The phone kept ringing, and I was just about to pick up when Jen beat me to it.
“Welcome to Paranormal Personnel. Jennifer speaking, how may I help you?”
She put on her telephone voice and I found it fascinating that she sounded so different when she spoke to a client. Maybe Jen was an actress in another life. Who knew?
It was a busy day and I still had several more reports to finish, but I kept glancing back at the clock on the wall. I was consciously aware of my upcoming meeting with La Caz Pharmaceutical. I also remembered that I was supposed to text my cousin, Claudia. We were having dinner together later this evening and I was looking forward to catching up with her. We hadn’t seen each other for months.
“Hello? Hello?” Jennifer repeated a few times, sounding annoyed this time. Seconds later, she slammed the phone down, then furiously started typing away on her keyboard. This wasn’t our first dead call today.
“Another false alarm?” I asked, a little amused, although it really wasn’t funny. Over the past several weeks, we’d been getting dead phone calls at least three times a day. I reported it to Rufus, my regional manager, but he wasn’t very concerned about it. It seemed someone was trying to spook us, and it was becoming extremely irritating. Maybe it was time to speak to my dad about it.
“Yeah, it’s the third one today. I haven’t dumped anyone recently, so it’s none of my exes,” she responded, then the phone rang again.
“Welcome to Parano—”
“Hello, hello.” A deep, raspy voice on the other end of the line interrupted me, then my fingertips sparkled.
“My name is Julia. How can I help you today?” I asked more firmly. I didn’t like being interrupted.
“I just moved to London and I’m looking for a job. Would you have anything for a werewolf, love?” a male voice asked, and I exhaled with relief. At least this guy was serious for a change.
“Of course, what are you looking for? Factory, security, or maybe you’re much more skilled—”
“Listen to me very carefully, love.” The man cut me off again. “I haven’t got much time, and they’re listening in. Female elves around London have been going missing, and I think you might be next.” For a split second, I was certain that he was pulling my leg, but he sounded so serious. I glanced at Jennifer who was chewing on her pen, watching me from her desk. She must have noticed my stunned expression.
“Female elves are going missing?” I repeated to make sure that we were on the same page. “This is a recruitment agency, sir. Maybe you should call the police instead? I know someone there who can help you.”
I had been working in this industry for a couple of years now and was used to people trying to share their personal problems with me, but this was certainly new.
“No. This is important. He wants the blood of elves and fairies. I have been watching you and I wanted to warn you before it’s too late,” the man continued, and this time, a cold shiver skated down my spine. I gripped the phone tighter, thinking that this wasn’t a joke. This guy really believed I was in danger.
“Have you been calling here and hanging up over the past few weeks?” I asked with anger lacing my tone. The guy obviously had some issues. Either way, I needed to be firmer with him. The dead phone calls interfered with our busy schedule, and we couldn’t afford to waste so much time.
There was silence on the other end of the line for a bit. Then he breathed in heavily, and I shook my head.
“Stay safe, and watch out for a black van on the streets,” he finally snapped, then the call dropped. I rubbed my face as magic began surging down my spine. There was no point getting worked up about this. I lived in London and the truth was that the city was dangerous, anyway. My father worked as a police constable, and he told me himself that paranormals were going missing all the time.
“Who was that?” Jen asked.
I was taking long deep breaths trying to calm down. The lights in the office were flickering and that was all my doing. I was half-elf from my father’s side, and most of the time I couldn’t fully control my powers. I was very clumsy, too—the proof of which lie in the sink—broken cups and other dishes. Every week, I had to throw away several burnt-out light bulbs. It was a nightmare.
“No idea, just some werewolf trying to scare me. Apparently, a lot of elves are being abducted in the city. He said that I might be next. I think he’s the one who’s been calling here all time and not saying anything when we pick up.”
Jennifer shook her head and continued to work. I got up, then went to our so-called kitchen—it smelled like someone had stored a pile of dead bodies in there. I switched the kettle on, thinking about my day, and feeling very hungry all of a sudden. It was only half past twelve and I was ready to devour my sandwiches, or maybe even go out and pick up something from the supermarket. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I assumed there was nothing wrong with having a healthy appetite. My magic was still whacky. At least later on I had a business meeting to look forward to. I quickly made coffee and added a spoonful of sugar to my favourite cup. Then I put one spoon of coffee in Jennifer’s cup and topped it up with six spoonsful of sugar. Jennifer was a purebred mermaid. She loved sugary drinks, but never had to worry about her figure.
London was filled with a lot of supernatural creatures: there were elves, fairies, vampires, werewolves, hags, shifters, trolls, mermaids, and giants. Humans had no idea about our true nature because we could disguise ourselves pretty damn well. Most of us had magical powers, but to any human out there, we all appeared ordinary.
I pulled my lunch from the fridge and sipped my coffee for a while. My thoughts trailed off to the time when I found out I wasn’t an ordinary human. I was sitting in my grandparents living room at their large house located in the country. I was around ten years old then, maybe older, playing with puzzles when one started melting all of a sudden.
I glanced down at my tiny hands, wondering what was going on when my grandmother walked inside.
“Oh, don’t worry about it, dear. You’re an elf, which means that you have magic inside of you,” she explained, placing me on her lap. Sometimes Grandma was nice, well, when she wanted to be.
“Is Mummy an elf, too?” I asked her.
“No, darling, your mother is just a human. She will never be like any of us,” Grandma said, staring at me intensely. “And now, you have to promise me that you will keep this a secret. You’re still young, so your abilities aren’t developed yet, but soon, that might change.”
My father was angry with her when he found out that she’d told me the truth. I heard him say that I was too young to know about stuff like that. He was right, but I still understood what she was saying. After all, I moved things before without even touching them. My skin often twitched, buzzed, and sparkled, trying to release all the excess magic I didn’t know that I had. Once during an English lesson, I was upset—the teacher didn’t pick me for the school play—so, I blew up his coffee mug. No one knew it was me and I never told anyone about this, but deep down, I knew I had some sort of gift. Now I understood that it wasn’t all just a coincidence.
From that day forward, I had to see my grandma every other weekend to train with her. This went on for several months until I almost burned the house down. After that, Grandma agreed that maybe I was too young for magic.
I knew that there was always something wrong with me. I felt suffocated by the fact that I couldn’t control my energy.
Some of my cousins called me a freak, and admitted I wasn’t like any of them. I only had half of the elven magical genes inside of me. On top of that, I was extremely clumsy. There were other factors that contributed to my lack of self-belief. I practised, but I always knew I would never be like the rest of my family.
My magic would explode randomly, and I was scaring humans. My grandmother decided that she couldn’t teach me anything more. She gave up, and I just had to deal with it, try to embrace my inability to control the magic that was still growing inside of me.
I just didn’t think I could ever fit in anywhere. I was destined to be the half-blooded elf who would never be able to control her own abilities.
I quickly dismissed those thoughts, telling myself I couldn’t think like that. I was independent, had a good job and loving parents. No one could take that away from me.