Simon the Magician
Simon: I told you, Doctor Connors. I am called Simon Magus. Simon the Magician.
Dr. Connors: Don't you have to be a little older to be a magician. How old are you?
Simon: I'm fifteen. If you want to call me an apprentice, go ahead. I go to a magic school called School of the Ages, so I'm still a student, but what I've lived through already makes me feel like I can use the adult title.
Dr. Connors: It's a historical name, of course. Simon Magus, the first century religious leader. Do you… eh, do you believe you are that man?
Simon: No, obviously not. I was born in 1987.
Dr. Connors: Then you think you are a reincarnation of him.
Simon: I don't think so, but you can't really know things like that. I have travelled back to the first century and pretended to be him, though.
Dr. Connors: You … travelled in time.
Simon: We're all time travelers, Dr. Connors. But most people only go in one direction.
Dr. Connors: Si, in your imagination, you travelled backwards in time.
Simon: Not in my imagination. I really did it. And… I lost someone.
Dr. Connors: An imaginary friend.
Simon: A real one. Look, Doctor. I understand that you won't believe anything I tell you. Many people don't believe in magic, and can't be convinced. So I see the world differently than you do.
Dr. Connors: You mean like Harry Potter?
Simon: No, Harry Potter is fiction. My friends and I like those books, but I live in the same world you do. We all have normal names, and we're in the tradition of historical magicians, like Roger Bacon, or Cornelius Agrippa, or Isaac Newton, or Madame Blavatsky.
Dr. Connors: Isaac Newton? He was a scientist.
Simon: He was an alchemist. Trust me. I've met him.
Dr. Connors: You… met… Isaac Newton.
Simon: No, not really. That time I was joking.
Dr. Connors: I don't get it.
Simon: I'm not very good at jokes.
Dr. Connors: Er… How exactly do you see the world differently than I do?
Simon: I understand a more complex level of reality, where time flows both ways, and spirits affect our daily life and elemental beings produce the natural forces of the planet. Reality contains more than science. Reality contains magic.
Dr. Connors: I think some would say that believing in magic is a way to escape reality.
Simon: Anyone who thinks that hasn't seen death the way I have.
Dr. Connors: Look, if I'm going to help you, we are going to have to start by setting some therapeutic goals. And the first is going to be for you to accept that magic is not real.
Simon: It's real. I can do it.
Dr. Connors: Show me an example, then.
Simon: You're a skeptic, Dr. Connors. Anything I try, I will have to overcome your doubts. Then, even if it works, you won't believe it.
Dr. Connors: Go on. Show me.
Simon: Did you feel that?
Dr. Connors: My head hurts. A lot.
Simon: I just put a magical sting through your forehead.
Dr. Connors: I don't think so. You saw my discomfort from the headache and made up an explanation. Ow!
Simon: That's seven stings. Left eye, right eye, left hand, right hand, left knee, right knee, gut. Did you feel that?
Dr. Connors: It was… a painful muscle spasm. I'm certain it's unrelated. Perhaps a… dietary indiscretion.
Simon: You see, Doctor? Your skepticism makes you impossible to convince.
Dr. Connors: Your argument is circular. You see that, don't you? You say you can't convince me because I won't accept your evidence, and then you provide me evidence that I have no reason to accept. You blame me for rejecting inadequate proofs.
Simon: Let's go to the window. If you can walk.
Dr. Connors: I can walk. Let's go.
Simon: See that guard there by the gate? Watch him. He's about to fall down.
Dr. Connors: Oh, my God!
Simon: It worked because he wasn't prepared to resist me. He didn't know the spell was coming. He's just knocked out. I didn't kill him.
Dr. Connors: Orderlies!
Simon: You'll think of a reason to deny that this happened, Doctor. Skeptics always do.
Dr. Connors: Keep this patient on standard sedatives.
Simon: I will escape from this asylum, Dr. Connors. And you'll deny later that you ever met me.
Dr. Connors: Take him back to the ward! Hurry!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Posner is a writer and teacher from New York City. Matt's books about Simon are The School of the Ages series of books available below. Contact Matt: http//schooloftheages.webs.com and twitter @schooloftheages
The Ghost in the Crystal:
Level Three's Dream:
The War Against Love:
Also, Matt and Jess C. Scott are co-authors of Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships, an advice book for teenagers about… sex and relationships.
My name is Zhang Ping. I’m in the insane asylum as I have been told. I have turned myself in to the police station to be put in jail for the killing I did during the Cultural Revolution. Yet they told me that I was not guilty because Chairman Mao told us to do so. They throw me in this evil place instead where I’m alone and constantly being tortured by nightmares and daydreams of my bloody past. They know I like fresh air. So they give me half the roof. Now I feel cold all the time and the constant screaming, yelling and moaning have never been so clear. I think it is worse and far worse than being in jail. When I close my eyes, I can see people staring at me with hollowing eyes and bulged eyeballs with black circles. They point their long skinny fingers that have sharp nails at me. I no longer know what it is dream or reality. I’m drowning in fantasy. I have passed out for a little while only to be awakened by fresh raindrops, which are so fresh that can’t be mistaken as tears. Yet I think they are tears of relatives whose loved ones I have killed. I close my eyes. These events begin unravelling in front of me as though they had happened yesterday
It was 20 years ago when I was a high school junior. The situation was grave then. The continuous gunfire was hurting my eardrums, much like the New Year fireworks. I was manning a machine gun in a dormitory window in Beijing University after joining my father's United Workers' Union. Initially they tried to occupy the chaotic campus. When they arrived at the University gate, their good intentions to forge a peaceful solution soon disappeared. Two student groups were fighting fiercely to gain the control of the university since they were responding to Chairman Mao's slogan to send all of the "corrupted" top university officials and intellectuals to a detention center. The United Workers' Union was forced into self-defence. I remembered that students came toward them one by one to prevent them from going in. The students were shooting and they were firing back. The students were falling down one after another. I could still remember student’s radiant and sweaty yet naïve faces. After the shooting was finished, the main street in the university campus was full of bodies. For days, the street was soaked with blood and millions of flies were buzzing around. It was the first time that I had seen so many dead bodies.
The thunder starts to clap or it is merely my head that is about to explode. I stare straight into heaven and wish very badly to be taken away by sweep of the wind or arms of the Satan.
(Thanks to Lisa Zhang Wharton, author of the stunning Last Kiss in Tiananmen Square for joining Sin in the asylum. It gets lonely in here...)
MY ENTRY INTO THE ABYSS
I have what they call a tick. My head moves involuntarily from left to right, left to right continuously. Sometimes I can control this movement of my head, this constant denial to everything around me, but not for long.
Dr. Connors is supposed to cure me, and he says every day we make progress, but let me tell you right from the start that he is talking utter nonsense.
I am on my way to see him now, my head starts ticking more than usual. I have a deep settled fear in the pit of my stomach as we walk down long passage after long institutional passage whilst my head moves in sync with my feet. Left, right, left. I know there is something wrong. I remember there is a reason why I am afraid every day when the white, round clock tick, ticks its way too fast to two o’clock.
I stop in front of the brown laminated door with the dull bronze letters, spelling out DR. CONNORS and then the trouble starts. My head starts to shake so violently that spit spews from between my lips. My feet cannot step over the threshold. Fear pushes up from my stomach into my chest, past my lungs and into my throat. I can feel the fear sitting there with the mash potatoes I had for lunch.
The two burly orderlies on either side of me lift me by cupping my elbows in their big hands and they carry me across the room towards the brown sofa along the wall, squeezed in between the gray metal filing cabinet and the window with the twelve inch black bars welded into the concrete.
Dr. Connors, with his kind smile, rushes towards me and gives me my daily fix. Amen.
I feel the familiar prick of the needle and then the warm flood of ‘mooty’ spreads slowly but surely through my body.
Dr. Connors smiles down at me, after the attendants let me drop onto the sofa. He says kindly, “All better now, Agnes?”
I smile up at him. My lips say, “Yes.” My head moves from left to right, left to right.
He turns away from me and sits down in the chair across from me. The chair he sits in everyday.
He says, “Okay, Agnes. You know how it works. Lie down, fold your hands across your chest and close your eyes.”
I lie down onto the brown sofa. It is soft and I can feel it sink in under my body. I fold my arms across my chest, I cross my legs and I close my eyes.
“No, Agnes. Uncross your legs. Everyday I have to tell you the same thing.”
I uncross my legs.
He sighs. “Okay. Take a deep, deep breath.”
I take a deep, deep breath. I feel my chest rise.
“You are in a big, white circular room.”
I look around and see that I am in a big circular room.
“There is only white, brilliant white all around you”
I look around me. There is only white, brilliant white around me.
“You look up and you cannot see the roof. Everything is white.”
I look up. Everything is white and I cannot see the roof. The room is so huge.
“You look down and the floor is white.”
I look down. The floor is white.
“You see across from you, a dark brown door.”
I look ahead. There is a dark, brown door.
“You walk towards this door.”
I start to walk towards the door.
“You see a large, silver door handle.”
I see the large silver door handle.
“You reach for the large, silver handle and you push it down.”
I reach for the large, silver handle and I push it down.
“You open the door slowly.”
I open the door slowly.
“You see before you the most beautiful peaceful scene, you have ever seen.”
I see a big, black, dark pit.
“You see a sky so blue and clear. The grass is bottle green and neatly mowed. You hear birds singing and you hear the faint gurgling of a river.”
I see and hear nothing.
“You step onto the green, green grass.”
I step onto the stair leading the way deeper into the dark pit.
(Thank you Lynette Ferriera, author of the wonderful Recycled Souls for joining me in the asylum. You can find more from Lynette at her blog.)
They think this best place for Apple-y. They say she is better off locked away where she cannot hurt herself or anyone else. They think that putting her in a room where she sees no one and hears no one will make her better.
Apple-y sit and Apple-y listen. She hear them, you know. She hear them breathe and she smell. The stench of over cooked, over processed meat assaults her sensitive nose. How human eat such a thing she will never understand. It only makes her hunger more for what she cannot have.
She smell the sweat of the men coming down the hall. The nurse that wear too much cheap perfume. They want her. All humans do, but humans are stupid creatures. They not understand it is in Apple-y’s nature to be desired. They fear her, and she love it.
They give her medicine saying it is to make her calm, but Apple-y know better. They give her medicine because they scared of her. Because they can no control her. But all Apple-y do is shift to tiger and drugs no longer be in her. The drugs, how you say, push out her body with the change.
Apple-y also smell the blood when the patient next to her get hurt. She could almost taste it on her tongue and she want nothing more than to rip through the wall and drink. Drink until there be nothing left. No blood. No tissue. Only bones and tattered clothes remain.
How can a place like this be better for Apple-y? It no good for them to taunt her with blood and fear, it only make her stronger. It only make her better at her job.
But she know she not be here long. He told her so last night, her master. He speak to her in her head. She listen to him. He say she have job to do, and soon he come to get her. Apple-y ready, finally she get to stop the hunger.
(Thank you Joan Hazel, author of The Last Guardian for visiting the asylum today! Find more from Joan here)
The man in this room rocks back and forth, crying all the time. He is new to this place, and is not sure where he is, or why he is there. Actually, he is not sure who he is, if you want to know the truth. He told me this morning that he used to be Julian, but Julian is dead. Or maybe it was Lackland, he didn’t know. We all just call him The Knight. “I don’t know who I am anymore. I know who I am not! I am not a hero. It was my fault that the babies died. I didn’t realize that things would go so wrong! How was I to know?” He wouldn’t answer me when I asked him what babies, and how did they die?
I told him that my name is Sara. I showed him my baby, through the slot in his door and he said, “That’s a nice doll.”
That made me mad. “She’s a baby and her name is Martha!”
“If you say so. Don’t cut me,” he said. I told him that I wouldn’t, and he seemed relieved.
I don’t know why I feel so interested in him. He is old, at least fifty. I play with my baby, and lean against his door. I like how cool it feels on my back. If they see me talking to him they won’t let me sit here, but if they think I am talking to my baby they won’t make me move along.
Once again, The Knight calls to whoever might be listening, “Has my horse been cared for? Please, tell me, is my horse well cared for!” No one answers him. I whisper, “Your horse is fine, don’t worry.”
“Thank you,” he whispers back. “Is this hell? What strange place is this?” He begins weeping again. “Is Lady Mags here? Mags are you here? Where is our handsome Jules? Why have you all abandoned me?”
He is new, and boy is he a strange one. We were out getting our afternoon sunshine under the watchful eye of our orderlies –er -nurses, when suddenly he stepped out of the woods on the far side of the lawn, and stood staring at us. He was fully dressed in armor, like some knight from a fairy story. We thought that maybe he had strayed from a renaissance fair, though we hadn’t actually heard that one was happening in our area.
When he saw the white building of the um…hospital… he dropped to his knees and began praying. “Is this heaven? Is he here? Is my Golden Beau here?” Well, we didn’t know what to say, because he DID have a huge sword, and we didn’t know if he had a golden bow or not, but the orderlies took away his sword and told him, “Yes, your Golden Bow is here!” as they got him into the restraints.
When they got all that armor off of him we were all surprised to see how scarred he was. Someone cut him badly, on purpose. When I asked him what had happened, he said, “She punished me, because I didn’t love her. She is going to punish us all! She avenges the children!”
So I have been talking to him, since he came here. He talks funny, with an accent that I have never heard before. This morning I was sitting with my back to his door, listening to him talking to someone that only he can see. “I killed them, you know. It was my fault that the babies were murdered! I didn’t save them. Don’t cut me anymore! Beau!!! Where is Beau!!!”
He says he is from some place called Waldeyn, but it’s not on any map I have ever seen. If he is really from there, he really is lost.
We are all lost here.
(Thank you Connie Jasperson, author of The Last Good Knight for visiting the asylum today! Find Connie's novel here)