Saturday, December 27, 2008

130. Wish Wash

Contest winners: zanaboo and greyniffler

[Transcript of group session on Lewis Bell Ward at St. Mungo's]

HEALER: All right, have you all taken your meds? Good. Morning, everyone. Thanks, I will. Mmm. Well, let's welcome our new members to the group, Niall and Siobhan. Why don't you start, Niall, and tell us what brings you here?

NIALL: Bloomin' git named Farnaby Joad is what brings us here, that's what.

HEALER: Er, perhaps you could give us a bit more detail on that.

NIALL: Well, old Farnaby invited us up to his flat for a New Year's toast, like. Only he decided at the last moment to whip up a gift to hand out at the door, and being a potioneer, naturally it was an elixir. Came in a fancy little bottle with a glass stopper and a ribbon worked into the wax seal. Looked a treat. Told us to drink it down at the stroke of midnight, and all our New Year's resolutions would come true. Wish Wash, he called it.

HEALER: Oh, dear. I think I see where this is going...

NIALL: Well, what with a bucket of firewhisky and eggnog, I didn't get around to making my New Year's resolution that night. No problem, I just save the Wish Wash until the next time I happened to be up at midnight - last night. Then I tossed back old Farnaby's draught, and BANG! There I was with one buttock blown right off. And what's more, it won't be joined back on - at least, not yet. Clearly, the daft old gasbag failed to deliver as promised.

HEALER: Sorry, are you referring to your buttock as a person?

NIALL: I am referring to Joad, you hopped-up bedpan jockey!

HEALER: Now, now...

NIALL: What I'd like to know is what any of this has to do with potion abuse. I mean, I like a good snort of firewhisky as much as the next wizard, but it's not firewhisky what took half my bum off. Poisoning, this is. I've been maliciously assaulted by a potioneer. Or maybe it's wand damage, since my wand did explode. And then there's my daughter Siobhan here, poor thing. Can't talk, jaw wired shut. She took her draught the same time I did, and just as I was going through the gluteal agony of a lifetime, she was flattened by a pair of runaway bludgers. Popped out of her Quidditch chest, just like that. Got her at close range, too.

SIOBHAN: Nng mmf nnkh fmf frrrg.

NIALL: That's right, dear. Let it out. So how about it, man?

HEALER: How about...? Er, is that a question for me?

NIALL: Tell me that magic quill isn't the only thing listening here! I was asking what any of this has to do with potion abuse?

HEALER: Ah! Right. Well, you see, you might have gone to any of several wards. The Bagman Ward for Magical Sport Mishaps, for example - only we've had to shut it, since the goblins sued the Endowment Committee for recovery of Ludo Bagman's debts. Or take, say, the Moody Memorial Ward for Wand-Related Buttock Injuries, but it's only now being built, and the wait list is surprisingly long. Luckily, we had just had two vacancies in the Lewis Bell Ward, so we were able to take you on right away.

NIALL: Vacancies, eh?

HEALER: You'll probably hear twenty versions of the story by lunchtime, so I might as well tell you the straight story now. The gentleman to your left - Do stop humming, Mr. Spankison, won't you? - I say, the gentleman to your left killed Mrs. Nonmonnom in self-defense. No one expected the old lady to turn out so dangerous. Should never have been allowed on the ward, but there was no way to tell.

NIALL: This fellow, you say? He hums and he kills, eh?

HEALER: The very same. And the other death...well, there's no delicate way to say it, but Mr. Faberhorn ate his roommate, and there it is. After three times we've decided to let him have his own room, so it shan't happen again.

NIALL: There's a relief. Er...which one is he?

HEALER: Oh, don't worry! Mr. Faberhorn doesn't come to groups. Not since he bit Healer Kilreare on the...

NIALL: On the what?

HEALER: Er, the winter solstice. That's the ticket.

NIALL: This still doesn't explain what this ward has to offer me and my daughter.

HEALER: Well, don't you see, you are victims of an illegal potion mishap. To begin with, Wish Wash is a Schedule "Thorn" potion, not to be dispensed without written authorization from the Rune Juice Office in the Department of Magical Fumes and Brews. Your friend Mr. Joad has a lot to answer for.

NIALL: It's all good news so far. Keep talking.

HEALER: Secondly, you mentioned that eggnog was served at Mr. Joad's party. Did I hear you right?

NIALL: Best eggnog ever made. It's a gift Farnaby has.

HEALER: Yes, but if he had applied himself more to his books, rather than relying on his gifts, Mr. Joad might have known that clove has a perverse effect on Rune Juice potions.

NIALL: Oi! That's it! I'm totally with you! Next you'll tell me F. J. mixed the eggnog and the Wish Wash in that order, in the same cauldron, without washing up in between. Am I right?

HEALER: You ARE right. So the Wish Wash was unintentionally contaminated with eggnog residue, which contains clove...

NIALL: And which caused our New Year's resolutions to backfire!

HEALER: Er. Ahem.

NIALL: What?

HEALER: Actually, the nutmeg contamination caused your resolutions to come true.

NIALL: How's that?

HEALER: It made the Wish Wash work in a spectacularly rapid and efficient way. Unpleasantly so.

NIALL: That's nonsense. Did I resolve to blow half my arse off?

HEALER: Er, no.

NIALL: Did Siobhan here resolve to let bludgers fly around the place?

HEALER: No, but that's exactly the point...after today, you'll both be very, very careful to act on your resolutions.


HEALER: Bear with me. Your resolution, as I recall, was to keep your wand out of your back pocket. Would you say there is a good chance you will keep your wand clear of your trousers in future?

NIALL: I most certainly would say so, after...aye!

HEALER: And if I may hazard a guess, Siobhan's resolution was to fix the dodgy clasp on her Quidditch chest. Am I right?


NIALL: What! Merlin's beard....

HEALER: And would I also be right in supposing the chest repairs will be your highest priority after you recover from your injuries?

SIOBHAN: Nnn Hnng!

HEALER: There you are!

NIALL: My! You're a brilliant chap, aren't you? So all we need is a healing draught, a spell or two, and we'll be as good as new. Right?

HEALER: Actually...we have to get the Rune Juice out of your system. Otherwise there's no telling what might happen the next time you make a decision.

NIALL: You don't say! How long will that take, then?

HEALER: A month or two, probably.

NIALL: What! Why? Am I to be punished now, so Mr.Goody-Two-Cheeks can feel superior in his potionary ethics?

HEALER: Not really. I avoid potions in my everyday life. It's this work, you see...

NIALL: Arrgh! Spare me! I would like to see how you felt if...

HEALER: No! Don't say it!

NIALL: had to spend all day on these bloomin' stools...

HEALER: Niall, I beg you!

NIALL: ...half-arsed!

HEALER: Bloody hell! That's enough from you, you great--

[At this point, the roll of parchment had to be changed. Due to the healer's indisposal, the next roll was not opened for several minutes. We apologize for the gap in the transcript.]

HEALER: --until I, or another healer, remove it! All right, let's get back to the meeting. Mr. Spankison, why don't you share what's on your mind?

SPANKY: I can blibber the tune of "The Flight of the Bumblebee." Listen: [The patient blibbered skillfully, and in tune, for 1 minute and 55 seconds.]

HEALER: That's lovely. Do you mind if I stand up? Crikey! This chair is killing me. Did anything else come to you? Any news on your powers returning, and so forth? The floor is entirely yours. Ow!

SPANKY: Well, I was working in the kitchen last night, and I tried to stir the soup with one wand, then the other, but I couldn't do it. Then I tried with both wands at once, and...


SPANKY: They made me scrub the walls and ceiling, then transferred me to pots and pans.

HEALER: Interesting. Have you noticed any patterns in the new way your magic is working?

SPANKY: No, but the soup left some interesting stains on the kitchen walls.

HEALER: I'm sure. All right, it's Mr. Harvey's turn. Harvey - hello? Ah, there you are. Have you reconsidered any of the things you said here yesterday?

HARVEY: Er - I beg your pardon.

HEALER: Well, that's a start, anyway.

HARVEY: No, I mean, are you speaking to me? Did I say something tomorrow? I mean, am I going to say something yesterday? It's all very confusing. I thought we were going to discuss the results of my blood analysis.

HEALER: Yes, we will, when those results arrive. They're not expected until tomorrow.

HARVEY: What? But you just told me yesterday - no, wait a minute. What day is this?

HEALER: Tuesday.

HARVEY: Right. OK. I've spotted it now. We were talking about my test results tomorrow, but now we're talking about something I am going to say here yesterday. Which means, drat it, I've started going backwards again. If I had known that Essence of Merlin was fat-soluble, I would have considered longer before taking enough of it to live round to the eighth century and back. The withdrawal is ENDLESS, and bits of it WILL seep into the blood time and again as fat cells are used up, especially the way you people starve us here.

SPANKY: Don't blame them. I'm the one who wrecked the soup.

HARVEY: So you see, I haven't the faintest idea what I'm going to say. Or said, rather.

HEALER: Harvey, we always seem to be facing the same issue with you: taking responsibility.

HARVEY: Responsibility? How's this for responsibility: I, personally and singlehandedly, triggered the Norman invasion, the great fire of Hogsmeade, two out of seven goblin rebellions in the fifteenth century, and the third war between the forest trolls and the mountain trolls. I faithfully carried a letter from Winston Churchill to Henry VIII, only to see it stolen and plagiarized piecemeal by Shakespeare. Also, I think - though memory doesn't quite serve me on this - I think history was going to remember the Venerable Bede as the Fairly Respectable Bede until I bumped into him.

HEALER: Now really!

HARVEY: I think I've had as much responsibility as any man who has ever lived a thousand lifetimes can take.

HEALER: Harvey, that's enough. We should continue this discussion privately. Besides, we're nearly out of time and most of the group hasn't spoken yet. Mrs. Ahmed...?


The "Double Challenge" for TMQ #129 still needs your participation [EDIT: No, it doesn't]. Without more reader input, it is very hard to keep the ink flowing to the Magic Quill! So please, go to the Discussion Page for TMQ #129, and either post your Survey and Contest entries, or send them to Robbie through the feedback system. This is a collaborative fiction column...collaborators are sorely needed! And so, as a special bonus, the next chapter will have TWO double challenges, so you can take part in creating the next two chapters of The Magic Quill.

[Originally posted 1/14/08]

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