COGHAZ INERT (MEMECLEAN, MNEST-NULL)
CODEWORD BLACK ELECTRICITY
[SIGBLOCK ATTACHED, CHECKING]
The restaurant is full of people, their conversations a quiet noise that fades into the background. She’s sitting opposite me, her with her calamari and me with my steak; not that I need to eat anymore, but the taste is nice and I’d feel rather awkward just sitting here with an empty plate. We talk about nothings when we’re not eating: the weather, or our friends, or TV shows we think the other would like. And sometimes she rubs her leg against mine under the table or feeds me a bite of her meal and I can see the curl of a smile on her lips and my heart (or whatever I have instead) just melts, it really does.
But I suppose not everyone appreciates it as much as I do, because I hear the phrase ‘fucking queers’ in a tone of voice that very much indicates the speaker doesn’t consider it a compliment. I turn my head a bit and I can see someone staring daggers at us—well, no, not daggers, I’ve had actual daggers thrown at me and it was far more intimidating, it’s more like he’s staring cheap plastic knives at us. So I just smile at him and give him my best obviously-fake-friendly wave.
Unlucky for him, I remember which car he drove.
I look across the table. My witch’s face is blank and neutral, which I know means she’s seriously annoyed. (I wouldn’t be good at what I do if I didn’t know how to anticipate her feelings and her needs.) I squeeze her hand. “Orders?”
She looks back at me. “Just don’t go overboard.”
“I only did that once!” And then before she can correct me, I lean across the table, kiss her cheek, and lean back so I can get comfortable. For a moment it feels like I’m watching the world through a screen, and then my soul detaches from my body and flows into an indistinct approximation of a woman standing besides the table, black as the void between stars and made of mist that never seems to quite settle into place. I give her an exaggerated bow, which she replies to with a grin and a nod in my direction (at me, that is, not at the shell I’ve left behind for now).
And then I’m flowing past the dinner crowd and waitstaff, past the door and out into the parking lot. The only person who could possibly see me is the one who sent me on my little hunt, so despite the occasional quiet purr of an engine starting up I’m here by myself. The moon is duller, the colors of the world are muted, and yet it feels freeing, like taking off my bra at the end of a long day. I take a moment to relax and let myself spread across the parking lot, feel the thrum of the word resonate through me. And then I collect myself back into black mist, flow through the gaps in my ‘victim’s’ car until I’m nestled up against the battery.
Then I press myself against the terminals and short it directly through myself. It’s like too many energy drinks, like holding onto a live wire. A lesser familiar would be dissolved or thrown back into their body. Back in the restaurant my eyes are glowing, my hand is clenching the table, and the circuits that wrap my chest beneath my clothes are glowing black. My witch rests her hand on mine and opens up a narrow channel so she can ease some of the strain off my ley lines, and despite my pride I shunt off some of the energy through her. I’m no use to her dead or discarnate.
And then it’s done. The battery is quiet, and our little friend must’ve had it charged all the way up before he went out because I can feel myself sing with power. As soon as I’ve returned to my body, my eyes snap back into focus and I don’t even bother suppressing the grin on my face. My aura’s so bright with arrogance and energy that I have to tone it down so that the others can’t see the nightfire that’s coated me from head to toe.
“Want a ride? I’m feeling energetic.”
“Mmm. I’d love it.”
She taps her phone against the table’s terminal and we stand up, my arm around her waist, because really, why not? And if our wandering path just happens to take us by someone who’s going to have a very bad day when he tries to start his car, well, the restaurant is rather crowded. Our bad.
When we’re at the door, I send the bigot a little spark, something to draw his attention to me. Then I turn my head, lock eyes with him, and give him the finger. I can tell he wants to fight me, but fortunately for him his sense overrides his temper and he just seethes instead.
“That really wasn’t necessary.” she says, her tone admonishing yet playful.
“He deserved it.”
She just squeezes her arm around my waist in response. She knows I’m right.
Once we’re outside we walk a few blocks, weaving and turning here and there, before turning down an empty alleyway. She weaves a spell around us to bend light and sound, I spread my wings of shadow, and together, we fly home.