Fog settled over the village and I thought the houses looked like they were huddling together in the cold.
One house stood apart from the others, a tilting mess with off-colored smoke pouring out of the chimney. A sign with the word Alchem- etched in fading white letters hung over the front door.
The house seemed to shudder as I approached. Before I could knock, the door slammed open, and a horse-sized plume of smoke belched from inside. The alchemist stumbled out of the house, coughing and clapping his beard between both hands to put out the last of the flames.
“Ah, you must be my three o’clock.” The alchemist hacked something from his throat, apologized, and stuck an ashy hand out to greet me, “P.S. Hoffman, correct?”
“Thank you for meeting me on such short notice.”
“Not to worry, not to worry. I know just the thing to sort out your problem. Now, were you the one with the fissures? No, that was someone else, you were…” He scratched at the blackened tips of his beard, frowning.
I cupped a hand around my mouth, whispering, “I’m here about the -”
“OH YES. YOU’RE THE WRITER WITH THE BORING STORIES!” The alchemist shouted, stamping his foot triumphantly. The house shuddered again.
“Don’t be shy now, come in, I have just the thing for you.”
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