Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

He sat on the side of the bed, back against the wall, and looked through the window into the neon night of the city outside.

Between he and the glass of this closet apartment, fifty stories above the streets below, lay a girl he’d known for only tonight, but who’s presence seemed to stretch backwards through his memory forever. She lay facing away and fully nude beside him, twisted slightly at the hips. He studied the rhythmic rise and fall of her breathing, and marveled at the life her tattoos continued to live even while she slept. A dragon blinked slowly, regarding him from her shoulder, occasionally stretching and ruffling it’s wings, it’s tail curling and uncurling languidly around her exposed thigh. Around her ankles slowly revolved pairs of snakes, continuously eating one another.

He studied the razor sharp line where the black of her hair gave way to the pale almond of her skin, shorn almost to the flesh excepting the six inch vertical fan that now lay flat against the pillow, vacillating of its own accord between a limp resting state, and the rigid double row of spikes she’d worn at the club that he was sure was as much weapon as fashion statement.

She’d materialized through the slow steady beat of the dance floor, locked onto him and stayed without question and without explanation.

His body ached from the frenetic pace they’d kept until she was satiated, both physically exhausted but his mind still on fire.

He fished for his jacket, found and ignited a cigarette, and turned back to the view outside.

The smoke of the city presented an ever present ceiling above the buildings, lit from below by a million miles of neon signage, the murky cloud a tapestry of purples, pinks and blues, lines of which stretched off into the distance, lost beyond the limits of his vision, beyond this sleeping girl.

He pulled on the cigarette, letting the smoke drift slowly through his nostrils and creating a cloud of its own inside the room.

She stirred, and he studied the undulating lines of her body as she repositioned herself, the dragon shifting as though irritated before shaking itself out to settle back into place when she’d stopped moving again.

At the edge of his vision there was a brief flicker. Was that pixilation? Momentary derez?

He drew another long inhale off the cigarette and as the chemicals numbed his brain he stared with renewed focus at the curvature of her hips.

If this wasn’t real, he didn’t want to know.