They were going to be together forever, Danny and Fred, always together. You and me against the world, just like the old Helen Reddy song. They reveled in their togetherness, disdaining the straight world and all its conventions. No house with a two-car garage in the suburbs; no blending into society “just like any other couple”; no “gay marriage” for them.

That kind of life would have been their worst nightmare – until an even worse nightmare came to visit. The fates had had other plans, and those plans included taking Fred from Danny.

He hadn’t lacked for solace after it happened. His old friend Jane and her lover Erica stayed with him the first week, and then kept an eye on him after that. They were the only female friends Danny had, since he usually preferred the company of men, especially men like himself – and Fred.

Danny never remembered, later on, where he first got the idea. It was probably something he came across on the Internet, or maybe found in one of his old books. He had quite the collection of books on magic. Not the “magic” seen on stage, but what purported to be the real thing. The sort of thing that could cause changes … and he needed a change really bad.

He called Jane and asked her to come over. He had to tell her about it.

“It’s called a tesseract working, Jane.” Danny said. “According to what I’ve been reading, if you do it right you can shift reality -- say, for example, ninety degrees around on a hypothetical circle. I’m gonna try it. Here, look at this.”

Danny showed her the book in which he’d found the whole process. Jane took the book and read for a bit. She handed it back to him with a skeptical scowl on her face.

“Y’know what? I think you need to get off the Internet for a while, Dan,” Jane said. “I know you like all this occult stuff, but you’re startin’ to get weirded out. This sounds like crapola written by some kook, if you ask me.”

“No, listen to me. You can use this, um, method, to shape or re-shape reality. The book says you can alter events that will happen or – get this – have happened.” Danny was getting excited now. “D’you know what that means? Maybe I could get to a reality where Fred never died. Maybe I could get him back.”

He tried to explain it to her, about how this was the most complicated of magical workings, but she just laughed and suggested he should come over to visit more often. Get out more, she said. Let go and move on.

Danny wasn’t letting go – he couldn’t. He had to try the ritual. What was the worst that could happen? Nothing. But Danny didn’t like to think about that. It would work. It had to work.

As she left, he promised Jane he’d come over for dinner next week. Maybe he’d have something to celebrate by then.

After what seemed the longest month in history, the exact day specified arrived for the tesseract operation. Danny assembled all the things he’d need for the ritual and set them out just so in his basement working area. He went down and checked one more time that he had everything he needed. He’d only get one shot, according to the books, so it had to be right. It would be right, and he’d have his Fred back.

He started the ritual, lighting incense and sprinkling charged water about. As he spoke the ritual’s words, the feel of the room changed, tensed up. Danny felt a small prickle run up his back, but he kept going. He made it through the part with the difficult words and, he hoped, made all the appropriate gestures.

Just as he spoke the final words of the ritual, there was a small ‘pop’ and a flash of light. Danny staggered and fell into a faint. It wasn’t until he heard a pounding on the basement door that he came to. He got up and, shaking his head to clear it, remembered what had happened. He ran to open the door – got to be Fred wanting in!

He unlocked the door and opened in. Jane was standing there. He must’ve left the front door unlatched, he thought.

“There you are! I was wondering what you were up to down here all that time, Dan,” she said. “I’ve finally got the kids to go to bed, and just in time, too. Erica and Fred are here – or did you forget again it’s our game night? I know we missed a few weeks after they went on their honeymoon, but I thought I mentioned it to you yesterday. Come on . . . I’ve put the kids to bed and our guests are waiting!”

Submitted for The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest.

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