An Uninvited Guest
by Robin Keller – submitted for the June fiction writing contest
Today’s mission was simple. Sven had to enter the building, one of the beautiful manors of Vercy, and steal whatever could be sold on the black market of the Eastern canton of the city. Working as a professional thief for five years now, his job had become a routine. The city and its manors full of treasures were almost empty of people. Nobles want to own something in Vercy for the prestige it brings, not to live there. Apart from ordinary guard patrols in the paved street and some vicious traps, there were none of the kind of risks involved that normally come with his profession.
But that was right until today. Spilling silent curses to any being he could remember, he was currently hiding behind some ornamented furniture, his back against the rich wood, his head perfectly still, his eyes looking straight as if even a small movement from them could betray his presence to the other occupants of the room. Yes, other occupants. He was already in when he heard footsteps and the rumour of a discussion.
A man was apparently angry and putting some faults on someone else. He was talking to someone, but Sven was not sure. His senses could not feel another human being apart from him and this angry guy. And then he shivered. The voice was not loud, yet he could hear it clearly from his hiding place. It was not only sound but also something deeper that helped him understand these words. The voice was not human.
“You promised!”, whined a pitchy voice.
“And, I respected my promise, my dear.”
“Yes, yes… But now I want him dead, kill him!” begged the human.
“If I wanted to, that wouldn’t be an issue.” answered the unknown being.
“Then do it, damnit! I order you to do it!” said the man, eager to end this conversation.
Silence. Too long to Sven’s tastes.
“My deaaaar friend, I need my payment. Because as you know it sooo well, I am here to help you. In exchange for some insects that infest your jails.” Not a single trace of anger marked its answer, making it even more terrifying.
“Yes”, he answered, immediately calmed down, “Yes… right… I’m sorry. I-if you knew this paragon of imbecility, trust me, you would be on edge too! Ha!”, he added, trying some kind of humor awkwardly.
“I doubt it.”, it replied with a smile, yet harshly to end this subject. Sven could not think clearly but during a fraction of a second, he thought it was weird to know the thing was smiling while not seeing anything else than the room walls. But this thought escaped the grasp of his mind before he could understand what it meant.
“My payment.”, it added.
“Yes of course.”, came the all-too enthusiastic answer, but the man did not move or say anything, standing still like a puppet needing its strings to be pulled.
“When and where?”
“Oh, a-as we speak! I even prepared a map with the exact location.” The sound of shuffled paper reached Sven’s ears.
The man kept babbling “But please, follow me hum… friend? Hum… About this elimination of Konrad von Schwartz, maybe you c…”
Noise getting away.
Sven rushed in silence to the window, hoping that the shadow of his movements will be stealthy enough in the twilight of the room. Years of illegal conducts can give you sure foot and in no time, he was at the nearest window. He already had the emergency escape set: a hay cart was sitting at the bottom of the wall in a dark alley. Taking a deep breath before his jump, a wet crack stopped him. With a second of hesitation he looked down at his chest. It was weird. The thing was not made of metal for sure, like a bone but without the porous aspect it usually gets when dried. The blood was tainting his cloth at an alarming speed. He tried to look behind his shoulder with difficulty, anchored by that thing like a butterfly on a taxidermy plank. But eventually he saw.
With an almost human shape, the creature had no face. A mix of bones and flesh put together with a kind of precision to reach some purpose he was simply not able to apprehend. Even if he still had some life in him at this moment, he knew he was dead. A second pair of arms appeared from the back of the monstrosity and pushed him back and Sven fell, his face distorted in terror, his mouth opened in a screaming silence.
“It appears you have some insects roaming your domain my dear friend”, the creature said and added when he saw the look of patent stupidity on the face of his co-conspirator, “Some insect with indiscreet eyes and ears.”
“What??! What are we going to do? We have to take care of it, RIGHT NOW!”
“It’s already done, his body is in the alley behind this … burrow of yours”, replied the aloof being, with what could have been a scornful smile had it been human.
“We can’t let him rot here!!! I don’t know what to do! Oh, by the Aspects, what am I going to do?!!”
“I could take care of it.”, suggested the ominous figure with a generous pheromonic emanation.
“Reeeally?”, asked the man with imploring eyes, child-like in his manners and words. “Yes. I have some use for it.”, it revealed, with eyes foreseeing some future tasks.