[ There’s nothing in this world to believe in ]

Mage tossed the empty can of red spray paint to the cement and took a step back to admire her handiwork. Layers of old graffiti and peeling posters for metal bands nearly obscured the simple text but she knew her nemesis would reach this world soon enough and discover the message. Mage had to hand it to Alice Pan – the girl was nothing if not determined. Of course, that only made this game of cat and mouse all the more delicious. Battling with blades and magic offered temporary amusement, yet Mage preferred the fine craft of subtle psychological warfare. She hadn’t spent years honing her rage and hunger for vengeance into a weapon finer than any steel for nothing, after all.

As the girl turned to flee the scene of the crime, a flier pasted to the brick wall caught her attention. At first sight nothing distinguished the advertisement from any of the others; jagged lettering over a grainy black and white photograph of several shirtless teenagers lounging in what they probably assumed were edgy rock star poses. It took Mage a moment to recognize the figure in the center, his usually aristocratic features hidden beneath a tangle of black hair and smoky makeup.

“Oh fuck,” Her snort of surprise echoed down the empty street. “I have got to see this.” She ripped the flier down and stuffed it into a coat pocket.

Sneaking into the show proved disappointingly easy. The teenagers crammed into the dingy club wore garb far more ridiculous than Mage’s own tattered black military coat and riding boots. She blended in perfectly as she wove around pockets of neon haired girls and boys with more metal than cartilage in their ears, making her way back stage. Even from the roadies rushing back and forth she drew no attention, a darker shadow passing among waiting instruments and coils of extension cords. She secured a spot close to one side which offered a perfect view of the stage and settled in to wait.

The club’s lights went out without warning and a fervent cheer erupted in the eager audience. A moment later the stage burst into light with a thunder of drums and the scream of an electric keyboard. A shirtless singer clad only in tight black pants, knee high leather boots, and an open leather jacket strode forward to grip the microphone between hands tipped in black nail polish. When the first words left his mouth another ecstatic cry rippled through the crowd.

“Say hello to the night, lost in the shadows
Say hello to the night, lost in the loneliness
Say hello to the night, lost in the shadows
No one knows…”

“Holy. Shit.” Mage didn’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity of the situation or admit that Tanim was more than just mildly attractive in his 1980’s bad boy ensemble.

“He’s good, huh?”

The captain nearly jumped at the unexpected voice at her side; even her keen ears had not heard anyone approach over the pounding drums. She cast a sidelong glance at the speaker and only barely managed to smother a burst of laughter. Oh my Lord, she thought, this just keeps getting better. If this pseudo-rocker world fit Tanim like a glove, it suited Daren no less. Mage was used to seeing the man in head to toe black, but this boy had upgraded from a sweater and slacks to ripped black jeans and a battered black denim trench coat. His usually close cropped white hair stuck up in a mess of short spikes.

“Yeah,” Mage managed to recover with a straight face, glancing back to the singer on stage, “he’s pretty good.” She watched Daren out of the corner of her eye but the boy had already forgotten she existed. His hungry gaze never shifted from Tanim as his lips mouthed along with the song.

“Here comes the night, the bedroom in shadows
Candlelight; I don’t know where it’s coming from
But I, I keep moving on
Till the darkest thought makes me want to try these wings, yeah yeah”

Of course he knows all the words. This is too fucking adorable. Mage shook her head with a helpless smirk. I am so definitely coming back to this world. The thought reminded the girl of her current location and the fact that she probably shouldn’t linger too long. Alice would arrive in no time.

“You should go for it, you know.” Turning to Daren, the captain rummaged in the pockets of her coat until her fingers produced a small silver flask engraved with the symbol of an entwined sun and crescent moon. “Here, you two have a little fun on me. I promise he likes this stuff.” She pressed the flask into the boy’s hand with a conspiratorial wink, then disappeared into the back stage gloom. Behind her Tanim’s voice reverberated through the club.

“Loneliness pours over you
Emptiness can pull you through
Did you go to sleep with the light on?
I can’t wait for this feeling to free me

Say hello to the night, lost in the shadows
Say hello to the night, lost in the loneliness
Say hello to the night, lost in the shadows
No one knows…”

[ Tanim opened with: Lost in the Shadows And for his encore, of course… ]

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  1. Pingback: #1202 | Only Fragments

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