A Short Story: The Wizard

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Jacob had seen him. Late at night. Always late at night. Some called him some peculiar named that Jacob could never remember, though he knew it to be something to do with Hallow’s Eve. That was when he showed up. When the village went mad for a time. There were all sorts of names for him.

Jacob thought of him as The Wizard.

When the Wizard approached, Jacob could feel it from within his stomach. A tingle would begin that would spread into an icy fear that would wake him long into the night, after the village had all gone to sleep. In the Fall, wind blew nightly through the trees, whistling and fussing as it whirled through the village. But when the Wizard drew near, Jacob heard the sounds hush, the wind would still, but no night creatures would sing.

Through the night quieted, the Wizard would weave his spell upon the village people. Jacob no more knew why the creature did this than he knew why he could see the terrifying thing while so few others had ever claimed to. The legend was generations older than Jacob, yet no more than eight villagers in all that time had ever seen the Wizard.

The villagers would be in a panic each morning with mad stories of vampires, werewolves, demons, and all manner of folk tales. But Jacob knew it was all the work of the Wizard. Sometimes the men of the village would gather and some of them would agree to go on the hunt for these monsters after dark. They had guns and torches and were brave enough to enter the night while the Wizard prowled but they always returned empty handed. Sometimes one of them would not return with the group and the men would tell stories of how he was lost to something they could not find. Often they would have a piece of clothing covered with blood to stand in for the lost man. Jacob always wondered what happened to that man. He thought he knew but the truth was too much for his young mind to accept.

One fall night the wind howled and screamed louder than any other night. Jacob woke not to the quiet as usual but to this cacophony. For a moment he remained frozen beneath the heavy, down quilt. The hot coals at the end of his bed, put there by his mother that night, had long since burnt out. He shivered. Jacob knew that the Wizard was near.

After a time, curiosity took the better of him, and Jacob roused himself from beneath the heavy bed covering and walked to the window of his small room. Dark clouds covered all of the sky save for forming an almost perfect circle around a full moon. Jacob blinked and almost ducked when lightning began flashing through the clouds, weaving into patterns, the resulting stain on his vision looking like huge spider webs across the sky.

Then he saw: coming down the trail, somehow bathed in the moonlight, walked the Wizard. Though he had no way to judge him against another man, Jacob knew him to be tall. Probably over seven feet. The black cloak was long and tattered—it trailed behind the Wizard, its black magic bringing with it darkness that swallowed up the moon light behind him. The hood was so large that Jacob could not see the thing’s face, never had, and had decided that this problem was fine with him.

He’d seen the thing walk by his home more than once. Always he’d been terrified but unable not to watch as it passed him by. The thing that always comforted him—that sometimes he felt guilty about—was the he knew, in the end, the Wizard would, in fact, walk on by with some other victim in mind.

But that night, Jacob felt his young heart stop for a moment as the Wizard and his darkness began to move toward his home. The hairs on his body stood straight up, for he knew that beneath the pitch black of the cloak’s hood, the Wizard knew: it knew that Jacob could see it.

Jacob dragged himself from the window and ran to his bed. He crawled back under the quilt and pulled it up and over his head. Within that down cocoon, Jacob shivered, terrified of what he knew would happen.

What he knew was coming for him.

Heavy rain began to pelt the window. Then thunder cracked with each flash of lightning, the space between growing less each time. The wind screamed, Jacob felt like it screamed at him alone, and he thought it was telling him to run, run away, and fast.

All of the storm outside rose to a crescendo and then abruptly ended with finality.

Jacob heard nothing but silence.

When he heard his mother scream, Jacob was afraid. When he heard his own father scream, he was terrified beyond all hope. After they stopped wailing there was again a silence that swallowed Jacob’s heart. Then he heard the same sounds, higher pitched, from his three sisters.

Then nothing more.

For so long that it felt like eternity to him, Jacob heard nothing.

And then the first footstep fell in the hall way leading to his small room.

Jacob wanted to run. But his body wouldn’t work. He wanted to scream, but his mouth wouldn’t open. The comforting down quilt now felt like it smothered him, he couldn’t get out, couldn’t get away.

More foot steps fell, the pace slow–Jacob felt as though it was trying to make him more afraid. His pounding heart told him it was working. The foot steps drew in close and Jacob’s heart did stop for one beat as he heard the door to his room open.

All the stories of black magic and terror, all the wild tales, fell onto Jacob in that moment. The part of his mind that didn’t want to believe any of it gave up trying, and he began to lift the quilt away. He turned and there, in the room with him, only a few feet from his bed, stood the giant Wizard, darkness and his cloak circling him like both were alive.

Jacob breathed in as the thing began to lift away the cowl covering its head.

Jacob’s mind left him.