Happy New Year, Mystic Minions! To start the New Year off, I thought I’d write a short tale – possibly a series – about new beginnings. One prominent occurrence in my household is purchasing lotto tickets. They say you have better chances being stuck by lightening than winning, but the way I've got it figured – I live in Florida – which should increase my odds, right? Maybe not. Anyway, with that, I wrote this tale below.
By Mina Burrows
Wiley dragged himself into the booth, opposite where his friend Dean sat at their favorite pub.
Wiley looked completely disheveled and in an obvious foul mood. His dirty blond hair was damp from the drizzle and his hazel eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. His appearance didn’t seem to faze him though, especially after he saw what was in front of him.
A pint sat there in perfection with foam skimmed lightly over the top and a sheen of frost chilling the glass.
Wiley sighed at its beauty. “Is that for me?”
Dean nodded. “You have impeccable timing.”
Wiley snatched the brew, downing nearly a quarter of it and exhaled. “Thank god for small miracles.”
Wiley gulped another ounce, slamming his glass down with an exasperated sigh. “This has been the most god awful year I’ve had in my entire life.”
“I’m serious,” said Wiley. “With the exception of your fine gesture here, I have you know, I’ve spent this entire year with absolute crap luck."
Dean cleared his throat, preparing to comment, but Wiley launched into a full rant.
“I mean it - the worst year ever…”
Wiley glanced away, recalling a few dreadful memories. He winced a couple of times before draining the rest of his beer.
For the next two hours Dean listened to Wiley bitch about how shitty his life was. It was a common occurrence between the two of them, convening at the local pub, commiserating in their woes – at least for Wiley anyway.
Drunk and fumbling with his words, Wiley spoke, “And you know what’s worse, mate?”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.” Dean drawled.
“You’re a bit flip tonight,” Wiley said, noting a difference in Dean's attitude. “Anyway, to top off my demoralizing year, I bought everyone Christmas presents.”
“You didn’t buy me one.”
“Not friends, you idiot. My family. Good god, I can barely afford my own family, let alone friends.”
Dean shot Wiley a droll look, grunting once before taking a drink.
Wiley continued, “They were nothing gifts - only lotto tickets, stuffed into Christmas cards.”
“How thoughtful,” Dean said dryly.
“I thought so,” Wiley mused aloud. “I only bought ten, but that’s not what chafes me.”
“Let’s have it then,” Dean replied and then motioned to the barmaid for another round.
“I met some dolt, who gave me the blasted idea, you know…buying the lottery tickets.”
The pints were delivered and Wiley continued. “He coaxed me into doing it, the prat!”
“Did he have a gun to your head?” Dean asked with a gleam in his eye.
“No,” scoffed Wiley. He eyed Dean suspiciously. “You’re acting strange.”
Wiley stopped momentarily and took another swig. Dean’s eyes shimmered again, but Wiley didn’t catch it.
“No. No one forced me. If that’s your point. But he damn near placed the idea in my head.”
Dean shrugged his shoulders, practically hiding a smile. “What happened?”
“What happened?” grumbled Wiley. “What happened was my mum and uncle - among other family members even Katie – called me to thank me because they all bloody won! That’s what happened.”
Dean stopped, assessing his friend's demeanor. “You’re joking.”
“I wish I were. Do you know my mum already bought a new car with her winnings?” Wiley said, lowering his voice. “She won nearly £32,000. Can you believe it?”
“Great? Do you think I received any of it?” Wiled griped. “No, I didn’t to answer your question. How’s that for gratitude? My own mum!”
“You’re being ridiculous. You should be happy for your mum. She’s worked hard.”
“Oh, sod off. She’s a greedy one. But that’s not all. My uncle Charlie - he won too and flew to Vegas to double his winnings. I can kiss any of that money goodbye.”
Wiley ranted for another fifteen minutes, detailing the winning streak of the tickets he purchased including his ex-girlfriend’s, Katie – the one who dumped him recently because of his neglectful ways. As a last ditched effort to save a lost relationship, he sent her a holiday card with the golden ticket. She won over £28,000 and was using it for a down payment on a London flat.
Pure fury swamped Wiley. All his attempts at a decent, normal, happy life went up in flames within the last year, all courtesy of a declining economy and a string of bad luck. By the end of the year – regrettably - when things weren’t going Wiley’s way, a cynical soul surfaced. And no one liked that side of him.
“Are you finished?” Dean asked.
Nodding complacently, Wiley wiped his sleeve under his runny nose. The poor bloke was actually tearing.
“Good, because...you're a no good wanker.” Dean said, thrusting a finger in his friend’s chest. It was shockingly uncharacteristic for Dean but he continued.
“You spend your entire life blaming others. You’re broke because you overspend. Your single because you treated Katie like shit. Your luck is constantly bad because you insist on living life with a perpetual dark cloud over your head. You should be grateful you were able to share your good fortune with people you love – you selfish prick. When are you ever going to learn? Everyone has crappy times – and yes, they even last from year to year – but the point is you don’t wallow in your own shit. You pull yourself out it and keep on going. Be thankful for Christ’s sake, Wiley. Be thankful for once in your pathetic existence or else your bitterness will swallow you whole, leaving you completely alone with no family and probably minus a friend, me.”
Wiley sat incapable of speaking. Dean, his lifelong friend, robbed him of his pity party, giving him a solid tongue-thrashing, one he completely deserved. He finally dismissed Dean's behavior, assuming he was drunk and then thought about what his friend said.
“God, you’re right, Dean. I’m horrific.”
The two quieted for several moments, long enough for them to inhale more of their ales.
Dean started. “You’re not horrific…you’re human. And you need to not loath life so much and try to be happy.”
“You’re right. It’s a New Year and all.” Wiley snapped his fingers. “You know what. I’m going to call Katie – to wish her well. She deserves it and the money too. It’s the least I can do. And as for the others, I’ll shut my mouth and for once be happy for someone else.”
“Aw...now that sounds like my old friend.”
After downing the last of his brew, Wiley thanked his friend and hurried out the door with a renewed spirit. He was - without a doubt - onto a better year and better life thanks to Dean.
Or was it Dean?
Seconds later, Dean shapeshifted into a raven haired beauty with locks that fell past her heaving chest and eyes the color of the sky. This lovely being who just pretended to be Wiley’s friend, was now dressed for sin, awaiting her next conquest. The humans she portrayed were typically a stark contrast to her original self, but after an eternity of stealing living personas, she practically forgot what she looked like.
It was her job to aid the good-hearted; one’s who lost their way. Every year, she started anew with her “helpless” list. She’d create elaborate ruses in order to right some wrong in an innocent’s life. Some souls took mere hours to redirect, some months, others a lifetime – but it was her job and she was damn good at it.
Her name was Skylar, leader of a group of supernaturals, specializing in wayward souls. Skylar was a shadow spirit, destined to wander among the living. Since the beginning of time, her kind lived in the shadows between dimensions, only exposing themselves to humanity for the cause.
Most humans didn’t know but when you die, some souls go to heaven, others to hell, but shadow spirits are marked for eternity. For most, endless time was maddening. Yet for Skylar, she was completely indifferent. Truth be told, she’d been at it for so long, her only focus was the list and who was next.
The waitress came over and Skylar then shapeshifted into a different human.
Skylar’s new façade was ironically Wiley – her previous innocent.
“Another round, please,” Wiley said with a wink.
“Switching seats on me are you, love?” the barmaid asked.
“You could say that,” Wiley replied.
A few minutes later, another perfect pint sat idle and Wiley’s old friend walked in the door.
Skylar eyed the next human on her list and she wondered how long this one would take. A ghostly smile crept across Wiley’s face as she spoke. “Hello, Dean.”
Copyright 2010-2011 by Mina Burrows.
All rights reserved.