The Worldly Affairs

  • 06 Nov - 12 Nov, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

As it turned out, she didn't have to wait long. One of those spine–chilling red and violet uniforms came stepping between the rows of cells not fifteen minutes after she had come to. Ketta scooted to a sitting position and peered through the bars.

"Ennec," she breathed.

"Ketta," he replied.

"You!" she snapped. "You're with the consulate. I can't believe I – for a year – I turned down five thousand suls from that pixie."

"Ketta," he said calmly, a phantom of sadness passing behind his eyes before he blinked it away. "Please calm down. I need to ask you a few questions."

She winced. "Considering some of the rumours I've heard about how the consulate's people go about asking a few questions, that sounds more like a threat than anything, Ennec."

He looked off to his left and stared at the floor. "I'm not going to hurt you. But I need to know who you were going to get the pixie to charm, and for whom."

"Is she all right?" Ketta asked, feeling guilty about having gotten Mithnee involved in her stupid personal life.

"She's all right. The charm failed, so we're probably going to wind up having to release her for an arrest on an uncommitted offense even though she's been embezzling from the consulate for years. We know you were going to smuggle her out of the city, by the way, so you don't need to worry about keeping that a secret."

"I take it somebody had a charm detector in the bar and traced the charm to my purse. And thought that would be a good reason to put me out of commission," she said glumly. Ennec nodded, and Ketta looked at the wall. "She was going to charm you."

He took a step back. "Me?"


"For whom?"

Ketta made a valiant effort to stare a hole through the wall. "Me. Now let me out."

"I don't think I can do that now," he said, sounding surprised and – afraid? Ketta had never seen Ennec afraid. "Who are you working for?"

"Look, I didn't know you were with the consulate, okay?" Ketta growled, whirling her head around to stare at him with smoldering eyes. "I don't work for anybody. It's not like I was getting a charm on you to get into the inner ranks of the system. It was a stupid thing to do, I regret it already, I should have just taken Mithnee's money and gotten her out of the city that very minute..."

"You didn't know?" he asked, taking a small step forward.

"You never told me!"

"Then why in the world were you getting me charmed?"

"Because I'm in love with you, you utter dolt!" Ketta screamed at him. "For almost a year and nothing was working and it was such a stupid thing to do and if only Mithnee hadn't come on a Sunday but there she was and sprites can do charms and I figured... I thought..." She broke off and began inspecting her nails.

Neither of them spoke for a few minutes, although Ketta huffed a little bit to catch her breath from the sudden outburst. She started picking at a bit of dry skin near a cuticle, and was trying diligently to be absorbed by this task when she heard the door to the cell swing open.

She looked up. Ennec was holding the door open and looking away from her expressionlessly. Ketta scrambled to her feet and out of the cell. "My things…"

"They'll be delivered to your apartment," he said in a monotone.

"All of them?"

"I'm afraid you may have to replace your unlicensed pocket pistol, and the pixie you had in your purse will not be rejoining you either, but otherwise, yes," he answered.

"Are you going to get in trouble for this?" she asked softly, looking at the vacant cell.


"You must be pretty up in the ranks that you can release prisoners on your own recognisance," she said with a mirthless chuckle, steadying herself with a hand on the bars of another cell.

"You could say that," he said. "I'll show you out if you like. So if you run into someone they don't clap you back in a cell."

"Th–thank you," she stammered. "Ennec..."

He looked at her with that cool expression of his, and she decided against asking – whatever she had been going to ask. She wasn't sure what her plan had been, in hindsight. "Which way?" she whispered.

He set off in a direction and she followed mutely. She wished he would say something in response to her screamed confession. She was not sure what she wanted him to say, but some kind of acknowledgement would have been more comfortable than this silence. She wasn't quite sure that he'd heard her at all.

They were finally approaching a door marked "Exit" when another man in a consulate outfit turned a corner and saw them. Ketta wanted to bolt – she was edgy enough being around Ennec in one of those outfits – but Ennec kept walking, so she followed, trying to pretend that she wasn't bothered.

Ketta boggled, almost tripping over her own feet. "You're the Consul?" she hissed, after the man had left earshot. "How can you possibly be the Consul?"

"The senators hold an election."

"I know that!" she cried. "You showed up in that uniform and I thought you were just a Chaser or a bureaucrat or something – you're the Consul."

"That's why I thought you were trying to charm me for... less than personal reasons," he said softly.

"Holy crap," she repeated.

They reached the exit. Ennec pushed the door open for her. She took a half–step towards it, and then looked at Ennec.

"Ennec, there aren't very many things that can cause a charm to fail," she said.

"I know," he said. "There aren't very many things that can keep you from getting arrested when criminals routinely congregate at your office with a pack of Chasers following them, either."

"Ceet, I told you, I don't smuggle people away anymore," sighed Ketta.

"But you got to help me, Miss Plesk! I swear I have no idea who stole the blood from the hospital, I can only feed off animals anyway."

"Sounds like a sensible precaution," the consul replied. "When do you think people are going to stop phoning you asking for a ticket out of here?"

"Oh, who knows? Maybe never. I suspect someone will notice that the accuracy rate of consulate judges is going up, though. I'd anticipate a different sort of caller request in the near future."

He smiled at her – a more frequent sight in recent weeks. "It wasn't that bad, was it?"

"Oh, you have no idea."

"The senators are still upset with me for pardoning the Oressy twins," he yawned. "They were so convinced it was them. I don't think they believed the story about the amphibious mermaid."

"They'll get over it. And even if they don't, what're they going to do? They can't have another election until you're dead."

"And I now have the world's best bodyguard to postpone that unhappy event."

"You're irrepressible."

"You know it."

"Get a license and as far as I'm concerned you can have a military–issue rifle," he laughed.

"I think that might be a little too clunky to carry around," she said considering, and then laughed with him.