White smoke billows from a cave. 
"Answers" is a Flash Fiction story inspired by ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: I The Magus


White smoke billowed from the cave entrance and surrounded Johnny and Alondra; Belenos smiled and sat down on a rock. In the smoke, Johnny discerned two sparks like eyes that shone with the multicolored and pearlescent sheen of this strange world. Alondra felt white smoke brush her skin, almost like the soft caress of a creamy cloud. Had she asked Johnny, he would have said the touch was like cotton candy: soft, gauzy and sugary.

“Who are you?” Johnny asked.

The smoke paused its meandering around them; the two pearlescent sparks faced Johnny and fixed his gaze.

“I am a djinn,” the voice whispered, and its deep rumble reverberated inside the cave.

“A djinn?” Alondra said, “Like in the stories my mother told me?”

“Yes,” the voice answered and the eye-sparks turned towards Alondra, who detected a tone of annoyance.

“D’you mean Aladdin?” Johnny asked, and the white smoke puffed a deep irritated sigh that tousled Johnny’s hair.

“Yes, but I will not grant you three wishes,” the djinn said, “Belenos has brought you here for answers, not wishes, so ask.”

Alondra and Johnny gazed at one another, then at Belenos, who gave them an encouraging nod.  

“What is your name?” Alondra ventured. 

The djinn remained silent, and the soft breeze whooshed and rustled the plants crawling on the ground. The pale light of dawn brightened and golden sunlight gleamed in the landscape. Still, the djinn did not speak. 

Belenos broke the silence, “He will not tell you his name. Knowing a djinn’s name forms a deep spiritual bond, and djinni value their independence.”

Chagrined, Alondra gazed at the ground; the smoke caressed her cheek, and she understood the djinn took no offense. 

“Are we in a parallel dimension?” Johnny asked. 

“Yes, this world is a mirror image of your own,” the djinn answered. 

“Oh, so that’s why the sun rises in the west!” Alondra exclaimed; she had understood Johnny’s question, though not his words—parallel and dimension were unknown concepts. 


“Are you the Ancients?” Alondra spoke in a language that sounded nothing like the archaic English she and Johnny had first spoken.

“You speak Mozarabic,” the djinn said, “but he does not.”

Johnny cleared his throat, “Umm… I’m American.”

“Ah, I see, so the travelers between worlds also travel through time.”

“How did you know?”

“Because I exist in many worlds, and span many timelines,” the djinn replied, “and to answer your question, yes, all here are the Ancients.”

Belenos nodded and smiled.

“But who are the Ancients?” Johnny asked, blushing at his ignorance. 

“All the magical people humans have persecuted and exterminated out of fear or ambition. Alondra calls us the Ancients because in her time some of us remain, though elusive and distrusting. You call us Myth.”

Johnny gaped; if Dad were here, his head would explode

“I was persecuted, too,” Alondra spoke, “my people called me witch, because I believe in the Ancients, and because my mother passed their teachings unto me. Johnny saved me from the pyre.”

The white smoke enveloped her, and Alondra felt powerful arms grasp her in a loving and comforting embrace. 

“I am a phoenix,” Belenos said, and Alondra’s eyes shone with admiration, “and I remember the torture and the executions, all because humans feared magic. It wasn’t like that in the beginning… So we left our world, and used our magic to create this one, beautiful and new, alike and different. A mirror image of our former home.”

Johnny gazed at the sky, so clear and crisp and golden; this was the same yellow sun that beat down on the polluted and smoggy world he knew. Dad would blow his top, but Johnny felt at home here, in the clean air, in the company of people Dad said had never existed, yet they had been here all along, in the mirrors. 

The golden, creamy sunlight shone on Belenos with his feathery hair and aquiline nose, and for the first time, Johnny glimpsed the shimmering wings on his back, now red, now yellow, now orange, like sparkling firelight. The wings seemed flimsy, yet steady, as if they existed behind a sheer veil, neither here nor there. 

“Now I have a question,” the djinn said, “how did you get here?”

“The Runes,” Alondra replied, “Raido brought us here, but we have lost it. How else can we return?”

“I see,” the djinn paused a moment, before continuing, “You must return the way you came. This world is full of magic, but humans have never known how to use it. That’s why we left. It’s why we are here. In this world, we are free to be who we are. In this world, we choose our own paths.”

“So you cannot send us back?” Johnny found his voice.

“No, I only exist in worlds. I cannot pull you through them. You must find the lost Rune.”

“I think we lost it in our world,” Alondra said.

“Then you must wait until it returns to you. The Runes always find each other.”

“So no one can help us?”

“Humans have hunted the Phoenix, because our tears have healing powers,” Belenos said, “they hunted Unicorns for their beauty, as trophies. We all left our world because of the violence you brought upon us. I doubt many people will want to help you.”

“You did,” Alondra said.

“You were injured,” he shrugged, “and Free Will is the tenet of this world. I helped you, but others may choose not to help you. They may even choose to hurt you.”

“And now we are stranded,” Johnny sighed. 


“Dragons, I believe can open doors between worlds…” the djinn left the sentence hanging.

Johnny asked Belenos if he knew any Dragons. Belenos wrinkled his face like he smelled something nasty.

“You don’t like Dragons?”

Belenos shrugged, “Dragons are grumpy.”

They stayed silent for a moment until Belenos threw his hands up and huffed. He turned to the white smoke that had settled over a rock. In the morning light, Johnny glimpsed the flimsy figure of a man shimmering in the smoke.

“May we rest here?” Belenos asked the djinn, “it’s a long way to the Dragons.”

“So you’ll help us?” Alondra beamed; Belenos nodded.

“Why?” Johnny asked.

“Because I so choose,” Belenos replied.


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