Monday 18 March 2013

Magic Falls Part Twelve


I press send and watch the message go to Nina. I know better than to call her right now. I don't want to pressure her any more than I know I already am.

"So what's going on?"Jack asks after a while.

I sit back in my seat and look out at the countryside as the train makes north. The rain streaks on the window.

"It's difficult to explain."I said.

"I think I've already shown I can take a lot in, and I need to talk about something other than Andrea for a bit," Jack said. "So, let’s go back over it all. You're from the future and we're already best friends."

"Well…not quite best friends," I say, with a slight smile. "But we get on, and we work for the same thing. The same aims."

"What's the same thing? These aims?"

I avoid eye contact and keep looking out the window. It has been a while since I've seen anything but the urban environment, and even in miserable weather, the move to browns and greens from grey and splashes of vibrant colour feels very different. There is colour in London, there's no denying that. But outside of parks and green spaces, even the trees feel grey.

"Too many things have changed already," I say, trying not to think about the Knights. "The more I try to force things to be the same as they were, the more I think I'm running the risk of guaranteeing that won't happen."

He nods. “Okay, I can accept that. Hypothetically, anyway.” He thinks it over, and then amends what he’s saying. “Well, at least when it comes to the stuff that you want to happen. But you told me that you came back because of everything that had gone wrong. So wouldn’t it be a good thing if everything were different this time?"

I wish that the whiskey last night had stayed at just the one. At three in the morning, when we were both drunk but feeling sober, I told him far more than I should have done. And he'd remembered every bloody detail.

"And you believe me on all this?" I ask.

"Not quite. But I'm not ruling anything out right now. With the way Andrea went missing, I'm trying to take into account that there may be..." He waved his hand, as his thought visibly went back to his missing daughter.

"…More things in heaven and earth?"

"Well, earth, anyway."

I nod, and sip at the coffee in front of me. It tastes awful, but part of that is down to the hangover that is currently killing me. Jack has to be suffering as well, but he's handling it a lot better.

He eyes me while I do so, and then asks a different question. "How does this... magic...: he rolls the word in his mouth as if it is a cherry gone sour. " anyway? Why is it all happening?"

"I don't fully know," I say.

"Do you have your theories?"

I look at him. "Yes."


"I think we're taking on rationality as a belief. In a way we never have before, as a species. The biggest change that the internet has made to our lives isn't Amazon, it isn't Ebay, it isn’t entertainment... it's the ability to find information."

I find I’ve warmed to the subject without even realizing it. What is it about Jack that keeps me telling him everything? I don't seem to be able to keep my mouth closed around him.

"Some would contest that," he says.

I lean forward. "We're all talking to each other more, as a species. There are kids talking on instant messenger to other schoolkids all over the world. All those beliefs, all those cultures, and we're finding out how similar we actually are. We're learning more about each other, and that's just on a person-to-person level.

"You've got websites like Snopes now, that can give you the facts behind an urban legend just by searching for it. You've got Google and Wikipedia for all those legends and myths and histories, and we begin to see how many cultures had basically the same ones.”

I sit back, and almost to my surprise, I continue talking.

"Do you know how many cultures have some kind of myth that's similar to the birth of Jesus? Virgin births turn up all over the place. Once you learn something like that, faith and belief takes a bit more of a hit than it did before. And now, we're getting so used to asking questions, getting so used to trying to find out... Christ, do you know how long it took until someone cracked how Derren Brown predicted the lottery? Less than 24 hours until someone pointed out that a ping pong ball moved and had a video with graphics showing how he probably did it on Youtube.

"People are blindly believing less and less, and when that happens… I think something starts fighting back. I think we're looking at the death of magic. I think it's fighting for its life. Because it relies on belief. And that's dying."

He sits silently for a while, and he stays that way until we pull into Wakefield Westgate.

As we walk through the station to his car, he quietly says 'I think you're right. And if this is about belief, we could be in trouble."

He opens the car door, and we begin to drive. I wait for him to elaborate as we navigate the winding roads, and take in the view. Once you get out of Wakefield, it's a beautiful area.

"I told you that Bretton used to be an arts college."


"I went there years ago. There's a pillar in the middle of the campus, and the story going around then was that it marked a convergence of ley-lines."

"Does it?"

"I have no idea. I don't believe in ley-lines. But then, do you know who we were told used to love walking around Bretton's grounds?"


"Peter Sutcliffe. The Yorkshire Ripper."

"Did he?"

"Probably not. But it doesn't matter. You take hundreds and hundreds of young people and lock them into this place in the middle of nowhere. No regular bus service after dark. Pre-internet. And they're all creative and away from home for the first time, and they spend a lot of time vulnerable and scared."

"I can see how ideas would take hold."

"More than take hold. This was like a pressure cooker here. People went insane here in their own way."

"Your point?"

"Darren, if magic feeds off belief, this was a very, very powerful place. There are all kinds of legends and myths around this place."

I look up at the clouds. It feels like night has already fallen, and it's only the afternoon. As we near Bretton, it begins to hail as if on cue.

“This place…” he says, “took my daughter. And it’s beginning to feel that…something there is waiting for us.”

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