SNEAK PREVIEW OF PART 2!
The Hidden of Dunnersley
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"The people here had the kind of jobs that started at night-time and you didn't ask questions about..."
The Decisions of Freya
Freya stuck her tongue out and blew a raspberry at the world in general. Buggers. The evening was descending onto Dunnersley, spreading down the great river in mists and dull smoggy orange glows. The old river lights started popping on, a chain that marked the edge of Dunnersley in a weak glowing boundary. The girls territory, the river docks took on a different life in the night-time. No late night revellers, no clubs, the only socialites were the regulars who circulated the very elitist pubs that dotted Victoria Markets. The people here had the kind of jobs that started at night-time and you didn't ask questions about.
Freya flicked a stone into the river and watched it disappear with a splash. Buggers, she thought again. Ever since Abe had looked at her in the Academy and recoiled in horror she had known that it had all been another sham. The guy had seemed kinda cool, dumb, but all right on the whole. He was also the only link that she had to her mentor, Jack McAllister, and the mystery that she found herself immersed in. Well, she didn't need those stuck up Order-types anyway, she had her own friends.
The girl walked along the riverside to the old pier that struck out like a splintered bone into the Thames. There was no one on it in this chill night. All the tourists were long since tucked up in their cozy hotels, and the lovers who usually paraded the old pier had found their solace. The wind had died down and the black waters still under the old planks. Freya walked with one hand lightly skipping on the painted railings as the sound of her footsteps were swallowed by the river.
At the end of the pier a tall lamp illuminated the rising mist and the form of the man crouched perching on the railings, looking out over the waters.
Another shape slid out of the mist, a woman this time in a thin 1920's slip of a dress that looked freezing but the woman didn't seem to notice at all as she approached Freya. She had a large feather scarf wrapped around a long alabaster throat, and to the girl she had a vaguely seal-like appearance with slicked back short cropped hair and large hooded eyes. The effect was marred by the appearance of the woman's other arm. It was shorter and shriveled, ending in a cruel claw of a hand. The woman stood blocking Freya's way forward.
“Sammy's got a lot on his mind.” Her voice was husky.
“Yeah, I figured.” Freya was sullen. “When hasn't he?” The woman pouted and looked over her shoulder at the man. He was motionless, scanning the water like he was reading it. Through the music came the dim tinny sound of beats through headphones. The woman sighed, flicking off invisible dust from her fingernails, “Oh come on then,” she walked languidly up the pier.
The man didn't speak as they approached. He was broad, but didn't look tall. A gray and black hoodie stretched over his frame but was pulled down from his head. A short tufty brown mohawk glittered with moisture and large white headphones clamped the sides of his head. His steely eyes were far off and unfocused as the tinny beats hit the air around him.
“Sammy?” The woman said gently, resting a hand on the man's shoulder.
“Henna-?” He flinched and looked up, blinking. The man was younger than his broad impression gave. The edges of black tattoo spirals edged up his neck. He glanced over at Freya and hopped off the railing lightly.
He didn't take off the headphones, just looked down at Freya and nodded, motioning for them to walk back along the pier. The woman slid into an easy place at his shoulder, protective.
“So, I found him,” Freya said after a moment of plodding silent. The man didn't make any indication he'd heard. “Hes got the Prof now, he doesn't need me.” She paused as the turned off the pier and the couple led them into the winding narrow streets of Dockside. “I don't know what to do Sammy.” She said in a voice of quiet desperation. “I thought he would be like Jack, that he would be able to help but he cant. He's just like the rest of them.”
The man called Sammy nodded and pointed down a curving alley-street. The woman glided in front and stepped delicately amidst the trash. Rats skittered in the bins and the yellow electric street lights highlighted a small crossroads of connecting impoverished streets. A rusted sign pointed the way to the Markets, another to the Thames. The woman stood in the center of the crossroads like a statue and sniffed the air, then nodded and walked to the large metal doors of a brick building. She knocked a staccato rhythm and then eased one of the panel doors aside and vanished from view. Sammy and Freya followed.
Inside was a warehouse. The sound of throaty jazz filtered through a dark and smoky atmosphere to meet them. Hangings draped from the walls and made crude partitioned walls that blocked off corner's, cubbyholes and nooks. In the main chamber a large mirror ball spun halfheartedly, scattering the random light over an outcropping of old sofas and low tables. Freya had spent years moving through places like this, marginal spaces and derelict dwellings, squats and communes.
“Are you ready?” Sammy spoke at last. He didn't take off his headphones, but his voice had a heavy London accent which pushed through the atmosphere like a club. Freya nodded...
To Be Continued...