There are three types of magician:
The ones who can do a couple of card tricks. Everybody knows they are tricks; attention distraction, clever maths, or a card hidden under the pack; that kind of thing. They can be clever or they can be awful, but everyone knows they are sleight of hand.
Then there are the ones – Penn and Teller, Paul Daniels, David Blane types – who do some amazing trick and we all say “Woww! How did they do that?” But we know they are tricks, just not how they are done.
Then there are the teeny, tiny, minority like John – the ones where the magic is real. These are the ones to be wary of, the ones who can bend the laws of physics or nature because their magic is outside those normal laws.
And these last aren’t Harry Potter children growing up to be wizards in Unseen University or wearing a white hat and carrying a staff that can burn like white hot metal. These are the ones who are possessed by, or who possess, a daemon. And that difference is crucial. Hitler, seemingly invincible in battle over and over; a mere corporal who apparently had a genius for strategy and tactics until he was convinced of his own genius. Then his daemon moved on and he was left to experience the collapse of all his dreams into personal and national nightmares. Being possessed by a being with no sense of fair play, empathy or morality is always going to end in disaster.
The small, infinitesimally small minority now, who possess a daemon stand a better chance. The Merlin’s of this world, who can bend the devil’s skills to human desires rather than the reverse. Few enough in the past, virtually nonexistent now. Who knows the words to conquer a daemon? There are languages that encompass magic. Some of the Native American languages allowed them to see beyond the world they lived in, it didn’t save them from the non-magical destructive power of English. The Australian Aborigines kept, and keep. their words of magic secret and persist in seeing the world beyond the envelope. Another is Celtic; all of these include some of the words of power and magic, the meanings now forgotten; woven into the natural speech, pronunciations changed over generations until they have lost their power.
John was no linguist; just idly interested in magic and Celtic studies; his mother’s mother was Irish; his great grandfather was Welsh. He took an interest, that was all. Back in his home town, preparing for his history degree, wandering into his library and leafing through dusty reference books that nobody read, like the reprint of the ‘A Medieval Philosophy’. There, in the footnotes, was the incantation that Sir Thomas Wolfrot was supposed to have been heard saying (and, unusually, he was actually guilty as charged); an incantation in Gaelic, it was said. John Franks read it to himself, then said quietly out loud. He mispronounced the Welsh appallingly (because it was Northern Welsh, not Gaelic at all), and, as luck would have it, in this way he returned the words to what they were meant to be, not what the Welsh had transliterated them to. Even then, what are the odds that others had done the same in the forty eight years this unloved volume had sat, mostly ignored, on the shelf? But one other synchronicity had to be in place, a devil had to be near by. He (let us call him ‘he’, of course daemons have no sex, and are all sex, they cannot be bound by he, she, or it) was standing behind a girl of seventeen who was being drawn (with his help) into looking up more and more aberrant sexual practices when she was meant to be researching Anne Boleyn. She was sitting on the next table to John. As he read the incantation quietly out loud, there was a ‘pop’ and a rush of wind that blew her papers to the floor and mixed them with Gareth Blue’s notes on Biometrical Determinism. John was aware of a new presence in his life, nothing more.
What he had done, unwittingly, was chant the lore of possession. It only worked on daemons nearby, but it was inviolable, he now had command over the daemon. It would take a while to realise.
So, how do you realise that you have possession of an invisible person? Well, there are probably various ways: you could demand it make itself visible, but then you would have to know about it first; another way is for your consciousness to slowly become aware. You might go mad of course, but John didn’t. Subconsciousness is just ‘under’ consciousness, it isn’t unconsciousness. John started to have dreams. He dreamt of ‘things’, at first they were just shapeless beings that he knew were there without seeing them; we all have dreams like that, usually nightmares. These weren’t scary, that was the first thing he noted, there was a feeling of power in the dream; and he had the dream every night. Every single night. He got used to it and accepted the ‘thing’ round the corner, and so he was able to look round the corner before he woke. What he saw was humanoid, but vague at first.
John liked fantasy novels, he liked Celtic mythology; he was already thinking his degree thesis project might be on fact and fiction in mythology. So he wasn’t as phased and spooked by his dreams as he might have been. At first he put it down to his reading, but when he started reading simple histories of Ireland and Wales, rather than The Mabinogion or Mort d’Arthur, the dreams persisted.
The real breakthrough came after several weeks, when the image, a kind of red line-drawing of the outline of a person as it seemed to him, was visible in dim light when he was awake. He started to think that either his brain had some aberration or he was seeing something new.
His next step into the unknown was accidental. He was sitting in the window of Starbucks, drinking an Americano with milk and scoffing at the pseuds ordering Super-skinny machifrappachino with extra cream and an ice cube. He watched a woman walk past, dragging two children who were clearly being difficult.
“I wonder if she regrets having them” he thought and immediately found an answer in his head ‘they aren’t even hers, they are from her husband’s first marriage’
He laughed to himself and watched a pretty sixteen year old in school uniform “Wow! Sex on a stick, I bet she’s good naked”. ‘No, her bra is padded, and she’s a virgin, not sure if she wants to be a lesbian or not’
Again he laughed to himself, wondering how he came up with these stories. An old woman was walking with a stick the other way and, briefly looked at the girl. “Probably doesn’t approve”. ‘Oh, I had a body like that once. If only ... if only I had slept with Michael more than three times before he was killed in the war. If I hadn’t got pregnant it would have been fine, but nobody wanted me then. Water under the bridge I know. But I still miss sex, damn it! Even after seventy years.’ He felt a giggle in his head now.
“What the fucking hell are you?”
‘You don’t need to speak. You can sense me and I can sense you.’
‘Okay, why was that funny?’
‘People are, she’s a silly old crone still wanting to have sex at eighty nine. People are funny’
‘Am I losing my mind?’
‘As to that, you might, in time. But this isn’t what’s happening now.’
‘So ... what are you?’
‘I’m a daemon, you chanted the lore of possession’
“Well, where are you from”
‘That question has no meaning. Being from somewhere implies I am somewhere else now. I am not. I simply am. In your world I am defined within the 3 dimensions, in others I have no need of such restrictions’
‘No, no I’m not buying this. Maybe I smoked some bad weed’
‘You don’t smoke weed. The only time you tried it, you were sick; which might have something to do with the fact that the weed then was dried nettles.’ Again with the giggle. Demons like it when humans get it wrong.
‘I know this can’t be happening, so if I give you a test, it isn’t because I believe in you’
‘I don’t give a flying fuck if you believe in me, I exist whether you want it or not. You possess me, I don’t have to respect you. What fucking test you stupid cunt?’
‘Tell me some fact that I can’t know.’
‘I can do better than that. See that girl out on the street? Yes, the one with the short skirt. Watch her ankles.’ Suddenly a sliver of cloth slid down her legs to her feet. She looked around, stepped out of the panties that had lost their elastic, and walked on. ‘Hmm, classy. Keep watching.’ She tripped and fell, revealing that, yes, indeed, she wasn’t wearing any panties now. ‘Okay? How did you know that would happen if I hadn’t caused it. Oh fuck, you aren’t convinced? Okay, Manchester United against Sutton Coldfield tomorrow. Sutton Coldfield 7, Manchester United 1. Put a bet on Sutton to win.’
The game was a travesty. Pogba’s laces came undone as he was about to score; de Gea swore at the referee and got sent off; Rashford and Mata started having an argument which ended up with them slapping, kicking and biting each other (‘ManU players have hissy fit’) and getting red carded. How few players can a team continue to play with? Valencia managed to score three thrilling goals, but they were all own goals. Manchester United’s one goal came from a petulant kick by Rooney which went three-quarters of the way up the pitch and dribbled across the opposing team’s line. ‘Yes’ explained the daemon ‘I couldn’t stop the laws of chance. He gets praised for a stunning goal when it was actually just him losing his temper! Still, you have to be convinced now.’
‘How did you do that? You said you couldn’t leave my side.’
.... There is more of this story ...