Birdy and Theo discuss Magic

“I still don’t understand magic at all. Why can’t you just wave your hand and fix everything?”

“If I were strong enough I could. But you have to understand, it wouldn’t be like lifting a heavy weight. It would be like lifting a bunch of light weights. It’s not one simple step to go from where we are today to where we need to be. It’s a bunch of little steps that I’ll have to do simultaneously and flawlessly to fix this and save the multiverse.”

“What if you fixed a few problems here and there until you’d fixed them all?”

“Break it up into smaller pieces that I can manage? I thought about that. We can mend some of the tears and right some of the wrongs along the way, but those are symptoms of the problem. You don’t start scrubbing the carpet while the dog’s still shitting, do you?”

“That’s disgusting Theo. What if Niko took the dog outside while you scrubbed the carpet?”

“Theo doesn’t clean,” said Theo. “I’d have to be the one taking the dog outside, but I’m the only one who knows magic so Niko can’t fix this for us. It’s only me. We’ve been looking for others, but so far no luck. A few days ago my mom told me there were other witches and - okay hold on let me set that straight. It wasn’t really my mom, not the original anyways. She was a mental projection made flesh and blood. Pretty cool, right?”

“You can do that?”

“Well I can’t do it right now. I was completely out of control and caught between places when I did that. It’s a strange sensation; as I slip between the two it's like witnessing the onset of dementia. I think I know which is real and which is not, but I can't be sure. I don't want to fight it because I feel complete and powerful when I am her. That’s why it’s so important for me to become more powerful and learn to handle more magic without losing my shit. You are a logical gentleman, but let’s think like philosophers for a moment. I disrupt the boundary between reality and what's merely possible. But what does that mean? If something is real it stands to reason that it is also possible; or at least it was a possibility before it became a reality. As we go through life making choices we take each choice down from the shelf of possibilities and we make it a reality. You don’t know that you’re doing it, but you’ve literally turned thought into reality. Incidentally, hope is about possibility, not probability. That’s why it’s associated with emotional people instead of logical Birdys. Getting back to it … um ... so what about all those other possibilities still waiting upon the shelf? The possibilities that weren’t chosen - maybe because people couldn’t see them? Maybe because they’re terrible possibilities that we’re afraid of and have good reason to shun. My magic takes pieces of this reality and puts them back on the shelf - finding other possibilities that suit me better. So I’m really just moving pieces around and swapping them out, but it’s really hard. Like, really hard. Because these are other people’s decisions that I’m tampering with.”

Birdy leaned forward, his mind racing. “What about things that don’t have to do with other people’s decisions. Like that book you floated back onto the shelf?”

“These are laws of physics that were decided by the Universe, but the Universe is sentient even if it’s on a much grander scale. It’s still a decision and I’m still twisting them to turn down into up.”

“Is it more difficult?”

“Yes and no. When a person makes a decision and moves onto the next one I can tamper with their first decision uncontested. It’s like a drop of water. Wham bam one time done. And the laws of physics are like ongoing decisions, decisions on permanent repeat. Like a jet of water I have to fight against constantly. I can temporarily divert that flow of water, but it will resume it’s path the moment I let up. But physics don’t change their mind and once you have it, you have it. People can make a thousand decisions a minute and combat my efforts.”

“And random events?”

“There’s far less random in this world than you think. Most random is the result of previous decisions. But I can’t go back in time to change those. I guide chaos and warp reality to my favor, in small ways. You could say I avoid causality, but that's a nerd word. This ability causes a certain level of confusion and occasionally mood swings and lots of imaginary sights and sounds. Lots. I think they might be echoes and anticipation of possibilities I removed or interjected with less finesse than was required. Niko says it’s all fairly routine stuff; that all superheroes go through this so I learn to live with these ghosts in my head and just take dietary supplements when things get bad or scary. Anyway, that's how I like to think of it when people make me think of it. Niko says all this makes his head hurt and it makes my head hurt too.

“Bird Shit!” Theo jumped as her thigh started vibrating. She’d forgotten about the cellphone in her pocket. She still hated technology, but she was determined not to let it come between her and the rest of the team. She leaned back and slipped the phone from her pocket, jabbing at the screen until it looked different. “Hello, Niko. This is Theo. I’m on the mobular device you bought me. Uh huh. I was just finishing my tea and explaining to Birdy that, while on first appearances crazy might seem to describe me, it’s actually the complicated mental ramifications of manipulating magical properties. I know, I was proud of that one too. Okay I’ll be outside in a sec. Bye.” But Theo didn’t know how to turn the phone off and only managed to drop the volume by one click. She laid the phone on her thigh, the line still connected.

“Are you going to tell me what’s in the basement? What you left down there?” Birdy didn’t sound like he really expected her to answer.

“There’s pieces of me in the basement. I fed them to the demon that lives there. I’ll have to feed him again before long. Niko’s waiting, would you please go get my bag while I finish eating these sugar cubes?”

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