Crooked Magic Sample

Chapter 1


“How long are you going to be a criminal, Rekia?”

I looked at my sister and laughed. Sunlight shined in from her kitchen window, illuminating the stove and refrigerator, giving the place a slight glow. My sister lived in a small three-bedroom house, which often time smelled of gingerbread and cinnamon.

She passed me on the way to her kitchen counter, not saying a word. We were only a couple of inches apart in height, with her being only slightly taller than me. We looked a bit alike, both of us had black hair, but where she wore hers to her shoulders, I kept mine short and trimmed. It was just easier to manage that way. 

“Is that what you call me behind my back, a criminal?”

She turned off her coffee maker and shrugged. “I’m saying it to your face.”

I bit my bottom lip and wondered if my parents and two brothers felt the same. Knowing my family, I was sure they had some type of opinion on the matter. “You guys been talking about me?” I thought it best to just get it out in the open.

She didn’t answer right away. Instead, she busied herself with pouring two cups of coffee. She kept one for herself, and then pushed the other one over to me. I took a seat at her small wooden kitchen table, while she stayed standing. I had another assignment, that’s what I’d stopped by to tell her, yet now that the time was here, I felt the words freeze in my throat.

Not knowing what to say, I picked up my cup and took a small sip. The liquid was good and hot, the bitterness making it all the sweeter to my taste buds.      

   Coffee mug in her hand, she leaned against the side of the table. “Mom thinks you’re nuts, but she doesn’t understand much about what we do anyway. She tries, but world hopping, telekinesis, some of the other stuff we do, nah, she’s never understood that.”

   That much I knew to be true. My dad was originally from Julem, an alternate universe. It sounds strange when said like that, and my mother had thought so too when they’d first met. Being from right here in Southern Virginia things like parallel universes and psychic abilities were just stuff she’d read about in books or saw on her favorite TV show. It certainly wasn’t something real and tangible.

My father, always able to turn a profit, had businesses in multiple worlds. He’d met my mom when he’d come here on business. They’d hit it off, and eventually, he’d told her everything.

She hadn’t believed him at first, who would? Then he’d opened a portal and took her home to meet his family, after that, there wasn’t much to deny.

 Still not knowing what to say to my sister, I took another sip of my coffee. It was still hot and had cooled only a little, which meant it was still good to me. “What about dad?” I finally asked. I had a sneaky suspicion he felt differently than my mom.

   She shrugged, lips pursed as if annoyed with his answer. “He says you gotta let a girl be a girl. Whatever that means.” She rolled her eyes.

   I chuckled at his predictable response. “Oh, come on, Chanel. You know exactly what that means.”  

   Her lips quirked a little, but her expression stayed serious. “Yeah, well, I don’t have to like it.”

   I knew she didn’t like it, neither did my two brothers, but I didn’t tell them how to live their lives, so…

   World hopping was my career, and I made a pretty penny doing it. See, my father’s world was one of the few that could open portals to other dimensions. Which meant we were in high demand. It was something he’d passed on to each of his children, and something we’d grown proficient at, from an early age. That and a few other things.

   Still, I was the only one who’d made a career out of it. It was like witness protection, except it wasn’t, and my services didn’t come cheap. Still, if you were on the run, or some mob organization had put a hit out on you, well, I was the girl to come to. I’d hide you where no one would find you, in a whole other dimension.

   Some of my clients couldn’t take this and backed out. The ones who did go understood that they could never come back to this world again. I didn’t want anyone having proof of what I did. Those who backed out, well they didn’t have proof because they’d never gone, and most were hiding out for their lives, and that was their main concern. Even if they did want to tell, who’d believe them? I still had precautions set up anyway, though.

   So yeah, most clients didn’t know what I did before coming to my office. All they really knew was that I could hide them where nobody could find them, and that’s all they really wanted. 

   I looked at my sister’s pinched face. I knew she worried about me. They all did. What I did was dangerous, but they had to know I could take care of myself. “I’ll be careful.”

   She scoffed. “Yeah, well you better be.”

After I left my sister’s, I went home and got my bag ready. I never crossed worlds without extra bottles of water, non-perishable foods, and a few other things that would help me out if I ran into trouble and couldn’t make it back right away.

Today I had to meet with Karen, a contact of mine from the world Crass. I had contacts set up in many different dimensions. For a small fee, they would take my clients under their wing, helping them get set up in their new world. It was good to have this go-between, because people like Karen knew their own world better than I did, and could better help my clients with housing, and employment.

Not that I just took them to a new world and dropped them cold. I always came back to check on them as well as made sure my contacts were looking out for them properly.

I usually only dealt with clients from this universe. I just found it easier to have my home base setup in my own world. Trying to maintain business in multiple dimensions seemed tiresome.

It was too much to try to keep up with. Some worlds were known for their intense hatred of each other. I’d have to remember that client X couldn’t go to this world because I’d already put client Z there and their two worlds didn’t get along to the point of violence when they saw each other.

No, it was better dealing with people from here, who didn’t have special powers and didn’t even know alternate realities existed, until I told them that is. 

But Karen had asked me for a favor, and Karen had always been good to my clients, quickly finding them housing and employment.

 She was an important contact to have, and though I paid her for her services, I’d still found it hard to say no when she’d told me her brother was in trouble and needed my help.  

   People from Crass weren’t all that different from my own world. That’s another thing that was important. I always made sure to take my clients to worlds that were similar to our own and where the people spoke the same dialect.

I didn’t want them to feel too out of place if I could help it, and I thought the familiar setting would help them ease into their new lives more. Granted, most of the time they were the only ones who didn’t have special abilities, but some things couldn’t be helped.

Bag ready, I pulled my phone out and called Karen, letting her know I was on my way, so she wouldn’t be surprised when I popped up in her living room.  

She was probably nervous anyway. Alvin, Karen’s brother, was apparently a double agent, something I hadn’t known, but had I, then he wouldn’t have been very good at his job. Anyway, he’d ran afoul of the Crass government by stealing state secrets with a plan to give them to a rival world. Crass had found out before the deal was able to go down, so now he needed to get off world fast, before they found him.

Karen had said they’d already checked her house three times, but she’d set up mental blocks, so they wouldn’t find her brother there. It was an awful drain on her powers and not something she could keep up long, so I really did need to hurry.

Taking a deep breath, I gripped my bag tight, telling myself that relocating people was what I did best. If Karen had protection set up, there was no reason for me to be afraid.

Figuring it was best to just get it over with, I held up my hand and watched the swirling blue wormhole open that would take me to Crass.

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