Have you ever had a writing prompt posed by someone else that is just PERFECT for what you need to work on? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how the Magical world that exists in my Magical YA story got its start. Then this prompt popped up in my writing group and just unlocked the mystery. This will not appear anywhere in the Magical YA because it happens decades before the events of the story. But it helped me understand things IMMENSELY. Anyway, enjoy!
As always, this is my original work. Don’t steal. Be cool.
“In the story I’m reading, a deep ocean probe is the reason everyone dies. So my prompt is … tell me the story of an object that changes history, either for one character or for everyone.”The prompt as it appeared in my writing group.
“Let me make the introductions here before we get started.” Magnus holds his arm up as if to stop anyone else from talking despite the fact that no one was doing that. He lays his right hand over his heart like he’s about to say the pledge of allegiance. “I am Magnus and whether you believe it or not I have Magical abilities.” A few people around the room visibly roll their eyes. He moves his right hand out to lay it on the shoulder of the girl on his right. “This is my daughter, Emily. She is also gifted with Magic.” He continues around the circle, pointing to those that are not within arm’s reach. “Mark Whitman, engineering and design. Steve Wakeman, homeland security. Marcia Rodgers, legislative aide to the speaker of the house.” He changes to his left hand to complete the circle by clapping the final man on the shoulder. “And Shawn Garcia, Vice President of the United States.”
“Thank you, Magnus.” Shawn moves just enough to force Magnus’ hand to fall from his shoulder. “Quite a powerful group you’ve assembled here. Now, can you please explain why the hell we’re meeting in the basement of an old building in the middle of the night?”
“Of course, of course.” Magnus steps to the center of the circle so he is directly underneath the single light bulb throwing its circle into the otherwise dark room. It makes him glow as if he has a halo. “Most of you are skeptical about Magic.” As if proving his point, Steve Wakeman shakes his head. “If you cannot see it, you do not believe it.” Magnus snaps his fingers and is suddenly holding an apple. “Heck, even if you do see it you often think it’s a trick.” He shakes the fruit. “You’re wondering how I made this appear right now, for example.” He turns in a slow circle, meeting the gaze of everyone in attendance. “But what if I told you that we found a way to prove it to you?”
Magnus stops spinning when he is facing his daughter. “What if I told you we invented a device that will allow you to see the Magic inside her just like an x-ray allows you to see bones?”
“I’d tell you to stop babbling and show us,” Shawn says.
Magnus tips his chin toward the engineer. “Mark is it ready?”
“It’s ready when you are.” From somewhere behind him Mark produces an ordinary, unassuming black tablet. He smiles at the assembled group. “This device is connected to the scanner. The scanner itself is the engineering marvel, but this device is what you’ll want to be focused on.” He hands the tablet to Magnus. “I’m just going to step over here and into the scanner myself.” He starts to walk away. “I have no Magical ability so this will give you an idea of … ” He clears his throat from somewhere outside the beam of the single light. “Magnus, a little help here.”
“Oh, yes. My apologies.” The smile on his face is cocky and sure, leaving the impression that this little oversight was intentional. “Emily, can you fix the lighting in here?” Magnus asks. The girl waves her right hand as one would swat at a fly and the entire room is illuminated from corner to corner. Once their eyes recover from the sudden shock of light this allows the group to see that Mark is now halfway to a freestanding metal device similar to a metal detector at an airport.
“As I was saying,” Mark continues. “I will step into the scanner myself so you can see what an ordinary non-Magical scan looks like. Are you ready?”
Magnus hits a button on the tablet, bringing the device to life. There’s a blue banner across the top with white lettering that reads “Prototype Scanner”. The solid white form of a generic human body, not unlike the kind that would indicate a generic men’s washroom, fills the otherwise black background in the center of the screen. “We’re ready,” Magnus says.
Despite themselves, the group is interested. They lean in toward Magnus, all except Emily who stays exactly where she was. Mark steps into the scanner and a small circle appears, spinning. The group watches it spin for about three seconds. Then the image of the generic human is back. This time, instead of being white the little person is the color of ripe blueberries.
Mark steps out of the scanner. “Alright, that blue you’re seeing is what any normal person will appear as.”
“He means, of course, those of you without Magical abilities,” Magnus says.
“Yes, right. Now we’ll ask Emily to stand in the scanner and see the difference.” Mark holds his hand out to the girl, fingers curled up as if cupping water. He moves his fingers in a “come here” gesture. Emily slowly crosses the room.
“It doesn’t hurt, right?” she whispers as she drops her hand into his.
“Not at all.” He smiles at her. “You don’t feel a thing.”
Emily stands in the scanner, staring at her feet. The spinning circle reappears on the tablet. The group collectively steps closer to Magnus, who smiles at their interest. When the spinning stops the image of the generic person is filled with swirling white, like smoke. There’s a collective intake of breath as the group watches the smoke dance around the image as if alive.
“Amazing,” Shawn whispers on an exhale.
“What are we looking at?” Steve asks. “What exactly is that?”
“That,” Mark answers, “is what it looks like when a Magic Spark is caught on a scanner.”
Shawn takes a step back and rakes his fingers up through his hair. “This will change everything, Magnus. You are aware of that?”
“I’m aware of that,” Magnus answers.
Shawn turns to Steve. “We’ll be able to see the Magic on a scanner. We can tell if someone is lying about it. We can find individuals who have it, even if they are trying to hide it. We can bring it all out in the open.”
Steve rubs the back of his neck. He nods as if agreeing with his inner monologue and turns to Mark. “We’re going to need more of those scanners.”
Mark smiles. “Of course.”
“A lot more,” Steve adds. He’s already flipping his cell phone up to his head as he stalks purposefully out of the basement.
Magnus smiles down at the swirling image of his daughter’s Magic. Truly, this does change everything. He turns the tablet screen off and addresses the room. “We’ll be in touch,” he says.