“Who are you?” I ask the brown haired, pale, human male watching me sleep. I sit up and realize he should not be able to see me at all. “Better question, how can you see me?”
“I was provided magical contacts,” he replies pointing to his grassy green eye.
My brows knit together because what he said did not make any sense. “Magical what?”
“A special lens that allows humans to see your kind.” His eyes continue to scrutinize my every move and thin pink lips form a wide, creepy smile. Why is this human smiling at me? How did I get here? Question after question fills my mind and I have no clue where to start.
For the first time, I take a moment to look around the room. The layout is simple, spacious and neat. I squirm on the edge of a soft, bouncy bed with a thick blanket. Many objects I do not recognize like the large black rectangle with buttons and cords coming out of it like tentacles.
“And who are you?” I repeat.
“Alexander, your new master. You can call me Xander or Xan.”
“My what?” I ask though I heard him clearly. He speaks nonchalantly as if this kind of thing happens to him all the time.
“Change to your human form so I can take these out,” he commands and I am oddly inclined to oblige as if he has cast a spell over me. Why do I feel like I must obey him? I am too vulnerable in my human form, so I fight the urge, but ultimately, my head rings painfully and only subsides after I transform.
What the hell is going on here?
“That’s better.” He tilts his head back and pulls a layer of some clear substance from his eyes. Each lens is deposited into a small white container. “They were starting to get dry.”
“Tell me what is going on!” I shout angrily and he laughs, adding to my rage.
“A sketchy man in a cloak sold me this along with the contacts,” he says pointing to a glass lamp sitting on a shelf above a wooden desk. Memories come flooding back of delicate glass prisons. “I thought it was a scam like everything else at the Bazaar, but turns out magic is real.”
“W-what year is it?” I fear the answer. The last thing I remember are hooded intruders crashing through my home and knees crushing my spine, keeping me glued to the ground. Lines of a terrible curse floated on the air and forced me into a deep sleep.
“2019. October 22nd to be exact,” he replies and I feel like I’m going to throw up.
Almost a hundred years have gone by and the world is spinning faster and faster or is that in my head? Where are my parents? My brother and sisters? Why was I kept inside the lamp for so long? The endless list of questions continues to grow with each passing second.
“Release me!” I demand.
His lips curl up into a devilish grin and his eyes become slits. “Not before I have some fun first.”
“Magic is not a child’s toy. There can be many adverse effects.” I try to play to his logical side, hoping to scare him.
“I can handle it. Especially with you to help me,” Alexander replies undeterred.
I roll my eyes and groan. My father had warned us about our kind being trapped in lamps and forced to serve humans, but I never believed it would happen. Having always feared humans, the last thing I want to do is be a slave to one, but what choice do I have?
“What is your desire?” I ask unenthusiastically.
“Every hero needs riches.”
“Never heard of that requirement,” I mumble as I conjure a sack of gold coins into his greedy upturned palms.
“Do I look like a pirate? What am I supposed to do with these?” he asks shaking the bag.
I cross one leg over the other. I may have to obey him, but I do not have to make it easy for him. “You asked for money. I gave it to you.”
“Guess I have to be more specific.”
I smile at his cleverness and shake my head. “Specificity only goes as far as my memories allow. I cannot duplicate something I have never seen.”
“You’re like a child. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how the world works.” His words are overly sweet like candy cobwebs and add to my nausea. “We’re going out. I want to show you off. First let’s find something for you to wear.”
Alexander grabs a flat, black, rectangular object and lifts the top, creating two rectangles. He presses tiny squares with letters and images appear. Shuffling through them, he settles on one a few minutes later. A pale woman with long legs stands draped in a short white dress with red flowers. Under her arm she clutches a thin, square, red bag and white, strappy high heels adorn her feet.
“I don’t feel comfortable in this form around humans. Why can you not stick those magical contact things back in your eyes?”
“Don’t be so uptight,” he says, making little of my discomfort. “This will suit you. Put it on.” After studying the picture for a moment, I conjure the outfit onto my body. A few seconds later, another image materialises on the black rectangle. “Now the hair.”
“What’s wrong with my hair?” I ask my voice rising an octave.
“Makes your face look chunky,” he replies with no regard for my feelings. Though the meaning of the word ‘chunky’ eludes me, his insulting tone does not. I scowl as my hair grows in loose waves past my shoulders, stopping at my mid back.
“Where are we going?” I grumble.
“I’ll keep that a surprise,” he replies while clicking away on his picture device. “Commit this to memory.”
An image of a big red object I can’t even begin to describe appears. “It’s too complicated. I would need to see a real one.”
“Fine. We’ll have to make a pitstop at the Ferrari dealership on the way then. Meet me outside,” he says pointing to the window. “My mom would ask too many questions.”
A few minutes later we stand outside next to a huge blue object similar to the last image. He pulls a latch and a door opens to reveal comfortable looking tan seats, two in the front separated by a bunch of buttons and levers and one long one in the back.
“Get in,” he commands, but I hesitate out of fear. “Now.”
“Do not rush me,” I say as I sit down on the cool, smooth, material. He shuts the door and walks around and gets in on the other side. At the press of a button, the object begins to vibrate. He plays with a few more buttons and levers and the carriage starts to move.
“This is one of those automobiles!” I declare in recognition, though the one I read about looked vastly different.
“Good job, kohai¹. Though most people call them cars now,” he says pressing the pedals and sending us flying backward. Next the automobile turns and after he plays around with the lever that sits between us, we fly down a gray, paved road. Massive houses with lush grassy yards flash by on streets lined with trees. Hundreds of automobiles travel around us and I watch in awe. Far in the distance, shimmering towers made of glass cluster like crystals. It is clear the world has advanced immensely during my slumber.
Eventually, we stop on a lot filled with shiny cars. Alexander gets out and leads me to a red one that looks particularly expensive. I recognize it from the photo he showed me earlier.
“This is the one,” he says grinning until I shake my head.
“It’s too complicated, Alexander. Too many parts to replicate.”
“Just Xander or Xan,” he reminds me. “Could you convince the dealer to give it to me?”
“Possibly,” I say vaguely, hoping to deter him again. Father always told me stealing was wrong.
“Guess we’ll have to find out,” he replies unconcerned, leading me into a glass building with more automobiles inside. An older man with graying brown hair steps from behind a counter and walks toward us.
“How can I help you folks today?”
Alexander grabs my hand and smiles so pleasantly, I almost believe the act. “My girlfriend and I were thinking of upgrading to the Virtuo SLX. Could we take it out for a test drive?” Alexander nods at me and I make the dealer more agreeable.
“Certainly. Right this way,” he says leading us back outside. Once we make it back to the car, the dealer opens the passenger door and it tilts upward like the wing of a bird. I take my seat on the soft black interior and he closes it behind me before walking around to open the door on the opposite side.
“After we pull off, you will forget you ever met us. Isn’t that right, Isabell?”
I’m surprised to hear my name leave his mouth as I never introduced myself. The aging man stares warily at me through the front window and I nod solemnly, making him forget us. Alexander takes his seat next to me and grabs something that looks like a black stone with three buttons from the dealer before closing the door. He presses a button on the side of the steering wheel and a second later the car vibrates and we leave the lot.
“I could definitely get used to this!” master shouts triumphantly, as we soar down the road.
¹kohai (japanese)- lowerclassman
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