No good summonings happen after 2a.m.

“Nieselima vo’shikkarasu, beinturushi, sayedita guroro!” The black-haired boy in beige slacks and a sweater crouched passionately over the crumbled-chalk pentagram in the attic of the storm-torn house. His weak and mortal voice was almost lost in the wind battering the windows. A momentary calm allowed moonlight to flood the room and he glimpsed for an instant his own shadow stretched long and sharp against the musty floorboards. A shiver rattled up his spine, but he ignored it and focused on the incantation.

“Sarijyupa karetyo mayina, hebruntsu! Icarus!” Punctuating and fueling the magic of his words, lightning bolts dove into the charmed weather vane erected on the roof and sparked along the wires coursing beneath the pentagram. Gravity played tricks as the boy and the furniture floated one moment and crashed, anchor-like, the next. The scant support beams could take no more; stress fractures splintered and the top floor collapsed.

The boy coughed and waved a hand haphazardly through the thick, dust-clogged air to no avail. A dim light emanating from somewhere overhead pulsed strongly once before dissipating, followed by a sweeping breeze that sent whorls of dust spinning away. There was a light footfall.

“Icarus?” The boy coughed again and fumbled with an illuminating charm. “Who is that?”

“Icarus…” the echo floated dreamily out of the haze in man’s voice. “Aye, that’s what my name was. It feels so long ago that I was once Icarus, but I know no other time, nor another name.”

“Icarus, son of Daedalus, I have summoned you here because you alone possess the ability to assist mortals in the most revered task–to ascend directly to heaven!!” The boy gushed with clenched fists. In the silence that followed his declaration, the dust gradually settled to reveal first the tips of outstretched white wings, then where they fused with brown muscular shoulders, and then the crown of black hair that turned to meet the boy’s eager eyes with eyes of blue sky.

“Celestial bliss, eternal wealth, 72 virgins, what do you seek in heaven?”

“Does it matter? Will you take me there or not!?”

A laugh broke free merrily from the winged apparition. “What a testy little summoner. Ah, let’s quit this dank house. I fly best at night, but the ascension can only occur at high noon.”

“We don’t have to wait for high noon. Tonight is the lunar eclipse. In one hour, there should be almost no lunions in the atmosphere, so your flight gear should sustain minimal damage from anisotropic interference.”

“As exacting as a textbook! True, Artemis shoots lunions that jam the fiber optics in my anti-gravity tilters, or whatever my father blabbed on about. However, it is much more interesting to believe that, when the sun is highest, then, and only then, can the dreams that incubated in the crib of star and moonlight test their mettle against its wrath and rays!”

Psh, the romantic notions of the Greeks. It’s all science now. Even Athena’s birth has been attributed to a rare strain of syphilis. “Heheh, yeah…” the boy hastened to agree with the apparition.

“Little summoner, what era is this?” Icarus asked suddenly.

“Um, 2016. And my name’s Nick.”

“K, little summoner. Does that fall in the era of sunglasses? I love that particular invention. Didn’t think that up, did you, father?” He added with a touch of spite, glowering at nowhere in particular.

“Stow the daddy issues. I did my research and already bought you a pair.” The boy tossed him a $5 pair of aviators he’d nabbed at a gas station on the way to the house. Dank or not, the house had been vital to his summoning as powerful an apparition as the legendary Icarus. Beneath them lay buried one of the most powerful modern American witches to ever live. Her 200 year-old bones, imbued with the dark magic she’d performed during her lifetime, and the house’s position at the center of a rough pentagram of churches, depending on how straight one drew the lines, was a magical hotspot.

“Well, thank you! What was your reason for ascending, again?”

“That’s my business.”

“Then I’ll make a guess. Clients usually pick from the same set of reasons. Typically, it’s to be reunited with a lost lover or close friend. Some devout folk wish to see God with their own eyes, feel what Jesus Christ felt, etc. A few think they’ll become angels or obtain some great power. Sorcerers, paranoid kings, and desperate urchins fall into the latter category. I don’t judge.”

Nick watched as Icarus poked around the attic lazily. “Alright, I’ll tell you then. Don’t laugh though. Curiosity. I want to know what heaven means, if anything. There’s certainly nobody I wanna to see again up there.”

Icarus glanced up from the cracked teapot he was inspecting. “Are you sure that’s the only reason?”

“I…it’s the most important reason.”

“I’m not merely a express ticket to heaven. I’m also a guard. I don’t fly just anyone up. You’ve impressed me by picking the lunar eclipse, but I’m not satisfied.”

“What happens if you don’t approve of the summoner? A disobedience clause wasn’t in your contract and I’ve never heard of a failed Icarus summoning.”

“I was once a human. As an apparition, I have a little more free will than others, that’s all.”

“You didn’t answer my question, and we only have 30 minutes till the eclipse!”

“This one should be obvious. You die.”

 

 

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