02 – Phonecall


Genre: fantasy
Language: English
Length: 659 words
Published: 2021

His jeans were soaked to the knee as he marched down Oxford Street. London was extra miserable when it rained, at least in Zsiga’s opinion, and his mood wasn’t improved by the fact that Carl only picked up after the seventh or eighth ring.


“Hi, it’s me,” Zsiga said loudly. A double-decker had chosen that precise moment to hurtle past him. “You home?”

“Always.” He could hear the lazy smile in Carl’s voice, raspier than usual. He woke up late, but at this hour he must have gone through six cigarettes already. “Coming over after all? I thought they wanted you at the office.”

“Change of plans. Work was, well, you’ll see it in tomorrow’s news, I suppose. It’s been shit all week. That bomb threat on Monday, the press conference, the emergency meeting this morning… Did you know there’s gonna be another new reform? Again? It’s the third one this year!”

Carl laughed. Once upon a time the sound of it would’ve tugged at something or other in Zsiga’s chest, but nowadays it just made him angry. Everything about everything made him angry.

“Well, if you’re looking for a distraction, I’m your guy.” A pause. He heard Carl inhale, then exhale loudly. On his seventh cigarette, then. “Where are you right now?”

“Oxford Street. About that. You wouldn’t be able to give me a lift?”

Carl was the only sorcerer Zsiga knew who owned or drove a car. Most thought themselves above such mundane nonsense, but Carl insisted it added to his rugged charm more than magicking himself to places. Zsiga was pretty sure he just liked tinkering with it – it was one of the only things he was actually good at, taking things apart and then putting them back together.

“Sorry, no can do. Some smartass – probably the kids down the street – had broken into my car overnight. Windows smashed in, keyd all over. Benches completely soaked.” Another exhale. “Fucking brats. Can’t you just—?”

He pictured Carl snapping his fingers to indicate transference.

“Mundane transport only,” Zsiga grunted, echoing his father’s words. “New regulations and all that. You know how asinine it’s been the past few months.”

Zsiga jumped aside as a car drove into a puddle and sent a tidal wave washing over the sidewalk, which drew angry shouts from the other pedestrians who hadn’t managed to duck in time. He brushed sopping wet hair off his face, doing his best not to let his disappointment show when he said, “anyway, I’ll just take the Tube – I’m not too far away from the station. D’you need help getting the car in the shop?”

“I already fixed what I could. Don’t worry, no one saw me.”

Zsiga scowled. Why couldn’t he fix it all the way and pick him up if he’d been breaking the law that much already? “You know that’s not a good idea,” he just said instead. “It’s just a band-aid solution; as soon as the caster dies, the spell just undoes itself.”

“So? So long as it functions for the time being, it’ll do. What do I care if the car falls apart after I croak?”

“What if I’m in the car at the time and get showered with glass?”

“I’ll try not to die while we’re driving somewhere, promise,” Carl answered, amused. “Plus, stuff doesn’t exactly explode. It just falls apart like the pieces aren’t attached anymore. It’s not as dramatic as they make it sound like in the textbooks or the ministry regulations.”

“Depends on how fast the car is moving when that happens. Momentum.”

Carl sighed. “Just get in the bloody Tube and haul yourself over here, champ. We can argue my car’s hypothetical demise face to face over a drink or two.”

“Yeah, yeah. Leave the door unlocked for me, will you?”

“It always is. See ya.”

“See you.”

Heaving a sigh, Zsiga bowed his head, shoved his hands in his pockets, and broke into a run.

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