He teeters down the hallway, past valets, past cleaners.
Snaking down the maze of lavish corridors.
Of the Brunston Arms Hotel.
His body is light as a ghost’s. Floating.
His heart pounds, threatening to burst from his chest,
or force its way up his throat.
His feet barely skim across the floor. He glides over the carpet.
Through the foyers, lined every few strides, with portraits
of men and women who once lived.
Who will have lived longer than he will.
And who have, perchance achieved more
than he, now, ever can.
They blur past him.
He runs faster than he knows is safe,
to avoid staring into their dead eyes. They’re mocking him.
These valets, these cleaners.
They laugh at him too.
They see, in his face,
and they know,
the awful truth.
He climbs the stairs, legs screaming with the last few steps.
Is this new?
How can one’s body feel so light, so empty,
yet so painful, and so, so tired?
He’s reached the penthouse floor.
And he stumbles to the door.
Reaching into his pockets, he sifts through his miscellaneous junk blindly,
cutting himself on some young mage’s business card. Christ.
He feels the tiniest drop of blood, as he grips the room key
and shoves it in the lock.
The blood smears across the key’s stem, already drying.
Laurent cannot look at it.
The door clicks open, and he collapses inside.
He unconsciously slams it behind him,
before he crumples,
with a strength he didn’t think his light body had.
And he heaves.
And he shakes.
And he curls up, folding and contorting himself into the position he began in.
Begging, eyes closed, to awaken in utero. Not wanting to open his eyes,
and see the world he grew to know too well,
facing him again.
All liquids released. Urine.