He knelt over the candle, set in to the sand of the beach on the side of a river. I knelt across from him, observing. The flame danced in the breeze, and the light cast shadows in his dark hair and sparks in his blue eyes.
"Ready?" He asked.
"Always," I replied. The circle was cast around us, I could feel the weight of others present against my back, waiting to be invited. I had so many questions.
"Excellent." He said. "But first, answer your phone."
The riverside beach and the flickering light dissolved in to the dim grey of an Autumnal New England pre-dawn. I groped for the phone on the bedside table and checked the caller ID before thumbing the off switch and throwing the phone across the room. I fell back to sleep easily enough, but the dark man and the candle were nowhere to be found.
A heavy weight landed on the bed, and shoved a phone in my face. I pushed back, and Cade retaliated by dropping his drool covered prize - my phone - on my face. I wiped it off and shoved it under my pillow, intent on sleeping. Cade moaned plaintively, and when I opened my eyes again he was sitting by the open window, looking longingly at the street below. The gloom had burned off, and it was now 9am, by my bedside clock. I growled, but roused myself to the stage of a robe and slippers. The phone went in my pocket.
Cade (Cadence, really, but I shortened it) bounced around the kitchen while I made his breakfast. He bounced his tail while he ate, and he bounced again when he asked to go out on the run by the backdoor. I waited for my coffee to brew in the french press, and glowered.
9am on an October Saturday morning in New England is a wonderful thing. Birds sing, squirrels leap, and in the fall the leaves crinkle with a pleasing sound. Shadows of firecracker leaves dapple everything. It's a joy to behold, and the sight of it, along with my coffee, was enough to bring a smile to my lips. I sat in on my wicker swing and sipped while Cade cavorted, playing tag with the Skippy, the cat who lived under my porch. After a few minutes, Skippy landed on the woodpile and gave Cody a good swipe to the nose to let him know playtime was over. With dog under my knees, I finally pulled out my phone and turned it on. There were seven missed calls, all from my bosses number. This was, sadly, not unusual for a day off. THere were no voicemails, but there was one text. I hate talking. I love texting. My boss knows this, but is the opposite, and hates typing with his thumbs. I saw the visions of my week off fly past as I called up the text and read it.
"Job for you." It read. "Made, two dead. Location, Gypsum, NH."
My boss texts like most people send telegrams. Just enough and absoltutely not enough information, all at once. I was surprised he hadn't put in 'STOPS' instead of periods. Probably couldn't figure out how, I thought.