“There is no such thing as a rejection, sir,” the grave voice of the grey-bearded wizard echoed in my mind.
Twenty years ago, I was very interested in sorcery. Responding to a flier from the bum down the street, I applied for the School of Sorcery. My major of choice: Dragon Slaying. That was me then, waiting for a taste of danger, hungering for it.
Now, with a wife and two kids, I couldn’t even entertain the thought of doing such a thing as dragon slaying. So, I refused to join the school when my application was, after twenty years, accepted.
“Honey, what’s the matter? You look preoccupied,” said Sam — my wife.
“It’s the school stuff. The old coot’s voice is still ringing in my ears.”
“Why’re are you so worried?” she raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t accept it, did you?”
“No, the voice, it just rings in my head. Maybe it’s some sorcery.”
“Then you better meet that man again. I don’t want to haul you off to some asylum or something.”
“I don’t think they have asylums anymore, do they? Anyways, what can that guy do? You know he asked me to pack up in forty-eight hours.”
“He said some agent will take me when the forty-eight hours are up. I hope he was joking. He did laugh.”
“Wait. So your refusal means nothing?”
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“They’re sorcerers, aren’t they, they can make anything disappear,” I said and chuckled.
Sam’s face grew tight. “What about the kids?”
“It’s not like I’m going. I’m sure he was joking.”
“How many hours do you have left?”
“Hey, come on, I’m sure it was a harmless joke. He laughed while saying that. Believe me. This is so silly.”
“Honey, stay home today. No need to go to work.”
I sighed. “Okay.”
Sam didn’t send the kids to school that day. I spent the whole day talking to them, playing with them. Lively kids they are, one four and the other six. But kids that play all day fall asleep quickly, and so was the case with them.
I spent the night talking to Sam, whispering sweet nothings in her ear, playing with her, teasing her, loving her. She was into it. That was until she started crying.
“Is this the last I’ll ever see of you?”
“No. Definitely not. Don’t worry. I won’t go.”
The next morning went by in a flash. In the evening, a strange gentleman dressed in a charcoal black suit appeared in the fireplace.
“Good evening Mr. Atkins. Good evening Mrs. Atkins.”
“Sir, are you ready? We’ll be leaving in half an hour.”
“I’m not going,” I said and gave Sam a nod. She nodded back.
“Sir, I believe Mage Rothchild informed you that no such thing was possible. I’d advise you comply.”
“What if I don’t? I’ve got a wife and kids, sir. I can’t do no dragon slaying.”
Sam started sobbing.
“That is not our concern, Mr. Atkins. You filled the form, and you were selected. You have to come. It’s our policy. And it was printed on the application form you filled.”
“But I was only fourteen!”
“That is not our concern.” The sorcerer glanced at his watch. “Twenty minutes remain. Sir, are you coming?”
Out of his sleeve, a wand appeared. He held it in his right hand, waved it in a semicircular arc, and yelled, “Way of binding: Holy Chains.”
Suddenly, my hands, my chest, and my entire being felt stifled and bounded. The sorcerer walked over to me and pointed the wand at Sam. “Don’t do anything rash, Mrs. Atkins. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Then he dragged me to the fireplace and muttered a spell. An iron door appeared out of thin air. He slung me over his shoulder and opened the door. The sound of Sam crying, the kids crying, pierced my ears.
“That is not our concern,” the sorcerer said and walked into the blinding light.