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A Flick of the Tongue

The Steel City Wizard Book 1 Chapter 1

By Matthew AngeloPublished about a month ago 6 min read
An Urban Fantasy Novelette

My name is Damian Montianu. I'm a wizard and a loner looking to get by in the world. As much as I want to be left alone, the Other Side has other plans, and my magic attracts all sorts of supernatural trash.

A creature has dried a freshman to a husk, draining all the fluid from his body. What a crappy way to go. I want to ignore it and walk away, but I can’t let innocent people die.

Now, something slithers past me—a movement out of the corner of my eye. When I look, it's gone. With a shiver, I realize it’s watching me, waiting for me to drop my guard. It has a hunger I can feel, and it wants a taste. One problem: I don’t remember adding myself to the menu.

Chapter One

"Anyone know how the ferocious black widow eats its prey?" The professor asked.

Biology was a bitch of a class, and listening to the professor drone on and on about insects or arachnids or whatever they were was driving me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I loved nature and its disastrous beauty, but sitting in a class with over a hundred students didn't make it more entertaining.

It was humid, and the University of Pittsburgh's air conditioning wasn't keeping up with the number of students in class that day. The classroom was more like a sauna between the body heat and everyone's breathing. I didn't care how a spider ate, but I had a morbid fascination with strange creatures.

Damian Montianu

My name is Damian Montianu. It sounds exotic, but it's not. Most of my friends, the few I have, think my Romanian background is full of vampires and werewolves, and I always laugh and joke that none are in my family tree. They laugh, too, but it beats the truth.

My family tree branched to the Other Side and then some. Most of us are witches or warlocks. My aunt is a vampire, as she's looked the same for the past twenty years. She's either undead or has a damn good cosmetic surgeon. In my family, it could be either.

My phone buzzed in my front right pocket. The professor hated modern technology, especially smartphones, and he said they made people dumber, which he wasn't entirely wrong. I needed it, as it was also a police scanner. The app was sketchy on a good day, but I had a duty to protect the innocent, and the only way I could do that was to stay on top of what the police did.

And right now, Damian, you have an excuse to leave class! I don't feel good about this person's death. When I read my tarot cards today, they spoke of impending death and my ties to it. Now here I am, in class, learning about a damn spider when I should be out protecting others.

I'm far from a superhero, but using it for evil isn't my thing. There may be a time or two I use it for general mischief, but what's a guy to do? Some practical jokes are better with magic. My phone buzzed again. After finding a local student dead, the cops refused to provide names. I can't blame them; they should tell the family before the media picks up on it.

"Now, if you see by this image here…." The professor droned on over the details.

"Ugh, could this get any more boring?" I whispered.

The lady next to me snickered. I didn't want to be here, which made the lecture worse. It's not like I could walk onto a crime scene, but I had ways of staying out of sight and out of mind when needed. Magic had advantages, and I used them to my benefit, much to my parent's dismay.

General mischief was a regular part of my childhood. I wasn't a bad kid, but I got into my share of trouble. Most kids fear the creature that lives under their bed, and I wrestled it and made it clean my room. There was no way I let it stick its cold and clammy hands on my feet in the middle of the night.

I stole a glance at my phone. The app gave an address, and it was on the other side of the campus, near the dorms. That wasn't a good sign. If the cards were right, I needed to find out who or what did this. I had friends in that area, and staying lax on death would only lead to more.

This area was a convergence because of the three rivers area. Who needs ley lines when I lived in a region where three significant waterways mixed? The most vital part was Point State Park. Between boat races, the Monongahela, Allegheny, and the Ohio River, the energy that flowed through this area was powerful.

I did my best work here. It was all ritualistic, but it gave me a boost when I needed it the most. The park was a hub of activity for people and their pets, as well as the occasional festival. It made doing my magic risky, but few ventured to the park at midnight. Even the non-superstitious avoided the witching hour.

My watch showed twelve-thirty. With smartphones and computers, I was still one of the many who still thought a look was fashionable. It was also practical and analog, and I used to keep track of things besides time. Apps couldn't keep track of magic, but a regular, run-of-the-mill watch could.

Time was strange, and with the Other Side, it was inconsistent. Tech didn't work there; if I needed to cross over, I needed to know real-world time. It was easy to lose track of time there, which could cause many problems.

My biggest problem was finding an excuse to get out of class early. It would affect my grade, but not too much. Fuck, I hope it doesn't. Saving people is more important than an A in biology. I stuffed my book and everything else in my green backpack.

It was not a color I'd choose, but my mom bought it to claim it matched my eyes. It did, but that wasn't something I worried about. I inherited them from my father and my looks and got my personality and magic from my mom. Everything about me was a mix of both of my parents and that drove them crazy.

"Mr. Montianu, where do you think you're going?" The professor asked.

I didn't realize I had stood and shouldered my backpack. Everyone in class stared at me, and things were a bit awkward. That's my style, though. Making and keeping things uncomfortable for everyone, and I'm embarrassed.

"Yeah, I forgot to eat lunch and am feeling dizzy," I said, walking behind a group of students to the aisle that led to the doors.

“Again, Mr. Montianu?” He asked.

I froze and wondered if I had used that excuse too many times. Was I a bit awkward? That's my gift to myself. It was a curse, but a few said it was endearing, which translated as them calling me weird. If they only knew how true that was.

How many legs does AI feel a black widow needs?

"Yeah, all this talk of the black widow eating made me realize I missed breakfast. Personal health and nutrition are essential for learning and absorbing precious knowledge," I said.

It was all bullshit, but it elicited a few classmates' laughs. The professor sighed and shook his head. I took off, not wanting to hear a reply. Later, when I had time, I'd deal with the professor as I'm sure he'd email me and let me know how important my education was and other shit.

However, I didn't want to take the chance. A monster was on the loose, killing students. I bowed before exiting, which got me a few more laughs. General mischief strikes again.


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Young AdultthrillerSeriesSci FiMysteryHumorHorrorFantasyAdventure

About the Creator

Matthew Angelo

I am a traditional and self-published author and content/copywriter. I write in many genres like fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, cyberpunk, grimdark, romance and science fiction.

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