Suddenly, Everything's the Same
Wiz stood in front of Kristy’s Diner and stared at the neon sign that read “Open 24 Hours” and thought about the night he escaped the Mecklenburg County Jail. How far we’ve come in less than a month and a half. From this day forward, nothing will ever be the same… and I am so thankful.
“Wiz…,” Stew said, holding the door open for him. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Wiz said, his eyes slightly on the damp side. “I don’t know about you, but I would love… some French toast.”
“Sounds great,” Stew replied, smiling, though his eyes betrayed a heavy heart.
“I know, Brother. I know.” Wiz grabbed Stew’s shoulder and squeezed.
Inside, Marie and James helped a busboy move tables together to accommodate the large number of people. Carolyn stood and counted the number of chairs to make sure there was enough.
Wiz walked over to the counter and picked up a paper bag the waitress had placed there. “Goose says, ‘thank you.’”
“It’s not a problem. Tell him, if he needs anything else, just ask for Bonnie.”
“Ha! Will do.” Wiz made his way back to the table, smiling. “I am amazed at the kindness of strangers.”
“Wiz,” Carolyn said as she sat down, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole thing.”
“What whole thing?”
“Magic. I just… I don’t know. It simply doesn’t make a bit of sense to me.”
“You seem like a logical person. Let me explain it logically. How many things can you name that you can’t see, but you know exist?”
“Umm… wind,” she replied.
“How do you know it exists?”
“Because I see the trees move… and I can feel it.”
“Okay. Physical evidence. What else?”
“The elements in the air. Oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, so forth.”
“And how do you know?”
“Scientists have tests and proved it.”
“You’re taking someone else’s word, but evidence that is sufficient for you. Okay. What else?”
“Abstract ideas… thoughts.”
“Because I’ve seen thoughts become actions, inventions—“
“You’ve seen thoughts?”
“No. I’ve seen—“
“Think about it now.”
“I’ve only seen the actions but…”
“But there had to have been a thought that preceded it.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because that’s how the world works. That’s how people work.”
“No. That’s how you work. You just assume that it works that way for everyone else. You have faith that everyone is like you in that respect.”
“It’s what we’ve been taught all our lives.”
"But you have faith that what you’re being taught is right. People in the 15th century were taught that the world was flat. You have faith with every breath you take that there is air to breathe. You have faith even if you don’t know it. Hebrews eleven, verses one and three. 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.'"
“Wiz!” Stew exclaimed. “I didn’t know you had scripture memorized.”
“1200 years and you think I didn’t pick up the most famous book in the world?”
Stew tightened his lips and sunk down in his seat a little.
“Okay,” Carolyn said reluctantly. “You have a point.”
“Good. Now… we’ve named all these things that we can’t see but we know exist. We have faith they exist.”
“Could there be things that we haven’t named that we can’t see, don’t know about, but there is evidence they exist?”
“Sure," Carolyn nodded. "There probably is. Animal and plant species that haven’t been discovered yet. All kinds of things.”
“All right. Here’s the big leap… Could there be things that exist without leaving any evidence or ways to prove their existence? You don’t have to answer. Just think about that one for a little bit.”
“Look out,” Marie chided. “He’s going to offer to make you a cup of coffee.”
“Why would I do that? Bonnie can bring us some from the coffee pot right over there.”
“I figured you were going to…”
“No. I told you that stuff has a metallic taste to it. It’s all right in a pinch, but there’s nothing like the real thing.”
“Like french toast?”
“Like french toast. I wouldn’t think of conjuring a stack of french toast. It would not be the same and it would not satisfy.”
“Okay. I’m ready to believe,” Carolyn surrendered. “You’ve got something to show me, don’t you? Show me.”
Wiz leaned over to James and whispered in his ear. James turned and whispered back. “Really?” Wiz asked. “Interesting.” He cupped both of his hands together. A moment later, light glowed from within the cave his palms created. When the light faded, he held out his hand, palm up and a seed lay there. The hull burst open and from it emerged a green stem.
Carolyn looked, her eyes wide and mouth agape. “Colorado Columbine. That’s my favorite. You created that with magic.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I saw it.”
“Perhaps your eyes deceive you.”
“I have faith.”
“There’s a girl.”
“You’re really going to tell Detective Robles everything?” James asked Marie.
“Yeah. I’m surprised I’m considering it myself. I’m confident he’s not going to freak out, though.”
“I wish you would re-evaluate your decision to resign from the police department,” Wiz said, unfolding a napkin and draping it across his lap. “I don’t like thinking that if I hadn’t let you in on the secret, you might not be ending your career.”
“And you might still be in jail, or worse. And Stew might be dead. Wiz, the day I met you, everything changed. The way I see the world. The way I interact with the world. I believe that change is for the better. My eyes are open now in a way they never were before and in a way I never thought was possible. Magic is real. Faeries aren’t just things for little girls’ daydreams. And there is an evil out there that only we know about and it must be dealt with. We are the chosen few. Now, there might not be much I can do as a mortal without magical powers but I will fight. And I would not trade this responsibility for anything. I consider it an honor to possess what little knowledge I have of the world you’ve shown me and I’m not going to let you take that away.” Marie noticed the waitress standing beside her, waiting to take her order. “I’ll have two eggs over hard, bacon, toast, strawberry jam and orange juice. Thank you.” She turned back to Wiz and said, “Order your french toast, drink your coffee and shut up.”
“Can I just say,” Stew said, “you do have magic powers. If your debate skills aren’t considered magical, the power to shut him up definitely should be.”
“Over hard?” Stew asked.
“Yes, because I don’t have faith… that the cook won’t make my eggs runny.”
Derek Robles wasn’t sure what to expect as he opened the glass front door of Kristy’s Diner. The air inside was still but he could feel an electric current flowing through the room and it made his every hair stand straight up.
Any place he went he could sense the electricity in the atmosphere and his body gave him signals as to whether it was good or bad. Goosebumps and hair standing on end happened either way, which was one reason he kept his head shaved. If it was bad, his skin would burn like he was getting too close to a burner on a stove. If it was good, it felt like a vibrating massage through a thick, foam pillow. He was a great judge of character and an excellent detective.
As he approached the large group at the end of the diner, his skin was cool… and tingly.
“Marie… can I talk to you outside?”
“Sure,” Marie replied, her eyes suddenly sharp and focused. The rest of her face went rigid as she stood up and followed Derek out the door. She clenched her jaw and swallowed. It was like a golf ball going down.
Robles turned around, scanned the area for eavesdroppers and exhaled quickly through his nose, preparing himself for what he was about to say. “You know there’s an internal investigation and you’re in the middle of it."
“I figured as much,” Marie sighed.
“Both the FBI and INTERPOL are going to want to talk to you as soon as they find out you flew to Norway right behind Zachary.”
“They know Zachary went to Norway? And they didn’t try to detain him?”
“They didn’t find out in time. Airport Security got a composite sketch the morning after his flight left. One of the ticket agents identified him but, of course, there was no Di Corvo on any flight, anywhere. She couldn’t remember what name he used so they went to the security tape. They have him at the ticket counter at 9:30 a.m. By the time they matched the time stamp to the ticket sale and were able to look him up by name, by your account, Alex was already dead. However, they don’t know she’s dead. They don’t even know she’s missing. She’s in the video, along with some other guy. She had sunglasses on so the facial recognition search came back with over a thousand hits. The guy is not in any database.”
“That would be Sam, most likely.”
“Sam? Who the hell is that?”
“He’s inside. He’s one of us now. Zachary forced him to assist him in killing Alex. In the end, Sam tried to stop Zachary. Probably would have been killed, too, if we hadn’t intervened.”
“This is getting way, way out of control. This is beyond my… beyond… beyond me. I can’t even…”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“Well, give it up. What’s the other half? First of all, why didn’t anyone report her missing?”
“Because… this is a situation the authorities, at any level, are not going to be able to control. They would just be in the way of those who can actually do something.”
“So, what… You need MacGyver? The A-Team? The Rock?”
“Mm. More like Gandalf. Or maybe Neo.”
“That’s just crazy talk, right there. You’re not even making any sense.”
“Why don’t you come inside? You can meet everybody and we can tell you everything.”
“Fine,” Derek said and walked back through the door as Marie held it open.
“You’ve already met Stew and his parents,” Marie said, pointing to Stew, Carolyn and James and then to Wiz, Brandr and Tófa. “This is Wiz and his friends from Norway, Brandr and Tófa and… this is Sam.” She pointed to the reddish tan-skinned man sitting at the corner beside Wiz.
“Nice to meet you all,” Derek said, sitting down across from Marie.
“Alex is dead," Marie disclosed. "I told you that already. Zachary killed her.” Stew took a deep breath and steeled himself as Marie continued. “The part I haven’t told you yet is the fact that we’re going to have a hard time proving it. There’s no body.”
“Okay… That can’t be the only thing you’re not telling me. There’s got to be something else,” Robles said, shifting his eyes around the table without moving his head, trying to get a read from someone without their guard up.
“You know that saying… sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction?”
“Well, it applies here. Stew, Wiz and his friends… they’re… immortal. Di Corvo is, too.”
“Immortal, as in…”
“Yeah. Really hard to kill. And they can do magic.”
“They can,” Carolyn interjected. “I saw a flower grow right out of Wiz’s hand.”
Derek’s face did not change. He blinked and continued to stare at his partner as several images passed in front of his mind’s eye. Valentine’s dead body. Faustini. The raven feather. “You know… the idea that this might be a supernatural thing came to me shortly after we found the dead real estate agent.”
“Really? So you aren’t surprised by this? Not taken aback in the slightest?”
“No. Well, I can sense when things are not right. You know that. I can tell when someone’s lying. I’m not getting any of that right now.”
“Uh… so you don’t need to see proof, then?”
Derek took a deep breath before answering. “No. Besides… it’s not the time nor the place. Was there anything else?”
“Oh, yeah. I’m quitting the force.”
“Now, that I am surprised about. Even with… what’s going on right now, you stay on the force, I think you’ll come out okay, as long as we can catch Zachary. And with these guys on your side, you’d be like a… dark knight, here to clean up crime in the Queen City.”
“You watch too many comic book movies. And there are bigger, badder fish. Actually, just one nasty shark, but you get what I’m trying to say. Di Corvo is more important than anything else going on here, and I can do a lot more good if I’m not tied to a badge. You can consider me a private detective now.”
“Well, I’ll be your man on this side of the badge. Have you told the captain yet?”
“No. I wanted you to be the first to know.”
“What are you going to tell him? I mean, knowing too much about the universe is a good enough reason for me, but…”
“I’m just going to tell him I have some family issues. Not too far from the truth.”
“So, I guess I’m going to be busy come the week of January 20th.”
“Maybe. I don’t know. Why?”
“I got a call last night from my buddy up in D.C. Asked me if I wanted to meet the president… work security detail for the inauguration.”
“You’re kidding. I am so sorry, Derek. But it’s only a seven hour drive. We can miss you down here for one day.”
“I would have to be up there three days prior to for training and complete area search and one day post for the ball and debriefing.”
“Wow. A lot can happen in five days.”
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for you, though.”
“So is helping a group of immortals triumph over evil.”
“You’ve got a point. It’s a cliché point, but… it’s a point.”
“And we can spend all day arguing over it or we can figure out our next move.”
“Okay, Mr. Man-of-Action. Have Alex’s parents been told about her grandmother?”
“We haven’t been able to reach them.”
“Do they not watch the news? Good gravy.”
“I think I remember Alex saying they’d be out of town for a few weeks. In Alaska for a cruise, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Well, try to locate the cruise ship they’re on. They need to be told about Alex and her grandmother. You need to be the one to tell them.”
“One problem… They’re going to want to know where the body is.”