The Anxious Hero, Prologue
The Beginning of the Story of an autistic kid with no magical powers who comes from a half-regular, half-magician family and deals with anxiety, OCD, and murder
June 14, 1999, Portland, Maine
Witches and wizards often, though not always, went to special hospitals. There were a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, while most magicians lived a normal human lifespan, a few could live thousands of years. For medical reasons, it was most optimal for a doctor to know that a patient was millennia old. Some “regular” doctors could be trusted with this kind of secret. (“Regular” was a neutral, non-derogatory term that magicians used for humans without magical powers.) Others could not. Another reason was that those with supernatural powers tended to attract enemies with supernatural powers. One of the traditional roles of good witches and wizards was to protect regulars from malevolent witches and wizards and other dangerous supernatural entities. Not all witches and wizards embraced this kind of calling and instead preferred to focus on working as stage magicians or pursuing a life of solitude and simple pleasures. But most magicians either focused on protecting—or victimizing—regulars. Magicians who focused on protecting regulars often had to deal with attempted attacks from whatever dark supernatural entities saw them as an obstacle. This meant that going to a normal hospital could put regular patients and staff in serious danger. It was far safer for everyone for them to go to a hospital with magical security. Today, three magicians and three regulars were at the only magical hospital located in the town of Portland, known as Burr Hospital. It was named for Aaron Burr who had been both a prominent American politician and a secret wizard who used his powers to make Alexander Hamilton’s gun malfunction, allowing him to win a duel against the former Treasury Secretary.
The group was gathered in the delivery room while one of them, Katie Finch, was in the process of giving birth. Katie was also one of the three magicians. At about 3,500 years old, Katie looked approximately thirty-five. She was 5’6” with a wrinkle-free face, dark brown hair, and gray eyes. Half Ashkenazi Jewish and half Norwegian, she had white skin that was nonetheless tanner than that of her Scandinavian father. “I think he’s almost out!” Katie said.
Duncan, Katie’s regular husband, was clutching the side of the bed she was in order to avoid falling over from panic. The same height as his wife, Duncan was thin, with brown hair. In contrast to Katie, he was only twenty-six. His mother, Rachel, put her hand on his right shoulder in an effort to calm him. The doctor smiled. “It shouldn’t be more than another minute before he’s delivered.” He had used a spell earlier to prevent Katie from feeling any pain while delivering the baby.
“Have you picked out a name?” Katie’s father, Waldo, one of the wizards present, asked. Despite being born in Norway, spending the last three hundred two years in New England had given him a very old time New England manner of speaking, similar to what one might call a “Boston Brahmin accent.”
“We’re planning on Randy,” said Katie. “That was Duncan’s great grandfather’s name.”
“And a lovely name indeed,” said Dafna, Katie’s witch mother. Like Waldo, Dafna had been born in another country—in her case, Israel—but had picked up a New England accent due to living in New England for so long.
Then, Katie saw the baby’s tiny head. From there, it was not long until the baby had been fully delivered. He was tiny even for a baby, not surprising given the fact that he had been born two weeks early. The doctor whisked him out of the room to clean him, bringing him back a couple of minutes later. The diminutive infant was still crying, but his skin and head looked much more normal now. He had wisps of brown hair and extremely skinny legs. Katie cradled him in her arms. “He’s a dream,” she said. “I’ve waited three and-a-half millennia for this!”
Duncan slowly walked over and very gently touched his son’s forehead with his pointer finger, as though he were afraid the baby would smash into pieces if he was not careful.
Waldo, Dafna, Rachel, and Duncan’s regular father, Donald, were all cooing to the baby in unison. It was the first grandchild that any of them had ever had.
“Do you think he’ll have magical powers?” Duncan asked.
“We will not know for quite awhile, possibly twelve or thirteen years,” said Waldo. “If he does have powers, however, we might learn earlier than that, depending on just how powerful he is. Or, he might end up being a regular. With one regular parent and one magician parent, it is extremely hard to predict.” He smiled. “That is what makes it so interesting.”
“It doesn’t matter one way or the other,” said Donald. “He’s our baby no matter what.”
Everyone murmured their agreement. Then, Duncan’s face fell, and he started fidgeting. “What if he comes back?”
Everybody in the room knew perfectly well which “he” Duncan was referring to, and it was not the newborn baby.
Donald snorted. “Relax, son, you don’t need to worry. Nobody could have survived what he went through. And good riddance, too.”
“I am afraid that we do not know that for sure,” said Waldo. “But there is no need to think of that right now. If he returns, we will be ready for him. In the meantime, we have a grandson to celebrate.” He gently rubbed the baby’s head. “Isn’t that right, Randy?” As soon as Waldo said the name, the baby smiled up at him for the first time.
“I think he likes the name!” said Rachel.
“Do you like the name, Randy?” Katie asked. Randy smiled again. “As far as I’m concerned, that settles it as far as calling him Randy. What do you think, Duncan?”
“I’m good with that,” Duncan said.
A second later, a massive polar bear bounded into the room, wearing a do-rag, an imitation leather jacket, and a large keg of beers.
“Tank, the doctors finally let you in?” Duncan asked, laughing.
“They couldn’t keep me out forever!” Tank said. Speaking to Randy, he said, “Awww! Someone’s a little cutie! I’m gonna teach you all aboot beer, and swearin’ and weed! We’re gonna be best friends, aren’t we?”
Duncan and Katie looked at each, rolling their eyes but smiling. All in all, it was a very joyful, peaceful moment. Nobody knew that within four years, two of the people in the room would be dead.
About the author
I'm a dog dad, historian, activist, and writer. I taught for 3 years and am starting a History PhD program. I write fantasy, mysteries, and historical nonfiction. I'm proud to get blocked by white supremacists, antigay activists and TERFs.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions