You may notice that, surprise surprise, Chapter Three of TSS wasn't up yesterday. Unfortunately, I had an acute headache. I'd been trying to format the post all of yesterday - not only did I not succeed on that front, but the glare from my laptop turned an acute headache into a pounding headache.
So I gave up and posted it today.
Chapter One - A Cat Called Rabbit and Three Dead Dragons
Chapter Two - A Clever New Best Friend and A DRAGON UP CLOSE!
- read this chapter on Wattpad -
Faux Coffee With Graduates And Illegal Dragons Eggs
I waltzed into the living room, bringing with me the smell of omelette from the kitchen, and waited until Nana’s attention broke from the Megavision and she turned to ask me what the hell I was doing just standing there twiddling my thumbs like an idiot.
“Do you have any problem accepting stolen goods?”
She gave me an odd look. “No. But –”
“Then HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” I thrust at her the thumb-sized blue crystal. She took it, but didn’t look anywhere near as impressed as I hoped she would. “I thought it was kinda pretty. Hope you like it.”
“My birthday was two and a half months ago.”
“You said it’s always the thought that counts.”
“Your ‘thought’ is almost three months late.”
“So it doesn’t count?”
“But I didn’t have any money at the time! You said it was okay.”
Nana’s look grew more sour by the second. “It wasn’t.”
Nana is the laziest woman I have ever had the misfortune to share a life with. Our flat was small, blue, and embarrassingly messy. Paperwork was scattered over every surface – several files marked ‘TOP LEVEL SECURITY: CONFIDENTIAL’ almost blew out of the window last summer when she stood a fan beside the sofa. Nana was the type who insisted on owning dozens and dozens of cups so she could always reach for a clean one instead of washing the last one. I tidy and clean non-stop, but she’s so messy that it makes little difference. Needless to say, Nana never cleaned. Her clothes and private investigator disguises lay all over our flat. A bright – and when I say bright I mean blinding – orange bow tie floated in a bowl among bits of cereal. I dumbly stared at it for a whole five minutes, trying to figure out how it made its journey from the wardrobe to the sink.
I kept a close eye on the time as I ate a burnt omelette – I couldn’t cook to save my life, Nana and I were a really pathetic pair – then went to brush my teeth. I wouldn’t normally do it in that order, but Rabbit peed in the bathroom just before I got up and I was waiting for it to air out. As I put my own bowl in the sink and filled it with water, I spotted the pudgy white cat squatting over my handbag.
“Hey! HEY! NO!” I screamed and whisked him into Nana’s bedroom, shutting the door. He hissed at me and scrabbled at the door. He really hated me, little crapheap. My parents were back from holiday today – I couldn’t wait to go and give him back. Catsitting was the worst.
“Nana, did you clean the...”
...litter tray, and she hadn’t. In addition to used litter were balls of dust, used lint roll sheets and hair bands. I wasn’t surprised Rabbit didn’t want to use it.
“Nana!” I called, cautiously creeping back into the bathroom. Airglade was doing its work. I sighed with relief, then bellowed,
She trudged into the bathroom and lazily looked at where I was pointing. A dense brush with a clump of jet-black hair attached stood in the cup that held our toothbrushes. Don’t even get me started on this bathroom. The bathtub was like a second wardrobe for Nana. Her work as a PI meant she had two wardrobes full of costumes, a whole cabinet full of stage make-up, wigs, hats, hundreds of shoes, gloves, padding, masks – her bedroom was a zoo. She tended to expand her wardrobe space to the bath, the airing cupboard, the coat cupboard, and the kitchen table.
“Oh, man. This is disgusting!”
“Where do you want me to keep it?”
“I don’t want to you keep it. Look at it. Urgh, is that an ant in there? Throw it away!”
She took it from me and looked around. She made to put it in the toilet but was stopped by the huge stack of papers on top of it.
Furiously, I snatched up a wad of papers from the toilet seat. “I won’t live in your filth anymore. We need to get a cleaner or something.”
Then her eyes flashed. “Absolutely not. There’s classified information in here, I can’t have some nosy bitch rifling through my –”
I couldn’t believe my ears. “Your papers? These supposedly classified documents?” I flicked through sheets and read aloud, “‘There is almost no information available on the subject. We know that the subject is a female between twenty and forty years old, a trained warlock with –’”
“Stop! Be quiet,” she said sharply, “What’s wrong with you? Do you want to get locked up?”
“You left these on the fucking toilet seat, Nana.”
“I was going to read them again when I used the fucking toilet.” she replied curtly. “What’s the point in putting them away? We never get visitors.”
I was about to explode. “WE NEVER GET VISITORS BECAUSE...”
I gave up.
It was a privilege to share a life with Nana, but the privileges easily got lost among the trials I’d had to struggle through. True, she’d never had a brush with the law – the known law, that is. Her work as a private investigator is tied to the secret law. She’d gotten her degree and paid off her student loan fairly quickly with her incredible salary. She told me all about the fascinating creatures she came into contact with, and always knew about news stories before they went on the air. Her uncanny foresight was bizarre, thrilling; wonderful. It’s probably worth mentioning that she was rich. My parents were moderately wealthy before they publicly fell from grace, and my awful tycoon grandparents were rolling in it. LITERALLY rolling in money – they had a Rolling Room and smoked hundred coopa bills (apparently they have a minty taste) and even then, Nana was rich beyond anything I’ve ever known.
But what I didn’t know, until last month and completely by accident, was that her funds are controlled by the secret law. It gave them leverage over her and stopped her from going astray. But they gave her a generous weekly allowance to carry out her work. She spent all of her money on clothes and food, no surprises there.
Nana watched me as I hopped from one room to another getting ready, tripping on things, stepping on things, scowling and kicking things. She suddenly spoke with a mouth full of Mars bar, “It must be illegal, how hard they work you.”
Here we go again. This discussion never seemed to end.
“Please, not again.” I said weakly, kneeling to pack my handbag. A pair of rainbow tights trailed out of it. The toes didn’t smell all that clean.
“I won’t stop bringing this up.” she warned me. “I don’t understand. Why would you stay on as a secretary for that pretty-boy, arrogant boss of yours?” Nana said, her jaw clenching the way it did whenever Noah’s name was mentioned. “If you’d looked for, say, a teaching assistant role, you could already be on your way to becoming a Supernatural Species Professor.”
“It’s complicated, Nana.”
“No, it’s not.” she said shortly, “You just don’t want to tell me whatever it is that’s keeping you there.” She folded her arms and turned back to the screen. “Nevermind. I have other means of finding out.”
“If that were true, you’d have found out by now.” I said, keeping my voice low. She didn’t respond.
We never seemed to resolve this discussion for good.
The truth was, NIRFL was curiously private about its work. They weren’t keen on hiring or firing their workers; they’d switch us between departments instead if they felt we’d outlived our usefulness. I went to Noah’s boss with my resignation last year, after Noah had waved it away and refused to take it. The old director, a curious old man with a fuzzy ash-coloured beard, had offered me twice the salary I was currently getting. It was more money than I’d ever seen, and meant that I’d be earning a ridiculous amount of money for doing very little. In my excitement, I took it and didn’t bother him again. Later, I would lie awake at night wondering if I’d ever be able to leave NIRFL. I’d run for the prize so fast, I hadn’t stopped to recognise the trap.
I couldn’t tell Nana.
“Don’t worry, I will figure it out. It’s my job to figure things out.” She held up the crystal. “Speaking of which, are you gonna tell me where you got this, or should I do some snooping?”
“Don’t,” I pleaded, and stood up to face her. “You agreed you wouldn’t ask questions.”
Nana frowned. “What? I never agreed to that.”
“Oh. No? Well... how about now?”
Suddenly my mobile was blaring the new song from my favourite band, High Sirens. I don’t really know how they’re still a band at all; their drummer had contracted Sphinx disease; their lead guitarist had given himself cancer by injecting too much unicorn saliva (in small doses, it cures blindness); and their lead singer was going through a pretty rough divorce because their teenage daughter had run off with a dragon dealer. I guess the controversy gave them even more exposure.
“Hi honey!” came Dad’s voice. My favourite parent. If it had been Mum, I honestly wouldn’t have answered.
“Are you alright? You sound breathless.” I said, and made eye contact with Nana, who wasn’t happy that I’d dodged the conversation via phone diversion.
“Sweetheart, you’ll never guess...”
He filled me in on what happened, and it turns out; a stray Dracosaurus dragon was circling Novapol and caught sight of Mum and Dad’s hovercar. It was so old that the green paint was flaking off, and the silver underneath caught the light of the sun. Hovercars aren’t even made in green anymore. I suppose that’s why it caught the eye of the dragon – she saw the glint of green and silver, like dragonscale, like a dragon egg to be more precise. Dragons get very angry when they find eggs in human territory. She swooped down, caught it in her claws, and flew off with it. Our street alone has somewhere between four-hundred and five-hundred residents, and how NOBODY saw this happen is completely beyond me. Then again, most of our neighbours don’t like my family. That’s why I live two-hours walk away in the infamous Luminance district, located in the city centre, home to artists, insane academics, and people who would rather be forgotten.
“So where are you now?” I said, looking for my other dolly shoe. I found it on top of the kitchen cupboards, eventually.
“We’re at the police station. The dragon must’ve realised its mistake when parts of the car started to fall off, because it dumped it on top of the Tesco. The police wanted us to come in and confirm it’s ours. You know your mother. She’s called a dozen journalists already. Just can’t resist being in the limelight.”
“Yeah, I know.” I muttered. “You said parts were falling off the car as the dragon few over Novapol – wasn’t anybody hurt?”
“Oh yeeeeah, broken spine, fractured leg, two deaths,” my Dad said casually, “But we’re not being sued for once, so that’s a relief.”
Two deaths. I couldn’t speak for a whole minute. Finally, I found my voice. “Dad, I have to go.”
“G’bye, love. Give us a call when you’re coming round to drop off Rabbit. Oi, aren’t you gonna take my photo?” was his faint shout before the line went dead. I went to my bedroom to start getting ready and thought deeply. There’s no record on my childhood up until age 7, so the possibility of me being adopted is actually quite probable. I will have to investigate further and pray for the very worst.
Now I was running late. With a yelp, I doubled my speed.
Nana stood against the front door, arms folded. “Where’re you going?”
I glanced at her. “You never want me to have a life outside of you, do you?”
Her scowl deepened.
“Out for artificial coffee with my old uni friends.” I said, grabbing my coat, then realising it was a rainbow cloak, ditching it, grabbing another coat, finding it stained, grabbing another coat, realising it was too small, then grabbing Nana’s coat.
“Hey.” She nodded to the Megavision. “Your parents are on TV.”
I paused. Two deaths. I know it was the dragon’s fault, but my parents always end up implicated in something that either hurt or embarrassed other people. I couldn’t help but grumble and turn away. “Just turn it off.”
Nana shrugged and headed for her room. “Goin’ for a nap. But we haven’t finished discussing –”
Then she screamed with rage. Rabbit darted out of her room, dragging a pair of tights printed with pork chops in its mouth. He looked shifty, as cats do. “This little shitting cat! Look at my stuff! Oh. Oh my God. It actually pooed. That is disgusting. Look at my stuff.”
Then she screamed with rage. Rabbit darted out of her room, dragging a pair of tights printed with pork chops in its mouth. He looked shifty, as cats do. “This little shitting cat! Look at my stuff! Oh. Oh my God. It actually pooed. That is disgusting. Look at my stuff.”
“When did I tell you to clean the litter tray, Nana?” I said smugly.
Furious, but silent, she went into my room and slammed the door.
I know I haven’t gotten to the sorcerer yet. You have to bear with me, okay? This stuff is important. It links up. Also, there’s nobody else I can insist on listening about my life.
“Real” coffee stopped being produced about seventy years ago. We have the scientists to thank for that. They’d been modifying coffee beans to create certain flavours and qualities; they claimed they’d found the ‘perfect bean’. It was consumed on a massive scale, depleting crops quickly – then things took a harsh turn when it couldn’t survive in the after effects of climate change and the entire variety became extinct. The coffee addicts went crazy and started hunting through Alphapol to find an alternative. They didn’t find one, but Alphapol scientists rediscovered an old experiment they did with cashew fruit and cacao pods. The result wasn’t the cocoa bean, and it wasn’t a cashew nut, but the weirdest tasting thing ever. They continued to engineer it with the original coffee bean, and now the bobo bean – as it was idiotically called – was a compulsory ingredient in every hot beverage, although an acquired taste. I get depressed thinking about all the idiots that existed before I was born.
My old Supernatural Species classmates waited in a huddle outside Frostas.
I spotted Aria first, singing softly to herself, her hands stuffed in her pockets, her breath visible in the chilled air. The gang spotted me and let out an “Awwwww!” We group-hugged.
“Good to see you, Elleeen.” Aria smiled. “Nice coat.”
“Looking goood, Ellen.” Everett wriggled his eyebrows at me.
Aria touched my arm. “Are you okay? You look tired.”
I smiled gratefully back at her. “You wouldn’t know the half of it. But I’m so excited we’re all here – this is the last time we’ll get to see each other this year, right? Let’s go inside and catch up.”
The window seat was free, so we hastily claimed it. Ellington got everybody’s drinks; orange juice for me, because drinks made from bobo bean are honestly disgusting; a predictable Boffee for Aria (Bobo coffee), a fancy-pants honey and butterscotch tea for Indie Star, as I expected; water for Everett because he never had money; and a soothing honeylemon tea for Ellington himself.
“Elleeen!” Aria sang, gracing me with her sweet soprano. She frowned and peered into her cup, then scowled and tilted it to us. She’d mixed the froth in and revealed that the cup was only half full. We chuckled and she shook her head. “Anyway, what’s going on? How’s life?”
Aria Jolie was our pride and joy. We loved to fuss over her because she was the smallest and had a gentle temperament. Still, she was the oldest of us all and her steady and stable manner made her the perfect prefect at Novapol University. Ar-Jo was insanely beautiful, short brown hair and a wide, welcoming smile. She was the most organised of our little group and normally arranged our meetings, acting as Mayor whenever arguments broke out.
“I honestly don’t know where to begin.”
“Start at the part where you go back to uni.” Everett said, raising his eyebrows again.
I was stunned. “How did you know?”
He grinned. “A little bird –”
“You went back?” Indie said in dismay. “Why would you do a dumb thing like that?”
“Well, it’s not exactly...” I mumbled.
“Hang, on, let her speak.” Aria said gently. Ellington listened patiently, but Everett’s exasperation wouldn’t let him stay silent.
“I really don’t get you, Ellen. Why would you sign up for another three years of absolute boredom?” he said.
Suddenly, I felt kind of stupid telling them. “Well, it wouldn’t matter to you, you almost failed.” I retorted instead, making the others snigger quietly.
“Yeah, but you got a first. So...?” Indie said.
“Dissatisfaction is not the dish that went untried, but the dish that was tasted and disappointed.” Ellington murmured, speaking for the first time.
Everett’s mouth hung open. “What sort of philosophical bullshit was that?!”
I smiled at Ellington. “I guess that’s it, Ellie. Fulfilment.” He started to smile back, but looked a bit annoyed at ‘Ellie’.
“Well, I wasn’t asking Noble Philospher,” Everett said. Ellington was even more irritated by this and looked away, while Aria patted his arm reassuringly. “I kind of wanted your own answer. Unless you don’t even know.”
Everett Maas was the guy who never did any work in class and relied on us girls to tell him what was going on. He’d rush to us as exam day loomed closer and urged us to fill him in on a term’s worth of information. He literally passed Supernatural Species by one point. Since then he’d become mad into sports, especially unicorn-racing. Clearly he paid attention enough to be a sometimes winner in that field, but the ethics of the sport always got me and Indie arguing with him.
I was saved from answering by Indie’s sudden outburst. “Are you still at NIRFL?”
“Ner-ful?” said Evereett, puzzled.
I laughed. “You mean Novapol International Research Facility and Laboratory?”
Indie gave me a grin, “I remember you had a very sexy boss. Neddy...? Noah...?”
“Don’t make me throw up.” I said, but only to hide the fact that I secretly agreed. “I’m still there.”
A pause. Aria’s mouth pouted slightly. “You don’t sound happy about that.”
“I’m not!” I burst out, “I asked Noah about a promotion last month and he said I was too good a subordinate to let me move up.”
“Bastard.” Everett said.
“Always hated that guy.” Indie said automatically, but she was wiping up the tea that sloshed over the side of her cup, so I think she was only half-listening.
Indie Starr was fierce, but unlike Nana who had a quiet and deadly fierceness, Indie was wild and loud. She was very good at talking and talking at someone until they were stuck in a corner, which is why she was in sales and quickly climbing the ranks in real estate. Indie, to the shock of us all, had actually failed her degree because the stress had crashed down on her at the last minute. But now she was earning the highest wage of us all – until NIRFL gave me that raise. Of course as part of my contract, I’m not allowed to disclose to anyone what that is.
“Anyway it doesn’t matter.” I hesitated, wondering how much I was allowed to say about the destruction of my department by three sick dragons. Ellington cocked his head, listening with interest. “As you know, Novapol don’t like to hire or fire people. Get in is hard and leaving is harder. Generally they just move people between departments when needed, even if they don’t have the skills. “I’m switching departments. I’ll be a sorcerer’s secretary now.”
There was a collective ‘Oooooh’.
“Yeah, you say that,” I said ruefully, “I’ve heard he’s awful. Thankfully he’s away until next week.”
“Ellen.” Everett said seriously. He’d already finished his cup of water. “Do not waste this opportunity. A sorcerer! Think of all the perks.”
I couldn’t help but laugh fondly at him. I remembered my first year of NU when he asked me out and I was in that awful position of saying no. He became so sulky and bitchy with me until Indie threatened him with poison ivy. After that he apologised and agreed we should be friends. Turns out, friendship suits us really well. I give him essential life advice, and he makes me laugh by ignoring them and ending up in the police station holding cell. Win-win.
“He can curse people who give you a hard time and bewitch people into giving you things. Think about it. We’re talking about a lifetime of no speeding tickets and free concert tickets.”
“I know next to nothing about magic, but I know that’s not how it works, Everett.” Aria said, starting to laugh.
“Magic is a gift coveted by all, available to some, appreciated by none.” Ellington said. Aria smiled at him.
And finally, Ellington, who I didn’t actually know all that well at university, but since his marriage to Aria last year we’ve got to know him better. He shares Aria’s calm and thoughtful way, and only speaks to share some deep philosophical insight. Everett thinks he’s as weird as anything, but I adore him. The only thing that annoyed me what how much his name sounded like mine – I always thought people were calling me when they weren’t.
“Guys, guys.” I laughed awkwardly. “We’ve been talking about me since we got here. What about you?”
There was a pause.
“I’m still trying to make ends meet,” Everett shrugged. “What’s new there?”
“We talk about you because nothing interesting ever happens to us.” Indie shrugged.
“Speak for yourself!” Aria said indignantly. “I started my own business.”
“Reeeeally?!” we all hushed, grabbing whatever part of her we could reach; Everett got shoulder, Indie got hand, and me, being on the other side of the table, awkwardly got a bit of her hair. She giggled.
“Aw, you guys are sweet. Yeah, since working for the sphinx company, I noticed that there were no organisations in Novapol that protect endangered magical species. The Novapol government is funding us to find them and move them out to the astronomy caves. Some of these creatures are sheltering in private gardens, so they’re not hard to find – people actually calling us with the details! Plus I get to work with animals and supers. It’s great.”
I was starting to feel sick, once again, with the disappointment of doing nothing with my SS degree. I smiled with the others, but as they babbled, I was silent. Soon, Indie noticed and spoke suddenly,
“How’s Mum and Dad Willesden, Ellen? Still doing anything on TV?”
Aria nudged her. “Indie. You know she hates talking about that.”
I gave Indie a dark look. “I cringe thinking about it. They were last on TV this morning actually, when their car got stolen by a Dracosaurus.”
There was a stunned silence.
“That was them?” Everett said hesitantly. “I heard about that. my best friend’s lil bro got hit by the bumper of the car that fell off. His spine is broken. He might not walk again.”
I stared at him. “Oooo.” I said embarrassedly. The embarrassment was painful. The silence stretched out for miles. This had to be the worst moment of my entire life.
“It’s not your fault, obviously.” Everett managed to get out finally. I almost said ‘Who are you kidding? The way you went silent made me feel like I personally went up to your best friends’ brother and whacked his back with a baseball bat.’
“So... anyone heard from any of our classmates?” Indie said.
“Oh my God – did you know Ricardo and Easoon’s had a baby?” Aria squealed.
“Really?” Indie, Ellington, Everett and I said at once.
“Yeah, she was pregnant before we graduated! The kid’s got to be almost five now. Wait, four. Wait... ah, I can’t count.”
“She is the last person I would ever expect...” I began.
Indie cut in, “Those two are the last couple I’d even expect to get together in the first place.”
Everett chipped in, “Profesor Noyoye found out he had cancer the year after we graduated from uni. He’s not working there anymore.”
We all made a sound of dismay. He was truly a great teacher. Never mind that he was a fugitive and probably wasn’t even legally a professor. He made sure we all passed his class with flying colours.
“I still have that recipe for Jolof rice that he gave us.” Indie said fondly.
“Me too.” Aria said.
“Same.” I added.
Indie gasped. “Oh my God! I didn’t even tell you guys.” she sat up. “You remember Steafán? Short guy, really quiet, slapped the Dean in the face?”
We all burst out laughing.
“Oooh yeah.” I nodded, “I’ll never forget that in a million years.”
Indie gave me a sardonic smile. “Funny you should speak of millions, because he’s a millionaire now.”
We all froze and stared at Indie in utter shock. “What? How!” I said.
“After he was expelled, he started posting videos on TrueTube about the university, stuff like, how to get through admissions, things you learn their, teacher secrets and stuff like that.”
“Wouldn’t he have got into trouble with the Novapol police?”
“He never actually said it was the university, once. But people knew. Anyway, that got him to be quite popular, and then he invented some dragon-tracking gadget.”
“My Mum has one of those!” Aria said, stunned.
“Everybody has one of those. He’s rich and famous now. Well, famous, not so much. He left Novapol to enjoy his fortune in peace, I guess.”
Everett scowled. “It’s always the little shits who get to live out their life in peace. Then you got Ysabel, the smartest, prettiest girl in our class – not counting you lovely ladies of course –” Aria, Indie and I narrowed our eyes at him. “ – working in McDonalds.”
We all sighed and went quiet. We were only twenty-four, but already our degree in Supernatural Species was becoming less relevant with each passing year. Now, only Aria was really making it count. Everett and I were in the field, but what Everett was doing wasn’t strictly legal and I was a secretary, not a scientist.
“I’m depressed, girls.” Indie sighed again.
“I’m depressed too.” Aria said.
“I’m fed up and my brain hurts.” I sulked.
“I’m not a girl.” Ellington muttered, and we all laughed at that. Except Everett, who made a face.
“I quit smoking. I know it’s done me good, but I feel worse.” Indie said.
“I didn’t know you were smoking, Indie.” I said softly.
She looked at me and shrugged. “I can’t get into it all now, but I went through some dark times before I ended up here.”
I tilted my head. “Where’s ‘here’?”
She laughed bitterly and drank the rest of her tea, now cold, in one gulp. “That’s exactly it. Nowhere.”
Are you still with me? Good. I haven’t yet got to the part about the sorcerer I worked for, and he’s kind of a big deal.
I waved Aria and Ellington off at the turbotrain station, Everett and Indie off at the hoverbus stop, and I walked, as always. ‘It was so good to see you’, they’d said. I’d simply smiled, because I didn’t want to say that it hadn’t been nice to see them at all. All we did was gossip mindlessly about other people’s problems and then moan about our own problems. Not that it wouldn’t be nice every once in a while. But I miss the times just after graduation, when we’d been so positive about our future. Today’s meet-up had left me feeling sober.
I let my feet take me to NIRFL. The building didn’t have the same meaning for me as it used to. I cautiously went inside, even though there was nothing for me here – Noah had said I didn’t have to come in for work before I switched over to work for the in-house sorcerer, Rubin. I guess he was trying to give me a break. It bothered me that Noah hadn’t called once, though.
Rubin was still out of office, attending an international conference. I decided to go to the upper floors and take the opportunity to find out more about him. To my dismay, the little I did discover wasn’t good. He was very good at what he did, but not everybody agreed with his methods. One person even called him ‘sadistic’. To say that least, that made me very nervous.
I was just about to leave when a small, fair figure rushed up to me. “Ellen!”
For some reason, I was really glad to see me old assistant. “Olly!” I gave him a quick, tight hug. Over his shoulder stood Noah’s three PAs; quiet Kelsey, bulldozer Poppy, and charming Valentin. They were finishing off their boffees and about to go upstairs.
“I’m glad I saw you. I... need your help.” Oliver said, hesitating. I frowned, and gestured that he followed me outside. The air was freezing now the sun had gone in. Oliver wasn’t looking me in the eye.
“What’s happened, Olly?”
He took a breath. “My parents kicked me out.”
I was completely taken aback. “What? Why on earth...”
“They saw the dragon eggs I got from the crystals –”
“Oh no.” I said at once. Dragon eggs. I remembered Mum and Dad’s car.
“- and you can imagine what they thought so –”
“I was just wondering if –”
“No Olly.” I already knew what he wanted.
“Just for a couple days!”
“No!” I shouted, “You are not staying in my flat! What were you thinking? Dragons eggs? You’d be sentenced to life in prison if you were caught. Don’t you understand how dangerous they are?”
Oliver bit his lip. “They were such a good deal, I –”
“OLIVER!” I bellowed at him. He flinched away from me and his eyes went very round, like a frightened cat. I wanted to kiss his nose, but no matter how adorable your toddler looks you still have to spank him if he sticks his fingers in a plughole. “When you asked me last week about dragon eggs, I had no idea you were planning this. What I told you wasn’t rumour or speculation. I’m a SS graduate, I studied them.” I sighed and rubbed my brow. “The moment you get some sapphire crystal to pawn, what’s the first thing you get? Illegal dragons eggs from the black market.”
Now he was getting sulky. “I’ve always wanted –”
“I’ve always wanted to be a dragon tamer, but I don’t kid myself into thinking I’d survive for two minutes trying to tame a dragon with NO EXPERIENCE.” I glanced through the window. Noah’s PAs were watching us. I casually turned my back to them.
“Oliver, where are they now?”
“The eggs? They’re... uh... I dumped them.”
“Oh, fucking –” I reigning in the string of swears I had lined up, then took a breath. Nana was such a bad influence on me. “Where?”
He looked bewildered. “In an... alleyway...?” I shrieked into the air and started pulling my short reddish-brown hair. Oliver was now terrified. “Was that not the right thing to do?”
I remembered how often my professor warned us against handling dragons eggs. I knew the repercussions inside out. Oliver quickly picked up on my horror and started to panic.
“Okay, I’ll take them to Nova Labs!” he gabbled.
“NO!” I bellowed, “You’ll be arrested! You go to that phone booth, make an anonymous call to the Novapol police and tell them where it is. Don’t do anything stupid and mention your name or address. Or my name. Do it. Now. Go. And then I’ll think about what to do with you.”
I watched him as he made the call. We walked for about twenty minutes to the place where he thought he dumped them. I bought him a boffee, and we sat on a bench and waited. The police took an age to arrive. It turned out not to be in that alley but the one two streets down, so by the time they found it, the sky was dark and the moon was glinting eerily. But at least they found it. I for one, was extremely relieved. If some homeless person had found it, who knows? More people could’ve been hurt than the causalities from my parents’ car this morning.
It was too late to find Oliver and Bed and Breakfast and I was shattered. Begrudgingly, I took him home. I guess I was destined to be a babysitter for ever; first to my parents, then to Everett, then to Noah, and now to this little arsehole, as much as I adored him.
When I got home, Nana was shrugging her coat on. She turned when the door opened and said, “Oh.” and took it off again. I looked at her fondly. I hadn’t realised I’d made her worried.
“I didn’t think faux coffee with graduates would take eight hours,” she said. Spotting Oliver, she grinned. “Who’s this? Toyboy?”
I smiled, insincerely. “This toyboy bought three dragons eggs off the black market and dumped them in an alley this afternoon.”
The smile snapped off her face. She stared at him. Oliver literally wilted under her gaze. I folded my arm, pleased. Nana would make a terrible Mum, except for the discipline part. “How old are you?”
He said in his smallest voice, “I’m... eighteen.”
“Interesting. Even an eight year-old wouldn’t be as stupid as you.”
I couldn’t help cringing myself, and her wrath wasn’t even being directed at me. Oliver hung his head. Nana pointed to my room, and he silently went inside.
Then, she absolutely amazed me by starting to tidy up. She shuffled documents together and packed them away. She pulled a big trunk out of the coat cupboard and into her room, then piled all of the sensitive files inside along with every article of clothing, every wig, every stick of make-up, every accessory and prop. The floor was visible, finally. Who’d’ve thought a visitor would provoke her to do what I’d been asking her to do for months. I started to help and we had the thing done in under two hours. It wasn’t totally clean of dust, but it was at least tidy for the first time that I can remember. I got the feeling we’d have to do several loads of washing tomorrow. She locked the door to her room, then leaned against it.
“Ellen,” she said quietly, her coal eyes meeting mine. “Keep an eye on him.”
Silently, I nodded.
written January 2016
Author's Note - I can't even tell you how DIFFICULT chapter 3 was. The first draft was fine, but I had to do at least five re-writes because it had a lot of problems. Gah. Drove me crazy.
(Links will go live when they are posted. Chapter names may change as I'm sort of writing this as I go.)
Chapter Four - An Old Boyfriend and Dragon Murderers
Chapter Five - A Dinner Date and A Month of Horror
Chapter Six - TBA
Chapter Seven - TBA
Chapter Eight - TBA
Chapter Nine - TBA
Chapter Ten - TBA
- read something else -
Prompt - leave me a superhero name relating to either 'fire' or the colour 'blue', and leave me something you'd eat for lunch, and I'll work it into the next chapter. =D Comment below.
Request - typos tends to be a problem for me. Be a pal - tell me where they are!