Fiction Fantastic 2019 Winning Story: “The Curious Case of Francis Dublau” by Christian Bonham

The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.

You can purchase this story in the 2019 Winners Anthology, Portals here.

“The Curious Case of Francis Dublau” by Christian Bonham, Gilham Elementary School

Second Place, Elementary Level, 2019

The Curious Case of Francis Dublau

By Christian Bonham

Gilham Elementary School

I was helpless. Doomed. Dead. The viper curled around my neck as the fire raged on. This would be the end of Francis Dublau. The viper got closer . . .

* * *

It all started one morning when I got out of bed. My name is Dublau. Francis Dublau. I’m a French detective. I’m telling you about the most curious case I ever solved. As I was saying, it was the morning. The morning after the night. The night the wizard performed in the Maison Spectacle. The wizard did some tricks and shows, but the crowd wasn’t impressed. This is what set the case into motion. From what I understand, the wizard had gone home to practice his skills. You see, this wasn’t your average magician. This was a wizard by the name of Florence Yorrey.  Florence did actual magic. There was one knot in his rope, though. A large knot actually. He wasn’t good at magic. Florence came from a long line of wizards and witches. So when Florence got home, he practiced his magic. First, he made an apple fly. “Simple,” he reasoned. Or it would be, for a normal wizard, but Florence was the opposite of normal. He was odd.

Just to say, there was apple everywhere. This is when the apartment complex first called the police. Something about exploding apples. Anyway, the wizard wasn’t happy. He was the laughing stock of the town. Now, there’s one other very famous place besides the Maison Spectacle. The people call it the Imperious Wood. The Imperious Wood isn’t a place you want to go into. They say only magical beings can come out alive. The Wood is located just North of this town, right over Tarrytown bridge. A quick, yet dangerous journey. One that the wizard knew he had to take, if he wanted to find real magic. He set off to the Imperious Wood…

The second time the neighbors complained, I was called in. The reason for this call right as I got out of bed, was that the neighbors had seen Monsieur Florence Yorrey go into the Imperious Wood. This was, to protect people, illegal. 

I went over to his house. I knocked three times before Florence answered. 

“Who might you be?” he asked. 

“I’m Monsieur Francis Dublau,” I answered mysteriously. 

“Please, come in” he said. I did as he asked. His home was large, with various clutter throughout. I told him about the neighbors, the police, and the Wood. He being an honorable man, told me the truth.

Florence had journeyed North of the town, over the Tarrytown bridge, and into the Wood. There was a hex on the Wood. Evil magic couldn’t leave unless good magic brought it out. Florence ran through the forest, afraid of what lurked in the cover of the trees. I realize I have forgotten to describe Florence Yorrey. He was average height, about twenty years old, with a cloak and top hat. Implanted in his hat was a feather. It was a feather of a quetzal. It stood for uniqueness. Florence seemed to have forgotten.

Finally, the wizard got to his destination. An old shack, with various organs in jars and voodoo weaponry. This was a witch doctor’s shack. I would like to explain various magic humanoids. First, there is a wizard. A wizard is someone who practices magic for the good of people. It can be male or female. There are also warlocks. They are evil wizards. And there are witch doctors. They gamble in some of the darkest arts. And yet, there was Florence Yorrey. At the door of the shack. He had to make a choice. A tough choice. He could knock and have his problems fixed. Or, he could play it safe, and go home humiliated. Florence made his choice.

At this point, Monsieur Yorrey went to make me some tea. I sat pondering all of this. I had known magic was real, but I didn’t know I’d ever met a wizard. Florence soon reappeared with the tea. “Sugar?” he asked. 

“Yes, thank you” I answered. 

Florence muttered a spell under his breath. The sugar cubes leapt to life, like a corpse waking from the dead. I jumped back in surprise as the cubes threw themselves into my tea. “Don’t worry, Monsieur Dublau, they are but harmless” he answered reassuringly. 

Now back to the case.

Florence stepped into the shack, where a tall man was sitting. “I . . . I need your help,” Florence stammered. 

“You want real magic,” the man said. “Well, it comes with a price.” 

Florence put all the money he had brought onto the table. “Will this do?” Florence asked. 

The man nodded. He put a box on the table. “What lies inside will help you find real magic,” the man said. 

At this point, Florence brought a small box onto the table. “I have yet to open it,” he stated. 

“Well, let’s open it!” I said enthusiastically. He slowly, and carefully, opened the box.

As swift as a cheetah, a small viper jumped out, heading for the window. “Get it!” Florence yelled, as I dove for the viper. But I was too late; the viper was free.

The viper slithered down the street, looking for its first victim. It slid through an open window of a townhouse. Once the viper was in, it struck. Biting the ankle of a man named Thomas Herreau. Thomas had invited a friend over that night, who was watching the whole thing. He ran outside, screaming of a dangerous viper. This sent the town into panic.

The viper slithered into a safe place, by the name of Maison Spectacle. Thomas’ friend, Augustus Maxwell, followed the viper with a torch. He looked around for the viper. Where was it? The snake was as wise as a rat, and bit Augustus’ ankle from behind. He dropped the torch, setting the building aflame. I knew what I had to do.

I ran inside with a sharp piece of wood. “Where are you, snake?” I yelled. The serpent lunged for my ankle, attempting to bite me. I stumbled backwards, collapsing. I was helpless. Doomed. Dead. The viper curled around my neck as the fire raged on. This would be the end of Francis Dublau. 

The viper got closer, ready to bite. Suddenly, the door burst open. There, was Florence Yorrey. In his hand was his wand. The end glowed a deep violet. A purple whirlwind appeared, sucking the viper into it. 

Florence helped me up and out. On his face was a smile. He had found real magic. Another case complete.