“It’s bullshit, that’s what it is,” Ketan informed him.
Ketan was alright, Kyle thought nursing his too-manyth beer. His cell phone had rung before they were even out of the parking lot – Ketan proposing they hit the bar, tear up the town, and probably end the night by torching Magical Materials Inc. So far, it had panned out mostly to drinking in a bar within walking distance of Kyle’s house, but that was probably for the best. Kyle, drew a shape with the water from the condensation off his glass and tried to remember what they’d been talking about.
“No, is odd, that’s what it is.” He drunkenly slurred.
“Getting screwed over is odd? I wish! No this crap always happens to good people.”
“Told you ’bout the whole fake papertrail.”
“Well what of it… hey, man, ‘nother beer for my friend here.”
The bartender looked doubtfully at Kyle. ‘Serving a Drunk’ wasn’t quite as serious as it had been when people drove their own cars, but it could still come back on the bar if Kyle got mugged, staggered into traffic, or passed out outside and froze to death. “I shouldn’t. You’re getting him home, right?”
“He’s right in Colony Green down the road, and I’m going to help him walk over there. Come on, he got screwed over real good today.”
“Well, OK, but I think after this one you better take him home.”
Kyle looked over at Ketan, “Thanks, you’re a real pal.”
“Whatever, what was I saying?”
Kyle thought about it. Kyle getting fired, of course, what else would they talk about tonight? Kyle’d been saying, for the hundredth time, how odd it had all seemed. Ketan had been saying something about that, “The paper trail.”
“Right! Sure, they always fake that kind of stuff. So you can’t sue them. Because they’re bastards.”
“But he seemed to be trying to pass me some kinda message, ‘This comes right from the top’. Said that a coupla times.”
“Yeah, well if they’re going to fire you what else is the slob they get to do it going to say? ‘I had the final call on this, come to my house and do evil things to my cat?'”
“No… But…” Kyle looked down at his beer. Sometime without his quite noticing it, the new one had arrived and he’d half-finished it. He took a big swig, his mouth was really dry. “I need some air.”
“Sure, it’s about closing time anyway. I think you should head home. I’ll settle the tab.”
Kyle made his way to the door. The air outside was crisp and cold. It helped steady him. He leaned against the wall of the bar and took deep breaths until Ketan arrived. “Hey.”
“I’ve been trying to tell you there’s something fishy about how I got fired all night, right?”
“Right, well I got the new spell. The light spell. Illusions with no scale factor.” He paused and took another deep breath. The cold air felt good in his nose.
“I think you must have measured something wrong to come up with a scale factor of zero, but sure, I know about the spell.”
“And I guess that got back to Thomas Illusions. MMI told them about it, some sort of agreement. So do you think they could have something to do with this?”
Ketan took his time answering. “It would fit,” he said at last. “I mean, mostly, I’m surprised they got so aggressive so fast though.”
Kyle looked up at the sky. It was a clear enough night, that most of the city’s light pollution was escaping into space and a few stars were visible. They seemed to be drifting slightly. The night smelled nice as well, clean and clear, there was maybe a hint of weather in the air like the first snow would be arriving soon. Kyle wondered how cold it was. Kyle didn’t feel cold, but Ketan was rubbing a bit at his arms and shifting his weight back and forth like he wanted to keep moving for heat.
I’m drunk, Kyle thought. Of course, that had been the plan all along. “They tried to buy me out first,” he mumbled.
“I got an offer letter. For the spell. Refused it, but that came at the start of the week.”
“Oh. I guess that makes a little more sense. It still seems sudden, but I guess it makes a little sense.”
“So what do I do?”
Ketan sighed, “You listen to me in the first place and don’t get into this kind of mess.”
“For now you sleep it off. Let’s get you home.”