Illusions begin, p.11
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       Illusions Begin, p.11

           N.L. Greene
 
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  Chapter Seven

  Waking up before her alarm blared was a first for Becky. Although it had been a depressing few weeks, falling asleep to such great memories had her waking up in an unusually good mood. When she picked up her phone to see what time it was, she also saw the business card she set on her nightstand the night before. She sat up, card in hand, and studied it while she flipped it over between her fingers. It seemed the more she looked at it, the more curious she became about it. She wanted to know how it came into her possession and what it represented. It was unusual and extremely vague for a normal business card. She had seen people with personal cards they liked to use for dating and socializing, but this didn’t even have a name or phone number on it. It only had that cryptic word and a web address that didn’t make sense.

  Glancing at the clock on the wall she saw that she still had plenty of time before she needed to start getting ready for work. She decided to take advantage of her mood and the extra time she found herself with. She fixed her usual cup of morning coffee and turned her IPod on low so her apartment wasn’t so quiet, then she pulled out her laptop, set it on the kitchen bar, and opened it up. She really hoped it still worked and wasn’t overridden with some sort of crazy virus. Crossing her fingers mentally, she pressed the power button. While she waited, she sipped her coffee as she gazed out of the window and down at the people already milling about. The sun shone brightly over the treetops of Central Park, giving the area an ethereal look. It was absolutely breathtaking and she really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

  The familiar chime of her computer pulled her back to her task. She set her mug on the bar top beside her and smoothed a fingertip over the shiny business card, then narrowed her eyes at her computer screen. Thankfully the machine acted just as it was supposed to and turned right on, giving no indication of any problems. She let out a relieved breath and clicked on the internet. As she typed in the odd URL, her heart rate started to pick up for some unexplainable reason and her fingers were a little shaky. She didn’t know why she was so nervous. It was just a website, on a strange card, that somehow mysteriously got in her pants pocket. Okay, so the whole situation was a little weird, but there was no need to be fearful. She took another deep breath and straightened her back as she pressed the enter key and waited for the site to appear.

  She reared back in her chair when the whole screen went black, just as it had the night before when she opened up that e-mail. She knew better than to believe in coincidences, but how could the two be related? Not wanting to jump to any conclusions without the facts, she stared at the screen and waited. Sure enough, moments later little blue pixels began to fill the screen, forming a fuzzy image in the center. Eventually she could make out what looked like a word. Her arms broke out in goose bumps. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, eyes glued to the screen, as she waited for the image to become clear. When it finally did, she sucked in a deep breath. She glanced at the business card lying on the table beside her laptop.

  In the center of the screen, just like in the center of the card, was the deep blue embossed word MysticSeeker.

  Her eyes bounced between the two, unsure of what to make of this whole situation. She quickly brought up a new browser and logged into her e-mail. She rolled her eyes at the enormous amount of emails she received over night (didn’t these people ever sleep?) and scanned the list for the one she opened last night. Once she found it, she clicked on it and sat back again. The e-mail did the same as it had last night and as the website had done just then. The whole screen turned black and then the word MysticSeeker slowly materialized onto the middle of her computer once again. The only difference was that the small website appeared at the bottom of the e-mail, just like it did on the business card.

  How had this person or company, or whatever it was, gotten her e-mail and slipped her a business card? The idea of someone intentionally seeking her out and getting that close to her without her knowledge made her shiver in fear. This person obviously knew who she was and where she worked. She checked the date of the e-mail and saw that it was sent to her Sunday night. She would have opened it Monday if she had been able to actually get through all of her waiting mail. Monday evening was when she was almost robbed and that night when she got home after the magic show was when she found the card in her pocket. Whoever this person was, they were persistent. Apparently when she hadn’t responded to their e-mail, they decided to seek her out.

  Was it the would-be-thief that she tricked? Could he have been the one to slip the card in her pocket? She shook her head. No, if he was able to do that without her noticing, he would have just slipped her wallet out of her purse. He wouldn’t have drawn attention to himself the way he did, even if he hadn’t anticipated Becky turning the tables on him the way she had. No, this was someone else and that thought scared her. She didn’t know what they wanted but knew there was only one way to find out. She closed out her e-mail and returned to the website.

  The word in the center seemed to be almost pulsating, as if were trying to gain her attention. Not seeing anywhere else on the screen to go, she decided to click it. The word immediately dispersed into tiny pixels again, all bouncing around the screen. It looked almost like a laser show on the screen. After a few moments, the pinpoints of light began to move toward the center of the screen again. This time they transformed into multiple words; a question actually.

  Do you believe in magic?

  Becky’s breath caught in her throat and she slammed the screen shut. Her hands were shaking and her heart was racing. She didn’t know why that one tiny question had such an intense effect on her, but it did. How did this person get to her? How did they know about her love for magic? She would have thought maybe it was just some sort of sales ploy by someone at the magic show, but then why did she have an e-mail from the day before she even went to the show?

  The very idea of someone knowing her secret, one that she kept hidden for so long and so well from every single person she knew, was unnerving to say the least. How would a perfect stranger know this about her and why would they be mocking her with their knowledge? It wasn’t that big of a deal. Only to her and her family was it really a problem. Other than Becky being utterly humiliated, what did this person think to gain from taunting her this way? Her parent’s approval meant the world to her, seeing their disapproval would crush her, but it was hardly anything she could be blackmailed for. So what was the purpose of the e-mail and the card?

  Suddenly the alarm on her phone began to go off, scaring her so badly that she fell out of her chair. She sat on the floor for a moment as she tried to regain her composure and think about the situation logically. She obviously needed to get to the bottom of this and right now her only option was to explore the site further. But for now, as her still blaring alarm was reminding her, she needed to get ready for work. She would put this problem out of her mind for the time being and puzzle it out when she got home.

  She smiled and let out a breath. Looking at it that way, it didn’t seem so bad. She would treat it like she did a magic trick. Take the facts, do the research, and solve the mystery. Easy. With her mood lighter once again and a new mission to focus on, Becky went about her morning routine and got ready for work.

 
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