29 october 2004
At the diner, after everyone else went back to start their day, Jackie and I were finishing our breakfasts and she began telling me about her mentor. It seems she has a spiritual guide, who calls her into an astral form and teaches her magic. Last night, she went, and when she came back she needed help getting back into her body, and decided to hop into my dreams.
"I don't remember any of that happening," I said, cutting up the last of my my french toast.
"You wouldn't. I couldn't get anywhere near you!" She was basically just down to coffee, which the waitress showed up to refill. She thanked her and then, lowering her voice and leaning in, she continued. "John, trying to access your mind was like hitting a brick wall. I've never seen anything like it. I couldn't get within a couple feet of you."
"Huh. Spirits seem able to touch me just fine."
"They're not there by magic. I was. I was just, like, a magical version of myself."
"Ha! A magical girl. We're in an anime."
"I'm serious, John! It freaked me out, okay? I just..." She sat for a moment, staring into her mug. "I just need to know why you do it. What about magic makes you destroy it." I set my fork down and tapped her hand. She looked back up at me.
"Hey. Sorry, look, I don't have control of that, not really. I mean, I can choose to do an exorcism or to damage a magical effect that I can see, but once stuff gets too close, that's just what happens."
"Magic is important to me, and while you're here, you know, we're going to be in close proximity, and I--I dunno."
"You need to know if you can trust me." She nodded and I sighed. "I don't think there's anything I can say that would handle that, but for what it's worth, I won't do anything against you, okay? Just let me know if you need to do something and I'll give you the space to do it. I have no desire to harm you or do some...control tactic." That bit must have come out sharper than I intended, because her eyes hardened as she stared at me.
"What was that supposed to mean?"
"Sorry, probably not the best time. I just-"
"No. Tell me." I took a deep breath and sat up.
"I don't trust anyone that controls your ability to access your own body as some power trip. You do what you want, learn from who you want to, I have no place to say anything about it, I just. There's always a cost when you make deals with spirits. Be sure you know it, really know it. Be careful, please."
"What do you know about making deals with spirits?" I sat for a moment, fiddling with my fork, before I took a bite of my french toast, pulling out my necklace while I chewed. I set the small vial of sand and its chain on the table, turned so she could see the faded note that said 'Abe.'
"The first ghost I had any real conversation with was my great-grandmother. She told me where to find this. It's a reminder that nothing the spirits give is free, and they cannot be expected to play by our rules." She slowly reached over, and when I removed my hand, she picked the vial up and looked it over.
"What is this? What happened?"
"That," I said, turning back to my breakfast, "is a very long story."
28 october 2004
When I woke up yesterday I got to meet everyone and then we went to a diner a few blocks over for breakfast. It seems they go there a lot, we had breakfast there today, too.
I spent the rest of the day yesterday hanging out with Jacob and his roommates, mostly the girl on the other couch. Her name is Jackie, and apparently she's a witch. Basically everyone here are Wiccans or druids or some sort of neo-pagan, though Jackie specifically said she mostly does traditional stuff from her family in Mexico and Central America. I don't know if there's a name for that.
We hung out a lot. She had a short shift, and we're the only people here who smoke (which we have to do outside on a fire escape, so we tended to go together), so I saw a lot more of her than of basically anyone else. The highlight of the day was definitely the marathon of some ghost hunter show we watched. They asked if I'd seen it, and I said I hadn't heard about it because I don't actually have tv stations at home, and Jacob insisted it would be something I'd enjoy. I gave it a shot, it was pretty fun, but it seemed pretty obvious that half of it was just them overreacting to things that weren't really there.
Jackie asked me about ghosts and we talked a little bit. She told me the one bathroom is haunted here, and I told her I can see ghosts when they're kicking around. I haven't noticed one in the bathroom yet, but time seems weird in the metaphysical realm so maybe she just isn't there all the time. There is absolutely a ghost roaming around outside, though. Dude seems pissed. I've tried to avoid paying him enough attention to really know his deal, because he seems the sort that just will not leave me alone if he realizes I can see and hear him. He's not speaking English, so there's only so much I can make out, but based on his behavior and the general look of him I think maybe he was here before the city was and is not happy with what we've done with the place.
I kinda get it, honestly.
Anyway. Today was her day off so her, Jacob, and I went downtown and acted all touristy and I got to eat a proper deep-dish Chicago pizza, so that was fun. When we were walking around, Jacob started by telling me what everything was, the usual sights and that. Then an alley caught my attention and I mentioned it and Jackie got all excited because it looked interesting and Jacob tagged along but he was more quiet after that and Jackie and I ended up carrying on about the weird bits of the city that caught our attention and magic and ghosts and how spirits in the city are different from spirits in the country. If I'm honest, I think I'm starting to get along better with Jackie than Jacob. Like, Jacob and I, we joke around and stuff and we have history through this game, but it really seems like in person her and I have more in common. I think he's noticed, but he doesn't seem to mind. I hope. That would be pretty rude of me if he did, right?
27 october 2004
I arrived in Chicago today, met Jacob at O'Hare. It was early, far too early for either of us to do much talking. We rode the L to his apartment, a two-story affair near Loyola University, where everyone was asleep. In order to avoid waking anyone, we slipped in quietly, and he informed me that he had a late night and that he would like to get some rest. I told him that I had, as well, and was up early for my flight, so I wouldn't mind. I just didn't know where I was staying.
He showed me to the living room, which had two large couches in it occupying two adjacent walls and connected by a small table. On one, a figure hidden behind long black hair and a heavy blanket lay sound asleep; the other would be my spot for the week. Jacob's room was the only other one on the top floor, next to the bathroom, and he bid me a good rest and slipped away. I watched my temporary roommate for any sign of stirring for a moment before changing into my pajama pants and crawling under the provided covers.
14 March 2001
Last week, a witch at school brought in a focusing crystal. It was a solid piece of quartz, about four inches long, and since we had some downtime in choir she was showing it around and answering questions about what she does with it and letting people take a look. I was reading when Rick nudged me and asked if I'd seen it yet. I told him I hadn't.
"This is the type of thing you're into, though!" he announced. I mean, yeah, I research magic here and there, but it's less that I'm into magic and more that I'd like to understand why spirits keep wanting my attention. The nuance had always been lost on him.
"You want to see it?" she asked. It was then I noticed we'd drawn the attention of the whole group gathered around the crystal.
"Ah, no, me and magic don't exactly get along," I offered.
"Oh don't be ridiculous," she said, coming over. "Open your hand."
"I don't think this is a good idea."
"I can tell, there's something about you, try it. Just hold it for a second and see what happens." I sighed and opened my hand, and she began to hand the crystal over. As soon as it touched me, it snapped in half, and she was left holding her end of it as the rest fell into my palm. "What the hell?!"
"I did warn you." When I tried to hand it back to her she refused, stating that I needed to keep it. She wasn't sure what had happened, but was confident that if I didn't keep the crystal I would be cursed in some way. There was just something about it. I could have probably told her that this is what happens when I come across magic, but it didn't seem like she was really listening, so I pocketed it and went back to my book.
I threw it into some trees on the way home.
I woke two days later and sat up to find a massive, black, four-legged beast sitting next to my bed and looking down on me with its white eyes. We stared at each other for a few moment before I registered that it was a spirit.
"What are you doing here?" I groaned, throwing off my blanket.
"Cuuuurse," it whined. I sighed and got out of bed, heading to my dresser to get ready for school.
"Those don't work on me. Did they not tell you that?" I turned and saw that it was just watching me. "Please tell me you can say something other than 'curse.'"
"You want me to follow you?"
"...You're going to follow me?" It perked up slightly.
"Awesome," I muttered, turning my attention back to getting dressed. It just sat there, waiting, while I got ready to go. When I finally walked out of my room, it got up and started following, knocking my lamp over. I stopped. "You can affect the physical world?" It purred.
The thing is, it is true casting a curse on me would just not work. Any spell, really. Been like that all my life. But whatever was behind all of this was clever.
"You're telling me that Tamara put a curse on you and it worked?" Charles asked. We were sitting at our lunch table after a disastrous morning. Behemoth, as I'd started calling it, was sniffing at my tray. No one could see it, of course. And it seemed to only affect physical things when it got very excited, which happened at the least convenient moments. Tapping at a brightly-colored jar of liquid in chemistry class was why I had some school-provided t-shirt on now.
"She warned me there would be a curse, but I don't have any reason to suspect she cast it. And it isn't a spell, anyway, it's an actual being following me around."
"Which you're not protected from?" Rick offered.
"I assure you, if I knew how to get left alone by spirits, I would have done it years ago."
"Right, but your-" Rick trailed off and wiggled his fingers.
"Still not magic."
"Right right, but like. It's weird, though."
"So you think the curse didn't stick so they just sent some...thing, to annoy you?" Charles asked. Behemoth got too close to my tray and materialized just enough to knock it to the floor. Charles and Rick jolted upright. I closed my eyes, took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
"Something like that," I said. Behemoth was wagging its behind and trying to lick up my corn.
I barely made it through two days trying to ignore Behemoth. I had a black eye to show for the time I tried to distract it and slip away and it knocked into a linebacker while catching up to me and had to replace most of our glasses after trying to do dishes the night before. I was done.
It took me a couple more days of digging through dad's books and my own to find a ritual that seemed promising. I couldn't cast magic, part of the deal with being immune to it, but I suspected that if I could repel magic maybe I could use things that repelled magical beings. At this point, it seemed worth a try. I took off my necklace and stored it in my room before heading out.
I had to piece the ritual together, using pieces from three different sources, but in the end I had something that seemed like it would work. It didn't, but it seemed to catch Behemoth's attention. I fiddled with the details some, trying to find out if I just did it wrong, and then tried again in a secluded part of the park. Behemoth's eyes turned glossy black and it reared up, roaring at me. A wind started to whip up around us, but only Behemoth, the paper I'd written the runic circle on, and I seemed to be affected.
"Shit!" I yelled, as I nearly lost the paper. Behemoth fought against the wind which was trying to push it back, and then charged at me. I stumbled backward and the paper slipped from my hand, fluttering around in the wind briefly before slipping under Behemoth as it got near me. I barely had time to notice that the runes lit up as it was under Behemoth, and quickly threw my hand out. As soon as I felt its fur, I screamed, "Begone!" and was thrown backward. I landed in a shrub and it took me a moment of fighting to get back out of it. When I emerged, I found that the wind had stopped and Behemoth was gone. The paper was laying in the grass. Lindsay, who sat next to me in trig, hurried around some trees.
"What's going--John? What the hell? Are you okay?" I dropped down to sit in the grass and waved it off as i tried to catch my breath.
"Yeah," I wheezed. "Yeah. Thanks."
"Fucking weirdo," she muttered, walking away. I just stared at the paper for a few minutes, and decided I needed a notebook to collect more like it.
The blog of John Matteson.