[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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6. 4 – Park Benches

4 – Park Benches

 

Mariqah stepped down into the basement. It was darker than the other rooms and it had the faint smell of damp. But Mariqah had chosen to live sometimes in the Father’s basement for so many other important reasons, that these two defects could be easily over-looked.

For one thing, it was the biggest room in the entire house.

It was perfect for the exact purpose Mariqah had planned for it – hoarding.

Over the last year, she’d hoarded many of the beloved items that made-up-for or superseded those that she’d left in her barracks back in Masyaf. Not that that was her main intention for being in London, but she supposed that one thing often led to another. There was a tall bookshelf standing to one side – filled with literature; a neat single-bed with plain sheets, a cupboard filled with her clothes, a desk with notes and work pouring over it surrounded by a clutter of small drawstring-bags, a few bean-bag sofas, a television and a pretty simple PlayStation (she could never remember or tell which – the machine was second-hand, and the paint was peeling off) with a few games shelved next to it.

 

Still, she would never call it home.

 

In addition, the basement had its own bathroom, and laundry was done here (she did the Father’s for him). It had its own exit – but she never entered the room from there. The door was locked at all times – by her own preference – and the key was kept in its hole on the inside.

It was an emergency exit. Nothing more, nothing less.

Also, if someone was going to come – she could hear it above her head, so she’d be able to prepare for whoever and whatever was to come.

 

But she didn’t live here. All the knick-knacks she’d hoarded… it was more a comfort than a necessity.

She could easily leave it behind.

There was only one bag that contained everything she needed, and it sat against the leg of her desk. It was in a poorly condition, but Mariqah had made it so. No burglar in his right mind would take two glances at it. She knelt by the bag and loosed the string and stowed her passport in it. She only needed to take it out on the occasion of checking ID (like when she went out to buy cigarettes). Apparently, Father Samuels wasn’t the only one to be fooled by her young looks. Around the workplace (though, scarcely around her boss) she pretended to be twenty-two years old. And everyone bought it – some even claimed she looked younger.

It was a phenomenon that Jess, a Timelord and Dimensional Shunter who Mariqah had befriended back when she was a mercenary in Masyaf, had explained to her:

 

Time travel through the Pieces of Eden – mysterious relics of the Ancients with endless power and mystique – rejuvenated the body and made it younger. It was why Timelords lived for so long and looked relatively youthful in comparison. One of the oldest Timelords Mariqah had met, Vesp, was about a few thousand years old before he was killed looking only about fifty or sixty.

 

She picked up the ragged-looking bag and placed it on the desk. On the desk lay a grey book – breaking at its seams, but held by a thin white belt so that it didn’t – with coloured butterfly imprints on it. Mariqah put the book inside her bag and a ball of yarn she’d previously dug out of the Father’s attic. She stuffed in a few soft snacks as an afterthought.

She pulled the string tightly, the bag closing, and went up the steps to the ground floor.

 

“Oh no!” said Father Samuels, smacking his forehead as she walked passed the living room and saw her put on her coat, “Please do not tell me you’re spending the night outside.”

Mariqah paused at the living room door, but she didn’t reply.

“Can’t you stay for the night? Or even just for dinner?” he asked.

“Dinner’s cooked,” Mariqah said.

“What about work?”
“I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

Father Samuels sighed, “Mariqah, please stay,” he paused and then added, “It troubles me to see you sleeping beneath the stars with the miscreants of this city. The drug-addicts, the drunks and the lechers.”
“After finding what you found out, I’d’ve expected you to think they were the crowd I belonged in.”
“Mari, my dear girl, I know you have a past vice. And don’t we all? But I’d never rank you with that kind. What if some drunken, drug-induced lecher attacks you?”

Mariqah snorted, “I can handle myself, Father,” she made for the door, “Have a good evening. I’ll bring you your paper in the morning. And good luck with your sermon for coming the Sunday.”

“Amen to that! And you have a safe and uneventful night, Mari. I’ll sorely miss you if some wild animal or worse gets the better of you.”

“Better the better than the worst!” Mariqah laughed as she stepped out and closed the door behind her.

 

Mariqah walked up the street, her bag slung over one shoulder, whistling a tune. She headed for the park. Mariqah always greeted the scent of nature with a smile – even if it was a little sedated by the smell of piss and alcohol. The grass smelt freshly cut, and the trees were shedding their leaves in preparation for winter. The dead leaves crackled beneath Mariqah’s feet as she made her way to her park-bench. All the other homeless people knew it as her park-bench and steered clear of it when they saw she wasn’t going to sleep elsewhere. At the foot of the bench sat a grey cat, which lifted its head as Mariqah approached.

 

“Evening, Gremalkin,” she said, stroking the cat’s head, “Good to see you, old mate. Here, I found a nice treat for you,” she took out the ball of yarn and Gremalkin pulled it into its grasp, mewing and rolling it in the grass between its front paws. “Found it in the old man’s attic. Said I could have it. I got you some titbits,” she threw some soft snacks into the cat’s open mouth, “Have no idea if these are any good for you, but, eh, a treat once in a while never did much harm to anybody. Hopefully, they won’t do you no harm either.”

 

Mariqah placed her bag on one end of the bench and pulled out her long red shawl. It caught on something, though, so she had to move some items before she could fully pull it out. Her hand touched the Hidden Blade that Darim had given her.

Darim.

Oh, Darim, Darim, Darim.

She frowned momentarily, closing her eyes, before she replaced all the items and put her shawl to one side. She tightened the string and rested her head on the bag, pulling the shawl over her. Gremalkin leapt onto the bench and nuzzled her feet, before curling up also.

 

Mariqah had thought much of Darim since she left Masyaf. The man that was nearly fifteen years her junior when she’d met him, Mariqah being nearly forty at the time. But he’d taken to her, regardless, and in time and eventuality she’d also taken to him – but not after a lot of mockery and desisting on her part. Unfortunately, he belonged to the past – in the years of the Great Crusades – and so had to return: his memory wiped clean of her, but her memory filled with him.

Oh, him, him, him.

How Mariqah missed him. And regretted sorely her mockery of him. And wished with all her heart that she’d agreed to go with him – to eleventh century Masyaf.

Mariqah huffed a sad sigh, but ended her brooding there.

He was gone.

That was all.

 

Mariqah pulled her shawl tighter around her as the sun sunk and the night drew darker and colder. She fell asleep shortly, only paying marginal attention to the surroundings filled with hushed chatter, muted cursing and drunken singing. It was good that she retained that precious skill of hers – to be alert even in slumber.

 

Especially when a telephone box a few feet away from her began to ring loudly.

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