Once he had caught the Tube back to the centre of London, he found a coffee shop a few streets away and ordered a cappuccino. There was a free seat by the window; Dax slid onto it, finding a newspaper someone had left behind. As he sipped at the coffee, he turned through it, but there was nothing that interested him. Besides, every tenth word or so looked slightly smeared to his beleaguered vision. He folded it up and pushed it over to the other side of the table.

What he needed was some work to do: preferably something to fix, enough to keep his hands busy and his mind occupied. But he had taken the week off on sick leave, and there was nothing at home but a bed with the stink of bad, weird dreams, and daytime TV. Besides, this wasn’t just something he could leave behind like that paper. This was almost too big to keep a grip on. When he tried to get it clear in his mind he couldn’t focus on it.

Dax poured sweetener into his coffee and started drinking it, morosely.

Damn, dammit! This isn’t fair! Why me? What did I ever do? I’ve never hurt anyone in my entire life – why am I the one with this thing in my head?

Dax peered down at his cappuccino. It seemed less appealing now he had drunk half of it; all froth with nothing underneath.

Screw this.

He smiled a bitter smile, swirling the coffee around, then shoved the mug away from him, hard enough to slop it over onto the paper.

What’s the saying? ‘Live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse’? Not sure I’ve done much in the way of fast living… but I’ll be damned if I sit around moping with a paper bag over my head. So I’m going to die? Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself beforehand.

With a little help from my friends, of course.

Dax pushed away from the table and stood up to go, still smiling. And for now, I need a real drink.



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