Copyright Claire Crow 2011
Published by Secret Fire Press
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He worked by appointment only. She was his last customer of the night.
Malek put the finishing touches on the compass rose and wiped freckles of blood off the woman’s pale belly. She’d chosen red instead of black and gray. The tattoo more than came alive. It writhed in her skin.
Good magic, she said.
Her words hit the downbeat of the death metal blasting from the speakers. Outside the green and black neon sign buzzed and flickered. Snake Bite, it said. Truth in advertising.
His magic wasn’t good or evil. Like dying, it just was.
He didn’t say that out loud. He couldn’t. When he opened his mouth, nothing came out. Happened a long time ago. He was philosophical about it. He considered his artistic talent the tradeoff.
The writhing ink meant the venom in it had bonded with the woman’s flesh. Working its will. His will.