keith raymond

Dr. Raymond is a Family and Emergency Physician. He practiced in eight countries in four languages.

He is currently living in Austria with his wife. When not volunteering his practice skills, he is writing, lecturing, or scuba diving. In 2008, he discovered the wreck of a Bulgarian freighter in the Black Sea.

He has multiple medical citations, along with publications in Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grief Diaries, The Examined Life Journal, The Satirist, Chicago Literati, Blood Moon Rising, Frontier Tales Magazine, and in the Sci Fi anthologies Sanctuary and Alien Dimensions among others.

He is the Fiction Editor of SavagePlanets Magazine. Twitter: @DocRaymond1


by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

“Checking in?” the wizard asked behind the counter.

The concierge, an old man, addressed the gentleman standing before him. Three paces behind the gentleman and to his right stood a Goth girl chewing gum, blowing pink bubbles. She wore Doc Marten boots, black fishnets, black leather hot pants, black lace blouse, and a black velvet vest. Even her nails and piercings were onyx black.

The wizard eyed the teen suspiciously, and said, “Look mister, this is a clean establishment. We don’t allow any peculiar activity, if you know what I mean.”

The gentleman glared back at the wizard, “This, Sir, is my daughter! We’ll take a room with two beds, if you please.”

“Of course, of course, right away,” he answered, clearing his throat at his obvious mistake.

Brodnatha, annoyed by the old wizard’s assumption, rotated her left hand down, and right hand up. The star on her right palm glowed, sending sparks from the tip of her black nails. She sub-vocalized a spell, and the ledger the wizard was about to sign, levitated.

“That’s enough Brody, leave the poor man alone.”

She dropped the ledger on the fingers of his other hand, earning a nasty glare from a man that once controlled all kinds of magic. Her father accepted the key cube from the concierge, grabbed his rolling case and started down the hall. Brody followed, popping her gum. Now she understood why old folks lost their powers, they no longer deserved them!

The power drain on elder magic, noticed two hundred years after Merlin, was first thought to be a spell cast by a coven, but actually resulted from blocked channels. Hardening of the ley lines, the magical internal structures within the aging witch or wizard. Alchemists believed it to be a normal process. Folks didn’t live long back in the old days, so they discovered this only later with increased longevity. First sign of it was all those white beards on young men using up their powers.

The father and daughter enjoyed the hotel corridor, acting like a fun-house as it slowly spun. First you walked on the floor, then the wall, then ceiling, then wall again, and so forth. The mirrors obliged, getting all wiggly, and Brody blew air into her cheeks, to enjoy the distortions, which fortunately, were complimentary to her figure as they rippled.

Brody’s father stuck the cube into the door frame, and the portal rotated open. Beyond a verdant jungle, singing birds, howling monkeys and other small creatures beckoned. He hoisted their carryall and plunged into the green. She followed, whipping a finger to close the portal. When it vanished, so did their exit.

He spotted two hammocks swinging separately on adjacent trees and grabbed one for himself. He tossed two pillows, one for each hammock, from their bags.

“Dad, where’s the bathroom, I want to freshen up!”

He frowned at her and answered, “Do bears sh…”

“Hah, hah!” she interrupted, sarcastically.

“Over yonder, I think.”

She opened her purse, pulled out a make-up kit five times the size of her purse, and wandered in the direction he pointed. Brody dragged her feet in the tall grass. Behind a tree, she found an immense white egg. Prodding it, she looked for the seamless handle, and happened upon it by accident. It rotated open on the half shell, and inside was a princess’ boudoir, complete with claw-foot bathtub, backstage make-up mirrors, bidet, and whatever else one could imagine in a water closet, including a Japanese automatic toilet.

Brodnatha completely changed her look and outfit for supper, going full-on Cinderella, as this seemed to be a theme hotel. Rejoining her Dad, Ignatius, also changed, going full Count Dracula.

“Now, how do we get to the dining room?” Iggy asked, looking around the jungle.


Rather than leaving the room, in their confusion they went deeper, walking into a closet that looked like a cave, partially hidden by vines. They believed they had gone off to the banquet hall. Brody turned her eyes into headlights, illuminating the way. In their headlong rush, the hallway seemed to accommodate the evening festivities.

The shifting light from Brody’s eyes made Iggy nauseous as she looked around, moving the beams whichever way she peered. Coming into an open cavern beside a still pool, they spotted several tables with place settings lit by swimming bioluminescent creatures. Iggy mused on the other ‘guests’ as they arrived.

The specters took their seats, dressed in the styles of their time. Some wore chain mail, others corsets, while still others wore luminous diaphanous future synthetics. This only furthered the illusion that the costumed father and daughter were in the hotel's banquet hall. A waiter literally appeared from a cloud of gas and took their orders. In fact, he was room service.

“How about that coven outside of Atlanta?” the knight asked, turning his attention to Iggy.

“Everyone read about it, but I hardly believed it. Do you have a light?” The corseted woman answered and asked, turning to Brody. Brody leaned over the cutlery, snapped her fingers, and lit the cigarette protruding from the woman’s gold cigarette holder.

“Much obliged,” she said, sipping the smoke and exhaling billowy cloud animals. They fought in the space above her, then dissipated into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Iggy entertained the attractive luminously dressed futurist. She removed a smart monocle and said, “I see you are in sales. Indeed, your service line has merit, and your products are carbon neutral!”

Iggy blushed slightly, attracting his daughter’s attention. Brody made a disgusted face and returned to her discussion of last century’s couture with the corseted woman. Brody’s interest in fetish wear piqued her curiosity. The look had underpinnings of arousal and bondage, which fascinated the young witch.

“You know, you really should stay longer,” whispered the futurist, sending a thrill of goose flesh down Iggy’s neck, as she leaned in toward him. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

“No doubt, no doubt,” he uttered, reading her body language simmering within her delicious curves. “But my daughter and I must move on. I have a conference in the city, I must attend tomorrow morning.”

“Stay here, you’re not far away. We could meet up again tomorrow night. Or just skip it altogether. I can show you the wonders of my world.” She uncrossed her legs and leaned her elbows on her knees like an old time baseball catcher, leaning toward him once more. The turquoise haired beauty looked more than ready to receive his pitch.

Iggy smiled and said, “As much as I would like to,” he shrugged, “I can’t. We must be off.”

Her face morphed from seductive to ferocious, “I’m no longer asking. You will stay!” she insisted.


Iggy turned to Brody, “Time to go darling, let’s get back to the room, grab our bags and leave, while we still can.” He grabbed Brody’s arm, surprising her, forcing her up from the table. To Iggy’s chagrin, the knight broke his hold and grabbed her wrist, while the corseted woman grabbed the other. They stretched her open while she struggled to free herself, thrusting out her chest in a very un-Cinderella like way.

“We’ll have none of that!” the knight shouted, clanking in his armor.

Things moved fast after that. Their food appeared on the table, and Iggy pushed back, kicking upward, knocking everything toward the others. Salads, roasts, and baked potatoes exploded outward.  He whipped his head around, looking for the exit, but there was none. The turquoise haired futurist jumped backwards, easily avoiding the flying table but not the food that landed on her. She laughed at his sudden confusion.

“What makes you think you left your room?” she asked.

Brody fought the two restraining her. Then paused, closed her eyes, and animated her nails. Making them grow and whip around like snakes, she used them to strike the wrists of her captors. Wheals formed, radiating black poison along their veins, until they let go, crying out. To her surprise, they deconstructed back into spectral smoke. Freed, Brody swung around and swiped her nails at the other dissolving specters, while they screamed in agony only to vanish suddenly.

Finally, she turned on the futurist. Iggy found the exit, and swept open the hidden closet door, while the woman chased him. Brody’s nails shot out and wrapped around her body, slicing into her clothing as they contracted around her. As they tightened, rather than cutting skin and drawing blood, they released smoke. When she evaporated, so did the mirage created in the closet. Iggy pointed Brody back toward the jungle.

Stepping out, he beckoned to his daughter, whose nails were already returning to their normal length. There, Iggy saw the twin hammocks, their suitcases opened on them. There were two gnomes rifling through their belongings. Iggy yelled, and they ran straight into the jungle, splitting in different directions, empty-handed.

“Time to go!” he repeated to Brody, as she emerged from the closet.

The jungle heat and humidity hit her, and sweat pearled on them both. They changed into traveling clothes magically, and were snapping their valises shut when hurricane-force winds struck them, throwing them into the hammocks.

“So! You want to play rough!” yelled Brody into the howling blast.

She turned to face the storm and saw the room’s door open into the hallway. Three old men, wizards in black robes (one was the concierge), whipped their wands toward Iggy and Brody. Iggy, fighting the wind, realized he wouldn’t have to search for the exit, but they had to get pass those wizards!

The star glowed on her palm, and she scooped the torrent of air, hurling it back at them, directing it over the top from their vector. The three staggered, striking the back wall, allowing father and daughter to march forward, heading out. But the wizards recovered before they made it through the door.

The one in the center formed a sphere of ball lightning between his fists. The other wizards pitched in and turned it into a spinning doughnut of sparks that slowly dilating open. In a swift move they threw it at Brody, freezing her inside the whirling storm, blocking her magic and paralyzing her.

Iggy screamed in fury, dropping his valise to attack the wizards. Before he reached the door frame, a living anvil stepped in front of it, and he ran smack into an iron wall. He staggered back stunned; but the anvil grabbed his biceps with two wrecking ball hands and lifted him off the floor. No matter how hard he kicked or squirmed, it locked him in place.

“We have them!” cried the concierge.

“Yes, but can we hold them? She’s strong,” said an ancient red haired wizard, frowning and sweating, exhausted by the ordeal.

“Long enough to tie her to the obsidian altar, then we can drain her and restore our powers!”

The three old men laughed greedily, using their wands to keep her in the ring of sparks, while levitating and floating her down the hallway to the banquet room. The living anvil carried his quarry behind them in a grim procession. They would force Iggy to watch as they sucked his daughter dry.

“What is wrong with you!” he yelled impotently, “she’s just a kid! You can’t feed on her!”

“Roaches check in but they don’t check out!” the third wizard said, an old man with long steely gray hair. The others tittered.


Forced onto the obsidian altar in the banquet room, they lashed Brody down using black vines that grew through eye holes in the plank. The vines tightened as she awoke, fighting them.

“What the…where am I? Let me up now!” she yelled, struggling.

“All in good time, my dear, all in good time. And only after we steal your magic!”

“Stay strong Brody!” Iggy cried. “I will save you once I break...yaow!” The anvil tightened her grip, crushing his arms. The cry of pain morphed into a cry of anguish. He was helpless.

The three wizards began an incantation, chanting over and over. Brody’s energetic magic rose from her belly, becoming a white cloud. Condensing and rotating like a ball of yarn, drawing power from her in a white thread coming out her umbilicus.

Red lines of light emanated from the foreheads of the three wizards, reaching toward the cloud. When they touched it, orange light pulsed and flowed back toward them, sucking on the cloud, shrinking it while continuing to draw her magic out.

Brody cried in agony, writhing on the obsidian altar. The wizards grew visibly younger and stronger, groaning with pleasure while she weakened and aged. It was a horrific sight, particularly for her father suspended in mid-air, kicking helplessly. Grins glowed on the wizards as their teeth straightened and whitened. The restoration of their former powers leached Brody’s youth while returning them to middle age.

At first, Brody’s breasts shrank and flattened out, then her skin became floppy, and wrinkles appeared on her face, neck, and hands. She struggled less and less, then she went slack altogether. Drool dribbled from the corner of her mouth.

“Hold boys! To finish her off, we must free her hands, and suck the last of her power from her palms. Each of you unbind her, now!” the concierge ordered greedily. He was now half his age, and handsome.

They did as they were told, Brody barely conscious. With her hands unbound, they restarted the incantation. She entered her fifties as they began sucking her dry, but with a surge of strength she made the star and pyramid on her hands glow.

“Yes, girl, give it to us! All of it! That’s it. Now!”

Brody clapped her hands together above her withered body. Grabbing the small remnant of her cloud magic, she reversed the flow, using her own chant. Now the orange light changed to red, then purple, and light streamed from the wizard’s foreheads into the cloud. 

It grew faster than before; the cloud swelling visibly, and it was the wizards’ turn to cry out in agony. She sucked hard, unwinding the yarn ball of power. She fed it back into her body, her youth and strength restored!

Iggy cried out in triumph. The living anvil staggered at the sight. The purple light turned lavender as she not only returned all the power she lost, but then stole the remnants of the three wizards’ too. Kicking her feet over her head, leaping off the altar, she landed standing with her back to them, and spread her arms wide. Taking the last of their powers, the light from their foreheads changed from lavender to gold, then sputtered out.

She stood with radiant wings of power, and spun on her heels, facing the robed men. They crumpled to the floor. Older than ever before. The anvil dropped Iggy to attack Brody.

“Oh, no you don’t, you iron monstrosity!” Brody exclaimed, before the anvil reached her, she used the pyramid glowing on her palm to draw the iron straight out of it in a molten stream absorbing its magic, until all that remained was an old cleaning lady with arthritic hands.


Iggy rose, rubbing his upper arms, and exclaimed, “You did it! You saved us, Brody. I promise I’ll never punish you again.”

“Now I know you’re lying, Daddy!”

“Best we take our luggage and get out of here. Who knows what other dangers are lurking about?”

She smiled at her father, and her face changed into that of the concierge, taking on the feral toothy expression the man gave them when they first checked in. It sent a shiver through Ignatius. Casually striding over to the fire alarm, she pulled it, sending shrill tones warbling through the entire complex.

Yelling over the racket, she declared, “I have other plans for this place. Follow me!”

He nodded and went after her out from the banquet hall that reverted into a dining room for a large group of guests. The obsidian altar changed back into a large table at the head of the room beside a lectern on the stage. They picked up their valises and left, flowing with the half awake crowd heading toward the exits. Most partially dressed, one shoe or high heel on, rubbing sleep from their eyes.

Once outside, the crowd huddled together in the wind and cold, staring back at the hotel looking for smoke. The stars peered down on them from the blackness. Now the noise of the alarm attenuated, like a conductor, Brodnatha stepped out front and center of the group with a dangerous gleam in her eye.
Probing the memories of the old men she absorbed, she checked off the guests and remaining staff in her mind. They were all outside. All except the three wizards still collapsed in the banquet hall and the hotel maid.

“No, no, you’re not planning to…”

“I am Daddy,” she interrupted, with the same feral grin as the concierge.

Lifting both palms heavenward, the star and pyramid glowed green, then purple, finally white. Dazzling firework sparks spiraled upward from each hand, entwining. With her left hand she added spin to the spiral which arced over and descended on the top of the hotel. The magical force drew the building inward, crushing the edges.

The guests and staff gasped at the sight as she twisted the building into a spiral braid reaching skyward. The sound of crunching cross beams, broken windows, and screeching metal assailed their ears. Cornices fell away and crashed at the base.

Brody snapped her fingers, and a blade of fire tracked along the sparks arching from her palms and lit the top of the building like a Roman candle. Everyone watched in shock. It flared and spread downward in a swath of flames.

“Are they dead?” Iggy asked as he stared at the conflagration. The flames engulfed the building, then flew upward in a shower of rainbow colored sparks.

Brodnatha took a breath. “Yes, I believe so. Never ever to suck the magic out of anyone again.”

Iggy looked at her daughter, dressed once again as a Goth, and said, “I need to teach you about restraint.”

“This is me restrained, Daddy! No place for old wizards,” she scoffed.

“Nor young witches, clearly. At least in that hotel!” he answered, grinning. “Looks like we’ll need to find somewhere else to stay tonight.”

The last hint of the concierge’s hatred drained away from her while everyone gawked at the blazing pyre. They could hear fire engines coming. Their sirens cycling in the distance, heading their way.

While others murmured around them, he carried their luggage over to their car, lifting the back hatch and loading it in. Brodnatha climbed into the passenger seat, and said, “You know, I could fly us to the next town.”

“Let’s not scare the locals anymore than we have to, Brody.”

“All right, Daddy. Did I ever tell you I love you?”

“Not in the longest time.”

“Well, I do.”

“I’m glad. But I’d hate to see you get that angry again after what you did back there.”

“Oh, Daddy!”