Kitty Raises Hell Page 2


“It’s more fun watching your expression when I give it to you in bits and pieces.”

“I can see it now. It’s going to be the end of the world, everyone will be dead, all that’ll be left are vampires, and you won’t have anything to say to each other because you can’t stop being mysterious and secretive.”

He smiled like he thought this was funny.

I looked at my watch. “Not that this hasn’t been fun, but I have to get going. I have the show to do.” I headed back toward the roof’s access door. “I’ll find my way out. You keep looking.”

“Break a leg,” he said.

“Don’t say that when I’m standing on the roof of a very tall building.” Werewolves healed supernaturally quickly from horrible injuries, but I didn’t want to test if that included the injuries sustained from falling that far. “Let me know if you find anything?”

“Of course.”

I left him on the roof, scanning across the night, perched like Denver’s very own gargoyle.

* * *
For the next few hours I had the show to worry about, and all other anxieties stayed outside the studio door.

At this hour, we had the station to ourselves. Except for a security guy and the graveyard-shift DJ, it was just me and Matt, my engineer, tucked away to rule the night. The studio was like a cave, left dark and shadowy on purpose, most of the illumination coming from equipment: computer screens, soundboards, monitors. Matt had his space behind glass, screening calls and manning the board. I had my space, with my monitor, headset, microphone, and favorite cushy chair. When the on-air sign lit, the universe collapsed to this room, and I did my job.

“Hello, faithful listeners. This is Kitty Norville, and you’re listening to The Midnight Hour, everyone’s favorite talk show dealing in supernatural snark. Tonight I want to talk about magic. What’s the true story, what’s the real picture? Is it pastel fairy godmothers, is it meditating over a stack of crystals, or is it Faust making deals with the devil? What’s real, what isn’t, what works, what doesn’t?”

Once a week I did this, and had been doing it for going on three years. I’d have thought it would start to get old by now. Conveniently, the world kept producing more mysteries, and the public couldn’t get enough of it. As long as that stayed true, I’d still have a job.

The supernatural world was like an onion. You peel back the layers, only to find more layers, on and on, hopelessly trying to reach the mysterious core. Then you start crying.

“I have on the phone with me Dr. Edgar Olafson, a professor of anthropology from the University of Colorado, here to give us the accepted party line about magic. Professor Olafson, thanks for being on the show.”

“Thank you very much for inviting me, Kitty.”

Olafson was one of the younger, hipper professors I’d had during my time at CU. He was hip enough to appear on a cult radio show, which was good enough for me. He was also a scientist and spent a minute or so saying what I expected him to. “Belief in magic has been with human culture from the very beginning. It’s been a way to explain anything that people in early civilizations didn’t understand. Diseases were caused by curses, a spate of bad luck meant that something was magically wrong with the world. By the same token, magic gave people a way to feel like they had some control over these events. They could use talismans and amulets to protect against curses, they could concoct potions and rituals to combat bad luck and promote good luck.”

“That’s still true, isn’t it? People still have superstitions and carry good-luck charms, right?”

“Of course. But you have to wonder how many people do these things out of habit, built up in the culture over generations, and how many people really believe the habits produce magical effects.”

“And we’ll find out about that in a little bit when I open the line for calls. But let me ask you something: What about me?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question.”

I hadn’t prepped him for this part. Sometimes I was a little bit mean to my guests. They still agreed to come on the show. Served ’em right. “I’m a werewolf. I’ve got incontrovertible, public, and well-documented proof of that condition, validated by the NIH. I’ve had vampires on my show. I’ve talked to people claiming to be magicians, and some of them I’m totally willing to vouch that they are. While the NIH has identified lycanthropy as a disease, modern medical science hasn’t been able to explain it. So. This inexplicable sliver that you have to acknowledge as existing. Is it really magic? Not a metaphor, not habit, not superstition, but really some effect that contradicts our understanding of how the world works.” Whew. I took a big breath, because I’d managed to get that all out at once.

He chuckled nervously. “Well, we’ve gone a little bit outside my disciplines at this point. I certainly can’t argue with you. But if something’s out there, I’m sure someone’s studying it. Maybe even writing a PhD thesis on it.”

“I plan on getting ahold of that thesis just as soon as I can. Sorry for putting you on the spot, Professor. I’m just trying to get us a neutral baseline before the conversation goes completely out of control. Which it always does. Let’s go to the phones. Hello, you’re on the air.”

With great condescension, a man started in. “Hi, Kitty. Thanks for taking my call. With all due respect for your guest, this is exactly the kind of attitude that’s held human civilization back, that’s kept our species from taking the next step toward enlightenment—”

Away we went.

I had to butt in. “Here’s what I’m wondering: In this day and age, with the revelations of the last couple of years, isn’t it a mistake to think of magic and science as two different things, as polar opposites, and never the twain shall meet? Shouldn’t practitioners of both be working together toward greater understanding? What if there really is a scientific explanation for the weirder bits of magic? What if magic can explain the weirder bits of science?”

A rather intense-sounding woman called in to agree with me. “Because really, I think we need both points of view to understand how the world works. Like this—I’ve always wondered, what if it’s not the four-leaf clover that brings good luck, but belief in the four-leaf clover that causes some kind of mental, psychic effect that causes good luck?”

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