Short Story: The Invitation

“Just turn up and be nice” the invitation had said, and as I walked in to the bar of the Magpie, I wasn’t entirely sure if this was either a general aspiration or a likely outcome. The place wasn’t heaving, but it was full enough of neutral parties that at least some might fall into the category of witnesses if this all skipped a track.

The Magpie is a building with many levels, only some of which are literal or even visible. For this visit, at least, we were in the public bar. You enter it by walking down half a dozen wooden steps in a dark-panelled stairwell. Then, through a glass-panelled door, you find the bar itself.

It opens up into a dark-panelled and irregularly spaced area of booths, tables, and low raised areas, all dominated by large glass patio doors. These overlook the river terrace beyond, and fill the room with light while simultaneously making the dark corners darker.

It’s the perfect place to be seen not being seen, if you know what I mean. Most people assume that the steps are just to compensate for the height difference between the road and the river. They’re only partially correct. There’s a hidden mezzanine for those with the Sight, and for those only seemingly human, but I’ll tell you about that another time.

As it was, this time, the office party was going to be out in public. How bad could it be? I could play nice for a while, maybe that would do

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