Aug 1 2009
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The blood coating my hands and face created one hell of a problem. "Well, shit," I breathed, staring at the red winding over my knuckles. "That’s not good. Not at all."
Anonymous people, their auras streaming like thick waters, surged past the mouth of the alley, oblivious on the Old City sidewalk. I staggered away from the wall and swiped my forearm across my eyes. Completely futile, though. Bloody images never cleaned away as easily as the real stuff.
That vision had hit me like a brick to the face. Wet warmth still trickled from my nose and I pinched it, tipping my head back. The slice of sky between the buildings was a riot of color, nuclear pinks and reds and oranges. Almost curfew.
"Shit," I said again.
Then the rolling waves of nausea hit, magical whiplash exacting its price. I doubled over and retched, aching head clamped between my hands. As I rode out the queasiness, my gaze swept over the busted pavement, finally coming to rest on the abandoned canvas bag at my left. Oh, hallelujah.
My knees still felt loose as I rummaged through my bag’s flotsam. Shuriken, lipstick… fresh mag of hollowpoints, mirror; come on! A roll of gauze went under my elbow, and something that may or may not have once been a styptic pencil joined the refuse littering the ground. Where are you…? Ah. My fingers closed around the cool, smooth bottle of isopropanol, so I licked the copper from my lips and got to work.
Neutralizing all of the blood took a while–my nosebleed had been quite the gusher. I finally threw the bandages into the warped dumpster, tossing in a match for good measure. Thick, oily blue flames licked at the soiled cotton and smoke bellowed up as I dropped the lid with a clang. Coughing, I backed away. With any luck, the fire would stay contained.
My luck lately though, the whole damned city would burn. And me with it.
By the time I made it to the edge of the sidewalk, the crowds had thinned, the shadows had lengthened, and I was out of time.