Behold the Jade City
On the first day,
The Faith admitted that yes, I had once killed him. Then he changed the conversation. Now, of course, I know that he is only that sort of man. But then, when this all began, I did not even know his name. I barely knew my own.
I woke laying with him inside a silver-sided sarcophagus which had no padding of any kind. We were arranged so that we faced each other. The lid, thick as his pale arm, canted against the side of our receptacle, having been slid aside and abandoned. Our other limbs were entangled. My left hand grasped his right foot.
I guessed that we were not lovers, or not good ones. Perhaps we had been thrown there. We had certainly been unconscious. My companion remained so. He did not move, though I let him go.
The soft scratching that had woken me continued. It was like the sound of leather on some metallic thing. I blinked my eyes and shook my head and remembered very little. When I sat up, my head and stomach ached. My mouth felt full of chalk. I had been drunk, or ill.
The room itself was the same whitish silver as the metal sarcophagus, and square and small, no more than five strides along a wall. It held that smell that only comes immediately before a summer storm. It was dim, having no doors or windows. In fact, its diffuse light had no visible source of any kind. I shivered.
And turned my gaze upward just in time to see a woman’s long, black-trousered legs struggle upward through the ceiling above the farthest wall. Even her boots were black, and it was their sound that had awoken me. The flare of her hips told her sex. But nothing could tell me how she had climbed a wall that held no handholds, and passed through a ceiling which had no opening. Before I could cry out, she disappeared.