An Apt Aphorism For Magic

Smoking Gun

 

“Move, and I will blow a hole through your motherfucking head. Where is the fucking money?”

When you have the barrel of a gun pressed to your head, I realized as I sat there in this exact situation, it doesn’t really matter if the person holding said gun is bluffing. I didn’t think that this particular gentleman was very likely to blow a hole through my head if I moved.

He presumably wanted an answer to his question about “the money” badly enough to resort to both the threat of gun violence and profanity to get the answer, and separating large parts of my brain from the other parts would be a good way to make sure he didn’t get that answer. But that possibility is academic. Even if there is a 90% chance that the individual holding the pistol is bluffing, the consequences of being incorrect are sufficiently dire that it isn’t worth the risk to explore that avenue of possibility.

It’s an apt aphorism as applies to magic, as well. If you know that someone is an accomplished magus, there is still a good chance that the amulet around his neck won’t actually turn your testicles into tapioca pudding or strike blind everyone of your bloodline if you don’t do what he says. Accomplish maguses bluff all the time, mostly to each other. Because they can get away with it. You only have to pull the tapioca-testicle trick a few times in front of the right people before word gets around and people start to take your amulets pretty seriously.

“Where is the fucking money?” he said again. “I’m not going to ask again!”

I didn’t know whether this specimen in front of me was bluffing. I couldn’t tell by the cold glint in his eyes whether he’d killed before, or if the way he held his gun meant he was an amateur. To tell you the truth I don’t know much about guns, or the people who wield them. But I do know an awful lot about magic. Which means I don’t really have to worry about either one.

“Ice,” I said.

“What? What the fuck you say?”

“I said ice,” I repeated. “It was a sort of word of power. More impressive if they’re in Enochian or Latin or something, but I’ve never had much of a head for languages and I usually get it wrong and end up with mice or something. But it doesn’t really matter. That’s just for show.”

“What the fuck you…” then he froze. Not literally, although I admit the metaphor is apt. He froze because he glanced down at his gun. He saw the whiteness that crept along the metal as the entire gun transformed into a single piece of ice. An ice gun. I nodded in admiration. If that had been a sculpture carved out of actual ice, it would have been quite impression.

He screamed. “What the fuck?”

“Does it hurt?” I asked.

“Mother fuck yeah it hurts! What the fuck did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything, exactly. Not on a fundamental level.”

“Fix it!” he screamed. “Do something!”

I laughed. “You walk into my house, shove a gun in my face, and demand money that isn’t even here, and now you’re asking for my help? You have to admit, that’s pretty ripe.”

He screamed again. I don’t think he appreciated the ripeness.

“It burns!”

“It burns because your hand is frozen to the ice gun,” I said. “It’s like licking a flagpole. Run some water over it and it’ll be fine. You might not even get frostbite if you work quickly. Maybe.”

“Frostbite!”

“Now kindly get out of my house, or I’ll do the same thing to your underwear.”

I watched his eyes widen and his face contort with fear, as he contemplated what “might not even get frostbite” in that scenario. He turned and ran straight for the exit. He knocked his head on the doorframe on the way out. Just like everyone does because it’s built for my height, only this time I didn’t have to feel bad about it.

I turned around and looked at the clock. 3:34 AM. Plenty of time left for sleep before I had to wake up the next morning. The benefits of self-employment. Still, the old nerves were a bit stretched, so I got up and headed towards the kitchen to fetch a mugful of warm milk. I wondered idly who told this degenerate that I had a pile of money in my domicile that he could acquire through through of violence. Someone who wanted to rattle me, no doubt. Something not terribly formidable, since it didn’t really work.

No, as I finished off my milk and settled down for bed, I felt downright chipper. I could have done a lot worse to that chap. He would have had it coming. But he had a wife and kids, no doubt. Or a mother at least. And there was a good chance he might reconsider the whole “gun violence” option as a solution to his financial difficulties in the future. So a little mercy, though not deserved, might go some small way towards making the world a better place. What more can a fellow ask of a midnight encounter than that?

He was just lucky I wasn’t in the mood for tapioca.

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