The day went as fast as one would expect, with Esther dispensing textbooks for large sums of money. Giger had been impressed by how well she’d managed everything in such a short amount of time, and around lunch time had surprised her with a bag of burgers from her favorite takeout place.
“I didn’t know your favorite, so I got a few of everything!” He’d exclaimed with a laugh, stooped over as he’d dropped off the heavy bag behind the counter, “I imagine you’ll eat like a King for many nights to come, seeing as they’re all yours!”
“Mr. Giger!” Esther had proclaimed, looking at him with wide eyes, “I can’t accept such a gift!”
“Nonsense my girl, nonsense! You spared an old man and his aching back from having to lift a single biology book, the least I could do was show my appreciation.” Giger had said, his wrinkled face had showed even more lines as he’d smiled. He’d taken Esther by the hand and urged her to take a break for the next thirty minutes in the back room while he manned the register.
That’s been ten minutes ago, and now that she was nibbling on the end of a spicy chicken sandwich while flipping through the pages of Melice’s diary. Sin had taken the books into the dark ness with him, storing them away from prying eyes. A distant thought nagged at her conscience that reminded her that she needed to obtain a child somehow, the closer to a baby the better. Esther still didn’t know how best to do such a thing, but was too enthralled by the diary to worry about that need for now.
She’d come something that intrigued her, something that she was certain she could do despite her lack of divination skills.
“The use of a crystal ball for the purposes of seeing further,” Esther whispered.
She owned a crystal ball, a piece of genuine occult technology that she’d purchased on a whim a few years ago. It’d earned teasing comments from the rest of her coven, comments that lasted to this day; Esther’s cheeks flushed at some of the insults that’d been lobbed at her by Faye for her owning such an innocuous object.
Now she understood why witches looked down on divination tools. At least to an extent.
Diviners and witches were both skilled and steeped in the arcane, but one took the route of looking to God for answers, while the other looked to Lucifer for aid. While not enemies in the sense that they’d attack each other, there was no love lost between the two groups, especially when the witches ill-repute rubbed off onto a diviner and led to their death. The diviner, on the other hand, looked to the information they gathered to understand God’s plan, not change it.
“Idiots,” Esther said, flipping a page to the practical application of how to attune your crystal ball to its stand.
“To tether the inner magics of the crystal to the ambient energies of the world, one must create an anchor for the crystal ball to sink its energy into, and pull energy from,” Esther read off, “to do this one must perform the following rituals on the stand, the ball, and then the two together to unify their link in the eyes of the Lord.”
“That doesn’t sound like it’ll work for you,” Sin said, his voice just over her shoulder.
While surprised, Esther didn’t give the spirit the pleasure of seeing her jump. Instead she steadied her racing heart and cleared her throat. “It doesn’t specify which Lord, now does it?”
“Ooh, tricky… he does love that!” Sin said, before coughing once. “I emerged to let you know Giger said he is going to come recruit you, and is on his way back here.”
“Shit! Thanks Sin!” Esther said, shoving the books of magic into his hands, “hide these for me, would you?”
“Yes mistress,” Sin said, stepping behind refrigerator, fading into the shadow of the machine as it began to hum to life. Esther stood up and threw away the few wrappers of the burgers she’d eaten and finished off her soda before walking towards the door of the breakroom.
She opened the door just as Giger came into view, the man leaning heavily on his cane as he stared at Esther with wide eyes. “Jesus girl, you scared me!”
“Sorry sir, was just getting ready to come back from my break,” Esther said.
“Oh,” Giger said, a smile breaking his loose features, “good! I was coming back to get you myself, but I’m glad you realized my old bones couldn’t hold off the tide of college students for long.”
“Well I’ll get to it then,” Esther chirped, bustling past Giger, “I don’t want to keep anyone waiting.”
“Thatta girl! I’ll be in my back office looking over the latest shipment of relics,” Giger said, relief flooding his voice.
“I’ll leave you to your old books sir, you leave me to my new ones,” Esther chuckled.
Walking through the small crowd, Esther made it to the register and began ringing up college boy after college boy, all of them studiously ignoring her. Esther didn’t care, she was used to it.
A stack of nursing books landed on her counter, dropped by a teenage boy standing next to his mother, a portly older woman who was talking on her phone while cradling a toddler in her arms. The little girl looked around with awe, staring at the various books and trinkets that decorated the walls while being bounced by her impatient mother.
Esther leaned forward and smiled at the child. “Aw, how old is she?”
The mother smiled with the briefest bit of kindness. “Three years old. I need these textbooks, and I’m in kind of a hurry …”
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” Esther said, ringing up the books to placate the woman. She could feel an arm slide up underneath hers, lifting the books up to place in the bag. Esther swallowed the nervous lump in her throat and, upon feeling Sin constrict within the darkness of her clothing, decided to make her move.
“How will you be paying?” Esther asked.
“Credit card,” the woman said, fishing out a violet speckled Mastercard as she spoke.
“May I see an ID please?” Esther asked as she took the card, half-turning to face her computer, “can never be too careful, am I right?”
“Have there been a lot of problems?” The woman asked.
“Not yet,” Esther said, shivering as she felt Sin chuckle behind her shoulder blades. Grasping the ID, she turned and faced the computer and held it close to her chest.
In a hushed whisper, Esther begged her inhuman spirit. “Quick! Memorize the address!”
One of Sin’s eyes dropped out from her sleeve as if dribbling from a runny egg yolk, before zipping back up into her outfit.
“It’s done,” Sin whispered back, just as Esther finished the transaction with the credit card. Smiling, she turned with the receipt and asked the woman to sign it and take her identification back.
“How many people do you check in a day?” The woman asked, signing the receipt before sliding it across the counter. “I didn’t see you ask anyone else, is all.”
“Oh, every thirty to thirty-five customers. I have a little clicker that I tick underneath counter every time I send a new student off with their books.” Esther lied.
“Oh,” the woman said, “well I guess that makes sense.”
“Yeah,” Esther said, a slight nagging of guilt eating away at her mind as her eyes sought out the little girl’s. “You never know what freaks are roaming around until it’s too late, so you have to take every precaution.”
“You’re right,” the woman said, hefting her daughter up her hip, “you ready to go Marisol?”
“The strange boy is waiting for me,” the little girl said, her words rounded and loud.
“What strange boy?” The woman asked.
Marisol pointed at Esther. “The boy living in her clothes! He keeps peeking out and waving at me, and he told me he’ll be waiting for me.”
“Waiting for what?” The mother asked.
“Whenever I think about it he just laughs,” Marisol said, bringing the entire queue of waiting young adults to look over at Esther with questions burning in their eyes. Esther just smiled and shook her head.
“I’m sure she’s just playing, right ma’am?” Esther said, flushing at the attention.
“Yeah … I’m sure that’s all,” the woman said, eyeing Esther with distrust. She turned and left the bookstore, stalking right past Mr. Giger, who was watching the whole scene with what appeared to be a detached sense of curiosity.