The narrow streets provided the prefect hiding spots. Store fronts and doorways. Shaded and off the main drag, it was made to hide. Centuries of people walked leaving foot print upon foot print stamped in the dust of cobblestone. It is a place vermin trade their crafts for others. Services from outside the light come here to be set loose. Nothing here uses the term “free”. At times the daylight fails to find a suitable place to land.
“Doubner! Fifty pence. Just lose a lite something in the brairs off the river. I need to stay around…..I’d be in your debt, if ya gots it in ya.” Mallory rubs his grey beard. His dark clay baked skin shows every one of his fifty years. His eye are still ocean blue, mostly from the Sharks swimming inside him. He always looks gentle and kindly, in the way only a true monster can. He’s a know men of assignment here. If you got time, he finds you things to take care of and pays up front. It’s known for him to pay double to clean up if you fail him.
“Mallory, my good sir. For you, my plate is clean. Fix it right away! You have a side of the river in mind? There’s a nice swampy place on East bank. Hell, I’m not sure I can find it twice! Just say the word. It’s done. With, of course, those pence pieces. My gin runs a trifle shallow. I appreciate you coming to a place like this to……” Doubter never shuts up. He is the grizzled half shaven, half tattered wretch that needs the shadow. His kind are everywhere here. The rats keep their company out of pity. He is a full forty years of decay. A fragile being of half hearted will. The lust for the gin fuels him daily. His friends know he shares the bottle if you help him on his is misson.
“Enough! My man. I lack the hours to listen to the likes of you. I need it done. The bag is on the cart around the corner. Be sure to make haste. It’s already has a foul stench. Fifty for you. I’ll watch you leave with it on your back.” Mallory eyes the other filth wondering looking for hand outs. His hand entrenched on a dark wood cane with an iron ball on top. Some here have felt the crush of it against their skull. It’s the only free thing Mallory gives out. “You must leave the alley before I hand you anything. Their are scavengers. You fellows here.”
The two men file out the cobblestone alley of charcoal limestone buildings. Wooden terraces look like they are falling down above them. Garments of former colors stream like banners above. Well worn people wonder aimlessly back and forth past them. In another time, they could be off to work or the undead seeking their former selves. They are meals for the rats. Cleaners of others filth. Dirty pleasures for those in need of secrecy.
A barlap bag waits. A driver sits on the front of the horse cart. It’s a remarkable plain looking bag, cart and driver. No one notices much. Doubner gave the coin and bag. He grunts as the full weight pulls him Earth bound. He quickly rights himself.
“Sir, consider it done. I’ll make short work of her.” Doubner stops in mid sentence and looks away. He’s not supposed to know what’s inside. They all know what’s inside and why it’s three times the coin. “I best be gone now”
Mallory glares. Daggers could not pierce the flesh more viciously then those eyes. His gaze pans the street. It’s sunny here. People walk with purpose. They smile, greet each other like civilized people do. They hide their true selves well. It gives great comfort to his dark soul. He has his practice to consider. The good doctor is a butcher among the sick to half of these kindly folks. But when they are sick, no one cares. When there is an extra mouth to feed, they ask his help. He corrects God’s mistakes as only Lucifier can. So it is written, so it shall be done……the thought carries him.
Doubner hates the day side of the city. They look differently here. His dark grungy clothes show every tear and patch. It’s cloth from feed sacks. Not the spun clothing of the others. If his looks weren’t bad enough, his class is assigned as peasant. The good people stand in his way to make him go around. They chide him for the need for a bath. His mission is straight forward. He hasn’t time for the good folk. Unless they are in the bag and its fifty pence in the pocket.
The hike is two miles. The town fades to wooden structures. The wooden structure fade into oblivion and crumble at the foot of an ancient woods. The river is calling it’s rapids chug under a wooden bridge. Hoof beats cross in drum beats. He must drop the bag and wait for a clear path. The other side holds the best places. The rivers edge cuts a separate path through the trees. It’s brown water pulls half the country out to the sea. A eight foot chunk of trunk catches his eye at the waters edge. A bag weights lesson the water. Logs float, bag goes on log. Log goes downstream with body. Doubner does the job quick and easy.
He heads down a steep embankment twelve feet in mud looks easier from above. The bag shifts and drags him the final five feet with a mighty splash. His log is way out of reach. His feet sink in soft mud. The water pulls at the bag. His mind tells him he won’t be lucky enough to be placed in a bag if it don’t work. The ground fights his movement and the hands of the river try claiming the bag as a prize. A full minute passes with each step toward the log. He reaches to find it stuck much like himself. The river pulls him back when he stops. The river is a silent child screaming for what was taken away.
In a second the world stops. The bag is free and sinking. The river takes souls. Faith can not float you home here. He kicks lose with the log in tow. A hand finds the edge of the bag. He lays precariously on top of the log. His tenuous grip on the bag doesn’t comfort him. The river is taking him away.