Zach and Calvin mess around with magic circles they researched on the internet. One of them is going to learn magic. The other is going to wind up a magical pet.
On The Study of Magical Pets
“And almost done.” Zach was down on all fours with a piece of pink chalk, drawing intricate patterns inside a circle he had drawn on the faux wood floor his living room. Other than his glasses, he was naked, which was pretty much the normal when he was home.
“It’s not going to do anything.” Calvin watched from where he was leaning against the wall. Unlike Zach, he was fully clothed in jeans and a t-shirt. While he understood and tolerated his friend’s naturist lifestyle, he still normally wore clothes himself. “How much did they charge you for that online course? It was probably a scam.”
“About $100.” Zach stood up as he had finished the circle. The course in question was on modern day witchcraft. It promised to teach real spells with practical uses for the modern world. The circle Zach had just finished was used in a ritual to summon a magical animal from another world and bind them as a familiar.
“Definitely ripped off.” Calvin sighed and approached the circle. He would have been lying to himself if he didn’t admit that he hoped he was wrong. But if you could just learn magic on the internet… Well that was the type of thing that would get a ton of attention really fast. “How’s it supposed to work.”
“Well you…” Zach pause. “I… Don’t know…” He stared at the circle. “The lesson covered what the circle was used for and how to draw it… But it never really said how you activate it.” He frowned. The truth is, even he didn’t believe anything was going to happen. The way he saw it, the $100 was less money spent on learning magic, and more of an educational course on folklore and being allowed to dream for a little bit.
“And why is it so big?” Calvin asked. The circle took up almost the entire living room aside from the corner he and Zach were currently in. It was impossible to go through the room without walking through it, and risking smearing all of Zach’s hard work.
“I… Sort of drew the initial symbols in the center too big… I thought I would just make the circle bigger to match and well… It turned out a lot bigger.” Zach stared at the circle, hoping something, anything would happen. But nothing did.
“Well, at least if you ever want to get into LARPing you can draw really convincing magic circles.” Calvin teased.
“Uh huh.” Zach sighed. “I need a soda. You want anything?” He started to move towards the kitchen.
“Uh sure, let me see what you have.” Calvin followed. Both of them walked into the magic circle. Then suddenly, the entire room lit up with a bright light.
“Wait, what?” Zach gasped in surprised.
“No freaking way.” Calvin through an arm over his eyes to shield them from the light. Then suddenly, both of them started to shrink. And each of them was growing thick fur over their entire body. Calvin had black and orange fur, while Zach’s was uniform brown. “What did you do to us!?” Calvin asked as his voice got higher pitched.
“I don’t know! It’s supposed to summon things not change them!” Zach protested. Both of them had their ears move to the top of their head, becoming much much longer. And then their legs started to resemble the hind legs of an animal, forcing them to stand on their toes. Zach, adapted to his new stance easily.
Calvin however, did not. Largely due to the fact that unlike Zach he was wearing clothes. Clothes that were now much bigger and baggier on him. Zach stumbled over his own jeans, falling backwards and rolling outside the edge of the circle as he did. Zach meanwhile stayed where he was inside the circle, completely stunned by what was happening as he got even smaller. And soon he fell down onto all fours. Where Zach had once been was now a small brown rabbit.
The light faded from the room, and the entire circle had vanished.
“Ugh what just happened…” Calvin moaned as he sat up, rubbing his head, realizing it was fuzzy and had very long ears. “What the!?” He stood up, as he did, his shirt slid off his now much smaller body. He was a rabbit! Well, not entirely. He was humanoid… And human sized. Except he was so short. And his voice was so high pitched. Was… Was he a kid? “Why am I a rabbit? Why am I a kid!?”
“I don’t know!” Zach protested, revealing that despite the fact he was now a normal rabbit he could in fact still talk. “That wasn’t how any of this was supposed to work! I mean… I didn’t even really think it was real till now!”
“Are we sure it’s real?” Calvin asked pinching his cheek. He felt pain and didn’t wake up. He really was some kind of rabbit person. He looked over his backside and saw he even had a short little tail. “And why a rabbit? Like aren’t familiars normally a cat or something?”
“I don’t-“ Zach didn’t get a chance to response, before his body rapidly changed, ears getting shorter, tail getting longer, and suddenly, he was a kitten. “Huh?”
“That… Happened…” Calvin squinted at the cat shaped Zach. He had changed, but Calvin was still a rabbit kid. That was certainly weird. He decided to try testing something. “Mouse.”
“SQUEAK!” Zach let out a shout of surprise as he went from a cat to a tiny mouse. “How are you doing that!? Just changing me into things…” Zach paused. “But if you can do it to me… Then… Raccoon!” Nothing happened as the mouse shouted. “Raccoon!”
“It’s one way?” Calvin pondered. Perhaps it was being young again, but he felt a mischievous streak rise up in him. He wondered how many different species he could turn Zach into. But, he really wished he understood why any of this happened. “Why can I change you like that?”
“Because, he’s your familiar.” A shimmering blue circle appeared in the air. A moment later, an elderly woman dressed in robes and a cloak appeared in their apartment. She looked old, like she could easily pass for a hundred, but was up and moving around with no problem. She was also really short. Probably only five feet. Which still made her taller than the kid aged Calvin, and the much smaller mouse Zach.
“Um… A weird lady just appeared in your apartment…” Calvin muttered.
“Call me weird again and I’ll see that you spend the next one hundred years living in a terrarium.” The old woman snapped. “At least this should be a pretty easy mess to clean up.”
“What are you talking about?” Zach ran and hid behind Calvin’s leg, feeling more than a little intimidated by the old woman.
“I’m a member of the Board of Secrecy and Education. Call me Mab.” The woman explained. “It’s not my name but it’s good enough. Hmmmm let’s see exactly what happened here.” She snapped her fingers and a very faint outline of the magical circle reappeared on the floor. “I see… That certainly explains a lot.”
“I don’t suppose you’d care to explain any of it to us! Why am I a rabbit kid! And why is Zach a mouse?”
“He’s a mouse cause you wanted him to be.” Mab replied. “But… I’ll spell it out. This magic circle, grade school level stuff. Whoever taught you how to make it wouldn’t be able to graduate magic kindergarten. The entire thing reeks of an immature kid trying to take shortcuts and is full of mistakes. Instead of summoning a familiar it decided to turn the two of you into them. But… Only one of you fully changed. Hmmmm.” She held out her hand and a staff appeared. Tapping it on the ground two three dimensional human outlines appeared in the room. It was easy to tell they were meant to be Zach and Calvin. Especially when they started to change. When the image representing Calvin suddenly fell out of the circle she tapped her staff and it all vanished. “So… That’s what happened. You left the circle before it was complete, so were only partially changed into an animal.”
“Okay, but why am I a kid?” Calvin asked.
“Because this is grade school level magic, with grade school level mistakes, and magic has a sense of humor.” Mab gave a wicked grin. “The forces you tried to control decided that both of you belonged back kindergarten. Hope you’re comfortable with being six, cause it’s not something that can be reversed other than growing up again.”
“Six?” Calvin knew he was a kid but hadn’t known his exact age.
“Anyway… I’ve seen enough.” Mab snapped her fingers. Her staff and the faint image of the circle vanished. “I’ll look into who taught you this circle and have words with them. Who knows how many accidents will happen if we don’t. In the meantime, it’s time you two left the mortal realm.”
“What?” Calvin scooped Zach up off the ground realizing it might be time to run. Was she going to kill them to keep them quiet about this?
“What? You don’t think we put schools of magic on the mortal plane do you?” Mab asked. “Then anyone could find them. No, all of them are located on another plane of existence normal mortals can’t access.”
“You phrased that just to scare us.” Zach spoke accusingly.
“Did I?” Mab rubbed her long gray hair. “Well, most students seem to be afraid of me. Can’t imagine why. I mean, I just make problems disappear.”
“Saying stuff like that might be a large reason why.” Zach muttered.
“Hang on, back up a bit.” It had taken Calvin a moment to register what she had said. “You’re taking us to a school?”
“Naturally.” Mab waved a hand dismissively. “Now that you have a familiar you’ve awakened your magical potential. Untrained you’re a danger to yourself and others. It would be irresponsible to simply leave you like this. Now then, hurry on through the portal. Oh, and you may feel slightly disoriented as you enter. Don’t worry, it’s just your body being relocated across multiple universes at roughly ten times the speed of light.”
“What?” Zach stared blankly.
“You heard me.” Mab made a gesture with her hand and the blue shimmery circle reappeared. “Now come on, hurry it up I don’t have all day. Considering what you were playing with I feel like attending magical school should be a dream come true for you.”
“Uhhh, sure…” Calvin kept a good hold of Zach, and then followed Mab through the portal.
And everything ceased to make sense as Calvin and Zach both felt like they retrieved a million new sensations all at once. It was over briefly, but both of them were laying on a real wooden floor while Mab stood above them looking slightly annoyed.
“What was that!?” Calvin asked.
“I… Did I just see the entire universe?” Zach asked. “Or… multiple universes at the same time? Just… What?”
“Maybe I should have told you to keep your eyes closed for your first time.” Mab shrugged. “Welcome to Fifth District School of Arcane Arts.” She gestured around. They were in a small hallway with classroom doors on either side. It all looked… Very mundane.
“We’re… Just in a normal schoolhouse.” Zach muttered. He climbed up from Calvin’s hand to rest on his shoulder. “I was expecting a castle or something.”
“If you know a universe where the education department has enough funding to buy a castle, let me know and I’ll submit my resume immediately.” Mab chuckled. “If you’re hoping for moving staircases, talking paintings and ghosts I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. This is just a normal school. We’re in the main building, where you’ll take classes. Outside the main exit, turn left to get to the gymnasium. Turn right to get to the student dorms. Normally it’s two students per dorm… And we don’t count familiars as students.” She spared a glance at Zach. “Given your unique circumstance you two can have a dorm to yourself.” She began to hobble to the front door. “Let’s figure out what rooms are open.
“Um…” Calvin hesitated. “I’m like… All rabbity and stuff… Is… Isn’t that going to make me stand out among other students?”
“Hmph.” Mab muttered. “Kids are always so reckless and ready to try things they can’t handle. You’d be surprised how many students wind up in a position like yours. Of course, they were actual kids making dumb mistakes cause kids. You don’t really have that excuse.”
“Hey! I followed the directions exactly as the online course showed!” Zach objected.
“The course was online?” Mab groaned. “Heaven help me, now we’re going to have to figure out the web site and everyone who visited it.” She then gave Zach an accusatory look. “But you really thought it a good idea to just start trying random magic you looked up on the internet?”
“To be fair we didn’t think it’d do anything.” Calvin tried to defend Zach.
“Then you were wasting time in addition to acting foolish.” Mab grumbled. “Adults, kids… None of you have any perspective. Maybe if you could stick around for a thousand years or so you’d all stop being so impulsive.”
“Thousands of… How old are you?” Zach asked.
“Zach no!” Calvin hissed, worrying this would offend Mab.
“Who can say?” Mab shrugged dismissively. “I was always here, and will have eventually have never been here. That is how it goes.”
“That makes absolutely no sense.” Calvin groaned.
“Only because of your limited four-dimensional view.” Mab replied.
Once they were outside, it was cloudy and overcast. Looking like it might rain any moment. Mab quickly led the two through the school yard into the dorm building.
“There’s a cafeteria on the first floor.” Mab started as they walked into an entrance that broke off into three hallways and a staircase. “Considering it’s about to start raining frogs, you’ll probably want to get food from there tonight and not do too much exploring.”
“So, a really heavy rainstorm then?” Calvin asked. “I imagine wet fur would be less than pleasant.”
“Eh? Why would a rain of frogs get your fur wet” Mab scratched her chin. “Well, I suppose if they all came from a pond maybe.”
“Wait it’s literally going to rain frogs? You weren’t making a metaphor?” Zach looked as confused as a mouse could be.
“I don’t do metaphors.” Mab replied. She closed her eyes. “Third floor, turn right, room 305. It’s unoccupied. When you touch the door handle it’ll attune to you so that only you, people who have your permission, and faculty can open the door. You can figure out the rest from here.”
“Figure it out? But… I barely know anything about what’s going on! How long am I going to be living here? What classes am I even taking?” Calvin flailed, almost dislodging Zach from his shoulder.
“Not my department.” Mab shrugged. “You can ask your teachers that. I’m sure once they know there’s a new student they’ll send someone on the honor roll to your room to fetch you, give you the grand tour, and tell you more about how things work. My work is done.” Mab turned, and then she was just gone. There was no portal this time, and she hadn’t used the door. It was as if she had winked out of existence.
“Somehow… Dealing with her feels weirder than being a mouse.” Zach muttered.
“Let’s just go find our room.” Calvin replied.
The room was relatively plain when they arrived. It was clear it was meant for two people. There was a bunk bed, two writing desks, and two sets of drawers in the room. There was a single window near the desks where they could see outside. The storm had started, and actual frogs were indeed raining from the sky.
“This place is weird.” Calvin muttered.
“Yeah…” Zach nodded. “But I kind of like it.”
“Uh huh…” Calvin sat down on the bottom bunk and grabbed Zach from his shoulder and held him in his hand. “Should probably figure out how this whole familiar thing works. I mean, apparently I can change your species.”
“So, I could be something bigger than a mouse.” Zach suggested.
“Maybe, but where’s the fun in that?” Calvin giggled. “But… That gives me an idea… I want to try something.” He closed his eyes and focused. It turned out he didn’t actually need to say any words. His thoughts were enough. Once more Zach began to change. His fur grew thicker, his tail got a tuft on the end of it and soon he was a lion cub.
Who was still small enough to fit in the palm of Calvin’s hand.
“H-huh!? I didn’t get bigger?” Zach was surprised. He had assumed he was only small due to being a mouse. His size not changing had caught him off guard.
“Interesting.” Calvin grinned. “So… Not limited to just species by itself… Do I even need to change your species?” With a thought, he watched as Zach suddenly shrunk even smaller, until the little lion cub was barely a speck in his palm. “So can change your size easily.”
“Yes, I see that!” Zach shouted up. He wasn’t sure if Calvin could hear him. Hairs the size of tree rose up all around him obscuring most of the rabbit from view.
“Let’s see… How small.” Calvin focused, and Zach got even smaller. Smaller than he would have thought possible.
He could only watch as microbes and cells zoomed past him, as they became larger than him so fast he barely had time to register what they were. And then, he was surrounded by floating clusters of sphere orbited by other sphere. Atoms. He got smaller, and smaller, and eventually landed on one of the orbs orbiting the others. He was standing on an electron. And after a few more seconds, it was as big as a planet to him.
“Interesting.” Zach could hear Calvin’s voice. “I can feel where you’re at no matter how small I make you. Guess I know what to do if you ever need a time out… But let’s bring you back up so I can see you.”
And then suddenly, Zach was much bigger. The size of a normal lion cub instead of a mouse or being subatomic. He no longer fit in Calvin’s palm and was instead sitting in his lap.
“Gah!” Zach shouted. “Okay I admit that was kind of cool. But that is some serious vertigo. If you’re gonna do that can you at least do it a little slower so everything doesn’t shoot by so fast?”
“I’ll try and see what I can do.” Calvin grinned. “But… Still trying to decide… What do I want to be my familiar?”
“Shouldn’t I get to pick?” Zach asked. “It is my species you’re messing with.”
“Maybe, but it’s your magic circle that caused this mess and put you in this position. So I think it’s fair I decide.” Calvin grinned. It wasn’t like Zach had a choice. “I want something exotic. A dragon! But a fluffy one! With angelic wings… But… You know, a dragon might be harder to manage. You were a lot easier to handle as the size of a mouse. So, yeah, fluffy mouse sized dragon please.”
“Roawr?” The changes did not go at a slow pace. Zach shrunk down quickly, sprouted feathered wings from his back, grew a thicker tail and a longer snout. His claws grew bigger, at least in comparison to his body. And by instinct he gripped onto the fur on Calvin’s legs to steady himself.
“O-ow!” Calvin stammered. “You scratched me!”
“I just tensed up!” Zach responded. “You’re the one doing these changes so fast.” Zach flapped his wings and flew into the air. The world was so big. It was kind of scary. On the other hand, he could fly.
More than a fair trade off.
“Alright, I think we got a good default form for you.” Calvin nodded. “But we can try other things out based on what we’re doing, or just if I’m bored.” He teased.
“Uh huh, how could you get bored of this?” Zach stuck his tongue out. Then just to see if he could do it, he inhaled and shot out a small fireball. It was so tiny it went out before getting anywhere close to Calvin. But he hadn’t had any intention of burning him anyway.
“Now that’s not very nice. I could have been hurt.” Calvin said with mock concern.
“I… I really don’t think you could have… Even if I tried really hard.” Zach rolled his eyes.
“Look, if you’re gonna act up I’m gonna have to put you in time out.” Calvin chided.
“So… Back down to the subatomic scale again it is this?” Zach asked.
“Actually… I wanna see what else this can do…” He grinned and looked at Zach.
“What are you…” Zach let out a yawn, suddenly feeling really tired. He crash landed onto the bed next to Calvin. His body was getting smaller, or more accurately younger. He was now just a baby dragon. And the changes didn’t stop there. Zach might have protested or tried to make some witty remark. But he just felt very sleepy. And by the time the egg had appeared around him he was sound asleep.
“So age too then.” Calvin grinned and picked up the tiny dragon egg. “Turned him all the way back into an egg. Oh, that’s going to be fun to be able to tease him with.” Calvin then laid back in the bed. “Wonder how long he’s going to take to hatch. Maybe I’ll take a nap before we try to go find that cafeteria.” Before allowing himself to fall asleep he gently set the egg containing Zach down on one of the desks. He then made a nest out of the sheets and blankets of the spare bed. It was much bigger than what the egg needed, but it guaranteed the egg was on a soft surface and would be kept warm.
Then Calvin laid down to sleep.
He awoke when his rabbit ears picked up a light tapping noise. It took him a moment to process he was still a rabbit kid and that all of this was real. Then the tapping continued. He glanced around, then remembered Zach. The tapping was coming from the egg. Suddenly, pieces of it broke away, and Zach, a newborn dragon hatchling crawled out of the egg.
“Rawr!” Zach gave a shout. Apparently, his ability to talk as an animal was limited if he got too young.
“Oh you are adorable like that.” Calvin sat up on the bed and gently picked Zach up, grabbing him by his tail and lifting him off the table.
“Rawr!” Zach protested.
“Oh come on, surely you’re having a little fun, wondering what’s going to come next. What other forms you can take?” Calvin teased playfully. “But… We should probably go get dinner. Which means, I need an easy way to carry you.” Calvin held Zach directly above his head then dropped him. As the tiny baby dragon dropped into the rabbit’s head fur, he grew smaller and smaller, until he was no bigger than a flea surrounded by a forest of black fur.
“Roawr?” Zach asked in confusion.
“Well, I don’t exactly have pockets anymore.” Calvin responded with a slightly accusing tone. “Pretty much lost all my clothing after the change. Guess I’m living like you now. Point is, can’t have you digging your claws into me perching on me, that hurts. But I need a way to safely carry you around. So, I can just make you tiny and store you in my fluff when carrying you around the school.”
“Roawr rawr!” Zach protested, not for being actually upset, but just because he felt like he should protest. But truthfully, it was warm and soft being surrounded by all the fluff. And he settled down and curled up happily.
Calvin meanwhile, made his way downstairs for the cafeteria. No one would even be able to see the tiny dragon riding in his fur. As he got down to the first floor he wondered what tiny dragons were supposed to eat. Well, he supposed if he couldn’t figure that out he could just change Zach into something he new the diet of temporary.
Both of them were going to have quite a bit of fun with their new lives. As disorienting as the changes were, Zach felt a certain thrill at being a pet, and having an owner who could change him like that at anytime. And Calvin was going to get to learn magic and bring a friend along with him everywhere he went.
The coming school years were bound to be full of mischief and adventure. But, childhood is the best time for both those things. And there was no guarantee they’d get a third childhood. (Well Zach would probably get like 100 before the year was over) so they couldn’t afford to risk letting the opportunity pass them by.
Who wouldn’t want to be a kid again, and have a little more fun? And who wouldn’t want to add a little magic into their life?