Copyright (C) 2007 David Such.
First published in AntipodeanSF (http://www.antisf.com/index.html), Issue 107, April 2007.
James was almost pleased to hear the key rattling in the door. His story wasn't coming along at much more than geological pace. He lifted his fingers from the keyboard.
Kate called out. "We need to talk, James," she said.
James sighed. He had never been involved in a pleasant conversation prefaced by, “we need to talk”. Nevertheless, he had seen this coming. Things hadn’t been exactly meshing in the marital department for a while.
James turned to her as she entered. "What's in the plastic bag?"
“Relax.” Kate said. “I'm going to help you. You've gone far too long without publication. My turn now. I'm invoking a four-winds favour. I should have done this long ago.”
“Of course you are.”
“James — this is important. Will you please take it seriously?”
“I’m sorry. Please continue.” The footy was on soon and he didn’t want to miss the match.
“Before I start, I must explain the rule of three. All actions have consequences. Three times what thou givest, returns to thee!”
“Right,” James said. “How long will this take?”
Kate produced a handful of powdered green herb and held it to James's lips. “Face north and close your eyes. Visualise your book being published then blow the bay from my hand.”
James laughed, coughed, then sneezed.
By morning James had largely forgotten Kate’s unusual behaviour. Overnight, he finished “The Crusher” and wrote the dedication: "To my darling wife, worth a million dollars.” His penny-pinching editor, Sam Lee, would have a good laugh at that.
When "Crusher" was published, James showed Kate.
Kate read it out aloud, and laughed, "Worth a million dollars. Wonderful.”
The wind howled and a door slammed shut in the distance. Kate shivered and rubbed her bare arms.
That afternoon, James startled at the sound of Kate's scream. His new novel was dragging, as usual. Now this.
He leapt out of his chair, strode to the lounge. “What’s wrong?” he said. Nothing seemed amiss.
“I just won a million dollars!”
That night, over a celebratory dinner, James said, “It’s quite a coincidence my dedication foretelling your future. You don’t suppose that spell worked, do you?”
"Spell? It was just to gee you up," said Kate. "Don't go believing that stuff."
"Never," said James, and smiled.
Sam wasn't happy. His voice rattled on the phone. “You're unbelievable," he said. "I warned you about exceeding the word limit, and then you try a stunt like pumping it up with that long-winded dedication. You even had the cheek to dedicate it to yourself! I couldn’t get hold of you so I did a little creative editing — I hope you like it.”
James dropped the phone. Changed the dedication?
James went to the bookshop and purchased a copy. He took it home, dumped it, stared at it. Did he dare read it? Maybe Sam was joking.
No. He had to read it. Must read it. A trembling hand turned the page.
James looked up, wide-eyed.
The wind howled. A door slammed nearby.