Well, I only got about 1500 words in yesterday. The plan was to get to the 10,000 mark by Thursday so I could skip Friday and be OK. Oh well…I’m not far off the mark. My total for the week thus far is 9650. Not bad, eh?
The new plan: I’m taking today off, still. Tomorrow, I play catch up and write 2500 words. Sunday is a crazy writing frenzy, so don’t expect to see me on the facebooks much. Then, I should have a nice buffer between me and my laziness. Onward to 50,000!
Old Crow’s frown became a grin. “So, the great Joe Milton, Street Sorcerer, the Magus of midtown, is looking for the Black Gospel. You must either be in great danger, or just plain crazy. Or both.”
Joe shook his head, knelt down as if to tie his shoe, then stood back up. . “Neither, actually. I’m not looking for it. I’m looking for someone who may have been looking for it. A college student, perhaps.”
Old Crow laughed. “Why? Trying to form a coven? A cabal of college students?” Joe said nothing. “Have you tried the Golden Apple? It’s an occult shop–”
Yes, I’ve tried there. Crow, you know there’s nothing but hedge mages and dabblers in those places. This is me you’re talking to.”
“I know it is. That’s why I’m not going to help you.”
“But you could if you wanted too, right? You’ve met this kid. He came to you. I just need his name.”
Old crow laughed again, his breath wheezing in and out as he did. “You know better than that, Milton! You know that all sales are confidential!”
“Even if your cooperation could save the world?”
Old Crow stopped laughing and looked at Joe coldly. “Not. Interested. Please leave.”
Joe shrugged his shoulders and headed for the door. Before he left, he turned to the old man and regarded him nonchalantly, but said, “OK. But when the world ends, just remember, you could have helped.” With that, he walked out the door, and into the night.
He did not walk away empty handed. Joe took two things away from his trip to the book store.
The first thing he got was confirmation. He had know Old Crow long enough to be able to read him, to read his aura, to read his mannerisms, all without looking like he was trying too hard. When he pulled his guilt trip on Crow, he had seen something, a flicker of guilt, of doubt, that had proven that however was looking for the Black Gospel had been there. He or she had probably purchased something. So Joe knew he was on the right track.
The second thing he took with him was a small slip of paper.
The slip of paper was a sales receipt, hand written by Old Crow himself. It’s a good thing the old guy hasn’t upgraded his register, Joe thought, even though in all honesty, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
When Joe got back to his hotel room, he got out a map of the York Campus. He wasn’t positive that the kid in question was staying on campus, but the map was as good a place as any to start. Joe got into his bag and pulled out a roll of dental floss and a needle. With the needle, he punched a small hole in the receipt. He then took the dental floss, broke off a piece of it, and threaded it through the the hole, tying it in a knot around the paper. Next, he crumpled the paper into a ball, leaving the small tab with the dental floss sticking out of the ball.
For the final sup of preparation, Joe pricked his thum with the needle and ran his wounded digit along the string. As he did this, he closed his eyes and imagined a yellow light issuing forth from the pin prick, covering the thread in golden light and crimson blood. He took three deep breaths.
With his eyes still closed, he imagined an indigo circle around himself and the bed. He cleared his throat and Hummed “Ommmmmmmmm” five times while imaging a purple pentacle appearing withing the circle. Once he was satisfied that his circle was cast and all ill was banished, he opened his eyes.
Joe looked down at the map. He held the threaded wad of paper out over the map and said aloud, “If I were a recently purchased portion of the Black Gospel, where would I be?” He started moving his hand in a clockwise circle along the parameter of the map. Wen he had no result, he tightened his circle, moving closer and closer to the center. As he passed over a group of dormitories with the paper, he felt a slight tug, which did not surprise him.
Good, he thought. At least I know he’s on campus. He then moved the paper closer to the map and held it over the dorms. He started his circle again, this time around the dorms, much slower. As soon ad the paper was over Kolbe Hall, the paper stopped, dangling slightly at an impossible angle from Joe’s hand. “Bingo,” he said quietly.