None of this is real, that’s what John Bishop tells himself. John woke up in his childhood bed, unsure of how he got there. The same posters, the same toys, the same half-eaten food everywhere. Everything just the way he left it before leaving for school on that day.
His home burned down when he was six. Nothing but ash and blackened wooden frames. Not even his stuff cat survived. It’s a miracle no other house burned down. The newscasters had commented on how close together the houses were.
And yet, here he was. In this room. He assessed the chance of him having a psychotic break. He came to the conclusion that, no, it wasn’t likely at all. No family history of schizophrenia. No psychopaths running around. Which meant one of three things to John Bishop: he was in a coma, he was dying, or someone is playing a sick joke on him.
Nodding to himself, he moves towards the door. Locked, just his luck.
“Check the table.”
“Who said that!” John whirled around. No one. Sick joke it is. He weighed the option of doing what the “voice” said and trying to escape. “Oh dear god I’m taking a ‘voice’ seriously…” He laughed at himself. Deciding that there’s no clear harm in opening a drawer, he opened it. Artificial curiosity swarms his senses. A book. A faded blue book that looked to be hundreds, if not thousands of years old.
“Faded? Who you calling faded, punk?” The sound originated from the… book?
“Ah!” John Bishop dropped the book. Talking books, just his luck…
“Ow!” The book hissed. “That’s not a nice thing to do to your elders, boy.” It was official. John Bishop was dying and in his dying moments, his mind opted to give him visions of a childhood home and a talking book. “Don’t be like that. Just open me up and read some pages.”
“Al- Alright.” He gulped. He picked up the book off the floor and opened the first page. “Hieroglyphs? Latin? Farsi? French? Why so many languages?” John flipped through the pages until he reached page 37.
“My my my my my my~” The book cooed. “The fact that the words have arranged themselves in such a way that you can learn… I’m getting tingles. You’ll be my greatest apprentice yet!”
John read the contents of page 37. Finally something in English. The spell of opening the title read out. “…Spell?”
“Yes John Bishop. The fact that you can read my contents and the fact that you can understand me… You’re a Mage.” John’s fingers slackened. “Hey now! Don’t drop me every time you get surprised! It hurts you know!”
John closed his eyes. Any minute he’ll wake up now. Any second.
“You resist this. Why?” The book said.
“There’s no such thing as magic. I’m more than likely dying or in a coma.” John shakes his head and puts the book down.
“Reality doesn’t give a shit what you think son. You’re a Mage, end of story. Now shut the fuck up and cast the goddamn spell. I’m not about to lose a potentially great apprentice just because he’s bitching how magic is against the rules. Open the door and let’s go.”
John blinked for a moment. He blinked for several moments. “Let’s say this is actually happening. Why me?”
“Oh god… not another asshole who has no goddamn belief in himself… What did I do to deserve such punishment…” The book made a choking sound. “Please… just cast the spell and let’s go… The construct is about to collapse and you don’t want to be inside of it when it does…” The walls start turning black and John’s bed catches on fire.
“Open” John yelled in a language that sounded like English but wasn’t. The door swung open and he stepped outside. His vision fades and he falls.
A few days later he wakes up, an IV attached to his arm and oxygen mask attached to his face. So it was a dream, what a dream that was. He laughs to himself.
“Nope. You’re stuck with me buddy. Let’s see if I can get you to learn the spell of healing next.” The book laughs.