TITLE: The Opposite of Magic
GENRE: Fantasy (contemporary)
Emily Daggett, stumbling upon a cavernous hidden room in the building where she works, sees a man floating inside. Startled, he falls to the floor--a long drop. Emily, thinking it's her co-worker Bernie, is horrified.
Emily spent one dazed moment listening to the hysterical voice in her head--you killed him! You finally got a wizard and you KILLED him!--before scrambling to her feet. Bernie couldn't be dead. If he could use magic, he certainly could save himself from a fall.
Wringing her hands, she stumbled toward him, her view blocked by a large stone table at the center of the room. Rounding it, she stopped at the feet of her co-worker. He lay motionless on his stomach. His face was hidden by outstretched arms, his head covered by the upturned collar of his long coat and by the cowboy hat, which had managed to land only slightly askew.
"Bernie?" she said, an octave higher than normal. "Are you all right?"
Getting no response, she wrung her hands more vigorously and added: "I'm so sorry--I had no idea what you were doing in here--well, how could I--"
This was accomplishing nothing. She needed to run for help--if he was still breathing. "Be alive, be alive," she pleaded, pulling his coat away from his pulse point.
There was, she saw with a start, no salt-and-pepper hair on the nape beneath.
"But ... then this isn't ... Who are you?" she said, her strained voice loud in the otherwise silent room, her hand an inch away from the obscuring hat.
The words were still echoing when--with astonishing speed--the man knocked her flat on her back with a well-placed kick.