The Subtle Mage

Three things I knew for certain:

First, that my captors had gone to great lengths to make me comfortable.
Second, that my stay was going to be a long one.
Third, that I may possibly have some superpowers.


2. Business As Usual

The rest of the day passed quickly. I only work part-time in the shop, all of Saturday, and half of Sunday; I have school to go to. I’ve tried to get to work full time, but Fabian is pretty serious about my education. I myself am not exactly academic in the known sense. I don’t consider myself stupid, just a little lazy.

At five, Fabian and I closed up and plodded upstairs for dinner. The meal was quick, and afterward I showered and slumped into bed, not even worried that I was wide awake. I never sleep during the night; I just feel more awake. Occasionally, when I do manage to steal a wink or two, it’s never long enough and I always wake up feeling more tired than before. However, I was curious as to whether I’d have any more dreams, assuming tonight was one of those nights. After an what seemed to be hours of staring at the ceiling, it became clear that it wasn’t. I got up and went over to the window. Our shop is just off of Camden high street, but even then it’s quiet. Below, the streets were almost empty, apart from a few guys evidently walking home from the pub. On a good day, I can see a sliver of the Thames from my window, nestled in the midst of the rooftops. I got bored.

Insomnia leaves you with a lot of spare time. Mainly at night. To fill that time, I draw. I’ve been told I’m good; my latest project was a raven perched on a branch. It’s glossy wings weren’t yet finished, but its head, complete with long beak, looked pretty good. I walked over to my shabby bureau and sat down in the stiff-backed chair. The hours blurred and by the end I was left with a page emblazoned with a handsome raven, beak slightly open in a half-call. Its wings were spread wide, as if about to take flight. I set my pencil and paper down and slumped down on my bed, wide awake.

The next morning, I got out of bed, disappointed that I had no further dreams, and that it was raining. The rain fell in sheets, it’s relentless rhythm pattering against the side of the house; my window was crying borrowed tears. I got up and ate breakfast in silence with Fabian. We opened the shop; business as usual. It was a day like any other, essentially. Throughout the morning, my mind kept flicking to the dream. What had provoked it? It had felt so real… Yet, It couldn’t possibly be so. I’d never been to the place I’d seen, and there was no chance in hell I’d traveled there in my sleep. I let out a small laugh at the idea of me walking through the streets of London, eyes tight shut. I shook the thought from my head and let the hours blur into one mass of creepy dudes in capes and nervous teenagers.


*** *** ***


At midday I finished up my work and decided to head out. As I passed Fabian in the kitchen he was pouring water into the kettle.

“Want a cuppa, lad?” He asked, waving a teabag.

“No. I’m going out, it’s after lunch.”

“’Kay. Back by nine, got it?” But I was already heading down the stairs. I pulled my apron off, my black jacket on, and headed out, flipping the sign to ‘closed’ as I went.

The afternoon passed slowly. London is just one big stew of senses. The smells, the tastes, they all mingle together, the good and the bad. It tends to get quite overwhelming, admittedly, but it was all I’d known. I hear so much about the countryside, but if it was as great as people made it out to be there’d be more people there rather than here. The sun was going down but I had no intentions of going back to the shop yet. I feel alive at night and this was pretty much my only chance to escape. I decided to go to my local park, it’s not too far from the shop. I go there from time time if I want some peace and quiet. I weaved my way through the crowds of people in Camden market and headed down an alley scrawled with graffiti. I reached the park, it was pretty run down, so not many people went there, and I don’t blame them. But that’s exactly the reason I go there - it’s always deserted. I easily vaulted the fence into the park. I hadn’t been there in a while, yet it was exactly as I remembered it: Chipped and flimsy fence, creaking swings, rusty roundabout. I settled down in a swing, pushing against the ground half-heartedly. I sighed. Then I remembered, I had school tomorrow. I groaned, resting my head against the frame of the swings.

I didn’t notice the gate swing open, nor did I hear the footsteps getting louder. I did notice the rough hands that pulled me from the swings onto the ground.

And believe me, I certainly felt the fist that plowed itself into my stomach.





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