Hunting for Change

The Wet Troll pub was about as pleasant as its name. Built in the lowlands next to the rivers that constituted the eternal marsh on the edge of the city, its patrons were the dregs of what many would consider uncivilized society. Since it was sitting in the middle of bog, the bar had been built on stilts that kept it out of the muck. Mismatching floorboards on top of a stilt foundation were all that held the drunkards inches between mostly dry and muddy slop.

Anthony squatted outside the bar on the driest patch of ground that he could find, peering at the space under the floorboards. The space under the bar was a hive of cockroaches, spiders, and just about every other nasty thing you did not want to crawl through which is exactly what Anthony was planning on doing. He was not an old man despite the grayed and maniac hair that sprouted copiously from his head. He pushed the curtain of silver hair out of his spectacled eyes and peered through the black void, straining to see a flash of gold or silver. Drunken patrons of the Wet Troll often lost their dropped gold and silver through the cracks in the floor and no one was foolish enough to go in after them. Desperation can drive a person though. Anthony was four gold coins away from a hot meal and any type of shelter out of the cold dampness that he hadn’t had for three days. He could tell he was losing strength and needed a warm night or else they would be scraping him out of the gutter soon. Just four little coins. All that stood between him and food was a crawl through the crushing dark of vermin-ridden river mud in a space he doubted even he could fit through. He was slight but even this hole would be a squeeze. A very tight squeeze.

There was nothing for it though. All he had to do was get his coins and go. Go back to his fair lady. He peered across the night sky and saw her there in the distance. Her cobblestones slicked with fog yet glowing all the same. He wanted to be done hunting for a gleam of golden hope or a trace of mankind’s good will. Shrouded in layers and layers and layers of plastic and cloth or clad in a three-piece suit they didn’t care. People came and went and always saw right through him and wanted nothing more than to pass in silence. But he didn’t mind. He was the Midas of his city for he bathed in her golden glow. His castle floated in space with the clouds and the crows. Churches and spires stood as torches in the night, a guide through his lady’s damp alleys. While others only see the pavement under their feet, heads always down, Anthony always looked up. His lovely lady’s glorious skyline, her shining silhouette was all he truly wanted in the world.

Well that and a decent meal. Back to his world now. Back to the freezing muck, claustrophobia, and poisonous spiders of the dark portal staring back at him. Fantastic. One last try and he could go back. Back to his golden gal. A deep breath and shiver of nerves and then he slid into the sloppy, squeezing, black abyss.

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