The Painted Alley
Ducking in to the alley, you press your hands against the wall, feeling its roughness under your skin, the smoothness of the paint. You have a couple of moments start on Bartleby, but you can hear his enraged howls and the staccato clatter of his hooved feet on the pavement as he gives chase, pedestrians crying out in fear and alarm as he barrels past. You mutter the words of the spell, feeling the wall grow colder to your touch, then pliant like gel. You press your body up against it, passing through into the picture as Bartleby rounds the corner, glaring and clenching his taloned fingers.
Sounds are muted in the wall, distant and indistinct. You watch Bartleby stalk up and down the alley, furious and roaring. You feel detached from the world, as if you could drift forever, safe in this warm, comfortable pocket of reality. The paintings drift around you, no longer mere two dimensional images, they have depth and life, laughing as they circle you like playful dolphins.
You watch, a bemused smile on your face as the red haired girl, large as a whale swims lazily under you, watching you drift in the endless blue with a curious expression. Something tugs at the back of your mind, some piece of knowledge clamouring for attention like an overeager student in a classroom. You supress it, turning slow circles in the air to watch the girl float around you.
You feel a bump against the back of your leg and look over your shoulder to see the square-headed cat swim past you, heading into the deeper azure clouds of this weightless, airless ocean. There’s something you should be remembering. Something you should know.
You frown. Something is pushing the thought down, influencing your mind. Panic wells up in your belly and you flail around, propelling yourself upward. What was it? What were you trying to remember?
The red haired girl grins beneath you, her teeth interlocking points sharp as needles. From your left, the square-headed cat bursts from a cerulean cloud, its mouth a round hole filled with lamprey fangs. Oh, yes. The things that live in the demimonde feed on life. Silly of you. You hurl yourself forward as their jaws snap shut, the creatures crashing into each other with a dull thud. You propel yourself towards the wall, chanting the spell to release you from the demimonde and burst through back into the world as the painted creatures crash up against the boundaries of their world.
Barnaby the Red is waiting for you on the other side. He howls his triumph and charges at you.
The Emu Mural: Run across the street to the Emu mural? They look harmless, but so did the painting you slipped into. Knowing what you know of the demimonde, perhaps you can use the spell to trap Barnaby the Red.
The Dragon Box: There’s one of Ackerman’s power nodes nearby, you might be able to use it to give you an edge against Barnaby the Red. Dash out of the alley and turn left up Scarborough Street, then left again on to Nerang Street. Past the Cecil B. DeMille pub and the tram station there is a power node disguised as a transformer box, painted with the image of a dragon.