The John Coltrane music playing in the background of the crowded brasserie faded out, replaced by Miles Davis’ ‘Bitches Brew’.
“You like my ring?” he asked, as he settled into the chair.
“Oh well, yes, it’s very interesting, what is it?” Sandra asked, disingenuously.
“This, ” he replied, leaning forward, putting his elbow on the table and displaying the crest “is the symbol of Malachi. He was said to be a magician of sorts. Do you believe in magic?”
She leaned back in her chair, rubbed the back of her neck with one hand, “well I, I don’t know. Do you?”
Placing one forearm across the table and cradling his chin with the other, he replied “sort of. I mean, there’s definitely something to it; I don’t mean any of that airy fairy stuff with white candles and beads or anything like that, but some of it is useful. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you Sandra?”
She sat up straight, eyes wide. “Who are you? How do you know my name?”
“One of your old friends, Robert Haversham, told me; he was an acquaintance of mine, until the night that incident took place at his house. You remember, you were there.”
“I don’t remember seeing you that night.”
“I wasn’t there, good thing too by the sound of it.”
“So how did you hear about it?”
“I have my sources. Name’s Charles by the way, Charles Montague.”
“So what do you want from me?”
“You know of the rites, you know of the sacred objects, you know of the symbols and alchemical combinations. I have a smattering of knowledge, but I need your assistance”.
“What for?” Sandra asked, intrigued despite the feeling that Charles was hiding something from her.
“I want to open a portal.”
“A portal?” she laughed, “A door? Where to?”
Charles sat back in his chair and looked her straight in the eye, his face expressionless. “The shrouded city, in the world between worlds”.
“Do you really believe it’s there? Maybe this is a bad idea Charles. Robert was trying something similar, and look how that turned out…”
“He didn’t know his arse from his elbow. I liked him, but he had no idea. It’s there, Sandra; I’m going to invoke the rite of ingress and go exploring.”
“Even if it’s there, even if this is remotely possible…”
“Even so, what do you want there? What do you expect to find?”
Charles spread his arms wide, “Nothing less than the city itself!” he placed his hands on the table again. “Isn’t that enough? We could go anywhere, who knows what we’ll find? Untold treasures, wonders beyond imagining…”
“Sure, ” Sandra replied, nodding. “Well, I have to be on my way now, but good luck with that. Maybe if we meet again at a soiree somewhere you can tell me how it went.” Sandra stood up to leave, put her handbag over her shoulder and picked up her coat.
“I can pay you. I have money Sandra, lots of money.”
“Yeah. Tell you what, here’s my card.” Charles said, flipping open a silver case and handing a card to her. “If you’re interested, you can call me at my office and I’ll make the arrangements for your visit to my home.”
Against her better judgement, Sandra took the card.
Continued from here.