30 Pieces

Note from the Author: If you’ve started noticing a pattern in the themes for my writing, then congratulations on paying attention! Honestly though, I’m not as obsessed with magic or mystery as these might imply. More simply: I’m searching through hard-drives and Google Drive and it seems like most of the writing which has survived the period between my scribbling it and now publishing it, is focused on the fantastical! Call it supernatural, but maybe something magical made sure these were the ones to survive. Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, ‘divertiti!’ 

I was awake for some time, but kept my eyes closed and listened to the sound of her breathing. Slow and rhythmic, it lulled me peacefully for about ten minutes or so, before I fought the aching behind my eyes and pushed myself out of bed.

Leaving her arm behind me, I eased off the squeaking springs of the bed and gathered by clothes from the pile by the bed where they’d fallen. For a moment, the belt clinked against the rune-lined silver cuff on my right wrist and I froze, thinking for a panicked moment that I’d woken her. But a muffled moan was all I’d stirred as she rolled over, exposing the lank and sweaty strands of long platinum hair stuck to her back. Before her make-up ran she’d looked alright, especially after a few pints and a shot or two at Rev’s. Now, her sunken panda eyes looked ghoulish and the shocking red lipstick smeared across her face made it look like she’d tried to take a bite out of me.

I touched my neck and the dark bruises that throbbed beneath the skin.

Maybe she had.

On tiptoes, I stumbled my way to the chink of light from the bathroom and slowly clicked it shut behind me.

The mirror exposed me. My body was wan of pallor and skinnier than I’d like it to be, so the purple bruising on my neck stood out in my view like blood in a snowstorm. With a concerned frown, I touched one hickie tenderly with a pale finger.

I’d have to deal with that later.

Pulling on my worn blue jeans and black strokes T-shirt, I tried to muss life into my short black hair while looking about her washroom. To be honest, through the blur of loud music and pleasurable company, I wasn’t entirely sure I could remember her name. The prescription amphetamines in her locked bathroom cabinet claimed she was ‘Molly May’ from Canary Wharf… The Amphotericin B which sat calmly beside the cistern, however, named her a humbler Natasha Riggs from a two-bit flat in Peckham.

I sifted through the locked cabinet and found a little packet of white powder, some fluffy buds of cannabis, a capped pot of something undistinguishable and a little bit of jewellery which I didn’t touch. The rest I took though, slipping it into the inside pocket of my jacket.

Molly (for the sake of argument I chose the former name) was a bit of a slob. Around me, her bathroom was a mess of make-up and dirty clothes piled in an overflowing hamper. As I sat on the toilet seat, pulling on my boots one at a time, I tried to shake off the fog of my hangover[1].

I played with the energies in the room, raising my right hand (and cursing once more the ugly metal bracelet) I tried to draw in some heat. Something so simple as this only needed a low hum, unlikely to wake my bed companion, so I made a low note, trying to feel for the pitch which would snag the magyk in the room. There was a spark in my palm, a little smoke, but then nothing. I sighed and pulled on my coat, it was going to be a long day.

Somewhere outside, pigeons were cooing on the rooftops and the bustle of morning London life was beginning to crescendo. If I didn’t want to endure the morning-after awkwardness, I’d have to get out sharp-ish.

Pulling the bathroom door open, I peeked around it to see Molly was still in bed, bare pink ass lying proudly just above the hem of the bedsheets. I couldn’t resist a satisfied smirk[2] before tiptoeing over a pile of clothes, around a coat stand and mirror, and ducking underneath a bare clothes rail to get to the door of her studio apartment. I was fiddling with the lock when a low sonorous hum echoed around the room and shocked Ms May from her sleep.

Frantically I wrapped my fingers around the silver cuff and tried to conduct away the magyk making the vibrato wail which sounded like the humming of bells rubbing together. It wouldn’t stop until I answered the call though.

There was a squawk behind me as I slammed the door and legged it down the stairs. She wouldn’t be chasing me, but I didn’t want to wake everyone in the building. And I couldn’t very well try a Blink or even a Stepstone Spell[3] until I’d sobered up a bit more. Fuck’s sake.

I pulled the sleeve on my jacket down over the cuff and stuck my hand in my pockets as soon as I was out of the front door of the building.

A biting wind hit my face as I struggled to take my bearings. So this was somewhere in Clapham? You could tell from the soggy newspaper left floating in the gutters and torn up circus or gig posters left fading on any available surface. I groped the inside pockets of my jacket for a cigarette, but could only find an empty packet.

 

 

[1] A clear head is, of course, a necessity in order to work even the smallest spells. Anything less and you’re risking all sorts of dangers. I once knew a street-trick who tried to show off with a little playing card display while pissed. Lacerated his brachial artery and then the animated cards ate his corpse. Shit you not.

[2] What can I say, I enjoy the simple things in life…

[3] Pretty useful for getting around. The first works on blind-spots. Everyone in a room blinks, and I’m suddenly there. The second’s a bit more showy. Portals and shit happen. Works better for groups.