Saturday, January 14, 2012
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Clink. Clink. Clink.
The air was filled with the crackle and pop of the wooden beams as the structures burned around him. The cacophony of the flames was accompanied periodically by a hiss as an occasional ember found it’s way into one of the few remaining piles of snow. Black smoke rose about him as ash and soot swirled around on the updrafts created by the flames.
It was not often that he had trouble locating the dead that called out to him, but, using a stick to sift through an already charred frame, he came up with nothing. He looked again and finally found a severed hand, the fingers clenched in a tight fist. The Pennyman threw the hand back into the ash and walked toward the next burning structure, where he felt another pull. A careful search there found a forearm, and then a leg. In the next pile he found another hand, and then a foot. And the other leg.
“Enough of these games.” The Pennyman spat.
A booming laughter answered him, echoing off of the few walls that still stood around him. “But you were just getting warmed up, nephew.” Graham stepped out from within the lone home that was not on fire a hundred feet from the Pennyman. He was holding the detached head of a black woman up by her long dreadlocks. He looked at the gruesome object, looking deep into it’s dead, staring eyes, before turning back to the Pennyman. “She kind of reminds me of someone, you must agree.”
The Pennyman grunted in reply, neither agreeing or disagreeing with his uncle. “What is this about?”
Again Graham laughed, a cold sound. “This?” He spread his arms, indicating the burning homes that surrounded them. “We were done with them.”
It was the Pennyman’s turn to laugh. It was a sound that neither man had heard in millennia. It came forth in a rasp at first, but like a stampede, gathered momentum. The flames closest to him flickered and seemed to dance away. “No, uncle. Not this.” The Pennyman mocked Graham, spreading his arms as his kin had done. “This.” Using two fingers, he first indicated Graham, and then himself.
Flames shown themselves in Graham’s crooked smile. “Ah… Yes. This. Let us just say we need to talk.”
”I am here. Now talk!”
“Oh no, not here, who knows who would hear, it would not do to have the mortals listening in.”
“I know just the place.” The Pennyman strode forward. One step, two, and he was no longer next to the burning buildings, but he was next to Graham. He grabbed a hold of his uncle, causing the surprised man to drop the disgusting reminder of what had called the Pennyman to this blaze, and dragged him along. One step, two steps.
They stood upon a ledge high atop a mountain, a thick layer of snow beneath them with more being deposited as the wind whipped about them.
“Where are we?” Graham demanded.
“Somewhere we can talk…” The laughter came more natural the second time, and echoed down the mountain, being lost below in the howling of the wind.
Clink. Clink. Clink.