Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 3.9

Posted by harmony0stars on March 8, 2009

The smear of Mike’s rotting flesh was lividly gray against the rich wood tones of the table.  The mid afternoon sun made it look as if someone had smeared the table with dried mud. Glory supposed that’s exactly what it was… Mike’s flesh returned to earth by the fungus that was consuming and preserving him at the same time.

Glory took the items she had purchased for her spell up to the library after putting away the groceries she had bought for Gil. She carefully unwrapped a small crystal bowl that had caught her eye as she passed an antique shop on her way home. She might have used any old cup or bowl, but it was such a lovely little cut crystal bowl and the perfect size, she hadn’t been able to resist. There was a lot to be said for having a disposable income.

At a little neighborhood corner store, she had purchased a piece of cork, a bottle of spring water, a pack of needles, some tissues, and a map of Sybar City. Spreading the map over the table, she set the bowl about where her home would be and filled it with water. Taking a yellow sharpie from the drawer, she drew a compass rune into the top of the cork and set it to bobbing in the water. It was barely visible, but it wasn’t necessary that it be seen and yellow was the best color for divination. She wipe up the gray smudge of matter on the table with a tissue, and using it as if it were a magnet, she pulled a needle through it several times, drawing towards the point. Carefully Glory set the needle on the cork so that it sat parallel to the water, aligning it with the north-south bar, and waited for the bobbing to abate.

The needle swung first one way, then the other, back and forth several times before coming to point in a southwesterly direction. Just to be sure it was working as she had planned, she moved the bowl to different positions on the map, but the bearing of the needle remained the same.

By moving the bowl a few centimeters and waiting for her makeshift compass to settle back into its default magnetic north, aka Mike, she was able to track their general direction. But she hit the edge of the map before finding them. They had obviously already left Sybar City though they seemed to be heading into Jersey.

“I’ll need a bigger map…” she muttered to herself.

“For what?” Gil’s sleepy voice came from behind her, making her jump. “Sorry,” he mumbled, turning a deep crimson.

“It’s okay… I was trying to track Gozala and Mike,” she answered, gesturing at the map and bowl.

Gil looked from the table to her and back to the table again. “How?” he demanded, completely perplexed by the bowl and map.

She raised her eyebrows and wiggled her fingers dramatically. “Magic?” she replied with an ironic smile.

He opened his mouth to dispute her, then snapped it shut without saying anything. It was clear he wanted to argue now that he was more coherent from his much needed rest, but he also did not want to offend her. And maybe he regretted, just a little, trusting this strange person despite her kindness. She might be his only hope of finding Mike, but she also harbored strange ideas. No matter how much he agreed with her on the hypocrisy of the human race, he wasn’t completely sold on the idea that Gozala was an innocent.

“Come on. You must be hungry. I bought some food.” She brushed past him, heading toward the kitchen. He lingered in the door a moment longer eying the table and its odd contents before following her. He was truly torn. He desperately wanted to find Mike, as if finding him would automatically produce a cure for whatever was wrong with him. Love conquered all, right? But could he afford to trust her any more than he had his professors at Miskatonic? Their assertions had seemed perfectly reasonable at first, or at least more believable than Glory’s belief in magic.

“So how does it work?” he asked around mouthfuls of whole grain bread and cheese and chicken noodle soup. She was surprised he paused long enough to get that question out, the way he was wolfing his food, but his eyes never left her, even when he missed the bowl with his spoon. It would strike the table with a loud tap, and he would wince in embarrassment but look away only long enough to properly position the spoon again.

“How does what work?” she asked, nibbling without interest at her own cheese sandwich. She ate to be companionable and put him at ease, but it seemed her appetite and even her need to eat had completely evaporated.

“The spell… to find Mike,” he said in a demanding tone. He might not believe, but he wanted to understand as much as he could. Surrounded by paranoid maniacs determined to ‘save the world’ from alien horrors, a charismatic little girl who had stolen the love of his love, and a complete stranger who believed in magic, Gil felt as if he were drowning. If he didn’t learn to tread water soon, he’d go mad himself.

“Do you know anything about magic?” When he made an embarrassed face and looked away, she modified her approach.  “Have you ever heard of the law of contagion or sympathetic magic?” When he gave a half shrug and shook his head still looking down, she continued with a sigh. “The law of contagion or sympathetic magic functions as a sub-law of the Law of Association. Any two pattern with elements in common are capable of interaction through those common elements. Thus control of one pattern facilitates control of the others. The Law of Contagion states that objects or beings in physical contact with each other continue to interact after separation. Anything once in contact with a substance, person, or object may be used as a witness for that substance, person, or object.”

Gil had stopped eating and looked up at her with a befuddled expression on his face. It was her turn to be embarrassed as she mumbled “sorry…” and went back to picking at her sandwich.

“No, don’t be!” he blurted anxiously.” I… just felt like I should be taking notes or something.” He laughed. “I didn’t realize there were Laws.” This was something he could maybe get a handle on. He felt like he was back in class. Somehow the familiarity of being lectured put him at ease and gave him hope at the same time.

“Everything has rules. Have you taken any philosophy courses?” When he nodded, she continued. “Magic and science are like idealism and materialism. Magical laws are just like scientific theorem. Look at it this way, Arthur C Clarke once wrote that ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ Magic just deals with realities which mainstream science is as yet unwilling or unable to examine. So far as I am concerned, magic is really just a different form of science, like physics, biology, or chemistry. ”

“Okay… I guess that makes sense.” He thoughtfully took another mouthful of his sandwich. “So Mike left something here that you used in your… spell… to connect to him.”

“Yes,” she answered, unwilling to freak him out over exactly what item she had used to bind the compass to Mike’s location. He still had trouble using the terms, but at least he seemed to be making peace with the idea of magic. “I… do you drive at all?”

“Um, yeah. I have my license but my car’s back at the University. Why?”

“I can rent a car, but I can’t drive and watch the compass as well. So if you still want to look for Mike, we could maybe help each other out.”

Gil set the spoon on the table and pushed his plate away. “I’m ready whenever you are,” he asserted.

“Finish your food. I’ll call a rental place to drop a car off for us. You’ll probably be able to catch another little nap before they arrive.”

With mixed emotions, Gil resumed eating as Glory went to find her cell and call information for a service that would drop a car off at her home. With any luck, they’d be on their way in a few hours.

to Book 3, page 10


3 Responses to “Tattoo Book 3.9”

  1. Miladysa said

    And we’re off! 😀

  2. Melissa said

    Ah, yeah I like this. I’ve had an interesting confluence of ideas about reality this week. My one textbook had a section on paradigms and the nature of reality, stating that the next major paradigm shift is going to be revolving around our beliefs of space-time physics. Idealism vs materialism meet. The commonly held beliefs on magic may just change.

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