All around me the angels are falling.
One by one they burst silently into flame as we fall to Earth.
Blinding pain, searing heat and I'm burning too.
I scream myself awake.
The wall of light is cold and wet against my cheek as I lean against it.
I blink and the world tilts, the wall becomes an ocean, and with the return of smell the ocean becomes a glittering pool of vomit reflecting the flickering streetlights overhead.
Nice work, Perez. Real classy.
An early morning rainstorm batters the city, black clouds under a dark sky. Badly animated holo-signs cast dancing shadows over the alley where I'm lying. Fuck. Someone should tell me I have a drinking problem.
But this time I have a good reason to get drunk. A damn good reason.
Most of us would drink to forget seeing a helpless man murdered in cold blood. The rest would reach screaming for the bottle when they saw what the victim did to his captors afterwards.
A man in a dark coat watches me from the mouth of the alley. I can't see his face, but the way his coat flaps in the wind like a shroud draping a corpse reminds me of someone. There's something familiar about him that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but I've seen too many shrouded corpses in my life to be intimidated.
"What? Never seen a guy pass out in the rain before?" I rasp, my throat raw from too much cheap whisky.
Never again, I promise myself, feeling the asphalt grind against my cheek. I swallow and then instantly regret the action when my stomach turns over and I heave up sour bile and what feels like the major part of my guts all over again. Then I have to smile at the self-delusion. Who am I kidding? This is not the first time I've passed out after a night of drinking with Wagner, and it won't be the last.
At least I had the decency to do it outside this time. I roll over on my back and let the warm rain wash the filth from my face. A raving appetite rumbles my insides. How long have I been out? I don't have the foggiest, but it can't be that long, or Wagner would have come looking for me. Come to think of it, I have no idea how we ended up at this place at all. There's a hole the size of a headshot exit wound in my recollection of the night and I've got a headache to match. Not a first either.
In the sky above, the bright band of the Ring slices the sky in two, glittering like a frosted scimitar in the light from our not-yet-risen twin suns. To the east, a peach tint above the skyline heralds the birth of yet another dreary morning. Fuck this. It's time to get back to work.
I roll back on my side and the guy on the corner is gone. Either satisfied I wasn't going to ruin his karma by choking to death on his watch, or he figured I was not worth robbing. Either way, I guess he decided I was someone else's problem.
O tempora o fucking mores, huh?