No-Man’s Land: how to kill someone

A snippet from (the provisionally titled) Bluesky / No Man’s Land.

Have you ever watched anyone die? It’s an education.

I used to be normal – hah, ok. I was never normal, not from the point I could flick a tongue of flame onto my hand. But I wasn’t born an assassin and a murderer.

I make tea, carefully, as I’ve done for years. The sound of the kettle is familiar. A spoonful of sugar and a dash of milk swirled into the brown liquid. The teabag goes into the compost caddy; the plants in the central garden need all the decent nutrients they can get.

The drug that Elise gave her has made Nisha vague. She’s not aware of where she is, really; she knows her flat, but she can’t really hold a thought from one moment to another. When she does speak it’s of monsters attacking, of the pattern on the curtain fabric, of the robot inside her, of the clock – replaced many years ago – that needs replacing. She doesn’t know my name; she speaks to me as her sister, who I know died of cancer back in the seventies.

I take the two cups over on the tray, and place it down on the table.

Nisha was a sharp, amused lady, who welcomed the terrified and shattered refugees into her domain and ruled over us with wisdom and cynicism. She only had a hint of magical talent, but even that has been enough to doom her.

She waves a vague hand at me, telling me that the wall is falling, and that I should prop it up with the cushions that litter her sofa.

I sit with her, and we drink tea out of china cups with patterned saucers. We talk about nothings and nonsense, and I watch her die.

It’s a courtesy, a respect that I try to give all those that I kill. They are human; even if they were vampire, or were-creature, or unaware of where they are and who they are with…they are still human, and deserve my company as they leave this world.

And I would want someone there with me.