A hut above the midpoint of Snake Bridge is suspended in air. The sky is blue with drifting clouds. Giant seagulls soar around with dangling monster heads hanging from their blood sodden beaks. The air is soiled and unpleasant. There is quiet drone of pain. The hum of torment. The smell of waste. What kind of waste? It is hard to tell.
The feline creature and the voice sit outside the hut. Both cross legged and suspended in the air. None want to go into the hut.
Inside the hut, the sound of pain is louder. The hut’s walls are black, the flooring made of mud. There is a smell of damp hay and waste. In a corner on a mat is a creature. Long fangs, square head and it wears aviator sunglasses. Why aviator sunglasses? It is hard to tell. The drone and hum of pain become mutters. It tries to stand but keeps falling.
The feline is thinking of its dinner. When the bell rings it shall go to its home beyond the Nothingness. It hates it here but it is a job. All those who pass the toll gate, tend to annoy him. He thinks about the voice. The voice rarely says much. He wonders where the voice is from.
‘Some chap, usually type. Poor, stinky and bad teeth, gave me a boar’s tooth for a toll. Nothing in the rules says it has to be of the person. Do you think it should be changed? I mean made clearer.’
Feline wasn’t sure what to say. ‘Did you let him pass?’
The voice grunted. ‘Nowt in the rules that said he shouldn’t. Saying that, the coin was pissed at not getting a bleeding finger or tooth. He had a rant. But nothing in the rules to say it had to be of traveller.’
Feline nodded in agreement. ‘Rules need to be clear. I had one, opened up the midtoll gates, he chose the bread.’
Voice gasped. ‘That’s the first in five hundred years.’
Feline thought it was about time but didn’t say so. He hated those who went crazy with greed or blood thirsty with the dagger. Feeding a long forgotten and abandoned family seem a nice gesture. ‘Might be the last thing he sees. After all West of the Great is…’ He shivered at the thought.
The bells tolled.
It was time for him to go home.