My mouth opened and I took in a massive gulp of air. It felt like I had been in the ocean struggling against a wall of waves before finally breaking through them.
I was sitting down, I don't know how or why, but I was sitting down. And where was Tyme? A quick scan of my surroundings revealed that she had abandoned me, the bastard. A simple black plastic chair served as my seat within a bright white hallway that was ridiculously clean. If somebody had told me that at the end of this place laid heaven, I might have actually believed them. I mean, this place had no windows, no lights, in fact no visible form of light. What the hell was going on here?
I closed my eyes tight. This had to be a dream.
"What on earth are you doing?"
I leapt to my feet, springing away from the voice as my eyes flashed open again. My heart practically ripped free from my chest.
"Wow, overreaction much." A small balding man with glasses sat in a chair beside mine, donning a scarf, shirt and cardigan combo. He spoke in a stuffy voice that made him sound like he had a cold, and yet this was the guy that had spooked me. I was too embarrassed to be pissed off with myself.
"I wasn't scared alright! I was just…startled." I said as i recomposed myself, and slinked back into my chair.
"Yeah, right…just startled." His sarcasm grated at my insides. He was surrounded by the air of a person that thought he was better than anyone else was. Part of me wanted to leave somehow, to get as far away from him as I possibly could. But I buried my feelings; I had a question that needed answering. Where was i?
"So…what are you here for?" I slyly questioned, trying to hide my lack of knowledge.
"Same reason as you, of course," he snapped back at me, before continuing. "To get a chance to work with the best! I mean he's amazing, isn't he?" for a moment, almost everything about him completely changed as he whispered out his final sentence. If somebody had used the words "Lovesick Teenager" to describe him, they wouldn't be far off.
"Errm, who?" I said tentatively, waiting for the massive shouting of disapproval that I knew would come. But it didn't come, at least not straight away. Instead, for the first time in our entire conversation he looked directly at me, his jaw quivering for a second before he began to speak.
"Who? Who!" ah, so there was the shouting. "Who else could it be except Nicholas Moriaty? He's only the greatest non-practitioner to exist within the community since the dawn of time! The single holder of the most ERDs on earth! The leader of the greatest private investigator partnership ever!" He ranted onwards, and as his hands shook excitedly and spittle flew from his lips. But despite the feelings of disgust that surfaced within me, I was learning, at least now I knew what I'd be doing. I'd be an assistant to a private eye, that didn't sound half bad.
"Dude, calm down." I said. And he stopped, taking a deep breath before allowing calmness to take control once more.
"Being an assistant to him, would be such an honor. I will get this job, and that is nothing more than a fact." He said letting a self-satisfied grin spread across his face.
"We'll see about that." I was done with playing the nice guy, it had become obvious to me that I would get nothing more from him.
He chuckled at my words before speaking. "So what qualifications do you have in this business?"
"Who needs qualifications? I've been working in this field for over three years." I lied, not wanting to admit my university dropout status. And it worked.
"So, how did you not know about Mr. Moriaty?"
"I work. I'm a very busy man." His eyes narrowed as he tried to figure me out.
"What's your name again?"
"I never told you it."
The smug, all knowing grin that had once plastered all over his face was gone, I couldn't help but be pleased with myself. But little did I know that, that was the last time I would ever see his face again.
Suddenly air filled the corridor from the area to the left of me, whipping my face, and sending ripples through my clothes. I stood up turning towards the uproar, as I shielded my eyes from the moisture stealing wind.
There was something at the end of the corridor. I couldn't make it out, but I knew something was there.
"What's going on?" I screamed into the wind.
"It's your turn!" I heard him scream out a reply.
My feet refused to move forward. Me, move into the light? No way! Not tonight! But it didn't matter what I wanted, I would have no choice in the matter. A tiny part of me felt that my fate was sealed the moment I felt two hands press against my back.
"No!" I shouted, as my arms flapped around frantically in attempt to get away, I had watched more than enough horror movies to know that being sucked into this thing would lead to nothing good. Then I realized that the wind wasn't pushing me away, it was pulling me towards it.
And as my muscles started to burn, I started to realize the truth.
That there was no escape from this. There was nothing I could do stop it.
So I gave up, and surrendered myself to the darkness.
"So should we start?" a calm voice posed to me a question. At those words, my head whipped upwards. I was in the middle of a bare loft apartment, a large room surrounded me and it was lined with wooden floorboards and red brick.
In front of me, a man around my age stood, holding his hands around his back. He had short blonde hair and was tall and gangly. Despite this, there was something magnetic about him and his electric blue eyes. He wore what I like to call "a funeral suit", but unlike the thousands of James bond wannabes worldwide, he actually didn't look like a tool wearing one. The only blemish to his appearance was a long thin scar that ran from the base of his right eye to the corner of his mouth.
"Okay! Just wait a minute!" I shouted, I was more than fed up with this. "What the hell just happened?"
"You just arrived…"
"No, the whole wind, and crazy corridor deal."
"Well, I called in a favor from a guy, he created a hub which so that people can jump from there to over here. I don't want random people knowing where I live."
"And I'm not random?"
"No, you're that guy. I know your name…James…Johnny-"
"Alex, I'm Alex."
"See! I knew I recognized that face from somewhere. My name's Nick, but you can call me En." As he finished, he extended a single white gloved hand to me.
"So are you a big Michael Jackson fan then…En?" I said as I grasped the palm of his hand and shook it soundly.
"Nope, good one though." He said with a chuckle. So this was "Mr. Moriaty", the way that fanboy had talked about him made him seem like he was a god but right now, he seemed to be anything but that. I sighed, this whole thing was bizarre to say the least. But I had come here for a reason, so I might as well i try and get the job.
"So, do you have any questions for me?" I said, prompting uncomfortable pacing along the floor by En.
"Errm," he said, scrunching his face up in thought before continuing slowly. "What's your opinion on…rape?"
"Rape is pretty bad, as far I'm concerned." I had no idea where this was going, but i was starting to get weirded out.
"Ah, good. Great, well, it looks like you're the right person for the job then." What?
"I mean, you seem capable."
"What about qualifications?
"Something you pick up pretty easily. I mean do you want the job or not?" his answers were rapid and bullet like, ripping holes in my preconceived views on how this would go.
"I do want it!" I stood still with shock, this was as weird as fuck, but I had the job so I guess everything was fine.
"One problem though." I hated asking for help, but I needed to.
"What?" he said.
"I have no idea about magic." I spat out, and then there was silence. But I expected it. I mean this probably was the deal breaker here. In other world and for any other job, it would have been. But for some reason, not here.
"Alright, I have a partner and he arrives in around five minutes. So it's going to have to be a crash course. Get your inception helmet on, this is gonna get complicated." He said as he looked at a plain looking watch that was attached to his ungloved hand, as a warm feeling spread up through my body. It seemed like not everyone who worked in this magic business was a dick.
"Okay, go!" As unusual as it sounds right now, I actually wanted to learn. And my old teachers can speak to my aversion to anything academic.
"Magic is simply the translation of energy into different forms, such as fire or ice. This can happen in one of three ways, through raw magic or through ERDs."
"So raw magic?" I said with an impatient nod, prompting En to continue.
"In simplest terms, it's using your mind to make cool things happen, it's something only practitioners of magic can do."
"I thought you were one."
"Nope, I'm a hundred percent corn bred human." He shot back quickly, for a second I thought maybe too quickly, and then I stopped. I was being stupid.
"What about ERDs though? I think I've heard about those before."
"They're Energy Redirection Devices, very rare but very useful for humans like us in this line of work. For example, my glove." At those words he lifted up his gloved hand and pointed It at the wall furthest away from us. Then concentration took hold of his face as he opened up his fist, making sure his the palm of his hand was lined up with the red brick in front of us.
Without thinking I took a step back, I had no idea what he was doing, but I knew it wasn't something I wanted to get in the way of.
I guess felt it first, it was like a shift in the atmosphere that foretold of rain. It was something that I could only feel, not see, at least not at first. Then my eyes caught hold of something, a faint white glow that emanated from his hand. I tried to focus on it but I couldn't. just when I thought my eyes were on it, I realized that they were nowhere near it.
Without warning, En's hand jerked backwards as a sound akin to a rocket ripped through the air, forcing me to grab at my ears in a vain attempt to protect them. At the same time, the bright light shot though the space between his white glove and the wall before I could even register its movement. All that remained of it was a large round hole through the scarlet brick that let in thick blades of sunlight.
I could only say three words.
"What's so awesome?" We both spun on our heels as an unfamiliar voice entered the room. A thirty something year old man stood behind us, he wore a dark leathery fedora, and had chocolaty skin that was cloaked in a light brown trench coat and a grey shirt. Black hair covered his chin and his face told of a man that was around a decade older than us.
"Errm, ah..." En stuttered, it was really hard right now, to stop myself envisioning him as a little kid trying to hide something he had done wrong from a parent.
"Life… life's totally awesome." I lied. The man's eyebrow rose at this, but he seemed to dismiss it.
"Okay then," he said slowly before continuing. "I'll just forget about the hole in the wall. I mean I've caught you doing worse-"
"Hey, that was only once!" En protested.
"Yeah, whatever you say. So is this the new guy?"
"Yep, I'm Alex, consummate professional." I said, stepping forward and extending my arm for a handshake.
"I didn't ask for your name kid. It's just gonna be another thing for me to forget." He said in a matter-of-fact way, whilst looking sideways at me out of the corner of his eyes.
"Whoa! Wait up, what do you mean by that?" I stepped in towards him. Who exactly was this bastard?
"I mean it'll be a miracle if you live out the week."
"Hey, come on Gerard. No need for talk like that." En said, throwing his arms around both of us before squeezing us tightly. "I want us to be one happy ass kicking family, you hear? So play nice."
"I hear ya, now get off." Gerard said, shaking En loose and giving me a chance to escape his bear hug. I mean I saw Brokeback Mountain, I know what man hugs lead to.
I couldn't deny the fact that what Gerard had said shook me up. But at the end of the day, life is just a stream of normality that can end at any time. I mean I could step out tomorrow and get hit by a bus, and that's me dead. In this though, I had found something that wasn't normal, something more. And I wasn't going to leave it because of some empty threat. So there was only one thing that I could say next.
"So guys, when do I start working?" I said in an attempt to bring normality back into the room.
Gerard and En glanced at each other, shrugged and then said one word.