The city always looked its best at night, or in the fresh near-dawn just after a rain. The lights dimmed all the rough edges, and made what looked grubby in daylight look romantic, noir, cheerful. In the daytime, the city looked run-down, grubby, like its denizens, past its prime. But like the hookers and hustlers, the nighttime added a shine to everything.
Lane walked down the South Street at midnight, nevermind which of those categories might fit the tight leather pants and tighter tank top, breathing in the smoke-tainted air, feeling the city lights against bare shoulders. The world was beautiful, for a certain definition. The world was certainly better than during the daylight. Times like this, you could believe in a little magic. Times like this, the world covered up its gritty parts for you, made itself into a story.
“Hey, you. I’ve got thirty dollars if you’ve got five minutes.”
The voice was greasy and slick, coming from a dark alley. Not the sort of place Lane liked to go. “Not here. Not there, for sure. Down by Lauren Park. In the light.”
“Heh, kid, not everyone likes the light. Come on, my money’s as good as anyone’s.”
“I don’t do creeps, spooks, cops, or monsters,” Lane answered shortly. “And if you’re hiding in a shadow, I can’t tell which of those you might be.”
“Only way to get the money.”
“I’m not a junkie.” Anymore. “I’m not that hard up for cash.”
“Pity,” the voice glorped. “We’re going to have to do this the hard way.”
Lane had started running at “Pity.” By then, it was too late. Something was already grabbing, pulling, tugging.
“Shit, shit, shit.” Tripped, elbows scraping across the pavement, scrabbling for any sort of purchase, Lane gave in to the small bomb of magic living deep inside. “I don’t do fucking goblins, either!”
The world exploded in a blast of light, a tiny sun, followed by a long splash of water, flooding the streets, washing away all the … filth… Lane stood up, looking around in the sparkling air. The city was always its best just before the dawn, just after a rainfall. Times like that, you could believe in a little magic.
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