It starts with a faint sense of unease. A quite dismissable sensation, just plucking at the edge of perception. Bleys looks up from his breakfast, and the song playing over the cafe’s speaker impinges on his consciousness.

The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled bled bled

He frowns. It’s not a trump contact, nor is there any of the weird ozone tang he’d associate with sorcerous communication. No, this is subtle, and distant.

He rises from the booth, dropping a few folded bills on the table, and heads outside. The jangling of the bell over the cafe’s door is quickly subsumed by the noise of traffic. He pauses on the sidewalk, head cocked to one side, trying to pinpoint the attention. A taxi pulls up to the kerb nearby, and as the passenger clambers out, music from the taxi’s radio catches his attention.

There’s a rocking chair by the window
Down the hall
I hear something there in the shadow
Down the hall

A tiny smile pulls at the corners of his mouth as the solution presents itself. Somewhere out in shadow, somebody is trying to bypass the barriers he built around this world. Or rather, they were trying. They seem to have stopped.

He riffles mentally through his trump deck, taking note of those he knows capable of breaking the chaos barrier. Alma and Deirdre, neither of whom would be particularly subtle. Fiona, who wouldn’t have to knock.

The taxi driver leans across the seat to yell out the passenger window, “Needa ride mahte?”

Bleys shakes his head, and the taxi driver swears. He turns up the volume on his radio and peels away from the kerb.

With the moon I run
Far from the carnage of the fiery sun

‘Something trying to tell me somebody’… A vampire. Not Benedict, he’s too far away. Hagen, then. Bleys feels for the vampire’s resonance, using his mental image of Hagen to skim at the edge of a contact. There. On the border. Waiting.

He uses that tenuous not-contact to find a nearby piece of solid shadow, and pulls himself out of this world and into that one.


“Hagen,” says Bleys, appearing in front of Hagen as though he’d been standing there all along. “You should have called.”