One: How to Irritate People.

The situation was thus – a chappie whom I thought was a very good friend of mine had turned out to be a very sneaky weasel indeed. What with me being the vengeful sod I am, I decided to pop round his for a bit of intimidation. That's not what magick's for of course, but I was annoyed and wanted to take a look if I could pull off a big-time stunt like the one I had in mind. And I didn't fear karma – or whatever else – getting back at me; from my eyes it looked like I'd taken an awful lot of bullshit as of late, and therefore a bit of good luck was needed. Did it matter if I went out and used it to be real bastard? Not really, no.

The bus fare to his neck of the woods was usually extortionate, but this time around I only needed a single as I'd planned to walk back home so as to share my victory with the stars. The ride there was probably the most enjoyable time I'd ever spent on a bus, despite the various boring people scattered in the threadbare, steel-lined chairs around me. I'd planned my movements down to a tee, and knew that if all went well, I'd be reaping the smugness of this one night's events for months to come. Sitting at the back of the bus with a small hopeful grin and clad in my usual uniform of black shirt, big brown coat and jeans, I probably looked drunk. And to be honest, I was – drunk on anticipation, on the prospect of things actually going my way for a change.

I knew the score rather well. The prat on whom I was soon to visit my sumptuous wrath was doing his very best to get into the knickers of a young lady he knew I had my eye on. Of course, there was little chance that I'd ever get with her myself – a notion I was oddly rather comfortable with – but if anyone else was having her, I didn't want her ending up with a slimy git like him. Handsome and prosperous he may very well have been, but he was also a double-dealing, underhanded egomaniac who was using his wily charms to try and seduce a very fine girl. Normally I would have admired this – it was a tactic I often used myself – but he was also using his recent conquests to rub things in the face of his distraught ex, yet another girl I quite fancied and didn't want to see pissed around with. Therefore, by the power vested in me – and an awful lot of power there was, dear reader – I made it my noble quest to humiliate him. Badly.

Having used his cunning to lure his target to his opulent home, the sod was now planning nothing less than a dinner in a room filled with candlesfollowed by telly on the sofa, and if all went according to his plan, oodles of hot sex afterwards. From what my research told me, it would only be the two of them all alone in that great big house. This would of course play to my advantage, as I'd only have to hide from two sets of eyes. I consider myself a stealthy bugger, but had anyone else been around I'd have re-considered carrying out my scheme.

Arching back to find a more comfortable region of the seat cushion beneath me, I again reached into my pocket to double-check the sweet little relic which would allow me to start things off. A glass vial, containing within its miniature frame a dosage of St. Wulfric's Twilight, an alchemical concoction which could purge whole buildings of light. I remembered the trader telling me stories about how Scots thieves had used it to snuff out all the candles in Winchester Abbey so they could get to the corpse of King Edward the First and dress it as a woman. He also mentioned something about Colonel Blood using it during his theft of the Crown Jewels. Naturally I didn't believe a word of this, but I needed the stuff and was forced to trade in my last remaining jar of black mamba venom. I made a big deal that it was of great value to me just so he'd enjoy taking worthless pap from my hands and giving me a very neat little powder. I could quite easily have cut the power to the house, which of course I was going to do anyway. However, I couldn't summon up a gust of wind on a still night like this, least of all one which could snuff out a whole roomful of candles. Not unless I'd drank eight pints of Carling the night before, anyway. And I couldn't afford to drink anything at the moment – that would come afterwards.

The bus hissed to a halt at a stop just down the road from the house. I knew that the driveway would probably be well lit, so it was simply a matter of walking the longer way around and popping in via the entrance in the back garden. This was going to entail a small amount of trespassing, but I didn't give two shits. In a few minutes I'd be breaking and entering, so climbing over a fence wasn't going to put me off. And besides, the world I delved in was one of forbidden ground. When you've messed around with people like warlocks and voodoo magicians, you start to care a whole lot less about the police.

This was going to have to be the Scream approach, of course. I had my mobile phone primed to make a call to the home phone, setting off all three phones across the house. This would doubtlessly cause a bit of annoyance, especially if I did it at the right moment. Commendably stealthy, I flung myself over a fence and nestled cosily in the hedge surrounding the back garden. Peering carefully over the top, I saw the two of them in the dining room. Impressive. There was an awful lot of candles. The guys who'd apparently robbed Winchester Abbey would have backed away at a challenge like this. Not little old me.

Dinner looked like it was starting well. With a bit of Holmesian deduction and aura-reading, I managed to survey the situation. The din-dins in question was a chicken stir-fry – some sort of Oriental dish, from what I could make out. An already-opened bottle of merlot stood between the candles, and their glasses had been filled. She was impressed by his efforts, although maybe not impressed enough to give him what he wanted if the evening carried on this well. And although he was trying to hide it, he was hornier than a young bull who's just inherited a new beefy harem. Their auras gave off more than enough clues. Had I been the squeamish type, I might very well have been sick. But I don't recoil from mushiness – I'm just very cynical about it. Knowing full well that I'd be waiting for a few minutes before I could act in any way, I settled down for my own light lunch – two sausage 'n bacon sandwiches, and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. It wasn't stir-fried chicken, but I hadn't brought any cutlery.

Things progressed as expected. As I leant back and munched on my sarnies, they'd obviously been locked in polite conversation. Out of a need for a bit of a laugh, I occasionally made him drop his fork, much to his own puzzlement. I was also tempted to make him spill the wine, but I didn't want to be that much of a sod until later. Having watched them dwindle their plates, I now realised this would be the ideal moment for him to move her to the sofa. As if on cue, they rose from their chairs. Maestro, music please…

I called up the house phone. I knew he'd take around ten seconds to run to the phone, during which time they'd be separated. As she made her way to the living room in order to settle down on the sofa, he belted into the hallway. I flipped myself into the garden, and ran round to get a different view of the house. Once I got a nice look of the living room, I settled back down into hiding and heard him answer the phone. There were candles in there too. Not bad.

"Hello?" He began, not at all sounding annoyed that he'd been pried away from his interests.

"Good evening sir." I replied, putting on the most timid voice I could. "Terribly sorry to disturb you at this hour of the evening – I was just wondering, is the head of the household in?"

"I'm afraid not, no – both of my parents are away."

"Ah, I see. Would you happen to know anything concerning the overdue notice on the rent?"

"The rent? I'm sorry, there's something wrong. We own the house."

"The…oh, my boy, it seems I've rang the wrong number!"

"Ahh, no problem."

"Terribly sorry, once again!"

"No worries. Have a good evening."

We both hung up. Keeping my eye fixed on the living room, I saw him enter and sit down next to her. His pride filling the room around him, he turned on the telly, put on some DVD, and made an attempt to snuggle. The cheeky sod. He probably hadn't given a moment's thought to how I'd feel about this whole thing if I ever found out. Well, he would soon learn the consequences of playing around with a mean bastard such as me.

I emptied the vial of St. Wulfric's into the palm of my hand, and with a bit of concentration flung it into the air. With a single flicker, every single candle snuffed itself. This stuff genuinely was the bee's knees. I'd probably give the trader something nice next time I popped round.

Watching their confusion with some small measure of humour, I saw him dither around as he tried to figure around what the hell had just gone wrong, whilst she too was also in a state of some perplexity. Now of course would come the hard part.

I felt painful bubbles of energy fizzle into existence on my ethereal line. Cutting out the power of the entire building was no small feat, and would normally have left me the worse for wear. However, the feelings of triumph I would get in performing the act would rejuvenate me once things were over. As the pain reached an immaculate crescendo, I shoved it firmly from my astral surroundings and it etched itself into the house. With a simple flick, as with the candles, the blue-white glow of the television disappeared, as did all of the lights in the other room. Now things would go up a gear.

Quickly, I zoomed across the garden and stepped into the back room via the fortunately open patio doors. Normal burglars end up heard and detected at this sort of point. Chappies like me just keep going. I knew full well that in their fear, they wouldn't be leaving the living room for a few more seconds. Cool as I could be, I crossed the hallway and went upstairs to his bedroom, which was also shrouded in darkness. With a little bit of heightened senses, I could easily tread through the place and heard the two of them downstairs.

"I'm going to check the circuit breakers in the attic." He explained to her. "Wait here and lock the living room door. I'll be two minutes, I promise."

Before any reply could be made, I rang the phone again.

"Oh shit!" Was his reply.

As I heard his footsteps tap across the hallway and the living room door lock behind him, I flipped into a neat little spell I'd learnt from some gypsy woman during my two-week booze-up in Prague. Puck's fiddle - an amusingly-titled voice-changing trick which was pretty easy to pull off when you knew what to do; change bog-all about your larynx, convince yourself that the voice is right, and get the tones to carry the spell to their ears. Fantastic for practical jokes.

"Hello?" He asked, a little shakier this time.

"Hi love, mum here!" I replied, marvelled by my perfect rendition of his mother's voice. "How's everything back home?"

"Err…not good mum." He answered. "The electric's just kicked out. I'm going to check the circuit breakers in the attic."

"Oh fab, eh? Anyone else there?"

"Nah, I'm on my own…I'll just take a look, shouldn't take too long. I'll be safe enough, I've done it before."

"Alright then love. How's everything else?"

"All's good apart from that mum. Shall I ring you when I'm done?"

"No love, you enjoy your evening. Bye for now!"

"Byeee."

I now had incontrovertible proof that the man would lie to his own mother. Not only that, but the object of his desires had heard him lie. That would probably piss her off. With glee, I heard the living room door unlock and open.

"Who was that?" She demanded.

"Err…no-one important."

"Why did you say you were on your own?"

"Ech…I'll explain when I'm done with the lights. Back in a tick – just be careful."

I heard him make his way up the stairs and head past on the landing outside, reaching for the stepladder which would let him up into the attic. Cautiously, I peeked my head around the doorframe and saw his foot take the final step above. As he did so, with a simple gesture I jammed the trapdoor beneath him. This was almost too good. Of course, he wouldn't know of his situation until he tried to get out again.

For the third time I rang the house-phone. After a few insistent rings, I heard the distinctive click of the living room door downstairs and a female voice answered. This time around, for the purposes of general evil, I took the voice of my adversary's ex.

"Hello?"

"Who is this?" I said, successfully stifling inner giggles that longed to reach the surface.

"It's…"

"I know who you are!" I interrupted, my fiery woman's voice surprising even me. "You're that bitch he's been going after for ages! He told me he was going to try and shag you tonight! He said you'd be gagging for it!"

"What?"

"And he said he was alone when I rang! Just…just don't bother, alright!" I retorted, hanging up shortly thereafter. Knowing I now had to act fast, I released my spell on the trapdoor and my unfortunate enemy almost stumbled out. Turning out the lights once more in his room, I stepped back into the shadows and took the final voice I'd need for the evening, that of the young lady currently fuming downstairs.

"Honey…" I whispered, almost seducing myself, "…I'm in here."

As any man would have done, the idiot wondered curiously into his room. As he made to turn on the lights, I continued my intensely disturbing tract.

"No…" I carried on, "…I'm a girl who likes being in the dark. And you've done so well this evening, I wanted to kinda reward you with something. And the way you got all the candles to go out and the lights and…you've been a busy boy…"

At this point, I almost was sick. However, humour and a desire for bloody vengeance spurned me onwards. I could stomach this madness if it meant I won for a change. And besides, I couldn't afford the distraction of disgust if I wanted to pull of something such as hypnotising him. Which, unfortunately, I had to do. Mere voice and trick of the light wouldn't work. He was going to have to feel it happen. And I didn't want to submit myself to that sort of drudgery, not for any price.

"Well, yeah…that was a bit clever I suppose." He answered, stumbling forwards. "But you like it in the dark, do you?"

"I want you to undress." I half-giggled, whilst inwardly wanting to shoot myself. "And I'm going to get naked too. Then, I'm going to lie down on the bed, and then you can lie on me, and well…we'll see what happens, shall we?"

"Oh yes!"

"There's…there's just one thing I want you to do, honey."

"Yeah, sure babe, anything."

"I want you to stick this cucumber up your ass."

A roar of laughter took place in the very depths of my being, as if an entire continent of peoples had suddenly been tickled simultaneously. Being as desperate as this guy was, he would doubtlessly shove vegetables into his person if it meant he'd end up getting sex. I reached into my coat pocket, and handed him the empty vial which had once stored the St. Wulfric's. The trader wouldn't be needing it back, after all. With a slight nudge of his conscious mind, I convinced him that it was not a glass vial at all, but rather a small cucumber.

"Uh…sure…okay…"

"But then I'll do anything honey! Anything! I promise!"

As I heard the vainglorious twat begin to remove his clothes, I stepped out of the room and almost closed the door behind me, leaving him thinking that he was now in his bedroom getting naked with his target. I'd have danced with joy had I not wanted to avoid making a noise. Walking across the landing, I opened the window which overlooked the garage. From there, I could make a leap back into the garden again. As my leg flipped out through the open window, I heard the young lady bound up the stairs, rage apparent in every step. Setting myself on the garage roof, I closed the window behind me, and quickly let myself down into the garden. Resuming my old position, I looked up at the bedroom window and waited.

The door flung open.

"Gagging for it, am I?" Came a dangerous, female voice. "What the fuck do you think you're playing it?"

"What? Babe, I…"

The light came on. The shocked silence swept through the room for a good five seconds. Then, the wonderful conclusion came.

"You messed-up, double-dealing pervert!"

There was then a swift, unyielding thwack. And a very shrill, yet very male scream. As I imagined her leaving the room in a huff and heading downstairs to gather her stuff, and him lying on his bed with shards of glass piercing his anus, a snicker of Machiavellian satisfaction flew out from my lips – loud enough to be triumphant, yet silent enough to go-unnoticed. Pleased with my endeavours, I began the long walk back to my flat, taking in the splendid dark of the evening and generally content with the world at large.

Word spread quickly. The image of my one-time comrade bent over his bed with a glass vial up his arse was placed into the minds of hundreds of people up and down the area. His lying, perverse ways were now the talk of the town. All because of me – Walton Taylor, nineteen-year-old mage and qualified bastard. The world finally saw things my way.

Of course, it didn't help that I was arrested half-way back.