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  • Writer's pictureScott Bell

Judge Shivers - Available NOW on Kindle Vella

This one was fun to write because I bent genres until they broke and let my imagination fun amok in the Old West. A Western/Sci-Fi/Magical Fantasy adventure is what it is.

As a Judge for the administrators of the Codex Magica, Calico Shivers makes life-and-death decisions about wizards gone bad…and then carries out the sentence. Nothing in his career has prepared him for his next assignment: termination of a rogue wizard who time travels, creates monsters for fun, and skateboards to his evil wizard lair. During an epic battle of magic and mundane munitions, Shivers is cast back into the 19th century American Old West, a time and place with limited magic, deep-seated prejudice, and no flush toilets.

Shivers rides into Geyser Falls, a town beset with beings out of myth and legend, and run by a smirking sheriff who mistakes Shivers for a real judge of the legal variety. Shivers first trial? A blue-haired, free-spirited witch sent back in time by the same bad actor.

In no time at all, Shivers is mired in murder, deceit, and treachery, all complicated by a really angry tribe of cannibals with a butt-knotted grudge against the people of Geyser Falls. The future looks very grim for misplaced wizards of the 21st century, and Shivers is caught between the need to get back to his own time, or protect the people of Geyser Falls.

An excerpt, just for fun...

I lounged with Jurgens on the deck of the Jurgens’ ranch. Majestic purple mountains defined the horizon. Amber grain waved in the foreground. I wanted to take a picture… or salute.

Administrator Jurgens handed me a thick file folder. “This one’s a freakazoid. Up to some strange shit.”

For an Admin, Jurgens was pretty cool. Six-two, broken nose. Spent some time in the Marines before he found his amulet and discovered magic. Most Admins spoke in commandments rather than sentences and pretended their farts smelled like cherry blossoms. Jurgens at least acted human, more often than not.

I took the file and tapped magic to force a light stream of air across my face, pushing away the burned-skunk smell of Jurgens’s cigar.

“A freakazoid?”

“Has a fetish for horror movies big enough to crush Tokyo.” Jurgens snorted and spat a bit of tobacco off his bottom lip. “The guy has done some shit, though, I’ll tell you. Managed to figure out an energy-time connection. Can you believe that? Twentysomething-year-old video gamer finds his stone, and within a year has done what no Magical has done in… well, in forever.”

“Wow.” I said with all the enthusiasm of a teenager handed a mop. “His name Zuckerberg by chance?”

Jurgens grimaced and nodded toward the file. “The guy’s pretty young.”


After a long pause, Jurgens said, “Well? You have any problems with it?”

“No.” I bit a scrap of dead skin from the corner of my thumbnail. Spat it out. “What difference does it make, how old he is?”

“That’s the Calico Shivers I know and love. Grim as stage-four cancer and twice as relentless.” Jurgens grinned around the cigar clamped in his teeth and added some scotch to his crystal tumbler. There was no ice. Jurgens was known to inflict bodily harm on people asking to pollute his Macallan Rare Cask with ice.

Jurgens turned serious. “How’s your sister doing?”

I opened the case file. “Dustin Birnbaum?”

“I would help if I could. You know that, right?” The Admin watched me for a few long heartbeats. Cigar smoke curled around his narrowed eyes. He sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Dustin Birnbaum has gone rogue.”

“Needs to work on his villain name.” I skimmed through the summary sheet and tripped over a landmine buried in the dry prose. Subject has mastered the art of time travel and has retrieved from the future items of gross danger to the general public. Subject has used these items in a manner which violates the Magical Code as it relates to doing no harm to the general public. “Time travel? Now, I know you’re shitting me.”

“Nope. That’s what I meant when I said he’d figured out the space-time continuum. Try to keep up.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Can we be a little less forthcoming? Or does too much information violate the Codex Magica?”

“Some things even Admins don’t want to write in a report. Too crazy.”

Jurgens’s four-year-old Dalmatian trotted over and planted his chin on my thigh. Play? Play? His tail flapped against the patio table, rattling the glasses.

I concentrated on the dog’s brown eyes. “Huck, go find your ball.”

The dog bounded away and dove into the tall grass, a dog on a mission. He reminded me of me.

“Dr. Doolittle,” Jurgens said. “Amazes the fuck outta me every time I see you talk to an animal.”

“My superpower.” I twitched a shoulder in a mini-shrug. Talking about my ability to communicate with animals inevitably led to the revelation that I preferred talking with four-legged critters more than I did most humans. A girl I dated briefly said I was emotionally distant. Well, dear, I kill wicked people for a living. Go figure.

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