She drank

A cup of coffee sat precisely six inches from the front and left side of the desk. It was strong and still hot and a few grounds were slowly sinking to the bottom, creating a small sludge which couldn’t be seen through the liquid so dark it was black at the very top.

It was the normal coffee of the day from a French press: Indonesian – earthy, deep, and herbal. Indonesian dirt, she called it. It seemed normal, anyway. She was sure it was normal. Why shouldn’t it be? She’d prepared it the same way as she did every other morning.

By now you might suspect that it was not her normal cup of coffee, no matter what she thought about it. If so, you’re a smartypants, and that’s okay.

Lifting the coffee to her nose, she inhaled – a simple ritual she performed each morning. She smelled the earth and sweet syrup mixed with the scent of dried green leaves, let it fill her nose and open her eyes. It crept over her brain like a warm cloak wrapping, preparing her for a day of adventure.

“I’m already here,” said something far in the back of her mind, like a voice from outside a few houses down. It registered in her awakening mind as a negligible bit of leftover dream.

After inhaling a good portion of rich steam, she sipped. The earth was pungent, the herbs full, the syrup like deep molasses. This was some of the best coffee she’d had in quite a while – maybe the best ever. Her mind was suddenly full of dazzling possibilities, all sparkling with rainbow promises well within her enchanted reach.

“I am not waiting any longer,” whispered the same voice, much closer this time. It was in the room, it was in her ear, in her cup, in her mind.

The mug rose to her lips and she drank it all in one gulp. It was still far too hot and she felt fire swimming down her throat and into her stomach.

“This is my fire,” roared the voice over the cacophony of nerves warning her of drastic damage to her body. “This is my black blood.” She reached out for the press of remaining coffee and poured it over herself, mouth wide open, choking and spitting and guzzling. Her dark skin glistened as the oily black liquid ran over her.

In about half an hour, she arrived at work where she was a barista at a very busy little cafe set up in the corner of a dilapidated building. Still wearing the coffee, still nearly breathing fire, she waited on her first customer.

“A flat white, please.”

“A flat white,” she confirmed in a gritty voice. “A flat white to ease your life’s little pains. To give you a moment’s pleasure in your otherwise dull, sad life. I see you, little man. I have drunk the milk of a god and soon, so will you. This syrup of herb and earth is the nectar of life and death, small fool.” Her eyes burned to the back of his sockets. “You’re addicted to the end of your world; you’re completely unaware that my power is dancing on your head in black demon cloaks. Give me your cold and your sleep, and in exchange I will also take your soul.”

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