Authors: Niall Teasdale
Tags: #Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #magician, #hermetic magic, #skinwalker, #magic
By Niall Teasdale
Copyright 2015 Niall Teasdale
Amazon Kindle Edition
Part One: Rabbit Hole
Tower Hamlets, London, June 6
Nisa sat staring at the ball of light in her hand, her eyes wide in surprise and glee. It seemed to move, coruscating slowly as if it were some powerful, contained fusion reaction, but it was not hot, or even warm. And she had made it, created it out of nothing, just a few seconds earlier. She sat on the floor of her one-bedroomed flat, lost in the rapture of the thing she had made.
It had taken her weeks to learn to make the light, a process of trial and error, and a little knowledge Spike had found on one of his trawls through the internet. Reality Hacking. That was what the text had called it, Reality Hacking. It was the art, or discipline, certainly not a science, of making reality do what you wanted through sheer will power. There had been some descriptions of mental exercises to work through and some ideas on what could be done, and that had been about it. What had set them all trying to copy it was that the site it had been on had vanished a couple of days later and Spike had been unable to dig up anything about the people who had created it or what had happened to it.
‘It’s the MIBs,’ Spike had told them, nodding sagely.
‘You think everything’s the MIBs,’ Wallace had replied, ‘except when it’s the Government, or the Greys, or the Vampire Conclave.’
‘That,’ Spike had replied, ‘is because it
Wallace had scoffed until Jenna had told him to shut up, but by the end of the evening the little group of five had become ‘The Reality Hackers’ and had vowed to make the magic work. As far as they could see, it
magic. Not witchcraft, or Harry Potter wizardry, or Gandalf-style wisdom… Maybe it had a bit of the Eddings ‘Will and Word’ about it. Lena had adored David Eddings’s books and she liked that idea. Whatever you compared it to, it was magic, and Nisa had just done it.
After maybe ten minutes the light collapsed in on itself and vanished. She was a little disappointed that there had not been a pop when it went, but her glee at getting the spell to work at all overrode that. Straightening her back, she looked across the, now dark, room to the glowing digits of her clock. Eight-twelve. It was time to get ready and go out to Black Light.
She did her make-up at the small dressing table under the window first. Plenty of kohl and shadow, to make her already angular eyes appear more cat-like. Then she used a brush to paint in a vine leaf pattern over her temples and cheekbones. The kohl pencil came back out to twist vines out from the corners of her extended eyes. Finally the lipstick, a fairly subtle shade tonight, but still enough to redden her full lips.
Satisfied, she went to the small wardrobe beside the bedroom door and took out her outfit for the night. She had pieced it together over a couple of months because the shoes and shorts in particular had not been cheap, but she felt it was worth it. The shorts were tight around her behind, high-waisted, and made of glossy leather. The shoes were high-heeled clogs with metal around the sole, black leather with a red flame pattern appliquéd to the upper surface. Her top was short, sleeveless, and black, glossy Lycra, with a V-shaped insert of mesh at the front. She was not over-endowed with bust, but this showed off what she had nicely. Together with some purposefully laddered fishnet hold-up stockings, the ensemble gave a bit of a punk feel, sexy punk. Nisa definitely felt sexy when she was dressed up in her club outfit, and sometimes you needed that.
It was warm out, somewhere over twenty and still light. Grabbing her bag on the way through the small lounge with its single sofa and small flat-screen TV, Nisa headed out of the flat to the lift at the end of the corridor and down twenty storeys to the lobby.
There were three of the Queens hanging around outside the door of the tower. Three thickly muscled women in cropped T-shirts. Two in jeans, one in shorts. All of them had the same look about them: self-assured, arrogant, absolutely sure that they
the street. Nisa knew them by sight if not name, and they knew her. They were not especially fond of her because, despite having a trim, fit physique and good muscle tone, she refused to join them. However, their leader, Trina, wanted into Nisa’s knickers; not letting her, but keeping her hoping, kept the Queens off Nisa’s back.
Nisa gave them a nod. The Queens ignored her in the way someone can only do if they’re paying attention to the thing they’re ignoring. Nisa kept on walking down Leopold Street to St Paul’s Way. It would take her fifteen minutes to get to Black Light on Morris Road, across the cut. It took her past the fast-food shop she worked at, though there were times she went the long way around to avoid that; being reminded of her dead-end job was not always something she wanted when she was heading out to try to forget her dead-end life.
Far from cool, the evening seemed rather oppressive. The air felt thick, warm. It felt a little like a thunderstorm was brewing, though she had heard nothing about it on the weather forecast. Had she listened to the weather forecast today? She had an excellent memory when she focussed on something, but today she had got up determined to get the spell to work and whether there would be rain had passed her by… No, the sky was clear as far as she could see, so it was not atmospheric pressure she was feeling. Still, by the time she was walking through the gate on Morris Road there was a film of sweat on her skin.
Black Light occupied what had once been a small factory unit with a block of offices and a reception area closest to the road. It looked post-industrial, modern, aside from the arch of brickwork above the main door, which had a vaguely Victorian look to it.
Tonight Marco was standing outside the door, looking like a bouncer. He was, technically, the doorman, but his thick muscles and bald head definitely gave the impression of ‘bouncer.’ He gave Nisa a frown as she walked toward him. ‘You okay, kid? Looking a little paler than usual.’
Nisa grinned up at him. ‘Me? I’m fine. A bit hot. You don’t think it’s a little warm?’
He looked up at the sky and then shrugged. ‘It’s not cold. That’s why I’m out here and not in there. Seems pretty fresh… for London.’
‘Must be just me then,’ Nisa said and slipped past him into the building.
There were toilets off the foyer and she ducked into the ladies’. She really did feel uncomfortably warm. Using a paper towel and carefully avoiding her make-up, she did her best to apply some cold water to her face and chest. That helped a little and she dumped the towel before heading out and through the doors into what had been the factory floor or warehouse, or whatever, and was now the main floor of the club.
Here it was hotter but not yet as oppressive as it could get later in the evening. On the few occasions when she had stayed until the place closed at two, the atmosphere had been thick, full of the scents of sweaty bodies laced with alcohol and the hope that bed meant sex. There were only a couple of people attempting to dance to the heavy beat of the music. The dance floor, positioned more or less centrally and the only area with adequate lighting except for behind the bar, was not particularly big. People came to Black Light to chat, meet, be seen, and dance, in that order. Oh, somewhere around the chat and meet stages was the ‘find someone to bang’ element, but it was far too rarely that Nisa could indulge in that.
Crossing the floor, she headed for the bar where Tamsin was, as usual, on duty. Tamsin was gorgeous: lush blonde hair, tall, slim body with large, firm breasts. She could have had anyone in the club but made it a point of not taking anyone up on any offers made. She accepted a little flirting and Nisa let herself indulge now and again because Tamsin might, just might, actually go for it at some point. Probably around the time Satan invested in a snow plough. Most of the regulars thought she was sleeping with the club’s owner, Mister Black, but Nisa was pretty sure that was bollocks.
‘Usual?’ Tamsin asked as Nisa approached, hunting in her bag for her wallet.
‘Uh-huh. The others in?’
Tamsin picked a tall glass from under the counter and turned to the optics. ‘Usual place,’ she said. ‘Wallace still thinks he has a chance with Jenna, I see.’
‘I think he has this theory that his persistence will wear her down.’
With a measure of rum in the glass, Tamsin turned and topped it off with whatever generic cola was in the taps. ‘Some people never learn. Like one day you’ll learn there’s better things to drink than this swill.’
Nisa handed over a note and waited for the change. ‘When I can afford better than this swill, I’ll drink it. Besides, I have work later.’
‘Huh. You don’t
from that place, do you?’
‘Only when I’m really desperate,’ Nisa replied, grinning. Dropping her change into the small pocket in her wallet and the wallet in her bag, she picked up her drink, took the top off it for easier carrying and to wet her throat, and then started for the back corner of the room where the Hackers would be waiting.
They were an odd bunch. If they had a leader, then that would be Spike: techno-wizard adept. Or ‘unemployed programmer’ as most people referred to him. He was tall, painfully thin, very pale because he rarely allowed sunlight to touch his skin, with short-cropped, blonde hair which tended to spike up in random directions. His usual outfit was T-shirt, jeans, and army boots, and maybe his most noticeable feature was the metalwork. His ears, nose, and lower lip were pierced, and rumour had it that there were some other, more intimate, body parts which had received the same treatment. Spike knew more about conspiracy theories than anyone had a right to, and believed almost all of them.
Then there were the two other girls, Jenna and Lena, polar opposites, but united in their belief in the supernatural. Jenna was short; Lena was tall. Jenna was pale; Lena was tanned. Jenna was a redhead with a bust you could ski down; Lena had lots of black hair and a more modest décolletage. Jenna had the quiet confidence you expected from a model or actress; Lena tended to be bubbly. Both of them had money, which made them the minority group in the Hackers. Jenna worked in an office over in ExCel; Lena had never said where she worked, but it had to be somewhere good because it certainly paid the bills.
And then there was Wallace: the fake. He was with them because it fitted his perceived role in life as rebel ladies’ man and non-conformist, and because he desperately wanted to get into Jenna’s knickers. He had a physics degree and claimed that he was unemployed because his rebellious nature denied the constraints of big business. Nisa was pretty sure that he would have jumped at the first job he could get, but about all he was good for was teaching and no one in their right mind would employ him as a teacher. He might have got somewhere with Jenna if he lost the slight paunch, cut his lank, mid-brown hair, and maybe got his nose fixed so he looked less like a horse.
Nisa dropped onto one of the free, black, cloth-covered seats around the table the Hackers had more or less claimed as theirs, grinning. She looked up from putting her drink down on the blocky glass table in time to catch Wallace lifting his eyes from the general area of her chest.
‘Hey, Ice,’ Spike drawled. Currently he was calling her ‘Ice’ because her hair, shaved at the sides and slicked back on top, was dyed white with a hint of pale blue. She thought her natural colour was a dirty blonde, but it had not been that colour since she was fifteen. ‘How’s it hangin’, babe?’
Nisa beamed at him. ‘I did it,’ she said, her voice barely audible over the music.
Spike, Jenna, and Lena all looked at her with widening eyes. They had all been trying to make the Reality Hack thing work, but from the looks of it Nisa was the first to manage it.
‘Did what?’ Wallace asked. ‘If it’s sex with a girl, we want details.’ His stupid grin lasted until Lena punched him in the arm. ‘What?’ he whined.
Lifting her hand, palm upward, Nisa focussed herself, eyes half-closed as she gathered her will and…
‘No fucking way,’ Wallace said.
Opening her eyes, Nisa grinned at the ball of glowing light sitting above her palm. ‘I got it working about an hour ago. That’s why I’m late. It works. Reality Hacking is real.’