Broken Stones

Dorian Blue #spooky

Photo by Haze

Fog streamed around the headstones. Some were intact, others crumbling. Only a few stars managed to bleed through, the rest of the night coal black. The graveyard came to an awkward, jagged stop where the sand dunes began. Just like the city at large, it was always in a battle against the water and dunes. Filling in the bay to make more land was easy enough, but taming the sand was another undertaking entirely.

Raven preferred to watch this struggle, and others, from afar. Yet, she was always pulled into the chaos somehow. No matter how separated she felt from the world, she couldn’t deny she was part of it. That night, she had decided to come out from the comfort of the shadows. A man, one she didn’t trust at all, had requested to meet with her in the farthest flung cemetery, away from any prying eyes. It was about one of the criminal dealings she participated in, but she didn’t know which. There was a roulette wheel of possibilities, and she didn’t care to spin it herself.

Her short, black hair whipped around in the wind. The suit she wore was a dusty black, the overcoat the same. It made her pale face stand out in the darkness. She always had it tailored to create a more masculine frame. If she dressed like a man and carried herself like a man, her true identity didn’t matter.

Someone walked down the muddy path behind her, doing his best to be quiet. She wanted him to think he had one over on her. The more arrogant they were, the easier to tear down.

“Mr. Starkweather?” he said, a few feet away.

She turned around and nodded. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. Hansen?”

His face was gaunt, the pupils of his eyes shot with red. She held out her hand, which he shook. He hesitated before he spoke. To him, she was an influential man with power over an impressive swathe of the city. Though, one who preferred to remain behind the curtain. To have a meeting with Raven at all was a herculean feat. He didn’t want to waste it.

He cleared his throat. “I wanted to see what you think about a new enterprise I’m helping with, and if you would like to become a partner in it.”

“Do tell,” she said.

“Now that gold isn’t drawing in people like it used to, we’ve decided to move into some…different directions.”

“Such as?” Her stare was commanding and impossible to look away from.

“I won’t mince words,” he said. “We’re going to ransom people by taking them onto ships, then make them pay their way off.”

“A dirty business indeed, Mr. Hansen.”

“I know,” he said, “but are you interested?”

She began to pace on the dirt. “I think you miscalculated how low I’m willing to sink. I’m not in the same dire financial straits as you.”

His face flushed red. “Well, still, we can cut you in, all we ask is that we can use one of your clubs or bars.”

She scowled. “Ah, I see. You want to put my reputation on the line for this.”

“That’s not it at all. We will handle everything — if anything goes wrong, none of it will fall back on you.”

She shook her head. “I’m afraid my answer is no.”

His face twisted, but he tried to keep his composure. His pants had a large rip at the ankle and there was dirt on his sleeves. As she looked him over, she could sense just how desperate he was. His heart pounded mercilessly in his chest, ravaged by his drinking and forays into opium. Neither were cheap habits, making it abundantly clear that any involvement with him would spell disaster.

All the abandoned cemeteries were rife with thieves and ne’er do wells, who wouldn’t hesitate to take everything a man was worth. Would one body, with bloodless white skin, ever be noticed? It lay above many more, forgotten by time. She grinned; she had made her choice. As she narrowed the space between them, her eyes twin flames of hunger, he backed away. It always took them a moment to comprehend the danger of her presence. She was the hunter, them the prey.

She grabbed him by the shoulders, his head lolling back. Veins danced under the skin of his throat. Before he could scream, she bit down. His blood steamed when exposed to the cold air. It rushed into her waiting mouth and down her chin. She never tired of the taste, or the way that it electrified her from the inside. The act of taking was what kept her going after so long. Time was a foggy, never-ending expanse, but her place in it never changed.

Once the last beats of his heart struggled to a finish, she let the body drop. She wiped her face with a handkerchief. He began to stiffen, eyes looking vacantly to the sky. She embodied their worst fears of a devil in the night. But more often than not, she passed among them, unnoticed. When most people were asleep, alive and unaware, she was there to snuff the candles out.