Image

Deal 897: Werebat

It was happening again. The quiet town was beset by a magnificent musical performance, yet there was no obvious source. This was happening a few times a week, always without warning, usually at dawn or dusk, and so far completely without explanation.

Not that anyone was complaining, actually. It was just a mystery, and mysteries are often dangled in front of us to solve.

Dusk or dawn, was the usual time, and so far only noticed when the weather was fair. It hadn’t gone on long enough to tell if the seasons would have an effect, so for now we’ll just assume not.

The style was lyrical and uplifting, more like a “choir of angels” than the sort of plodding dance music you hear in beer halls in the mountains. It wasn’t so much loud as available to be heard.

So I made an effort to pay attention at dawn an dusk for anything unusual. It took several weeks, but diligence paid off when I noticed that there were always bats in the sky when the music was most present. A flock of bats overhead could explain the timing, as bats tend to only be abroad and feeding near dawn and dusk. Was it possible our bats were singing to us?

I started haunting the public spaces and parks at dusk, watching the bats, looking for clues.

And that is when I spotted him. One night I saw a figure climb to a rooftop, then sort of jump into the air and disperse into a cloud of bats. I stayed where I was hiding and watched, not sure I believed what I had just seen, and listening to the music. After an hour or so, a cloud of bats returned to that roof, swirled into a tight cloud then seemed to melt into the figure of a man or older boy. I wasn’t sure in the dim moonlight, but from the way the figure danced around apparently dressing, he had reappeared naked.

Continued diligence let me spot the same transformation several more times, always apparently from the same rooftop.

The next night, and for several following, I tried watching from various roofs nearby. This was made difficult by the various owners being unaware of what was happening, and unwilling to help even if they had noticed the music. Either way, I wasn’t all that willing to explain that I was trying to catch a young man appearing as if by magic and naked on a roof. That just didn’t sound like a conversation I wanted to have.

But I remained patient, and worked various angles. Finally, I found myself on a roof that would put the full moon at my back if he appeared as expected. And, indeed someone did.

I saw a clumsy and furtive figure stand up on the roof dressed lightly for the growing chill in the air, and suddenly become a cloud of bats all trying to leave his shirt and pants at the same time. The bats flew off, leaving his cloths to drop to the roof where he’d stood. I stayed put rather than risk his noticing me. After an hour or so, the bats returned, and seemed to simply amass back into the rough shape of a young man, which then came into sharp focus in the moonlight as the transformation finished. I didn’t get a look at his face as he had his back to me, but he clearly needed to find his pants.

I tried a number of times to catch him, or at least catch a glimpse of his face. All to no avail. Either he could sense he was being watched, or he simply was shy. One night I waited for him to transform, then daringly climbed a drainpipe to investigate the clothes he left behind. Other than confirming what I knew already, I learned nothing. He didn’t return for his pants that night, so he clearly knew someone was watching. After that his transformations were rarer for a while, and I took to watching from farther away to give him the space he clearly needed.

Actually, I didn’t tell the whole truth. I noticed early on that the shirt and pants he usually wore were very similar to our school uniform. When I visited his roof, I was able to confirm that the shirt had the school crest on the pocket.

The werebat went to the same school I did!

And that little detail became what led me to him. But the story of that chase will have to wait for another night, the moon is full and lately the music has been sounding more and more like a serenade that I don’t want to miss. I’m beginning to think he’s noticed that he has a devoted fan.

Image

New Spread: Superpowers

What is a superhero or supervillain?

A superhero is someone who would likely be ordinary without their superpower, who also chooses to act. It isn’t enough to just be different. You have to also take action. The power need not be “magical” (whether of the sufficiently advanced technology sort or the other sort) but can simply be the ability to see a need and approach it.

The rise of a superhero is often matched by a supervillain.

So find the cards, deal five, and find your superpower.

That’s Super!

Every superhero has an origin story. Many have a secret identity. Most have some special means to transform from one to the other. With this spread, find a hero (or villain) in the cards, and tell something about their story.

The Deal

Shuffle the entire deck, reversing halves so that the cards are randomly oriented. Deal five cards:

  • Two cards: Side A. Lay out overlapping with the point up.
  • One card: The Difference. Lay this card horizontally, connecting A to B.
  • Two cards: Side B. Lay out overlapping with the point down.

Interpretation

The first pair is the A side. This pair describes our actor before his transformation, before his discovery of his powers, or while passing as normal.

The last pair is the B side. This pair describes our actor after his transformation, after his discovery of his powers, or while super.

In between we have The Difference, which connects A to B. This card represents some key element of the transformation, and as such, both words on the card are important.

Example

Side A: Loyalty, sock
The Difference: Stagnation—Transformation
Side B: Lawsuit, Untruths

Clarence, a laundromat attendant by day, transforms from his dull and humdrum life into the flamboyant bus bench lawyer by night. Witness the boredom of the laundromat, where nothing more exciting than the occasional missing sock or lost quarter ever happens. Contrast that with the high stakes and flamboyantly dressed underworld of the sleazy lawyer cutting deals with gangsters and arranging ransom for kidnappers. Sometimes the law just needs to clean up!

Image

Deal 895: Killed seance

“Now is the time for silence, as we join hands and complete the circle.”

Thirteen of us sat close-packed at the table properly sized for ten. The room was large enough, but the usual furniture had all been pushed aside to make room for the table. At the north point sat the medium for the evening. The remaining twelve of us were guests, and our host who sat defiantly at the southern point glaring at the medium.

The medium’s helpers sat around the perimeter of the room. At least, those that admitted to being involved. Earlier they had been busy, shifting furniture, moving in the heavy round table, and other similar arcane tasks.

He arrived to find the room prepared and ready, which was expected since one doesn’t expect an elderly gentleman to move furniture on his own.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that the room remain silent. No spirit would deign to appear over a disruption.”

There was some murmuring, but by and large we all wanted some answers and had agreed to this measure to get them. So most everyone cooperated willingly. Our host had, naturally, been outvoted and was the only one I expected to cause trouble. But then, we suspected he was behind it all, and had the most to lose.

Regardless, silence fell like a blanket over the room. Some of the helpers took this as their cue to dim the gas lights, leaving only a single candle burning on the table. In its flickering light, the world no longer seemed quite as orderly a place.

It became so quiet that we could hear each other breathing, and the occasional faint pop from the somewhat irregular wax of the candle.

The medium began to whisper an incantation. We all heard the words, but they seemed to slip in our ears and vanish from our ken before they could be understood. We all kept a death grip on the hands to either side. I may come to regret that choice of words, but will let it stand as it reflected how everyone at the table felt.

The murder had surprised all of high society. It was so outré, with the victim clearly the subject of some sort of dark ritual. I had not seen the body or scene aside from the tame pictures that made the papers, but the descriptions from those who had left little to the imagination. They also left a very strong urge to turn back time and not hear those descriptions at all. I don’t think I was considered a suspect, but one never quite knows how the minds of the detective class works.

Our host, on the other hand most certainly was a suspect. I had not been the least surprised to find that the other three suspects named by the papers were also at the table, as were a number of people of similar standing and proximity to the case who had not been named publicly at all, as well as a few I did not recognize at all. I naturally assumed that those were like me, clearly here as a check on the outcome.

The candle flame began to gutter, and then rather unexpectedly given the still air, leaned over and burned like a blow torch aimed across the table.

Directly at me.

I had done nothing.

And yet, here I was, suddenly the object of scrutiny of all of those involved in this case, witnesses, suspects, and detective.

And present in a translucent shade hovering over the table, the victim as well.

All staring at me.

The shade and the candle flame pointing at me.

There was nothing I could do.

They ripped me limb from limb that night, left my still barely living body spread out on that table. My final thought was to wonder who would investigate this murder?