‘I have lost my heart,’ said Agnes.
‘Lost your heart? Like, it’s been broken or something? You want me to beat someone up? Because if you do,’ said Joe putting his palms up in the air, ‘I’m not your man. I’m no good in fights, never have been.’
‘No, I’ve lost my heart,’ she said, pulling down her top ever so slightly to reveal the top of a very nasty red scar that had been crudely sewn together with thick black thread.
Joe recoiled in horror. ‘What the…? How are you…?’ Joe stood up quickly. ‘How did….?’ But he couldn’t finish his sentence because blackness took hold of his vision and he crashed to the floor.
Joe could hear voices in the dark. He recognised them but couldn’t put names to them. He could open his eyes but he didn’t really want to. He was tired and he wanted to sleep. And his head hurt, at the back.
‘Stick that under his nose, that’ll wake him up,’ said one of the voices.
If they were talking about him, he didn’t want to know and he didn’t want to wake up. He wanted to sleep. Why couldn’t they just fuck off and leave him alone?
‘What is it?’ asked the other voice.
‘A mixture I made myself. It contains a lot of traditional ingredients and a few little extra bits I’ve added myself. I was especially pleased with the addition of the Cane Toad guts, it seems to give it an extra je ne sais quoi…’
Several things happened at once. Joe felt something cold and wet thrust under his nose and the most disgusting smell of rotting eggs and…
He didn’t want to think about it anymore. His eyes shot open. Agnes and Hel were stooped over him, a brown bottle of some sort held under his nose. His arm jerked up of its own accord and hit the bottle which fell out of Agnes’ hand and flew across the room.
‘Shit!’ screamed Agnes. ‘It can’t hit the fire.’ She threw her arm out, pointed at the bottle and screamed, ‘Beluk!’ The bottle came to halt and hovered mid-air.
‘What the fuck Joe,’ said Agnes, ‘I was only trying to help and you try and blow my house up!’
‘I don’t need any help and I didn’t mean to.’ He didn’t know why but he felt a little defensive. He dug his elbows into the Persian-carpeted floor and pushed himself up.
‘You sure about that?’
‘You look ill,’ said Hel, pushing the knife in a little deeper.
‘I’m fine,’ he snapped, dragging himself off the floor and onto his knees, ‘it’s just low blood sugar or standing up too quick or something.
‘What like Orthostatic hypotension or something?’
‘Yeah, that.’ Joe hadn’t got a clue what she was on about and he didn’t care. He just wanted her to shut up. He stood up slowly and staggered over to the chair by the fire. He dropped into it like a stone.
He looked at Agnes and Hel who were both studying him with a mixture of amusement and concern. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What the fuck had just happened? Why was he so grumpy? And, more importantly, why the fuck had he just fainted upon seeing a badly healing scar?
What the hell was going on?
And why the fuck was he swearing so much?