Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)
TITLE: The Collector
By Larry Elliott
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A handsome middle aged man opened the door to face the wiry older gentleman. “May I help you?”
“Good morning Mr. Harthgood, My name is John Stewart. We spoke on the phone last week. I am here to discuss this.” The elder opened his extended hand revealing a polished gold coin. “Recognize it?”
“Come in Mr. Stewart.” The younger man tried arduously to mask his excitement as he stepped aside allowing his guest to enter. “This way.”
Mr. Stewart followed as they strolled down an expansive hallway adorned with invaluable works of art. He was told Mr. Harthgood had netted a fortune in the import/export business. Now retired, apparently ahead of most successful entrepreneurs, he invested his time and fortune collecting what ever struck his fancy.
“Nice suit.” Mr. Stewart attempted small talk. “You seem younger than I imagined.”
“Do not let my appearance fool you. I am older than dirt.”
Both chuckled briefly relenting to their respective formal composures.
They entered a large office that doubled as a small museum.
“I see you collect items other than coin.” Mr. Stewart observed as he scanned the numerous artifacts hanging from walls, perched on stands and displayed behind glass.
“Impressive is it?”
“Yes, as far as man made objects go, I guess.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing, I was just thinking out loud, a faulty habit in my occupation.” He promptly changed the subject flashing a brief half grin. “As I recall imbursement was never mentioned.”
“You recall correctly. What is your price?” The host stated without requesting to view the coin again.
Mr. Stewart considered this odd, but immediately dismissed the thought.
“As I explained on the phone I am merely representing the actual owner. I believe I failed to mention my employer is a collector, also.”
“Is that a fact? And what might be his treasure of pleasure?”
“Souls, Mr. Harthgood.” Mr. Stewart watched intently for a sign of astonishment or disbelief. None came.
“Really? So am I to believe that you are here to trade my soul for this… trinket?”
“Believe me my master’s collection includes a myriad exchanged for less- a lot less.”
“I suppose I should be honest with you. I am not Mr. Harthgood. I am also merely a servant. My charge is upstairs on his knees as we speak, bedside his ailing wife, praying to his creator for forgiveness.”
“What?” The older man’s face wrinkled with surprise then rage as he realized the meaning of the other man’s words. His eyes narrowed. “Deceiver, my appointment was with Harthgood himself. Bring him to me immediately- I demand it.” He bellowed shaking a fist in the air. Spittle flew as his voice intensified.
“You have no liberty to accuse or demand anything. I never made claim to my identity, but I know well of you, Morlak. I am Gillion.” He grinned as he observed the other in his true form. Purist hatred from its bulging yellow eyes bore into Gillion’s own transparent blue.
Gillion turned his back to the repulsive imp and unleashed a bounteous laugh. The Armani rumpled to the floor giving yield to an impressive muscular form that suddenly brandished imposing feathered wings. These he stretched high and wide with an “Ahh” of relief. Heaving an enormous sword from its sheath with a reverberating ‘ching’ he spun on his heels. The golden rapier separated the demon from its ugly head leaving only a wisp of oily black fog where it had stood.
The archangel watched in triumph as the last of the demon to dissolve was the hand holding the coin.
Footsteps came from the nearby stairway.
Gillion sheathed his weapon and rocketed upward with a half turn dissipating through the ceiling, the roof and into the cloudless sky.
The master of the house entered the room just as the golden coin rolled unnoticed beneath the large oak desk.
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