by Travis Perry -
Ernsto sat in the darkened room with the angel, counting his stacks of platinum coins. The pay was good, there was no denying that. And it wasn’t as if the work was hard.
She watched him from the tank, her dark eyes glinting with reflected light from her own white bioluminescent body. The tentacles attached to the back of her head hung down almost like hair and her ray-like fins were spread wide, like wings, making her look especially angelic.
“But you’re not an angel really,” muttered Ernsto. “You’re just a big fish, a smart one.” He didn’t feel fully convinced. He fingered a platinum coin, feeling the cold hard weight of it.
Why? floated into the back of his mind. The more time he spent with the angel, the more he could swear he didn’t just know her feelings—he could hear her thoughts. He glanced up at her but didn’t offer any answer to her question.
The door slid open, revealing Wizard Hobson, smiling as broadly as ever. “There you are! You certainly do like spending time here, don’t you, my boy?” The man deliberately ignored the angel recoiling away from the surface of the glass, balling up at the back of the tank.
Eyes fixed on the wizard, he answered, “I like the dark. The quiet is good, too. You got experiments to run?”
“Not at the moment. I just have another job for you, Ernesto.” The wizard mispronounced his name in a way that for some reason made him smile.
He had more platinum and more luxury than he’d ever had in his life. At that instant he decided he’d had enough; the time had come to go back to smuggling. He rose to his feet, a forceful “No” at the back of his throat.
But when Hobson’s eyes met his own, he found his willpower ebbing away. The wizard started speaking and he couldn’t even remember anymore what he had wanted.
Whatever the old man said, he had to do it.