Author : Debbie Mac Rory

My knee is still bleeding from the last time I fell and my trousers keep sticking to them, bringing forth fresh darts of pain. But I’m too scared to use my torch here. I’ve already been stopped by two division patrols on my way here; I guess my research wasn’t thorough enough, and I still look overdressed for this part of the city.

She told me just to find somewhere quiet and private in the shared sector, where we could be alone. When I’d asked how she was going to know where we were supposed to meet, she smiled and told me not to worry. “I’ll find you”, she said.

46…47…48…49…50 paces further into the alley and there should be a door on my right. My fingers fumble on the greasy brickwork for the frame the obsolete city maps told me should be here. Finally my touch meets jaded timbers, and I move to brace my shoulder against the door. The door disintegrates in a shower of wood dust as I push against it, leaving me yelping as I hit the floor, skinning my partly healed knee again and earning a matching scar across my knuckles.

I sit there for a moment, cradling my bleeding hand and generally feeling so miserable that I never heard her come up behind me. She smiles at my disproportionate distress and takes my hands in her gloves fingers and pulls me to my feet. She gestures for me to follow her into the darkness further inside the warehouse.

When finally she stops, she takes the torch from my stiffened fingers, and props it against a wall, exploiting its feeble light to the full. I smile at her, and raise a hand to gently brush my thumb across her cheek – and my breath catches as I watch the trail of colour left there, as if I’d dipped my fingers in paint before touching her. Her skin seems to be flowing now, catching the colour from my hands, and carrying it in mesmerising swirls across her face. I tear my eyes away from the sight, and lifting my other hand to her shoulder, being to draw small shapes on her skin. I feel dizzy already, but when I see that she’s removed her gloves, and her hands are lying naked in her lap, I take her face in my hands and kiss her as all the world fades away.


When I finally open my eyes, my vision clears enough to let me catch a glimpse of skin as dark as my own, and a pair of unfamiliar hazel eyes. But the smile is the same, as is the gentle touch of her fingers. She could almost pass for human now.

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