FICTION: magIK by Steven Psyllos

Each month STARK will present a new work of fiction from our literary community. “magIK” is our first.

Words: Steven Psyllos
Image: Jack Picone

Hundreds of tiny toy soldiers ran before him, jumping over the cracks on the sidewalk, a quick wave of green movement. In unison, the infantry darted to the left and around a tree, and back to the right to take up the whole sidewalk before their commander, MJ. Each held a plastic machine gun, long daggers reaching from beneath the rifle tip. Their rage grew as they neared the corner, a growing scream came from them as they hopped over undone bricks and puddles of mess. Their little helmets reflected yellow specs of sunlight.

Laughing, MJ chased after them. Today they would charge the next block and its ruler, the dreaded Lionel.

“I want to hear you scream… Let me hear your anger!” Quicker he ran, stretching his young legs as far as he could, catching one or two of his men beneath his feet.

“I want you to kill them all, leave none behind!”

A blind woman inched her way down the block, the leash to her dog wrapped about her wrist. The green swarm ran through the dog’s legs, jumping and scraping the dog’s underbelly with their bayonets. The dog spun and erupted in barks. The woman, thrown to the pavement, felt each of the dog’s barks thundering through her chest.

The dog took one or two men in its slobbering mouth, but was tripped by a small kick from behind. The dog fell to its chin, letting out a yelp.

The boy looked over his army, his little feet slapping down on the concrete. “We are here! We are here.” To his right was a huge green dumpster, the perfect hiding spot for him to map out his attack.

From a third story window, Lionel watched as MJ ran down his block and hid behind the pizzeria’s dumpster across the street. The venetian blinds folded back into place before the little sergeant even had a chance to look up on them.

Lionel took off his school clothes and dressed himself in all black. He ran out his front door, leaving his mother crying quietly over the porcelain bathroom sink, the fogged windows gleaming behind her reflection.

Lionel took the stairs quickly, jumping a few stairs at each landing. On the first floor, he paused and listened for the super who had ratted him out the night before. Lionel inched towards his door and whispered something, closing his eyes. A small baby within the apartment began to wail like a sudden pain stabbed at it. Lionel smiled.

The window in the building’s lobby led to a backyard filled with the remnants of bicycles, air conditioners, and stacks of milk crates. It also led to the side alley. He climbed up and out the window, and walked, concentrating his energies. In a second he would be invisible.

Crouching next to the green dumpster, MJ waited anxiously for Lionel to walk home from school and enter his trap. He whispered orders to his soldiers, who were positioned all about the street corner, driving them into a frenzy.

Peeking from behind a small fence, Lionel stood. His mind began to spin. He reached down and picked up a small shard of glass from a broken mirror, passing it before his eyes. “…no reflection… no reflection… no reflection…”

MJ watched the entrance to his enemy’s headquarters, looking suspiciously at each person who walked out into the light. Spies? Allies? He looked over the formation of his soldiers and back again onto the street. “We will destroy his army, tear them to bits. Kill them all.”

“What are you going to do?” From just out of reach appeared Lionel, his silhouette stepping forward into the realm of sight. Startled, MJ fell back hard on the concrete.

“Answer me. What are you going to do? Kill me?”

“How did you…?” MJ tried to speak, but could not.

“Your power is scattered and primitive. I must teach you a lesson for toying with the Lion.” Again, he stepped forward, placing a cold shadow over MJ’s face, and pulled the blade of glass from behind his back. Without hesitation he curved the edge over the boy’s round cheek and watched as a line of blood fell. And then he disappeared.

MJ cried in pain. He kicked into the air that surrounded him. The fear left him convulsing as the blood came quicker. From inside the pizza shop, two old men ran to the boy. “Who did this to you?” “What happened…?!”

Atop of his building, Lionel reappeared. His stomach moved for a second as he looked down over his victory. Little bursts of sour air, he vomited. “…visible…visible…visible…”

Steven Psyllos is a native New Yorker with a taste for the dark and stormy. Follow him: @stevenpsyllos

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