she reached down, just there on the paneling, just below the bottom shelf of the mirrored bar, just below the phone that never rang. Jade tapped the spot and the cabinet opened. Unseen and unseeable by anyone but her—though lately she wondered about Rucksack—the cabinet held her true duty.
A soft, silvery light shimmered from no distinct source. The cabinet could have opened to the sky; the small space inside seemed to have no back, no bottom, no sides, no top. All these years, Jade thought, and sometimes I still don’t know. She reached inside, wondering if she would just keep reaching and reaching, but as always her knuckles rapped on the wood at the back of the cabinet, the same deep mahogany of the bar and the doors.
The bottles seemed to float on the light: Green #2, Red #4, Brown #5, Yellow #6, Blue #7, Orange #9, Silver #10. Almost an ordinary day, except that there was extra Blue #7 and Red #4. No Gold #1, Gray #3, Purple #8, or Black #11, but those came only with special circumstances. Two or even three could be combined. All eleven were never supposed to be mixed together, except under personal guidance from The Management. For a moment Jade wondered why The Management had never been able to figure out a twelfth elixir. It was said that they nearly had, just before The Blast, but after the catastrophe they had stopped trying. The twelfth elixir remained a myth that could not be made real.
Jade glanced at the clock. Early the hour and empty the pub, but hot was the day, and people would be thirsty. The news spoke of The Blast and another mirror eclipse. People would be scared, indecisive, unsure. The people would need those extra elixirs, and Jade would be ready to steer them.
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