safe 2

This is a follow-up to “safe” and was written because Trent asked for more.  I don’t know if this will be the end of it or if I will continue to come back to this character.  We’ll just have to, as always, see where the words take us.

……………………………

She woke to the scratch of the sun on her hand, absentmindedly trying to brush it away with no success.  Her eyes cracked against the glare, to glare at the offending stray beam of light splashed across her flesh.  Scowling she withdrew her hand and curled away from the day but sleep would not come back to her and a few minutes later she sat up and took stock of her surroundings.

It was later than she had expected, which is why the sun had found her in the alcove of the now defunct store.  Not unlike the carts that used to be returned on a nightly basis, she found her way there most evenings to find her rest.  The world, people and cars, bustled nearby, visiting the shops that were still open in this dying strip mall.  Without the flagship, the others would close eventually unless a new grocer came in to fill the vacancies.  She had seen it go both ways before.

Her pack was where she’d left it.  She was grateful for that but had learned how to get by without her few possessions.  Her current pack, a purple and ragged affair, was not her first and would not be her last.  Things had a way of walking off in the middle of the night.  That truth was part of living on the streets.

Fishing a cigarette from her dwindling pack, she struck a match and pulled in the smoke, filling her lungs with warmth, before releasing it to the wind.  She watched the smoke disappear before taking another drag.  It was a nicotine breakfast kind of day again.  Her stomach hardly argued with her much anymore and this morning was no exception.  She had some coins rattling around in a pocket.  She’d see if she could find them a few more companions and maybe get some lunch in a bit, or maybe get a new pack.  Depending on how the rest of the morning went that could be a tough call.

Stretching, she crushed the filter of her now spent cigarette between finger and thumb, and then deposited the butt in the small pile of trash she’d move to a can when she walked away.  She liked to keep her space clean.  She didn’t see any sense in allowing her small nightly alcove to become cluttered with trash, especially when there was a can only a few feet away and she’d pass it on her way to the park.  Shouldering her pack, her muscles groaned her onto her feet, and she took a few timid steps until she found the strength and balance to stride onward.  Lunch seemed like it might need to win out over smokes.  Then again, the day was still young and almost anything could happen before she’d have the coins to get either.

Advertisements

apart

He ran his hands along the fabric of their existence, caressing the invisible strings that connected all things and sending reverberating melodies strumming before him.  He smiled, sad and euphoric.  The song was beautiful, the song of life, of connectivity, but he would never get to share it with anyone else.  Long had he traveled the world looking for someone like him, someone who could see the threads of life, the connections and interdependencies, and had never met anyone who could see as he did.  The magic of who he was did little to quell the loneliness.

He stood apart, disconnected from the grid.  He could walk through it, manipulate it, and, with a brush of his hand, send a thousand songs cascading forward, but he was not a part of it.  In all his wandering, he was the only living thing he had come across that was not intertwined with the rest of the grid.

When he had been young, he had tried to tell his parents and friends about what he was seeing.  They all just said he had a vivid imagination.  When he got older he considered trying to bring it up again but had grown less naïve in the intervening years and was loathe to risk being labelled as something he was not or being drugged into conformity.  As lonely as it was to be the only thing set apart from the rest of the world, he didn’t want to give that up, didn’t want to lose his unique view.  Not to say that the world wasn’t beautiful for everyone else as well but getting to see how all things were joined and hearing the music that came with those connections must, absolutely must, enhance the experience of that beauty.

sticky

The web clung to his shoe, as only webs can, sticky and stringing out in tendrils.  He, of course, hadn’t meant to walk through it but he was terrible about such things.  With his mind always on other things, he tended to walk into things and trip over his feet, even when he was looking down at them.  His thoughts were rarely with his eyes.  Not that he was always working on world saving problems, his ambitions were not that lofty.  His mind simply never found it easy to be in the present, the here, the now.

The web presented an obstacle to that, though.  He hated spiders.  And removing the web would be a challenge.  He couldn’t brush it away with his hand.  The web would just transfer over.  He could try to scuff his shoe against a curb or wall but that might do nothing more than mar the polish.  He had no tissue or other paper handy he could sacrifice to the cause.  So, the tendrils continued to drag and stretch out behind each of his steps and his thoughts became so stuck on the matter that he missed the door opening in front of him until he had crashed into it.

After picking himself up, dusting himself off, accepting the apology of the person who opened the door – who wasn’t at fault but apologized anyway – he was pleased to note that the web had come free in the commotion.  The last of it drifted in creeps and crawls along the sidewalk until he caught on a grate and waved menacing taunts in the breeze.  Glad to be rid of the web, he continued on with his journey and his thoughts soon returned to other matters, some more pressing than others.

All things considered, a walk with only two unwanted bumps wasn’t bad.  He had suffered far worse in shorter distances.  He seemed to always run into a few things.  He had no intentions of being more mindful, though.  That wasn’t his way and he was too old to want to change.

natural

The room smelled of leather and wax.  A desk took up most of one wall, a bed another, a small window would have invited in the sunshine if the thick drapes had not been shut against it.  Two candles on the desk provided the only, flickering, light.  A small bookcase, only two shelves and those only half full, was on the third wall within reach of the desk.  There was no door to the room.  It required magic to get in and magic to leave, as per its design and intent.  The creator favored privacy so he could study uninterrupted at his leisure.

He had come to his room that morning to tidy the place up a bit.  He would soon have an apprentice he would be bringing along to study and practice the craft.  However, he had soon gotten distracted in the particulars of a spell he had been toying with.  The few books he did keep were more a set of observations and ideas rather than written spells.  He was of the belief that magic was organic, natural, and couldn’t not be controlled simply with words.  It had to be felt, breathed, tasted, touched, lived.  Some of his peers laughed at him and called him a fool and yet sometimes their magic failed them.  His magic never failed.

Still, they flourished in their schools and their traditional methods, advancing through hierarchal ranks, accumulating spell books and scrolls, accolades and apprentices.  He became the recluse, happy to practice the craft in his own way, confident in his abilities and his assumptions of the art.  He was fine with that arrangement until a recent trip to the nearby town and had resulted in a deviant attempting to rob him of his meagre possessions.  He had called upon his magic to foil the heist.  A passerby had witnessed the exchange and had begged him to teach them.  After a prolonged conversation, it was learned that the passerby, still a child in many ways, had failed in the traditional schools but still wanted to learn.  He saw this as an opportunity to prove his theories were correct.  If he could teach another his methods successfully….

Light sprang from his hand as he finished the spell.  He had called upon the flame from one of the candles on his desk to share its illumination with his flesh, then he called upon the light itself to intensify until it was as though his hand had become a torch.  He pointed his palm at the dark corners of the room to reveal the cobwebs gathering dust in the shadows and that reminded him of the task he had meant to set upon.  Closing his hand the magic dispersed and the light went out.  The candles continued to flicker in the stirrings of his movement.  The room still smelled of leather and wax.  Nothing had changed.  Everything had changed.

dealer

He had the perfect cover, working as a security guard for a large corporation.  It gave him ample opportunity to be walking the outskirts of the parking lot, and up and down corridors, and interacting with all sorts of people.  His schedule was changed week over week, giving him the chance to work odd hours.  He had access to the video room so he could review and edit any footage that happened to catch him doing something he wasn’t supposed to, but that rarely happened because he knew where the cameras were and how to avoid them.  Plus, as a guard, having passed through their screening process and gone through their training, who would suspect him?

So, he passed his days living his double life, giving the employees some semblance of security by being present to screen people coming into the building and walking through the large parking lots to deter illegal activities there, while selling drugs.  Sometimes he sold to the employees but he didn’t like to do that.  People using on site could lead to trouble and that could lead back to him.  So, those instances were rare.  Usually, he just had his clientele walk through the lot and he’d meet them between cars and swap baggies for cash, both then carrying on in opposite directions.  Or, should the transaction occur close to a camera he would stop and make it look like he was asking if they were an employee, if he could see their badge, and then ushering them off the campus.

While the current setup was good, he knew it wasn’t foolproof so he had plans to cut and run if it seemed like he’d been figured out or if a sting was getting put in place.  He also didn’t plan on working at one location for very long.  He would request a move to a different building, a different business.  He might bounce around for a bit, under the guise of the contracted security guard and then he would figure out what to do next.  He didn’t need the real income.  His drug sales kept him in more cash than he needed.  But, having a legitimate job smoothed out some other parts of his life, like relationships and bank accounts and taxes.

Then all his plans went out the window.  She, he would eventually find out, had a way of doing that to everyone she met.