Two thousand twenty-one days ago, Zurfina ducked into her lodgings on Prince Tybalt Boulevard. She had a second-degree burn on her thigh and blood ran down her arm from a bullet wound just above her elbow. She bolted the door then staggered across the room to the dresser. Opening the top drawer, she pulled out a brown bottle of healing draught and splashed a generous amount onto first the bullet hole and then the burn. Finally she took a large swig. She turned quickly, raising her hand as the door opened. But she lowered her arm again when Smedley Bassington entered.
“I locked the door,” she said, taking another swig from the brown bottle.
“Are you alright?”
“A fat lot you care, you bloody bastard.”
“It’s not my fault,” he almost whined. “I told you what would happen. It’s not too late. Go with me to the Ministry of War. One word and it will be over. Everything can go back to the way it was.”
“Not the way it was,” she spat. “I wasn’t the Ministry’s lapdog before. That was you.”
“Uuthanum,” she threw a quick gesture in his direction, which turned into a knife in the air.
“Uuthanum,” he said, sending the knife in an arc around the room and back at her. In midair it turned into badminton shuttlecock.
“Uuthanum,” she sent it back to him again, now transformed into a squirming serpent.
“Uuthanum.” As it sailed at her again, the snake became a rose.
Zurfina snatched it from the air and winced as the long pointed thorns bit her hand. “Son of a bitch!”
“You can’t get away,” said Bassington.
“No?” Zurfina gestured and was gone, leaving the wizard alone in the room.
That was two thousand twenty-one days ago.
* * * * *
Two thousand nine hundred and seven days ago, Zurfina reclined across the park bench and took a deep breath, savoring the smell of the white rose that Smedley held to her nose. She shifted slightly, nestling her head more comfortably in his lap. A light breeze was whipping around her and as she looked up into the sky. She could see clouds floating by at a surprisingly quick pace.
“You haven’t given me an answer,” said Smedley.
“An answer to what?”
“An answer to the most important question in my life.”
“And what might that question be?”
“Infuriating woman,” Smedley snapped. “You know what question. You haven’t yet told me whether you’ll marry me. In antediluvian times, I’d simply have hit you over the head with a club and pulled you by the hair back to my cave.”
“Yes, well.” Zurfina’s charcoal-lined, grey eyes slowly rose to meet his. “Then I would wait until you were asleep and slice your throat with my stone knife.”
A slight shiver ran through Smedley’s body that made her smile, but he didn’t look away.
“So what?” she purred.
“Will you marry me?”
“I believe I will have you. Yes.”
“Thank you,” he beamed. “You’ve made me the happiest man in Brech.”
“Not yet, but soon.” she replied, reaching under her head and stroking the crotch of his trousers. “After all, just because I must wait to have you, doesn’t mean that you must wait to have me.”
“What a tart.”
That was two thousand nine hundred and seven days ago.
* * * * *
“One thousand nine hundred sixty-eight days. One thousand nine hundred sixty-eight days.” Zurfina pressed her face against the cold stone of the cell. “Bloody bastard.”
* * * * *
Terrence had no idea what day it was. At least he knew it was Pentuary. Oh, yes. He knew that. It was starting to get hot and nobody wanted to spend their days indoors. That was where he had spent most of the last week though—holed up in to the back part of the house “seeing.” During that time he’d had very little food and almost no real sleep. He looked at the collection of tiny bottles in the wooden case. He had already finished one and all but finished another. He tucked the box under the bed and left the room, carefully locking the door behind him. The empty hallway and the stuffy air gave him a strange sense of déjà vu.