Read the beginning of The Glass God by Kate Griffin, the second novel in a new urban magic series, Magicals Anonymous, from the author of the Matthew Swift novels set in London's hidden otherworld.
Listen to the Expert
He said, “No, wait, you don’t want to . . . ”
But, as was so often the case, no one listened.
Which was why the next thing they said was, “We told you so.”
Things went downhill from there.
Keep Your Feet on the Ground
He feels something press against his thigh, and half turns in indignation.
But the person who just brushed by is still walking calmly on, shoulders hunched, head down beneath a trilby hat, and Darren, as he brushes his leg, can’t feel any blood, and is already half wondering if he imagined it. Perhaps he did. He’s had a bit to drink and while he’s okay – of course, he’s fine! – it’s easy to get jumpy on a lonely night.
He walks on, past the shuttered convenience store and the locked-up laundrette, beneath the painting on the wall of the grinning monkey, banana in hand, and through the accusing stare of the policeman drawn on the metal grille that guards the tattoo parlour, whose graffittoed face warns all passers-by that this shop is his shop. He turns the corner into the terraced road where he lives, six to the flat share, a house with a nice back garden where they sometimes try to have a barbecue in order to force the weather to turn to rain, walks three more paces, and pauses.
Stares at nothing in particular, then down at the ground.
He seems . . . surprised.
It appears to Darren, and indeed to anyone who might be observing Darren at the time, that suddenly everything he’s known up to this point has been meaningless. All that was has passed him by, and all that remains is everything which is, and yet to come. He is used to having such profound thoughts at two in the morning after a night in the pub, but it seems to him that this is, perhaps, revelatory. A feeling deeper, truer and more meaningful than anything he has ever experienced with or without the aid of illegal substances, ever before.
And so, for tomorrow can only come if we let go of today, he reaches down to his shoes, and carefully slips them off his feet. His socks are stripy, multicoloured, a reminder, he always felt, that underneath his veneer of clean white shirt and sensible trousers, he once fought for social freedoms and artistic expression. He flexes his toes on the ground, feeling the sudden damp chill of the paving stones rise up through the clean fabric, into the soles of his feet. He lifts up his shoes, carefully unpicking the knot in the laces, then, once they are free, ties the laces back together, one shoe to the other. He raises his head, looking for something suitable for his purposes, and sees a lamppost with a long neck sticking out over the street. He steps back a few paces, to get a better line of sight, then, whirling his shoes overhead, spins them like an Olympic champion and, with a great heave of his arm, lets the shoes fly. They tumble through the air, one over the other, and hook across the neck of the lamppost, tangling a few times round as they come to rest, to form a noose of shoelace across the metal top.
And, just like that, Darren is gone.