An excerpt from Jeremy Gold's story "Magical Athleticism," featured in Oh, Fortuna! Volume 7.
Magic and athletics. Rarely do the two abilities meet. Maybe less than rarely. I’d never run into an athletic magician. Nor encountered an athlete imbued with magical powers. Which didn’t mean the fields of magic and athletics didn’t overlap. I was beginning to think they did. Striking out and dropping fly balls weren’t part of my game.
Manipulating a baseball was easy. Moving a ball in or out of the strike zone took almost no effort at all. Slowing down a delivery was something I’d been doing since I was twelve years old and could do in my sleep.
In fact, controlling a ball was so easy, I could barely call it magic. I would think where I wanted a ball to go, and it went there. I didn’t need a wand, much less need to cast a spell or recite some long incantation out of some ancient book of spells. I didn’t need to mix a bunch of bizarre ingredients into a big black caldron. I suppose I could have. I could have delved deeper into the art, but I liked sports.
Not that I was a dumb jock. I maintained a B-plus average at UC Santa Barbara, and only twice had I manipulated a grade to my benefit. Both times, I’d known the material but had been busy with other things.
My magic worked fine during away games. The pitcher wound up. I rubbed my thumb and index finger together, and the ball slowed and straightened. And I smacked it to left field. Or right. Or inside the gap. Or over the fence. Or right to the shortstop if I didn’t think an out would hurt our chances of winning.
Playing at home on our own field was what had me alarmed. Something—or someone—was interfering with my magic. I played left field and twice in the last two games I’d had routine fly-balls sail over my head. I’d been standing in the outfield with the sun at my back, waiting for the ball to drop into my open mitt, when for no apparent reason, the ball suddenly changed course and fell to the grass.
I didn’t know much about magic. I was a baseball player. A left fielder. Batting four ninety-five and trying to fit in with all the other thousands of students roaming the campus. Notoriety—or fame—was the absolute last thing I wanted. But something was happening.
You’d think I would have read every book on magic I could have gotten my hands on. Instead, I wanted nothing to do with the world of the occult. I wanted to play baseball, fit in, and be a normal college student. And if I was lucky, find a girlfriend.
I was smart enough to keep my powers under wraps, lest some top-secret governmental agency whisk me away to their equivalent of Area 51, lock me away in sublevel cell ninety-six, and study my electro-studded head for the rest of my life. No thanks.
I preferred a quieter life. Not that one hundred and fifty-three male athletes living inside Robinson Hall was all that tranquil, but mostly, I kept to myself. That, and for some reason, alcohol didn’t affect me.
...To read the rest of Jeremy Gold's story, please purchase Volume 7 on Amazon or in our bookstore.
Jeremy has lived in the Santa Barbara area for many years. He
loves writing, as well as biking and hiking with his wife, Calla.
He has published one novel, Death at Carp High.