Axey Man is focused on Frej who squares up to him, but Nathan swings himself on the bench and nimbly kicks the axe out his hand.
‘The fuck is this?’ screeches a woman in a sparkly dress, as the axe scuttles across the pavement and stops at her feet. One of the Vikings lunges for it but she blocks him with the heavy wooden handle and aims a sharp kick with spindly heels at his hipbone. I swing my handbag at Axey Man’s nose, which I happen to know was conveniently broken a few days ago, and we’re off.
It’s carnage within seconds. The drunk people of Glasgow are no slouches when it comes to hand to hand combat — I see a woman batter a Viking with a sequinned platform heel and a group of guys have managed to lift another over their heads where he flounders helplessly like a giant hairy beetle — but fundamentally, we have no chance against a Viking warband. People are going to get seriously hurt and it’ll be all my fault. A couple of wee uniformed coppers have joined the fray, pale with utter terror as they taser wildly to no avail.
Frej is going hand to hand with Axey Man. He kicks him square in the chest then stumbles as Axey Man nimbly spins and delivers a punch to the side of Frej’s neck. They’re evenly matched, Frej’s expression a mask of focus as he slowly but consistently drives Axey Man ever backwards.
Nathan balances precariously on the metal railing leading up the steps to the concert hall, wildly whacking vikings with street cleaner’s broom. A busker smashes a guitar over a viking’s head, then yelps as the viking lifts him over his head and smashes him down on the pavement. The viking raises a foot to crush the busker’s skull but a woman pepper sprays him in the face and he screams.
Somebody’s blood sprays my arm and I hear the horrifying crack of a bone — I fly at the Viking holding one of the coppers by his severely broken arm and bite his ear until he lets the wee guy fall to the ground. The viking swipes at me — I yank his hair and steel myself against serious heebie jeebies to stick my fingers in his eye —
Then the white light comes, searing through the darkness with a deafening crack, and I’m dumped ceremoniously onto the pavement as my Viking crumbles to dust beneath me.
Screams of terror fill the air and the whole shower of brawlers instantly scarpers in every direction. One guy tries to scale a drain pipe to escape me and my magic fingers while his pals yank his trousers down in an effort to pull him to the ground. He collapses in a heap and scampers after the others, wee white bum glowing in the moonlight as deafening sirens approach.
I turn to the polis guy with the broken arm. He’s deathly pale but conscious. One look at me and he scrabbles backwards on his bum, muttering no no no as he scales the steps to the concert hall like an upside down crab.
There’s a few other injured people crawling away or being dragged by others, but nobody dead. Then it’s just me, Frej and Nathan left. And the pile of dust that was once a pal of Frej’s.
I’m trembling but I can’t move. I just turned a man to dust. What if I turn everything to dust? Frej? Nathan? The wee polis guy or the busker who’s currently getting off with the pepper spray woman who saved him? The bloody Buchanan Galleries?
‘You zapped him like you zapped the pig,’ Nathan observes helpfully.
‘We need to go before the polis get here,’ I whisper in a strange, echoey voice that doesn’t sound like mine.
My knees give way and Frej scoops me up, flings me over his shoulder and then he does indeed carry me to Pollokshields.
The boys are still snoring their faces off when I wake the next morning, so I make a cup of tea as quietly as I can and bring it out into the garden. I sit on the grass and icy dew soaks into my jammies as the hot tea warms me up. I still feel fizzy, yet strangely sort of calm. Drained and still. Exhausted and powerful.
And more than a wee bit afraid of myself.
I’ve always been a wan off as Gran used to say, never entirely just one of the crowd, but the white light is a level of individuality I wasn’t prepared for. I’m scared of it. I move my hands gingerly as I pick up my tea, half-afraid I might blow the house up with an inadvertent click of my fingers.
‘Ach there’s nothing the matter with you,’ Gran would scoff as I wailed over some teenage disappointment or other, howling that everything happened to me. ‘Everybody thinks everybody else is normal except them, some of us just hide it better.’
‘What do you know? You’ve never had a feeling in your life!’
She laughed merrily and flicked the dishcloth at me.
‘Away, ya wee drama queen. If you don’t like how it is, just pretend it’s not.’
For days, Nathan has been dutifully hacking away at the garden using a variety of tools he found in the shed that look medieval to me but seem to make sense to him. Despite his best efforts, though, it seems as though it’s not quite tameable. Wildflowers spring everywhere, scattering pinpricks of every colour I can think of; ivy climbs the high red brick wall and the lawn is a mass of daisies and dandelions. I absentmindedly pick some daisies as the dawn chorus fills the pale morning sky.
We need to be able to talk properly to Frej. He didn’t seem at all perturbed by the white light, which might mean he understands something of it. Or it might just mean that it’s no weirder to him than a smartphone or a pavement. Even so, those men were after him last night, they definitely attacked when they saw him — and I’d quite like him to explain why before either they pulverise us or I turn them to dust.