This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Key

A good warlock should know how to put a spell.

He was a crook; worse, he was an incompetent crook, however successful, boastful and stupid to go with it. Not someone I could tolerate. He had no class, but he had, if I may permit myself to say it, plenty of crass.

But while he kept out of my way, I left bad enough alone.

One day, though, he came to my cavern. He parked his vehicle outside, and I saw it with mindsight. You never saw so much chrome in so many unlikely places. No class, as I said. Add to that, no taste.

“What can I do for you?” I did not pretend I didn’t know who he was. Everyone knew who he was.

“I want the Key of Power, old man,” he told me.

Now I don’t mind being called old, though of course he didn’t realise quite how old. Most people can’t really accommodate the idea of immortality. But the way he said it was an insult. It was meant to diminish me. From anyone else I would have been amused.

“You aren’t prepared for the Key,” I told him, and bent to my parchments. “Its power is too great for you.”

“Wait!” I looked up. He was pulling his wallet out. “I can pay.”

“Money is no good to me. I can find it if I need it.”

“Everyone needs money, old man.”

“Not I,” I told him. “You can go. I can’t help you.”

He grinned. It was a nasty grin. His teeth were stained yellow. “I came prepared,” he said, and took out a snub-nosed little gun. Its round black O of a muzzle pointed at my face. “Give me the Key,” he said.

I sighed. “Here you are,” I said, and took the Key from its resting place. It was large and plain, of old, tarnished brass. I had been thinking of putting it on a key-ring, but never got around to it. “I’ll have to use the Unlocking Spell before I hand it over,” I said. “Otherwise it’s of no use to you.”

“Do it quickly.” He watched while I made the incantations. “You could have had money for it, as much as you wanted,” he said, gloating, and took the Key. “Now you’ll have nothing.” He raised the small gun. “Not even your life.”

I watched, not moving, not speaking, as his finger squeezed on the trigger.

Afterwards, I picked up and threw away the gun. It was of no use to me. As for the Key, it reposes on my desk, right where it used to be.

The little human figure on the new keychain moves and squeals rather a lot. It’s really quite entertaining to watch.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2008

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