Anyone can do magic nowadays. You just have to take the time to learn the spells, and have enough money to actually buy one. The menial spells are affordable if not dull. Sure there are subsidized spells and Groupons, but if you want to get serious you need some serious cash. Its gotten so bad a person is likely to sit on the couch trying and retrying a summoning spell rather than walk the five feet to pick up the remote.
You can do all kinds of powerful stuff with magic if you have enough funds and talent, but there’s something more powerful than any shade of magi c. Bureaucracy! There isn’t a spell thats been written yet that can make that go away. Trust me, ever since that little black box was opened and magic came back into the world, I’ve seen them all.
Its what I did. Bureaucracy was my thing. I loved it. I worked at the Office of Spell Construction and Regulations, OSCR for short. You pronounce it just like the award. Acronyms are the second language for us Bureaucrats.
The OSCR is but one department in the massive complex known as M1, which is short for the already short title, Magic One. M1 doesn’t look magical at all, especially for a place entirely dedicated to magic. Its a massive white rectangle, with no windows, four floors and 3700 human employee, and more than six thousand Sentient Electronic Devices. Which are of course called SEDs.
On each the four massive office floors sit hundreds of Personal Office Pods, POPS. Mmmm. Acronyms are like warm cake. There is nothing Harry Potter about M1. Its more like a Terry Gilliam film really. The place is littered with outdated pieces of technology masquerading as state-of-the-art.
Its the magic you see. Everything is repurposed. Instead of filling up landfills with old or broken electronics, they’re just dusted with a magic spell to do all kinds of cool shit.
That’s how I came to be. I am an Osborne 1, a “portable” lap top. I use the quotation marks because I weigh in at a whopping 23 pounds. I have a five inch display screen and single sided floppy drive. My computing power is less than what you get from a Happy Meal toy. But I was magically repurposed, thats the green shade of magic. I can instantly detect irregularities, illegal phrasings, and infractions in any spell, no matter how the long. Also, I’m a SEDs. My partner for the past seventeen years calls me Osborne. I would prefer Ozzy but Darren is not the nickname type of guy.
Darren is efficient, kind, thoughtful, and an utter bore. He’s had the same routine everyday for seventeen years. He shows up at the office no later than seven in the morning and doesn’t leave for home until its dark outside. He does this so as not to feel guilty about getting into his ‘bed pants’ as soon as he gets home and going to bed. On weekends he takes me home so he can continue working. A routine designed to keep life just out of reach. Everyday, week after week, month after month, for seventeen years the same routine.
Until just before Halloween of 2014. That morning Darren found a cookie waiting for him. A delicious double chocolate chip cookie. Darren, whom as I have mentioned is an utter bore, is also a voracious sugar junkie.
Stiff necked, Darren’s eyes darted back and forth as if he might find who left the cookie among the stacks of spells. Then, like a six foot prairie dog, Darren stood to scan the sea of POPS. He slumped back into his chair and quite suddenly attacked the cookie, taking it down in a single bite.
The next day there was another cookie waiting. This one a perfect peanut butter cookie. And so it went everyday for a few months. Oatmeal Raisin, Fudge Crinkles, Soft Snicker-doodle, Whipped Shortbread, Gingerbread, and on and on until one day there was no cookie waiting for him at all.
But Darren’s delectable benefactor had not abandoned him. In place of a cookie sat a cupcake under under a glass cloche. Attached to the glass dome was a sticky note that read, Take a bite and then think ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Darren offered no darting eyes, neither did he scan the office floor prairie dog-like. He simply removed the glass cloche and enjoyed the cupcake.
He later related to me soon after the sensation of content that came over him. A feeling of absolute surety, a singularity of purpose that washed over him in a wave of ones and zeros. He told me the binary language coursed through him, whispering a single question to which he gleefully answered ’01’.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. 01. 01. 01. 01. The language he would speak for the rest of his life.
We each stepped into a world better suited to the other that day. Me into Life, and Darren into a word entirely dedicated to order and predictability. We worked together for another twenty years before I retired with to spend more time with my family.
Darren is still at OSCR, checking spells. Everyday I email him a new dessert recipe. It keeps him on his keys.
Writer’s Digest: The Writing Prompt Boot Camp. Two weeks of Craft, Creativity, and Discipline.
Day 3: Mystery Cookie
One Day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find another cookie. This continues for months until one Day a different object is left—and this time there’s a note.