This week was an unusual one. My students are currently working on the concept of characterization, so my student teacher thought it would great for them to make the suggestions for my blog this week. Here is the madness they came up with:
“Russ? It’s three in the morning!” She sounds groggy and annoyed, but I push past it.
“It’s an emergency! Please! Come to my apartment!”
“Russ, if this is some sort of proposition…”
I can’t remember why I called her. I look down at my body and horror overtakes me. My lower half is a dog! I panic and realize I have a phone in my hand. Who am I calling? Oh, it’s Catelyn. “Catelyn, something horrible has happened! Please come here. Please!”
“Okay, fine!” she growls. “It’s going to take me at least twenty minutes to get to Queens, so just sit tight and I’ll be there as soon as I can. There’s a click on the phone and the line goes dead.
I lie down awkwardly on the bed. My human torso has to lie on its side so that my four dog legs and body can be on their side as well. Otherwise, it’s too painful and weird to position myself. There’s a note in my hand. I start to read it.
Russ, it says. Don’t panic. Hopefully, you won’t need this note and the ancient Egyptian Spell of Memory worked, but just in case something went wrong, you might want to know a few things. One, you cannot remember anything for the past seventy-two hours. You should already remember that since it’s been a problem your entire life, but with your memory, you never know. Two, you are a professor of Egyptology at Queens College in New York City. Three, you have been doing research into memory for your entire life, trying to find a cure and only a few days ago, came across the ancient Egyptian spell for restoring memory. You decided to perform the spell tonight at midnight, the hour of magic.
Well, that explains the messy circle of white powder that is quickly seeping into my bedroom carpet. I peer over the side of the bed to see the melted candle wax that has hardened onto the saucers I apparently used.
The spell is in the book on the floor. You have spent the last two days collecting the artifacts needed to perform the spell. The hardest part was the wand. Check the book for the requirements.
I pause and pick up the book that I have apparently retrieved from the floor. It tells me that I was required to obtain a newly fallen tree branch during the twilight hours. I had to strip the bark from it and sand it down into a nine-inch wand. I look down to the circle to see two broken pieces of stripped wood sitting within the circle. They look as though they have been chewed. There is a note inside the book on this page.
You almost got arrested sneaking around Central Park for sticks, but you were able to find one that seemed decent. The police questioned you about it and you said you were procuring woods that once survived in ancient Egypt. You explained that you were an Egyptologist and that you were using the woods in your class as an explanation of what medicines the Egyptians might have used. They seemed to buy it, but they did say you were a bit weird to be doing it at night. You should know this just in case the police come looking for you.
Why would the police come looking for me? I start to panic. There’s a note in my hand. I start to read it.
No matter what happens, call Catelyn. Her number is listed at the bottom of this note. She is your teacher’s assistant and understands almost as much as Egyptology as you do, but beware: you are sleeping with her and the school looks unfavorably on that. She knows about your memory loss and she keeps you in line for your classes… and in other ways. Good luck, Russell. For both of our sakes, pray that we were successful. –Russell
There is a number at the bottom of the note and I pick up my phone to dial, but before I can, I read a text from Catelyn:
You already called me. I’m on my way over. DON’T call me again!
It bears a timestamp letting me know that it had been sent only five minutes prior. I relax. Then I look down at the floor and let out a scream. Someone has been in my apartment! They’ve spilled powder everywhere! There are candles and a broken stick! I have no idea what it could mean. I see that my lower body is a dog and I scream, but I realize I have a piece of paper in my hand. I start to read it.
There’s a number at the bottom of the note and I pick up my phone to dial, but when I open the screen, a text from Catelyn stares me in the face. It tells me that she’s on her way over and it’s timestamped to ten minutes ago. I relax and put the phone down. Then I see the floor and start to panic…
The doorbell rings.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and put them on the floor. I immediately fall over and a piece of paper falls out of my hand as my torso hits the floor. I start to panic as I pick it up and begin reading it.
The doorbell rings.
I push myself upright with my arms and try to coordinate my tiny legs to get me to the intercom. I panic halfway there – my lower body has become a dog! Wait, there’s a note in my hand. I start to read it.
The doorbell rings.
I half-pull, half-push myself over to the intercom. I see the clock on my way. My goodness! It’s almost quarter to four in the morning! Who could be calling at this hour? I realize once I arrive at the intercom that I’m too short to reach it. I can’t figure out why until I look down and see that my lower half has become a dog’s body with little legs! I clench my fists in panic! There’s a note in my hand. I start to read it.
The doorbell rings.
I look at the clock. It’s almost four in the morning! Who could possibly be coming here at this hour? I can’t seem to reach the intercom so I grab a stick dog toy from a nearby basket and poke the button, shouting out, “Hello? Who’s there?”
“Russ! Russ! It’s Catelyn! Let me in! I’m freezing!”
“Catelyn! What are you doing here?”
“You said it was an emergency! Let me in!”
“I did? What could have possibly been such an emergency that I would invite you over now? What time is it anyway?”
“It’s four in the morning! It’s four degrees outside! And you’re four-tunate that I’m willing to come here!”
“Clever word play, Catelyn. What are you doing here?”
“LET ME IN!”
“Okay, okay. There’s no need to shout!” I use the stick to press the buzzer. I put the stick back and pause… why did I come to the front door?
A loud knock from the other side makes me jump. I glance at the clock. It’s four in the morning! What a weird time to have a visitor! “Who’s there?” I call.
“It’s Catelyn! Russ, open the damn door!”
“Catelyn, what are you doing here?” There’s a dull thud from the other side. “Did you just bang your head into the door?” I ask her.
“Yes, I did, and Russ, I swear to God, if you don’t let me in your apartment right now, I’m going to break down the door with it.”
“With your head? That seems unlikely.” Nevertheless, I start to unlock the door. I’ve just turned the second lock when I pause. “Why am I doing this?” I ask myself aloud.
Before I can answer, the knob turns and Catelyn steps into the room, fury in her eyes. Her eyes widen and roll back in her head and she falls forward in a dead faint. I react on instinct and catch her in my thin arms before she slams headfirst into the floor. I’m not able to take her full weight and she ends up across my stomach instead with my legs bent at an odd angle beneath me. I try to haul her off, calling “Catelyn! Catelyn!” My legs are scrambling in the air, but I can’t seem to make contact with the ground. I slap her gently across the face. “Catelyn!” No response. I slap her harder and she groans. Her eyes flutter open. “Oh, thank goodness!” I exclaim. “Catelyn, what in the world are you doing here? It must be almost two in the morning!”
“It’s four,” she mutters. Then her eyes fly open in shock and she pushes herself up. She hurries to the door, slams it, and stands with her back against it, staring at me. “Russ… Russell, what happened to you?”
“What do you mean?” I use my hands to sit up and get my body back underneath me and I see what she’s talking about. My lower half has become a dog! “Oh, my goodness! Catelyn! Catelyn, what’s happened to me?”
“I don’t know!” she hollers. “Did you leave yourself a note?”
“A note? A note! Yes, I must have!” There’s a crumpled piece of paper just a short distance away. I start to walk toward it and fall over.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Catelyn yells and runs to pick it up. She reads it quickly.
“What does it say?” I beg her.
“Russell, you tried an Egyptian spell to get your memory back.”
“I did? Did it work?”
Catelyn’s eyes narrow. “No, Russell, I don’t think it worked.”
“You don’t think what worked?”
Catelyn rolls her eyes and heaves a sigh. She returns to the note. “There’s a video.”
“A video of what?”
“Of the ritual!” she exclaims and runs to my bedroom. I try to run after her, but I fall over. My lower half has become a dog! I scream. “Oh, for God’s sake!” I hear from the other room and Catelyn appears.
“Catelyn! What are you doing here?”
She doesn’t say a word, but holds my hands and tries to lead me into the bedroom. She half-drags me there and puts me in the middle of the room, surrounded by a broken stick, a bunch of white powder, and melted candles. “Catelyn, what were you doing in my room? Some kind of magic spell?”
Catelyn growls and grabs my laptop. There’s a video still recording on it. She clicks that off and scrolls back to the beginning of the video. My face appears, close up as if I have just set up the webcam. I am clothed only in boxer shorts and with my skinny build, it’s not an attractive picture.
“Hello,” I say. “I am Professor Russell Auaura and I have a memory problem.” His eyes are focused off the screen and I notice there is a note taped to the computer. He’s reading from a script. “I can only remember things that happen before three days ago. I have found a spell that will help me change that, I hope. I have gathered the White Powder of Gold and created a circle on my bedroom floor with it. I have set up candles at the four corners of the earth. I have procured a dogwood branch and stripped it to its essence as well as cut it to the nine inches required. I have the text here on the ground in front of me and I will read the binding words in ancient Egyptian. Hopefully, by the end of this video, you will see a man who has regained his memory.”
Catelyn and I watch as the Russell onscreen sits cross-legged in the center of the circle. He meditates for a while which is incredibly boring. “What am I doing?” I ask Catelyn. “Why is there a circle on my floor? What are the candles for?” She hushes me and the Russell onscreen begins to speak in another language. The candles flare up one by one as he shouts. There is a strange, ethereal glow from the powdered circle. He is chanting and rocking back and forth, over and over. Catelyn and I watch, fascinated, as the glow and flames become brighter. His voice is rising in tandem with the building light. He raises the wand.
There is a bark from off-screen and my Jack Russell enters the scene. He leaps into the circle and grabs the stick. “Buddy, no!” I see myself holler. The dog won’t let go. He growls and pulls at the wand, thinking it’s all a game. “No!” the onscreen Russell shouts again. The light has grown to an almost painful luminescence. Russell and Buddy seem to overlap as there is a brilliant flash of light that leaves spots before my eyes.
When the dots clear, I look over to see Catelyn sitting with her mouth open, staring at a computer screen. “Catelyn!” I exclaim. “What are you doing here?”
She just points to the computer screen. I turn my glance to the video to see that I and my dog have joined as one. Catelyn finds her voice.
“You’re a… I don’t know what to call it? A cendog?”
“Like a centaur, but you’re not part horse, you’re part dog!”
“I’m part dog?” I exclaim in alarm. I look down. “I’m part dog!”
“You’re part dog!” she agrees.
“How do we fix it?”
“I have no idea!” she says. “The book!” She lunges for the book on the bed and begins flipping through it, muttering. I look back at the video to see someone who looks like me struggling to his feet and discovering that he’s a dog. What a strange movie! A sound behind me makes me turn.
“Catelyn! What are you doing here?”
“Shut up!” she yells at me. She is turning pages in a book. “A Spell to Reverse Spells!” She runs from the room. I look down. There is powder all over my floor! Someone came into my apartment! I can hear them going through the drawers in my living room. My heart slams into my throat.
“Whoever is out there,” I yell, trying to sound braver than I am, “I’ve got a gun and I’m not afraid to use it! Get out of my house!”
“Shut up, Russell!”
“Catelyn? Is that you?”
Catelyn enters my bedroom with a book and a piece of tape. “Of course it’s me! You…oh, never mind, there’s too much to explain.” She begins taping up a strange, smooth pair of sticks found on my floor. I look up at her and spot a picture of me with Buddy on the wall behind her.
“Am I going somewhere? Are you here to take care of Buddy?”
She mutters to herself and continues wrapping tape around the stick. “Okay, Russell, I need you to say the words on this page.” She shoves the book in front of me.
“This is ancient Egyptian!” I exclaim.
“Yes. Yes it is!”
“You can read it yourself!”
“No. No, I can’t! It has to be read by the person who did the spell in the first place! Take this wand and say the words!”
“Catelyn, have you lost your mind? We don’t do magic.”
“Look at yourself!” she screams, gesturing to my lower half.
I look down and yelp. “I’m a dog!”
“Yes, and if you don’t want to be a dog, SAY THESE WORDS!”
I stare at the page in front of me. She shoves the wand into my hand and points to the words on the page. I begin reading aloud. I’m about halfway down the page when I pause. “What am I doing?” I glance up. “Catelyn, what are you doing here?”
“Just keep reading!” she snarls at me, stabbing her finger onto the book in my hand.
I begin speaking the words on the page, then I look at the title. “A Spell for Reversing Spells?”
I follow her orders, speaking in a loud, clear voice. I hit the bottom of the page. “There’s no more.” I say aloud.
A hand reaches out and turns two pages. I look up to let the person know that a mistake has been made and I see Catelyn standing there. “Catelyn! What are you doing here?”
There are only two lines on the page. I read them aloud and there’s a whooshing sound. I glance around, but there’s no one in the room. I realize I am holding a book in one hand and a taped-up stick in the other. Confused, I put the book on a floor covered in powder and I scream.
“I’m a dog!”