A thrilling introduction to the dark mystical world of Melanie ‘Breaker’ Perkiss, Buffalo NY’s most capable witch hunter and spell lifter.
In this debut instalment, a dark mage acting on behalf of a vengeful ex has magically removed the genitals of a man and vanished, leaving him wiped clean down there. And unfortunately for the victim, he is set to wed…now imagine saying ‘I do’ while in that deprived state.
No wonder when a shell-shocked and heartbroken Casey walks into Melanie’s office to report the incident, the witch hunter immediately goes on a chase, risking her own life as she encounters dark creatures and malevolent spirits in the city’s darkest corners.
The pressure is indeed on Mel: the wedding is fast approaching and leads remain few. Will she be able to corner the mage, recover the taken goods and save a doomed marriage, while bringing the conspirators to justice?
Publisher: Square Six
Genres: Occult, Supernatural, Magic Mystery.
Publication Date: October 31, 2019.
I guide my ex-trooper Crown Victoria into its allotted space then walk toward the office. There is something in the air today and my right hand has been twitching ominously. To many, such twitches don’t signify anything — just a bunch of nerves fluttering, they say — but myself I interpret it as a call to action. And usually I am right.
The door to my unit is made of a lower grade of maple, stained in amber and then varnished. Near the top is a sign with my name on it. MELANIE PERKISS, it reads in bold caps — then below that is an image of a claw hammer, with the words: The Breaker, scribbled beside.
It’s a cryptic enough thing, and many newly-hired people working in this building often ask me what is it that I ‘break’, a word they utter while making quotation marks with their hands.
“Curses,” I reply, not shy to promote my type of business.
“That, really?” they further say, “is it a line of work?”
“Yes.” I often oblige them with a smile and then add, “I lift spells, too.” Which mention often elicits mystified grins because to many a spell and a curse are almost the same thing, but in my world they are different.
The conversation often doesn’t end there; it continues with them asking how it is that I know there is a curse here or a spell there to be dealt with. To which I reply by giving them the real jaw dropper: that I am a witch hunter — and that’s how I tell.
“For real, a witch hunter?” they exclaim, wiping the pavement dirt off their fallen jaws. “In this day and age?”
“Yeah,” I say, “right in this freakin’ new millennium.”
At this point you should see how they shake their heads and roll their eyes like they have seen some phantom from a bygone century. Yet I, Melanie Perkiss, know what my calling is, and I have an actual office to work in.
At the door, I produce a key. I could have used my magic door-opener that pretty much can unlock any door, but I prefer to save it. I always save it, that makes good sense.
My fingers twitch again as I go in. Even though today is a Tuesday, it’s the first day of my working week, so I wonder what’s calling me to arms so early on. Really in our business, big things usually happen on Fridays or Saturdays but not so much on Sunday or Monday, so what then could have occurred, or is occurring? I must wait and see.
The office is quiet, except for the soft fall of feet in a corridor to the back. I work alone, with no boss or assistant, and there is no one to say good morning to, or ask how the weekend was. Witch hunting can be such a lonely job, but also a potentially rewarding one, I must add.
My eyes land on one of the most important fixtures in here, a fish tank on a stand to the north wall.
In there is Mr. Gillz, a companion fish of mine that I adore very much. His type is the flowerhorn cichlid, and that species can be colorful and attractive, but to me that is not the most important part. The real deal is that Mr Gillz here is magical and spiritual, just like all cichlids can be if handled the right way by the right hands. He warns me of impending supernatural disasters and sometimes he hints at the potential outcome of a particular magic case I may be working on.
“Hi, there,” I wave at him, gazing into his fluid chambers.
He slowly rises to the surface, brings his mouth out of the water and blows a weak bubble, then sinks back in. Something isn’t right. His sluggishness points in a bad direction.
Even so, I raise my hand to blow a kiss back, but just at the moment, my desk phone rings. Immediately I abandon the fish. It’s my practice to answer every call that comes no matter what.
“Hello, Mel,” a strange male voice speaks. “I need your help. I can’t see my… um… things.”
“Things, what things?”
At first I imagine someone has swiped the man’s wallet or ID’s by means of magic so he needs help finding them. Magic of course is the key word, because if it’s regular crime, I don’t deal with that. It’s for the regular police.
“My… you know, downstairs,” the voice says mournfully.
I get a hint, and wonder then turns into shock. What other things can exist downstairs on a man, except — to put it in black and white — a dick and balls?
“You can’t see your… um.” I still find it hard to speak out the exact words.
“Yes, my… dick and…” he says.
“Nuts.” The word just escapes, and guilt bites into me.
He grunts. It’s true, then.
Yikes, what could this thing be?
The easier thing to imagine is that someone has cast a spell on him that prevents him seeing that part of his anatomy. Some bad curses can be like that; you just fail to see certain things but it doesn’t mean they have been lost. If it’s like that then, we could work a fix.
“Something wrong with your eyes, buddy?” I ask with hope, even if I’m still afraid it could be worse.
“No, my eyes are perfect. My things just aren’t there.”
God, don’t tell me… “Hold on,” I say.
Panic grips me. His genitals could be gone for sure. Jesus, what is Buffalo coming to? Honestly I have never dealt with anything like this. I have cracked many magic cases but not of vanished organs.
“What is your name, sir?” I ask.
“Casey,” he answers. “Casey McLong. Don’t call me sir.”
“Alright, can you come to my office?” I give him my address, as I am not officially on Google yet. I then hang up.
“Mr Gillz, a crisis is coming our way,” I call out to the fish.
On hearing me, he slowly sails up and down. He can feel Casey coming. With the whole load of his problems.
Truly I don’t know how we will solve this, and all I can do for now is wait. But while I do that, perhaps it’d be wise to start performing the little things I do each time I come in after a weekend. Usually after checking on Mr. Gillz, next is to listen for any messages that came in while I wasn’t here. I will do that now.
One thing that amuses many who enter this office is how antique my desk phone is. It’s that old rotary-dial type — one that produces that classic monotone buzz often heard in bygone era movies. No other office I know of still has this type and I had to go to great lengths to get a techie to wire in an adapting device so the vintage thing could work with modern networks. I snagged it at an antiques sale, and I thought its age and red color made it the most suitable thing to have. Magic is as old as time itself and I thought why not go ancient, too, with the tools I use.
I pick up the receiver, dial, and then listen. Surprisingly today there isn’t even a single one. I wonder then what all that hand twitching was for. Was it all to do with the Casey incident? Perhaps so, and that means it must be big. I fear it could be too hard to handle.
Anyway bad things do happen, and I must record this case in my computer. It’s a thing I do pretty much with every reported occurrence. My desktop is a sleek little Dell.
“Time to do some work, buddy.” I nudge the Dell to life, then open a file and mark it Casey. Many wizards and wizardesses, including some witch hunters I know, attest that they can’t work with technologies, but I seem to be an exception in that aspect. I have this computer to prove that, and it won’t bother me in any way. I don’t experience any problems driving a car or operating a cellphone. There is a TV in this office, too, which I will be switching on soon and it’s not going to explode when I gaze at it, like some magicians claim happens when they do. It can be a crazy world working with magic, but I am saved some of the more troubling scourges.
Case of missing male sexual organs — so unusual, but to be investigated fully, is all I input for now. I will leave it hanging until I learn more.
Casey takes long, and there is a bit of a lull, so I manage to slot in quite a few extra bits, but inevitably the phone rings again.
“Where are you?” He is still mournful. “I just got off the bus.”
That catches me by surprise as I had assumed he would drive in. There is a bus stop, though, down the street and I imagine that’s where he is.
“Your buildings aren’t well-numbered,” he goes on. “Where is 349?”
Ah, the tragedy of not being too well-off. I could have rented in a more prominent building, with a courtyard of roses, and those fancy modern LED displays that announce whoever does what inside.
“Old brown building with gargoyles and pilasters, you will find me at the back,” I say to him. He should be able to recognize it because our building is the oldest for many blocks around. It’s Victorian, built largely of brown brick, with purple awnings on doorways facing the front. It’s a rundown thing pretty much, but some of its old-world charm still shows.
“I can’t hold it, Doc, I can’t.” Casey moans.
Vanished genitalia, how do you start solving that?