“I, Light am an introvert. People think that because I shed myself on things without people having to ask that I’m outgoing. Wrong. I’m just dutiful. Whenever I can, I retreat into nothingness and let Darkness show off.” The woman in the black suit across the table from Shawn sighed. Her dark, almost black skin showed the glint of the whites of her eyes.
“We have a deal for you,” said a man in a white suit covered in rhinestones who appeared from nothing next to Shawn. “You’ve become a powerful master of illusion-”
“I don’t know about that-” said the mage, trying to be humble.
“Well, I was being generous so shut up and listen. Here’s our deal for you. Skew your illusions towards darkness,” the pale man laid a lily-white hand on his glittering chest, “and we will help. Give me more time to, well not shine, but you know, shade. In return we’ll amp up the little things you do. Less work for her.” Darkness waved a hand at the woman in black. “More fun for me.”
“I would have pictured you both the other way around,” Shawn said.
“We have to be seen in our own element,” Darkness explained. “So, do we have a deal?”
“Sure,” said the illusionist. He didn’t really believe what was happening. He felt as though someone was going to jump out from behind his chair and tell him the whole thing was a prank. He wanted to be ready with a facial expression that told everyone on YouTube or wherever that he hadn’t fallen for it.
“Excellent,” Darkness clapped his hands together. “You can go, Light, I’ll talk him through the rest.”
“Thank you,” the woman in the black suit straightened her matt black tie. “Someone left the lights on in an empty office building. When a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, it might not make a sound but when I have to do my job, and no one is even looking it’s just fucking ridiculous. No wonder this planet is dying.” She vanished.
“Welcome to the big time Shine, we’re going to do some amazing crap together.”
“It’s Shawn.” He felt as though a storm trooper was trying to tempt him to the dark side with Wookie cookies and moof milk.
“Whatever dude, just try it. Cover this place in darkness. This entire room.” The white glitter ball dressed as a man spread his arms wide.
Shawn looked around Rest for the Wicked. He’d only just been allowed to enter the pub reserved for magic users and magical creatures. Some of the patrons terrified him.
With a bang, the door of the pub slammed against the wall. In strolled a man with a thing in his hand that was half police speed gun and half children’s water pistol.
“Everyone on the ground. Your magic has had its day. I’m here to testify to the superiority of science. My name is Steven Gunn, and this is a stick up.”
“Do we stick up or get on the ground?” Asked the barman, who hadn’t moved.
It was hard to tell through the bandages that covered most of his mummified skull, but the barman appeared to be smirking as he got down beneath the bar.
“Not there, moron, where I can see you.” Steven twirled his gun at the floor in front of the bar.
“My apologies, your enlightened highness.” Alan the barman rolled over the bar and pointed to the beer-soaked beams of the wooden floor. “Can you see me if I get down here?”
“Everyone give me your money. No funny business or I’ll shoot you.”
“My money is behind the bar, mighty one,” Alan said. His voice was rolling laughter in the form of language.
“Get it then,” said Steven Gunn the gunman.
“Yes sir. You’d all better pay the man. He has some metal shit in his hand that beats all of your puny magic.”
A vampire who had been sitting in a corner finished his beer. He put down the pint glass and shot across the room like a bullet. Steven’s arm twitched.
The vampire’s head exploded.
Blood and viscera splattered everything as the steaming body of the immortal creature fell to the ground.
Burning hot blood scalded Shawn’s arm as he threw it up to defend his face. The heat made him growl along with the other creatures in the room. All eyes were on the gunman, all brows lowered in anger.
“Exactly, see that?” Steven said, his voice reaching the point where only dogs could hear it. “Science wins. Every. Single. Time.” He aimed his laser gun at the barman.
Shawn saw red. Actually, he saw orange. Flickering orange. And smoke. He pictured choking black smoke pouring off the gun in the moron’s hand. As if the darkness winked at him, it was so. Smoke billowed off the gun as a tiny flame, far less impressive than the one Shawn had in mind, wrapped itself around the metal case of the weapon.
Steven pulled the trigger anyway. A beam of red light was through the bandages of Alan the barman before anyone mortal had the chance to register it. Instead of exploding, the mummy singed. A black hole in his ancient wrappings and in the wood of the wall behind him gave the shooter a raised middle finger (or the middle and index for those of a British disposition). Alan’s humour wasn’t the only thing about him that was bone dry.
Smoke began to black out the lights around the room. Steven was beset by a second vampire in a heartbeat as the gun in his hand appeared to burst into flames.
With the twin primordial beings of light and darkness aiding his illusion Shawn was free to add some smell and taste to the smoke that had filled the room. None of them were in any danger from the suggestions the mage was throwing out. Those who didn’t know that were crawling on their knees towards the door.
In the confusion Shawn snatched the perfectly functional gun from the floorboards. The vampire who had turned the gunman’s neck into a fountain of blood let him fall to the ground. Ransacking Steven’s pockets furnished Shawn with spare batteries and a charger.
Crawling out with everyone else, the looter barely bothered to fake panic as he fled the scene.
As a child Shawn had been a huge fan of Han Solo and Boba Fett. He had the blaster. All he needed was a leather vest and white long sleeve, or armour. Both of which he could summon with a thought. Doing an accurate God of Mischief smile he did his best, but terrible, impression of Singing in the Rain.
Drizzle couldn’t bring him down as he returned to his hotel room. The Do Not Disturb was where he’d left it on the door handle. The hair he had taped from the doorframe was unbroken.
“Great job kid,” said Darkness, “this could be the start of something great.” The thief calmed his heart with a single deep breath. He didn’t want to tell Darkness that he had almost peed himself.
“Can I take your photo?” Asked Shawn, pulling his phone from his pocket.
“Of course.” The glittering force of nature straightened a blinding tie. He smiled with teeth that were whiter than white. He posed with the refined stance of a model on the red carpet. Around him, a perfectly well-lit room seemed dim by contrast. Perhaps that was the point.
“Light?” Shawn said. “Can I take your photo?”
“You just did. Everything you see is me. Which sucks.”
“No. I’ll be in every photo you ever take anyway. Be happy with that, one of us has to be.”
Shawn nodded and turned the key from his neck on the padlock of his suitcase. It should have glowed as he opened it. Hundreds of pounds in notes were rammed into the silver case. Every time he looked his heart raced at the possibilities.
He dumped the gun and its paraphernalia in with the money.
“Like I said, Shawn. You’ve got great things ahead of you.” Darkness smiled and vanished. His shadow remained on the wall, waved, then faded away.