Magic depends on belief—belief that it does exist and that it can work miracles. The problem is that in today’s world, that belief is seen by some as foolish …
But then, who is the fool?
“Magic does not exist. It is the refuge of those with lesser intellect or intelligence that need to believe in the existence of a greater power in order to make their lives mean something to them.”
The speaker of those words was standing behind a lectern in a darkened auditorium, the single shaded reading lamp illuminating the notes laying there. The lecture had been billed as one in a series on the myths and legends of the universe and how all of them were simply impossible.
In some more disbelieving parts of the world, his speeches were well attended. In others, where the belief in magic and myth was more ingrained, he had faced the slings and arrows of those believers—occasionally with a bruise or two—but still held his belief that magic and the like were impossible.
So he believed.
This particular event had been well promoted, he thought, but, looking out at the audience over his reading glasses, he noted that almost the entire room was nearly empty. Only a few people were scattered here and there in the room. While that was not uncommon—he made most of his money from the occasional television news interview or special reports—it puzzled him as there should have been more people there to see him.
With a quick push of his spectacles back up his nose and a brush of a hand through his sandy brown hair, he projected the first of many slides and moved on, “One of the more sexually charged myths is that of the succubus—or succubi, depending on whether more than one should appear. The myth is that they come to lay with men and take their seed, or souls, if you believe in that sort of thing. It was simply a means to explain away certain adulterous behaviors and, more often, through the use of incubi as a myth, explain why women became pregnant in order to protect their good name. In some …”
The sound of heels clicking on the tiled floor of the auditorium interrupted him at that point. The room was dark, but not so much so that he couldn’t tell that someone had entered late and was not taking a place at the rear, but was in fact moving directly to the front.
“That is, really, very gauche,” he thought.
Glancing back at his notes he continued, “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, in some …”
A soft female voice from the audience cut in then, “I wasn’t interrupting you before, my dear. But, if you insist, I can do so …”
He looked up into the audience to see a woman standing about twenty feet from him. She was hidden in the darkness, but the red dress she was wearing was plain to see in spite of the dim room … as were the red high heels she wore.
And whatever else she looked like, she cut a slim, sensual figure that he found himself wondering about as he responded to her interruption, “Excuse me?”
“Not as yet, but we’ll see, my dear. There is always hope, isn’t there?”
“And you are?”
“Oh, I’m Tera.”
“Just Tera? No last name?”
“Never saw the point of one. You are who you are whatever you call yourself and if you remember to respect those that came before you, then no other names are needed, are they?”
He considered her and her words. It was obvious that her looks—which, he was sure, were stunning, from her voice and what little he could see of her—had lulled him into assuming something about her. He expected an airhead who didn’t know any manners and had no intelligence.
That appeared to be an incorrect belief.
She was more than her looks; there was a mind behind them that he should respect if for no other reason that she would make him look like a fool if he didn’t. Leaning on the lectern, he asked the question that had, in every case, ended the argument about magic with those who believed in it: “Can you prove that magic exists?”
She smiled an enigmatic smile, “I don’t have to. Belief makes it so and, if you have that, then the question of proof is immaterial.”
That was a reply that he didn’t expect: “Well, I think that you have to. I need to see proof, absolute proof, otherwise it does not exist and my arguments are correct.”
She walked up to the stage and paused at the stairs leading to it to answer him, “So then, according to your statement, your belief in God, if any, means nothing because there is no absolute proof that God does exist … Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to the contrary, of course …”
That confused him: “You seem very sure of what you think you know.”
“You are not that hard to read, magic or not, really. As something for you to work on later, you shouldn’t allow that twitch in your right eye when someone gets on your nerves.”
He tried to settle his eyelid, which simply made the twitch more obvious. “Ah, I see. You have a degree in psychology, then?”
“Humanity actually: quite an extensive one.”
“I am interested in the study of humanity and its beliefs. My prime focus is upon the concept of the soul and what humanity does with theirs.”
“And what have you discovered then, Professor Tera?”
She didn’t answer that question, save with a small giggle of amusement, but instead took to the steps onto the stage. Then, finally, he saw her completely, in the spotlight that shimmered there. She was, in fact, an exquisite woman: lovely green eyes, long flowing raven locks of hair, sensual, but not so much so that it was overwhelming. But in spite of all of that, his thoughts were more of the mind behind that façade and what she was really like.
Gathering his thoughts he allowed, “Well, you are a beautiful example of humanity.”
She giggled a moment as if enjoying a private joke, “I thank you for your kindness, but as an observer of humanity, I can’t really place myself in the running for that title … Wouldn’t be fair to everyone else …”
He wondered if she was playing him for a fool and was about to ask if she was when she raised a red-nailed finger into the air and pointed it towards him: “You’ve had your piece—quite a lot of it, and in a number of different ways—but this time I think you really should open your eyes and pay attention to what is going on around you.”
He folded his notes, assuming that the lecture was over and now he was in a debate, and turned his attention to her completely. shutting out the audience as, for the moment, they were not important.
Battling her was.
“Who are you?”
She crossed her arms over her chest and then, unexpectedly, a pair of small red horns appeared in her raven hair and a red spaded tail rose into the air behind her.
“I told you. My name Is Tera.”
He laughed: “Nice special effects.”
Her tail shifted from one side of her to the other and, when it appeared again, held a small sign.
Oh, she’s special alright.
The confusion on his face was quite clear: “How are you?”
The words on the sign changed: Figure it out already, will you? She’s obviously a being of magic. Do the math!
She pushed her tail behind her with one hand, saying as she did, “Oh, hush you. The poor man is confused enough, and you aren’t helping him any.”
He placed his hands on top of the papers in front of him and then looked closely at her, “Alright, assuming that you are a devil of some kind …”
“Succubi. I’ll make it easy on you and just say that I like guys and girls. Therefore … Succubi.” Another smile, “You know… bi? You, of course, do understand simple human sexual relations, don’t you?”
He could actually hear the capitalization of the word, which made the entire discussion even weirder to him than it was already.
“As you insist, as you are a Succubi, then, you wouldn’t mind if I touched your tail or horns, just to see if they are, in fact, real.”
She moved closer to him, stopping an arm’s length away and, with a flourish of her right hand, added, “As real as you, my dear. But, please, indulge yourself, and then I’ll do the same, if you have no objection.”
He didn’t consider what exactly she meant by those words as he came close to her. The first thing that he noticed was a hint of cherries around her. Whether that was a perfume she wore or something else, it suited her for reasons he couldn’t place at that moment. She pointed once again to her horns and he reached out to try and pull them from her head.
They didn’t budge.
Her tail then moved around and wrapped itself around his right wrist, guiding it away from her horns. That was the point at which the first real moment of doubt in reality came. Her tail was warm to the touch, there was muscle moving it, and it felt real … and it didn’t look fake, either.
“Now, can we assume that the horns are real and that the tail is as well? I’d like to get past this point of the discussion and into magic itself if you have no objections.”
He managed a nod of agreement, to which she smiled and then snapped her fingers.
The lights in the auditorium came up, then revealing the stage in full but keeping the audience in the darkness. She walked away from him and began to speak … “Sorry if I don’t use your podium, never have liked the idea of hiding behind something when defending one’s beliefs, but that is for another day. A question for you: do you accept that advanced enough science can be seen as magic?”
He gathered himself, “Um … no. Science can be proven and reproduced. Magic is an example of a parlor trick that can be debunked given enough time.”
“Interesting, but then we haven’t that much time to give you today … unless, of course you’d be willing to just give me your soul right now.”
Normally, he would have laughed at her, but it was dawning on him that she wasn’t playing at things and he found himself for the first time in ages actually thinking about his soul and what it meant to him.
“No thank you … Tera? I think that I will hold onto it.”
Another one of those enigmatic smiles and she continued, “So you believe and promote a view that magic is a dream and that the dream is not reality.”
“Why cannot reality be a dream then? Why is it that you must understand everything around you and not, at least a little, enjoy the belief in what you cannot understand for what it is … even if that is magic?”
“Because that would mean going back into the caves and fearing the universe, Tera. It would mean that the progress we have made would never have happened, would never mean anything.”
“But you believe in God. What part of magic, then, makes it so impossible to believe in?”
“It breaks the laws of the universe. It does things that do not make sense within what are the accepted structures of the universe.”
“For humanity, perhaps, but what of what you do not know of? What if there are other rules and requirements based in magic and its use that you do not understand?”
“That would mean a … leap of faith … faith in their existence.”
She nodded at his statement before beginning to pace away, her tail swishing back and forth as she did so. “Faith in something means that you believe in it, that you have the ability to see things for more than what they are and have the imagination to accept that which you cannot see.”
He frowned at her statement, “Are you suggesting that imagination is what makes magic possible?”
She gave him a wink, “It is something to consider, is it not? The power of imagination drives belief, progress, thought, knowledge, and more. Why can it not do the same for magic?”
He stood his ground now, wanting to prove her wrong now if for nothing more than the small moral victory that it would give him: “Imagination is not a means to an end.”
She shook her head slightly, “Ah, there you are wrong, my dear. Imagination is both the beginning and the end, in truth, if you are willing to accept the magic inherent in it.”
“Do you always talk in circles Tera?”
“Occupational hazard, my dear … There is no point in giving someone the answer when they can find it themselves if they think about it long enough. Besides which, free will requires that each being makes his or her own choices about her or himself and others.”
“But you interfere with my choice, my belief.”
She waved one hand in his general direction, “No. You have your belief … I’m just making you think about what you believe a bit more critically by confronting you with some magic.”
“And if I do not choose to believe?”
“Then the universe is a bit less bright, a bit less magical, and a bit less amazing to behold. But it is your choice and yours alone.”
“You make it sound so dire.”
She shrugged, “Depends on your point of view, doesn’t it?”
He traced a pattern on the papers before him thinking about what she had said. She hadn’t actually shown him any magic as such other than her horns and tail, which might or might not be magic. There were other explanations of why she looked as she did, and that made his next words seem to be the right thing to say.
“In my view you haven’t shown me any real magic.”
“You aren’t willing to truly believe. Therefore what magic there is only exists because you have the smallest sliver of doubt in the back of your mind that makes it possible.”
“I have no doubt of my views.”
“You believe in a soul. Therefore you have doubt. A soul cannot be proven to exist by your science. Therefore you have a doubt alive within you.”
“It’s not enough proof. Show me some.”
She laughed at that, “What would you have me do? Vanish and reappear? Make flames come from my fingertips? Open a portal to another place and bring a creature you have never seen before into this world to face you? Come now, we both know that you are thinking that this is all a hallucination or some sort of hypnosis or mind control or something else. Something to base your beliefs upon that is more easily explained than magic alone … correct?”
“Make me believe.”
She smiled a bit wanly at his words, “Belief requires that you have that in you. You have only doubt right now, which is not enough by itself.”
“Then this entire discussion is worthless, isn’t it?”
She traced a finger over her lips before saying “No, it is not. It is never a bad thing to open someone’s eyes to the universe, even if just even so slightly.”
He found her words sad and not comforting, which he realized was the point of them. Was it true that he was so jaded as to not see what she saw as magic in the world?
It was, he admitted, something to think about, at least.
“Why believe then, Tera?”
“Just because. There is no reason not to. To see magic in the world makes it an amazing place to be. The magic of knowing that someone loves you. The magic in seeing someone succeed when they thought they could not. The magic of being there to watch someone take their first steps. That is true magic. That is what drives the universe.”
“You are a dreamer, Tera.”
She pointed at her horns, “Dreams are what all things are made of …”
And then, as he watched, she simply disappeared from the stage, leaving him standing there alone to consider what she had offered him as what she defined as magic.
He turned himself to apologize to the small audience there for what had happened, when he realized something: the group wasn’t small any more. The auditorium was filled with all sorts of beings: a silver robot here, a fairy there, an angel over in one corner, another off elsewhere. A desert devil with a smirk, mad scientists next to bimbos discussing their work. Werewolves listened to vampires who whispered about snacks; knights of armor beside dragons, princesses next to time lords, pixies with giggling bunny girls playing hack-e-sack.
But besides the impossible or the incredible, there were others who surprised him: a mystic poet wearing an Underdog jumper, an artist with his paints, a man of honor, a woman of means, a warrior, a baker, a librarian, a bicycle repairman, a sleeping beauty, students with their books, teachers and their looks, a technogeek, a hotel clerk, a girl tied in knots, a latex clad flirt….
So many beings from so many worlds, all of them in harmony together in the here and now. The auditorium had melted away, and there was a lush Garden all around them. And at the front of all of them, looking to him, was Tera, looking quite satisfied with herself.
The lecturer was indignant: “This is a hallucination! You have meddled with my mind somehow, in some attempt to control me!”
“No, my dear, it is the world of grey facts and cold proofs that has controlled your mind for so long, only letting you see what it would see. Dreams are what the world is made of. Every one of them is written in the words that each soul shares. All of it makes the magic that is, truly, a garden of magic and wonder …”
She took the hand of the mystic to her left and, what he assumed was an incubi to her right—suddenly, he realized that she had always been holding the incubi’s hand somehow—“So why not join us and share in that magic?”
He found, for the first time, that he could believe in the magic she offered, and he was glad for it … he was sure that every one of those that he faced was just as glad for their magic, as well.
Magic, he realized at last, is in each and every one of us …
… all we must do is believe in our own magic to make it real …