Her lips and fingernails were chiseled rose quartz and her eyes were irresistible. Standing on the railway platform clouded with steam from the monolith locomotive, she waited in the darkness of an indeterminate night.
The full-length gown beneath her loosely draped overcoat was ashes of roses. To gaze into her jade eyes was to dive into the aortistic. To even briefly brush against her fingertips was to chance ecstasy.
People went to and fro on the concrete, passing like specters in the fog. Only she and the locomotive to her left remained motionless. She was not only waiting, but fixated on the other, as a spider might be captivated by a victim in her web.
He slowly approached, but she knew it was not because he was entranced. Yes, she could see he found her gorgeous, but otherwise, the man in the tan raincoat and brown fedora was immune to her spell.
The courier stopped just a few feet in front of her. If he leaned forward, they were near enough to kiss.
“Do you have the link?” Full crimson lips pouted and her voice was a purr.
“I have two, he joked. What is this thing, anyway.” He reached into his overcoat and beneath the navy blue suit jacket but didn’t reveal it to her.
“An affirmation of sorts.” She deftly retrieved a manila envelope as if with slight of hand. “This is yours.”
He removed his fingers from his clothing and accepted the payment. Briefly peeking inside the flap, he ran a thumb over the bills then whistled. “Down to the last penny. You really want it, don’t you?”
“Only what you brought me.” She knew he was thinking of something else he could “present” her, but while he was ruggedly attractive, that wasn’t the sort of business she cared about.
“Okay, here we go. A deal’s a deal.” The man produced the package. No box, no wrappings, none of that “Maltese Falcon” stuff. It was bare but not plain.
She took it, examining the object carefully. About the size of a book, jet black surface polished to a shine and embedded with intricate designs in what could have been gold and silver, studded with sapphire.
“That it?” His voice almost cried out, desiring to understand the mystery of why this strange artifact was worth a small fortune to her.
“Yes, quite. I have what I came for and so do you. Good-bye.” She knew his name but didn’t care to speak it as she softly turned around and walked away from him on the platform. She could feel his gaze upon her as she retreated.
Morgana had chosen him as the courier because he was the best, he was ruthless, and she knew he was among the few human males on the Earth she could not bewitch. Why was that last part important? In order to receive the gift, it had to come from a hand relinquishing it of his own free will. The fact that he had stolen it from an obscure art collector mattered not.
She glided through the crowded depot as if walking on a cloud. The night outside was dark and held the same fog as she found by the train, but this time, it wasn’t steam. Hailing a taxi, as she entered, the driver immediately became her thrall. She hadn’t meant him to become as such, but she couldn’t spare the concentration it would take to restrain herself.
She uttered an address found in Pacific Heights, and the late 1940s Packard pulled into traffic. Morgana commanded the anonymous driver to pay attention to his task as she caressed the arcane black box.
“Soon my husband, you shall be free. Midnight will be upon us and then the spell.” At the thought of the curse under which her beloved suffered for so very long, she heard the roar of blood in her ears, the air around her seemed tinged with red, and the rage of nearly a thousand years began to well up within her bosom.
Then she regained herself. No use surrendering to those particular demons, not yet. Time enough to free her husband and then go a hunting for the magician. He too endured the long centuries, but with her deadly mate at her side, she swore not another month would the accused mage of Arthur survive.
“Have a care, Merlin. I have not forgotten.”
I wrote this for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle #223. The idea is to use a list of seemingly random words as the basis for crafting a short story, poem, or other creative work. The list is:
Aortistic- indefinite; indeterminate
I bolded the words in my story so you could more easily pick them out.
When I started writing, I only had a mysterious woman on a train platform. It’s a steam train and we are in San Francisco sometime in the late 1940s. I very, very loosely employed a few characters from the Arthurian legend. Please don’t come back at me with “that’s not how the legend or characters worked” because I did absolutely no research. Nothing is historically or otherwise accurate. I made this all up as I went along.
I did read that today is the 67th anniversary of the death of actor Sydney Greenstreet who did play in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon. In fact, according to his filmography, it was his first film (he didn’t begin acting until age 61). He died just a little over six months before I was born. I guess that’s why I had a mysterious meeting in San Francisco on my mind.
To read other stories based on the prompt, click on Mister Linky.
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