Since I had a restocked fridge, I wasn’t going to ruin that by cooking anything. All day waffles weren’t hard to find; it was even possible to get good ones. Like at the mom ‘n’ pops place located in what could be described as the trendy neighborhood, it could also be described as the only nice street in town.
It boasted a cute little sign and somehow managed both privacy in the booths and mood lighting.
“You know I’ve wondered, how the heck do you order food?” I ask as Anna got her mountain of pancakes.
“The same way you do, by asking. I’m not invisible or anything how many servers notice the person ordering. I’m a triple stack to him and will be quickly forgotten.” She answered.
“So at a coffee shop, people don’t cut in line or anything?”
“They would if I didn’t cut to the front first.”
“I’m making you do the morning coffee runs.”
“Heck no, I’m not getting up that early except for a soul.” She said, “so why did you drag me to a sugary heaven?”
“I realize we haven’t talked much about, well us,” I say.
“Are you hitting on me?”
“No, and you know it. I have no idea who you were before we met and we haven’t talked much about my past either.” I say.
“You were alive; now you’re only mostly alive. I was alive now I’m dead What else is there to say?” She asked.
“You’re clearly from a magical background, and seem to hate the Lamias, which is weird. As far as I can tell no one hates them locally, and no one cares anywhere else.” I say.
“Plenty of people hate them.” She says.
“Yeah individuals, but none of the families do,” I say.
“Independents have kids.”
“Four weeks ago a Lamia kid died in a car accident. A child considered strong enough to become the next matriarch. That seems like the kind of talent our boss might want to recruit.” She didn’t say anything as I watched her. “Why do you hate your own family?”
“Because they suck, friends are a weakness, love is a weakness, allies are only as good as their debt to you, loyalty is a fucking weakness. None of them even get it we’re a minor family in a small part of a minor country. All they can talk about is how much glory they would bring the family if they were in charge. You know in the last five years we’ve had to call in the Dullahans eight times?” By the end, she was shouting.
“So fuck em?”
“Yeah, fuck those smug fucking snakes. Every last one could die, and I would be there to collect their souls laughing, as I sent them to hell. I bet they would taste great.” She punctuated the statement by eating a mouthful of pancakes.
“Careful you’re hitting a moral event horizon,” I say.
“So what? That doesn’t matter to us; there is no punishment waiting once we cross over. You and me, we’ve got a full access backstage pass. Good and evil don’t matter one bit; they’re human concepts the gods we report to have never given a shit.”
“It must feel great having a god validate your feelings,” I say.
“Me and every other edgy teenager.” She growled.
“You realize we’re tasked with killing monsters, and protecting people.” I ask.
“No you’re tasked with killing monsters, I’m tasked with collecting the souls and making sure they end up in the right places. It isn’t about helping people; it’s about reducing the workload a small fuck up in our creation opened the door for. Why do you think there are no other creatures both magical and physical. Once they made humans, they decided we were too much of a pain in the ass to make more. The sheer amount of effort we take means our creators hate us. If we’re talking about how we feel why the fuck don’t, you give a shit?”
She was right, I didn’t care good and evil never meant much to me, and I had never worshiped a loving creator. Right or wrong this was my life now.
“I never had much agency, just went with the flow, so it’s nice knowing my place in the world. If Death wants me to play a nice little soldier then I’ll do that, I’ll hunt monsters, humans, anything they point me at. Although I still think I should be more upset about the killing thing.” I answer.
“Maybe you’re a sociopath.” She says.
“Nah, that’s too convenient,” I reply.
“Well aren’t we a fucked up couple,” she said.
“Not a couple,” I interject.
Ignoring me she continued, “I want to watch the world burn, and you’re happy with the status quo somehow we’re on the same side.”
“Eating pancakes together, you know if I play my cards right I might just be able to watch it burn,” I say.
“From what they’ve said we’ll be seeing enough fire in our lives for anyone, I mean shit your predecessor took Istambul with him.” She said.
“Which predecessor? How recent?” I ask.
“Not recent at all dude predated Christ, unless you’re talking about Istambul then two months ago. He didn’t even get the patchwork he was aiming for, to be fair she predates him.” She answered.
“The last guy who had my job committed the greatest act of terrorism in the modern world, and he didn’t even get patchwork?” I ask.
“Yeah, although with her we prefer the term dark god. There isn’t much human left in her, at least not any original bits.” Anna answered.
“I am so boned.” I say.
“Who’s the good soldier now Corvid?” Anna asks.
“I wasn’t briefed on dark gods; I couldn’t blow up a city if I tried.”
“Yeah but I bet you could work up a great pestilence.”
“Oh fuck you, Anna.”
“No thanks, but if you want to take out a city or two, I say go for it. I get the souls, after all; you even get the power.” She replied.
I figured the best thing to do was shut up, and eat. So I ignored her for the rest of my mound, I finished first despite eating slower.
“So when is Alvia suppose to die?” Anna asked just as she polished off her stack.
“That was impressive to watch; Santa said two days just before midnight. That was in the morning so if he counted yesterday than tonight, if not tomorrow.” I answer.
“So we’re just going to sit outside her house like two creepers for two days?” She answered, it was more in jest either feeling better or the thought of watching Alvia die cheered her up.
“Well no, we’re going to sit outside her house like two creepers tonight, tomorrow she has a date, so we’re going to stalk her like two creepers too,” I reply.
“What kind of date?”
“Some dude she met on a dating site,” I answer.
“Think she puts out on the first date? Maybe she’ll die mid orga-”
“Damn it, Anna, am I going to have to start ignoring you again?”
“Chill dude, I’m going to meet up with a guy be back around eight.” She skated out of the restaraunt before I could ask what guy, or how she had met one while dead. On second thoughts, I didn’t want to know the answer to the second question.
Going home was quick, and I proceeded to get ready humming a tune. Shotgun clean and loaded, sidearm the same. Normally this time of the week I would go to the shooting range, but today it didn’t feel right.
I pulled out a bag of cheap Walmart clothes that could be disposed of easily and without regrets, stuffed a pair of disposable gloves in my jacket pocket, and swapped out the SIM on my phone.
Within half an hour I was ready, which meant I had about five hours before Anna got back. I proceeded to pace for a while until I needed a shower. In the back of my head, Anna seemed to be having a lot of fun and ignoring my impatience.
My usual SIM I put in a burner in case of messages, and so the towers would think I was home all night. It beeped with a message.
‘Chill out dude; you seriously need to get laid.’
“Damn it, Anna,” I just knew she was laughing at my annoyance. I changed out of the Walmart clothed since they had started to itch.
By the time Anna got back I had finished an eighth of a newspaper, downloaded but not played a game, and was just emerging from my third shower. Anna slapped me before I finished drying my hair.
“I was trying to have a good time while you were stressing me out all afternoon. I suppose you’ve got your murder kit in the trunk?”
“Sorry, I don’t like waiting when I have somewhere to be, and it’s not a murder kit,” I say.
“What the hell is it?” Anna asks.
“A basic first aid kid, and cleaning supplies in a bag for quick dumping, all of which are probably untraceable,” I answer.
“Did you forget the bone saw because that sounds a lot like a murder kit. You do realize we’re not going there to kill Alvia right?” Anna asks.
“I just like to be prepared,” I say.
“In case of what, you drive a stolen car through her living room, or is it a rental you got under a fake id?”
“All I did was swap the plates, remind me not to speed,” I say.
“You’re seriously paranoid.”
“I took a forensics class; I would say just enough paranoid.”
“Whatever, you feeling better?” Anna asks.
I did not even realize how stressed I had been; I didn’t answer Anna already knew. “Are you ok with going to watch? Alvia is related to you,” I ask.
“Not even by name, I was from a minor family she’s from the main family. I might have been a Lamia once upon a time, but she was never family to me,” Anna answered.
I had known she would say something like that, she couldn’t even disguise the blood lust in her voice let alone her thoughts. Something was tickling the back of my mind, this all seemed too personal to her. The reasons for sending me out seemed rather flimsy as well.
“Wait you forgot to order takeout.” Anna says as I head to the car.
“Takeout preferably Chinese, so we have something to eat and use for metaphors during the stakeout,” She answered.
“I thought we were being creepers, and you watch way too many buddy cop movies.” I saw turning and heading for the pile of takeout menus. “I got Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Pizza, and Japanese.”
“Wouldn’t Pizza be Italian?” Anna asks.
“Not these pizza’s they’re not, compared to a proper Italian pizza these are microwaved cardboard.” I answer. “Also, I’m willing to bet the foxes run the Japanese place so not there either.”
“I fail to see how, either I was already extremely unlucky, or they run all the dry cleaners,” I answer.
“I don’t think there are enough of them to run all the dry cleaners, they probably just decided you were interesting and took over a couple of locations near where we live,” She says.
“The Chinese place has an app, use your phone.” I say heading to the car, this time, she followed without complaint.
Her shadow seemed longer than a person of her height should cast, her footsteps leaving dark impression that persisted when she had moved on.
“I am once again struck by how weird this is, and how ok I am with it,” I say once in the car.
“Yer a sociopath Harry,” Anna says.
“Oh shut up I hate that name, it’s Corvid now and forever.”