ISSUE 88

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 You’re Gandalf—a grizzled geriatric forced to work in retirement. You approach life as if you were forced to be a Wal-Mart greeter in another existence, as if life is a waitress who always serves your coffee cold. With a particularity bordering on obsession, you carefully groom the mangled beard of Rasputin and wear the same tattered robe, seeing as Tolkien invented thousands of years of history for his fictional universe but not washing machines.
 With tobacco taking its toll and a long, bedraggled following of mythical creatures, you can barely remember what it was like to be a young wizard, fresh from wherever wizards graduate. But now you are stuck with a fascination for fireworks and progressive memory loss. The days are long, filled with fighting off giant flaming hell beasts, yelling at short people, hauling around your favorite walking stick, and convincing stupid people not to do stupid things.
 You have a few friends, but they are either dead, needy, or have never heard of email, which is like not having any friends at all. Even your work acquaintances have moved on. They joke about eating you, trapping you in a tower until the end of time, and your passion for the color grey, which isn’t funny.
 Essentially, you are one more coffee stain away from completely losing your shit. And while hovering on the edge is okay for some, those people have not been gifted with magical powers or tasked with saving everything.  
 Consider how difficult it is to get people to vote. Then think of organizing the world to fight a menace whose name few people can pronounce. You’re not dealing with informed citizens here. You’re dealing with a loose confederation of alcoholics, depressed poets, greedy grumps, and patriotic, power-hungry jocks.
 In a world with one social worker, you are that social worker. There is an evil with a lot of muscle, a lot of resources, and a lot of manpower. There are no recycling bins, no affirmative action campaigns, no “Hobbit Lives Matter” movements, not too many people of color in general actually. You are underfunded, undermanned, and you have to keep track of a bunch of doughy fools who think they can sing but can’t.
 This means most of your fight is with words—sometimes words plus a magic sword. However, finding the right words can be near impossible when an author linguist has clearly gone off his medication. Mostly, you sound like a high school sophomore in Juarez grasping about with an English-Spanish hybrid that leads to someone being killed.
 Without a car or plane—though sometimes a really fast horse—commuting is awful. Ninety percent of the time is spent getting from point A to point Mordor with people A through S, dying, resurrecting, going to point F, then going to point E, finding group R and then going to point H, then point I, then hauling to point G with person P.
 Occasionally, you get to ride on eagles—but only occasionally. They are not available as designated drivers and apparently do not react well to being called “a screwy pigeon.” 
 Your allies include elves, who spend an inordinate amount of time sighing about trees, the sea, stars, seagulls, and death. While you appreciate their commitment to the environment, education, and the arts, they can be exasperating and rude. If Priuses existed, you can bet they would cut you off in one.
 And there are dwarves, who can be counted on to have a beard, an axe, and a very conceptual grasp of soap. They do not run well. They do not ride horses well. They do not speak well. On the other hand, they can trudge long distances with immense quantities of weight, which puts them a step ahead of hobbits who smoke, drink, and are indirectly responsible for the death of many of your close allies.  
 But what can you do? The enemy is on the move. The darkness is rising. The tax on tobacco is exorbitant, your knees are aching, and all you can think about is where your nemesis is planning to spend his holidays. But for you, it’s just another day in wizardry.
   
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