Ally threw the remains of the BigMac wrapper onto the pickup's dash and dusted her hands off on her pants. She stretched in the seat, pushing her legs to full extension against the back of the firewall until her neck touched the roof, head bent over, and she felt what might have been her patellae settling in place. Feeling slightly more human, she dropped back into the seat with a sigh.
The radio/CD-player in the dash, which was quietly playing Stewart's REM disc, displayed 02:42. The disposable coffee mugs by her knees were long cold and empty, a fact Allison cursed. The warmth would have been appreciated as Stu had insisted on opening the windows a crack to keep them from misting up and the night was unseasonably chill.
Stu, in the passenger seat, was still absorbed in his casebook. When his eyes weren't flickering up to watch the street, he was reading the battered, dog-eared pocketbook by the dim glow of a snake-light attached to the back cover. Whenever Allison glanced over she saw pages covered in his laborious, crabbed hand-writing and careful sketches - glyphs, simulacra, suspects and artefacts. Here and there folding card sheets had been attached to blank pages, hiding larger - or more dangerous - diagrams. She knew better by now not to ask and he never volunteered the information.
"There's our man."
Stewart's head was up, looking out at the solitary figure who had appeared on the street. The man wore a heavy jacket and hurried along the pavement, alternately blending into the night and making stark contrast against the street-lamp spotlights. Ally and Stu watched as he studiously ignored the world around him, the quiet city streets and the street-walker who shivered with her arms crossed over herself he passed on the corner of a side road. He only slowed when he reached a narrow alley and approached the lone non-descript service entrance to Finnegan's Garage lit by a pale cage-wrapped bulb. He knocked, looked over his shoulder, knocked again and the door opened to spill a square of light across the alley. A moment later and the figure was gone, the door closed once more.
Allison took the revolver from the glove compartment. Stu snapped the notebook closed and slipped it inside his coat. As one they stepped out of the pickup's cab and, without a word, crossed the street to the garage.
I started writing this randomly and about half-way through I realised it was unintentionally a fan-fic for The Night Circus. No bad thing I suppose.
Her gaze drifted across the ring, eyes straining against the lime light glare to pierce the gloom which hung over the stands. She struggled to pick out individual faces. Here a lady's floral head-piece stood out from the shadows; there a gentleman's spectacles shined in the reflected glory of the show lights.
The gentle murmers of the audience fell to silence as the tent dimmed, the gas lamps flames shrinking until just a shaft of moonlight remained.
With a slow, elegant sweep of her arm towards the sky, the figure at the centre of the ring appeared. Of course, she had been there all along but, in a leotard of palest marble-grey and with skin and hair dusted to match, she had been near imperceptible against the moon-bathed sand of the ring.
Later, Charlotte could not have told even herself what unfolded in the ensuing time. It might have been a few minutes or a turn of the planet, as short as a dream and long as a love's sigh. Though the tent remained in utter silence throughout, the figure recounted a memory of adoration, delight and loss from the peaks of ecstasy to the abyss of despair in graceful flowing motions. Figures faded into and out of view around her as the story progressed, each as pale and otherworldly as the first.
When Charlotte left the tent, the sun was rising on the horizon, little more than a glow in the clouds. She could feel dry tears on her cheek and somehow her heart was lighter.
Around her, other guests stepped into the dawn. A dowager lady dabbed at her eyes with a violet handkerchief. A slight gentleman with a thousand-mile stare cleaned his spectacles on a sleeve. There amongst them, facing her, waiting for her, was the man with the scarlet waistcoat.
Evening sun falls on the Western lands and a peculiar stillness hangs in the air. Frozen faces, their jaws set and eyes blank, hang amidst a mass of silent screams and instinctual, animal howls. Flesh rises red, blue and black and arcs of claret fly from worked stick bludgeons. Spheres of red and orange burst, posey-like, over bared chests and bloodied noses and those who have already tasted their kiss kneel, bloodshot eyes asking 'why' even as they are blinded with tears.
Not far away wrinkled folk and not-grown folk and the fit and the maimed pause over the simple necessities. Hands raise to mouths, cupping steaming sweet sustenance, and pairs of hands fling covers to shelter and warm. Others huddle around motionless flames, basking in light and life, reassuring radiance. Across the dirt, other figures mirror these people, with hands of hot spiced waters, bodies wrapped in reeds against the wind.
One group and another, they think of family and simple comforts. They chatter with people they know and people they don't, they forget about the weight of the world around them and think of home and their lives beyond this one moment in history.
Fire, ashes drifting on the night air from some distant blaze.
Is that light on the horizon the sunset or the sunrise or the flames?
Fatboys and megatons bloom beyond the hills. Clouds clear in the blastwave and treetops shake. Somewhere a car alarm wails, a Cassandra warning of tomorrow,
Wide winged vessel sails across the sky, its twin engine roar a dull buzzing that sets my teeth on edge.
How long as I been awake?
My eyes open and the clear blue sky is a disappointment.
Cars and commuters and morning TV news. This is not the day the world ends.
There is always tomorrow.
So here we are. So glad you could join me. Perhaps you would like a drink? Coffee, tea, something stronger? Very well.
It is a pleasure to welcome you to From the Fox-Hole. (the name is subject to change, by the way, it is more a place-holder than anything), a personal blog by me, Lily, to post and discuss creative writing of my own creation and point visitors - such as your good self - in the direction of writers and other artists whose work I appreciate.
The plan is for me to write something, anything, once a day at least five days out of seven. My plans never seem to come off quite right put there it is. We shall see how long I keep to it. It is primarily to give me some structure to my life and something concrete to do. Good luck to us all.