The Fox Awakens
He awoke in a daze, the world shifting all around him. The scratches inside the sarcophagus had been made by him, he knew, but could not remember when. Muscles a century old pushed against the heavy stone, but he could not move it. He let out a shrill scream, the noise resonating in his shriveled ears like a screech of metal. He tried to speak, but only dust coughed out of his mouth, the air old and stagnant. He was trapped.
With a ‘clank,’ the top of the sarcophagus shifted enough for him to reach a thin, bony arm through. Using all of his might, he pushed the top enough for his emaciated form to squeeze through. Halfway through, he toppled to the ground, falling down a single stair and landing on his bones. In a mad rush, he scrambled out of the silent sepulcher, glad to be rid of an eternity of waiting.
Outside, he looked up at a clear night, the moon bright and illuminating most of the massive, old graveyard. He knew the area well, and though it looked more populated than he last remembered, it was good for him to see something familiar. With a downward glance, he noticed his clothes are torn and shredded, thin strands of fiber trailing out like the old veins of a long dead prize. He reached up and felt his face; it was gaunt, with skin stretched all way to his bones, and leathery. He knew anyone would be able to see his long incisors, tools he needed to use soon. Finally, he checked his left pocket. The flap had been worn down from excessive use—he had checked it a thousand times before—but it was still there; a small pocket watch that no longer worked and hadn’t been opened in almost one hundred and fifty years. He traced the fox insignia with an out-grown fingernail and closed his eyes to moonlight. After a moment, he stalked off, determined to learn more about his surroundings.
The old beggar was used to people ignoring him, especially at night. He was wrapping his clothes around him for the evening, laying by a heat vent, when a man whispered at him from the alleyway. At first, the beggar ignored him, considering the man strange and untrustworthy. But his insistent attempts at attention finally made the beggar annoyed enough to respond.
“Yes?” The beggar said, his voice grating at the dark man.
“Please, my fine sir, join me here for a moment. I am weak and do not wish to elicit a negative response from the unassailable privilege of those that walk the street at such an hour. I apologize for my haggard visage and voice, but such are the desperate times in which we live, are they not? I promise compensation, enough alms to surpass any inconvenience you perceive, though I mean not to importune, only to inform myself of this great city and its fine people. Please, join me.” The beggar shuffled a little closer to the haggard man, but stayed in the street light, well within view from anyone who cared enough to look.
“Fine, then. Who are you?”
“My name is Devin Xavier Fox, and I am a humble soul, lost in the fairways and park places of so immense and ostentatious a land. Please, give me information.” His voice soothed the beggar and with a smile, he slid next to Devin. He noticed that the man did not smell at all, a peculiarity considering the tattered remains that shrouded his anemic form.
“Well, what do you want to know? I can tell you about the places to find some petty cash, decent places to get food, even a free computer lab if you need it.”
“Tell me what year it is.” Devin leaned in close and his eyes started to reflect a red light like the beggar had never seen. His mouth opened, and words started pouring out without understanding or memory. In the blink of an eye, the beggar came to and he was deeper in the alleyway than he had been previously. How he had gotten there, he didn’t know.
“What… Devin, how did I get here? Did… did I answer your question?” Devin looked at the beggar with a toothy grin, his teeth rotten and decayed save for two massive incisors that gleamed in a light made from his sunken eyes.
“Yes, you answered everything so well. And now, I must give you your just reward for a life of service, hardship, and torment.” Quicker than the beggar could’ve guessed, Devin’s hand wrapped around his mouth and nose, the flesh lacking any odor or even taste. Devin was not strong, but he overpowered the beggar as his teeth ripped open his neck. He drank, glad his prey was as weak in this century as during his own.
A man walked out of the alleyway wearing an odd assortment of tattered clothes, patched jeans, and an old sports coat. His pockets jingled with change and he held a beautiful pocket watch in one hand, a smooth and meticulously clean finger tracing the image of a fox. Although the man’s clothes were ragged, his face was sharp and his skin full of life, if a bit pale. He smiled at the people around with an overt cordiality rarely seen in today’s world and everyone wondered what was wrong with him.
His only wonder was who had opened his grave for him, though he knew exactly how to repay the man that did.