Monday 13 May 2013

Magic Falls Part Nineteen

Gemma sat in the bar waiting. She felt a long way from Fleet Street, even if the pub wasn’t all that far away from her normal stomping ground.

The pub was dark, especially in the cellar rooms where she was sat. A little alcove around and away from the stairs. Someone would have to know where she was to see her as they walked in.

She looked at her phone. Damn. No signal. No way of letting her colleague David know what was happening. She checked the time instead on the display. Exactly when he should be getting here.

“Hello, Darling,” the man said walking towards her. He held a pint in his hand, and he put it down on the table, sitting down with a flourish of his leather jacket. He had a shaved head, alight blonde goatee, and was wearing dark glasses.


“Don’t recognise me, luv?” he said, with a smile that somehow managed to be both open and warm and tight and cruel at the same time.

“Quite the image change,” she said. “David said that trenchcoat of yours was practically a second skin.”

He laughed and took the glasses off. “He should have seen me years back. Nah, I just like to change my image every now and then. You know that old thing about how all your cells have completely changed every seven years or so?”

Gemma nodded. “Everyone’s heard that one.”

“It’s something like that. That appearance suited who I was then. Doesn’t suit who I am now.”

“And who are you now?” she asked.

“Who I need to be,” he replied, the smile gone. “Now, you called me. You screwed up with the fairy story…ha! The fairy story. I like that – and you wanted to call up Uncle Jamie to come and clean up after you.”

“We didn’t screw up the story.” She said, her hackles raised.

“That means I must have slipped into a coma and not realised. I thought I’d been asleep for just the one night, but it had obviously been a couple of days, because I figured a story about a bunch of little kiddies going missing and being found, and a whole load of magic crap around it might – just might – have constituted a story. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t Alex Ferguson retiring, I get that. But, y’know, I don’t think my journalistic radar is that – “

“Our editor wouldn’t run it.”

Jamie’s lip curled. “Really.”

“You burned us on the Shane Smith thing,” she said.

“No, I didn’t,” he said. “I promised you an exclusive interview, and I arranged it exactly as I promised. I saw how many comments that thing received. I know exactly how popular that story was. I delivered exactly what I said I would.”

“You turned David into a laughing stock,” she said. “Everyone thinks he got played by Shane Smith’s PR department.”

He drank and looked at a poster behind her. “I can always take this elsewhere, you know.”

She waited for him to look back at her. “But you haven’t.”

He looked back at her, and for a  moment, she wondered if she had overstepped the mark. She was also very aware how isolated she felt. She suddenly felt like he was very dangerous. “No,” he said. “I haven’t.”

“Why not?”

The moment broke and he smiled, all charm again. But Gemma felt the danger remaining underneath, simmering under the surface of his skin. “Just a fan of the paper, obviously.”

“Well, whyever,” she said, as he returned his focus to his drink. “We still got burned. Smith’s story was just too unbelievable.”

“That’s because you had something that was one person’s word against another. You need something with verifiable facts, I reckon.”

“Facts are always good.” She said. “But we need something with dates, actual papers. Something like that.”

He sat back and drained the last of his pint. “You might be in luck, then.” He said.


“Our agendas might just be crossing.”

“What’s your agenda?”

“Messianic. What’s yours?”

“I just want the truth.”

“Okay, how about this. Look back at the lottery results for the last six months. Since January, anyway.”

“The lottery results? Are you kidding?”

“No. And then – “ he moved his hand over to her, turned it flatside up, then down again, and when he turned it up another time, there was a business card in it with a yin-yang inside a pentagram. “- and then check out what this woman was putting in magazines and online. Then do some cross-referencing.”

“That’s all you’re giving me?”

He laughed. “You want me to write the article for you? Or just hold your hand and mop your brow the entire time and tell you what a wonderful little writer you are?”

“Fine,” she said. “But this had better not be a wild goose chase.”

“Pass me your phone.” He said, standing up.


“You’ll see.”

She did so, and he held it for a moment, then gently kissed it and returned it to her.

She raised an eyebrow. “What was that?”

"Have you ever heard the saying that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic?"


"Works both ways."


“You’ll work it out. Now, I’m a busy man. I have a lot to arrange, and it’s going to be a while until you see me again.” He stood up. “But when you do, it’ll be just in time.”

“For what?”

He smiled one last time. “For the coronation. The big one. Trust me, you’ll know.”

She looked down at her phone. “I don’t know what you’re – “  She glanced back up, but he was gone.

She drew out a small pattern on the screen to unlock it, and then saw it.

Full signal. She blinked a couple of times. 

Definitely full signal.

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