The Magicians of Albion

The magicians ride through Albion, careless on their bicycles, cigarettes dangling obstinately from their lips. They are thin with hunger, dark from the sun. Their fingers are stained yellow and black with tobacco and mercury.

They dress exceptionally poorly.

The streets are narrow in the atelier district, asphalt cracked and pitted. The city can’t be bothered. The magicians tell stories about the old monsters, how they filled with rain and the townies would build rafts and swim in them until someone drowned.

The magicians shout to each other while they ride, talk theory and gossip, who’s sleeping with whom, the books they’re reading, the way the world should be run. Taxation and social theory. At nights they stagger from bar to pub, getting louder and drunker and happier until someone vomits or gets arrested.

They pile into the lab, reeking and unbathed, all greasy faces and hairy armpits. They take their robes and notebooks from their lockers, and get to work.

Within an hour the world has burned away.