Concepts contributed by: Misheal
Someone was drumming invisible fingers on the table.
Sadie, the veiled witch, sighed. Either the lad has a bladder the size of a football, she said in a gruff voice, or hes
been held up by those muggers again.
The devil take them, groused the voice of Merlin, also invisible. Muggers. Dont even have the sense to restrict
themselves to law-abiding victims. There ought to be honor among thieves, but I tell you--Ive been robbed twice in the past
year of things that I nicked fair and square.
What is the world comin to? snorted the invisible witch--Endora by name--beside him.
And Ill tell you somethin else, Merlin declared, getting into his stride. I was hoverin on my broom outside the bedroom
window of a Muggle couple, thinkin of rescuin their dog that they hadnt noticed was a krup; but I took an interest in the
box they had that showed them moving, talking pictures.
Ah, those Muggles, Sadie said wistfully. Theyll put magic out of business, yet.
Be that as it may, said Merlin testily, they was watchin something called Bewitched. It was supposed to be about
Huh! How would they know? Endora sneered.
Well, they dont know much, that was clear, said Merlin. It was the most absurd thing I ever saw. They showed several
short dramas in a row. I think they called it a marathon. Spankys story about the dueling marathon is what brought it to
mind. Well, it was so silly. They actually meant to show the same witch and her Muggle husband in episode after episode,
doing gross magic by wiggling their noses and trying to hide it from the neighbors. The witches and wizards in that serial
didnt have a clue! Whistling up storms, making historical people appear and disappear...pointless! And then, wonder of
wonders, the Muggle husband changed to a different man, yet he had the same name and nobody commented on it.
I had had enough. I decided to throw a little real magic on the situation, to liven things up. I pointed my wand at the
picture machine, said a few well-chosen words, and sat back to watch what happened. The husband in the drama was getting
dressed, and when he looked in the mirror to see how his cravat was coming along, he screamed. His wife ran into the room
and asked what was the matter and the man sobbed, Why didnt someone tell me? I didnt even know! The wife asked what he
was talking about, and the man pointed at himself and said, Cant you see? Theyve got a different actor playing me!
Well, that was starting to make it interesting. Then, when it looked like the witch was going to do something totally out
of character, I pointed my wand again, and the witch said, I dont care what those lousy writers say, Im not going to do
it. It just isnt me. By now the Muggle couple watching the play were on their feet, using the talky-phone thing to tell
their neighbors about what was going on, so I decided to leave things alone for a while. But another stupid moment came up,
where an elderly witch appeared out of nowhere to make everything all right. And I had all the characters grab her and hoist
her out of the picture, saying, Madam, youre not even a character. Youre a plot device, and a thin one at that!
By then, of course, my plans to rescue the poor krup were spoiled. That couple wasnt about to go to sleep for the rest of
the night. So I just enjoyed myself, improving the storyline of their picture-play now and then. The show had this cheesy
device that played a recording of an audience laughing, and for one entire episode I had them hissing and throwing fruit
instead. The actors took to wearing slickers and holding open umbrellas over their heads whenever they came to a punchline.
Then I decided to spice up the adverts that came on between acts of the programme. I invented a toothpaste that turns teeth
green, a hair gel that turns your hair into feathers, a mouthwash that causes you to squawk like a chicken, and a drug for
people who see silly things on late-night picture shows, only its side effect is that it causes the users dog to grow a
second tail. I was still thinkin about that krup, you see.
At last, Merlin said, picking up the pace as Spanky resumed his seat at the end of the table, I had to leave, because
some of the people the couple had called had called some other people, and a fair number of individuals with butterfly nets
had assembled in the square in front of the house. As I was flyin away on me broom, I heard the lady of the house screaming
to her husband, Alfred! Its true! The dog has two tails! But we havent had any of that medicine... I believe the krup
escaped in the confusion, bless it. So, lad, what event was next? The Team duel?
No, said Spanky, pouring another goblet of firewhisky from the tip of his wand. I havent finished with the Relay yet.
You see, when Shmedly beat me, it was only the quarter-final. And as his team had already been defeated once, and that was
our teams first defeat, we werent put out of the running. In the semi-final, Crinkle and Ruff put paid to the American
team in only two rounds, so I didnt even have to compete again until the final. Meanwhile, the Romanian team--that is,
Shmedly and his cronies--squeaked past Japan by a very narrow margin. Shmedlys lightning curse seemed to have no reliable
defense; it ensured his victory for a third round in a row. So I knew I would have to face Shmedly a second time in one
event, battling for the Relay Galleon...
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