Two Sides of the Same Picture

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Abnormal Magic and Unexpected Meetings

As I walked in the room, I immediately noticed a variety of objects along a bookshelf on the far wall. There were shiny rocks and dull rocks, leaves and other bits of nature, string and bags, and a whole bunch of other items that I didn’t know.

“Stand in the circle,” the man I followed flatly said. I looked down at the ground and saw a tiny red circle, just wide enough for me to place my feet it. Walking over, I stood inside.

“Arms out to the side,” the man said again, without any emotion or anything. His voice was really boring and plain, as if he was a robot. Obeying him, I held my arms out to the side as he picked up some of the rocks on the bookshelf.

As he moved the stones all around me, I tried to make conversation. Of course, the man said nothing, so I shut up and let my eyes wander the room, taking in everything and wondering what made the man so quiet.

When he moved one of the stones over my heart, it glowed brightly. The man nodded to himself and moved back to the shelf before the stone could blind both of us.

I placed my arms down and watched as he came back with a device that had two suction cups connected by a tube. As he placed one cup over my heart and connected the other to my head, he turned and walked towards a thing that looked like a controller. He stood there for a few moments, then looked up and me and waited.

Unsure of what to do, I opened my mouth to ask. Suddenly, I had this feeling of being pulled apart limb by limb. Gasping, I felt dizzy and the room started to spin. As I felt like my soul was being wrenched from my body, I fell to the floor and blacked out.

Waking up, I found myself in a forest. Worried there was going to be another obstacle course, I looked around, ready to get a giant head start on whatever was going to chase me this time. Except… there was no obstacle course. There were nothing but trees.

“Hello? Is anyone there? Hello?” I called out, getting nervous. All of a sudden, I felt angry at everything. Angry at the silent man who wouldn’t say anything. Angry at the Testers who didn’t tell me anything except that I was magical but my power wasn’t coming. Angry at my brothers for taunting me my entire life. Angry at my sister who constantly yelled at me for no reason and blamed me for everything. Angry at my parents for always telling me to not shoot my bow and study instead. Angry at Lina for making me go first. Angry at myself for having such a stupid and weak power it couldn’t even come out like it was supposed to.

As the anger built and built, I watched as my vision became red on the edges. As the red creeped over my entire vision, I blacked out again.

This time, I woke up with a throbbing head, staring at a ceiling. I realized I was back in the room, and felt dejected that nothing happened during that short time in the forest. Maybe my power really was so weak that it wouldn’t come out.

Standing up, I noticed everything was ripped and broken. Afraid, I checked all around me to make sure I wasn’t hurt anywhere. As I ran my fingers through my hair to find the source of the throbbing, I noticed a big bump. I looked around for the silent man, hoping that whatever had come through hadn’t killed him.

“Hello? Hey is anyone still here? Hello?” I asked, turning in circles and looked at every single broken piece. It looked like some kind of big dog had come through. Why had it only left me with a bump on the head? Did I have some kind of dog repellent magic?

Spotting the top of the silent man’s head peeping out from behind a large broken piece, I walked over, my legs wobbling like jelly. As I neared, I could tell the man was afraid. He shrank down when I got to his hiding spot and held up a knife in his shaking hand, as if he was going to stab me.

“Hey, hey, watch it,” I said cautiously. Even with a shaky hand, he could still hurt me. “It’s just me. What happened? At least tell me that if you’re not going to say anything else to me. Did some kind of dog or cat come through? Are you alright?” I was confused and needed answers. Why would nobody give me answers?

I heard the doors slam open and a young woman appeared, angry. She was about my height with perfectly straight strawberry blonde hair. There was a trail of frost behind her and icicles hovering all around her.

Holding my hands up as if in surrender, I opened my mouth to ask what was going on.

“You’d better not have hurt him. Just because he’s a regular doesn’t mean you can just hurt him like that. And destroying all our equipment? Really? Do you know how hard it is to get those things these days?” The woman asked.

“What? I didn’t hurt him. I don’t even know what happened. I blacked out, then I was in a forest, then I blacked out again and woke up here. Can you at least tell me something since nobody else can?” I asked, confused.

The lady glared at me, obviously getting angrier because more icicles were forming around her and a mist started to envelope her.

“You’re the dog that came through. You’re a shapeshifter and you’re going to get yourself killed, little girl. I suggest you get out and learn how to control your power. Or else, people are going to give you injuries a lot worse than that bump on your head,” the woman said coolly as I stared in shock. I was a shapeshifter? I had no memory of being a wild dog. Did being an animal somehow mess with my memory?

I stumbled pass the woman and her icicles, unsure of where to go. Looking both ways, I saw only one path and walked through it, reaching a doorway that blinded me with sunlight. As my eyes adjusted, I looked around and found myself at the front of the building. Walking to pick up my bag where I left it, I spotted a note dotted with droplets underneath it.

Erica, I’m so sorry I’m leaving you alone. While I waited for you, the doors opened and I figured that was my cue to walk in. I took my Test. I’m regular. I don’t want to leave you but I really need some time. See you back in the Outer Circle? Sorry. ~Lina

Oh no. Poor Lina. I felt really bad for her, but I also couldn’t help feeling that she was the lucky one. Having magical powers was a lot harder than I expected, and a lot more confusing. I wondered if every magical felt this way when receiving their power. Or maybe I just happen to have the most wild and uncontrollable power.

Looking at my watch, I realized that the bus had made its last stop here five minutes ago. Sighing, I started the long walk back.

When I finally reached the dark alleys of the Outer Circle, I was exhausted. All along the way, I kept blacking out, then finding myself in a different place. I assumed each time I blacked out I had transformed into some kind of animal. Stumbling, I tripped into one of the abandoned houses that were spread out throughout the circle. I felt like something was pulling me up.

My vision started darkening and I started feeling dizzy. Oh no. I was transforming again. Desperately, I tried to fight it, tried to stay awake. Unfortunately, I was too weak and tired and the animal took over.

Waking up, I found myself lying on top of something. Rolling off that something, I realized I was on the roof a building. Glancing up, I stared at the night sky for a few seconds, taking in the bright stars and the glowing moon. Looking back at the thing I had been lying on, I saw what the thing was: a body. Gasping, I scrambled backwards towards the edge of the roof and crouched down, as if the body would wake up and attack me.

After a few minutes, the body still didn’t move. Worried I had killed the person, I crept towards the body. When I was standing right over it, I turned the body around so that I could see the face. It was the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. He looked so peaceful lying there with his crooked nose and pink lips. As I stared at his face, he started moaning. Terrified, I froze where I was and waited to see what he would do.

Slowly opening his eyes, he stared straight up at my face. Ducking my head, I took a step back to allow him to sit up.

"Are you alright?" I asked quietly. Something about him made me want to curl up into a ball forever.

Blinking, he sat up and said, "Yeah, I think so. Do you know what happened? All I remember is some kind of black bird attacking me. I think it was a raven."

“A raven? Why would a raven attack you?” I asked, even though I knew the raven was me.

“Dunno. I was up here staring at the stars when it just blasted through the roof and started clawing me,” he said, frowning. “Hey, how’d you even get up here?”

Instead of replying, I turned away and looked for a way down. “How do you get down from here? And where are we?” I asked, realizing I had no idea where I was. Worried, I thought about my family and hoped they were okay.

“We’re in the darkest part of the Outer Circle. Not many people come here. It’s mostly abandoned,” he said.

Hmmm…. The darkest part of the Outer Circle. That wasn’t too far from my house. I knew the way back. If only I could off the roof of the random building I was on.

“Uhh… Can you help me get down? I really need to get home. My parents will be worried sick about me,” I said, scanning around us.

“I can fly you down there,” he offered. Fly?! Startled, I stared at him, trying to process his offer. How could he fly? Was he a shapeshifter like me?

Watching me, the boy stood up and unfolded wings behind his back. Gaping, I tried to understand what I was seeing. How could someone have wings? Beautiful, sleek, black wings. Walking towards me, he wrapped his arms around my waist and flew off the roof. When he landed on the ground, he let go of me, then turned and glided into the night sky.

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