A dismal gray had settled over the town of Hoshikado. Snow came in small clumps, running down the brown tinted windows in small streams, puddling upon the sill, then spilling over and trickling down the gray grainy textured walls. The dirt road in the middle of town had turned to muck, acting like quicksand against anyone’s shoes.
By mid-afternoon the clouds hadn’t dissipated and the people of Hoshikado stayed inside, looking out the windows, waiting. As time dragged on a silence settled over the town, everyone’s ears pricked up as they heard the creaking crack of wooden wagon wheels. The people of Hoshikado waited, tension locked into their spines as they watched the four huge brown wagons pull into the main square. The horses and wagons were spattered with mud.
Fire burned in the horses’ eyes, froth bit at their lips, and sweat coated their flanks. The four bays that ran at the head of each wagon pawed at the ground, wanting to get going, to get home. A tall, thin, lanky African boy leapt down from the seat of the first wagon with an agile ease and unhitched the first four bays and took them to the crumbling, ancient fountain in the middle of the square.
Another man got out from the back of the wagon. He was taller and lankier than the young African. His skin was a pale, pasty-death like color, and his whitish gray hair spewed from his balding head in spurts, lying like strings down his back. His black and hunter green trench coat clung to his seven foot wiry frame. A top hat sat on his head, a cane in his large bony hand, and two icy blue emotionless eyes stared from behind wire rimmed yellow tinted glasses that sat on the bridge of his hawk like nose. His face was pale and colorless. Thin sleek gray eyebrows perched above his eyes, his lips were mere slits on his face, perched above a pointed goateed chin like knife slashes.
He wore a trench coat over a black waistcoat, a red vest, and a pair of black slack pants. His shoes were neatly polished until they glistened, even on the dreariest of days. His top hat sat crooked upon his head, a small green ribbon wrapped around the base of the beaver fur hat.
This man looked around slowly, taking in the dismal sight of the little town. Wind and a small snow flurry wrapped around the man in an icy embrace, causing his coat to flutter about his legs. Then he spotted the small bar in a corner of the town square. Slowly, he sauntered over to the bar, opened the door, and walked in determinedly.
The men that populated the booths in this bar watched the man in the top hat saunter up to the counter and lean against it. The bartender immediately drew a mug quickly and slid it down the highly polished counter top to the man. Nary was a word spoken in this prolonged silence.
The man in the top hat took the mug, downed it in three gulps, wiped the foam from his upper lip, set the mug down with a thunk, and tossed a coin onto the table, the clink and roll of the coin was almost eerie on its own. He walked out of the bar and back to the awaiting wagons. In silence, he stared on at the large bundles of clothing, baskets of food, and boxes of supplies varying from kitchen utensils to forestry tools. Four large muscled men had stayed outside and began to load all these things into the last three wagons as the lanky African hitched all sixteen bay horses back onto the four wagons.
After all the packages had been loaded onto the wagons, the man got into the back of the first wagon once again and disappeared from view. The African cracked the whip over the horses head and with their screams echoing through the empty streets of Hoshikado, the four wagons raced off, the horses galloping as fast as their heavy loads would permit them. They bellowed and squealed and it sent the people of Hoshikado into trembling fits of fear. Once out of the perimeter of the city, where the mist conglomerated heavily at the horses hooves, the man in the wagon looked at the canvas wall in front of him, narrowed his eyes, waved his hand in an anger provoked gesture, and watched as the wagons, the horses, and himself dissipate into tiny twinkling specks, being lost inside the fog.
The fog that lay over the ground swirled in a spiraling whirlwind until there was an eye in the center, and as the sun peeked through a crack between the gray clouds and the distant mountains, in the blood red light, the whirlwind of fog shot straight up into the sky, disappearing into the heavens.