Mostly working on Mundus, which is my project for me.
And I haven’t done this in forever, so have an excerpt, first draft and all that means:
“I didn’t think you’d be here,” Tanja continued. She was accusatory, and somewhere in the fog of his memories Oliver tried to work out if he deserved it. Was it his fault this time?
He was pretty sure it wasn’t. He set down his almost empty glass, and balanced the crostini on the rim. It took an extraordinarily long time, and seemed particularly important. He thought it should be. Food and glass and stains of red. While he was doing this, Oliver found the words floating up out of his chest. He listened to himself. “She doesn’t own the city,” he said. Which was particularly stupid because it didn’t matter if she did or she didn’t. He still should have known better than to come here, to a place full of her friends.
With a dull surprise he realised that they’d all been her friends, really.
There was nowhere in the city to run to that she hadn’t infected. No place where people wouldn’t look at him with pitied revulsion. It made everything harder than it had to be. Oliver went to get another glass of wine to wash the thought away, obliterate it, drown it black. He needed a place to go where he could be clean of all this, but all he had were art galleries and clubs and alcohol and the night. The wine was helping, it was making him feel less frayed, sticking him into place and time like a housefly on a strip of dirty flypaper. He was spinning. Tomorrow. Tomorrow would be better, he’d be braver and sober and he could think and he could find a bolt-hole and lick his wounds salty-clean.
“God,” said Tanja, and she took him by his arm. Her eager drunken grip was something he found himself relaxing into. Hard people, people who took control and told him what to do, they made Oliver feel safe. A peculiar safety, yes. Like a rabbit in a hutch, safe from dogs and wolves, but not so much from the dinner table. That’s why things hadn’t worked out with him and Amanda. Two rabbits in an open cage. You can’t do that to people and expect them to make a good go of it. Someone always had to be the hunter.
“You’re a mess.” Tanja pulled him to one of the shadowed corners. There was a couch here. It was rubbery and filled with people he didn’t recognise. They glanced up once, a many eyed beast, then their heads all turned back to conversation, speaking each other’s lines. Above them hung a row of paintings. They were a series of seductions, angular and unsurprising. An occasional soft curve made them feel less empty and rote.
I’m in hell.
“Hey,” Tanja said, and snapped her finger right under his nose with a little firecracker pop that brought him back to a foggy sort of reality. The room smelled of old damp stone and piss and wine and desperate air freshener. “Are you okay?”
Focus. Too many glasses of wine and not enough shitty cheese crostini. Oliver smiled to himself. If he were peeled open now perhaps his liver would be labelled. This is Oliver’s bloated self-pity. “I’m fine.”