There was no moon visible the night I met the wizard. It was cold and wet and I had been waiting at a bar on 17th all night for a friend who never showed. I was thinking about whether I’d been stood up or if I’d just forgotten to inform my friend that we were going out when I noticed a weird pink mist emanating from the subway station at Harrison. At the time, I just assumed it was an effect of the rain or alcohol or whatnot, but in retrospect I should’ve known something was going on.
After descending the steps and reaching the platform, it was evident that the mist had nothing to do with the rain. In fact, the station was crawling with it. At first I thought something might be burning, so I glanced around for a burning cotton candy machine or something, but there was nothing. Besides, there was no smell.
Then, I just assumed that there was probably a bank of smoke machines or something hidden and that any minute now some annoying improve group would jump out of the fog to scare me. I decided right there and then that that would not happen. Despite the fact that I was starting to freak out, I didn’t want to end up on some prank-based reality show. So I decided to just keep my eyes fixed on the wall across from the subway tracks until my train arrived. The joke was gonna be on them when they couldn’t even get my attention, let alone prank me! I stood there pleased with myself for a few minutes, listening to some Tuvan throat singing on my headphones to help keep me calm. Before long a train showed up and I got on it.
It only went a few stops before slowing to a halt at some station I’d never been to before. It’s funny how many subway stops you pass through a million times and never really look at, right? Anyway, this is where stuff started getting weird. The pink smoke was at this station as well. Also, the station appeared to just be a tunnel carved into solid rock. Some neighborhoods, right? Anyway, seeing how the car clearly wasn’t going to budge, I walked into the tunnel so that I could make my way to the surface. A few minutes later, though, I was standing in front of an old man. He was short and tubby, and was practically nude except for a beat up pair of cargo shorts.
“The transit authority is gonna shit a brick when they see what you did to their station” I yelled. The man didn’t look up.
“Hey, did you do this?” I yelled once more, but again was ignored. I was starting to think that he was deranged. Or maybe listening to headphones of his own.
“Are you listening to Tuvan throat singing, too?” I yelled even louder. Again, no response. Was this guy dead or something?
Apparently not. Because as I got within ten or so feet of him, he did look up. He straightened to a height of what felt like ten feet and pointed his finger at me.
“Thou mustn’t confuse me with a mere mortal, lest you find thyself on the wrong end of my wrath” he boomed, angrily.
“What are you, Thor?” the man stopped for a second. His pointing finger withered slightly and he had an expression of confusion on his face.
“Why are you talking like that?
“I have walked the earth for millennia. I will speak how I wish” He said.
“Well, you sound like a crazy person to me.” I said, trying to get around him. “Can you tell me how to get back to the F Line?”
He looked at me with an expression of disdain.
“You have been summoned to a higher calling” he said, before adding “for some reason” under his breath. I checked my phone. There were no messages.
“Ew, no way am I gonna be a priest.” He looked annoyed for a second.
“I have summoned thee here to the Rock of Eternity to-”
“We’re on the West Side. Is that some sort of club?” I looked around and noticed that there were number of lit braziers and totems of the deadly sins. The one closest to me (“Sloth”) looked a lot like Andrew McCarthy.
“Hey, was this stuff here the whole time?”
“They have been here for time immemorial. The sins are a grievous reminder of the horrors that might occur if man’s wickedness is left unchecked”
“That one looks a lot like Andrew McCarthy.” I pointed at the totem.
“I am not familiar with with that sin.”
“Um, Weekend at Bernies much?” He looked lost. Poor guy. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has daytime cable.
“I have summoned you here because my champion has fallen, and you have been deemed worthy of his mantle.”
“What do I win?”
“You have to win something to become a champion, don’t you?”
“It... is a title. There are no rewards. You will be called upon to defend those in need, and to oppose wickedness in all its forms”
“Wait. Who are you?”
“I am burdened with the task of carrying out the will of the cosmos”
“And... you want me to become a social worker? An unpaid social worker?”
“I want for-” He stopped himself. “I will thee to become my champion, to right the wrongs in this wicked world”.
“Thou hast no voice in this decision. The great powers I bestow upon thee”
“Great powers? Why didn’t you say that earlier? I love great powers! What are we talking about here? Flight? Nigh-invulnerability? Holy shit am I getting a power ring!?”
“This was a bad idea” He seemed to melt into the darkness. I tried to follow him, but my legs felt paralyzed.
“So, you’ll mail me my power ring?” I yelled, hearing only my echo in response.
It’s been two damn weeks and I still haven’t gotten anything in the mail.