“It is up for lease!” shouted Asha gasping for breath, slamming his apartment door shut. The eager apprentice, having run full tilt from the pizza shop three blocks away to his home, was keen to share the bad news with Mordice his mentor and roommate.
“When you say “it”…you don’t mean that place, do you?”
“I thought we had fixed things to make it…well…undesirable…We cannot afford any slip-ups. They must never know the truth.”
“Well, what can we do about it, Sir?”
“Oh no no, my young apprentice, there’s no “we.” You are going to try again to deter innocents (humans) from any interest in that building at Asylum Street once and for all. And you better act quickly. The next booking is at midnight.
Mordice continued calmly eating his peanut butter and pickle sandwich, eschewing his apprentice’s piping hot all-meat pizza, now languishing near the cauldron on the stovetop.
Tapping his hooked wand on the pizza box Mordice commented with genuine concern for his young apprentice: “You’d better eat up first. It will be a long night…for you. I am going to bed…wake me when you have arrived at an epiphany.”
“But…Sir,” pleaded Asha.
However, even before Asha’s syllables could depart from his lips, Mordice conjured up a bed, dove under the covers, and was snoring like a baby in three minutes flat, as usual.
Asha, shrugged his shoulders as he scarfed down a slice of the warm, all-meat pizza. He had no idea what to do. He stared at the tens of thousands of enchanted books in his mentor’s collection, hoping that one of them would literally “jump” out at him with a solution. But nothing happened.
Three hours later, Asha sat thinking but still, no ideas came on how to prevent innocents from accessing, leasing, or entering the building at Asylum Street.
His past efforts to conjure up what innocents (humans) call “ghosts,” were successful in closing the bank in the building last month. Unfortunately, now, the building’s owner was offering spaces for lease there.
Hours passed— the young apprentice brewed concoction after concoction but with no luck. He had succeeded only in conjuring up the smell of a morgue inside his one-bedroom apartment. Defeated, finally admitting to himself that he needed help, Asha reluctantly decided to awaken his mentor.
The only way to awaken Mordice was for Asha to sneeze ten times. Asha opened a bottle of cracked black pepper and inhaled all of it. Then he waited—he waited until his nose got wind of his deviated misdemeanor and let rip a septum full of snotty sneezes in protest.
“What…what…happened, who’s dead, what is that god awful smell my young apprentice…smells like a rotting corpse in here,” observed Mordice, alertly rolling out of bed and dismissing with a wave of his hand, the plush queen-size bed he had conjured up earlier for his nightly sojourn in the halls of Valhalla.
Humbling himself Asha confessed—”I am sorry Mr. Mordice Sir, I have not found a solution. I need your help.”
“Oh very well, why did you not ask in the first place?
Asha began to volunteer an answer…”Well, I tr….”
“Young man, don’t interrupt my thoughts when they are thinking. That was a rhetorical question.”
Asha sat, resigned to wait until his mentor spoke again. He munched on his now very cold pizza in silence.
A few short minutes later…feverishly thumbing through one of the books in his magical library…
“I’ve got it!” yelled Mordice.
“What is it Sir, what is your plan?”
“The idea came to my nose from your efforts at the cauldron all night. We will make that building on Asylum Street totally undesirable. We shall circulate a rumor that the building is slated to be the city’s next sewage treatment plant. You don’t see innocents lining up to take selfies at a sewage plant do you?”
Asha stared at his mentor, impressed with his magical genius.
“Well…?” asked Mordice.
“Oh sorry Sir, I thought that was another rhetorical question!”
“Hurry Asha, we do not have much time before the next booking for the Asylum Street portal to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.”
“Go ahead and upload a photo of the building on social media and plant the fake news about its planned usage as a sewage plant. And, bottle up some of whatever stench you had concocted earlier and enchant it to travel around the building 24/7. That should be sufficient to get the buzz going around town…”
“…hurry my young apprentice,” Mordice continued, “Let us transport ourselves to the back door of that building on Asylum Street; we don’t want to keep the spirit of the great King Nebuchadnezzar waiting to see his beloved Hanging Gardens Of Babylon while they are in bloom.”