Chapter Four

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By the time Martin returned home, it was late and he was ready to drink. He immediately headed to his kitchenette and took a bottle of Guinness out of the refrigerator. He sighed somberly as he twisted off the cap, draining half the bottle in two, lo...

By the time Martin returned home, it was late and he was ready to drink. He immediately headed to his kitchenette and took a bottle of Guinness out of the refrigerator. He sighed somberly as he twisted off the cap, draining half the bottle in two, long gulps.

The liquor failed to wash Chess’s words out of his mind: You haven’t been the same since Charlotte died. It’s as if you became a zombie or something. The same sentence replayed like a malfunctioning audiogram. It was true. The changes had started a week after the funeral with him avoiding phone calls and invitations to the pub. He stopped DJing soon after, cancelling gigs that he’d scheduled months in advance. He eventually stored his equipment in the bottom of his closet. Even his appearance took a turn to some extent. The circles under his eyes grew deeper over time and streaks of silver painted his blond locks.

His blue eyes scanned his empty apartment. Every corner, photo and piece of furniture reminded Martin of her. He watched Are You Being Served? almost every night because it was her favorite program. Sometimes, he swore that he could still smell her perfume or hear her giggle before closing his eyes at night. It took two years and a shitload of convincing from Chess to take off his engagement ring.

His mate always meant well, but nothing—not even a pet—would shave off five years of grief.

Holding onto his beer, Martin went into his room. Setting his bottle on his work desk, he slipped off his bag and tossed it onto his bed, watching it bounce and tumble. His eyes then fell on the picture of him with Charlotte. He lifted it off the nightstand and stared longingly at her ginger curls resting against her rosy cheek, her radiant smile, and the playfulness radiating from her almond shaped eyes.

Martin brushed his fingertips against the glass protecting the picture. “Happy anniversary, Love,” he spoke tenderly.

Suddenly, his ears caught a soft rustling sound behind him. He turned and swept his gaze around the room, straining to locate the source. When only silence greeted him, Martin shook his head and chuckled tiredly. “I’m going mad, Charlie,” he muttered to the picture. “I’m literally go—“

Martin stopped midsentence when he heard it again, its volume increasing rapidly. He slowly moved backwards as his bag twitched and shifted, the sound of shuffling papers filling his room.

His gaze was locked onto his bag. Something was in there, struggling to get out. What that something was or where it came from he…his heart sank as the realization dawned on him. “Shit. The pet store,” Martin hissed to himself.

He envisioned the rainbow snake and shuddered. Was there another one he didn’t know of that had slithered into his bag when he was holding the rabbit?

Whatever it was, he had to get it the fuck out of his flat and fast. Martin huffed a puff of air before creeping towards his bed. Quietly setting the picture back onto the nightstand, he swallowed down his panic and reached towards the bottom of his bag.

Grasping it firmly on either side, he snatched it up and quickly flipped it upside down. His tablet, pack of tissues, phone, wallet and collection of styluses rained onto the center of his bed. He instantly dropped the bag and jumped backwards.

“OHSHITOHSHITOHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT!!” Martin screamed while he shielded his face with his arms. If anything, he expected a pissed off snake to appear, ready to strike.

When nothing happened, he gradually lowered his arms and scanned his bed for any mystery creatures buried beneath his pile of belongings. When his eyes caught movement beneath his e-book, he approached it slowly. Cautiously, he lowered his hand and snatched up the device, tossing it aside.

Martin’s widened eyes fell on a tiny woman lying dazed in the middle of the pile. Tattoos decorated her dark green colored forearms while streaks of crimson smeared her cheeks. Her raven black hair was parted and twisted into rows, while the remainder was pulled back into a tight bun, exposing ears that were pointed at their tips. Her curvaceous frame was covered with a dark green skirt and a high collared corset crafted from leather, matching boots covering her feet and knees.

But over the most amazing thing about her was her height. He mentally measured her at about 22 centimetres. This was like something he’d read about in his graphic novel database as a boy. To see it with his own two eyes…

“Oh, dear gods,” Martin muttered as the initial shock wore off. “I hope I didn’t hurt her. Smart move, Marty. Smart fucking move.” He lowered his hand, ready to scoop her up and to examine whatever damage he may have caused.

But before Martin could even touch her, the woman’s eyes snapped open as she rolled over and hopped to her feet. Martin looked on as the woman grabbed a stylus from the pile of rubble. Taking a defensive stance, she glared at Martin, her eyes reduced to tiny slits as she prepared to attack.

“Undaii ooi giockti?” she asked, incensed, glowering up at Martin with rage shining from her teal colored eyes. “Undaii ooi giochti?!”

“You have got to be shitting me right now,” Martin huffed, frustration rising. He couldn’t believe this was happening. He reached for her and was immediately poked with the top of the stylus.

Martin sucked on his teeth while he rolled his eyes. “Oh ouch. Have mercy. That reeeeally hurt,” he taunted sarcastically.

He reached for her once more, only to be poked again. Snorting, Martin snatched the stylus away from her and plucked her off his bed by her collar. She snarled at him as she swung her legs violently in an attempt to kick him. Ignoring her struggles, Martin studied the little woman, his annoyance replaced with quiet amusement and confusion.

“I see you’re not hurt,” he concluded. “How the hell did you end up in my bag?”

“Okta tonai iik ma!!” the woman demanded through clenched teeth, her nostrils flaring.

“And of course you don’t speak English.”

“Okta tonai iik ma, Hoonii! NAKT!!” The woman suddenly reached up and raked her nails against Martin’s hand.

“I don’t think so, Dear,” Martin protested, annoyed. “I know where you’re going.” She continued to protest as Martin approached his computer desk. Pulling open one of the drawers, he dropped the woman into it and slammed it shut. Through the closed drawer, he heard her scream what he surmised were profanities in her native language.

Martin hurried to his bed and sifted through the pile until he found his phone. He picked it up and began dialing the emergency line when he paused. How the hell would he even explain the incident to the dispatcher? That he was “assaulted” by a tiny warrior princess who was currently thrashing about in his drawer? Even if the authorizes bothered to take him seriously, how could he explain himself and attempt to keep a straight face? And what would happen to the woman when they collected her? And ringing the pet shop was definitely out of the question.

“Shit,” Martin muttered and deleted the number. He then took a deep calming breath before he dialed the only person he knew he could trust.

“Chess. We have a problem,” Martin began when his mate appeared on the hologram screen.

A look of concern colored Chess’s round face. “What happened?”

“There’s a woman—a tiny woman—in my flat.”

“Marty…you having a bad trip again? You promised me you wouldn’t touch that stuff after what happened the last time, Mate.”

“What?! No! Listen—while we were at the pet shop, one of them snuck into my bag. I don’t know how the fuck she got in there, but she tried to attack me in my own flat with a stylus!”

Chess’s mouth fell open in shock before bursting into peals of laughter. “Fuck,” he cursed in a low voice. “Where is she? I wanna see!”

“She’s in my desk drawer an—“

“Marty! That’s no way to treat a woman or a pet, you know.”

“I had to calm her down somehow. And she’s not my pet. Shit! What if that Stewart arsehole realizes she’s missing and implicates me, Chess? The last thing I need is the cops banging on my door.”

Chess sighed nonchalantly. “First off, stop getting worked up. It’s bad for you. Second, if Stewart’s dodgy like you said, he won’t come after you because it’s too much of a risk to his business. So you’re all good then.”

Martin shook his head. “No, I’m not. And before you ask: no. I’m not keeping her.”

“Why not?”

“She attacked me, for one. I know shit about E.T.s, so I don’t know what’s she’s capable of. You should’ve seen the look in her eyes. If looks could kill, I’d be dead, Chess.”

“You’re being dramatic.”

“She’s psychotic!”

“She’s scared, Marty. She ‘id in your bag for a reason. Something was going on for her to do that. Look, just keep her for a few days. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But at least give it a go. Personally, I think it’ll do you good.”

“Right,” Martin spoke sarcastically. “You do know that this is entirely your fault.”

“You can spank me later. Look, me mum’s calling me back to kitchen for tea. She’ll have me if I keep her waiting. Bye, Sweetheart.”

“I got your ‘sweetheart’.” Martin hung up on his friend. He looked at the drawer that contained the little woman and sighed heavily.

“This is going be interesting,” he muttered.

 

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