Luca and Cecily
One of the books I picked up from my trip to Hay a couple of weeks ago was a book called Hex and the City by Simon R. Green. I'm currently halfway through and have just found out by use of the internets that it is book four in a series of twelve I think. It tells the tale of John Taylor, a kind of supernatural private investigator who works in The Nightside, a magical area of London unseen to normal humans where gods, magical creatures, legends and all other manifestations of the weird and wonderful go to move and shake, wheel and deal, live and unlive. It's good stuff. So good in fact, that the first three books are now on my Christmas list. Anybody out there like me enough to get them for me? Only kidding.
Anyway, inspired by the book I ended up scribbling away and came up with this. Hope you like it.
"I need your help"
She looked at me, there in the dark, dank alley with a sad smile on her face. "Luca, I think that you are beyond my help and I'm pretty useful."
I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out the box. The little brass inlays glowed dull in the light of the streetlamps that spilled into the alleyway.
"I have this."
She arched an eyebrow and leaned in closer to inspect it. "Well that certainly changes the status quo." she replied, brushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. I watched her as she leaned over the little mahogany and brass box, her movements automatic to her. To me however, it was the the epitome of grace and poise. Prima ballerinas had nothing on her. She looked back up at me. "Do you know how to open it?"
"No. That's why I'm here Cecily. I have a feeling that you might know someone who can."
"There are a few who know the secret of the box, I know one or two." She looked serious now, a frown furrowed her perfect forehead. "If the stories are to be believed, no one has opened this box for four thousand years Luca. There are theories regarding the contents of it. Some say great power lies within, others allude to great knowledge or possible wealth beyond imagination. Tales of evil and pestilence, horrors that humans can barely concieve." her tone contained a warning.
"I have heard the stories," I replied "but I have also done my own research." I put the box back in my pocket. " I have been speaking with Judas Jones and he tells me that the box once opened is somehow sentient and the opener receives exactly what he or she needs most."
She arched an eyebrow in surprise. "You have been mixing with the high and mighty if you have been speaking to Judas Jones. I expect he was eager to see the box for himself. His research into the occult and supernatural is second to none. The thing is though, do you believe him?"
Momentarily she looked into the middle distance, lost in a memory. "I haven't seen Judas for such a long time. He and I were lovers once you know." she sighed, remembering a better time in her existence. "We couldn't keep it together though. He was a workaholic and I was... well I had another fate."
"Do you think you can find out how to open the box?" A trace of impatience was creeping into my voice. Unintentional, but there all the same.
"Now now Luca. I can and I will as I owe you a big favour. Once I have obtained this information for you we are quits, right? She smiled again, looking up at me. Cecily was impossibly beautiful; raven black hair, bright green eyes and cupids bow lips, red as the cheeks of a liar, caught in untruth.
"Of course Cecily, we'll be quits. To be honest, I think I'll owe you a favour in return."
She stepped back and flashing me an emerald stare said "I hope its worth it Luca, you are putting yourself in grave danger by owning the box and the means to open it. A great many people will be after it, seeking the contents. This is a big risk for a hunch. Same time tomorrow night, don't be late. Do try to find somewhere a little more private to summon me please? Alleyways are hardly my scene."
"Of course." I smiled, enjoying this little game. "A nice table for two by the window maybe? I know a great Italian not far from here."
She poked out her tongue and laughed. It sounded like silver bells and babbling brooks and would have levelled weaker men. Then she turned on her heel and walked straight through the wall, leaving no trace.
I really enjoyed writing this piece and it didn't take too long either. Maybe this could be the start of another project. I don't know. I'd appreciate any feedback.