When Spells Go Wong
The wizard’s wife cautiously opened the door and peered into the laboratory where her husband spent most of his time. This room was the wizard’s sanctuary and off-limit to everyone including his wife, but the allure of forbidden fruit was too great. So, from time to time, when she was very sure he was away, she would sneak in.
Usually, she was very careful not to disturb a thing. On this day, however, her eyes were drawn to the array of intriguing metallic receptacles lined up on the wizard’s worktable. They issued an irresistible call. She picked up a small gold vial and read the label:
Use with caution *
*No known antidote
She had no idea what or who a ‘Daemon’ was. She carefully replaced the vial and turned to go but at that very moment her taffy-colored tabby darted in through the half open door in pursuit of a small green lizard. She grabbed for the cat and in so doing knocked over the gold vial causing it to shatter in a million pieces.
There was no hope of mending the thing, so she just sighed and went out to fetch a broom to sweep up the mess. On her way down the hall, she felt a strange sensation. The walls had grown taller and towered above her. As she passed her bedroom, she glanced in at her wall mirror. What she saw caused her to stop in confusion.
The image reflected by the mirror was of a shaggy blond goat, dressed loosely in her clothes. She looked about for the goat – none was in evidence. She glanced back at the mirror. That goat was wearing her necklace and earrings. It had her shoes on its back feet. A horrible thought crossed her mind. She glanced down and let out a cry, a cry that sounded less like a startled human and more like a terrified goat. It had just occurred to her what ‘Daemon’ might mean along with the import of ‘No known antidote’.
The wizard stopped in his tracks and gaped as a goat trailing women’s clothing bolted past him down the hallway. He watched as it disappeared into his garden. Where in the name of wizardry had that come from? He wondered. Some farmer must have let it get away and will soon come looking for it, he decided and continued on into his laboratory.
The broken vial caught his eye immediately. I’ll bet that goat has been tramping around in here, he thought indignantly. I’ll have to have a word with its owner.
Grumbling to himself about the carelessness of others, he retrieved a broom and dustpan and began to sweep up the mess when a most peculiar feeling came over him. The broom he was holding suddenly grew to a gigantic size. In fact the whole room seemed to have enlarged exponentially. “Hallooo!” he called out in a panic but the sound he heard was a harsh croak.
He caught sight of the vial’s label, “Oh, no!” He croaked, “Not the Daemon Trans…” Of course, it could have been much worse. While there was no antidote, the effects were temporary. They would wear off in ten or twelve hours but until then he was stuck in the body of a frog.
The wizard considered his options. Joining the goat in the garden seemed the best of the bunch. He hopped toward the door and froze in place. The wizard’s cat pushed aside the door and padded into the room. Her yellow eyes focused on the wizard – who, of course, appeared to her to be a green frog.
The wizard sensing his peril leaped to the top of the table. The tabby paused only a second before she too followed him to the tabletop. There then began a frantic race as the wizard tried unsuccessfully to out distance the cat. Jars and vials shattered to the ground as feline and wizard leaped from shelf to shelf.
Finally, the wizard spotted an open window and with his last burst of energy threw himself through it. He landed in one of his rose beds managing, by some miracle, to avoid spearing himself on a thorn. He cowered under a rock for a few minutes but when he detected no sign of the cat, he stuck out his head and peered about.
The garden was a disaster. His beautiful roses were trampled, the buds chewed off. Bits of clothing hung on the rose thorns. Nearby the culprit chewed contentedly on a blossom.
“Stop that, you stupid goat,” he called out as vigorously as he could – hoping to frighten the goat off – but all that came out his mouth was a loud croak.
He hopped away, unwilling to watch the destruction of his prize flowers. He leaped to the top of a rock and came nose to nose with a fat black snake basking in the early morning sun. The snake opened a large yellow eye and considered the frog.
The wizard took a great leap over the snake and landed in the lily pond. The snake uncoiled from his spot on the rock and slithered after the wizard/frog into the pond. The wizard pumped his frog legs franticly across the pond with the snake in hot pursuit. Reaching the marshy edge of the pond he quickly burrowed into the mud, leaving only his nose peeking out. The snake emerged from the lake and glided sinuously past the wizard’s hiding place.
The wizard breathed a sigh of relief and peeked out of his muddy refuge. No snake in sight but still he felt reluctant to come out. Cats? Snakes? Who knows what else might be lurking about? Safer to stay hidden. Actually, he mused, this mud felt really good on his skin.
Evening was coming on and in the dewy chill the wizard’s wife shivered. She opened her eyes and looked about in confusion. Why was she lying in the dirt of a flower bed? And why was she so cold? She looked down and uttered a shriek – she was naked. She leaped up quickly then aware that someone might see her she ducked back down behind the rose bushes where she cowered trying not to think about her tender, vulnerable skin making contact with the sharp thorns.
The wizard still in his frog shape peered up through the mud and observed his wife’s condition. Serves her right, he thought, snooping in my laboratory. She’ll deny it but I’ve learned the bare truth. That cat couldn’t have opened the door by itself.
These thoughts were driven from the wizard’s mind as he felt a strange pressure on his frog body. With a sucking, popping noise the wizard found himself ejected from his hiding place and flung onto the bank of the pond, covered with mud and naked.
The wizard and his wife gazed at each other in amazement. Without a word they turned and hurried away into the house by separate doors.
The wizard bathed, dressed and immediately began the work of restoring order to his laboratory. No major damage had been done and all seemed well, except his cat was nowhere to be found. This was too bad because in the midst of his broken vials he spotted a large taffy colored rat cowering under the debris, looking confused and uttering a cry that sounded like ‘meow’.