In his quest for answers, Marlowe decided that to move forward, he had to look back. With his ever-shifting map serving as both a guide and a nuisance, he ventured into the dimly lit corners of Brisbane, hoping to trace back to the source of his inky conundrum.
He remembered the shop, of course. But shops, like memories and second-rate magicians, can be deceiving. The façade looked more dilapidated than he recalled. The blinking neon sign advertised a professional tattooist taking bookings in Brisbane. Yet the “B” in Brisbane was flickering, turning it into “Risbane” every few seconds. The place seemed more like an afterthought in the city’s sprawling narrative.
Marlowe took a deep breath and entered, greeted by a dusty wind chime and an aroma of stale incense and ancient leather. Walls adorned with designs of yesteryears told tales of love, loss, and occasional drunken mistakes. There, at the back of the shop, sat an old man, his skin a tapestry of colours and memories, a living testament to a lifetime of ink and stories.
“You again,” the old man croaked, not even bothering to look up. “You’ve got that look. Regret and confusion. Standard for first-timers, especially ones who get Destiny Tattoos.”
“How do you know about—?” Marlowe started.
“I was there, wasn’t I?” the man interrupted, pointing to a faded tattoo of a quill on his arm. “My ink. My story. Or part of it anyway. The ink has its origins in an old tale, passed down through the line of tattooists. I thought it was all a bunch of hogwash until folks like you came along.”
He regaled Marlowe with tales of shamans and secret recipes, ink sourced from deep-sea creatures illuminated by moonlight, and the whispered wishes of shooting stars. It was all a bit much for Marlowe, who wondered if the old man had inhaled a bit too much ink over the years.
“I just want control,” Marlowe lamented. “Or even removal.”
The old man chuckled. “There are laser tattoo removal services out there. But for a Destiny Tattoo? You might just end up with a lightning storm on your back.”
Marlowe sighed. It wasn’t the answer he hoped for, but it was a start. The story, like his wandering map, was taking him to unexpected places.