9.36pm GMT, Beltaine 2017; Bletchley Park, British Astral Plane

Night had fallen whilst she worked, replacing the beloved familiar landscape outside the open window with brilliant stars and the waxing moon, golden in its first quarter. Doreen removed her spectacles, rubbed her tired eyes and admired the Huntress in Her nascent glory. She liked to keep the moon phase here in tandem with the ‘real’ one - that on the physical plane. One knew where one was, that way. She was only too aware that AC insisted on a perpetually full moon up at Boleskine, the better to light his squalid and exhibitionist rites. It was all just so embarrassing during periods of international astral communion, when attempting to explain AC to foreign elders. How could a supremely mannered and immaculate Japanese - an overseer of the most decorous of ancestor shrines - understand the Beast? Thank goodness he spent much of his time, such as astral time was, in his horrid old villa at Cefalu, where he was officially the problem of the Fate Madrine.

Mundane time was another thing she liked to keep to. It wasn’t as though it was going to run out, not for Doreen, nor could she sicken and die again. The Summerlands had been a marvellous sort of holiday from the planes, a state where she had merely existed in blissful reverie. But that wasn’t enough for her in the long run; Doreen was a doer, as she had been on earth, and it wasn’t as though there wasn’t a lot to sort out! Organising and then maintaining the proper categorisation and daily annotation of all living British witches, their magickal works and their processing upon decease was a full-time job; it was therefore only natural that she’d chosen as her base of operations the most organised, work-centred and process-driven location she’d known in life – dear old Bletchley Park. There were, of course, myriad Bletchleys on the astral plane but this one was uniquely Doreen’s, old Underwood typewriter and all, and the work never stopped; especially at sabbats, as she informed the other elders frequently.

Leaning back in her chair and lighting a fag, she scanned the last thing she’d typed, concerning the recent activities of a small, covert Odinist coven in Leeds. Over the years, she’d developed a sort of shorthand code for these memoranda, to save time and aid with consistent filing – for the finest and most seemingly inconsequential details of contemporary witchcraft were compelling to Doreen. How far things had come! And yet, how much the same – the infighting, the spouse-stealing, the reactionary political pissing contests. Their strength was there and yet not-there, like Doreen herself. Present and absent and every shade between. Bless them; the poor kids. Their world was more ambiguous than ever before. Things had seemed clearer in her day; but perhaps that was simply her own sentimentality. One always felt sentimental about one’s own life, she found. She’d been a dual-category Exceptional and Famous witch, so her own life had been rather special, but even notable duffers like RC now seemed to think they’d changed the world profoundly.

Rising, she crossed the library and filed away the Headingley coven’s report under Heathenry (North-East). She wouldn’t be typing up the details of the multifarious celebrations occurring nationwide until tomorrow, and she felt the old excitement buzzing within her bones now at the thought of her own customary revels on this night of nights, both remembered and anticipated. They would all be waiting for her now in the New Forest; the most well-appointed and timely of buses, open-topped to the night air, would soon be calling for her at the stop outside. The grandfather clock indicated that she had nearly seventeen minutes to spare. So she sat in an overstuffed armchair, patted her perfect Victory rolls, powdered her nose, redid her lipstick and finally, making the little impatient sounds she sometimes did when bored, crossed to the two cabinets that housed the Exceptional (Living) records for England. She liked to check on her girls – well, they were mostly girls – on high days and holidays. They reminded her - of course they did! – of herself, yet always seemed to have the ability to surprise her.

She opened a lower drawer she’d not checked for a while, gently riffled her nails over the files til she felt that pull, and took a file from the section marked Warwickshire.

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