Thursday, November 3, 2011

Burntcore week 76: The Collector


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Burntcore's Choice: Both


The Collector

The people milled around the public courtyard mindlessly, swirling and stumbling like a pile a leaves in a breeze. I watched from my vantage point above them, invisible to all except the few that knew to look for me. Even the ones that knew would have a hard time. I liked it better this way. I was not meant to be known or be seen by humans.

A blonde woman in a black sweater walked by, looking up as she did. She smiled and continued on her way.


Melanie was one of the few that knew of me. I had inadvertenly revealed myself to her one night when I was attending my duties. Strangely, she was not afraid, saying only that if it was her time, I would not still be talking to her then offered me some coffee.

Me. Coffee.

I was floored. It had been a very long time since I had the pleasure of drinking coffee. My form took different nourisment now, something that coffee would never slake despite its pleasant taste.

I accepted Melanie’s invitation and found myself spending several hours with her in her kitchenette. She never asked about my “job” of which I was glad. The details of what I do were not for the mortal to hear.

While I tried to be disinterested, I found my eyes following Melanie as she walked away from me. Her hips swayed, intentionally I’m sure, as she moved. I may not have been mortal, but I was at one time, and it was hard to fight certain mortal urges.

I jumped down from the window sill I had been standing on and followed her. The people that walked the courtyard still had no concept of my presence. They just seemed to know that something was there, namely me, and avoided the area taken up by my form. Even if humans couldn’t see me, they sensed something was, something evil. It suited me just fine. I preferred not to be touched by humans or any mortal being unless I was collecting them.

Slowly, I allowed my prescence to be physically appareant. To most, they end up blaming themselves for being unobservant. Everyone but Melanie. She knew I was behind her.

Melanie opened the door to her apartment and left the door open for me, not that I needed the courtesy, but it was nice all the same. When I passed through the threshold of her home, she already had a cup of coffee waiting for me.

“You know me too well, Mel,” I said as I accepted the steaming cup from her.

She smiled and squeezed my arm. “Somebody has to, right?” She was the only person I had ever met since I took up this mantel that willingly touched me.

“Not really. Not many people want to know me,” I drawled.

“Well, I do,” she replied and sat down on the couch. “How has your day been?”

This is what I loved about Melanie. She treated me like any ordinary person, even though we both knew I wasn’t.

I sat on the floor and looked up at her. I would be sad when I would have to collect her. She was human, therefore mortal, and her time would come as it comes for all.

“It was another day like any other. I made my scheduled pick-ups and some emergency ones.”

“Are the emergency ones any different?”

“Just messier.”

She winced, at last a sign that she really did know what we were talking about. She was a sport, she never asked when her collection day would be, not that I could tell her anyway. Even I didn’t know. Ironically enough, I got my schedule of pick-ups each day … almost like a truck driver gets his route from his dispatcher. Except my dispatcher was The Dispatcher.

I finished my coffee and took our mugs into her kitchen. While I washed them, she turned the radio on. When I returned to the living room, her back was to me as she swayed to the music. I walked up behind her and wrapped my arms around her. She leaned into my embrace and we danced slowly together.

I wasn’t sure how I got this bit of providence, but she was the only person ever who did not shudder at my touch but yearned for it. It wasn’t my position but something about me that drew her in. Even when I was mortal, I had never felt as alive as I did now with this woman.

But she was mortal … and there would be a time when she wouldn’t. What would happen then? I sighed and enjoyed the time I had, all too familiar with how fleeting life was. No one lived that did not die, and I collected them all. After all, I was the Collector. I was Death.