Where was the dragon? It was a damp spell – that was what they called it, and it not only dampened his enthusiasm, it also seemed to dampen his perceptual abilities. He tried reaching out, but it was like dabbling his fingers in an ocean of white noise.
Sometimes he found his perception slipped forward in time, and he was an old man sat in The Burn Outs Bar, talking to the barkeep about the dragon. The barkeep told him that there was a myth about how every sunset and sunrise threw a reflection of the dragon into the sky to show that he owned the world.
‘Ah, but the world truly owns him,’ Skein heard himself saying ‘For, did I not fashion it so?’
And the barkeep would laugh – the kind of laugh that he would unpack every time an old drunk would sit down at his bar and talk a load of nonsensical crap. Moments like this laid bare for him, how people in this world might move from being shiny magic individuals towards being the slow grey things, burdened with mundanity, who shuffled up and off the mortal coil.
The golden butterfly sat next to him made him think of Britten, and he wondered. He wondered how deeply wrapped L’undone was in London. Was it a step through the mirror, or was it some other more laborious method one had to employ to dig down into the subtext?
For a moment time eddied around him in a swirl like the uncoiling spring in a rusty broken clock that had just given up the ghost. Parts still worked. A small broken ticking in the guts still promising something. It was not something he felt that would be easily delivered. He recoiled from it. His reach pulled back inside him, and the flower of the hidden London retracted into a small lie of a scribbled haiku on the back of a fortune from a cookie that was sliding along the exit strategy of a line of water that was going to disintegrate into individual drops as it feel through the stale air of the buried Victorian architecture that was the throat of the sewer.
He thought he heard a bird call, a low bass sound, then a high trilling; and then a detuned radio. The universe started rolling forward again. He struck a match – send his own little bit of magic out there into the world.