrambled eggs, drying-out biscuits, and cereal. Pretty standard fare.
Carla was irritated. Last night she dreamed of human sacrifice, mixing and matching memories from Eowina and Carla. Roy and Norma were on the altar. Their life force and bits of their understanding used to make a magical camera in Roy’s case, and a set of sound sensors and microphones in Norma’s. While Eowina went through the ceremony with joy, Carla was feeling every cut, as though the knife were carving her own skin. Roy was whispering “I love you, Babe” as she cut out his heart.
The new person who was created by the Merge was still sorting out her emotional responses to things like torture and it wasn’t comfortable.
Add to that the fact that elves, at least elves from Carla’s game world, didn’t sleep, but went into a revery where they were aware of their surroundings.
Carla slept last night, and was unable to wake and escape the dream. She felt crippled and weak, and pissed off at the mortal weakness. Then she spilled coffee all over her front.
She turned, looking for someone to kill, and there was Roy with napkins in his hands.
“It’s all right, Carla. Rough night last night?”
He didn’t call her babe. Didn’t hold her. Worst of all, Carla didn’t know if she wanted him to.
She didn’t cast a spell. That was the good thing.
Instead, she turned and ran out of the room where the hotel served breakfast, and headed for the bathroom.
Anything to escape.
“Leave it to me,” Norma said.
“Leave what to you?” Roy asked. “Damn it, Norma. What’s going on?”
“From what I heard last night and what I saw just now, my guess is PTSD. I’ve seen it in embedded reporters I’ve known, and my ex-husband had it. Did you know Greg was a cop?”
Roy nodded. Norma rarely talked about her ex, but rarely wasn’t never.
He wanted to help Carla, but he didn’t want to push Eowina. Roy took a breath and faced something. He was afraid of Eowina, and he didn’t like feeling that way.
11:00 AM EST, Jan 1
White House, Situation Room
“That’s it, then,” President Maguey directed. “Let’s break it up and try to get a handle on things. We’ll meet again when we know more. There’s just too much confusion right now. Get some facts and figures together.”
A murmur of affirmation ran around the table. At the moment, there wasn’t much anyone could do, anyway. Until someone knew what had happened and the extent of the change, they might as well get some rest. Reports were still coming in fast and furious, but no one knew the extent of the event yet. It seemed to have spread at a steady rate.
As the Chiefs and the Secretaries of various departments left, James motioned to Airman Jeannie Matthews to stay behind. He had a question he wanted answered as soon as possible. Jeannie, Chris Warren, and a secret service agent stayed behind.
“Jeannie, why do you keep looking at me that way?” he asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Mr. President,” Jeannie said, “perhaps we should speak in private.”
Chris Warren looked at the President and shook his head.
“Chris is concerned about something. Give me a moment.”
The President and his chief of staff talked quietly for a few moments while Jeannie waited. After a few words, the President nodded. “Here’s the problem, Jeannie. Chris is concerned that Shofar might be a threat. Whether you’ve known it or not, someone has been watching you very carefully every time you’ve been in the same room with me. They have to, it’s their job.
“Since the Merge, each of the people affected have two people with two backgrounds and sets of attitudes. We don’t know how they add up, not yet. The people whose job it is to keep me alive aren’t all that thrilled about having someone who can throw a lightning bolt in the same room with me, much less alone with me. Chris just mentioned two spells called Charm and Mesmerize, both of which are supposed to get someone to do what you want. What do you know about them?”
“I see what you mean, sir,” Jeannie answered after a moment’s thought. “Both those spells exist, though I don’t happen to have either one. My stuff is mostly defense and transport. The other thing to consider, and I wish someone would, is that it’s not like I have a split personality. Shofar and I Merged, yes. But I’m not sitting around having arguments with her in my head. She’s a part of me.”
“I understand, Jeannie,” James said. “I think so, at any rate. But it will be a while before the professional paranoids around me are going to let any magic user get me alone. So, I’ll just ask. Why have you been giving me odd looks every now and again since we met? Have I broken out with green spots?”
“No, sir, but there may be a situation,” Jeannie answered. “It’s generally a private matter by the custom of, well, Shofar’s world. That’s why I asked for privacy. Wizardry, as I mentioned, comes in several forms, amulet wizardry, book wizardry, and natural wizardry, as well as celestial and demonic magic. Natural wizardry is a talent. It’s rare. One in a thousand or so people in the world where Shofar grew up had it. It generally manifests itself at puberty. When that happens, the person who has the talent needs to get some advice on how to handle it. Mr. President, you’re not the only one.”
“The only one what?” Chris Warren asked.
Jeannie looked at Chris and said, “I’d guess that there are a hundred thousand people or more in the U.S. alone, who are going to have to deal with the side effects of a natural talent for wizardry.”
James felt his face pale a bit. “Are you saying I’m a natural wizard?”
“You felt that Translocation Block spell, sir. Remember, no one else in the room did,” Jeannie said. “You felt the magical armor, too. Chances are, if you can feel something like that, you have some talent. It seems likely you do. My teacher, well, Shofar’s teacher, said that ‘natural wizards were people so charming that the world itself wanted to do what they want.’ If the talent is there, the more charming they are, the more powerful a natural wizard they can become.”
“I don’t know about that, Jeannie,” James said. “And I’m not sure it’s something I want to think about right now, either. This is my second term and there’s still a lot I want to accomplish. I don’t want anything interfering with that.”
Jeannie shrugged again, something James thought was one of Shofar’s mannerisms. “That’s why I mentioned that there might be a problem, Mr. President. This talent isn’t really something you can safely ignore. Like I said, the world wants to do what you want. If you don’t learn how to tell it what you want, well, things are probably going to start happening around you. If you’re not trained, those things are going to be uncontrolled. I just thought you might want to know.”
“Right.” James shook his head. “Jeannie, get with Madeline and give a press conference telling people what to look for. We’ll need to think about whether to announce it in regard to me, so don’t mention it right now. I’ve got to think about this.”