Drink to Death
The train rattled overhead like a xylophone spine. She closed her eyes and tightened her fingers around the tattered, cochineal rag.
Excess rainwater collected in a puddle nearby, dripping slow and thick. The sound rippled through her body reminding her. She wet her lips and set her teeth.
Where was he?
Her veins burned. She should have waited to take her medicine, but she didn’t trust him. Fingertips grazed the small vial in her pocket. There was only a little left, just in case. She squeezed the rag and felt the concealed bone reassuringly smooth against her palm.
It was what he wanted, but for what?
She didn’t dwell. She was only there for the money and questions were not required.
Carrier bags whirled and eddied in the corner beneath the bridge. Another train rattled by, wheezing with the same breath as the dead. She clutched the vial. When she got back she would take some more so she couldn’t see them.
“You got it?”
The shaman stepped out of the rain into the protective shadow of the old bridge. His eyes lit on the rag clutched between her white fingers, a greedy glint quickly concealed. The bone silently screamed into her soul.
He reached towards her expectantly, but she didn’t move.
Don’t let him take me…
His gaze moved over her, suspicious and searching. The taut muscle in his jaw flickered. “Did he speak to you when you took it?”
Fear had flooded the eyes of his soul. He’d begged her not to do it and warned her that she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. He’d seen the potion and asked her to take it all, to pretend her powers had failed her and had gone.
Her powers would never fail her. That was why the shaman had come to her.
“No,” she lied.
A sick smile crossed the shaman’s mouth, curling his lip and displaying hungry teeth. “He was one of your kind too. We used to be good friends.”
A shudder passed down her spine, concealed by the rattle of the train.
“Guess what I did to him?” he hissed, leaning in.
Breath sucked from her lungs. The bone fell from her hands, rolling across the dirty floor. The rag dropped to her feet, covering her shoe.
The shaman stepped away. He wiped the knife on his black robe and concealed it once again, stopping only to collect the bone of his old necromancer. His figure disintegrated into the rain.
She clutched her stomach, slipping to her knees, crimson on her hands.
Death swirled around her, tugging like an eager child. It wanted her to play. It wanted her to go with it. She closed her eyes and relinquished to her old friend.
She laid face down in the dirt. Rain continued to splinter the sky above the wheezing train.
Death listened carefully. Satisfied, it changed its mind.
Eyes, bright with new life, burst open. Her lungs dragged in another first breath. She blinked, collecting her thoughts. Memories of the afterlife muddied in and then focused.
Death smiled as she got to her feet.
Her potion vial lay broken on the cold floor. She wouldn’t need it any more.
She knew her mission.
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