May 2021’s Short Story (better late than never)…
It was just a game, or course. But it was more than that, and everyone knew it. They were from the upscale part of town, and we were from the wrong side of the tracks. Literally. North of the rail line, where nothing ever went right. The odds were never in our favor. Our teams didn’t win any trophies, and all the crimes in town happened in the North. The high school graduation rate was almost 25% lower North of the tracks.
And even when things went wrong somewhere else, it was always the fault of those of us from the Northside. We were the bad apples. The losers. The failures.
But I had a plan. Tomorrow night, we would be champions. Tomorrow night we would be winners. Tomorrow night something good was going to be ours.
A plan that would, if nothing else, knock those from the Southside of the rails down a few pegs.
It was after all just a game, and we were only high schoolers. But we deserved a moment, just a moment, to be winners.
My only reservation was that in order to complete my plan, I would have to violate the one rule my parents said I could never break. They said if I ever did what I was about to do, they would disown me. For magic users, that meant being stricken from the family tree, and stripped of the protections the Magic Elders granted.
I didn’t care. It was worth the risk. It wasn’t my fault I was born on the Northside of the tracks. I deserved a small amount of glory.
I had water magic and for months now I’d been testing ways to make this help the football team. I’d finally come across a spell that would grant my team increased stamina and strength. It was technically a spell meant for combat, but this was war. War between the haves and have-nots. A war that had been one sided for too long.
And only a few weeks before the big game, I’d found a spell that casters used to bless their fields of battle. I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but it sounded like it would help. The night before the game, I put my plan into action.
I snuck out of our apartment after both my parents were passed out on the couch with the late show still playing. The sounds of their snores masked the fake laugh of the audience. I didn’t even have to sneak; I just walked right passed them and out the front door.
My best friend, Tom, was waiting outside with his bike and his kid brother’s. My bike had been stolen only a week ago. It was just my luck. It’s like the universe was trying to cancel my plan before it even started. My parents always said the North was cursed. Maybe they were right.
I didn’t care. Tomorrow night under the lights, we would be champions.
“What are we doing first?” asked Tom as we peddled to South High School’s field.
“Let’s start in the field,” I said pumping the bike as hard as I could.
When we got closer to our destination, we slowed. The lights were off, and no one seemed to be around. So far, everything was going okay.
A cop car rounded the corner on the far side of the field, coming toward us. I jumped off the bike and carried it behind a maintenance shed with me. Luckily, Tom saw the cop too and followed suit without me having to say anything.
“Let’s wait a few minutes,” I said.
We sat on the ground and leaned the bikes against the shed.
“You sure you want to do this?” Tom asked. “It’s not too late to turn back.”
“No way. We are going to win tomorrow.” I punched him in the shoulder to reinvigorate his enthusiasm. He just laughed.
We waited until the street was absolutely silent again. The only sound was the bugs in the trees. In the distance something loud screeched in the woods, but it was too far away to worry me.
We went to the field and laid out the elements we needed to complete the ritual. Tom sat on the bleachers keeping a lookout while I enacted the spell. When I finished, nothing happened. I shrugged and gathered my things.
“Next stop, the locker room,” I said.
“Did anything happen?” Tom asked surveying the field.
I shrugged again. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night,” I added.
Just as we were about to enter the gym, thunder rumbled from only a few miles away. That was odd. Normally I could feel a storm coming for hours before it arrived, but this one was coming in fast.
It started to sprinkle as Tom was picking the lock. I put out my hand and caught a few drops.
“I hope this is a good sign,” I said looking warily at the night sky growing darker and darker as more clouds rolled in.
Tom and I walked carefully down the halls using our cell phones as flashlights. Getting into the locker room was easy. They only bothered to lock the outside of the school and the computer rooms.
The spell for stamina and strength was even simpler than the blessing. I just dropped a few droplets of an already prepared potion into the team’s water cooler. Every person who drank from the cooler would be supped up without any other effort on my part.
Tomorrow night was going to be epic. I barely slept. I was too excited to see what, if any, fruit my spells would bear.
The storm raged outside my windows adding to my restlessness. I don’t know what time the lightening started to strike, but I felt the bolt that hit the tree outside our apartment.
My parents were sound asleep when I peaked out my window and watched as the tree caught fire and then was immediately doused by the pouring rain. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew this storm had something to do with my spell on the field.