Casting Apps: A Short Story

Aside from writing a blog a day for the month of January for the Ultimate Blog Challenge,  I am trying to commit to one short story a week. This is the second product of that project. You can find the prompt here.

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Source: Unsplash, CC0 via Pixabay

The low murmur of voices pulled me from sleep. Blinking, I fought to keep my eyes open as the world swirled to life around me. I was sprawled out on a black floor mattress in a small, dark room. A couple of candles were lit on a dresser under a window, through which I could see the night sky. Groaning, I raised a hand to my forehead. Ugh, what a headache. Did I fall down somewhere? Where was I? Forcing myself to sit up, I glanced down at my body. Yeah, those were the same jeans and t-shirt from yesterday. Something must have happened, but I just couldn’t sort anything out. Maybe once my head stopped pounding.

The bedroom door slid open, and I turned my head despite the pain that followed. The silhouette of a tall, twig-like person stood in the doorway. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear the haze. “Who…?” I croaked, before breaking into a cough. When was the last time I had something to drink? It felt like days.

“Whoa, wait, don’t move,” a light, male voice urged, and the figure walked toward me. I tried to scoot backwards on my hands and feet, feeling panicked. Everything here felt so strange. Was I being kidnapped? Breathing felt more difficult.

“Stay back!” I squeaked, my back bumping into the wall.

“Calm down, it’s okay,” the boy urged. He was getting closer. I could see him in the candlelight now; he was dressed in black slacks and a button-up white shirt. Was it a uniform? Where was I? He reached out with his right hand, and I realized he was holding something – a cell phone? The screen lit up, and I froze. My headache, my anxiety, my blurred vision … it all began melting away. My eyes glanced from the cell phone to his face, back and forth. What …?

“You’re okay now, right?” he asked, sliding the phone into his pants pocket.

“I … yes,” I said, taking in a deep breath. Relief flashed across the boy’s face.

“Good. It’s a good thing I checked on you. Sorry for rushing in on you like that, but I was worried you were going to dive out of the window.”

“I … was thinking about it,” I admitted. “Where-”

“Listen,” he interrupted, “we don’t know where you came from, but you’re here now. And all you brought with you was, well, your wand.”

“My what?” I asked. Feeling lulled into a false sense of security, I tried to gather the strength to get on my feet. This was wrong, it didn’t matter how much better I felt. This was not right.

“Your wand,” he repeated. Fishing into his other pocket, he pulled out my cell phone. “I apologize for taking it, but we didn’t know who you were, or what you might do with it.”

Stumbling to my feet, I took a couple of steps toward him and snatched the phone out of his hand.

“No need to glare, honest,” he chuckled. “We can’t use it or destroy it. You know that, don’t you?”

“You’re crazy,” I said, taking a step away from him. “This is a cell phone, and you are dead once I make this phone call.”

“Wait, we aren’t out to hurt you, so don’t, all right?” he said, raising his hands in the air. “You know a lot of spells, we saw them. You don’t have to prove it. Seriously.”

“Spells?” I looked down at my phone screen. I was at the home screen, but the phone layout was unfamiliar. There was no battery icon in the notification bar, and the time was missing, too. My apps were all lined up on the home screen – several pages worth, as they weren’t grouped – in alphabetical order. The apps were all there, it was just … different.

“The spells, listed in your wand?” the boy repeated. I looked up at him with a blank expression. He sighed. “You seriously don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?”

“I understand,” I said, suddenly feeling hopeful. “I’m dreaming.”

“No …” he replied, his voice trailing off. “Here, let me show you, and maybe you’ll remember. Cast Maps, you have that.”

I raised an eyebrow at him. “Cast?”

“Just humor me for a minute, and use Maps,” he scowled.

With a sigh of resignation, I flipped through the pages until I saw the Maps app. I tapped it once, and the phone screen lit up in a rainbow of colors. Energy seemed to coarse through my body, as if I had just been running. And then … then it materialized a foot in front of my face, the white outline of a map. Streets and buildings began to be filtered in, followed by icons representing various destinations – a fork for a restaurant, a gas can for a gas station. Eyes wide, I reached out and touched the surface of the holographic map with my free hand, and it rippled. I dragged my palm across, and it moved.

“Do you understand now?” the boy asked. A smile slowly spread across my face.

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