Each penny was placed in its correct spot as I carefully organized them by their years. My precious collection spread out across my floor like the past spread out through space. Like a snake, it slithered around on my carpet, ending with the small stack of 2011 pennies.
2009…Another 2009. That must have been a good year for pennies.
I cringed as I picked up the next penny. It was only a couple years old, but it looked like it had been to hell and back. I hated seeing my pennies in such bad condition. I did not have the time to clean them anymore.
It is odd, I suppose, to collect pennies. Not special pennies, or ones that are worth anything…I just like pennies. The hoarding of the copper coins started when I was very young, and I guess it just never stopped. Everyone says I should cash them in, but I won’t. I probably never will.
Oh! My 1963 penny. My first “old” penny.
A tapping on my window brought me out of my mind’s parade of pennies. I looked up and blinked a few times, shaking my head to clear my thoughts, and then I flew into action. In one stroke, all the pennies were swept off the floor and into the tin cans I had kept them in for years.
Until next time my little ones…
I tucked the cans underneath my bed, grabbed my leather coat, and jumped out of the already open window. The cool night air hit my skin like a thousand thorns. I landed on the tree limb beneath my window. I allowed my vision to pierce through the unearthly darkness, as my body grew more accustomed to the change in temperature. I listened. Nothing. The world was silent around me, yet I knew he was there. I reached out with my mind to touch his.
Stop playing games. We have work to do.
“You were a few seconds late coming out of that window,” a sultry voice whispered in my ear, “I almost left you.”
“No, you were not going to leave me. They won’t let you past the guards on a night like this. Besides, you like me too much to disappear like that,” I responded, jumping down from the tree.
“That’s what you think…” he chuckled, as he landed in the wet grass behind me.
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. Lets get going. The night won’t last forever.”
The darkness was eerie on this particular evening. Even the moon was nowhere to be seen. My hand instinctively went to touch the crescent moon pendant hanging from my neck. Even if the moon could not be seen, she was always there to guide me. The cloud cover was thick, and the air cool and moist. A damp fog was beginning to rise up from the ground as we strolled down the empty street. I did not mind the dark. My crimson eyes shown, even when there was no light to reflect in them. I could see better at night then I could in the bright noon day sun anyway.
You are in a mood tonight, aren’t you Sparks? His question touched my mind so easily. I was so careless with him. I let the barriers protecting my mind down whenever I knew it was just the two of us around. I just could not help it. It drove me nuts.
I need a vacation. I responded simply. We had grown close on this mission, closer than any of the other times we had worked together. Now that the mission was coming to a close, it was time to cut the ties and say goodbye. He was too much of a distraction anyways.
So where you going on this said ‘vacation’, He pressed, sarcasm thick in his voice.
Ugh! I hated that tone. We both knew that neither of us were getting anything close to a vacation, but did he have to make me feel so stupid for my wishful thinking. He could be such a kill joy.
He laughed. Oooo…I pissed you off, didn’t I Sparks?
I slammed my barriers up against him and continued walking in complete silence. He prodded at my walls for a little bit, got bored, and then finally accepted that I was not speaking to him and left me alone.
Alone…just how I like it.
“Ardea Justine Ainsley. Elemental.” I repeated to the doorman.
“Prove it,” the nasty troll spat, droll dripping from his lips as he looked me up and down. I sighed, pulling up my sleeve to show him the birthmark on the underside of my right arm. He growled as he inspected it.
“Looks like you’re telling the truth. But who’s your friend? We don’t allow his type in there,” he hissed, nodding toward my companion.
“I will vouch for him. Or if you want me to talk to the manager of this fine establishment, I’m sure we can…”
“No, no, no…” the creature grumbled, “you two have a great time.” He pushed open the door and motioned us through. I nodded my head and ducked in.
Ah…Phase One complete.
The stench hit me first. A mixture of blood and alcohol and rot filled my nostrils and made me want to puke. Blood bars are filthy places, only good for spreading diseases and draining corpses. Oh, and getting information of course. All the lowlife vermin go to blood bars, and so it is always where I seem to end up when I need the latest news on a target. Only, it was not information I was after this time. No, tonight I was on the hunt. Tonight, I would make the kill.
You seem kind of excited for this one Sparks. Hungry for a little blood are we? He chuckled as I cringed at the thought of drinking someone’s blood.
You’re disgusting. And keep your thoughts to yourself. Let’s just get this done and get out of here. Stick to the shadows. Just because that hideous thing outside let you in, does not mean that you are welcome here. Keep a low profile and wait for my signal.
Blah, Blah, Blah. You act like I haven’t done this before. Just go do your thing. I’ll sit over here and enjoy your little performance. He laughed again, and moved to sit at a table near the back of the bar.
I rolled my eyes and scanned the room.
Alright, time for Phase Two.
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