Monday, 22 April 2013

High Priestess

A writing prompt from 

The city at night was a fever dream with rain-glossed sidewalks reflecting constellations of neon, a gaudy zodiac in every direction, with desperation in the ascendant.    The night came early, though not as early as the rain, and the commuters who had no choice but to pass through these streets did so at a fast pace, heads down, avoiding eye contact with the predators and the hopeless who scavenged on this urban reef.    This month’s fad was fluorescent tattoos on face and hands, shining devils and skulls and hardcore skin art gleaming in every shadow and doorway.   Last month it was scarification and tooth filing.   Every passing season dragged the denizens of this night city further from the likenesses of their uptown neighbours, fast-forward evolution turning the outcasts into something other on the outside, reflecting the changes that the world had carved into their souls a long time ago.

Xam sat cross legged in her alcove just off the main strip, soldering iron in hand,  tongue between her teeth, her latest project on a board across her lap, frankensteining two incompatible devices into one impossible number-cruncher whose sale would pay off a debt or two and maybe keep her alive till the next debt came due.   She ignored the passing foot traffic just beyond the black and white border of her  alcove, she paid her dues to Bosey and Jake and they kept the sharks away from her. 

“I love to see an artist at work,”

Xam looked up at the sound of the familiar Scots accent and wrinkled her nose.  The man standing in the rain was dripping wet, hands in the pocket of his overcoat, greying hair plastered to his face.


“I need an oracle, Samantha,”

“No work without payment.  Not anymore.  Certainly not for you.”

Lucas smiled a thin smile.  “Already made.   Gudrun’s free.  Feel free to check, eh?”

Xam narrowed her eyes suspiciously then turned her attention inward… sinking…  seeking… struggling for contact with one of her other selves, far distant in Context.

Green grass, blue skies, rich thick forest, cool grass beneath her bare feet.   She was  taller, healthier as Gudrun, and though her limbs chafed from the manacles she’d recently worn she was strong and exultant.   The distant village was in flames, the evil becoming ash.

Xam looked into Lucas’ eyes.  “Your doing?”

He held up sooty fingers.  “I need an oracle.”

“Alright.”  She lay aside her project and reached into her pocket pulling out a bundle of stolen credit cards, colourful designs, each one different.   A thief’s tarot.  She began to shuffle and breathed slowly.

“What’s the question,” she muttered slapping down one card after another.   Sunlit desert road.  Interlocking circles.  Speeding car.

“Will you help me fight a battle?”

She stopped dealing and looked up.  “The answer’s no, Lucas.  No.”

Lucas grinned his mirthless insufferable grin.

“Is that so, Samantha?” he said and nodded his head downward.  “And what do the cards say?”

Xam looked down and read.   Bastard, she thought.

A continuation of Magus and Hermit, though knowledge of that piece is not required