Most of the fine folk who entered my establishment
were typical merchants and consumer
s. The gentleman who stood before my desk was neither. His finery was a century
out of date, albeit exceptional in quality and texture. His colour was notably pallid
, he had the look of someone who had been locked in a cupboard for several years. The jaw was gaunt
, the eyes sunk back into their orbits, but the eyes themselves commanded attention to his presence.
"I'm looking for a gentleman named Azzole," he anounced in a surprisingly deep voice. "He is an author here."
At this point I knew that the man before me was going to be trouble. My job was to sell papers. My ability to construct articles to offend others and bruise the establishment kept my coffers full, the public tongues wagging, and my back always up against a wall.
"Come now, my good man," I laughed. "Have I insulted someone you know, or have I pointed out some nugget of information that caused you or your associates to feel uncomfortable about? This is a free country, and I've been sued in the courts many a time. I'm still here, and they are a distant memory."
I could tell he was annoyed. He cast a baleful eye on me, willing his gaze to force my mouth shut. The one odd thing was the slight smirk appearing slowly across his thin lips. Apparently he thought I was going to be a pushover, and now he was anticipating the verbal sparring to come.
"Yes, you have caused ill will in our community, with your spiteful and hateful words. I am here to put a stop to your soon-to-be-public paper you have published."
I scoffed at the elderly gent. "This is a free country, Sir, and you can't stop me from publishing whatever I want to. Begone, 'ere I call the constables! My article shall be printed - just before you darkened my desk, I had sent it out." I laughed triumphantly... and the laugh caught in my throat as he slowly held up his hand.
In his hand he held a torn and tattered document - my document. Perhaps it was the light from my desklamp, but it seemed to be covered with bloodstains and the trampling footprints of many distained readers.
"You can't do that!" I yelled, and began to curse and foam.
"I have, and you are quite done here." His smile peeled back to show a row of sharp and ghastly teeth. "My job is to deal with the likes of you, and cast your bones aside as a warning to those who would revel in hate, contempt and trollish behaviour."
"You go to hell!" I screamed. The room seemed to be darkening as he reached out to snare me in his clawlike grasp.
"I will be. I need to drop you off," said Klaproth. "That is, what's left of you."
As he dragged me outside towards his carriage, I saw something inside that froze my blood. Klaproth effortlessly threw my now limp body to whatever was waiting in the shadows of the passenger compartment. I saw a flash of teeth, heard a scratch of claw, and I felt my being getting rendered and devoured, forever to sit in the belly of a horrific beast.
"There'll be more, my pet," Klaproth said through my panic and cries of agony. "There's always more to come."