Stopped off at home for Christmas with my roaming converted cargo truck filled with fellow wizards in training. My estranged brother accidentally said hello.

Parents not home. Sniffers show up. Like 6 foot badgers with quills. They can’t see you, but if you get close enough for them to smell you, they kill. One gets inside the house.

We have to leave. I start filling trash bags with supplies. Someone tells us we need to go before something worse shows up.I ignore them, stuffing the bag with Christmas presents from under the tree. We need clothing, food, and anything we can use as a weapon. We’re short on supplies, and now we have to bring my siblings.

People scrabble outside of the house, while I duck into laundry room and fill another bag. Outside on the porch there’s a standoff with more monsters. I kneel down and clothe my youngest brother with extra layers and my over-sized leather jacket, for protection.

We defeat the monsters with a few magical objects and well-swung household objects and run off into the darkest lane between the houses. Trying to find our friends in our truck-bus.

The lane is dark, trees and fence to either side. A low rent suburban trail. We are running. My estranged brother and I.

“Don’t get lost. It’s important you don’t get lost.” I warn him. “Keep running in the right direction, our enemies can change the right direction with magic.” We stop, cut off from others and lost. We run backwards, arguing the direction and then bolt sideways through the trees.

We arrive at a grocery store. Our bus is parked outside. Everyone is shopping for supplies. It looks like Trader Joes. We have to escape. Most of the checkout people are enemies in disguise.

We are on the bus. Sunrise. The highway. Driving nowhere and everywhere. Only we know the truth of the world. That magical enemies are everywhere. The back seats have been ripped out to provide enough space for the dozen of us. Some ride on roof. Everyone smokes.

I think of something and make up my mind. I decide to tell the driver, our leader, and a much more powerful wizard that we need to go west, or east. Those are the magical directions. I warn them one is probably more evil then the other.

“Probably West is more evil” I decide, and everyone laughs. 

Driver says we’re in Daytona. 

“Oh, so I guess we have to go West” I reply. 

He shakes his head. “No, we can still go East a little further.”

I ask friend for cigarette. I take two, one is a joint, you can tell by the bent end. They razz me as I put it behind my ear. I point to Alex, who has done the same. “I think it looks cool.” I explain.

We arrive at a strip mall.There are two shops, first is just comics and cards, but the second is more. Set up as a shrine. Several white lace handkerchiefs are sitting on table. Each intricately detailed and with reminders woven into them: “given to me by man in taxi” reads one.

An old lady from China walks in. She will teach us further magic.

I tell her I’m a blue wizard, also known as a mage. So I have ideas.

She nods her head. I explain a plan to keep us safe for the night.

In the evening there is a feast. Our fearless leader is in the backyard, mingling with other wizards and warlocks. Our ragtag group is sitting in the front yard, snacking on chips and pretzels and waiting to eat dinner.

After arguing over who is making a bigger mess of spilled chips in the witch’s front yard, we walk into the kitchen and I take a heavy plate. It’s time to get our food and eat with all the important warlocks.

I awoke.

Todd Rogers