Readers Gazette Short Stories


Short Story The Stuff of Magic

The Stuff of Magic by John Pirillo Fantasy short story

Visit John Pirillo, Author Website


“A Samuel Light Junior Story”
When he woke up that morning, it was unlike any other. His baseball was no longer on the dresser in front of his bed. The baseball bat was not next to his bed. The mitten he used to catch the ball with was hanging from the ceiling like a bat ready to attack its victim.
“Hello!” He said to no one in particular.


“Hello back at you!”


He jumped up in his bed and looked around the room for the owner of the voice. It had not been a frightening voice, other than the fact that no one should have answered him.


He saw nothing. Just his usual cluster of clothes on the floor beside his bed, where he had kicked off his dirty jeans and socks, and his baseball cap which should have been in the closet, but which he had been afraid to open last night and put it away. He wasn't afraid something was going to hurt him. It was just that...well, the Knight of Nights, lived in there with that hugeeeee sword.
“Where are you?” He asked, barely above a whisper, his voice cracking.

“Where you least suspect.”

Sam again searched the room. Nothing. No one. Nowhere. No how!

He reached back to his bedroom window blind and let it flap upwards noisily into its socket, filling the room with morning light. Still nothing. What could possibly hide in morning light that bright he thought, his own eyes tearing from the brightness of it.
Rattle. Bang. Boom.


To his left. He looked that way, expecting to finally see something. Nothing.

Ting. Tang. Tong. To his right.

He jerked his head that way. Nothing.

“This is stupid.” He growled finally, angered at whatever it was that was taunting him.

“Indeed.”

He looked behind him and saw a pair of eyes watching him sadly from the bedroom wall. They were so perfectly blended into the wallpaper that at first he thought they were flowers like the rest of the decoration on the paper, then two flowers blinked.
“Yowl!” He cried out, jumping from his bed. “That's creepy!”


The two eyes began to water, and huge tear drops began to form. “No one loves me.”


Sam suddenly felt terrible. He couldn't explain why he should. After all, it was his bedroom, not whatever that strange wall creature was.


“Look, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, but you don't belong here.”


“Oh, but I do. I was born here, you know.” The voice came from somewhere about the eyes, but with no specific location of issuance.
“I don't get it.”


“No one ever does. That's why you and your mother were able to rent this house so cheaply.”


“Mom's not gonna like hearing that.” He told the teary eyes.

“They never do. Always think I might one day decide to eat their child. And then where would they be? No one to scold and to blame their problems on.”


Sam laughed. “Not my Mom.”

The big eyes made a grimace, which he later decided was a kind of smile, if eyes could smile that is.
“Perhaps.”


Sam scowled at the eyes. “My Mom would never want me to leave! Ever! Ever! Ever!”

“You don't know Moms so well, do you, Samuel?”

He scowled at it, making an even fiercer stare. “I know enough!”

The wall eyes sighed, causing the wall paper to ripple somewhat.

“Always the same story. The same excuses. When will a young boy live here who understands me? Understands!”

“What I understand is that you shouldn't be here!” Samuel said firmly.

He reached towards the eyes and as he did, his right hand began to flare a bright red color.

The wall eyes fled up towards the ceiling and out of his reach. “No need to hurt me!”

Samuel looked at his glowing red hand. “Wow! I'm fireworks!”

“Remember. You said that. Not me.” The wall eyes told him.

Samuel sat back on the edge of the bed and eyed the wall eyes. “What do you want?”

“Nothing.”

“Everything wants something.”

“I only want to exist.”

Samuel stared at the eyes a long time, and then nodded. “Okay. Just don't let Mom know you're here.”

With that he made up his mind and began grabbing his clothing to put on for school.

“Where are you going?”

“School.”

“What's that?”

“A place where there's eyes all over the place watching you.” Samuel said with an amused look.

The wall eyes opened wide. “Oh, how horrible.”

With that Samuel finished putting his clothing on and left the room.

The wall eyes stared at the door Samuel went through, then sighed. “I wonder what school is like.”

It made that same smiling grimace look, and then vanished.

----------------------------------------------


Samuel felt a touch on his right shoulder and sat up, startled. Mrs. Murdoch was staring at him angrily.

“Samuel Light, Junior. I'm really disappointed in you. Falling asleep in class!”

Samuel rubbed at his eyes, and then frowned as the other kids in the class began to laugh at him. He hated when they did that. It reminded him that he was different. Separate from them. He didn't like thinking or feeling that way. It made him angry with himself.

Sometimes he wished his powers would just go away, but instead of doing that, he would sprout a new one.

Then he looked up at the highest point of the classroom wall. A huge set of eyes hovered there just above the wood paneling. He smiled.

It smiled

---------------------------------------------


Outside the classroom the Principal, Morgan Stanley, an overly weighted man who stood about six and a half feet tall, wobbled along the class papered walls that were hung with the latest geometry shapes, places in the world and spelling problems. Clean and sterile, the corridor reminded the kids of how empty their lives felt when they left the safety of their classrooms, which were strung with teacher delights everywhere, intended to seduce them into thinking their world was safe, when it was far from the truth. For education, Morgan knew, was so restricted by the laws and ignorance of so many, that kids were not protected at all, but held back from knowing the truth. But what could he do? He was one man battling against a monolithic bureaucracy way out of control.


Pieces of confetti twisted to look like Christmas chains. Paper stars dangling from ceilings. mobiles made of paperclips and Popsicle sticks. Popcorn balls the kids had made, but were never eaten. Terrariums with captive crickets and spiders. Gold fish bowls.

Struggling green plants starved for real light. Desks with scribbling on their underside, like “I love you. School sucks. Free on Friday.”


It was high school. The adult world's closest idea of what prison should be for their hormonally challenged offspring. A place they could safely ensconce them and not have to worry about having to help or nourish them. Others could do it. That might sound skeptical, or even negative. But truth was, the Principal saw all of that and more. Kids bringing guns to school to prove their self worth, gangbangers who tore their bodies apart to prove their strength, girls having babies who were not much younger than themselves.


He had seen a lot in the years he had been a Principal. Mostly he chose to look the other way, because between the adults of the community and the government, no one was really serious about improving education. They just wanted good babysitters, and so he was elevated to the status of Chief of the Babysitters, and his teacher, God bless them all, had to struggle through year after year of declining resources and angry, rebellious children who were indifferent to learning and to doing what was right.


Yes, this morning though was different. He was going to retire soon, and he was in a great mood as he was making his morning rounds. That happy smile on his big face was shattered like the dreams of his youth of becoming an astronaut when he heard the scream of Mrs. Murdoch and then dozens of children stormed out of the classroom, followed closely by Mrs. Murdoch. Uncertain what was going on, he peeked inside cautiously.


Samuel was the only kid there and he was sleeping.

The Principal gulped, not ready to do anything more, and shut the door.

“Thanks wall eyes.” Samuel said, not opening his eyes.

“You're welcome.” The wall eyes told him. “Maybe we can do this again tomorrow.”

Samuel didn't hear the wall eyes. He was snoring and lost in the dreams only he could reach safely.

To see more of John Pirillo's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit John Pirillo's Website.

Images used for the story are from John Pirillo

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