Watches of the Night

Walking back from the theater, very animated. Rain gurgling in the gutters.

Gillibrand had killed both Gladstone and Disraeli in the third act, Gladstone with a horse and Disraeli with an eagle, a shocking development by anyone’s standard. Where they can possibly go next is anyone’s guess, but that’s the bitch about these sequence plays, isn’t it? Petra’s glad she has a season pass and maybe she’ll buy another couple of tickets because there was a bit of prestidigitation in the middle of the sun city shuffle that she didn’t quite catch but must have been important and that’s going to come up again fasure and maybe she’ll stop for a beer on the way home and it’s too early to go

Three of them.

“Hey,” voice like a rotten berry, all grey fur and sweetness. “You look sad.”

She smiles, not desperate, just smiles, tooth and gum. “Nope, I’m fine.”

Circling, wary, suspicious. She can smell them through the rain, garbage and ordure and that permanent alien reek. “You looked sad.” Doggedly.

“Heal thyself. Do I look sad?” One, the littlest—and it’s always the littlest ones that are trouble, the ones with the knives and the brains—looks up at her, leans in close to where the tag hooked into its chest catches the light, breathes her in, tongue tasting the air. Smile, smile.

“No,” it says, doubting. “Be happy. Stay happy.”

“Yes,” she says, “very happy,” and smiles wider, to prove it. Slows her heart down, and her breathing; swallows adrenaline back into acid. All friends here.

Circle opens and she’s gone. Looking back from the light she can just see them watching her, eyes aglow. She hurries on, no longer wanting that beer.