“Magia Nostra”

This story is set in a world originally concocted as a possible RPG setting, back when every RPG seemed to consist of multiple clans, families and orders that allowed for equally numerous (and profitable) sourcebooks to be published.  We even toyed around with a resolution mechanic based on craps, but the whole thing came to naught.  And eventually, this story, which was fortunate enough to win the August 2010 Flash Fiction contest at SFFWorld.

Frankie Di Siccio stared at the slate gray wall of the interrogation room, a half-eaten sandwich oozing mayonnaise onto the table in front of him.  “You gave me lunch, that don’t mean I’m giving you FBI assholes shit.”

Agent Henning sighed and leaned back in his chair.  “Frankie, we’ve been going at this for hours.  We know you know what the Collobestia family’s up to, so why don’t you just stop wasting our time?”

Frankie grinned.  “Because what’s gonna happen is my lawyer is gonna walk in here in about twenty seconds.  And he’s gonna talk about how future knowledge of a crime can’t be held against someone in a court of law.  Which means anything I tell you is inadmissible.  And you pricks are gonna have to let me walk right outta here.”

Now it was Henning’s turn to smile.  “Oh, we know all about your lawyer.  Right about now he’s finding out the elevator’s not working, and wondering how he’s going to make up it twenty flights of stairs.”  He picked up the sandwich and took a big bite.  “You Portolanos aren’t the only ones with psychics, you know.”

Sweat stood out on Frankie’s brow.  “Bullshit.”

“Frankie!  They don’t call us the Federal Bureau of Incantation for nothing!  Agent Casey told us an hour ago when your lawyer was going to show up.  A quick hex on the elevator, a couple of gravity runes on the stairs, we should have plenty of time.”  He finished off the sandwich, licking the mayo from his fingers.  “Now, why don’t you just tell us what you saw the Collobestias doing?”

Frankie swallowed hard.  “You have any idea what they’ll do to me if they find out I squealed?  I do.  I’ve seen it.  They’re goddamn savages.  They’re going to send a pack of rats after me in my sleep.”

Henning leaned in.  “What makes you think they’re not going think you talked even if you don’t?  You’ve been up here an awfully long time.”

“But I didn’t tell you guys nothing!”

“Then why are you seeing them sic the rats on you?”

Frankie’s eyes widened, and he let out a sob.  “You gotta protect me!  You can do that, right?  I hear you can send a guy somewhere where even the Apriportas can’t get to him.”  He hung his head.

“Oh sure, we can do that.” Henning paused.  “For those who cooperate.”

Frankie looked up, and Henning’s gaze burrowed into him.  Di Siccio was strictly small-time, running cheats on lottery numbers for the Portolano family, but he had the Sight, just like the rest of the family.  Not anywhere near as acute as Don Predire, though, or else they never would have caught him.  But he had his moments of clarity, and the Bureau’s mole in the family had scanned Frankie flashing on something big the Collobestias were planning.  They’d been warring with the Guamentare family for the last six months, and word on the street was they were planning to settle things once and for all.  If Frankie could confirm what their plans were, the Bureau could stave off a bloodbath.  “We got big rats in this town.”

Tears welled up in Frankie’s eyes.  “Can I go someplace that has seasons?” he asked quietly.

Henning shrugged.  “Four seasons, hunting season, football season, you name it.”

Frankie sighed, and Henning could sense the last bit of fight escape with that release of breath.  “I saw werewolves getting off a boat a week from Thursday.”

“Wolves?”

“No, werewolves.  Not the wolfmen you see running around Chicago, big goddamn shape-shifters from the Old Country.  They’re done screwing around with the Guamentares.  They figure these bastards’ll tear ‘em apart faster than their [i]infermiere[/i] can heal ‘em.”

Henning whistled appreciatively.  The boys down in Talismunitions were going to be pulling some serious overtime cranking out silver bullets over the weekend.  “And that’s all you saw?”  Frankie looked away, and Henning smacked the table.  “No time for games, Frankie.  You tell me everything or you’d better start buying a ton of mouse traps.”

Frankie rubbed his face with a clammy palm.  “Don Scaltromago was meeting them.”

Henning sat up straight.  “Don Merlin?”

“He doesn’t like being called that.”

“I’m not really interested in his good graces.  You’re telling me the Scaltromago family is joining up with the Collobestias?”

“I’m telling you I saw a bunch of werewolves meeting Don Scaltromago on the docks next Thursday.  You can put whatever the hell story to it you want.”

Henning scratched the back of his neck.  The sorcerers and the shape-shifters had been at each other’s throats since Sicily.  The Guamentare family must have done something of epic proportions to get the Scaltromagos and the Collobestias to put aside the vast gulf of enmity between them.  “And that’s everything you saw?”

“Isn’t that enough?  Now where the hell are you taking me?”

Henning stood up and buttoned his jacket.  “Nowhere.  You’re free to go.”

Frankie’s face fell.  “But the Collobestias…”

“Have no idea you’re here.  Come on, we’re better than that.”

“But … but the rats.  I saw them!”

Henning laughed as he opened the door.  “You think we’d have any problem at all making you see a future that isn’t going to come true?  We’ve got agents who don’t do anything but that.  Good guys, but you don’t want to play cards with them.”  He glanced down the hall.  “Oh, looks like your lawyer finally made it.  Hope he doesn’t bill you for the walk up.”

Copyright © 2010 by Richard F. Dickson.  All rights reserved.

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