Zack is walking down the road. Going back toward his dorm where no one is waiting for him. Half his shirt tucked in and other half hanging from the front. A burger in one hand and the phone in another. His full focus is on the phone, texting. It was a terrible day at college. Even his appearance is telling a kind of worn out story. Wild and unkempt hair due to mindless itching, the tie dangling between the legs with the knot almost an inch or two above the belly button.
His steps are sluggish and dull, taking them as if his one foot is broken, he places one step ahead in slow motion, and the other follows dragging on the ground.
He is always moving like this. Zack bumps into an old man with a white whiskery beard, a little tummy which seemed to bulge a little. And his right seemed a little smaller. But Zack thought that he might have squinted at the moment. The old man too seemed lost in his own imagination. As they collided with each other, some smidgen of inner ingredients fell out flying from between the burger buns. ‘Sorry Sir. I didn’t see you coming.’ Zack spoke right before settling and even seeing the man. ‘Oh! That’s right you don’t need to bother shoving people away brutally when you have important business to see.’ The old man said it with a heavy and sarcastic voice. Zack bowing his head and placing his right hand on his chest, once again expressed an apologetic gesture before falling again into to his nonchalant movements.
His dorm has now remained fifteen minutes away from the point where he has reached loitering at jelly’s pace oozing down a not so steep slope. On the last day before the weekends, lecturers make sure that students have enough lessons to revise over the weekends which they seldom do.
A few more unwilling gaits were taken, then the stops for once and turns to his right, staring over the tuck shop which is located several steps further to the right. The place is stretched to the side with a circular shape and three benches painted in yellow and blue sitting on the circular line of the area. The tuck shop is placed in the far right curve of the circular area.
Zack is groping into his back pocket of the pant as he walks toward the tuck shop. He manages to pull out some pennies until he got to the point. ‘Cigarette please!’ Without even raising his head Zack conveyed his purpose. ‘Here you go.’ The shopkeeper speaks with stretching his one hand with a packet of cigarette. ‘No man! I need only one loose cigarette.’ Said Zack, pulling himself backward.
Throwing out smoky steams of cigarette from his mouth in swirls Zack turned his back toward the tuck shop and headed back to the path. He turned again abruptly to the tuck shop when he was almost there on the usual walking path. He perched on one of the bench, stretching wide both his legs like a compass is stretched almost above ninety degrees. There he remained about twenty minutes inhaling the cigarette sporadically, having an interval of several seconds after each inhaling.
It is now about to strike three in the noon. Zack shakes his head, squeezes his eyes pinching with the thumbs and fore fingers and stands at once. As we was about to move away, a young man arrived wearing a hoodie, a dark blue trousers and a pair of blue and black joggers. The man seemed aged above twenty-five, but was surely under-thirty.
‘Hey junior! May I light a cigarette if you’ve got a lighter?’ The man said, as he reached and was a meter away from the bench where Zack was standing still after perceiving the man coming to him. ‘Yeah sure bro.’ Zack pulled out it from the right-side pant pocket and handed it to the man. ‘Thanks junior fella. Would you like to have one as well?’ The man suggested as he began to light the cigarette. ‘Yup! That would be nice. Let’s have a moment of smoke together.’ Saying this Zack indicated the man to sit on the bench as well. Putting his hood-hat on head, the man ensconced beside Zack leaving a foot of space in-between. ‘I go by the name of Jeff. What word people use to call you nice man?’ Jeff introduced him in a very frank manner. ‘Nice name you’ve got. I am called Zack by the way. It’s nice to meet you Jeff.’ Zack inhaled a heavy as he told his own name.
There was silence, total silence except the sounds that the car engines made and some not so distant undecipherable chattering of people treading the roadside path until both of their cigarettes grew short equal to one and a half inches.
‘So Jeff, what are you doing here?’ Zack asked in a casual way. ‘I am out for a jogging right now. But ended with you here. Let’s have another round of smoking. What you say?’
‘I too was of the same point bro.’ Zack rejoined Jeff waving his head in a rhythm.
‘Actually, I had meant that what do you do to make money.’ Zack asked resettling after lighting the 2nd cigarette. ‘Oh! I see. I coach teenagers at a kickboxing academy. But that isn’t my original job.’ Said Jeff rolling his eyes in his eye socket.
‘What you mean? Don’t you earn enough from there to make your living? Is your family big?’
‘There isn’t any such thing, but it’s something which is about passion that’s my original job.’
Zack was now fidgeting, fingers crossed and put his right leg on the left facing now only Jeff, he asked, ‘what has that original job to do with you. Is it some kind of a secret?’
‘It is not an outright secret buddy, but it is only revealed to them who have the courage to take it.’ Said Jeff resolutely.
Until now Zack was overwhelming by Jeff’s talks. ‘You are now becoming both frightening and mysterious. You must tell what that thing is.’ Said Zack while grinding the finished cigarette with boot sole on the ground.
‘It is a simple word, ‘SORCERY’. You know what that is. Probably, you might know its meaning, but you are far from its application.’
‘It is something to do with passion and focus. If I say so in a nutshell, your resolution, conviction and yearning counts for it, nothing else.’ Patting on the shoulders, Jeff tried to explain about sorcery to Zack.
After listening to Jeff with wide open eyes with half opened mouth, Zack reclined on the bench, placing his neck on the upper wooden plank of the bench, he let his head fall behind and went into voyage of deep but short pondering. ‘I am ready to begin with you. I need, in any scenario a thing except studies. Never in my life have I been this thoughtful about anything because before it they were all about books that have never attracted me.’ Zack gushed out these words as though he is presenting a bill in a parliament and he is the most sympathetic and courageous representative of the people.
‘All good my buddy. You seem louder in words, but action always does the impossible, mind it. Even more crucial, in here, in the world of sorcery, are the intentions, rather than words and actions. Anyhow, you are welcome. As I said it is squarely upon your inner thirst and conviction whether you might gain a benefit.’ Solemnly with a grave voice Jeff made his point.
With each passing second Zack was being enchanted by the words of Jeff, but the same time he appeared to be focused and resolute.
‘Here is the thing I will provide you with, ’Jeff pulled a paper from his hood pocket and handed it over to Zack. ‘Now you need to say these scriptures, repeating them for 50 times before you go to sleep. The rest is totally on your own strength to get something. Even until now I myself have been unable to derive.’
The moment Jeff handed the page over into Zack’s hand, he fell from the bench, put the packet of cigarette into hood pocket and gave the lighter back to Zack, he embarked on his way to the roadside path telling Zack to show up the same time on tomorrow.
Zack remained motionless for about ten minutes, fingers crossed, bending his back, head facing the ground, the only outer organ which was moving were his eyes and eye lids. He was quite frightened.
All the way to his dorm he was indecisive about the deed. He feared that some evil may befell him, concurrently the allure of benefits known to him of sorcery kept him inclined to give it a try.
Still and all, he made it to his dorm. The moment he arrived in the room, he changed as he did in routine and went into the washroom. In front of the mirror he began to see himself and tried to decide whether to apply the magic. To get freshen up, he splashed water several time with both of his hands and finally resolved.
Till the appointed hour he was restless, not physically, but mentally. This time, he was more worried for the result, he genuinely wanted something from the action.
He turned all the lights off except the study lamp, and sat on his mattress holding the paper in his right hand unopen. He took several long deep breaths and stood stationary for few seconds, then unfolded the page.
Without giving it a second thought, Zack started to read whatever was inscribed on the page, it was probably a foreign scripture or might not even belonged to any country.
Anyhow, he finished repeating it as instructed for fifty times. The moment it was finished he seemed to have lost hope, as he had expected whilst enchanting something to change. But now again he became somber and played mature. He placed the paper under his pillow and fell asleep without any further ado.
Morning came, the rays of the sun pouring in from the gap which was left ajar between the curtains hits his eyes. As usual, he turns his back to it and tries to prolong his sleep, but as he wriggled, the thought of magic strikes him and with it a sense of loss captures his mind.
Nonetheless he falls from his bed and heads to the washroom. As he was entering the washroom, a sound of wails and screams came from down the road. He left washing his face, instead rushed downstairs. There was a Labrador lying dead on the road, and some men lost in oral fighting. Zack reached them out to seek information about the incident, but none paid any attention. He asked them again now more loudly, even than no one bothered to attend to him. Exasperated, Zack took hold an arm of a man but surprisingly he couldn’t hold his arm nor could the man feel him gripping his hand.
This stunted Zack, however he gave it another chance but to no avail. He ran amok between all the men but no one could see or hear him. He came to realize that the magic has worked. But it has worked wrongly, if he stayed invisible ahead in continuity. This very thought began to agonize him. He ran back to his room and tried to sleep, and anxiously thought to meet Jeff at the appointed place.
One hour before the appointed time, Zack awaited Jeff over the bench. Jeff too popped up sharply on the hour. Zack waved as he stepped towards the circular place beside the tuck shop, but Jeff didn’t see, his eyes were seemed to be searching around.
‘Hello Jeff. How are you?’ Said Zack. No answer. Zack was almost broke. He spoke to him relentless. Jeff also didn’t see him. Seeing this situation, Zack began to tremble, his knees were shaking and tears rolled down his cheeks out of fear and regret.
He started to run mindlessly bumping into everything, yet nothing stopped him as he passed through everything.
The moment he entered room, he jumped into the bed and shoved his head into the pillow and wept. All of a sudden, he fell asleep.
The old man whom he had collided with on the way appeared, said, ‘the cure is with me’ and disappeared.
When he woke up from sleep, he could vividly remember the dream. With a new hope Zack pulled the paper out beneath the pillow and wrote the dream and physical description of the old man onto the paper.
The next day he went to the tuck shop place and awaited Jeff who appeared again at the said time. Zack placed the paper on the bench and waited Jeff to pick it up. ‘Oh my buddy, you might be lingering here but I cannot see you. The old man is the true sorcerer. He is the only one who can undo a mishap done by a wrongly applied magic. But he lives in a gorge up in the hills.’ Jeff uttered walking around the bench.