Friday, December 21, 2012

FFF: Modern Alchemy

Every Friday Kurt posts a new flash fiction story. This week...

Modern Alchemy
Word Count: 598

“Is that the 2013 Spellmaster’s Guide?!” Arther blurted.

“Yes it is,” said Callum. He was a couple years ahead of Arther at Wisencraft’s Wizarding Academy, and had taken the younger student under his wing. He unfolded the magazine on the table where the two students had just been eating.

Arther pawed through the volume until he found the potion recipe he was looking for. “Sleep-Be-Gone 2.6,” he said under his breath. Wakefulness potions were immensely popular with students, so a new version showed up in the publication every year. Then he let out an exasperated “Awwww…”

“Ingredients?” asked Callum.

“Cigarettes,” said Arther, pointing to an item in the middle of the ingredient list.

Callum pulled the magazine over and scanned the list. Spells of this nature typically involved some kind of chemical stimulant. “Could be worse,” he said. “Remember the 2009 edition, which called for Crystal Meth?”

“No way!” said Arther. It was before his time. He was, after all, only a third year.

“It caused quite the controversy,” said Callum. “Cigarettes are tricky, but not the trickiest part of this list,” he said, still reading through the lengthy list of ingredients.

“It’s not fair,” said Arther.

“Looks like a batch will only get you a four-hour dose anyway,” said Callum. “You’d be better off with an energy drink, for the amount of effort you’d have to put in.”

“What ever happened to eye of newt?” asked Arther.

“It’s just keeping up with the times,” said Callum. “Back in the day, if you wanted a newt’s eye, you had to go out into the forest and find one. It’s the time and effort of ingredients like that that give the spell its potency. These days, anyone can go to a pet store and buy a newt. So you get things that are hard to obtain. Like this.” He pointed to the final ingredient: Heartache.

“See, I don’t even know what that means,” said Arther.

“That’s because you haven’t taken Potion Theory yet,” said Callum, picking up a stray chip from his lunch plate and popping it into his mouth.

“Hey guys,” said an approaching sixth-year. “What’re you boys up to?”

“Hey, Wesley,” said Callum. “Just checking out the new Spellmaster’s Guide.”

“Anything good?” asked Wesley.

“No,” said Arther, pointedly.

“What’s with him?” asked Wesley.

Sleep-Be-Gone,” said Callum.

“Pfft. Novelty spells. Hardly worth the effort,” said Wesley. “You’d be better off with an energy drink. How was your holiday?”

“Beat up my brothers a couple times,” said Callum. “How was yours?”

“Ugh,” said Wesley. “The worst.”

“What happened?” asked Callum.

“Well, for starters, Sheila dumped me,” said Wesley.

“Ouch,” said Callum. “Over the holiday? Why?”

“Maybe she met his family,” said Arther, which earned him an angry look from both of the older students.

“Hey,” said Callum. “What have I told you about making fun of people who are bigger than you?”

“Sorry,” said Arther.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Wesley. “Just before we left, actually. It was rough.”

Callum crossed his arms and looked at his two sulking friends. “Wes, do you have anything of Sheila’s in your room?”

“I’ve got an old shirt she used to sleep in,” said Wesley.

“How’d you end up with that?” asked Arther.

“Mind parting with it?” asked Callum.

“Take it,” said Wesley. “Good riddance. Why?”

“Oh, just something I want to try,” said Callum. Arther’s eyes widened. He looked back at the ingredient list.

“It’s not a love potion, I hope,” said Wesley.

“Nah,” said Callum. “I might need to bum a smoke, though.”

Edited by Carolyn Abram.

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