Shrivers Gate

The first strike of Noon Bell collided with Jackson as he rounded the corner building off Needle Street. He would make it, but only if he kept his pace. His saliva was thick and metallic, and he had to spit; A habit he despised. His lungs heaved, but his adrenalin kept him at speed. Suits and ties turned from their frapuccinos and Financial Times to gawp, but the attention gave him a surge. He was tall and strong, and he had a necessary appointment. He sprinted, pumping and panting. He turned another corner into the harbour. On the twelfth chime, he arrived outside Shrivers Gate, and he slowed to a stop, doubling up with sweating palms on his knees, cursing over and over. He was hit with a momentary need to vomit, but it passed as he spat onto the paving. There were thin threads of blood in his saliva.

She wasn't at the gate.

He straightened up. A couple sat on a bench in an embrace, looking out over the boats. A teenager in headphones, hair covering his eyes. Seagulls clamouring over something by the statue. She said she would be here.

"Hey. I was about to leave," she said. He span around, and she beckoned for him through the railings of the gate.

He forced himself through the padlocked gap into the graveyard, cool iron pushing down on his forehead and cheek. The smell of sea salt mingled with damp foliage and excrement. People walked their dogs in here to do their business on top of the dead. Still gasping for breath, he followed her past several gravestones. She stopped in a corner that was particularly overgrown, knee-deep with nettles and thistles, faded beer cans, surrounded by stones with writing that was eroded brown and undecipherable.

She looked the same as when he had last seen her, but for her hair that was pulled back into a sharp tail. She was exquisite.

"So," she said, "Have you got it."

Jackson coughed, and unzipped his jacket. From his inside pocket he pulled out the packet. Misshapen, it looked like nothing more than a paper bag of rotton fruit, the corners discoloured with some liquid. After a second the sulphur stench penetrated, and they both recoiled, choking into their sleeves.

"Christ, will it work?" she said. She appeared less than certain, but Jackson noticed in her an introduction of excitement that had previously been alien in their relationship, and he raked a damp hand through his hair.

"It will work," he said, and carefully pushed the bomb back into his pocket.

"Well, we should do it now," she said, and grabbed his hand, "You know I appreciate this...Wait!"

She was looking at him now, her face only a tiny length away from his, frowning, intense. He wanted to be closer to her.

"What's wrong with your mouth?" she said

"What?" Jackson said, but again he tasted the copper on his tongue, running on his gums, saliva squirting from the ducts. He spat onto a thistle stalk, and it was blood. He spat again, and there was movement in his jaw. Something white dropped from his bottom lip. A tooth, his tooth, dropped into the grass and lay there like a tiny egg.



The End

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