(This is part of an experiment in hypertext fiction. See Bridgeborough, New Jersey for more information).
Bewitcher: Short Description
Bewitcher is the media's nickname for Doctor Brandon Witcher; a man who possesses doctorates in both psychology and parapsychology, opened up his own agency soon after graduation, and spent his entire adult life debunking myths, chasing both fraudulent and real ghosts, and generally giving the media a lot of opportunities to ridicule him and use him to entertain their audiences. Few who wish to be taken seriously take Bewitcher seriously, but despite his nonchalant demeanor, he takes his work very seriously.
To understand Doctor Brandon Witcher, it is perhaps useful to trace his bloodline. Near what is now Salem, Massachusets some two hundred and fifty years ago, during the now infamous witch hunts, an ancestor of Malcolm Factor accused an ancestor of Bewitcher of witchcraft. It was actually the other way around, but Factor's ancestor needed someone else to take the blame for his activities, so a husband and wife -- the first Witchers -- were burned at the stake. However, their children escaped. The Factor ancestor was (for the sake of argument) a black witch and spent the rest of his life hunting down the three Witcher children. They were the only ones who knew his secret. They were befriended by a band of gypsies who were skilled in the ways of witchcraft and who taught them how to use witchcraft for positive purposes, and how to defend themselves against Factor's black magic.
The Witcher children learned how to make the forest their home, and over the years had several battles with Factor and his forces. At one point the gypsies were forced to use the youngest child, the only male, as a conduit for their mystical powers, in order to aquire his sisters after Factor abducted them during a battle. From that time on, the Witcher boy was endowed with what they called "The Enchantment" and was able to absorb the energies of nature in order to redirect them for purpsoses of good. Furture generations would come to find this both a blessing and a curse. For every other generation since, each descendant would sire a male child who would also have The Enchantment.
Eventually the first Witcher children managed to kill their Factor nemesis. However, with his dying breath he cursed the children's lineage, saying that every seven years of their lives misfortune would befell them at the hands of his descendants. Factor's son soon schemed for revenge. Thus began a blood feud between the Witchers and the Factors which would last for over two centuries. Over the centuries, the Factors and the Witchers kept each other in check, fighting mostly in secret with the intention of destroying the other bloodline. This went on until 1927, which put three generations of Factors and Witchers in fatal combat. Both enchanted and non enchanted put their lives on the line in that great battle. Of all the Witchers, only Brandon's father survived. The Factors, believing themselves victorious, went on to use their black magicks for selfish purposes, believing the only threat to their domination destroyed. Well integrated in society, they amassed a fortune and unequalled power, and it is believed even today there are members of the Factor bloodline in strategic places of politics and industry. They control the nation and in some ways the world behind closed doors. Sight unseen.
In 1950, Brandon Witcher was born in Bridgeborough, New Jersey. He showed signs of The Enchantment at an early age, but when he turned seven his parents died in a freak car accident. At the age of fourteen, his younger sister died at the hands of a young adult who called himself Malcolm Factor, and despite his efforts, Brandon was unsuccessful in saving her. At twenty-one, Brandon's new bride was also murdered by Malcolm and they fought. Malcolm defeated Brandon once again and left him for dead. Brandon's elder sister found him and nursed him back to health.
At the age of twenty-eight, he appointed himself bodyguard to his sister and also his daughter, Valerie Witcher. Malcolm made an attempt on their lives but this time Bewitcher managed to protect them. Though he could not bring himself to kill Malcolm Factor in cold blood once Factor had been completely humiliated and mystically disarmed in battle. Seven years later, Bewitcher made a point to place his daughter and sister in seclusion again and prepared for the worst, but nothing happened that year. Malcolm Factor had apparently given up his attempts to fulfill his ancestor's curse. During this year of seclusion, arguments ensued between Bewitcher and his sister, who thought he was being rather silly about it all, and they parted company under terse circumstances. They rarely ever speak today.
When not fighting Malcolm Factor, Doctor Brandon Witcher has solved many crimes. His efforts in that area began with comparatively simple cases in high school and college to what he began tackling in his later years. In college he met and became friends with Winston Brooks, Zephyr and many others. He also learned to use both his magical and mundane talents to help both the downtrodden and the successful in solving crimes in areas of theft, kidnapping, extortion, and arson. Missing persons was his speciality, as he was quite adept at honing in on where the abducted victim was being held, with very slim clues to go on. He spent two years as a policeman, first in the academy, and then served some time with the Bridgeborough Police Department, but his methods were too unorthodox and eccentric, and eventually he left the department to begin practice on his own as a private investigator.
At the age of 34 he married again. This marriage lasted only three years but they managed to produce a son, who as yet has shown no signs of The Enchantment. When his daughter Valerie became an adult, she took place as Bewitcher's right-hand person, working as a secretary for his office as a P.I., and also keeping track of all her father's business dealings, as he was too busy usually to handle them alone. With his kibitzing, she turned his profits into a small real estate investment. He discovered one day that he owned a bit under one third of the property in Bridgeborough, with due thanks to his daughter's shrewd efforts.
Through his work with the media, his books, and his nationwide appearances on the lecture circuit and in talkshows as a foremost authority on all things arcane and mystical, Bewitcher has amassed a large cult following of believers, as well as a near equal share of critics and people who mock his efforts. He's aware that the paranormal is not something to be taken lightly, but that many people do, and he often uses the media to his advantage. He and the media perform a political dance of sorts, taking turns using one another for profit and to achieve various ends. However, it is his believers and supporters who mean the most to him, often in times of trouble when he has no one else to turn to, a complete stranger will somehow show up who is a bit eccentric themselves perhaps, but is able to help him out of a jam nonetheless, in return for a simple autograph. Fans of his exploits often show up in the most opportune and unpredictable places, and there are annual conventions held in his honor, which he dutifully attends.
Bridgeborough came to see Bewitcher as a kind of vigilante of sorts, though he endeavored at first to keep himself separate from the other super heroes who would appear in the streets and flying the skylines of his hometown. He was a legitimate businessman and investigator. He didn't hide behind a mask or run around in tights and a cape. He often found himself on a case however that these vigilantes were also investigating, and he'd often lend a hand to keep them alive and out of trouble. He did not dread these many incidents and took them in stride, but occasionally they did wear thin on his patience. Though he has met many superheroes of Bridgeborough and other places over the years, a few of them are quite notable.
In 1977, a dear friend of Bewitcher's daughter died under mysterious circumstances, and Witcher learned that this victim of foul play somehow managed to be brought back to life unnaturally, in order to seek her revenge on those who killed her. Bewitcher did what he could to assist her, but forbade her from seeing Valerie for many years. The lass's name is Hallow's Eve and she has her own tale to tell.
In 1984, Bewitcher's friend Winston Brooks took an interest in these heroes, and attempted to organize their efforts in order to stop the trafficking of a drug called Rhaspody. Though Bewitcher declined directly assisting this superteam which came to be known as Jumping Jack Limited, he did assist them from time to time and got to know all of the membership, including Ranger, Harlequin and others, though he never was able to meet the man who gave his life to stop Rhaspody's existence on the streets of Bridgeborough, Jumping Jack Flash, as the young man perished during the first case of the team of heroes. Brooks granted Bewitcher honorary status with the group in the late eighties, after he assisted JJF on a couple cases which also happened to be cases he was working on for profit.
Around 1990, Bewitcher learned that Harlequin was becoming more of a nuissance than a crusader of justice. Problems in Harlequin's normal life as writer and comedian Justin Graves were causing him to turn to alcoholism which adversely affected the brightly-colored superhero's efforts when behind the mask. Bewitcher intervened when he discovered Harlequin causing undue damage to the Bridgeborough skyline in attempts to apprehend some particularly nasty bad guys, and helped Harlequin take them down. Afterwards he ..strongly encouraged Justin Graves in seeking therapy and counseling, and helped him beat his battle with the bottle. Though their relationship has been strained over the years, they have become friends.
Bewitcher disappeared for over a year, causing his daughter to get worried and send out a team of superheroes to Europe to go looking for him, but they returned empty-handed. What originally appeared to be foul-play turned out to be an effort on Bewitcher's part to tackle successfully a few cases which he performed for foreign governments (and a lot of money) in conjunction with efforts on the part of a branch of the american government which shall remain nameless, and his efforts required he be undercover for much of that time, requiring he not tell anyone of his whereabouts including his daughter. She was a bit upset with him when she found that out.
Upon his return, the city of Bridgeborough welcomed Bewitcher with open arms, and the mayor gave him the key to the city. Despite his eccentricities and strange beliefs, the city finally formally acknowledged and thanked him for his efforts in saving the metropolis that was his home time and again. The mayor declared the day a city-wide holiday, had a parade organized in his honor, and a statue was erected with his likeness. Surprisingly, there was no dastardly occurences to foil the day's festivities. Possibly because in attendance were over thirty of those silly masked vigilantes, all there to wish him well.
Soon after that, Bewitcher went on a book tour throughout the United States, having also spent that time documenting and completing his memoirs, and then returned home to enjoy early retirement in Bridgeborough with his daughter and his friends. However, his retirement was short-lived, for in 1995 his old friend Winston Brooks turned up missing, his last whereabouts also being somewhere in Europe. Bewitcher went there with Zephyr and some others to try to find him, but returned without success. During this time, Bewitcher managed to learn some things about Zephyr which helped her piece together her past. A small consolation for their being unable to find her soulmate.
Today, Doctor Brandon Witcher still occasionally takes on cases both great and small, though more for the fun of it than for the money. Though the media still follows his every move, and people still insist on calling him a superhero, he insists he is merely a retired private investigator and occasional white witch, who did what he could to make his home a safe place for his daughter and for everybody.
Doctor Brandon Witcher is what the masses might refer to as a white witch. He is a practicing pagan, but not in a way that many other pagans would agree. Though he believes in a higher power of sorts, he finds one can commune with the power of that entity through nature. It is in the power of Earth and the Universe from which Witcher draws his abilities.
He is practiced and skilled in thaumaturgy, which most often manifests itself in what he explains to be extra sensory perception or ESP. Witcher can use telepathy to glean surface thoughts from others, and with their permission can probe deeper into someone's mind to learn about their past and seek their knowledge. At times he can actually learn what they have learned quickly in a way where he can match their efforts in those skills. He can also communicate telepathically over great distances, and have conversations with people either in the same room or some miles away. Though his telepathy does not seem to traverse over the Atlantic Ocean, he does have a bit of a range, able with some effort to pinpoint anyone he knows well within the city limits of Bridgeborough. Though the farther away, the more meditation such an effort may require.
Bewitcher can also move things with his force of will, performing what appears to be telekinesis. He can perform this blind if necessary, being able to sense his surroundings. This also makes surprise attacks from behind difficult to perform, as he is very aware of signs of life within several hundred meters of him, and can move about a room with his eyes closed or in the dark, by sensing objects around him. Exactly how much Witcher can lift mentally is unknown. At one time he was able to erect a bus filled with passengers with his thoughts. He's also been able once to temporarily stop the crumbling of a skyscraper after a bomb blast. The actual extent of his talents in this area appear to be unlimited, but the greater the object, the more effort it takes him, so there is apparently a limit. He has yet to test it however.
In times of great struggle, Bewitcher's own shadow can become his best asset. It can manifest itself into a dark black fog, animating at his will and moving about the room after prey. He can trap an opponent in his shadow, which temporarily sends the victim into a very cold dark place, until Witcher wishes to release his opponent. In times like these his shadow is very tangible, and very cold to the touch. However, Witcher must mentally force this to occur, and normally his shadow appears just as normal as anyone's. Witcher's shadow self is weakened by light oriented attacks, and this power usually only works in dim lighting or at night. Outside during the day this ability takes too much effort for him to do anything significant with it for long. Witcher also doesn't like using this ability, as he's learned it can be fatal if he's not very careful.
Bewitcher is able to track down a lost or abducted individual after having in his possession something the missing person has recently worn, or something that person has possessed recently such as jewelery, an article of clothing, a keepsake, or an heirloom. He is also able to see in his mind's eye clues to the whereabouts of the object's owner, and can glean other information from practically any object. He can pick up an object that has been in the room during a recent conversation, and see the events of that room in his mind's eye, as if a recording device had been left there. This gives him great insight at crime scenes, and allows him to follow clues to which more mundane private investigators are not privy.
In times of meditation, or occasionally in his sleep, Bewitcher can be witness to premonitions and visions that warn him of future events, or clue him in to events of the past. He is also knowledgable in many incantations and ancient rituals which can do any number of paranormal things. However, such rites require time to prepare, and he's rarely patient enough for such things.
His mind is perhaps daily his greatest asset. He has trained himself well in detection, and is one of the world's foremost authorities of detective work and investigation. At times police reluctantly ask him to assist them on various cases when they've come to a dead end. It has taken him close to thirty years, but he has managed to develop a relationship with the Bridgeborough Police Department based on mutual respect and understanding. Bewitcher is also an incredible public speaker, and a very charismatic individual.
Though fifty-two years old in the year 2002, Doctor Brandon Witcher is very fit for his age. His body has seen its share of action, but he's aging gracefully. He habitually dresses in dockers and a leisure suit, with a long trenchcoat irregardless of the weather. He wears black rimmed glasses, and has trouble seeing without them. These days Bewitcher also walks with a cane, but only really requires it after a long hard day, when the nerves in his legs begin reminding him that he's not as young as he used to be.
Bewitcher has had, since puberty, premature grey gracing his temples, and an unruly lock of grey hair usually falls just above the bridge of his nose. Otherwise his hair is dark black. His eyes are grey. He is clean-shaven. If I were ever to write Bewitcher the Motion Picture however, this would be slightly altered. The only person I can imagine to play Bewitcher is Morgan Freeman, because he's the only actor living today who I think could capture both Bewitcher's humor and seriousness without resorting to melodrama.
Added August 25th, 2002: Actually there is one other actor who has the chops and the presence to portray Bewitcher in a visual medium. Anthony Stewart Head, the man who plays Rupert Giles on tv's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Visually he looks more the part, but he'd have to lose his english accent. Ideally I'd like to genetically merge Freeman & Head together. First I'd have to get around to writing the damn screenplay before I could perfect genetic engineering. Ah, me. =)
Finally, Doctor Brandon Witcher casts an intimidating shadow.