(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
One day I decided I really must raise a ghost for real.
"Whatís the use of that?" my familiar asked me, growling up
from the tangle of matted black fur that served him for a face. "You canít even
do simple things after all."
"Shut up," I told him. Being a familiar, the words had no
effect on him. They didnít even make his jaws freeze up. "Iím a Grade B warlock
of the First Order," I reminded him. "I can do anything but raise demons from
the Fifteenth Hell and below."
He snorted. "Do you remember the werewolf?"
"What werewolf?" I had no memory of any werewolf.
"That guy you converted into a werewolf, long distance, so
he would kill that other character youíd been paid to slay, the one he was
meeting in his private study. Donít you remember?"
"Oh...that werewolf." I was about to change the topic
but he wasnít having any of that. "That didnít turn out quite as expected, did
it now?" he asked.
"It wasnít my fault," I began. "You see..."
"All he did was stumble and fall downstairs and nearly break
his neck," he went on mercilessly. "And the shock made him revert to human form
"Well," I argued, "how could I have known that the man was
almost blind and needed such powerful glasses? Naturally when he changed they
just fell off his head, so he couldnít see a thing. That wasnít my fault!"
"And the other time, when that poultry farmer asked you to
create a spell to increase the size of the eggs his birds were laying? How
"You turned all his chickens to ostriches, didnít you?"
"He wanted big eggs," I said truculently. "He got
"You know someone who likes to eat ostrich eggs?"
"Anyway," I said, "I want to raise a ghost, and youíd better
"Any ghost in particular, or will just any ghost do?"
"Well, uh, for this first time, any ghost. Later weíll try
and be more particular."
"You are going to make a mess of it," he said, grinning with
all his huge battery of sharp teeth. "A stupendous mess, even by your
"Are you going to help me or not?"
"Oh," he said, combing his fur with his huge hooked claws,
"Iíll help. Iím interested in seeing just what kind of mess you make."
"Iím not going to make a mess." I ordered him to get the
some of the materials ready while I got the rest. He scuttled away on his seven
long limbs, and in a short space of time was back with the four black candles
of mammoth tallow I needed, set in the candelabrum of Solomonian silver, design
Warlockís Standard. This he set in my bowl of the Water of Lethe.
"The waterís going stale," he said. "You really ought to
"I have so much to do," I muttered. I was rummaging in my
cupboard of ingredients, putting packets and bottles on the table. "Where the
devil is my powdered unicorn horn?" I asked.
"Donít you remember? We used the last of it when you tried
to help that crooked contractor beat his deadline for construction of that
skyscraper. And you recall what happened then."
"He told me he needed it finished," I snapped. "I got it
finished by the date mentioned. Itís his problem that I had to stretch the
rooms to get to the height he needed, not mine. I...forget it. Where can we get
some unicorn horn in a hurry?"
"Where? Nowhere. Unicorns no longer exist, or had you
forgotten? They died out when there were no longer any virgins left to bridle
"But I need unicorn horn!"
"Get cow horn." He emitted a weary sigh, along with the
usual greenish gas and darts of flickering flame. "It hardly matters either
way. Horn is horn."
"Donít I feed you enough?" I asked. "Your suggestions lately
have been less and less useful."
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