[Word count: 5307]
He couldn’t sleep
He’d anticipated the heat of the north with eager joy as his departure had approached, but now that he was here it wasn’t quite how he imagined. Even night time held a sticky heat.
Okl was from a land where summers were brief and the winters brutal, and moving to a lovely warm city on the seaside had been a dream. The days were long and the city was green with plant life over a sparkling blue bay.
He just hadn’t counted on the humidity. The air was syrup.
He’d flung all of the windows wide before going to bed, but the air that flowed through them only carried noises and smells from the street beyond his small garden. The ceiling fan moved the warm air around, its engine whirring softly.
Rolling over he tried to find a spot on the bed not drenched in his own sweat, and gave up as the exertion warmed him even more. Watching the slow rotation of the fan-blades in the light coming through the window Okl sighed and sat up. He would strip the bed, flip the mattress and have a shower, and maybe by the time he was done another storm will have rolled into town to cool things off.
A clatter in the kitchen stopped him before he’d swung his legs out of bed, and he waited, listening.
“Vana fuck it,” a soft voice grunted, as though the speaker grappled with something heavy.
Jumping to his feet Okl dashed into the combined living room and kitchen, ready to grab the thief unawares.
The room was empty.
Squinting he switched on a lamp, its orange glow chasing the shadows to the corners but revealing no intruder. He was alone. Maybe his sister had been right, and the heat was melting his brains. Shaking his head he turned back to his room, but movement caught his eye.
The watermelon on the kitchen table wobbled. Now that he looked at it, the melon was taller than it had been when he’d left it there that afternoon, as though it hovered behind the fruit bowl under its own power. A furry face peeked out from behind the melon, disappearing when it saw him watching.
Circling around the table Okl tried to spy the creature, but as he moved so did they, keeping the large fruit between them.
“Well then,” Okl said, returning to the couch beside the brightly painted bedroom doorway for a blanket. He would net the intruder and release it outside.
“Don’t you dare,” the creature said, dropping the melon and backing away from him until they hit the kitchen wall. It was a possum.
Okl blinked twice. His brains had melted.
“You can’t talk,” he told the possum.
“Okay,” they agreed quickly. “I can’t talk and you can’t fucking throw things at me, deal?”
Tossing the blanket in the general direction of the couch he kept his eyes on the beast.
“No deal, what are you?”
Seeing the possum’s eyes dart toward the living room window he stepped in front of it.
Shifting on their hind legs they said, “I’m a brush-tailed possum.”
“How can you talk?” Okl had never met a talking animal before, but he’d heard stories about them.
“I learnt,” the possum said, front paws folded across their belly.
“Oh. I’m Okl,” he introduced himself, hoping it would help the cagey creature to relax.
“Terrance,” the possum held out a paw.
Moving forward to touch palms Okl almost fell as the possum shot past him, headed for the window and the garden beyond. In a moment he was gone.
“You can have the melon,” Okl called after him.
Waiting, unsure if he’d been heard, Okl watched the window. The lamp shade cast heavy shadows, making the painted pattern of serpents along the window sill dance and shudder in his weary vision.
A small furry head appeared.
“Because if I feed you I can talk to you some more,” he admitted, grinning. “I’ve never met a talking brush-tailed possum before.”
“Few have,” Terrance said, dropping into the room.
He kept an eye on the man as he edged closer, still wary but obviously unable to turn down the fruit. Okl cut a few slices off the melon and took them to his guest on a plate.
“If you’re still hungry I’ll cut more,” he said but didn’t wait for Terrance to finish; it was obvious he was starving.
“What did you want to talk about?” Terrance asked, slowing once his hunger had weakened.
“How did you learn to talk?” Okl felt a little silly sitting on the floor of his flat and quizzing an animal, but he wouldn’t let it stop him.
“I was a witch’s familiar,” he said, twitching his whiskers. “But not all of us learn, only those who want to.”
“And you wanted to? It’s that simple?”
Terrance turned his head to fix Okl with one black eye, “All humans can learn how to control magic, does that make it that-fucking-simple?”
“No,” Okl said, ducking his head. “Sorry.”
In silence the possum nibbled another slice of watermelon, looking him over as though deciding whether to continue or not.
“All familiars can understand their witch,” he said at last, setting down the rind. “To keep the magic analogy, all humans except a few can sense magical energy but only the dedicated learn to manipulate it-”
“Some people can’t sense it?”
The idea was new and uncomfortable. How would they know if someone put a magic on them?
“It’s very rare, don’t interrupt.”
“Sorry,” he ducked his head again, “You were saying?
“All familiars can understand their witch’s words, but not all learn to use the language themselves.”
“So, who’s familiar are you?”
Terrance gave him a sharp look and put down the fresh slice he’d just selected, “You wouldn’t know her.”
“No but I will, I have to return you at some point,” Okl said, not unreasonably.
“You can’t return me,” he sighed, running his paws over his whiskers, “My witch died.”
Slowly Okl reached across to briefly place his hand on Terrance’s shoulder; his hand almost covered the possum.
“What can,” he started and stopped, frowning as his thoughts clattered around his skull. He needed sleep.
“You can’t do anything,” Terrance said.
“Is there no, sort of, arrangement, made for this sort of thing?”
“It’s not supposed to happen, no one expects to outlive their witch,” he said with a sigh. “No one thinks to make a will.”
Okl pulled a face. Banking on a loved one dying with you seemed a bit harsh.
“Well, what are you going to do?” he asked.
“Find somewhere to take a nap I suppose.”
Terrance got slowly to his feet, taking care not to put pressure on his stomach.
“You can sleep on the couch,” Okl offered. “That’s assuming you’re toilet trained.”
“I learnt to talk I can control my fucking bowels,” he grumped, looking from the small tattered lounge to the man, “Why?”
“I can’t let you go sleep on the street,” Okl said, frowning. What did this creature take him for?
“You don’t owe me anything.”
“It’s not about owing,” Okl said, standing. Unsure what the confusion was he was never-the-less uncomfortable with the implications.
Terrance looked like he was going to argue, opening his mouth wide, but he shut it with a snap.
“Okay,” was all he said before climbing onto the cushions.
“Okay,” Okl agreed.
Piling his sheets in a corner of his room he grinned to himself as he headed to the shower. The north may be hot and humid, but it had talking possums.
The aurorae had shone over Okl’s childhood. Far to the south and east, on another land mass entirely, he had grown in their glow. The strange ribbons of light fascinated him.
As a young adult he’d gone to university and joined the research team of a renowned astrophysicist whose study of the magnetosphere involved investigating the light show. He was little more than the expedition’s serving boy, but his mind thrilled at their mission.
Cold winds had torn past the research station, barrelling uninhibited across the southern tundra in the depths of polar winter. The edges of the thick southern forests were at their back, the station built just outside of the trees’ shelter and in the full brunt of the gale.
Measuring instruments had been attached to what the others had deemed a “small rocket” even though it dwarfed Okl, who was the largest despite being the youngest; the thought of a large rocket made him shiver pleasantly. They planned to launch it into the aurora at the peak of its brilliance.
It was for the rockets sake that they had foregone the shelter of the forest; they needed a clear launch site.
Some of the station’s external sensors had been disturbed by a storm on the first day, and Okl had been sent out to check on them. As he’d pushed through the snow after the worst had passed the lights began overhead, glowing green in great ribbons hung from the stars themselves. Gold shot through the aurora in a ripple.
Okl had smiled as he watched.
Theories about solar particles and magic and magnets, everything he had studied in long preparation for this expedition, had swirled through his mind as he watched the shimmering curtains. Soon, hopefully, they would be a little closer to understanding it.
In an instant the light had changed.
The sound he sometimes heard near the aurorae, a strange high pitched clapping, got louder as a crackling filled the air around him. The golden green light dropped through purple and red before it was all that filled his vision.
Hairs had stood out from his flesh as every nerve tingled. A feeling of horrendous energy had swept over him before all sense had been lost.
Okl had awoken, dizzy and disoriented, in a snow bank a short distance from the station.
The rest of the team were spread around the small complex of buildings, calling for him and to each other as they’d searched. The blast had knocked out all of their equipment and the expedition was cancelled.
Okl’s apparent lack of harm reassured no one and a proper medical assessment was deemed necessary. As it was the side effects from being caught in the anomalous incident didn’t manifest for weeks.
The small town doctor had declared him safe to travel, and he’d been taken to the hospital while everyone else went home. After a long string of tests had shown nothing more conclusive than what the medical team thought might be a small energetic abnormality Okl had hoped to be released.
His frustration had sparked when one of the staff, he couldn’t remember who, had suggested re-taking all of the tests from the start. The idea, he’d grown tired of being poked and giving samples, had swiftly worsened his mood.
He had longed to be anywhere other than the cool examination room. The air around him had fizzled.
Spontaneous invisibility was the first real symptom.
The second had come while he was discharged for the day and out to lunch with his sister. She’d been laughing at his situation, a more light hearted reaction than he’d grown to expect. Her own magical studies had recently touched on invisibility and the parallel amused her.
“You never wanted to study magic, yet here you are,” she’d said, laughing the loud boisterous laugh she’d gotten from their father.
His spirits had soared at the familiar sound, chuckling along with her as his skin started to tingle.
“Well, that is interesting,” she’d noted as light danced across his bare hands and face.
Controlling his new abilities had taken time. Despite his normally even temperament the energy from the aurora didn’t need much more than a slight shift in his mood before it flowed irresistibly toward that extreme. He’d had to re-learn to control his emotions.
By the time he had sufficiently regained restraint the expedition had been restarted without him. Rejoining classes at university, where everyone had heard his story second-, third-, and fourth-hand made him struggle to remain visible.
Looking for other schools to transfer to, Carmine had seemed a world away.
Steam rose from the warm damp bricks, shining in the soft glow from the light-stones. The rains had stopped and overhead the clouds thinned enough for a few determined stars to glimmer through.
The evening came to life in the wake of the thunderstorm.
Musicians with large umbrellas braved the damp streets while the music of their fellows drifted from pubs and restaurants. Colourfully and blandly dressed patrons tripped from one establishment to the next, their talk and laughter echoing off the steep-roofed old buildings.
Wood smoke and the smell of cooking meats joined the petrichor in the air as vendors removed the covers from their street side braziers to fan the coals and entice customers.
Okl grinned, the warm night air invigorating his flagging spirits.
That morning Terrance had accompanied him to their local veterinary clinic in the hopes of advice. Dragging himself out of bed had been hard enough, but the possum had refused to wake up for breakfast. At last he’d awoken when Okl had picked up his sleeping form and carried him from the flat.
Terrance’s indignation energised him. He’d leapt from Okl’s hold to run along the pavement beside him, shooting him filthy looks every now and then. It was only once they’d reached the brightly painted vet clinic that Terrance consented to be lifted to Okl’s shoulder.
The vet-nurse on reception had been sympathetic but unable to help. He’d never heard of a familiar without a witch. Frowning at his own lack of knowledge he’d eventually advised they ask at an animal shelter, but he hadn’t seemed very confident as he’d shrugged helplessly at them.
The animal shelter people, Okl and Terrance had waited as they’d asked around the complex, had drawn a blank as well. They’d offered to give Terrance a home there if he needed it, but Okl could feel the possum, still perched on his shoulder, tense up at the suggestion.
He’d thanked them but said he’d keep looking.
Terrance’s mood had worsened, and a trip to the fruit market had only cheered him briefly. By then it was past lunch and Okl had had to run to catch his afternoon classes.
By the time he’d gotten home in the purpled dusk he found Terrance comfortably ensconced on the couch next to a small mountain of books filched from his shelves. That the possum could read somehow didn’t surprise him.
Terrance elected to keep reading when Okl went out again, which he had to admit was a relief; he’d never tested if his invisibility covered others as well. He always hoped that he wouldn’t have to use it, but as he wandered down Green Street and through the entertainment district he kept an eye on the shadows.
It was a habit he’d developed while regaining control of his emotions. At first it was just a test; to see if he could maintain his state in public he’d alternate visible and invisible on different nights while wandering. Social situations tested his composure more than they ever had, so he’d eased into the walks late at night while the streets were largely empty.
The first time he’d stumbled across a fight in the street it had just started snowing. He’d been weighing whether to head back when the sound of angry voices had reached him.
They didn’t notice him at first, and he’d resisted the temptation to shed visibility like a bright red cape.
Unfortunately the sight of him, head and shoulders taller than the person obviously winning the fight as they stood over their opponent with three friends cheering them on, enraged the group. He’d backed away as the four tried to encircle him, leading them away from their former target, who took the opportunity to dash away into the snowy streets.
After that he broke the rules if he found a crime on a visible night. Not being seen was much easier.
Okl passed through an arcade that smelled of strong tea and tobacco smoke, and emerged by a footbridge in time to see a young woman trying to steal from a street performer. The drummer sat beside the bridge, the woman in the shadowy garden to their back. She reached for the velvet bag at their side, containing their nights earnings.
Stepping into the shadows himself Okl shed visibility with light. The drumming covered his crunching footsteps as he crossed the leaf litter to the thief. Her squeak of surprise as he lifted her by the waist was louder, and alerted the drummer who stopped playing and turned to stare.
“Vengeful spirits be praised,” they murmured as the young woman floated through the air beside them.
Okl carried her over the bridge and let her go with a whispered, “You only get one warning.”
She fled into the night.
A breeze blew in from the harbour as he headed back toward the party lights, making him shiver. He’d forgotten to wear sunscreen that morning, and the light burn he’d received made him feel the chill in the wind more than usual.
During his first week in Carmine Okl had bought a wide-brimmed hat, of the type that the locals wore, to protect his pale southern skin from the sun. His head, unfortunately, was too big and he’d been unable to pull it down onto his skull. For a day it had perched atop his head before a gust of wind sent it flying when he wasn’t in the mood to chase it.
Since then he’d resorted to the sporadic application of lotions to protect his skin.
Delicious smells wafted out of the many eateries in this part of town, and his stomach rumbled. Walking past a noodle place he lingered before the window display.
From the corner of his eye Okl spied a group of three young men glance around before hastening down a footpath between the buildings. Mentally listing the many innocent reasons for such behaviour he followed them none-the-less.
The footpath connected two of the main streets and was empty except for four individuals midway along its length. Invisible, Okl crept closer.
The three men had followed someone. Getting a better look at the barrel-chested silhouette Okl spied antlers sprouting from their head. It was one of the Talan, a forest dwelling people that lived in these warmer climes.
“You’re going to give back what you won, we saw you cheat,” one of the men was saying in a low menacing voice.
“No idea what you mean,” the Talan said.
“We followed you.”
“Uh-huh, sorry but you made a mistake somewhere and your cheat got away.”
Okl could grab the closest of the three and fling him at the others. It was a little more violent than he liked to be but he couldn’t grab the three of them at once. But before he moved, the Talan must have decided that the men weren’t listening.
Vines dropped from above, sprouting from a balcony garden overlooking the footpath. Beans of some sort, they wrapped quickly thickening tendrils around the men and dragged them back towards their potted beds until they dangled, cocooned, half a metre from the ground.
“If you don’t struggle the vines will let you go in a few minutes,” the Talan said, pulling a small bag from their pocket and scattering a handful of seeds below their prisoners, “If you struggle or try to damage the vines these nettles will sprout and make you wish you hadn’t.”
Impressed, Okl gaped until the Talan turned directly to him.
“And you, oh invisible one, friend or foe?” he asked.
“Friend,” Okl said as the vines twitched in his direction. “How?”
“You give off a very strong magical signal, I can pinpoint you from it’s radiation.”
Unsure how to respond Okl followed the Talan as they slowly began walking again.
“You didn’t know?”
“Someone, may have mentioned it,” he said, remembering his sister commenting on something like that, but he had been distracted.
“Well I can’t see your face, so as a disguise it still works.”
They seemed to be taking it all in stride.
“You’re used to people wearing disguises then?”
The Talan gave him a swift glance, “Mayhap.”
In his surprise Okl forgot about being invisible, and the ability faded from him.
“Oh there you are,” the Talan squinted at him, “Nope, no idea who you are.”
“Okl,” he said reflexively, holding out a hand.
“That’s . . . not really how it’s done but too late now I suppose,” they said with a grin, pressing their palm to Okl’s anyway. “I’m Keelin.”
“What did you mean, that’s not how it’s done?”
“The secret identity thing,” he said.
“I don’t have a secret identity,” Okl scoffed.
Keelin raised a brow at him, “Look, I have to go to work, come have a drink at the bar and I can chat more.”
He led him through a door that Okl never would have thought to open in search of public space.
It opened into a grassy courtyard, lit by a string of smaller light-stones hanging from the fig tree that dominated the space. The sound of soft guitar and cheerful conversation engulfed them as they walked through the door, kept within the courtyard by spells in the walls.
Keelin went straight to the bar.
Following him at a slower pace Okl tried not to stare at the people sitting and standing under the great tree. Dressed in capes and elaborate costumes they all wore masks to cover their faces. Some of them needn’t have bothered: the thin strip of black over the eyes did little to hide their features.
Some had odd appendages that he was sure they couldn’t have hidden in day to day life.
Keelin dropped an open newspaper in front of him as he took a seat at the bar.
SUPER NEWS, read the section heading.
“But I don’t dress up like that,” Okl said, gesturing vaguely at the rest of the patrons.
“You don’t have to, invisibility works a bit better than a costume.”
Okl pulled a face, but couldn’t argue as Keelin poured him a juice.
“I just didn’t want to have to explain myself to everyone,” he said.
Keelin smiled, “You don’t have to explain it to me.”
Left to his own thoughts while the Talan served some other customers Okl cast another furtive glance around the courtyard. He wondered who these people were and if they had other jobs, other lives that they lived at day time. It was a young crowd; he wondered how many of them studied at the University and if he shared classes with any of them.
“Fascinating isn’t it,” Keelin had returned.
“What part of it?”
“All of it,” he said. “The costume and pomp, the desire to help others, the secrecy and cloak and dagger.” He chuckled.
“You sound like you study them.”
Turning to face him Okl found him very much in earnest.
“I study anthropology at the University here, and I’m writing a paper on the super hero phenomenon,” he said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the bar. “Excluding all names of course.”
“A bar tender who studies humans,” Okl said, grinning.
“And an invisible man who stops crime in the night.”
Okl pulled a face.
“Are you hungry? Most of you forget to eat,” Keelin said, passing him a menu from under the bar.
“Making generalisations now?” Okl said, but his stomach growled. “Chips please.”
Chewing on fried potato Okl suppressed a yawn as the day caught up with him. Checking his watch he winced. Many of the restaurants would be closing soon and the rowdier patrons would be headed to the docklands where the bars stayed open longer. He should follow them.
“Duty calls?” Keelin had noticed his expression.
“Yeah,” he said, getting to his feet.
Half way to the door he paused, thinking about the two parts of his day as a whole. He walked back to the bar.
“Hey, you seem to know a lot about this city,” he said once he’d waved Keelin over.
“Have you ever heard about a familiar out living their witch?”
Keelin frowned, “Not off the top of my head but I assume it must happen.”
“So what do you need?”
Okl shrugged, “I’m not sure right now, somewhere a magical possum can live happily I guess.”
“I’ll ask around,” Keelin said, waving as he left again.
The docklands were often where people ended their nights and it was where he lived. Not far from Green Street and the main district it was also down hill, which was a relief to his cramping calves.
Clouds had blown over again while he was at the bar, and they opened as he walked down the hill, chasing most of the revellers home. He decided to join them, walking slowly through the heavy drops as yawns overtook him.
The tram swayed slightly as it climbed diagonally up the incline. White puffs of cloud skipped across the sky over the sparkling harbour, and Okl sighed happily as he took in the view. The many trees and parks, not to mention the private gardens, covered the city in greenery everywhere he looked.
In the bay an uninhabited chunk of quartz glittered in the sun.
“Do you really think someone at the University will be able to help us?” Terrance asked, his voice dubious around the grape he was chewing.
“Sure, we study magic there, well I don’t but other people do, so someone should have at least read about it.”
“It’s the ‘should’ and the ‘someone’ that concern me, you don’t sound very definite.”
“I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”
Terrance returned his attention to the bag of grapes next to him, obviously dissatisfied with the answer.
Okl didn’t mind. Watching the changing view as the tram moved through the city he let his thoughts wander.
The University had once been a palace, its thick stone walls built to defend the monarchs, but as government changed the space had been reclaimed as public land. Where the eastern coastline turned north at the mouth of the harbour it grew steeper, soon forming the cliffs upon which the castle perched overlooking the sea. A broad band of forest covered the sloping land between castle and city walls.
Their tram stop sat at the bottom of the University gardens; they had to walk the rest of the way. The paved pathway between the trees was shaded by their wide reaching limbs, for which Okl was thankful. He’d forgotten to wear sunscreen again.
They found the magical studies department easily enough, but Okl’s uncertainty about what he was looking for quickly became a stumbling block.
“Is there anyone studying familiars?” he asked.
“Lots of people,” the receptionist said, “What field?”
“What field? Communication, transportation, theoretical magics..?”
“I, just- Do you know what to do with a familiar after their witch has died?”
The receptionist shook their head.
Sitting on a bench outside Okl tried to think of another approach. Terrance perched silently on his shoulder. Eyes closed in the glare of the sun Okl clenched his jaw to hold back a sigh.
A shadow fell over them.
“Hello, thought it was you,” Keelin said, standing between them and the sun.
“Hi, what are you doing here?”
“I study here.”
“Why are you here?” he asked, sitting on the bench beside them.
“I study here too, since were being clever. But I’m trying to find out what to do for Terrance,” Okl said, and introduced the two.
“So you’re the magical possum,” Keelin said. “Well you’re lucky I caught you, I may have a solution.”
Fishing in his pockets he produced a scrap of paper.
“One of the more animal-rights-oriented people showed up just before closing last night,” he said. “They said this place is what you’re looking for.”
Taking the paper Okl read the address and the name, Ms. Rosa’s Home for Foundling Familiars and Misplaced Magical Animals. It was on the other side of town.
“Sounds promising,” Okl said, grinning. “Thanks.”
“Good luck, I hope it works out.”
As they rode the tram westward Okl could feel Terrance shifting nervously from one foot to the other, his claws digging into Okl’s shoulder. He hadn’t climbed down to sit on the seat, which Okl took as a sign of nervousness.
“That Talan wouldn’t be fucking with us would he?” Terrance asked as the tram emerged into the sunlight after passing through the old wall.
“I can’t see why he would.”
“Do you think it’s real?” the possum’s voice was small.
“I hope so,” was all Okl could say.
Terrance remained silent through the walk, even as Okl took a wrong turning and got lost for a moment.
The cool air of the waiting room wrapped around them, chilling Okl’s sweat-damp skin. Terrance’s tail, wrapped around Okl’s neck for support, tightened.
“I’ll be with you in a moment,” a voice called from beyond a door marked STAFF ONLY.
Wandering over to the reception desk Okl lingered at the water cooler, watching a large snail make its way across the desktop. The gastropod’s shell was larger than Okl’s fist and encrusted with red jewels.
A harassed looking man in scrubs emerged from the back room.
“Sorry about that, how can I help?” he asked, ducking behind the desk.
“Do you take in orphaned familiars?”
“It’s in the name,” the nurse pointed out.
“Right, so, you do?”
The nurse’s eyes flicked to Terrance and back to Okl, “Yes,” he said. “Care is tailored to the needs of the individual, in a lot of senses we function like an aged care home for magical animals.”
“I’m not that old,” Terrance grumbled.
“I’m sure that’s not what he meant,” Okl whispered, unsure if the nurse had heard.
“I can take you to meet the homes director if you like,” the nurse spoke directly to Terrance, “She’s in charge so it’s her you should be weighing up not me.”
“Okay,” Terrance agreed.
“Not you I’m afraid,” the nurse said to Okl. “Ms. Rosa is better with animals than humans.”
“Fair enough,” Okl said, helping Terrance onto the other man’s shoulder. “Good luck,” he wished him before they left through the door.
Pacing the waiting room he managed to work up a sweat despite the air conditioning. What if Terrance took exception to this Ms. Rosa? He had learnt over the last few days that the possum was very judgemental of human behaviour, and seemingly slight things could turn him against someone.
Returning to the water cooler Okl sipped at cold water to distract himself, following the slow progress of the bejewelled snail rather than entertain his thoughts.
He needn’t have worried. When Terrance returned his ears and whiskers were pointed forward in what Okl had come to recognise as a possum smile.
“It’s perfect,” he said, climbing back up Okl’s arm. “You should see the library.”
“If it’s allowed, I’d like to.”
“Visitors are always welcome,” the nurse said, “Our residents are private citizens. I would suggest Terrance get settled before giving tours though.”
“I’ll come back next week,” Okl promised.
“Bring me fruit,” Terrance said. “And thank you.”
A small furry body pressed itself to the side of Okl’s head in a possum-hug.
“No worries,” He said, watching as Terrance leapt to the floor and dashed through the door that the nurse was holding for him.
About to follow, the nurse paused and turned to Okl. “You’ve started to sparkle,” he said.
“I do that,” Okl said with a grin as his skin tingled.