Sympathetic magic

Sympathetic Magic

Mardi Gras isn’t my thing, but there I was, in New Orleans.

Because James asked.

Not too many people stuck with me when I came out as a trans man, stopped being Barbra and became Benjamin, but James did.

So when he asks for help, I come.

He’s hung out a shingle as a P.I., getting a rep as the guy for the forgotten people, the ones the police ignore.

Dam if I can figure out how that gives him enough to keep the lights on, but that’s James all over. In other times he’d be one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, or a knight of the round table.

And he had been the one to get superpowers he’d be wearing a flashy costume and flying around saving kittens.

Not me, if for no other reason than those tight costumes would show the package I’m not packing.

Meeting James makes me think about power, and how I got mine ...

In what must be one of life’s little ironies, my power relates to my family history.

My great-grandfather was a paleontologist, and was involved in the “bone wars” in the Canadian badlands, where people went a little crazy for dinosaur bones. My grandfather was a tomb raider/archaeologist ala Indiana Jones, and my dad was a forensic anthropologist.

Me, I was less into the dead than into the undead, or at least myths and stories about the undead.

Vampires, ghouls, spirits, ...

And of course, zombies.

It was while in New Orleans investigating stories about Voodoo zombies, that I met a man determined to make the stories real ...

And to make me his very first zombie.

I guess I was lucky he didn’t succeed, although I didn’t feel lucky at the time, because what happened was almost as bad.

Just before he finished zombifying me, I came into my power.

Power that almost drove me crazy.

Which is pretty much the reaction you should get when you discover you can call on the dead to help you.

James saved me that day, helped me gain control of myself and my new found power.

Which gives me another reason to come back to New Orleans and help James.

I go into his little office which is a half block from Bourbon street, and he shows me a group of pictures - pictures of missing people.

Trans people, to be precise.

And suddenly, I had a really bad suspicion as to why.

See, in many cultures, people who cross gender lines are regarded as being specially blessed by the gods, and can have special spiritual powers.

My instincts are telling me someone is collecting trans people to act as a set of spiritual batteries.

Since I got my power, I’ve learned I should trust my instincts, so I tell James my theory.

“Look at these three,” I said, “A teen trans girl, a mother of two - adopted, but still, and this last lady, Beverly, who just celebrated her 65th birthday. Maid, mother and crone. The triple goddess. Someone is building some serious sympathetic magic here. Let me see if I can find them.”

I meditate for a while, and then an image comes into my head.

“The towers,” I said aloud, then I swore.

There are few spots as infested with the dead as New York. And the towers is the worst spot in the city, worse than Central Park.

To understand why, you have to understand that most spirits are not bound to a particular spot. Yes, there are haunted places, spots where a spirit will take up residence, usually connected to their former life, but most of the dead like to travel.

And New York generally, and Ground Zero particularly, attracts the dead.

The only time I had been there before this case I lasted about five minutes and had to flee the the noise, the pain of all those dead.

“I’m going to have to go there, aren’t I?” I asked James.

“Please,” he replied, “I promised the families I’d do everything possible.”

“All right,” I replied with a sigh.

“Let me come with you” pleaded James.

I looked at him, and he added “you’re going to need some support.”

I thought about it, then said, “Fine.”

So I opened a magical portal opened, and we stepped through ...

And stepped out right at ground zero.

Almost immediately, I began to hear, and see the dead.

But James, who had taken my hand for the teleport, gave my hand a squeeze of support, and I regained my focus on the door in the middle of the reflecting pool.

The door is what draws the dead here, because it’s a door to the afterlife. Well,kinda, it leads to a waiting room of sorts, the last stop for spirits before they leave this plane behind for good.

The dead inside the waiting room are the ones I can have the most influence over, or at least I think so.

This will be the first time I have tried to use the dead on purpose ...

Now, before I describe the waiting room, you have to understand what I see there isnt what you might see if you went there. The place shapes itself around your concepts and ideas, your culture and religion, your hopes and your fears.

The waiting room is life’s last illusion, that once you go beyond it there is only the Real, for better or worse.

What I see is a stage, with a lectern, and the willing dead are the audience, waiting to see what I’ll say, what I want, who I need.

I do my best.

I tell them about the kidnapped people, and how I hope to counter the kidnappers, and that I need three very specific types of people.

And I get three volunteers.

Zula Julita, who died in the ovens of Auschwitz.

Fiona Oonagh, who drowned on the Titanic while three months pregnant.

And Carmen Modesta, nineteen, who died in the hail of bullets at a nightclub in Florida.

Maid, mother and crone.

We step back through the door, and almost as soon as my feet hit real earth, I realize the kidnapper isnt headed for the city.

“He’s gone to Woodstock” I tell James and the ghosts, “we have to hurry.”

I summon a portal, and seconds later we were there - Woodstock, one of the more magically powerful places in North America..

Where it would rank on the list would depend on what kind of magic you want to talk about. Niagara Falls specializes in sex magic, and has enough tantric energy to keep any succubus full to the point of bursting, The First Peoples swear by a little place in the Canadian Prairies called Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump. I’ve already talked about the Towers, and one day every decade Walt Disney World is the most dangerous place to bring your kids, as there is a door that opens to the real Fairyland, and, well, faires, sprites, elves ... they are much less nice than modern portrayals show, and they take one kid, and replace him or her with a changeling ...

But Woodstock is the home of Bacchus, and his wild girls.

And they are capable of both creation ...

And destruction.

I tuck the three spirits inside me, and look for the kidnapper, who has been a busy boy, apparently.

He’s arranged his victims in a circle, with the three special ones in the middle facing each other. Nobody’d dead yet, which is a good sign, but the guy won't be much longer prepping.

He’s taken off his shirt, painted some glyphs on his chest, and whetting a knife ...

Fortunately, before we left New Orleans, once James convinced me to let him come, some instinct I didn’t understand had told me to get him to bring something with him, something that would be very useful here.

A guitar.

So I tuck the three spirits inside myself, (don’t ask. Really.) and let James get ahead of me and start playing.

He’s actually not bad. He won’t be filling stadiums anytime soon, but he can keep a tune while walking, which isn’t easy.

And Woodstock responded to his music.

The entire place began to thrum in resonance to the song he played.

Which very nicely got the attention of the kidnapper, allowing me to get close to the stage, and let out the three spirits.

By this point, James is in trouble, dodging magical bolts, so I signal to him, and he retreats out of range as I do a simple “blurring” spell, and step out of the circle.

As I hoped, with the distraction over, he’s in a hurry to complete the ritual, and doesn’t notice me.

I’m sure he thought things were going great until he tried to pull the souls out of the three victims in the center to make his triple-goddess.

And got my three volunteer spirits instead.

I turned to go help James so I wouldn’t have to watch what they did to him.

Once the screaming stopped, James and I helped free the captives, and he called for an ambulance as well as the local authorities while I thanked the three spirits for their help.

I suspect they won’t bother with the waiting room, and will transition to what’s beyond it, but that’s up to them.

Once the police and ambulance arrived, we made brief statements that glossed over any magical part of the whole thing.

They probably wouldn’t have believed that part anyway.

After our part was done, we hitched a ride back to the nearby town and shared a diner, and a hotel.

Not sharing what happened in the hotel room other than to say I made sure James felt very thanked for his assistance, and he did likewise for me.

Sadly the next morning it was back to work for both of us, each doing our part in making the world safer.

Don’t tell James, but I think I could get used to being a do-gooder.

Still not wearing a funny costume, though.


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