Thursday, December 18, 2008

6. McKnickers Dreams

Concept contributed by: Heather and Mali

The public room at the Hog's Head seemed more than usually full of smoke. Something seemed to be wrong with the fire; its glow suffused everything. Sadie blinked and squinted through her veil, as the cloaked stranger performed a juggling act using his great, silvery dagger, two whole lemons, and an open bottle of McKnickers Incendiary. The whisky kept splashing out of the bottle, burning whatever it landed on including the table.

"Who are you?" the veiled witch asked desperately.

The figure caught the bottle in one gloved hand and threw it into the fire. It went with a loud bang and a furious shower of sparks. Meanwhile, the lemons landed side by side on the table and the knife impaled one of them, sinking deep into the wood beneath.

"Do you really want to know?" came the deep voice from beneath the stranger's cavernous hood.

The witch trembled. "Show me."

The gloved hands swept the hood back. What it revealed made the witch's blood freeze as the deep voice said, "Why, I am Voldemort's long-lost son, Albiky..."

On a filthy cot in the back of a broom warehouse somewhere in Scotland, the veiled witch woke up screaming. Passing her hand over her sweaty face and two-day beard stubble, she laughed nervously to herself, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

In a high tower of a half-ruined castle somewhere in Yorkshire, the wizard who sometimes called himself Merlin tossed in his sleep. He too dreamt of the stranger who sometimes called himself Spanky, and who claimed to be a Double Barreled Wizard.

They faced each other, from opposite ends of a dusty street. Faces peered anxiously through the windows at either hand, but otherwise the street was deserted.

Dressed in leather leggings, chaps, a homespun shirt and a long trench coat, topped by a wide-brimmed hat that shadowed his face entirely, the man opposite Merlin was unmistakably Spanky. For it were his gloved hands that hovered near the wands holstered on each hip, and his deep voice that drawled, "Draw."

Merlin went for his wand, but it was already too late. He was hit full-blast by a tickling charm from Spanky's right wand and a fountain of wine from the left. Merlin struggled, writhed, gargled and finally woke up laughing, only to find his cat perched on his chest, washing Merlin's face with its tongue and tickling him with its whiskers.

In her solitary shack on Erratic Alley, two left turns and a right beyond Diagon Alley, the witch called Endora snored steadily, enjoying her usual firewhisky-induced dream about dropping a house on a little girl from Kansas.

That night, the wizard sometimes known as Spanky did not dream. He remembered.

He remembered, for one thing, a diabolical plan by the dark wizard Finsterwald, which one of his great heroes had foiled. He had heard the tale so many times, it had taken on the guise of one of his own memories. The bunker, deep in the mountains of Bavaria... A mad voice declaring that Blitzkrieg is only the beginning of the new warfare... That in the future, artillery and aerial bombardment would break down a whole country's infrastructure in less than one hundred hours, blasting a whole modern culture back to the stone age...That the next step, the really crucial one, would not be Blitzkrieg but Blintzkrieg...the stage where well-meaning do-gooders would insist that the displaced and needy victims of war got supplies air-dropped on of fatty, hi-carb food that would spread hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and early death...

And he remembered a mad voice-no, worse, a perfectly sane but ruthlessly evil voice-calmly declaring that it had cast its Imperius Curse on one fanatical leader, one deluded creature who believed that his goose-stepping hordes were really doing his heart's desire-but even if you took him out of the picture, there would be more after him to carry on his work until the whole world of Muggles was either battered into oblivion or helplessly drowning in its own fat... "And when things have come to such a pass that only magic can deliver the world from total chaos and despair," the Voice sneered, "they will come crawling to us...."

But Spanky's revered mentor cleared his throat and said, "I beg to differ, Egon. The meek shall inherit the earth."

"Oh, let them," said the twisted, vile figure that faced him, wand raised. "I care not who sits on the throne, so long as we are the power behind it. The meeker the better." And before Spanky's mentor could twitch a muscle, he was hit by a blinding blast from the dark wizard's wand...

Spanky shuddered, shook his head, rubbed his eyes. Then he closed that file, shoved it toward the corner of his desk, and opened the one that he was really being paid to work on. The noise and bustle of the Rogue Magic Bureau (Blokebury on Rye Office) went on all round him as he read, hearing nothing, focusing on what he was trying to find out, and whether his research at The Hog's Head was really leading him in the right direction.

A whiskery, shabby wizard with a hangdog face gazed up at him, shiftily, from a moving photograph.

"When I know what you don't know you know," Spanky muttered, addressing the photograph, "you'd better hope you don't find out what I've found out."

[Originally posted 6/10/04]

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