After the Magic

 

[Authors note: What do you do when all the mmos that promise to be the bright shining center of gamedom are all in the future? What do you do whan Fallout New Vegas is yet to come? Well the answer is you investigate some of the stand alone games you have been avoiding. This short story is the result of a recent outing in Sims 3 where I stuck Bellatrix LeStrange in the middle at an abandoned Rest Stop with no wand and no magic]

Hot dogs roasting on an open fire and sleeping under the stars are great when you are camping out – not so when that is accompanied by the smell of burning tires, and your home is an abandoned rest stop.  Bellatrix watched the hotdogs roasting on an ancient grill corroded with rust and a black char so thick it would take a stick of dynamite to clean the grill. “Oh how the mighty have fallen” she thought to herself as she turned over wieners that were so cheap that meat last on the list of ingredients preceded by a length list of inorganic elements with names so long a Harvard Chemistry professor would find them a tongue twister. Voldemort, Dumbledore and that turncoat Snape; where were they all now? Dead and gone that’s where. 

Bella lifted the hot dogs off the grill with a fork with three bent prongs and a missing fourth. She shook each off onto the Frisbee that served as a plate (and even that she had to wrestle away from the dog across the street).  She plodded her way across dead grass and patches of dry dirt to the rickety picnic table that rocked like a top heavy sailboat caught in a hurricane.  She eased her thin frame, which had been accomplished only through lack of proper nourishment, between bench and tabletop, settling herself before what as a feast by recent standards.  Spearing the first frank as though she were driving a stake through the heart of that miserable Harry Potter she took the first bite and chewed absent mindedly.  Her mind stretched back to that battle at Hogwarts, and the intrepid heroes who came charging downhill as she stood near her mentor and master Lord Voldemort.  She heard the words screamed by that fat cow Molly Weasley as she aimed at Voldemort and missed…

Avada Cadaver

Not only could that Weasley Woman find her back end with both hands, she was such a poor orator she couldn’t even pronounce the spell properly.  Anyone with half a wit (and that Weasley woman certainly was a half wit) would have gone through the field of the “dead” making sure the final act had been accomplished.  And so here she sat, both wand and spirit broken, riding a Harley Davidson fat boy instead of a broom, making her home where she can. She considered herself lucky to find someplace that came with something other than leaves for toilet paper (she still itched whenever she thought of the poison ivy episode). 

She looked down at her makeshift, now empty, plate, her reverie broken by a distant and unfamiliar sound.  She slide herself out between bench and table and made her way to what had become her bathroom, shower, dressing room and only shelter from storms.  The door to the old bathroom sounded like a scream as the decades old hinges complained at being used after so long.  She pushed her way into the small room, the door slamming shut behind her – pulled by a rusted spring she belied it’s age by still working (one of the few things in the abandoned rest stop that still did).  Rounding the cracked toilet she knocked into the bucket which stood between her and sink which also served as her bathtub. Water splashed onto the floor as it sloshed over the edge.  Bella hissed a silent curse, not wanting to fill the bucket yet again.  The bucket (which she always had to fill from a nearby lake), like the mini-fridge (both stolen from a nearby farm), where the only two new things she possessed…other than her motorcycle of course.  She poured water into the sink to wash her dish and fork, smiling (something which she rarely did these days) as she thought of the source of the motorcycle.  Stealing the cherished American motorcycle was her way of spitting in the face of that fat oaf Hagrid one last time.  More is the pity that she no longer had a way to make the thing fly.

When you have next to nothing, all your possessions by necessity fitting on your back or the back of a bike, it’s easy to take care of – so it didn’t take her long to take a “bath” in what was left of the clean water and make her way to the hammock which served as her bed.  She stuffed her dress into the carryon luggage that served as her dresser – Wearing a different set of clothes to bed was a conceit at best and dangerous at worst, seeing as her “bedroom” consisted of the two adjoining dead trees between which the hammock was stretched.

She fell asleep muttering the words struggle like a muggle.

At two o’clock in the morning, something which she could tell only from the sound of the early morning redeye flight nearly scraping the tree tops overhead, she found herself shivering in her hammock. The night was cold and the fire was starting to burn down.  She threw herself to one side, like a cat rolling off a shelf and shuffled blearily to the back of the lot. There behind lot’s only building was a large pile of bald tires she had stolen of gas stations and junk yards.  Stringing the tire over her wrist like a giant bracelet she grabbed it by the outside rim. She lugged it over to the fire (being quite unused to any sort of manual labor even after all this time without magic) and tossed it on the smoldering fire.  Immediately the fire sprang to life, spewing dark black smoke downwind of the small lot….

…and into the face of someone just clearing the hedge at the back of the lot.

The newcomer was a woman about five foot eight, 20 something years old, and had the reddest hair Bella had ever seen. The woman waved her hand in her face, in a vain attempt to clear the smoke.   Dodging under the column of smoke, she came up on up on the up wind side, just short of the fire and the bleary eyed Bella.

“What in Samhain’s name is going on?!” scream the woman through choking and gasps for air.

There was a brief pause as Bella struggled for the words to some witty repartee and came up short.  All she managed to mutter was something about “cold”, “too late”.  Turning she shuffled back to her hammock.

“Will you PLEASE put out your pile of burning tires,” said the newcomer, the word please stressed more to reinforce the idea that the request was not really meant to be a polite one. Whether or not the request was meant to be polite, the response was curt enough…

“No”

Not to be thwarted by what was the cursory and expected response, the woman began taking out her fury on the tires, attempting to somehow kick out the fire. Now the thing about trying to burn tires, is not only do they let out billows of burning smoke that stinks like a herd of pigs on a hot August day, but getting the fire started in the first place is not exactly an easy task – but once you do get the fire started it is just as hard to put out. As a result all the fiery red head managed to do was take a single column of smoke and turn it into many smaller columns of smoke.  This went on like this for some time; the newcomer failing to put out the fire, and Bella laughing all the harder as she failed to do so.

The average person would have given up much sooner than the red head did, but eventually even she realized the futility of the task.  When she did she turned on Bella…

“Bitch” she yelled.

“Throwback” Bella returned.

Not knowing how to reply, the redhead simply said, “What?”

“As I see it, Bella continued more calmly than would have been expected of another person, even with accounting for a stubborn attitude, most people wouldn’t have tried to put out the fire that way for quite so long. In fact, MOST people wouldn’t have tried to put out the fire that way at all. Considering all that, I would say that the intelligence you demonstrate tells me that you are probably the first generation in your family down out of the trees.”

The quizzical look on the face of the newcomer turned back to one of fury as she quickly scanned the small lot, looking for the proverbial “blunt instrument” so often described in police reports.  Bella’s reaction, which went quite unnoticed, but would have been familiar to the Red head had she seen it, was to reach for something at her hip that wasn’t there – an instinct that hadn’t diminished with time. A moment later Bella’s hand found her own blunt instrument; a tire iron she kept near the her hammock for just such an occasion.  It was an occasion that had repeated itself quite often, predicated as it was her penchant for burning tires.  She didn’t do it for the warmth of course. After all there were far easier ways to keep warm and much easier things to burn.  Bella supposed she went out of her way to find old tires to burn and set an ungodly stench to any neighborhood she briefly occupied as her way of spitting in the face of humanity.  If I have to suffer, she told herself, everyone else will suffer right along with me.

It was, of course, suffering that could be overcome by the simple process of shutting a window. Usually the suffering was overcome by the local gendarmes that encouraged her to move on; most of the encouraging being done with a night stick. The original reason she had to keep moving was to avoid retribution.  The reason she continued to find herself in need of new, albeit improvised, living quarters, was her hell bent attitude of self destruction, and her determination to bring as much of the world with her.

Spotting the tire iron, the redhead stopped her frantic search.  If only a fool brings a knife to a gun fight, only someone who is insane goes unarmed to a tire iron fight.  While the would be fire marshal might seem a few cards short of a deck, thought Bella, at least she had a modicum of sense.

“Look, its late, said Bella, whoever you are just turn around, go back home, and wait for the wind to change.”

“Rose” was the unexpected reply.

Now it was Bella’s turn to say “What?”

“Whoever I am…Rose. That’s who I am” replied the redhead.

“Okay…” started Bella.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Rose shot back.

“You are, said Bella without thinking. It was her standard reply to what had become an oft asked question.  As simply as it was it was dead on, especially when it was followed by, “…and everyone like you.”

“And how do you, know what or who I am like” said Rose, sneering her accusation.

“Come on, said Bella, that’s a silk night gown you’re wearing tucked into what are very expensive jeans.  Those are the sort of clothes pre-stressed brand name pants that over privileged women wear to achieve the look that homeless like me are forced to wear.”

“Really, said Rose, shifting with the thick black smoke. And why do you live like you do? Certainly it isn’t because you depend on the kindness of strangers.”

“I live, Bella answered, by depending on the stupidity of strangers. I live by taking what I want.”

After a pause, more for emphasis than anything else, Rose sat down at the picnic table. Looking around her she said, “It strikes me that either you don’t want too much, or you are a really lousy thief. “

Ten years ago Bella would have answered the insult with lethal force. But time and the turn of events in a person’s life change them, and sometimes drastically. Now she wasn’t sure what to say.

“No one’s ever offered to help” was all that came out.

“Maybe, Rose replied calmly, no one has ever offered because you have always been too proud to ask. That, she said pausing and throwing a glance at the scattered smoldering tires, or they haven’t been able to get near you because of the stench.”

Rose was right of course. Perhaps what bothered Bella all the more was the reason she was right.  There was a time when she was famous; or more appropriately infamous.  And now? Now, not only was no one scared of her, the simple fact was that no one cared any more. That hurt her more than the missing magic that had once been the driving force behind her mayhem.  Bella didn’t know what to say.

Rose did.

“Why don’t you me put these tires out so you don’t burn the woods down and asphyxiate the neighborhood in the process. Then you can come back to our over privileged home and get something to eat and we can find you a more privileged pace to stay.”

Rose got up and turned to walk away, motioning for Bella to follow. She stuck her hand out, hoping for a handshake and not a fist in the face.

“Rose is my name, she said, Rose Weasley.”

It was like being slapped in the face.  Suddenly Bella knew why Rose had seemed so familiar right from the first. She looked just like the woman who had nearly killed her so long ago – Molly Weasley.  “And who are you”, she heard Rose ask as she turned to follow her.

“Bella, she heard herself reply as if from far away, just Bella.”

“Well Bella, come with me an in the morning we can find you someplace to stay. Then pausing Rose added, “Just so long as it is upwind eh? Laughing, she continued, I will just bet it must have been a long strange road that led you here.”

“Stranger than I ever thought,” Bella replied, “stranger than I ever thought.”

[posted for Julie Whitefeather by The Webmaster]

4 Responses to After the Magic
  1. Letrange
    July 27, 2010 | 8:16 am

    o.O;

  2. Webmaster
    July 27, 2010 | 9:06 am

    And is this a secret code of some sort? Fanmail from some flounder? An ancient language that none of us speak?

    The Webmaster

  3. Letrange
    July 27, 2010 | 9:21 am

    Japanese style emoticon (it’s face on instead of sideways like the usual ones).

    o.O = raised eyebrow
    ; = sweat drop

    was a subtle comment on the character name…

    … wait a sec … dealing with Sister Julie … Note to self: subtle does not work here.

    (all jesting aside, I would have though that with your going around in MMOs for many years you would have run into that style of emoticon at least enough to recognize it when it pops up – and I always hated the fact that traditional western emoticons are sideways – always bugged the heck out of me).

  4. Sr. Julie
    July 27, 2010 | 12:53 pm

    @ Letrange:

    I have seen the “raised eyebrow” effect before but never with a sweat drop. Too subtle for me…golly gee I guess I are just not L33t enuf.

    *smiles*

    By the way, in case it wasn’t incredibly obvious (and I suppose not everyone is a Harry Potter Fan) the names are both the creations and property of J.K. Rowling – that is just a bit of fan fiction as Ms. Rowling has a large following amongst Sims players from what I can see.

    Julie