Another Dubious Magic story – one which takes place quite early during the events of Book 1: The Wizard of Waramanga. John B. learns more about being careful what you wish for.
It was the definitive lazy afternoon in Waramanga. The leafy Canberra suburb was warm, but not unpleasantly so if you stayed out of the direct sun.
That was precisely what John B. Stewart had chosen to do. He was in the back yard of his cottage, reclining on a deckchair in the shade of a large tree. His housemate Darren was at work. There was no sport of interest on the radio, so he relaxed in comfortable quiet, enjoying the light breeze and the sounds of the garden.
John B. had recently accidentally discovered that he was a wizard. Ever since hitting his head on a poker machine he’d found his wishes coming true. Not always predictably, though, so he was learning to be cautious.
He might, for instance, as he rested there wish for something to eat.
‘Ah, no,’ he thought to himself. ‘At best, Darren might come home early from work bearing leftover pizza. Or at worst a plane flying overhead might explode and leave me showered with in-flight snacks – and other debris.’
Sometimes having a vivid imagination could be disconcerting, although it did, he reasoned, serve as a kind of warning device.
John B. opened one eye and smiled at the sight of his other housemate. Kat was a generously proportioned white Persian cat who was currently lying under a favourite shrub quite nearby. He too was enjoying the shade.
The cat’s posture reminded John B. of the Sphinx, but with the chin resting comfortably on the forelegs.
Kat and John B. were both comfortably relaxed. Neither had moved appreciably for well over an hour. If they weren’t both sound asleep the difference wouldn’t have been obvious to any casual observer.
The lilting chorus of birdsong that John B. had been enjoying took on a new strident note. A noisy mynah had flown into the garden, and as was the way of its type, was aggressively trying to hector other birds away from the territory it wanted to occupy.
“I wish you’d be bloody quiet,” the wizard muttered in mild irritation.
He watched the newcomer for a few moments. It seemed utterly oblivious to him, and unconcerned at his annoyance. John B. sighed and closed his eyes.
After a while the mynah’s voice grew louder as it came closer to the deckchair. John B. opened his eyes again without otherwise moving.
The bird had evidently taken note of the lassitude of the yard’s two occupants. It was hopping about on the ground quite close to them both, foraging for whatever it is that noisy mynahs forage for. Once, twice it hopped right by Kat. The big Persian didn’t so much as twitch his nose or open an eye.
But on the bird’s third pass the left paw shot out and back almost too quickly to be seen, and there was an audible crunch.
John B.’s eyes widened. Most of Kat hadn’t seemed to move at all, but under the left paw was the mynah’s body. Its head was missing.. Eyes still closed, the Persian was contentedly chewing his afternoon snack.
A small drop of blood on the white fur of his chin was the only clue of his culpability. Well, other than the headless corpse still idly held.
The wizard made a silent apology to the mynah’s ghost, shook his head and said to Kat, “I’m glad you’re on my side, mate.”
Kat swallowed, and purred.