Aphelion Issue 224, Volume 21
December 2017 / January 2018
 
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The Transmutation of Embers

by Paul Edward Costa




I


Even though it fills her with dread, Mother Zoya cannot avoid the Transmutation by Embers any longer. Each witch of Ywaz must face it in the twilight of their life. They most often choose when to complete this transformation, but the process is forced on them if a witch’s body begins failing—limb by limb—before she’s decided to complete the ritual.

Zoya has to finally face the fire now that her fellow witches have noticed the paralysis in her left hand and the holes in her memory.

She opens the gate in the copper fence at the far limit of Ywaz Manor’s garden. A solitary squeak stretches out into the night. The sound raises goose bumps on Zoya’s withered skin, which had long since lost its elasticity.

Many rooms fill the wide, sprawling manor where the witches reside. It stands along the edge of a plateau. It has high windows, tall pillars, and sculpted stonework along its parapets. Smoke emerges from the many brick chimneys rising out of its roof. A garden of granite statues, trimmed hedges, and reflecting pools stretches out behind the mansion to the copper back fence. Half a kilometer past that sits a large blackened fire pit surrounded by gray stones amidst the wild shrubbery.

Three witches follow behind her to ensure she completes the ritual. One named Mother Raaghan uses her staff as a walking stick. The other two Sister witches are younger and have grown red, glowing cat-of-nine-tails whips out of their wands that drag through the grass behind them.

“Have you had the experience of witnessing a transmutation, Sister?” one says to the other. She breathes heavily and sweat forms on her brow. “Is the suffering great before it is successful?”

“To your first question, yes…I saw one once, shortly after my transition from new witchlette to young Sister, but I try strenuously to avoid bringing the subject into my thoughts,” says the second Sister witch. “Regarding your other inquiry, I cannot tell you what the Elder Mother in question felt.”

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to choose to do it, when the time comes, when I’m standing there…”

“That’s one more reason to drop the subject.”

“We’re to supervise, not empathize,” says Mother Raaghan from her position a few paces ahead of them. “So let’s just hope for a quick and alert completion.”

“Bah! I’m plenty alert,” Mother Zoya says from her place several paces ahead of them. “Alert enough to hear all your chatter.”

The witches wear masks of their own design over the top halves of their faces. Their standard garb consists of a brown, wide-brimmed hat, long black vestments, and leather boots. They carry wands—topped with a burnt chunk of wood in a small cage—that are cut from intertwined roots which extend upon command into various shapes, such as the staffs the witches can ride as they glide over the ground.

The darkness of late evening covers the plateau and the whole continent of Kolcawtha. The only sources of dim light are the stars, the three moons of midnight, and the candelabras glowing in the windows of the manor across the garden. Crickets chirp in the brush.

Mother Zoya stops. She raises her wand beside her with her right hand and holds it horizontally. Her dead left hand stays at her side. The twisted roots of the wand grow into a long staff. The staff floats in place on its own when Zoya removes her hand. She looks back at Raaghan and the Sister witches who regard her without emotion.

A sneer crosses her face as she speak.

“You know I’m not some young witchlette…I can get there and complete the process on my own. You needn’t watch up close.”

“We wouldn’t have to follow if you’d chosen to go earlier, before your body began failing” Mother Raaghan says. “I only have another few seasons left myself until I must face the fire.”

Zoya snorts. “Trust me, you don’t think so, but you’ll need a hand to shove you forward when you stand where I do.”

“Are you having difficulty?” Raaghan says. “Perhaps we should assist…”

In response, Mother Zoya mounts her staff without breaking eye contact with Mother Raaghan. She sits side-saddle with her failed hand in her lap and the other guiding the head of the staff. She turns to the fire pit half a kilometer away from the copper fence. She begins slowly gliding forward while floating four feet above the ground covered with thick shrubbery. She passes over it easily. The three escorting witches behind her walk along a series of boardwalks and pathways, Raaghan with her staff in front and her pair of companions with crimson whips walking side-by-side in the rear.

The four witches reach the large fire pit. Raaghan and her two compatriots stand post outside the gray stones arranged along the pit’s circumference while observing the ritual.

Mother Zoya dismounts her staff, drives its base into the ground, and steps over the stones. She kneels in the ashes. She unties her leather pack with her one good hand. She pulls out kindling and several small, dry sticks. She piles the kindling into a mound and starts a fire with a spark from her flint.

A pile of logs are stacked in a pyramid just outside the fire pit under a gazebo to keep them dry. Mother Zoya walks to the pile when her original kindling has nearly burned out.

She stands motionless before it for a few moments.

Her mind has gone blank and instead she finds herself wondering about the appearances of the logs within the stack…but when she sees Raaghan and the two Sister witches move forward (assuming she needs their help) she feels a flash of fear and a twist of revulsion in her stomach as her pride asserts itself first physically, and then mentally.

Zoya hears the crackling of the fire again and her mind resumes its train of thought. She shoves the top log off the stack with a hard thrust of her shoulder. It lands on the ground with a dull thud and kicks up tufts of ash. She rolls it with one foot to the fire and kicks it into the flames while again maintaining eye contact with Mother Raaghan. The blaze slowly consumes the fresh chunk of wood and grows stronger. She repeats the process with a few more logs.

Mother Zoya sits down on a stone around the fire pit. She fishes out the tools she needs for the next phase of the Transmutation by Embers. She pulls out a long wooden pipe from the pack on the side of her belt. She holds it between her knees while she digs out several blue leaves covered in white fuzz. Zoya stuffs them in the bowl of the pipe and crushes them up with the brittle nail at the end of her shriveled and calloused thumb.

She hears the three Sister witches stepping closer behind her. The wild grass swishes around their boots. Mother Zoya doesn’t turn around. She stares ahead and purses her lips while Raaghan speaks.

“We can light the pipe for you…” Raaghan says with a smile growing across her face. She begins pulling out a torch to light in the fire.

“Keep your damn light to yourself,” Zoya says before cackling and coughing. “You wish you could say you had to light my pipe for me,” she smiles, “but I won’t give you the satisfaction.” She looks over at Raaghan. “You’ve wanted me to beg for your help ever since they tasked me with healing a patient you couldn’t.”

Mother Zoya first puts her pipe to her mouth with her good hand and grips it in her teeth. Next, she pulls another stick out of her bag and shoves it into the fire until its tip glows red. She touches the tip to her bowl of herbs and inhales. Wrinkles that are sharply defined in the glow of the fire surround her mouth. Without exhaling, she drops the stick and removes the pipe from her lips. She pulls out a small vial, yanks out the cork with her teeth, and lets the stopper fall between her feet. Raaghan sighs behind her. Gasses from the vial hiss and pop as they rush out. Zoya drinks the contents of the vial with one gulp.

She methodically places her tools back in her bag, holds the bag down with her foot, and pulls its strings tight with one hand.

Mother Zoya waits with her eyes closed, one hand folded in her lap, and the other hanging at her side.

Her chest heaves and her shoulders roll back within a few minutes. A low rumble ripples through her closed mouth. Another spasm hits her before she opens her lips and lets a great billow of smoke stream out of her mouth and nostrils. Its emergence lasts for longer than it should. Zoya tries maintaining her composure, but she soon convulses, hunches over, and falls off the stone with her eyes wide as the last of the smoke shoots out of her nose.

Instead of drifting upwards, the smoke pours heavily onto the ground and swirls furiously about Mother Zoya’s body like a heavy gas. In it, storms unfurl within storms and vague shapes appear for brief instants until a screaming wind howls out of the smoke and it disperses into the wild grass outside the fire pit.

Zoya stands up and blinks. She looks at herself with diminished recognition until her eyes fix on the fire.

She begins the following step by disrobing without lifting her stare from the bonfire’s dancing flames. Zoya keeps her back turned to her escorts and ignores their gaze.

One Sister witch quietly says to the other “What did Mother Zoya mean by saying she healed a patient Raaghan could not?”

The second witch whispers back “It was after Mother Ayya’s insurrection. Ayya was injured and fell catatonic and unresponsive when she was captured by the rest of Ywaz. Raaghan and Zoya were part of the nursing wing then. They tasked Raaghan with returning Ayya back to sentience, but she failed, and they asked Zoya to take over the treatment. She succeeded, though some were not pleased to see her do that.”

Mother Raaghan hears this exchange but only glances over once out the corner of her eye.

“Take a good look,” Mother Zoya says to them while she lets the last of her vestments fall about her, revealing the aged skin of her nude form, “you’re looking at your future,” she adds with a dry laugh.

“Your wit may have earned you much over your life, but it won’t dull the sting of the flames,” Raaghan says.

Zoya looks at her. She leaves her clothes in a mound atop the stone where she’d sat. She keeps her mask on. Mother Raaghan and her two accomplices retrieve Mother Zoya’s clothes.

Zoya walks towards the fire and stops when she feels its intense heat. The exposed skin on her body glistens with drops of sweat and she feels her hairs stand up.

She does not feel cold due to the proximity of the fire, but she still shivers and feels a discomfort in her bowels when her nerves are first pricked by the flames’ heat. She’d seen many Elder Mothers complete the Transmutation by Embers, and they often never seemed bothered or made hesitant by the bonfires they built. This seemed absurd and unfathomable when Mother Zoya was a young Sister. She always assumed when turn came that she’d have gained the special, calming knowledge that mother witches all seemed to have, but such an insight never materialized for her. Standing now before the bonfire she built, she still feels the same shivering fear of the flames’ heat and its effect on her skin.

But her resentment at being forced into the ritual is equally as powerful as her fear of burnt flesh, so she feels determined to not to confirm the three escorting witches’ belief that she cannot complete the process on her own. She keeps still, stares at the flames, and takes a slow step forward.

Mother Zoya puts out her frail, still functioning hand, hoping to touch a long tongue of flame and find that they kill nerves before those nerves can process pain, but she recalls the drawn-out, undignified spectacle of the few previous witches who tried entering fires slowly.

Zoya turns from the fire and paces to and fro.

Mother Raaghan’s eyes glisten and she steps forward. The other two Sister witches step up to positions on her left and right.

“Can you not recall the next step in your task?” Mother Raaghan says.

“Could she simply be stalling?” says the witch to her left.

Raaghan says “Possibly,” before she inhales deeply and becomes silent.

The soft ash of the fire pit pushes through Mother Zoya’s toes and stains her feet with a layer of gray soot. During her fourth time pacing past the bonfire she suddenly cries out hoarsely and flings herself onto the flames with her eyes closed and her limbs outstretched. Despite her thin, lanky frame, her torso crushes the burnt logs turned black and silver. A cluster of orange embers burst into the air. The fire consumes the oxygen around her so she makes no sound as she lands. Her face embeds in the thick, dirty ashes. She lies on her front and the flames curl around her body as they once rolled around the half-split logs. She flails a few times before falling still.

Despite the fact that she lies face down, her arms and legs turn black and bend upwards like the limbs on an overturned insect. They curl to a common point where her feet and hands meet. Her breaking bones and snapping joints cut through the fire’s popping and crackling. Her head snaps back as well. After a moment, her form goes limp and collapses. The inferno grows and covers her before the flames start spinning counter-clockwise in a synchronized manner. The fire’s fingers all stretch out to the same length. They spin faster and faster. The bonfire looks like a flickering red flower. The flames emit the roar of a fierce wildcat before abruptly becoming extinguished.

Mother Zoya’s tall, thin, and aged body is no more.

The form of two small girls instead lie curled up among the scorched logs and soft, warm ash. They wear no clothing, but black soot stains most of both their bodies, which makes the whites of their eyes even more pronounced when they open them.

`They both roll over onto all fours and growl. They crawl apart from one another and pull themselves around in circles.

The two Sister witches behind Mother Raaghan sigh with relief that it’s over. Raaghan herself frowns and shakes her head from side to side.

“Wrap them both in Zoya’s vestments,” she says.

The Sister witches nod and comply. They step into the now cold and inactive fire pit. The Sisters each pick up one of the witchlettes crawling about and carry them to the sitting stone where Zoya lay her clothing. They unwrap the black vestments and tie the feral witchlettes into bindles at the end of their staffs. Each witchlette is wrapped along with a chunk of charred wood from the fire. The Sister witches carry the witchlettes strapped to Raaghan’s staff back towards the Ywaz Manor like hunters carrying a carcass.

Mother Raaghan believes that either Mother Zoya’s brilliance lies entirely within one of the witchlettes (while absent in the other), or that one half resides in each of them.

Raaghan dreads the former scenario because it would require her to take extreme action before one of the witchlettes develops those abilities.

If the latter is true, and Zoya’s natural talents are diluted between the newborn witchlettes, they both may only ever achieve an average level of power…but Raaghan still fears that they might learn to co-operate and co-ordinate their combined abilities, and that together they’ll overshadow the accomplishments of Raaghan’s twilight years just as Zoya upstaged the efforts of her youth.

Mother Raaghan again finds herself contemplating extreme action.


II


The witchlettes borne from Zoya’s transmutation choose the names Zemil and Zara for themselves within the next few weeks. They grow quickly and learn the Ywaz’s ways with the other witchlettes who came into existence within a year of each other. They study together in halls of the Ywaz manor and practice ritual dances in Ringwood forest, but something sets Zemil and Zara apart from their peers.

Many witches in the Ywaz manor hear the argument that breaks out between Mother Raaghan and Mother Vertexon when they discuss Zemil and Zara’s abilities. Their raised voices spill out the oak door of Vertexon’s office and reverberate down the marble hallway.

Raaghan says “I know, I know…you think my distaste for Zoya clouds my insight, but the results of the trials are plainly visible: Zemil and Zara are either aberrations or traitors to this Sisterhood!”

“And what do you propose we do? Hmm?” says Vertexon. “If you suggest what I fear you do, I want to hear you say it yourself, out loud.”

“Zemil mastered the twizeray step in three and a half weeks! A witchlette simply cannot develop the co-ordination and ankle strength for that routine so quickly, just as witchlettes cannot yet hover on their staffs…and Zara, she cultivated samples of stone fungus; do you realize what would require without an Elder Mother’s prescience? It would require a witchlette to watch the stone she’d treated constantly for four days as she clips the blossoms which randomly appear and wither soon after. I’m telling you, none of this is possible with malevolent help or volatile power!”

Vertexon says “Your argument is plainly clear, but you’ve still not answered my question. What do you propose that we do?”

Mother Raaghan purses her lips. “They simply cannot remain among us! They’ve either made contact with an outside power, or they’re both of a freak mutation that could destabilize our order!”

“Or they’re a sign that the Ywaz Witches grow stronger! I’d like to see more transmutations turn out like them,” said Mother Vertexon. “Now I’m telling you: desist from this concern, Mother Raaghan, and let the witchlettes Zemil and Zara learn in peace!”

The witches in the manor’s halls who’d stopped to listen to the debate rush to resume their walking when Raaghan storms out the doors. She hurries past them all to the hallway’s end. She walks down a spiraled stone staircase and comes out a doorway in the side of the mansion. She sees a group of witchlettes breaking from a meditation class at the edge of a nearby cliff. Witchlettes who are still learning wear loose black robes and keep a wreath atop their heads before they are granted the brown hat of Sister and elder witches and are allowed to mold and decorate a mask for the top halves of their faces.

An orange sunset dies over the mountains and the crystal lake far across the barren plains.


*****



Mother Raaghan hides behind a garden shed while the class enters the mansion for dinner. After dinner, she follows Zemil and Zara discretely while they walk back to their quarters. Raaghan hurries and makes her presence known to them when she has them alone.

“Aha, there you two are…I must inform you both that the other Elder Mothers have commandeered Ringwood forest for a conference tomorrow morning. As a result, tomorrow’s morning dance will take place in the Crescent Valley. Can you both get there?”

“Could they not have told us this in the dining hall?” says Zemil. “I’d have left early to sleep if I’d known we’d need to make the hike way out there…”

“Hush, Zemil,” says Zara. “We’ll be there, Mother Raaghan. Thank you for informing us.”

“Very well,” says Raaghan, but she lingers in a moment of tense silence as she locks eyes with Zemil before both witchlettes turn and go back to their rooms.


*****



Zara wakes early the next morning and has to force Zemil out of her cot. Zemil groans as she throws off her blankets. The two of them leave through the door in the cold kitchen hall. They walk onto the westward-facing terrace outside. The two of them light a small fire and boil a pot of water. They make the porridge and coffee they consume together for breakfast before starting out for the Crescent Valley. None of the other witchlettes are yet awake, but Zemil and Zara often make a point of waking early and arriving at practices earlier than their peers.

Tall grass and tangled knots of bushes cover the floor of the Crescent Valley. Rocky slopes wall in the valley’s end on three sides, creating a dead end. Zemil and Zara stop and begin their work there while waiting for the others to arrive.

Zemil practices a cycle of the Ywaz’s dances with her wand as a baton. She feels a unique pleasure in the ease with which she now performs the notoriously difficult twizeray routine. The satisfaction she feels springs from the brief period which ensues after one has learned a skill that requires concentration to recall, the same period of engagement that ends when the skill becomes an instinct.

Zara, hunched over, moves through the grass in search of insect samples. She hops after a grasshopper for a few moments before she traps one with a jar she brought with them.

Zara sees Zemil shooting her hard glances while dancing whenever she looks up from her search for organic samples in the grasses of the valley.

“What is it? What is it you wish to say?” says Zara.

“There was no damn reason for us to be here this early, not anymore,” Zemil says.

“Oh yes there is…maybe what we’ve achieved has blurred your vision, but you know we’re not like the others. What works for them does not work for us,” says Zara.

Zemil lands her pirouette, catches her breath, and sighs. “I know, I know,” she says. She adjusted her clothing that had shifted around her.

“Ease your mind,” says Zara. “The others will be here shortly.”


*****



Mother Raaghan stands in the mouth of the valley two kilometers away from the witchlettes. They cannot see her small figure in the distance. Raaghan extends her wand into a staff. The bit of charcoal held in place at its tip starts smoking before a single flame ignites around its black, lumpy shape.

“Fire is a fitting end for witches,” Mother Raaghan mutters to herself as she swings her staff horizontally in front of her and whips a blaze of intense fire across the Crescent Valley’s entrance. The flames latch onto the ground and a long strip of fire starts burning up the tall grass and bushes. Next, Raaghan swings her staff back and forth while emitting a whispered incantation under her breath. A low, whooshing drone comes out of her staff’s end as waves of wind blow against the back of the wildfire she’d set. The powerful gusts sends the flames racing across the bottom of the valley. They leave dim embers in a growing field of burned out black ground behind them.


*****



More and more cracks of pink morning break through the dark blue clouds. Zara crawls through the grass again while looking for insects as Zemil does some light stretches. Zara looks up after she catches a grasshopper. She’s about to lets it go as she sees the advancing flames. A swath of fire eight feet high rolls over the grassy bottom of the Crescent Valley. Strong winds push the flames over each other and onto fresh vegetation that keeps it burning. Small explosions burst out of the flaming front.

Zara turns and yells to Zemil, who stops her stretches and freezes in place. Zara rushes back to her and shakes Zemil out of her fearful catatonia.

“We have to go…we have to…” says Zemil.

Zara says “We can’t, it’s too fast, we can’t make it up the sides.”

“What do we…” Zemil starts saying.

“Do what I do,” Zara says, “now, do what I do.”

Zara whips out her wand and extends it into a staff. She jams the tip into the earth at her feet. She utters a deliberate, almost musical grunt and a thud sounds out as a blast of air from the end of her staff kicks up a big clump of grass. Zara scapes away the loose vegetation with her staff and starts the process again.

“Come on!” she says to Zemil, who takes a second, swallows hard, and joins her other half in digging away the topsoil around them.

Zara next lights small fires around them with incantations from the end of her staff. The fires she sets burn back against the waves of flame Raaghan sent towards them.


*****



The beings of southern Kolcawtha see the wildfire’s smoke from many miles away. It covers, dampens, and darkens the sun in the sky. They see smoke billow up and bloom out of the Crescent Valley. The other witches in the nearby Ywaz mansion leave their morning routines and investigate the blaze. Sisters and Elder Mothers mount their staffs and glide down the slope on the side of the plateau where their residence stands.

Several Sisters and Elder Mothers see Mother Raaghan standing alone in the mouth of the valley as they get closer. She paces back and forth along the border where unburned ground meets burned out black earth, evidently at the place where the fire started.

“Raaghan! What experimentation is this?” says Elder Mother Vertexon as she and her companions close in. “You know these fires slip too easily from our control for any of us to manipulate them alone.”

The wildfire moving away from Raaghan and the recently arrived Ywaz Witches hits the end of the Crescent Valley where rocky slopes boxed the flames in on three sides. The fire’s roar dies down when the barren valley has nothing left in it that might burn. The smoke gushing out of it slows before finally dissipating. A stripped bare valley filled with steaming soot and gray ash stretches out ahead of them like a moonscape.

“Why?” Elder Mother Vertexon says to Raaghan, but Raaghan only stops, kneels in the grass, and bows her head.

“Mother Vertexon?” says one of the Sisters nearby.

Vertexon says “What is it?”

“Zemil and Zara were not in our quarters this morning, but they had not packed belongings. I don’t think they’ve left. We found washed dishes inside the pantry, and the remains of a fire next to the mansion. I think they departed early to head someplace today, though I know nothing of it.”

Mother Vertexon turns to Raaghan and swings her staff against Mother Raaghan’s back, who cries out for a moment before biting her lip as she falls forward onto all fours. “Curses be upon you!” she says to Raaghan.

Raaghan says nothing. She only stares defiantly away. She makes eye contact with no one.

“Bind her hands!” Vertexon says to several Sisters nearby. They have no expressions on their faces while they tie Raaghan. They work with fumbling hands because they keep imagining what a death must be like in such flames as those they saw.

A silence falls over the solemn witches. Wind whistles and they hear a faint cracking where bits of kindling still burn in isolation. The oppressive quiet, however, lets the group hear another sound repeating itself. They hear bursts of air that each sound like one second windstorms. Vertexon squints while she stares down the Crescent Valley. She sees Raaghan also staring in that direction from where she sits bound in the grass, but Raaghan has twisted her face into a contortion of fear and awe.

Zara and Zemil become visible after a few more moments pass. They walk slowly while clearing a path ahead of them by using the tips of their staffs to emit air bursts that blow the superheated ashes aside. Soot stains their sweaty faces and clothes to such an extent that they at first resemble some set of shadowy creatures with bloodshot eyes. They limp and advance slowly while wheezing and coughing.

“Clear a path to them!” Vertexon says to the witches who’d followed her here. They set to work and use their staffs to clear ash aside in the same way as Zemil and Zara. The witchlettes collapse into the arms of those that reach them. Zara lies unconscious in the arms of the witch who carries her but Zemil, though panting and choking, remains awake.

“Zemil, please…Raaghan acted without our knowledge,” says Vertexon, “but those flames…how…how could you two endure that?”

Zemil’s wide and red eyes stare out from a face coated in soot. Between coughs she says “Dig…we dug…Zara said…to dig out around us…and burn…burn around where we…” but she sputters into another coughing fit and is carried away.


*****



The Ywaz Witches move through the Crescent Valley later in the afternoon to inspect the site after its burned ground had cooled. They find a wide, circular patch of stripped away ground at the end of the valley where Zemil and Zara had stayed safe. Vertexon and the other Elder Mothers determined that the two witchlettes born from Mother Zoya had not survived the wildfire with the aid of some foreign, forbidden power, or because of some ability born from abnormality. They find that Zemil and Zara simply survived by using elementary wand spells to dig and burn away the brush around them so as to create a safe patch of ground.

It becomes clear to all present that this strategy required a remarkable degree of focus and physical exertion on the part of the witchlettes, the same focus it took for Zara to stay awake for four days as she clipped the samples she needed as they randomly blossomed on the stone she’d treated, and the same physical exertion it took for Zemil to rehearse the twizeray dance over and over again endlessly in the hours before dawn until she mastered it. Vertexon looks forward to taunting Raaghan by telling her how wrong she’d been in her extreme suspicions.


*****



Vertexon and two Sister witches escort Raaghan out of the Ywaz manor’s back garden and over to the fire pit the next evening. They force her to immolate herself on a bonfire, but they do not allow her to cleanse her aura with a pipe of herbs, and as such, they deny Mother Raaghan a full Transmutation by Embers. Her gaunt, aged form burns away in the intense heat, but no witchlettes are left behind when the fire subsides.

The witches chose this sentence for Raaghan because they fear what might occur if her wrathful and extreme essence splits into two witchlettes, then four, then eight, and so on until it infects the Ywaz Witches’ population with an irreversible malice.


THE END


2017 Paul Edward Costa

Bio: Paul Edward Costa has published over forty stories, articles, and poems in periodicals such as Enduring Puberty Press, Peacock Journal, Queen Mob's Teahouse, and Dryland: Los Angeles Art and Writing. His novella "Dark Magic on the Edge of Town", published by Paperback-Press, is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle formats. He is also a high school teacher of History and English and has founded the ongoing "Paul's Poetry Night" spoken word series in the Greater Toronto Area.

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