Home > Go Hex Yourself

Go Hex Yourself
Author: Jessica Clare

 

 

1

 

 

REGGIE


   When I pull up to the location of my job interview in Nick’s borrowed car, my first thought is that I’ve made a mistake. I peer up at the ominous-looking building, a black-brick Victorian tucked among several more-brightly colored neighbors, and consult my phone again. No, this is the right place. After all, there’s only one Hemlock Avenue in the city. With a worried look, I glance up at the building again, then find a place to park a few streets over that’s not too close and not too far away. It’s a corner store, and I check the parking lot lines to ensure that I’m perfectly within my space, and then repark when I’m not entirely satisfied with how close I am to the yellow line. It takes a little more time, but it’s always better to be precise than to be sloppy.

   Ten minutes later, I’m down the street with a freshly fed meter running, and I’ve got my CV in hand. Am I really going to interview at someone’s house for an assistant job? I’m a little uneasy at that, but it’s for a gaming company, and those sorts of people are notoriously quirky . . . I think. I check the address one more time before I move up the steps and ring the doorbell, smoothing my skirt with sweaty hands. Up close, the building seems a little more imposing, with dark burgundy curtains covering every single window and not letting in a peep of light. The stairs up to the door have an ornate black iron railing, and even the door knocker looks like something out of a horror movie, all vines and animal heads.

   Someone has a goth fetish, clearly.

   The door opens, and I’m startled to see a woman about my age in jeans and a T-shirt proclaiming her favorite baseball team. Her hair’s pulled back into a bedraggled ponytail, and she’s not wearing a stitch of makeup. She’s also about twenty months pregnant, if the balloon under her shirt is any indication.

   “You must be Regina,” she exclaims with a warm smile, rubbing the bulge of her stomach. “Hey there! Come on in.”

   I’m horribly overdressed. I bite my lip as I step inside, painfully aware of the clack of my low-heeled pumps on the dark hardwood floors. I’m wearing a gray jacket over a white blouse and a gray pencil skirt, and I have to admit, the feeling that I’m in the wrong place keeps hitting me over and over again. I don’t normally make these mistakes. I like for things to go perfectly. It’s the control freak in me that needs that satisfaction. I researched what one wears to an assistant interview, so I don’t know how I flubbed this so badly. I want to check the ad one more time, but after rereading it over and over for the last three days, I know what it says by heart.

        SPELLCRAFT EXPERTISE WANTED

    Assistant required. Excellent pay for familiar.

 

   I mean, I’ve been a fan of the card game Spellcraft: The Magicking since I was a teenager. I have thousands of dollars of cards and even placed second in a local tournament once. Sure, I was playing an eight-year-old . . . but he had a good deck. Heck, I’ve even brought my favorite deck with me in my purse, in case they think I’m bluffing about my love for the Spellcraft game.

   So am I qualified? Fuck yeah, I am. I can be an assistant to someone that works for the Spellcraft: The Magicking company. It’s kinda my dream job. Well . . . my dream job is actually to work on the cards themselves, but I’m not experienced enough for that, so being an assistant would be the next best thing. But I’m smart, I’m reasonably educated, I’m good with spreadsheets, and I’m excessively, excessively organized.

   (Some might say “obsessively,” but I ignore haters.)

   I smile at the pregnant woman, suspecting she’s the one I talked to on the phone. “You’re Lisa?”

   “That’s me!”

   I hold out my CV, tucked into a fancy leather-bound folder. I pray that the nice packaging will hide the fact that my detailed CV is kinda light on office jobs and heavier on things like “Burger Basket” and “Clown holding sign in front of Tax Masters.” It’s all about enthusiasm, though, right? I’ve got that in spades.

   Lisa takes the folder from me with a little frown on her face, as if she’s not quite sure what to do with it, and then gestures at the house. “Want me to show you around Ms. Magnus’s house? She’d be the one in charge day to day.”

   Er, that’s kind of odd. Why do I need to know about my employer’s house? Maybe she’s just really proud of the place? But since I’m interviewing, I paste on a bright smile. “That’d be great.”

   Lisa’s smile brightens, and she puts her hands on her belly, waddling through the foyer. “Follow me.”

   I do, and I can’t help but notice that the interior of the place looks much larger than the exterior suggested. Inside, the ceilings are incredibly high, and the rooms seem airy despite the dark coloring. The walls are the same burgundy red, and several of them are covered in reproductions of ancient Roman murals. “Your boss must like Roman stuff.”

   “Oh, she’s Roman. All the big names are,” she calls over her shoulder.

   “Ah.” Funny, I researched the game and thought the CEOs were from Seattle. Maybe she’s an investor? Who just likes to talk about the game? That might be kind of fun. My enthusiasm brightens as Lisa shows me through the living room and the modern, elegant kitchen. She heads down a long hall and looks over at me again. “This way to the lab.”

   “Lab?” I echo. “Oh, you mean office?” I beam. “It’s so charming that she calls it a lab.”

   “What else would she call it?” Lisa opens a large symbol-covered door, and I think Ms. Magnus must be a huge nerd to decorate her office like this. When we step inside, though, I’m a little stunned. There’s a large desk, all right, but instead of a laptop and paperwork, there are beakers and bottles. An old book is spread out on the table itself, and the walls are lined with jars and more books. The ceiling is hung with what look like dried herbs.

   It’s an absolute nightmare. Every iota of my organization-loving heart cringes at the sight of this. It’s clear that Ms. Magnus needs me. I’d never let a place of work get this disorganized. The books are all over the place, there’s no computer to be seen, and I’m pretty sure under the stacks of loose paper and piles of nonsense, there’s a bookshelf. Somewhere.

   It all needs a guiding hand, and that’s what I do best. Guide. Or . . . control. Whatever. I’m good at this kind of thing.

   “So this is the lab,” Lisa chirps. “I hope you’re up to date on your herbs, because a lot of Dru’s favorite spells are plant based. She’s more of a traditionalist, unlike her nephew.” Her hands go to the small of her back, and she stretches uncomfortably. “You’ll see him around here from time to time, by the way. He lives in Boston, but when he’s in town, he stays with Dru. And he might ask you to assist him with some minor stuff. Mostly running errands.”

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