Sunday, February 25, 2007

Samuel's War, Part 2.

Samuel’s infiltration of the Celtic revivalists in Scotland was an amateur affair. He had studied the occult privately, and through those studies he met the woman who eventually became his regretful wife. He took the task on himself, out of his own convictions, committing himself to uprooting what he believed to be evil. The report of another cult, within the defences of occupied France, was far beyond his resources.

His destination after Scotland was Brighton. Avoiding both the Scots and the attentions of the draft, he sought out the author Marcus Brand for advice. Brand was one of his sources on the occult, and they had been in correspondence for years. He was excited to learn of Samuel’s encounter in Scotland and the rumours of demonologists in Brittany. Brand’s knowledge of magic came only from interviews and historical documents – he was what’s known now as a magical theorist, in our label dependent age; he saw himself as an eccentric academic. In any case he could not help Samuel directly, but he could put him in touch with two of his primary sources – one of whom was Joseph de Sande in Cornwall, who warned Samuel to be careful; the invite to Brittany had been extended to all magicians with Celtic links, including himself, and possibly Pembroke. If the call was answered in strength then Samuel’s mission would be impossible. This was the first time anyone had applied the term mission to Samuel’s pursuit, but that is what it had become. I suspect this realisation pleased him rather than daunted, but I didn’t know him then.

The second address Brand supplied was my own, here in Sheffield, almost fifty years before I was born. Heading north again, by train, he sat surrounded by men of a country at war. He could never justify his avoidance of their fate, nor face his family to let them think he was a coward. He was like the sun of a distant planet, only seen as a faint star. Or at least that’s how he saw himself. My father saw him as a meteor, oblivious to the destruction it threatened to the world it would collide with. Samuel was hopelessly dogmatic in his view of demons, unable to differentiate between the wisdom of Christianity and the fears of Christian leaders (I can only assume since he told this story to Norman, that he doesn’t think he’s guilty of this now). He was refused aid, but my father let him stay in order to educate him.

I don’t know if it was Samuel’s persuasion or other news that had reached him, but after a month my father began to share in his concern. The possibility of demons set loose on a course of destruction was everything Samuel presumed was true and everything my father detested as prejudice. With his blessing for this specific mission, my father provided Samuel with a new face, a new name, a new past, with a doctor who could swear he’d known Samuel since birth and testify to a convenient heart condition.

He then returned to Cornwall, via London, where he found the sword he still carries today. At night, on the beach near St Keverne, invisible to the outposts and gunners, Samuel and Joseph de Sande walked out onto the sea. The waves carried them, making each step worth forty. The water became solid under their feet, as if sand had been gathered up beneath them, forming islands that dissolved with each footfall. By morning they had covered the hundred miles of the English Channel and they walked up past the German defences, no more than shimmers of dawn light off the sea. Then they hid, as de Sande recovered his strength, with Samuel wondering about these allies, who had amputated the man he used to be, and aided him with the same unnatural power he was duty bound to defeat.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Samuel's War.

There’s still no word from Samuel. Arthur Enright has also disappeared from the known world. He’s probably in hiding from the wrath of Alex Reeves. I’ve been trying to take my mind off the disappointments of last week by getting back in touch with the lads. I say the disappointments, because once the actual threats were removed I stopped feeling scared by the whole situation. Norman’s more freaked out with the discovery he can speak French than any trauma from being held down and then unleashing nutso-Rambo moves. Angela, I suspect, wishes she stayed in Devon. We all are trying to get our lives back into some regular routines, but when I eventually got to meet up with Cobber, Top and Pele, I found my thoughts drifting back to magic, and the stories Norman has been telling me about Samuel.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Samuel was affiliated to a group of demonologists in Scotland. For over a year he had been courting a young woman who found his fraudulent innocence about the world of demons to be charming. He hasn’t said what he thought of the girl – Norman didn’t want to ask – so I’m wondering if he’s the sort of man who can feign love to get what he wants. He went as far as proposing to her, and then she introduced him to the rest of her friends. No one doubted his honesty, but they did question his commitment. In fact some of the group were openly hostile to this Englishman among their secrets, not to mention their women.

The group he had infiltrated were all Oxford graduates, who bonded and recruited on the notion of a Celtic heritage. Their academic achievements aren’t part of the story, but I wonder if their zeal related at all to their shortcomings. The woman that Samuel seduced was one of them, one of their few women. She would talk to him about the rediscovery of a true Celtic identity, to rewrite the scraps and reinventions that they were forced to cling to. The knowledge of demons – intelligences that dated back centuries, or even thousands of years – was superior to any archaeologist’s detective work.

It took another year for Samuel to be allowed to attend a meeting of these fanatics. He invented a career in Edinburgh that called him away often, so that his engagement was constantly being prolonged. He protested on his fiancé’s behalf, that she could not possibly marry a man she had known for a year but only been with for one week. And by this it seemed obvious that as the marriage drew closer, Samuel should be inducted into her true religion. He outwardly embraced paganism, offering his body to ancient goddesses. The church wedding, when it came, was as much a sham for her as it was for him – a pretence for the benefit of her parents and neighbours. The next night they held a second ceremony, when she spoke her vows with true conviction. Samuel, of course, was still lying. I’ve been trying to imagine him – in his best suit in the church, and in whatever they wear at pagan ceremonies, if anything – I’ve been trying to imagine what colour his eyes were then.

It was only at this second ceremony that Samuel met their leader. The leader officiated over their union himself, and afterwards spoke of the coming day when the darkness over Europe would be lifted, a darkness their own government was tempted by. He spoke of history dissolving, as centuries of Christian oppression were cast off. As the groom it was easy for Samuel to ask for a private audience, murmuring doubts about his duties. I don’t know what got him more mad – the reference to Christian oppression or the naïve use of demons as moral guides – but he beat the leader of the cult until he was tempted to worship Samuel as a god. No crime had been committed that he wanted to be discussed in open court, so Samuel’s tactic was to kill any demons that had been summoned, thus scaring off any other potentials, and depriving the group of their power. After investing two years uncovering the group, he was dismayed by the leader’s confession that a lot of what he’d heard was boastful overselling by his wife. They had consorted with demons, seeking out the eldest and trading with them for information, but they had no demons under their control. In fear for his life, the leader told Samuel about another group of magicians he knew of, in Brittany. They had invited him to join them, as they called forth a demon to drive back the Nazis, and carve a nation for celtic Bretons out of France.

Norman doesn’t ask the right questions when he hears a story. He never asked what happened to Samuel’s wife, is it possible she’s even still alive? He never asked what troubled Samuel most – leaving his marriage or entering occupied France.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Aftermath.

The reality is we live in England, and our enemies are normal men. They’re more normal than they want to be, but they were never monsters. It was hard to know what to do with these men, who had broken into my home, threatened to kill me, beaten up my friend with the rest of us in mind. We couldn’t call the police – Samuel stopped me. He feared for how much would come out into public knowledge, and managed to convince me for Norman’s sake. Enright’s hired hands were tied up and dumped in the one car that was left, dazed and broken in a few of their limbs. Nicholas Graham and the other two carvers had run away like wayward wives down a country lane. This left us with the boy Enright and his adult clone.

When Samuel understood what we told him, he slapped the boy around the face and took off, after the other copy at the casino. We hadn’t decided to let them go at that point. We had to in the end, or else we were kidnapping them. The only victim of an assault was the absent Samuel. I felt like a teacher who used to use the cane and was now left only with empty threats.

“So what did happen? Were you caught out?” I asked the boy. He didn’t look like he would say anything, but Angela – annoyed at not hitting anyone yet – punched him full in the back of the head.
“I don’t hit kids.” She told me honestly. “But this isn’t a kid is it. So I’m happy to smack him around until he answers your questions.”

The grown up Enright, still fatherly, struggled against Norman’s hold to protect his master. It looked terrible, like domestic abuse, and this added to our eventual decision not to call the police. The police would probably take the side of the child with a bloody nose over the nutters who claimed he was really a middle-aged magician in disguise. I’m glad though that Arthur didn’t guess at our lack of resolve.
“It happened on Tuesday Midnight,” said the boy. “I could feel it, like a pressure building, dissolving the walls of my sanctum. I had the potion to hand – I’d been keeping myself younger for the past twenty years. As a precaution I drank the whole vial, thinking that as magic was draining, maybe its power had already dissipated. It was the correct thing to do, in uncertainty.”
“Good job it wasn’t a bigger bottle.” Said Angela. “You’d be a foetus.”
Enright didn’t acknowledge her. He repeated the earlier line, but this time using his own voice, that the third clone had killed himself willingly, so there was no real crime to answer, just awkward questions.
“What about David Challoner?” I asked.
“Day? Oh, your magical theorist friend. What about him?”
“He knew the whole thing was a fake, but he helped you to build the illusion. Did he threaten to expose you before he disappeared?”
“I didn’t know he’d disappeared. We had no arrangement with him, did you speak to him at all?” He asked his grown up.
“No, I wasn’t there yet.”
“It must have been one of the others.” Said Arthur, looking up at me.
“Why didn’t you get older?” Asked Norman. “When the spell wore off.”
“Because it wasn't a youth spell that held me, it’s a proper spell that rewrote me. How long do you intend to hold us for?”

As we hoped, when we let them go, Arthur Enright’s name is totally discredited. Carvers and candlelighters alike are slowly returning to their homes around the country. The Russians were furious. Alex Reeves is officially outraged and denies all the rumours that he knew. Angela heard a version of events in which I ran into the street shouting “It’s a boy child!”

I can’t believe Samuel though. After all that’s happened, he hasn’t called to tell us he’s safe or where he’s gone. Enright’s house is empty and for sale. The pub is still running as before, in fact Angela has a job there. If Samuel has pursued Enright, no one knows where that might be to.

Friday, February 16, 2007


“So what century are we in now?” Asked the tweed Enright. “The twentieth or the twenty-first?” He picked up Samuel’s sword and felt the weight of it. His thugs searched for anything else. “In either case, a sword? Your weapon of choice, is a sword? The last of the dragons died long before Tuesday Midnight.” One of the thugs handed over Samuel’s broken telescope. “What were you hoping to do with this?” Enright held the wide end up to his eye. “Make me look small?”
“I like to carry it.” Said Samuel, watching Angela as her hands were tied and she was thrown into a chair. He missed how the Enright smiled but looked uncomfortable.
“The lens is cracked.” Said the Enright, to himself.
“It used to tell the future. Or the past. It broke last Halloween.”
“Hence the name!” Said the carver who called him Salt.

Samuel was left to sit on the floor. The knife held to my face withdrew, as did the warmth and breath of the man behind me. Norman was still held down, forced into the posture of a drunken evening – his eyes barely looking over his captor’s boot. On the other side of the room, a huddle agreed on their next move. I heard the name Napoleons, a paperback’s worth of fifties changed hands and then navy tie Enright walked out, taking one the carvers with him. I heard the front door slam and they didn’t come back.

“We really need to know,” said the other Enright, “if you’ve told anybody our secret.”
“Who would we tell?” Asked Samuel.
“Shhh. Don’t answer yet. We’ll be asking you one at a time. At the moment we’re just waiting for my brother to reach his alibi. In case things go too far with one of you tonight. In the meantime, I have to thank you.” He addressed Samuel. “Admittedly you’ve complicated things since, but we couldn’t have done all this without you. At the market. You came upstairs to find me there as if by a miracle and you didn’t think anything of it. Because who would think twice about a magician managing to teleport? We were slow to appreciate it, only worrying at first that you might spread the word there was more than one of us, smearing the recruitment in its infancy. But then we realised its potential. The propaganda value of illusion. So, thank you. Well done.”
“That’s not what you were created for then?” I asked. Enright laughed looking down at his feet.
“No. That is not what we were created for.” He went back to join the others. Arthur junior put his hand up, gripping the arm of his father. Or of the man I took to be his father.

After an hour, they stirred from their discussions and two of the thugs dragged Samuel from the room. Enright followed, as I expected, but I was shocked to see his son go too. We could hear the muffled questions, the kitchen chairs scraping around and then thuds.

Angela, maybe so she didn’t have to listen, started asking the carvers questions. She asked them what they were doing here, what they wanted out of Enright’s scam.
“We wouldn’t expect you to understand.” Said Nicholas Graham.
“Well is it money?” She said, angry but not shouting yet. “Because the money just went south. Literally. Alex Reeves won’t want to be associated with this.”
“You don’t know Alex Reeves.”
“Was it power?” She said. “I can see how you don’t think I get what you call power, but the power’s gone. All this Paul Daniels crap, doesn’t get you real power.”
“I trust no one in the world more,” said Nicholas Graham, “than Arthur Enright, to resolve this difficulty. Resolve this issue with the world.”
“Why’s he taken his son in there?” I asked, on the subject of people to trust. The carvers gave no answers. I don’t think they dared to try and phrase what they thought, because the words would give them away.
“His son.” Said Norman. “That boy is not fully there.” He groaned as the boot pressed down on him harder.
“I don’t get it.” I admitted. “What they’ve exposed him to. You can see that they love each other. You can see that in their eyes, but. He’s not going to be healthy when he grows up is he. That boy’s going to be damaged.”
“You think they love each other?” Said Norman. The guard told him to shut up, but he went on. “Is that the look you saw at the resurrection? You said it was a look of devotion.”
“It’s like they’re speaking.” I said. “Emotionally.”
“It’s not love. It’s deference. It’s the look you give your boss when you don’t want to get fired, hoping he likes you.”
“Shut up!” The guard yelled, stamping into his chest. I tried to weigh up what Norman was saying against the affection I’d seen in the boy’s eyes. I couldn’t tell if he was saying it hoping to psyche out the carvers.
“You think he’s afraid of his father?” I felt the grip of the man behind me tighten on my shoulder again.
“Not the boy. Enright’s deferring to him. Enright wants the approval from him. And I don’t think that’s his son.”
“But he’s…” You couldn’t deny the heritage. The first time I saw them together I thought he looked exactly like his father. “He’s Arthur Enright.” I said. I felt the hand on my shoulder loosen.
“Did you know about this?” Angela asked the carvers. “Did you know that the power you’re trailing after is still years off puberty?”
“Don’t be preposterous.” Said Nicholas Graham, but he didn’t seem sure.
“How d’you suppose it happened?” She said. “Did he get stuck like that when the wind changed?”

I could see the carvers looking to each other, realising it was true as Enright’s word’s bounced through from the kitchen – the dialogue of an actor. Then it happened really quick: Angela asked the carvers if they thought Alex Reeves knew; the carvers went to leave but with the same breath they swore denials; the guards moved to stop them from going, forgetting who it was they were guarding; the boot came off from Norman’s chest as the thug on top of him got involved, and then Norman was up. His hands were still tied, but he used both hands together like a club. He was screaming, just a noise, and then words I didn’t know. He smashed the man who’d held him down around the head, twice, knocking him to the floor, stamped on him. The two by the door were still letting go of the carvers as Norman collided with them. By the time the man who’d held a knife to me caught up, Norman had the crowbar. He broke his hand first, and then I looked away.

When I looked back, Norman was cutting the plastic strap. Angela was already free. My clothes had caught a spatter of blood. Norman said something to me in the same language he’d been yelling and headed for the kitchen. We figured out later he’d been speaking French – a language he’s never learned.

When I got to the kitchen myself, both of Enright’s thugs were laid out, while the grown up Enright was cutting Samuel free. He’d been smacked about the face again. Norman had the real Arthur Enright by the scruff of the neck.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Samuel is gone. It sickens me to think about it, after the last few weeks, doubting him. Sometimes I think of magic as fantastic beyond the limits of reason, but all I see is the reality. I’ve seen more blood today than I can take.

Yesterday began cautiously. We could be seen through the windows rather than looking out of them. There hadn’t been another call from Enright. By lunchtime, although we’d hardly been prisoners long, we decided not to wait on reprisals, since we might be waiting forever. Samuel went out, although I’ll not learn where now. He always found an errand to run. Angela went into town to check out the agencies, looking for long-term work. Norman and I were left to wonder what constituted carrying on as normal. After we ate, we watched TV.

About 4 o’clock, the once-magician I met at the market – the one who called Samuel ‘Salt’ – was stood alone outside the front door. I was watching through the spy hole. It may be a natural effect of a fish-eye lens to make faces look guilty, but I decided not to open the door. Then I heard the back door being forced, Norman ran into the kitchen but was backed up by four of Enright’s thugs. I had my phone in my hand, but it was taken off me. Enright was in the kitchen door, directing his men.

They put those plastic ties police use in riots round our wrists. I’ve bought things packaged with those – they can only be cut loose, unless you release one notch at a time. Enright’s henchman pulled the strip through so tight it cut into my skin, but we were sat down already, so he left our hands in our laps. We sat on the sofa like disobedient boys. When Norman made to move, one of the thugs put his boot down on his chest and held him there. Meanwhile they opened the front door, and the whole party came in.

As well as his six thugs, both Enrights had come; Nicholas Graham, the ‘Salt’ man, and two other carvers were there; and also Enright’s son. When I first saw him I was relieved, thinking Enright couldn’t do anything too severe in front of his boy. But then I remembered a third Enright had been killed, bloodily, with the boy in the audience: with both Enrights here, he must know a third was dead.

After two of the henchmen had searched the house, one of the Enrights – the one with the navy tie – spoke:-
“Where are the others? We need to speak to you together.”
“Us together, or you two together?” I asked.
“Very funny.”
“Seriously.” I said. “Which of you should I be talking to? Who’s the real Arthur Enright?”

They looked at each other, puzzled for an answer, and then the one I could see – the one in the tweed jacket – smiled.
“We’re both equal claimants to that title.” He said. “Speak to either of us.”
“Why isn’t at least one of you under arrest?” Asked Norman, breathless under the weight of the henchman. The Enright in tweed held up my phone in a bandaged hand and started going through the menus.
“I believe the girl’s called Angela. Should I call her?”
“Best not to scare her off.” Said his twin. “They’ll both be back soon. Meanwhile I’d like to take a look in here.” He walked into the hall and slapped his hand on the study door. “Where is the key?”
“Samuel has it.” I lied. Enright didn’t react, except to nod at one of his men, who came forward with the crowbar I’m guessing he’d used on the backdoor. The doorframe cracked open like balsa.

“So which one of you did I see on Saturday?” I asked the tweed Enright.
“That was me, yes. You’ve recovered your composure since, I’m glad to see. You were wanting to know why I’m at liberty? You saw the chainsaw I believe? Top of the range. Made short work of my brother. Stripped off his finger prints and his face.” I looked behind Enright to see Arthur junior, sat listening, his face impassive. Later on I wondered about the trauma that was building up for his teenage years. “I was gone before the police came. Took a chunk out of my own hand to explain the blood. When I returned I found the police outside. I let them take the chainsaw, gave them a sample of my own DNA. When they get the results they’ll find they match. I put your call down to a neighbour phoning in a hoax, frustrated with the noise. It all went rather smoothly. Of course we can’t teleport anywhere unless he takes out a similar chunk.” He held up the bandaged hand. “Other than that, no harm done.”
“So you’re not mad at us?” I asked.
“ ‘No harm done.’ You’re not mad?”
“No. No, we’re not mad at all.” Enright assured me. I didn’t feel in a strong enough position to point out the irony.

Navy tie Enright came back out of the study with one of my father’s books.
“Fascinating place.” He mused. Two of the carvers went in to look, followed by the tweed Enright and his son. I wondered if their closeness meant he was the real father, but they’d been apart on Saturday night. “Fascinating-” he leafed through the blank pages “-but all completely dead. There’s the wealth of a planet in that room and it’s worthless. Do you see that?” Enright bent down to look me right in the face. “Do you not think it was a noble cause, to bring it back? Do you not think it was a worthy sacrifice?”

Unlike his twin, this Enright seemed to be waiting for an answer.
“But what you were doing made sense.” I said. “Nobody had to die before it made sense. They would have followed you anyway.”
“No. No, I’m afraid your father has raised you rather badly. You know nothing about magicians at all. They don’t follow questions, they follow power.”
The others emerged from the study again, thankfully empty handed.
“But you killed someone.” I said, rather idiotically.
“Stop telling them that.” Gasped Norman.
“Yes, do.” Enright said. “It’s untrue. Our brother was a willing sacrifice. He was prepared to pay the price, and took his own life.” He turned to look at his son, and again I saw the devotion in their eyes.
“Is that what you are?” I asked, for some reason wanting a prosaic answer. “Are you triplets?”
“Sort of.” Answered the tweed Enright. “We are the indivisible, divided.”
Navy tie Enright stayed bent down over me for a minute, and then he nodded, straightened up and returned to their side of the room. They talked about the study for a while, guessing at the contents erased from so many of the books. They mumbled to each other about next moves and vanities. The thug with his foot on top of Norman swapped places, and another boot came down with enthusiasm. Nicholas Graham went to the kitchen and brought tea back for the once-magicians. The hired muscle were left out. The tweed Enright went out to get more sugar. When he came back his hands were in the air. Samuel’s sword was held at his open collar.

Immediately I felt cold metal along my jaw. I flinched away, long enough to glimpse the knife before it was pressing beneath by eye.
“Everybody out.” Said Samuel, in a level voice. Navy tie Enright answered:-
“Put the sword down, now. Or young master Fold here will die.”
“I don’t care about the boy.” Samuel said. “I’m here to protect the study. You know that.”
“Then you’ve chosen the wrong hostage.” Enright said. “If you kill him, the real me is still alive over here. The first version. And you won’t survive this time.” The four thugs not holding me or Norman took up positions either side of Samuel as he edged into the room.
“If you’re not sure,” said Enright, “open his shirt.” He undid his own tie and shirt buttons, revealing a pale, clean chest. “Show him.” He told his twin. The tweed Enright undid his shirt, uncovering a livid scar – an imitation of the fatal wound. He must have been the Enright I first saw revived, with a shallow cut already healing. “He’s my decoy.” Said the unblemished Enright.
“I don’t believe you.” Said Samuel.
“Nor do I believe you’ll see the boy harmed.”

Samuel had moved into the middle of the room now, with everyone else shuffling away from him like stop-motion animation. Enright’s guards now blocked the door. I could see that Samuel was getting closer to me and I was figuring out how to move away from the blade, just for a second, to give him time enough to strike when he got near. Then we heard the front door, and Angela said “What the - ” before Enright’s men were on top of her. They led her into the living room by her hair.
“Now.” Said the free Enright. “I’ll ask you again to put that ridiculous sword down on the floor, or the boy will be our second victim here.”

Of course, Samuel saw no choice but to do as he was told. He had his legs kicked from under him, and his arms were tied behind his back.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Potential Upset.

We went, all four of us, to The Red Deer. Samuel wanted to go alone, but who would talk to him? It’s only Angela and me that they have any time for. Whatever happened with the police and Enright, the word isn’t out: we were greeted as normal, with purpose and boredom. I asked for another file for the timeline, apologised for missing Saturday’s meet, and doubled back to hand in the old file that I’d brought as a prop.

The first thing we learned was that Reeves has gone back to London – a VIP fleeing before the scandal taints him. One of the carvers had spoken to Enright in the morning, who had spun it to say he would have more time to work now he wasn’t playing host.

“If he’s been speaking to Enright, then Enright’s free.” I said to the others in an empty corner. Norman reminded me that one of the Enrights could be under arrest while the other one hid and ran the show.

There were no reports of murder arrests or bodies found in The Star. In a neighbourhood like Fulwood that would make the front page. It would probably make the telly news. We wanted to talk to the neighbours, Norman and Angela could pose as new residents, concerned about seeing the police. It was too risky though, to get so close to Enright’s house.

We considered calling Sebastian, but all we have is a supposition, and he could be closer than us to knowing where Challoner is. The idea that Enright saw him as a threat made Angela suggest we tell everyone we can:-
“That way he achieves nothing by harming us.”
“Except his own satisfaction.” Said Samuel.

In truth we don’t know what to do. Samuel is used to resolving situations himself. Norman is way out of his depth and would advocate the police more strongly if he weren’t wanted for questioning himself. Angela wants him handed over to the mob. And I’m wondering if what he’s done, bringing everyone together, working to restore magic, I’m wondering if I want to damage that.

While we were out, I got a missed call on my mobile. Arthur Enright has tried to ring me.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Discussons On The Night Before.

I didn’t get to sleep, but waited downstairs for everyone else to get up. I sat listening to the birdsong start, and watched the pale light of the sunrise. I couldn’t eat, but became hungrier through the night, and pulled up my knees against the cold. I just played with the gloves Fuzz gave me, making patterns and puppets with them on the table. When Norman came down it made the day real.

We gave him the TV guide version when we got back last night, to which he nodded in his sober fashion, as if we’d told him about a plane crash over the Alps. I gave him the full run through of the night while he made eggs and toast. I still couldn’t eat. I felt the need to confess how rubbish I’d been, screaming and running.
“Did you know Samuel’s sick?” I told him about the blood he coughed up. “Did you know he’s got like a burglar’s Aladdin’s cave in his car? Like, a lot of stuff.”
“He told me, yeah.”
“About being sick?”
“No, the car. He doesn’t talk about things like his health, you know that. He’s getting on for a hundred isn’t he.”

I hadn’t realised, except to moan, that when we trained Samuel always took it easy, using Tai Chi moves, making me do all the work. When he woke up I went into the living room to talk to him alone. I had to apologise for screaming the night before: when we found Enright’s body, the world became something else. It wasn’t like a crime show, where the body is a puzzle. The body was a fact, more solid than all the plans and presumptions I was carrying with me. I was filled with the idea that Enright could do anything, and he was suddenly dead, suddenly not.

When I started to believe in magic, allowing that truth to filter everything that was happening to me, my world didn’t change – it just proved itself to be bigger than I’d realised; where I thought I had answers I now had questions. Apart from my father, that was the only change. When Enright (or whoever now) killed himself in front of me, there was a theatricality that suspended fear. Last night I found myself in a world I didn’t recognise as my own. I’d gone in to Enright’s house hoping to find signs of real magic being practised, and if that didn’t happen then Samuel’s humbling would be my compensation. To see the body there, it made me feel like a great weight was falling towards me. I felt sick, not from squeamishness, although it wasn’t pleasant, but from distrust.
“It made me nervous.” I admitted to Samuel. “It made me wonder what was coming next, that’s why I screamed. Sorry.”

Samuel finished packing away his bedding, putting the room back to normal. He was washed, clean shaven, his hair wet. He’s keeping it clipped short now. He put on his shirt over a white vest, covering the arms that always look weak compared to gym-sculpted muscles. I realise now that he can probably punch through walls. I wonder how long Enright’s six thugs held him back before his lungs gave up on him? He finished dressing by buckling his sword and telescope to his belt. He looked at me long enough to make me feel like a little boy, and then longer, so that the feeling passed.
“You have nothing to be sorry for. Except that we both must apologise to Angela. She should never have been put in such a dangerous situation.”
I said nothing, but nodded.
“Did you want to train now?”

About eleven, when Angela was up, we all sat together around the table. It was as though we’d each heard part of a rumour and were hoping to build it into a man. Each of us had spent the night and the hours since going over what we knew, spinning that out into unshared fears. We sat making a box from our shoulders.
“Do you think he was arrested?” Angela looked at us all.
“Which one?” Said Samuel. “He could be arrested and free. When they identify the body, can’t they test the blood nowadays? It’ll prove to be the man under arrest that’s the victim.”
“I think twins have the same DNA.” I offered.
“And there’s forty witnesses that saw him stab himself, yourself included.” Samuel went on. “The most they can be charged with is concealing the body.”

“Could he ever do any of it?” Norman asked. “The reappearing, any of that.”
“There’s no reason to think that he did,” said Samuel. “If there were three of them, they could afford to kill off one and still pull tricks.”
“But when did they switch?” I asked. “I was there at the resurrection. I saw the body and then he came back.”

I went over that night again - how I took Enright’s son up, and then the body was covered in the silk robe. People were surrounding the table, but I could always see him lying there.
“He’d just killed himself in front of me, I couldn’t look away. And at The Red Deer he rematerialised behind me. He was seen on the stairs, he vanished.”
“So Angela was told.” Said Norman. “But wasn’t that from one of that crowd? And when you saw him at the theatre, someone marked him with chalk to prove it wasn’t a trick, but if that was set up in advance.”
“At the party,” Samuel added to Norman’s theory, “you said there was a core of his followers, couldn’t they have been the only ones at the table, just for a minute?”
“But you could always see the table.”
“Covered up.” Said Angela. “Stage magicians pull off better tricks than that all the time. But of course they do that for people who want to be tricked. I believe the guy I spoke to about what he saw on the stairs, by the way. He’s no fan of Arthur Enright.”
“So he says.” Norman said. “But if so, then what did he see?”
“He saw Enright’s son ask his father a question, and then when they came into the light, Enright was gone.”
“When they came into the light.” Norman said. “Stage magic.”
“Hold on.” I realised going over it again as I listened to the others. “His son, on the stairs, made that carver look away. At the resurrection his son went up to Enright’s body and then led me away again. I doubt anyone was looking anywhere other than at that boy or their own shoes.”
“He used his own son to provide the misdirection.” Said Norman.

“Does Reeves know?” Samuel wanted to know. We think he must, if he’s living there.
“But why do it?” I asked.
“Look at him.” Said Samuel. “He’s got magicians all over the world doing his bidding.”
“But does he want to bring magic back or not? Is it just about this?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t know. As I said last night – power corrupts.”
“Where did they come from? The copies?” Asked Norman.
“We don’t know that they are copies.” Said Angela. “They could all just as easily be him, split into three. My guess would be some time before Tuesday Midnight. No one was watching him that closely before then.”

“How do we find out if he’s been arrested?” This was Angela’s main concern. Samuel was right; we’d put her at risk, making her such a visible look out. There was the suggestion that we call the local paper and ask them if they knew anything, but no one knew who to ask. We could have phoned the police pretending to be the local paper. We could go to The Red Deer and check out the gossip, or ask the neighbours. We decided to wait and see.

It occurs to me now, that there’s a reason people say don’t look back. It’s not because of regrets: I’ve done stupid things all my life and if I didn’t look back at them then I’d make the same mistakes all day. I can’t afford to look back at who I was, even only to last year. There must be a word for it – it’s probably French if it exists – to mean that thread of who you are across the gulf of how you’ve changed. I’ve spent the last three months trying to hold on to that thread, as if I’ll cease to be, but it’s based on what? The compliments of strangers, a favourite book?

Before we broke up the meeting, Norman remarked that it was ironic forty-odd genuine magicians got faked out by a bit of showbiz and misdirection. Nobody spotted anything was wrong. It was then that I remembered Challoner was at the house. Everyone laughed and joked with him, thinking that his favourite snack was proof of what they’d just seen. Did he do it intentionally? Was it with Enright’s blessing, or at Enright’s request? He went missing within days. Did he threaten to unmask Enright as a fake?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Arthur Enrights.

I don’t know what it was that made me start to resent Samuel. It only took a word of suspicion from Enright for me to doubt him. I must already have had the doubts, unformed. The confidence of his arrival, the force of his insistence, like he was the proof of destiny. His stories of bold adventures, dressed for the part. I don’t trust that friendship of a common purpose, like the camaraderie of tourists stuck together. It’s a superficial loyalty, worn thin by shifts in circumstance. I thought Samuel was a player, positioning himself close to my father’s books against the chance that magic will return, because none of them can believe it’s gone forever. It’s inconceivable to them that the world they knew has gone, so they’re all still trapped in its politics. They’re all still vying for a dead society – but not Samuel, it turns out.

We waited round the corner from Enright’s, not only till he left at eight, but until Angela had texted to confirm his arrival at The Red Deer. Samuel has equipment for this kind deal. “This used to be part of my trade.” He explained, revealing a compartment in the back of his car, full of crowbars, rope, torches, and allsorts. He took a telescopic ladder and a lump hammer, ran up to Enright’s house, climbed up against the front wall, smashed the alarm box off the wall in two blows and descended, collapsing the ladder again in seconds. I could hear the alarm’s control box inside, squealing. Samuel led me back to the car, where the alarm inside was barely a birdsong.
“Thankfully we don’t have snow tonight.” Samuel said, coughing and spitting on the grass verge as he swapped his gear round.
“I thought you went into other dimensions to wrestle demons.” The professionalism of the operation caught me unawares.
“I’ve done that precisely twice. If you listened to me you’d know that. Most of the abuses of demonic powers are committed by stupid men in locked houses.”

No one had twitched their curtains in the neighbourhood, so we went back up to the house. Having dealt with the main alarm, I looked around for a rock to put through the window, but Samuel had switched to subtlety and took out a set of lock picks. In a minute we were inside, in the hallway, lights on, and Samuel took the fuse out of the alarm controls to stop them wailing. It was possible that this set up was linked to the police for an automatic call out, but it was unlikely any once-magician would involve themselves in the systems of real life.

There was nothing in the main rooms, where Enright held his resurrection party. They’d been returned to domestic use. The kitchen was small, functional and free of anything magical. The back door out of it led into a garden with a long lawn and flowerbeds, just perfect for hiding a chunk of stone. I texted Angela to let her know we were inside, to make her feel more involved. There was nothing in his office either. Most of his books – magic or otherwise – were still boxed up, leaving the shelves bare.
“Don’t you think that’s odd?” I asked. “If he has his powers back, wouldn’t he be using these?”
“Some of them are out.” Samuel picked one up from Enright’s desk. It was similar to the nonsense books in my father’s study – purple bound, meaning royal magic. I counted up the boxes: even allowing for every box being full I reckoned a collection one tenth the size of my father’s. We searched the drawers of the desk and then through the boxes, finding nothing. As in the other rooms, I held the iron pyrite close to everything we searched and then scanned the walls with it, hoping for a secret compartment. If Sebastian was right, the veins of the pebble ought to glow if the castle stone is in the same room.

Upstairs there was nothing unusual either. We found a room set up for Reeves, with a guard’s chair outside to protect his ego. Enright’s room had twin beds, one made, one stripped. I never did find out about Enright’s wife. Another guest room had twin beds, and then Arthur junior’s room came last. There were no toys, no posters, no sign of a childhood – just clothes and furniture. I’d had moments of envy when I saw this boy knew truly who his father was, sharing in his work, but there weren’t even any school books – he was utterly friendless. He was at the gathering while I stood in his room, with nobody talking to him.

Samuel checked the attic, and came back down disappointed. While I waited, the noises of the house, the clunks of its central heating, imitated footsteps downstairs.
“What did you expect to find?” I said, a little smugly. “What are you afraid he’s doing?”
“You’ll have heard the saying, power corrupts.” Samuel led the way back downstairs.
“I’ve seen nothing from Arthur Enright but good intentions and positive action.”
“Nor have I, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen an honest man.”
“There’s nothing here.” I span around the living room, arms wide. “You came looking for something diabolical and there’s nothing here.” I meant to go on and say except for your own paranoia. I almost asked him to move out tonight, but I held on for him to drive me home. I was sobered by the disappointment of finding nothing.

“His car’s always in the driveway.” Samuel said. “A double garage and it’s never used.” He ran through to the kitchen, into the corridor beyond and then pushed open the door to the garage.

Plastic sheets lay on the floor. A clean chainsaw and some wooden blocks lay on top of the sheeting. Samuel checked underneath, but found none of the ritual markings he’d been searching for. It was cold in there; a chest freezer hummed against one wall and the fluorescent light buzzed. Samuel walked the perimeter:-
“The doors have been screwed shut into the ground.”
I checked the iron pyrite, with no response still.
“Look. Come here.” Said Samuel. He’d opened the freezer. I put the stone back in my pocket and joined him. Arthur Enright’s naked body lay in the freezer, the colour stripped from him, dusted with ice, a maroon gash in his chest.
“Is it real?” I asked Samuel. He poked at one of Enright’s eyes with his gloved thumb.
“It’s a real body. Is it really Arthur Enright?”
“It looks like him.” It was otherworldly, but undoubtedly him.
“So does the man Angela’s looking at across town. Only one of them can be the actual man.”
I texted Angela is enright still there? My hand shaking, wanting to run.
“That’s the wound.” I said, stupidly only realising now. “That’s the wound that killed him when he came back from the dead.”
“Then this is the wound that killed him full stop.”
The message came back from Angela Yes. Russians talking now. Enright with Reeves and son.
I told her good. don’t leave alone. get taxi straight home now. “We should go.” I said.
“So this is how he rematerialised.” Samuel bent down to inspect the body. “What do you suppose he is, a twin?”
“We should go.” I felt like throwing up. Samuel was prodding the solid flesh.
“Or maybe he made a copy of himself with the stone. Maybe that’s all he could do with the last gasp of magic, and he was being honest all along.”
“It’s not honest is it.” I pulled Samuel away, to the door. “If he’s murdered someone.”
“I thought you said that Enright stabbed himself.”
I began to turn, to say that wasn’t the point, but then realised in the dark kitchen there was someone waiting for us.

Enright was stood, watching us calmly. I screamed, Samuel drew his sword, pushing me behind him.
“Are you going to call the police?” Asked Enright.
Samuel waited a second, then leapt for the back door, shoulder barging it, knocking the frame to splinters. As I ran after him I saw Enright hadn’t moved except to watch us. I expected to find him waiting by the car, but when I got there Samuel had it running already. Did he leave me behind? I believe he knew I was close behind him. As we drove off he coughed a big ball of blood onto his sleeve.
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
“Lungs. Not what they used to be. Do we go home?”
“We need to call the police.” We’d broken in, I couldn’t use the mobile.

We found Angela on West Street, failing to win a taxi and stood alone. She thanked us for coming to pick her up and stayed happy for less than a minute.
“But Enright’s in there.” She thumbed to her left. Samuel turned up towards The Red Deer and pulled over. “Did you call the police?”
“Yeah.” I’d chosen a payphone where I was also sure there was no CCTV close by.
“He’ll have moved the body by now. Won’t be difficult for him. Look!” Across the road Enright and his son stepped out of the pub and into their car. “I told you he never left.”
“There must have been three of them.” Samuel said.
“That we know of.” I wondered if he was making an army of himself, but we don’t even know where the copies of him have come from, or when they were made. They could pre-date Tuesday Midnight. I’m still convinced that I did see Enright come back from the dead that night – maybe the body in the freezer was a second attempt, but his powers had weakened. Out of the two surviving Enrights, is either of them the real father of his boy? Does he see more than one at a time? Have the copies rebelled against their creator? We don’t know anything and I’m supposed to wait until the morning, but I can’t sleep. I don’t know enough to tell if what I saw tonight was a dead body, or does it count as something else?

Saturday, February 10, 2007


“There’s no place for me there.” Said Angela.
“There’s no place for any of us.” I said. “Who is it bothering you? Samuel?”
“I just don’t see where I fit in.”
“Because if it’s Samuel, he may not be around for that much longer.” I said this quieter. I was on my mobile, in my room. I don’t know where Angela was. Devon somewhere. I imagined her still in Chris’ car but I guess she was in his house. It was about nine this morning when she called me back.
“I said I don’t see where I fit in.”
“To what?”
“To anything. It makes more sense here. I don’t even know why you’re asking me to come back.”
“We’ve got something we need you to do.” I said, being mysterious. I’d planned out exactly how much I could say on the phone, and how to phrase it.
“What? I bet it’s nothing anyone else you know can’t do. Why are you asking me to come back?”
“Look, this isn’t Trisha. I don’t have to offer up a dissection of everything that’s said. You live in the spare room. That’s where you fit. Instead of which, you’re with that idiot.”
“And that’s all you’re going to give me.”
“I don’t love you if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Good enough for me.”

Angela called me again at eight this evening. She’d got as far as the services near Reading, but with all the snow coming down, her lift wasn’t going any further till the morning. The motorway was clear, but his drop off was a few miles into the panic zone. Norman and I took Samuel’s car to pick her up. Norman spent the first hour of the journey peering up into the night like he expected to see fully formed snowmen plunging to their death. For the entire journey, he kept looking over at the hard shoulder and the grass embankments, trying to gauge if it would settle – if it could settle. I remember ten years ago it properly, properly snowed – thick enough to build an igloo and smash into it on a sledge. I haven’t seen proper snow since, no matter what the news tells me. Everyone acts like suddenly the ground’s become this perilous eggshell, and if you step on its surface you don’t stop sliding until you fall in the sea. It’s like God contemplated a bit of snow for one of the plagues to visit on the Egyptians, but changed it to boils when he calmed down.

When we found Angela she was halfway through a cup of tea and a burger. Somehow these places that only exist on motorways manage to reproduce food as though they’ve referred to historical documents and tried to recreate meals based on analysis and supposition. I looked around at the moulded seats bolted to planter-walls, the plastic, turquoise trim running along the décor – grey with pink flecks, the baseball cap uniforms worn by people who travelled to work there. After three hours of arguing about music with Norman, I started grumbling about how bland and soulless it was, compared to somewhere real like the market. Thousands of people pass through everyday, and the most they can hope to see is an inoffensive print and light wood veneer.

Angela, after sitting there alone for three hours, took issue with me:-
“What is it you want? To come up the slip road into a country lane that splits off and round the corner, so everyone gets their own Edward Hopper gas station, with cherry red petrol pumps and a mechanic in dungarees.
“It should be soulless. It should be forgettable. What would it say about us if we got our cultural highs at the motorway services? What would that mean? It’s like when they complain about supermarkets not having character. They’ve got food. They’ve got trolleys full of really good food. Not every place you go has to be a branch of the Tate in its spare time. If I stop on a seven hour journey, I don’t want my emotions to be provoked. I don’t want to start thinking about sexual politics in the twenty-first century. I just want the toilets to be clean. And they are, you should check them out before we go.”

Norman looked at me to check I hadn’t changed my mind, but we brought her home anyway.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Did Anybody Hear A Goodbye?

When I spoke to Enright yesterday he invited me to another gathering on Saturday night – there are more files to go through apparently. Both he and Reeves, and we’re presuming their bodyguards, will be in attendance. A quartet of Russian magicians are coming over, to join the information exchange. Samuel is content to wait until Saturday for the break in.

I’ve insisted on joining Samuel, playing the card that it’s my position with Enright that has provided any of this information. Norman is no good, either at the break in or as a look out. We need someone to be at The Red Deer to make sure Enright doesn’t leave, especially since he can get back to Fulwood in the blink of an eye. I suggested Angela, Samuel agreed, so we called her down.
“She’s gone.” Said Norman, out of his fur coat of a beard.

I hadn’t realised, having spent my time with Sebastian for the last few days, but I haven’t seen Angela since Monday morning. She’d stopped eating her evening meal with us because of Chris’ sarcastic commentary. Apparently they both went back to Devon on Tuesday.
“Did you know this?” I asked Samuel. He said he’d noticed it was quieter. I tried her mobile. The only call I got back was a shock one from Cobb, inviting himself over on Saturday night.

Sebastian has moved on, relieved to have missed the snow for his tour of the peak district. He said he’ll be back in touch, especially if he finds anything on Ilford Dyson. In the meantime he knows Challoner intended to visit York next, so that’s where he’s gone.
“I doubt it will rival Sheffield for oddness.” He said. “You know, I think I saw a bear’s footprints at one of the sites.”
He didn’t include our calm contemplation of crime, but maybe that’s not odd to him. In any case, you’d think oddness would be attractive to a man who made a living out of studying distortions to the world. At the very least I thought Enright and his growing network of once-magicians would make this the place to be. I believe what Enright is doing is important – not without ego admittedly, but still important, to bring the world back to what it should be. I’ve sold Samuel on the bluff that I believe he’s hiding something – but only because I want to see his face when he’s proven wrong.

Enright asked me what I thought Samuel’s interest in the study was. I think the time is coming when I can no longer wait to find out. He sits around the house, brooding and anticipating plots against himself. If I just ask him to leave he’ll puff up all full of zeal and duty, demanding to defend me in spite of myself. Only when the break in proves him to be delusional will he be low enough to force out.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Adding Up.

The only thing I believe Arthur Enright is guilty of is secrecy. I’ll admit that secrecy, while asking all others to supply every scrap of a notion they might have, is a bit hypocritical, but that’s all Enright can be accused of – hypocrisy. Not the grand scale fraud Samuel is accusing him of. Samuel’s become obsessed with looking inside that house. He thinks he’ll find a demonic alter in there or something: a first born child in a cage. I think he misses the old days.

I rang Enright myself. I told him about the file I’d been working on for his timeline (most of which is entirely dull – hovering bronze dishes fell to the floor and magic lights went out), and said how much I enjoyed working on it. I mentioned Samuel and his eyes by way of comparison:-
“But of course he can’t supply a time check, what with him being blinded.”
“Of course. Not all circumstances that night were suitable for these interviews.”
“He’s had a bad run of luck lately actually. He was beaten up around Christmas time, did you hear about that?”
“Samuel was? No, I didn’t hear about that, but then he and I don’t really move in the same circles.”
“You do now.” I said. “I thought you knew him before, but maybe under a different name?” I held back from calling him Salt.
“As I think I told you before, ours is a solitary life – or rather it was. We know each other by reputation, very rarely in conversation. I don’t believe I ever met your friend before you brought him to our meeting at The Red Deer.”

I told Samuel this and he swore that Enright was lying. We were with Sebastian at Castle Market, as promised. I felt a little embarrassed about showing him round, like it was the best the city had to offer. In Sebastian’s eyes, although he kept up a veil of professional interest, it was not the sort of place he was used to. I’d been looking forward to going back there as well – I’d missed the days spent in their cafes, tucking into apple pies and pots of tea. I’d missed the life of the place – but now, with Sebastian unsure where to put himself, I could feel the threat. It goes deeper than physical – it’s like being stripped of something. I can’t explain it better than that.

“When you saw Enright here, did he know who you were?” I asked Samuel.
“But you didn’t pick him out when we saw him here together? I met Arthur Enright the same day I met David,” I explained to Sebastian. “If you knew who he was, why didn’t you say?”
“I didn’t know exactly who he was.” Samuel offered, as though that explained everything. I looked up at the ceiling tiles and strangled a deep, pitiful groan.
“Why don’t you tell us,” said Sebastian, “exactly what happened the day you were attacked.”

“I’d been told, by a friend,” began Samuel. Already it sounded unlikely. “There were rumours of something significant in the foundations of the old castle. I didn’t know exactly what I should be looking for, so I ended up doing circuits, up and down the stairs. Then I met a magician I knew, he was with Arthur Enright and Nicholas Graham, but he didn’t introduce me. He told them my name, rather caustically. In my previous meeting with him, we’d disagreed, bitterly. This was on the lower level, I remember him stood in front of that display of trophies. I came upstairs to the food market, and Enright must have come up another way, because he was stood in front of the bakers, using his mobile phone. We made eye contact, but he was talking, so I kept on going past him.”
“Was it that stall there?” I pointed out the bakers in the corner of the market. Samuel looked, visualised it, and shook his head. We went up to the next level, where another bakers tops the central stairwell.
“This is it.” Said Samuel.
“But you would have been at the foot of the stairs when you left him. There’s no quicker way up than the way you came. Except of course…”
“He already had the stone.”

The theory is then – and we worked this out between the three of us – that Enright finds the stone, wants to search more thoroughly, invites a couple of acquaintances to join him, leading to rumours that spread to all quarters, meanwhile he has hold of the only known magic in the world. Naturally, when Samuel witnesses him travel two flights of stairs in half the time humanly possible, he panics. He isn’t ready to reveal the stone yet. He has the bodyguards he’s hired to protect the stone jump Samuel before he can blab. Which is ironic, because Samuel didn’t even realise what he’d seen.
“It didn’t strike you as odd?” I said. “Not only that he got there before you, but he wasn’t even on the move or out of breath.”
“I’ve seen a lot of things that qualify as odd in my life. A man being further upstairs than he was before doesn’t come close to the list.”

I didn’t push it, just as I didn’t challenge the further theory that Castle Market was only ever a smoke screen, because as Challoner pointed out, the manor of Waltheof was somewhere round Rivelin Valley. I don’t believe that Enright is the cat stroking villain Samuel wants him to be, despite the moustache, but I’m going along with Samuel, because if he’s breaking into Enright’s house then I’m going with him. Norman can’t risk it, and I’ve said that it’ll be safer with two. Besides which, I’ve been in the house before and I know my way round. This isn’t because I trust Samuel more than I trust Enright – I don’t – but if there is some proper magic going on inside that house then I want to see it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Revised Theories.

Yesterday was spent with Sebastian again, as planned. Samuel joined us as before. Again, there was no real reason to be there. It was nice though, to be out in the peaks. As I looked along the valley, there was just the edge of the city visible, the tops of the flats at Stannington cutting into the view like rust. I never really got it, why walking in the country was supposed to be so great, but that’s because I was always walking back to where I’d started from. But sat in Sebastian’s car, while he did all the rambling, I had time to take in the beauty of the half wild hills.

We talked more about Challoner, and sometimes he went quiet as he tried to put the worst out of his mind. Sebastian’s specialism is natural magic, but he’s also interested in Royal magic. The rise in demonology was upsetting for him – he saw it as cheating, since the demon did the work – but since it all disappeared, he’d rather have demonology than nothing.
“Not that your father was a cheat. Your father was the real deal. As I understand it, he designed many of the demons himself.”
“He designed them?” I saw Samuel stirring uncomfortably behind me. He prefers to think of demons as hell-born.
“That’s David’s terminology, I don’t know how accurate it is. He explained it to me once that demons were made up from the raw matter of the soul, and that most magicians pick one off the shelf, like a can of soup, while men like your father blended their own together, for specific needs, like a chef, to keep within the metaphor.”
“Or an alchemist, to be more honest.” Said Samuel.

Last night, Samuel went out to meet a contact of his. When he came back he was agitated. For the last week, his contact has been mingling with the once-magicians who hang around The Red Deer. It proved impossible to get any closer to Reeves than bad breath away, but he did manage to find one disturbing fact. Samuel was hoping to learn what it was that Reeves was after. With Sebastian’s conjecture that the stone Enright found is still potent, it seemed that Reeves was not only the money, but the purpose. His thugs were bullying Enright into place, while everyone was distracted by the smokescreen of his common initiative. It turns out though, that the thugs are not Reeves’ thugs after all – they are in the pay of Arthur Enright.
“Enright’s loaned them to Reeves for the duration of his stay. He took charge of them when he arrived from London, to make him feel more like a man while he’s handing over hundreds of his thousands. It’s probably why he’s hung around so long, getting a thrill out of the mob boss image.”
“You don’t think he’s up to no good anymore then?” I asked.
“Hard to say. From what your friend says, there’s the potential for mischief, but maybe just by Enright. If he’s using the stone to call forth powers, it would take a lot of room. It would explain why no one gets inside his house anymore.”
“What powers would he call forth?” I asked. Samuel didn’t get that I was mocking his theatrics. The idea that Enright is in league with Satan while he simultaneously co-ordinates the biggest effort of anyone to revive real magic, is a little dumb. Why would he bother if he has the power already?
“I don’t know. It would be interesting to find out, but what I really care about is why he set six men on me to leave me for dead.”
“Why don’t you ask him?” I said, offering Samuel my mobile.
“How do you mean?”
“I’ve got Enright’s number. Instead of sneaking around hoping someone drops enough information to put half an idea of nothing together, why not just ask him? It was probably a mistake.”
“Didn’t feel particularly accidental.” He touched a few of the scars around his face.
“I mean he probably didn’t mean for them to do that. He knows where you are, he knows your with me, has he had you beaten up a second time? No. Was he even at the markets when you got beaten up? Was he with them?”
“He wasn’t with them.” Samuel admitted.
“Did you see him at the market at all?”
“I don’t know. He wasn’t the most memorable part of the day. So I guess, yeah, I did. I saw him down on the bottom floor, and then around the food markets later on. I remember seeing him in front of the bakers talking on his mobile phone.”
“And was he with those thugs?”
“So it’s not as if he set them on you. He probably mentioned you to them, like how much he used to hate you when you were killing demons, and they caught up with you, gave you a pasting, thinking it would please him. It’s a whole ‘who’ll rid me of this turbulent priest’ thing. Ask him.”
“You’ve developed a very blasé attitude to demons. They’re not cuddly toys.”
“That’s not what Angela says.”

Today we met with Sebastian for the final round up of the stone circles. At the Barbrook circle I shared my belief that Challoner had definitely visited there after the party. I pointed out there was a small pile of pistachio shells close by. They weren’t Challoner’s for certain, but it was likely.
“Do they mean anything,” I asked. “Pistachios? Like how the walnuts mean that a spell’s been cast when they go peppery.”
“Oh yes, David’s walnuts. Did you taste those? Horrible aren’t they. An acquired taste, I believe is the polite phrase.” Sebastian smiled, leaning into the car and lucky dipping in his rucksack.
“I tried one at the party. It’s true then, that magic makes them taste like that?”
“Magic can make them taste like that, if they’re set up close enough, for long enough. I don’t know how close David was, but they would probably have tasted of pepper as soon as he came through the door.”
“They’d already been exposed to magic?”
“They’d already been exposed to pepper. David loved the flavour. When last Halloween happened, he went a week without and then he had to come up with his own recipe. He was addicted to them. Were they whole or shelled at the party?”
“Then it was a batch he’d cooked up in advance.”
“But everyone thought they’d been effected by Enright’s ressurection.”
“I’m sure they did. That’s because they know nothing about magical theory.”

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back To The Hills.

Sebastian Frazer Wilson came back early this morning, while Samuel and I were training, so Norman kept him entertained. I don’t know if the Frazer part of his name is a second christian name, or part of a double barrel surname. It could be a posh hillbilly name, like Jim Bob. In any case, I can’t be calling him by all three names all the time. He came to see my father’s map, the one with all the stone circles circled. I offered to go with him, since I’d found them all recently. Samuel, because he’s incapable of trusting anyone, insisted on coming too.

Sebastian is about six foot four, with a long face, a long nose, and short black hair. He’s balding a little at the back, but unless he’s sat down not many people are going to get to see that. Instead of his spy coat, because we were going rambling, he wore a bright red puffer jacket. Above his skinny legs it made him look like a lollipop. Samuel wore his long leather coat, which normally means he’s carrying his sword. I might ask him to keep that locked up in the study, just to see what he says.

We drove out to the circles furthest away, since we had good weather. Sebastian drives one of those new minis, into which he flatpacks himself. Samuel looked ridiculous on the back seat, like he was being chauffeured in a toy car. We talked about what had happened over the last few months as we drove. He knew all about my father from Challoner, and was more interested in how the magicians who survived were reacting. He was amused at how they’d combined under Enright’s leadership:-
“Before last Halloween, I’d struggle to get two of them to agree whether or not a spell had actually worked, or was valid, or original, or morally acceptable. I’d struggle to get three of them in the same room, let alone forty.”
“Why were you trying?” I asked.
“That’s our business. Or rather it was. David and I are interested in magic, in the same way that a drama critic might be interested in Shakespeare, as compared to an actor performing in the play. The magicians are men of enormous ego – after all they’ve decided to rework the universe. They don’t like sharing their secrets, but they want their accomplishments acknowledged. For a modest fee, David and I confirmed, impartially, whether or not a spell had been cast as claimed, and if required we could provide a forum for discussion, as to whether or not the spell should ever be cast again.”
“You’re a counselling service?”
“Arguably. But the role pre-dates psychoanalysis by a few centuries. In Medieval Europe a magical theorist would attend most royal courts. Often mistaken for magicians themselves, in truth they reported to their king or emperor on what was afoot with the wizards proper.”
“Did you ever try magic yourself?” I asked. Concentrating on the road made his answers unnaturally tense.
“Once. Unsuccessfully, I admit. But that’s not why I didn’t persevere. My mentor was, as I’ve found most magicians to be, a total fat-head. They’re idiotic. And I don’t mean they’re unintelligent – they have a sharpness of mind that could find the cures cancer and world peace, if only they’d stop concentrating on, I don’t know, on how to make fire come out of their finger tips. But they can’t refocus. All of them have this distorted sense of their place in the universe. No offence by the way.”

This last comment was aimed up at the rear view mirror, but Samuel didn’t react from the back seat. He was probably too busy running through his conspiracy theories to hear us.

“Don’t worry about him,” I said. “He’s never cast a spell that wasn’t made by someone else.”
“Well anyway, you see why I was amused at the idea of David trying to ingratiate himself with these people. We can’t even get a commission out of them anymore. I’m sure what you saw was just David being sociable.”

That said, Sebastian asked me for a list of all the once-magicians I’d seen Challoner talking to that night. It was possible that through talking to them he was diverted to whatever path he was now on. At the stone circles we got out, tramped around for a bit, and got back in the car. I didn’t really see the point, but Sebastian felt the need to follow Challoner’s footsteps. In the end I just stayed in the warmth. When Sebastian came back I could tell he was disappointed.

“You’re comparing us aren’t you.” I said, low enough so Samuel couldn’t hear. It was in that pause before starting the engine that always seems awkward and full of unvoiced resentment, but is actually due to mechanical needs and the procedures of driving.
“Comparing who?”
“Me to my father. Don’t worry, everyone does. They look at me like I’ve got all their answers, like it’s in my DNA, and then they realise I don’t know anything. At all.”
“I never met your father. I know his reputation of course, and David told me all about his interview. Your father had little use for our services, and demonology is more David’s specialty than mine. Besides which, by the time I’d entered the field, your father was no longer the gregarious adviser and guru that David met. By 1995 he’d become a virtual recluse. All of David’s letters were met with refusal and then ignored.”

That would be six years after I was born; the year my mother died. I didn’t think my father was a recluse, although he knew few people. Possibly Sebastian meant only a withdrawal from magical society, but even then he met with Angela, and Miranda, within the last decade. I wondered how the man Angela knew compared with my father when Samuel met him in the Thirties.

“If Challoner wasn’t trying to get in with them,” I said. “What was he doing at the markets? Why was he so desperate to go to Enright’s party?”
Sebastian replied, after thinking about it: “He told me about a stone Arthur Enright had found. I think he was more interested in the stone than in the man.”
“Well that’s a dead end. The stone’s got no magic left in it now.”
“How do you mean?”
“It’s spent. Enright has drained the power out of it and into himself. I held a piece of iron pyrite next to it last week, there was no reaction at all.”
“Then it wasn’t the stone.” Said Sebastian, slowing down. “The stones back in that field haven’t been used for serious magic since the dark ages, and they still carry traces of the power that went through them. This stone of Arthur Enright’s was a vessel of great power. Iron pyrite ought to glow like fairy lights when it’s anywhere near.”
“There was nothing.”
“Then the stone you tested was a fake.”
Samuel leaned forward to put his head between us: “So the real stone is hidden in his house. The house where no one else is allowed to go, except for Alex Reeves.”
“So what?” I said.
“So that’s the real price of Reeves’ help. Inside those walls, they’re using the stone and the power it has left. Enright could only have touched on its potential.”

We’ve split the survey of the stone circles over a three-day schedule. When Sebastian dropped us back at the house, Samuel said to me:-
“You realise we have no proof that he’s a friend of David Challoner at all.”
The same could be said of Samuel knowing my father.
“You believe in God don’t you?” I said. “Then why do you find it so hard to take some things on faith?”

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sebastian Frazer Wilson.

I realised this morning that I had already given up on David Challoner. I didn’t hope once on Friday that he might call, or check my mobile for messages. So in the morning I took a final minute for his promised file and the way he’d manipulated me, and then I moved on.

I phoned Enright and asked if I could meet him. When I’m in the house with Samuel I find myself listening to him move around, from room to room, imagining what he could be up to from the noises, and then becoming annoyed with myself, because I know that what he’s really up to is utterly mundane.

Being Saturday, I hoped to find that my real friends might have some time for me. When I called they were all at Top’s house, listening to his latest vinyl acquisitions. I was invited to join them.

“I was wondering,” I told Enright. “What you said about feeling included. I don’t know what I can do to help, but if you need help, I’m available, to offer a hand.”
“When are you free?”
“I could come over now if-”
“To the house? No, best to make it The Red Deer. Someone there will be able to set you to work. I’ll let them know to expect you.”

I felt stupid, as if I’d gone to a party and been asked to serve drinks. It was Enright I wanted to see. Not for the same reason everyone else is tending on him – hoping to get thrown the next scrap of magic- but just because he knows what it is to be powerful. Not even for that really – but just because.

I went to The Red Deer, having told Enright I would. I couldn’t have him find out I never bothered. A once-magician in a three-piece suit, with two pocket watches and pot belly, took me to the room upstairs. I was given a file – yellow, split cardboard – from a stack of messy looking reports. It was a reminder that an uninterest in computers is not quaint and olde worlde, it’s just backwards. Inside the file were handwritten transcripts, compiled over the last few weeks, from all over the world. Every known, surviving magician they could reach gave a report of their experience on Tuesday Midnight.
“I need you to make a timeline,” said the once-magician. “What we’re doing here is making a timeline, and a map of the world. To see what happened, where and when. Arthur believes that this will lead to a point of focus. A source of the menace.”
“Arthur believes? You’re not convinced then?”
“I must admit that currently it all appears rather random, but the information we have is incomplete. What you need to do, is take a note of the particular properties that were noticed, obviously where, and then check the time against GMT. You will find that many reports are hazy on the specific time, so work your way back from the eventual time check and reconstruct. Also, double check what they took the time from. Is it accurate? Has it been altered since that night? If not, check it against GMT now and factor in that inaccuracy to your timeline.”

I think his name was Desmond Matthews. He looked unsure at giving me the file to take away, but he seemed more unsure about those that remained. My one is sat in my room now, thick with the sludge of information. I’ve scanned through it and there must be twenty reports in there, so I resolved to begin straight after tea. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing to open with an empty stomach.

Tea, and Chris’ commentary on why Sheffield is rubbish compared to Devon, was interrupted by the door. Norman showed in a tall man, bony and thin, making him seem taller still. He was wearing a raincoat, like a black and white spy. He apologised for disturbing us:-
“I’m a friend of David Challoner.” He spoke to me directly. “I believe you met with him on the twenty-fourth of last month, which makes you one of the last people to see him. I spoke with him on the Tuesday, the twenty-third, and was expecting another call before the weekend. When he didn’t call, I waited, obviously, but still nothing for over a week. After that I started to call around, but he’s been in contact with no one. They have his credit card at his hotel, and an open ended booking, so apparently they don’t need a physical guest. It’s not unheard of for David to go off in his camper for a few days and lose himself, but generally he’s a man of strict habits and punctuality. It simply isn’t like him not to make contact for this long. Did he give you any clue as to what he might have planned, when you saw him?”
“We never met.” I said. “On the Wednesday you’re talking about he didn’t show up.”
“Sounds like he’s let you both down.” Said Chris.
“I can assure you he intended to make that appointment,” the thin man said. “He said as much when we spoke. He was looking forward to it. Said you deserved it.”
“He was supposed to be giving me some information.”
“On Ilford Dyson, yes.”
I wanted to take the man to one side, lead him by his skinny arm away from all the excess attention and tennis eyes at the table. At the very least, I didn’t want Chris and Samuel to be listening.
“You know about the file?” I asked. “I pretty much assumed he’d made it up.”
“Why would he do that?”
“To get himself in with the in-crowd.”
The thin man laughed: “David’s never been one for the in-crowd. Even in our office he’s out of the loop, and there’s only two of us. What made you think he’d made it up?”
“He kept putting it off. First of all it hadn’t been sent, then it was lost in the post, then it was coming but not quite. All so I couldn’t change my mind about Arthur Enright’s party.”
“David mentioned Arthur Enright. Said he performed some spectacular trick.”
“He came back from the dead.”
“That’s the ticket. David said it was very impressive. As for the delay with the file though, I’m afraid that was my fault. I did delay in sending it at first, and then I sent it recorded instead of special delivery.”
“You sent the file?”
“Then the file exists?”
“Oh, absolutely. David had it on the Tuesday.”
“And you know what was in it?”
“Not a clue I’m afraid. Not my area of interest.”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Home Life.

After this morning’s workout – observed in silence – the odd couple came downstairs. Chris made some lame wax on / wax off joke. Angela said she couldn’t believe that I hadn’t told her about Arthur Enright.
“I had to hear it from some carver trying to chat me up.” She’d been into town again, failing to make friends. “He said he was behind Enright as he walked down the stairs, and he’s holding his son’s hand, and then his son asks him about some trip to New York. How old’s his son by the way?”
“About eight.” I said.
“He must have been the one at the theatre. I thought he looked weird. Looks like Damien.”
“Not really.”
“Well he looks pretty serious for an eight year old.”
“Why do you think he’s weird?”
“Because of what the carver said. They’re walking down the stairs and the boy starts talking about the astral plane, like he’s swallowed a book on it. Starts asking about split consciousness. And then…”
“And then?”
“Then Enright’s not there anymore. They get to the bottom of the stairs and the little boy’s holding an empty space. Still got his left hand up in the air, but what this guy thought was Enright is just a shadow of the man in front.”
“Poor Arthur.”
“Which one?” Asked Angela.
“Both. He didn’t mean to leave his son like that – the power took over.”
“It’s not much of a childhood though is it.” Said Chris, venturing a comment. He likes to have an opinion. “He’s not going to grow up normal is he.”
“He’ll grow up knowing how the world works.” I said, as Norman came down to join us.
“Morning chef.” Said Chris. He either calls him that, or Mr. Mom.
“So Angela.” I said. “Norman’s teaching me how to cook, Samuel’s teaching me to fight. What are you going to teach me?”

She looked appalled, looked at Chris, and walked off. It took me an hour to figure out why.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Security Issues.

I’ve been thinking again about Samuel’s presence in the house. When he came it was with the stated intent of securing my father’s books. Not against any definite threat. There was a break-in, which Samuel couldn’t have known about, but no books were stolen. The books are after all powerless, and it’s only against some future return of magic, such as Arthur Enright could bring about, that Samuel’s precautions are necessary. How long does he intend to stay? What will he do when the value of the books is restored – destroy them? Why not destroy them now? Can I be sure that he doesn’t have a duplicate key for the study? Can I test that?

Talking it through with Norman – not in detail, I didn’t share my concerns, except to wonder how long Samuel might be around for – he reminded me that Samuel almost left around Christmas time, before he was attacked. We thought he had gone. But maybe it was only that he was missing, and he never meant to leave at all – like cheap hair dye that keeps coming up through the roots, or an itch that keeps moving around. What is he like? He’s like homework: an oppressive necessity. But I don’t have to do homework anymore.

Norman found me in the morning, as I’d stayed up waiting for Samuel to come home. It’s odd to hear him talk about Samuel. It’s odd to see them together in the house. Norman likes him – they swap stories about demons and small business finance, each fascinating to the unlearned other. I tend to think of them as the same generation, although of course Samuel looks younger and is forty years older. We made a fry up together (it’s all about timing the potatoes and the eggs) and Norman said he’d trust Samuel, because he’s guided by strong Christian morals. I went through a short list of atrocities justified by Christian morals, starting with the crusades and getting up to date with pro-life extremists. Apparently that was unfair. I believe Norman when he says Samuel has a strong conscience and a commitment to good acts. I just don’t know Samuel’s definition of good.

He came home around one-thirty this afternoon. He’d followed Reeves and four of the six men who beat him up. They went back to Enright’s house. He has a key there. I didn’t understand what took so long, but Samuel was watching. He waited for the next shift of guards – the other two who attacked him and two new ones. They escorted Reeves for the evening, back into town. Two guards stayed with him overnight.

I asked Samuel what he intended to do, but he doesn’t know yet. He’s just watching to find his opportunity. No one’s attacked him though, since he took his beating, and he’s been easy enough to find. The most likely source of danger to him is provoking Reeves by following him, and who’s to say that’s not what happened the first time? He’s quick to caution me on my own safety, but the biggest threat to me is this obsession that falls somewhere between revenge and curiosity.

Again, no word from Challoner. When he surfaces, wherever that might be, I think I’ll ask Enright to ask him for the Ilford Dyson file he says he has. He’ll probably contact Enright before he thinks of talking to me again, and he’ll probably do whatever he can to get in with that crowd. What I don’t know, is what I can do to return the favour.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Red Deer.

Tucked behind West St. where all the students get wasted and vomit, is a small pub, another real ale pub, that seems to have been smuggled in from the countryside. It too is full of students, but more of the beardy, woolly jumper kind, in serious discussions about core course topics. They’re altogether more civilised in their drunkenness. I’d never been in The Red Deer before, because it’s the sort of pub that would ID me. I don’t know who the previous owners were, but it’s now owned by Alex Reeves.

Angela was dressed up and ready to join us, when Samuel stopped her. We’d been talking about what to do if and when Reeves showed up with his bodyguards. Samuel and Norman were going to stay with me for protection – Norman presumably for safety in numbers.
“It might not be safe.” Samuel explained to her.
She laughed. “No one can do anything anymore.”
“They can still hurt you.”
“It’s a public place.” Angela said. “The worst they can do is refuse to serve us. Unless you think it’s been converted into a demonic chamber, overnight. Like Changing Rooms.”

Samuel had no idea what Changing Rooms was, and was non the wiser after Norman described it.
“I was left behind yesterday.” Said Angela. “And now again today.”
Behind her was Chris, sat bent over, about to tie his shoelaces but waiting for the outcome, which left him holding his foot like a puppet. She wasn’t left behind alone yesterday: she spent the day with Chris.

At the pub, three became two. I recognised a few faces sat downstairs, by the fireplaces. They looked at me and then at Samuel, ignoring Norman, huddling together to discuss the significance. It struck me as odd that they always meet in pubs. Very few of the once-magicians are drinkers – I suppose they got their highs elsewhere – my father rarely drank. Some of them had sherry, others a glass of red wine, a lot of them had coffee or juice. It turns out the venue is more to do with convenience and economy than alcohol. Most villages had a public house and you don’t have to rent it to meet there, making it an ideal neutral ground. Turns out to be a traditional thing among magicians.

Norman was left downstairs, sat with a pint, to look at all the paintings on the wall by local artists. As non-magical, or rather never-magical, his presence was not acceptable to the select group. It’s a long, thin pub that reaches back far, but he got in close to the bar, so he could hear if the cry went up. Samuel was admitted, begrudgingly, as my guest, and we were all led upstairs to the function room.

Arthur Enright had set up a central table, like an office desk, at which he sat and gestured for everyone to take a seat. As well as a minute taker, Enright’s son was sat beside him, calming my fears about any ambush that Samuel’s paranoia had built. Twenty or so others, a mix of candlelighters and carvers, filled the small room. Alex Reeves, with all four of his guards, came up last – making it like a 5 o’clock bus in there: a lot of odour, not a lot of eye contact.

Enright stood and greeted us all:-
“What I hope to share with you today, is a vision, of what our future can be if we forget our past, and our quarrels. If we leave that as history, and get on with what needs to be done today.
“Already, since we last all met, there are divisions along the old lines, of propriety and the morals of ambition. That doesn’t matter anymore. The powers you had that created those divisions have gone. And look now at the people you’re with. Carvers and candlelighters. Look now at whom you trust and don’t trust, but think back to an hour ago, it was just you and your allies then. You don’t trust them as much when it’s just you in the room. You can’t. You can’t trust your closest friend as soon as there’s only the two of you. Because the old divisions were only ever the fear of losing the secrets that we’ve already lost. Secrets I’ve begun to rediscover.”

On the table lay a stone, carved but simple, about the size of a brick, worn smooth with age. Enright now lifted it with one hand. His son followed the stone’s trajectory with his eyes wide, like it was a shooting star.
“This small stone offers us hope. It has returned to me what I feared had gone forever. And although it was a last gasp, its power’s now exhausted, it is proof that anything is still possible.”

He described to us how it felt to draw out the last magic from the ancient stone, and the once-magicians around me nodded, reliving their own experiences. “Like the power of the universe reached through me.” The candlelighters and carvers alike smiled as if he’d told their favourite story.

“Why here?” Enright asked, on our behalf. “Because for the last week I’ve received a number of visitors to my house, and I could see the wariness in their eyes. It’s natural, of course. Not since before the age of wizards in their towers-” I thought that was an interesting distinction “-have any of us trespassed in comfort. So I want you all to consider this neutral ground. This is where we come to meet as equals. This is where we are all welcome. And this is where my vision of the future begins.”

Enright turned and went back to his seat. A chorus of hear-hears went up, although no one actually clapped. “Well said” was well said a few times behind me. Enright smiled, and looked to his son, taking in his admiration. You could see the love they had for each other in that moment, as he forgot everyone else in the room, and then it was back to business.
“What have we got?” Enright asked.

The first report back was from one of the carvers, and its potential was discussed by the group. In New York, there’s a magician who was half in and half out of the astral plane when Tuesday Midnight hit. When the bridge collapsed he went into a vegetative state, but he keeps making lucid statements, as if reporting back from the astral plane. It could be delusions, but it still shows signs of conscious thought. If the statements could be built into something coherent then they could offer a unique perspective. A party of three agreed to go to New York and investigate further. Alex Reeves is paying for the flights. There’s a contact in New York who they can stay with.

In Italy an entire family has disappeared. This happened a month after Tuesday Midnight. One of the candlelighters proposed investigating this. He said the church was bound to be involved.
“The church?” Enright asked.
“Well Perierga. But we know who they are.”
I could see Samuel tensing up beside me. Again, flights and this time accommodation were to be paid for by Reeves.

Another candlelighter gave a third report, which was more of a rumour. In Scotland, something was supposed to be buried – something that couldn’t be killed, so they buried it and sealed the tomb. When the spell on the seal broke it would have been released, but could it survive Tuesday Midnight itself? It was a magical creature – it should have died, or it might now be mortal. Accommodation and supplies were agreed for an investigation.

When the meeting was over, all of those gathered mingled together and compared notes on the proposals. Only Reeves remained aloof from the crowd, his bouncers stepping in front of any efforts to ask him or thank him. Enright was finalising details, so I left Samuel to boil internally and went to speak with Arthur junior.
“You weren’t bored?” I asked him.
“I need to learn as much as I can about my father’s work.” He said, and in truth he probably followed the finer detail better than I did. As we talked, I held the iron pyrite Challoner gave me up to the castle stone, hiding it my hand. There was no glow in the golden veins at all, so he wasn’t lying – the stone is spent.
“And your mother doesn’t mind you hearing all this? It can be a little…” I tried to think of another word for morbid, and then realised I didn’t need to.
“My mother is no longer with us.” He sounded bored with the question. “But I don’t see why you think she’d object. Children are taught about the crucifixion in Sunday school.”

I took his word for that. I don’t know if I upset him, but he called his father over. Enright shook my hand and said he was sure I must be wondering why I’d been invited. I wasn’t, until then.
“What I was saying about division applies to you too.” Enright said. “I don’t want you to feel excluded. And you shouldn’t feel you can only choose your friends from the people who turn up on your doorstep.” He looked across at Samuel. “What do you suppose he wants? A man who hunted demons, with the son of the world’s foremost demonologist.”
“My father was-”
“Among other things.” Enright smiled. “I’m not here to choose your friends. Just check they are friends.”

Enright quickly changed the subject to what I thought of the proposals. I didn’t have any grounds for an opinion. But was I excited at the prospect? He moved on before I could answer him. If Challoner was right about it being Enright that coveted my father’s books then he was doing a poor job of getting close to them. Without another word to me, he’d scooped up his stone and was leading his son by the hand, down the stairs. Reeves had already gone, Samuel too I realised, and the rest of the guests were shuffling after.

Suddenly Enright was behind me, from out of the empty room.
“Oh I almost forgot, your magical theorist, David Challoner? Could he not make it today?”
I jumped my hips up into my ribs. “No, I’m not sure where he is.”
“That’s a shame. We could use his expertise, especially in New York. A lot of us know how to use magic, but not all of us know where to find it.” He wiggled the castle stone at me as proof. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, you just startled me, appearing out of nowhere. I’m not used to seeing that.”
“Did I?” Enright looked at the stairs and back to where he’d materialised. “Do you know, I didn’t notice. I just thought how I needed to ask you a question, and then. Good. I’m getting stronger, good. Do you see? If it didn’t last then what hope is there?”

Norman brought me home. He didn’t know whether to follow Samuel or wait for me. Samuel still hasn’t come back.