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Transcribed for your enjoyment - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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November 2nd, 2006
05:29 am
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Transcribed for your enjoyment
CB -

Found this while sifting through some decade-old magazines at the pagan bookstore. It's kind of interesting seeing how things look in hindsight. Hell, some of this stuff I never even heard about at the time.

p.s. I hope you got the job. I got a call yesterday checking your references and I gave you the most glowing review I could.

- Fang




SCARY STORIES
By columnist Tor Torkleson
From _Aquarius Ascended: A Journal of Real Magic_, vol. 27, No. 10 (Nov. 1997)

      It's our November issue, which means that by the time you get this, you'll be experiencing one of the only three certain things in life: Christmas advertising. But I'm sitting here writing this article on the evening before Halloween. My partner is preparing our costumes, the veil between the worlds is still drawing back, and I can't help but think of ghost stories.
      Except in this case, I don't think what's sticking in my brain is actually a story about a ghost. You all remember Killington Hall, right? The vengeful spirit of the "Killington knifer" that got some serious media attention three months ago after that spooky murder? Then other near-victims of the ghost came forward into the media blitz, then a few big inconsistencies started popping up, and then ... well, Valdine and Gold robbed all the headlines. (We ourselves wrote about Killington back in Issue 27:7, but due to its timing we could only pass on some of the earliest reports, and by the time we started writing 27:8, we had a lot of other things on our minds.)
      Now the truth is coming out: The police have been working quietly behind the scenes, with some good old-fashioned detective work, and they say they've unearthed the murder weapon, a knife with some good old-fashioned human fingerprints on the handle. As it happens, I have some friends in Florida, so I've been following the story pretty closely -- and the evidence that this was just good old-fashioned criminal malfeasance seems convincing.
      But as I write this, it's been three or four days since the police press conference. They didn't name names and they said they weren't in a position yet to make any arrests. So the news was barely a blip, and nobody seems interested in following this up. Unless a big development happens between now and when our magazine's published, this will probably be the first you've heard of it, and I wonder whether the rest of the world is ever going to hear about it at all.
      Killington Hall wasn't exactly a high point for magic in the media. And ... well. If it was just a single harmless ghost story gone bad, maybe it wouldn't bug me so much. But it's just one in a long string of events that have really started to make me wonder.
      Who doesn't hate mages and magic these days? Where aren't we under attack?
      I guess bad media attention is the fourth certain thing in life, so Killington shouldn't have surprised me. Political backlash like ATPA and Matt's Act was probably inevitable. But what's up with the commercial market for mages -- which at the beginning of the year was so hot that a company like Logos Dei could become a Wall Street darling out of nowhere -- sliding down and starting to tank? Why is technology so inexplicably hostile to magic, with reliable thaumometers selling like candy but magic foci and boosters being entirely the realm of snake-oil hucksters?
      Some days, it even seems like magic itself is starting to work against us. Let's take teleportation as an example, since Vick Tannigan's recent cover story about it in a Boston alt-weekly is starting to get some wider attention. (See our "Magic in the News" article, p.6.) Vick makes much of his lament that safety issues have for all practical purposes ended the use of teleportation. I find it interesting, though, that neither Vick nor anyone else who writes about the subject ever mentions one odd fact: There WERE no safety issues until that first accident report in late January. It's inconceivable to me that in all of the thousands of teleportations necessary to arrange Dennis Redwing's big meeting, there wasn't a single incident of the now-infamous "ping timeouts." No mages teleporting into trees. Why, then, are these such real threats now?
      I hate to start throwing accusations around, but I don't even think all of these attacks on magic can be blamed on external factors. Dennis Redwing's "use this safe thing with caution" was vastly idiotic, as his many critics are right to point out, but we need to wonder whether there was more to it than that. How could a warning that obviously hypocritical have been anything but intentional? The man who personally oversaw the biggest orgy of teleportation the world has ever seen, now warning people not to do as he did? But wait! Conveniently, the rules of magic seem to shift in just the way he's talking about!
      Okay ... this is starting to sound like a conspiracy theory, and I'm not getting paid to spout off wild-eyed ravings. Despite the weird rumors and the fact of him being the first one to change, I don't really believe our dragon all-star has the power to change the world's rules, and I don't think you should either. But there is something fishy there -- an honest whiff of behind-the-scenes maneuvering. I wish I knew enough to tell you why.
      Just like any good conspiracy theory, any one element by itself seems too implausible to take seriously, but once they start to add up, you start seeing patterns that make you stay awake nights. Take another random example, which (I hope) is completely unrelated: The odd unicorn theri who calls himself Kiasu (see article in 27:4 and our "Duelist Watch" in every issue since). In a nutshell, here is a completely unknown mage who has made seemingly random visits to mages around the world, challenged them to magical duels, and beaten the snot out of them. Every one. (Those who have loudly claimed otherwise have been, shall we say, rather publically refuted; one such rare Kiasu sighting is discussed on p.12.) Usually alone, sometimes in groups, his victims all describe one thing in common: Being exponentially outmatched.
      Here, again, is a case of someone not obeying the rules that us merely mortal mages suffer through. What's going on? Are these people the public face of some force behind the scenes yanking our chain? In the absence of some rational explanation, a conspiracy seems like the most sane solution to the puzzle.
      Of course, that's what deceased scumbag Matthew Gold thought -- if his filing cabinets are any indication. And it's possible reaching that conclusion got a whole houseful of people graphically murdered. I really wish the big media hadn't so completely overlooked the plain fact of a folder being stolen from his cabinet by the killers (as we, among a few others, reported in 27:8). He knew something we aren't supposed to. Given the manner of the killings, it probably has nothing to do with our magical conundrums, but the bottom line is that we just don't know.
      There's a lot that we just don't know. Another example: I haven't heard a single good theory about the two-thirds of a second that astronomers have confirmed Earth is missing. It's scary to think that every spell I cast might be working only because the Earth hiccuped ten months ago.
      But look -- I've been telling ghost stories after all. Ghosts of explanations, shadows of conspiracies. And even a few scary twists to boot. Looks like I did get into the spirit of the season after all.
      I hope you had a happy Halloween, and I hope that maybe this winter will bring a few more answers than this year has.

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