Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Very Terrence Thanksgiving: Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer (Episodes 1-3)

Dumpster Bust: The E-Zine was known for its serialized stories, which included the likes of The Domain, Krewl Paradice, and of course our beloved Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer.

For a Thanksgiving treat, here's an omnibus edition of Terrence, which includes his first three "adventures." Enjoy...


Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer: Episode #1
Oh, Terrence was a Sorcerer all right, it’s true... he just wasn’t
a very good one.

Terrence the Sorcerer wasn’t much of a morning person. While
waking up before 10 wouldn’t kill him, it wasn’t any kind of a
Mardi Gras either. So while the clock spat 7:30 am into the
early morning dimness, Terrence grumbled through his normal
morning routine of coffee (lots of sugar, no milk – Terrence was
lactose intolerant) and waffles. It was true: Terrence had taken
on a day-job to support his calling as sorcerer. Sadly, sorcery
wasn’t paying very well in those days. And to be honest, it
hadn’t paid well for some time.

The one-armed thing didn’t help. Not with the waffles, not with
the day-job (Terrence was an Account Representative at an
Employment Agency). Didn’t hurt his sorcering that much,
surprisingly, but then again, Terrence was never really that
good to begin with. Even before the accident.

Oh, the accident: everyone always wonders about the accident,
but we’ll get to that.

Terrence made his way down the stairs of his apartment building
to catch the 8:10 cross-down bus. Getting on the bus wasn’t too
bad, except on those days when he forgot to bring exact change,
which would precipitate an embarrassing one-armed self-grapple.
Of course, he could have willed the change to appear in his
hand, or in the bus’s change depository, but this would have
caused a commotion. And, it was just tacky.

He managed to arrive at work on time that Thursday, and was thus
able to avoid the derisive remarks from Bobbi Evans in Accounts
Payable (Half-day today, Terrence? Working hard or hardly
working, Terrence, huh?). Terrence sometimes dreamed about
transliterafying Bobbi into an 8 ½ x 11 piece of typing paper.
He would imagine - usually during that mid-morning caffeine
depression - writing Take This Thou Cow on said piece of
transliterafyed Bobbi/paper, crumpling it up, and tossing it
(Kareem-like, Sky Hook all the way) into the basketball hoop
over his garbage pail, the one with the Golden State Warriors
logo emblazoned on the backboard. Two points – swish. Stupid
office gimmicky crap. Anyway, such was the plight of the
sorcerer in the Modern Age.

As Terrence settled into his office chair, he flipped on his
computer, allowing him a few minutes to ponder the
possibilities. And that meant, as usual, pondering what had
already gone wrong.

Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer: Episode #2
The Accident, Part I

Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer settled into his squeaky chair at Magnet Employment Inc. – “If you’ve got the mettle, we’ll attract you a job!” – and stared blankly at his office calendar. August 3rd, 2003 it read. Almost five years to the day since the accident.

Ah, the accident. Everyone always wants to hear about the accident.

Things weren’t always like this for Terrence. The day-to-day grind, dealing with people like Bobbi Evans in Accounts Payable, scowling when someone forgot (or, more like refused) to make a fresh pot of coffee. Making a one-armed pot of coffee wasn’t easy, even for a not-so-good sorcerer.

Terrence liked to believe that things were better, once. He had been a plucky young apprentice under Chester the Magnificent, one of the more renowned sorcerers of the Western Sector. Chester had always been a bit of a pompous ass, in Terrence’s humble opinion, be he knew his sorcerous stuff rock-solid and couldn’t be discounted as a Master Sorcerer.

They had traveled to the Desert Beyond the Mountain (past the Denny’s out on I-680) to begin the training with Getty, the petulant Hawk Bat. Hawk Bat training was a renowned and hallowed portion of a sorcerer apprentice’s education, though no one could remember why.

“Discipline, my boy,” Chester had said, waving his atrociously opulent staff at Terrence. “Discipline, and patience.” The purple jewel on the staff’s tip glowed strangely in the afternoon light.

“I don’t know, Master, this all seems like a big waste of time if you ask me.”

“I didn’t, and I won’t, for your future’s edification.”

“But when are we gonna get to the cool stuff?” Terrence asked, dragging his small Pretend Staff into the dirt. “Like striking with lightning from above and conjuring with the forces of time and space and stuff.”

Chester snorted. “Oh, striking with lightning from above, he says? Conjuring with the forces of time and space and STUFF, he says? Boy, you couldn’t conjure the bra off a half-loaded prom date.” This last bit was said under his breath.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing—now onto Hawk Bats, that’s where you’ll cut your teeth, my boy!” Chester had regained his former regal composure. “Or cut something, at any rate,” he added, as though to himself. “Hawk Bats are tricky little creatures, Terrence,” he continued, sipping on a Diet Cola.

Terrence was busily employed grappling with the unwieldy Hawk Bat cage. Getty the Hawk Bat was busy in its own right, smashing himself into the front lock with a certain vicious joy.

“Getty’s especially so,” Chester was saying, “so careful now. You want to be extra careful—”

With that, the cage swung open, and Gety seized upon Terrence’s exposed forearm with its outstretched and lengthy claws. With a flourish of its short but powerful wings it took flight, with a howling Terrence flailing now in the desert breeze.

“Such a strong little creature,” Terrence could hear Chester calling from below, although he was undoubtedly preoccupied with being caught in the vice-grip of Getty, who was now employed in sweeping up to great heights and then dive-bombing into the shallow desert canyons.

In fact, all Terrence could think of to say was, “Ahhrrrgghhhhh!”

“I would have thought you could have handled such a trifling test,” Chester was going on as he sipped at his straw thoughtfully. “Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I was fairly certain that today would be your last day on this plane.”

Hearing this in quick bursts (Getty was now swirling in vicious circles) – “strong little…trifling test…last day…” – a sudden anger welled up inside him, an almost understanding. As his mind flailed for an incantation to get him out of the predicament, he noticed that Getty was swinging him ever closer to a large boulder sitting upon a low bluff.

“That’s the death-face rock,” Chester said, his voice calm, self-satisfied. “It’s called that because when your face smashes into it, you die.”

Terrence the One-Armed Sorcerer: Episode #3
The Accident, Part II

Now, everyone’s seen the after-school special or the little kiddies movie where the Young Hero discovers, at the moment of great and excruciating crisis, that as a matter of verily fact, the Magic Was Within Him (or Her) All Along. Well, for Terrence, at the moment of truth, poised over the Death Rock whilst in the clutches of Getty the Treacherous Hawk Bat (who was at the moment zipping up to speed, hurling Terrence round and round in anticipation of a final plunge into the Death Rock) out Young Hero Sorcerer Apprentice found this to be his moment for Magic.

Sort of.

He was getting right pissed, for one.

Terrence snatched a glance on one of his go-rounds at Chester the Magnificent, his mentor and supposed teacher, who was now calmly glancing up at him whilst sipping on his Diet Cola (“A sorcerer must be fit, my boy! It’s appearances – they count, the whole package and all, you know.”)

Closer and closer the death-face rock loomed (it’s called that, Chester informed Terrence, “because when your face smashes into it, you die”). Getty seemed to be cackling at Terrence, his Hawk Bat cries saying, “I’ve taken care of far better than you for Chester the Magnificent, boy; this is barely worth my time. I could have been preening myself, for lord’s sake! And by the way, when I said ‘take care of you’ I meant kill you, of course, just to be clear on things,” and so forth, in the Hawk Bat manner. Meanwhile, his claws gripped Terrence’s upper arm ever tighter.

“Good afternoon and adieu, my young fool of an apprentice,” Chester called out.

And that’s when it happened.

Terrence looked down and realized he had been clutching his staff (his “pretend staff,” Chester had called it, for a “pretend apprentice) almost as tightly as Getty was gripping his arm. As he was hurtled around in the air, Terrence could see he had but a few seconds and one or so go-rounds before he would, in fact, make good the death-face rock’s name. Looking down, he saw Chester standing on the ground, a calm self-assurance in his eyes. He seemed to be particularly enjoying his treachery. And his Diet Cola.

A rage shot through Terrence then, a shuddering wave of adrenaline, and he cried out a phrase (though later, he had no idea why) he had once overheard Chester talking about on his sorcerous cell phone:

“Cram jam-a-blya… hawk bat foof!”

An astounding jolt shot through Terrence then, blinding his eyes for a moment in its intensity. A moment later he was able to see, he realized he was on the ground, in the gravel, on the far side of the death-face rock. Getty was gone, at least for the moment… and there was something else.

“What’s a sorcerer?”

Terrence lurched forward in his office chair, so disoriented from his memory of that day that he knocked the remnants of a Styrofoam cup of coffee onto the floor. Bobbi from Accounts Payable happened to be walking past his desk at that moment and said, “you really oughta be more careful, hon,” though the snicker was barely beneath the surface. Terrence, grimacing, made to wipe it up and said to the person sitting at his desk, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“We were talking about what kind of temp work I can get, and then you looked off and started muttering about a sorcerer and your arm blowing up and bat hawk or something.”

“Ah, yes,” Terrence said. “That’s good – perceptive, show’s your paying attention.”

And another day at the temp job desk dragged on for Terrence.

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