Chapter Thirty One – In Private

9 Aug

When we got in, I looked around the house for cards and checked the bottles of ink in the kitchen. They were all completely full and I could see a couple of droplets of ink around the lid of one of them. For half a second, I thought about pouring them away down the sink before I realised that this would probably allow the ink to spread through the water system like a virus. I’d screwed up more than enough already. So, I left the bottles in the yard behind the house before taking my jacket off and sitting on the sofa next to Rosie.

I reached over and pulled the blue marble out of my jacket pocket and handed it to Rosie. She stared at it deeply and rolled it around between her fingers before I got up and said ‘I’ll be back in a few minutes.’

Walking over to my room, I rummaged through the boxes under my bed until I found a pair of tweezers and some antiseptic. From the look of it, there were actually four splinters in my hand and they looked darker than they did earlier. I suddenly thought back to the models – if their wood reacted to the ink in any way and I’d just drunk some coffe which had been laced with the stuff, then this would explain it.

I swabbed the end of the tweezers and my hand with antiseptic before digging them into the edge of my hand. The first splinter came out surprisingly easily. So did the second and the third. The fourth was a lot smaller and buried more deeply, but asfter a lot of squeezing and scratching, I was able to get it out again. Afterwards, I pretty much covered the edge of my hand with plasters before changing into some new clothes, grabbing my towel and walking over to the shower.

As I passed the lounge door again, I saw that Rosie was still staring at the marble and was completely oblivious to everything else. I guess I’d know what she was doing that soon enough.

Despite everything strange in this world, the shower seemed to be working properly. It’s amazing how wonderful warm clear water can look after seeing streets drenched in ink.

About fifteen minutes later, I emerged from the steamy bathroom and wrapped a towel around my head. Rosie held the marble up to the light as I sat down next to her and said: ‘So, what is it anyway?’

‘Oh, how do I explain it? Well, it’s kind of like…. No, that wouldn’t be the right way to describe it. Ok, well, the only time I saw it was before I saw the other kind of ink. I was in the Caffe Noire early when a delivery came in. There were two boxes of tea and a small glass bottle of this stuff.’

‘The shopkeeper knows about it? Dammit, he seemed like a really nice guy. Look, did you ask him about it?’ I sighed, this world was getting worse by the minute.

‘George said that it was for protection, he didn’t say any more. Look, he’s a decent guy. If that ink got into your coffee, then there must have been a reason for it.’

‘Yeah, whatever. Look, did he say what it could be used to protect him against?’

‘Not quite.’ Rosie paused for a second before continuing ‘He said something about it being used for cleaning and impunity. No, wait, immunity. That was it.’

Suddenly, this all began to make slightly more sense. I held my hand out and Rosie passed me the marble before saying ‘You’re going to break it, aren’t you?’

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