Sorcerers In Space PDF

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By Larry Hodges

It is 1969, at the height of tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Neil, 13, badly wants to be someone. Instead he's stuck as a sorcerer's apprentice for Gus, the "meanest sorcerer in the world.” Gus creates a magical talisman to spy on the Soviets, but instead it spies on them and sends text into space. A Giant Face in the Sky shows up, reading the text.

Since whoever gets to the Face will have the world at their mercy, the Race to the Face begins. The Soviets invade the U.S. in their attempts to kill Neil, who is prophesied to defeat them. A floating, talking meteor assassin named Buzz becomes Neil's companion--but in one week, Buzz must kill Neil.

President Kennedy puts together a motley crew that includes Neil, Gus, Buzz, a dragon, a 2-D sorcerer, and the sorceress Jackie Kennedy. Can they make it to the Face before the Soviets, and before Buzz kills Neil?


Young Adult Humorous Parody

Sensuality rating: 0

Cover Art by Blaise Kilgallen

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Author: Larry Hodges
Description

Chapter 1

 

Sunday, July 13, 1969, late afternoon

“That wasn’t there before.”

 

Someday, I’m going to be somebody, do something. I just don’t know what. Someday...

That’s what I was thinking when Corona exploded overhead, as planned. Seconds later, the Giant Face in the Sky showed up—that was not planned. I don’t mean that metaphorically. An actual gigantic face on a gigantic head was looking down on us like we were a bunch of fish in a fishbowl.

My Master and I had launched Corona just minutes before, the talisman that he and I had worked on for months. Or rather, he’d worked on it. I’d spent most of my time serving him tea and handing him tools and materials that came out of a Do not look at, smell, touch, or come anywhere near this catalogue. Being a sorcerer’s apprentice is not all about automating brooms to carry water. It means being at the sorcerer’s beck and call twenty-four hours a day, and more when needed. I wished I were anywhere else, doing anything other than working for the meanest sorcerer in the world.

Corona exploded almost directly over my head, releasing the Corona Effect. To the untrained eye—like mine—Corona looked like your basic model rocket as it soared into the air. No one would suspect we were testing a top-secret spy talisman that detected images and other data and translated them into text that was supposed to be beamed back to the spyer. Powered by a thaumaturgic battery, we hoped the device would turn the tide on the U.S.-Soviet Cold War this hot afternoon of 1969 at the crowded beach in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Well, my Master did. I barely knew what a Soviet was. Didn’t they wear lots of red?

I was the first to see the Giant Face in the Sky, perhaps because it was looking right at me with those big, almond eyes. Soon, the swimmers and sunbathers saw it as excitement swept the beach like a tsunami.

It was the ugliest face I’d ever seen, indescribably so, except for maybe the eyes. It stared at me for a moment, blinking a couple of times, and then, its eyes began moving side to side, slowly from left to right, then fast from right to left, its lips moving slightly as it did so. The blank, stupid look on its face only made it uglier. I’d describe the face more, but, well, that wouldn’t be polite. It can’t help the way it looks.

“What is that?” I asked as I gaped.

“What’s what?” Gus said. I looked over, and as usual, my Master’s face and impossibly long nose was stuck in a thick book. He leaned on a long, wooden staff etched with intricate drawings of dragons and stars, and with a big, round crystal at the end that didn't do anything—but he said it looked "sorcery." He wore a huge, dark purple dress that billowed out like a parachute over his huge body. Gus claimed it was a robe and that he was just big-boned, but to me it was a dress and he was just fat. It wasn’t that he ate too much. He just never got any exercise, unless you counted holding up books and notes and waving a staff about. The dress only went to his knees, exposing a pair of black Oxfords that you barely noticed because of the nerdy, knee-high red socks—red!—that stuck out of them. He usually wore a normal sorcerer's hat, a tall, pointy purple thing with a yellow moon and star—I thought it looked like a dunce cap—but today he wore a New York Mets baseball cap. I have no idea why; the Mets finished ninth last year, though they are doing pretty good this year.

As an apprentice, I usually wore all black, but Gus rarely noticed these things, so today I wore blue jeans and my favorite orange t-shirt with a “Ping-Pong Power” slogan on the front over a picture of someone smacking in a forehand.

“Up there!” I said, pointing. The huge face stared back at me with a disapproving look, like it didn’t like to be pointed at, and then went back to its peculiar side-to-side eye movement.

Gus looked up and raised his right eyebrow like he always does when he’s about to say something profound. “Who the bejuzies are you?” he said, looking at me.

“Huh? I’m Neil, your apprentice!”

“Don’t recall hiring any boy apprentice,” Gus said with that skeptical look I hated. “Where’s that girl I hired?”

“I’m a boy!” I exclaimed. “You made me cut my hair yesterday.”

“Ah, yes, don’t want long hair in the sorcerer’s lab, might dab it in something and turn into a salamander. How old are you?”

“I’m thirteen!”

He shook his head. “Too old to be an apprentice, but I guess some of us are a bit slow. Now, what’s your fuss? Got something to do with meteors, does it?”

“Meteors?”

“If you’re the same apprentice I had this morning, then your horoscope today says, ‘Beware the meteor.’”

“That’s stupid.”

“You think that’s stupid? Mine says ‘Bring the red socks.’ Very peculiar. Now whatever it is you’re fussing about, deal with it.” He put his nose back into his book.

“Will you just look up?” I pointed at the Face, which blinked a couple of times while looking at me, then returned to its side-to-side eye movement.

Gus stuck his nose deeper into his book. “Don’t need to look up. I already know where Corona exploded.” Without looking, he pointed directly at the rapidly dissipating cloud of fire and smoke that had been Corona, off to the side of the Face. “It’s right there. It’s already unleashed the Corona Effect and should already be transmitting text, which I’ll look at later.”

Drastic times take drastic measures. I walked over to my Master, grabbed his head, and manually forced him to look up. I hoped he wouldn’t turn me into a salamander. Again.

Gus sputtered, and then went silent for a moment before quietly saying, “That wasn’t there before.”

I closed my eyes and slowly counted to five. Then I opened them and said, “Yes, there wasn’t a Giant Face in the Sky before.”

“Those eyes, that mouth, that horrible nose—it’s ugly!” Gus dropped his book, and the papers that had been stuck in it flew about.

“Your papers!” I exclaimed.

“What?” Gus said, and then noticed the papers scattering in the breeze. He banged the base of his wooden staff against the ground—which knocked the useless crystal on top off so that it fell to the ground and broke into a thousand pieces, but Gus didn't notice—and the papers shot back into the book, which closed. A rock floated over and landed on it, holding it down. Gus went back to staring at the Giant Face in the Sky.

Someday, I’ll be able to do that type of magic, but not for another five years, not until I’m eighteen. It was so unfair. I stared down at the stapler sticking out of my pocket. “You don’t choose the wand, the wand chooses you,” Gus had told me. Sure, that’s great when a big, wooden staff with cool graphics chooses you, but how about when a pink girl’s stapler with baby unicorn pictures leaps off the shelf and you’re stuck with it for life?

I shoved the stapler deeper into my pocket so others wouldn’t see. Someday, I’m going to be somebody, do something, no matter how hard they make it for me. Except then everyone will just laugh at my pink stapler.

Great bejuzies!” Gus said with a strangled cry. “Is it possible? Did I just bring that Giant Face here?” He stumbled backward, knocking the rock off his book. It opened, and the papers began scattering about again.

“How could you have done that?” I asked. The Corona project had nothing to do with creating giant heads in the sky.

“Perhaps I tell how.” The heavily accented voice came from behind us. We spun about.

It was Chef Wang, the owner of the Chef Wang Café. The man who put the sour in sweet and sour. He wore a white chef’s outfit, complete with a way-too-tall chef’s hat that, unlike a normal chef’s hat, ended in a crooked point. It wasn’t that Chef Wang was evil or something. It was more that he was creepy. How many Chinese men speak broken English with a heavy Russian accent and carry a cleaver knife the size of Cleveland strapped to their belt? I shuddered as if I’d been slapped with a wet Hunan fish.

“Come to my restaurant and I vill explain,” Chef Wang said. Why was he staring at me like I was an egg roll in need of egging and rolling?

“You know something about that Giant Face in the Sky?” Gus asked.

“I know vhy Giant Face in Sky,” Chef Wang said, his voice rising. He drew the cleaver knife and raised it over his head, still staring at me. I took a step back as Chef Wang brought the knife down, pointing it at me. “I tell you vhy.”

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Birds sang, crickets chirped, and somewhere nearby a toad sneezed.

 “You said you were going to tell us?” Gus finally asked. “We’ll go to your fine eating establishment and talk this over.” He was fingering his wooden staff. That would have struck fear in any normal person, but the staff looked like kindling wood compared to Chef Wang’s cleaver. I’d heard rumors about it, that Chef Wang had used it to dig out the Grand Canyon, but I doubted that. I think.

Chef Wang pulled his eyes away from me and seemed to notice Gus and his staff for the first time. He smiled and returned the cleaver knife to his belt. “Vee go to Chef Wang Café.”

Why did that sound like a death sentence? I glanced up at the Face. It winked, and then went back to looking side to side.


 

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