Even More Exciting than Falling Over a Chair

“Sir!  You really aren’t allowed to just go in there,”  Anna, the receptionist, called as she came through the main doors to the floor near the conference room Kyle and his coworkers had been using.

As with any disruption, people stood up to see what was happening.  Magic Materials had switched the main floor of the building over to an open plan back when it had seemed progressive and vaguely Japanese. Workstations were surrounded by short cubical dividers, but you could easily lean on one and converse with the inhabitant.  The idea was to facilitate communication by removing physical barriers.  The unspoken threat was everyone could see when you were slacking off on the Internet. It made anything interesting that happened in the office into a public show.  Even management didn’t get much privacy, they were relegated to glass fronted offices along the perimeter of the building.

Anna continued, “I can get whoever you guys need.  But you’re not suppose to just go back into the office area.”

She was calling futilely after two men in black suits who paid no attention, striding into the main area of  Magical Materials Incorporated as though they belonged.  Looking at them, Kyle could tell why Anna hadn’t tried to stop them.  They were tall, fit, and practically glossy with how polished they were; they looked like they belonged on a recruiting poster. They also looked dangerous.

Kyle couldn’t have said exactly what made him think that, but there were a number of details about the men that didn’t belong in the corporate world.  For one thing, they were both alert.  They were watching the room, but they weren’t paying any attention to Anna. It seemed they’d decided she wasn’t a threat, and then she’d just vanished from their perception.  They also moved lightly.  Kyle couldn’t see through the walls of the cubicles but their stride had a certain bob to it as though they were on the balls of their feet.  Their backs were stiff, and they held the sort of rigid posture one expected out of the military. Kyle winced, they were IP Bounty Hunters.

They looked alike.  Not like brothers, one had a fair complexion, the other dark, the bones in their faces were different, and the fair one had a heavier build than the dark, but it was as though the same thing had been done to both of them.  They moved quickly in darting jerks. Anna had to hurry to keep up with them.  Their muscles budged in the same place, and they moved as two halves of one pattern.  The one on the left had stepped through the door and scanned his side of the room with three quick turns of his head and an oddly mechanical darting of his eyes.  The one to the right did the same thing, except mirrored. Neither looked at the other’s half of the room.

An employee at the back of the room yelped as soon as he saw them alerting everyone that wasn’t already watching that something was going on.  The men might, or might not, have known who they were looking for when they first entered, but when they heard the sound they reacted instantly and with that same uncanny precision.  The fair one stopped and shouted, “Phil McCain, we have an IP warrant against you.  Stop!  We are authorized to use force.”  Even while still talking he pulled back his arm twitching his fingers through the pattern of a spell.

At the same time, the second broke off and sprinted after Phil.  He was amazingly fast; a pro full-back couldn’t have moved better.

The first one finished his spell and his hand filled with a ball of crackling blue energy.  Kyle didn’t recognize the spell, but whatever it was the IP bounty hunter threw it at Phil.  Phil had been standing in the door to his cube.  He jumped out-of-the-way of the energy into the walkway, and it hit Phil’s spinning wheel which immediately started howling with several out-of-order alarms.

The second one had reached Phil by that point.  He dropped his shoulder and landed a bone crunching hit into Phil’s chest.  Phil’s years in magic desk jobs hadn’t left him a light man.  He was in his mid 40’s, balding, and stocky with a large pot belly.  He probably weighed 200 pounds or more, but the force of the hit was enough to lift him off his feet and send him flying in a short arch that ended against one of the cubicle walls.  It tilted over behind him eliciting more cries as the occupants of those cubes scattered.

That looked like the end of the fight.  Then Phil stood coming back into view past the lower cubes. He was shakily training a gun on the IP bounty hunter who had chased him.  That guy sprang to the side, leaping up and over a cubicle wall with the same freakish power and agility he’d shown in everything else.   The owner of the cubicle, a young woman, yelped and ducked out of sight below the wall.

Phil backed up slowly.  Both the gun and his voice were shaking, “Everyone just stay put.  I’m not going to hurt anyone, but I am going to leave.”

“You are, but only with us.”  The IP bounty hunter replied from where he’d taken cover.  His voice was low, threatening, and kind of oily.

Phil had apparently been wound too tight. That was enough to make him jump, and accidentally firing a round.  The gun’s discharge was deafening in the enclosed space.  Dozens of employees shouted simultaneous, and people started to run. Fortunately, the bullet didn’t do anything but rip a hole in the ceiling.

“Nice shot, chief.”

“Damn it, hold still I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

The bounty hunter who’d been standing by the door was casting again.  While Phil was distracted he finished up.  His hand filled with another crackling ball of energy which he threw, over the cubicle tops, at Phil.  This time his throw hit Phil squarely in the chest.

The effect spread out enveloping Phil.  He screamed.  The sound suggested intense pain, but it only lasted for an instant.  All his muscles went rigid, his back arched, then everything relaxed at once and he fell to the floor out of sight.  A strange smell had filled the air; it was electrical but also somehow sweet.

Both the bounty hunters stood up as calm as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  Perhaps, for them, nothing had.  “Don’t worry,” the fair one spoke, “he’s just stunned.  That’s why we used the spell.  We’re going to take him over to the police now.”

The black-haired bounty hunter scooped him up.  He used a fireman’s carry. It barely seemed to stress him at all.  “We’ll let ourselves out,” he said.

They did that and everyone was left looking dumbly at one another.  Management declared work closed for the day.  Kyle and his new spell were forgotten.

 

Another Project
Jessie Can't Find A Job

For some reason I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I'm trying to write and to write better. So if you like my story let me know. All feedback is appreciated.

Posted in The Beginners Guide to Magical Site Licensing
10 comments on “Even More Exciting than Falling Over a Chair
  1. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    When I first wrote this scene I hadn’t made any effort to describe Kyle’s office as different from a normal building. As such, none of this would be visible to him. The floor plan and low cube walls got in when I reread the scene. It makes MM Inc. an even less desirable place to work, but that’s OK. MM Inc. *is* a lousy place to work!

    • Tucson Jerry says:

      I’ve worked in many places like this. All but one were mind–numbing corporate sweatshops like this. I feel for Kyle on a visceral level.I no longer am willing to work in such environments and have succeeded in that goal.

      • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

        I’m in computers as well; the first place I worked was a converted roller rink. If they’d had shorter cubes you could have seen someone in account services get blasted from the data entry pool. Since then I’ve been fairly lucky.

  2. DeNarr says:

    Sounds like that job needs better security. I don’t mind police doing this sort of thing with a warrant, but this seems like incredibly illegal activity for bounty hunters.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Anna does what she can, but she wasn’t hired to be a bruiser.

      Real Bounty Hunters have surprising legal latitude. When you borrow money from a bail bondsman you sign a contract that says if you don’t pay it back, and you don’t show up for your court date, big men with guns and bad attitudes will come and get you. Apparently, such contracts have been held to be valid.

      Of course, Phil hasn’t borrowed anything from bail bondsman. But I bet he has signed a few magical IP contracts, and you’ll recall I referred to one of them as an “IP Bounty Hunter.” (I also just made that reference slightly more overt after reading your comment by adding “Kyle winced, they were IP Bounty Hunters.” The single reference I had before was a little too easy to miss.) The legal framework such an individual has yet to be examined. 😉

      • DeNarr says:

        Oh, I got that they were IP Bounty Hunters, I was just comparing them to our bounty hunters. I couldn’t imagine it being legal to force your way into a business in order to apprehend someone who skipped bail.

        • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

          Legally speaking, they are probably trespassing and it’s possible they’ve damaged some company property. But they’re only going to get in to trouble if MM Inc. calls the cops, and they also seem to be part of the tail end of a magical IP investigation that’s just solved huge production problems MM Inc. was having. I expect the company is going to count it as a win even if it should have been more smoothly coordinated.

    • Warren Peace says:

      You don’t mind police breaking the law (“doing this sort if thing without a warrant”)??? What the hell is wrong with you? Maybe you’re not from the US, maybe you live in some sort of magical utopia where police never abuse their power or something,…

  3. Stewie says:

    I have a feeling that there should be a comma for the title of this chapter, it reads kind of weirdly as of now.

    “Even More Exciting then Falling Over a Chair”
    “Even More Exciting, then Falling Over a Chair”

    I’m liking the story so far.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Now that you point it out, I believe I’ve used the wrong word. I need than instead of then. I’ll fix that when I can get to a proper computer.

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