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Lensmoor Gothic - Part II
(In case you've just tuned in, this programme is rated 'R')
“Sandra,” Liam said. “What were you doing out there just when we came in?”
“Are you sure you want to know? It’s a lot more boring than whatever sinister plan you could come up with.”
“I was out for a walk. I got this antsy feeling, and something said ‘why don’t you go for a walk out by the Bailey road’, so I did. And there you were, and I took the opportunity to- what do you always say?- take the piss out of you. So there.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You believe me?”
“Does it matter.”
“No. I suppose not. Business, then?”
“Business.” Liam turned around. “Isaac, could you fetch us a few pints?”
Isaac stared at him.
Liam looked back. “Wot?”
“I’m not your goddamn butler, you know.”
Sandra laughed. “See, Isaac? See how easy it is?” She turned to Linus. “Linus, could you-”
“Right, right.” He got up. “You know I’m adding this to your total, right?”
She looked up at him, chin in her hand. “Mm. I’m sure you’ll present me with a bill, sooner or later.”
“The usual for you?”
“No. Something special. Surprise me.”
“Right you are. Isaac? Liam?”
“Something dark,” Isaac said.
“Whatever you’re having,” Liam said.
“...right.” Linus went to the door. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
When he was gone, Liam turned face Sandra. “All right. Why him?”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s a sodding sociopath!”
“Why? Because he’s a cold, heartless emotional zombie?”
“No! I’m a bloody emotional zombie, I should know. The difference is, I have emotions, but- as you love to point out- I stuff them down and hide them away. I know when I’ve hurt someone. He-” Liam pointed at the door. “Just doesn’t care. Couldn’t be buggered.”
“You know all that from five minutes with him?”
“Well, good call. You’re right. He is a sociopath.”
“So why are-”
“Because he amuses me,” Sandra said. “And because I don’t have anything better to do right now.”
No one said anything. They looked at the table, the walls, anywhere but at one another.
“Listen,” Liam said. “If I-”
Sandra held up a hand. “Save it. That’s a private conversation.”
“If you need time alone,” Isaac said. “I can-”
Linus came through the door, a tray held out in front of him. “All right. That’s a Chain Ale for me and Liam, a Teapot Dark for Isaac, and a glass of Hellomel for our lady of the smoking gun.” He passed out the drinks.
Sandra held her glass up to the light. The mead shone brilliant and golden in the glow of the lamps. “Gentlemen,” she said. “I propose a toast. This is an old toast, and never more appropriate than in these strange days. The wheel is still turning, gentlemen, and everything happens.” She tipped her glass toward them. “To Chaos.”
“To Chaos,” they chorused.
Sandra drank off the mead and set the glass down. “Better.”
“So,” Liam said. “You were here on business, then?”
“Anything I should know about?”
She shook her head. “No one you’d miss.”
“You’re so blase it gives me the hinks. Have you finished with all that?”
“What are your plans now?”
She looked at Linus. “Well. There was going to be some-”
“Drinking.” Linus said.
“And probably some-”
“And quite a lot of-”
She punched him in the arm. “Relaxing. Apart from that...” She shrugged. “Why?”
Liam took a pouch from his coat pocket and began rolling a cigarette. “We need to find a magician. Well, probably a magician.”
“Someone punched a hole through from here-” Liam gestured vaguely. “Out to Penniford. You know Penniford?”
“No reason why you should. It-” Liam paused. He looked over at Linus, who had taken out his own pouch and set of papers. He sniffed. Sniffed again. “Well, now,” he said. “I hope you’ve brought enough for the whole class.”
“As a matter of fact, I have. Let me get this one started, and I’ll just pass it down.”
Linus finished his roll-up, lit it, and drew on it. The smell of high grade cannabis wafted around the room. Linus passed to Isaac, who accepted the cigarette.
“Hey, Sandra, Linus," he said. "Either of you Bowie fans?”
Sandra frowned. “That guy from the one movie who had the potato down his pants?”
“I’ll call that a ‘no’. Linus?”
Linus held up a finger, exhaled smoke, and shook his head as if to clear it. “Sure. Bowie’s good.”
“Don’t you think Liam looks like Bowie in his Thin White Duke persona?”
“Hmm.” Linus squinted across the table at him. “I can sort of see it. But Bowie’s hair was blond, and he wore a waistcoat, not an overcoat.”
“What’s the difference?”
“A waistcoat is a formal vest. Like you’d wear over a dress shirt. Plus, Bowie didn’t wear those wanky sunglasses.”
Liam gave him two fingers up and accepted the roll-up from Isaac. “As I was saying, no reason you should know Penniford. Little town in some backwater province, West Nostril or somewhere. Someone Gated there from here.”
“So he- or she- or it- cut through bad ground to get there, and killed everyone in about a mile radius.”
Linus coughed into his beer.
“Zombified them, too,” Isaac said. “Creepy shit.”
Sandra looked at Liam. “Zombified?”
“Dead and walking about,” Liam said. “Good a word as any.”
“Different kind of zo-”
“Shut up, Liam.”
“...no sense of humor at all.”
“Look,” Sandra said. “That doesn’t make any sense. Anyone with the knowledge to do something like that would know better than to fuck up.”
“No disagreement here.”
“Good thing he didn’t do it the other way around. The fucking moron.”
“Right.” Liam drew on the smoke and passed it to her. “So I’d like to find our man, sit him- or whoever- down, and have a bit of a natter. Find out where his head is at.”
“And then kill him, I hope,” Linus said.
“Only time will tell.”
“Well,” Sandra said. “You know what I’m going to say.” She drew on the cigarette, coughed convulsively. “God, Linus. This is rocket fuel.”
“The telepathic gig is your thing, love,” Liam said. “Tell me.”
“You should talk to the Professor.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake-”
“If anyone in this town can find your idiot sorcerer, it’ll be him.”
“But he’s a fucking twat!”
“I’m sure you two will have a lot to talk about, then,” Sandra said.
“Thank you, love. Here, give us that fucking spliff-” He snatched it out of Sandra’s fingers and drew on it. He held it in, breathed smoke, and turned his face up toward the ceiling. “I’d just about succeeded in forgetting about him. Christ. Is killing me still an option?”
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.