- Small Worlds
- Chapter One
Gott hot ein velt fill kleiner velter berschaffen.
— a Yiddish proverb meaning "God created a world full of small worlds."
The tavern was crowded, dark, and dull. That suited Vaniah just fine. He rested his arms against his chair as he leaned back and took another look around. The tavern was called the Dancing Donkey or the Skipping Stallion or something silly like that. All Vaniah cared about was that they served ale.
A red-haired woman approached Vaniah's table and he quickly gripped his revolver, wondering if this would be the start of trouble, until he realized she was simply a barmaid come to refill his drink.
"Thanks," he said as she leaned down to pour the pitcher into his mug, giving him an ample view of her assets. Unfortunately, that must have misbalanced her and, as her two hands were holding the pitcher, she fell forward, spilling not only the pitcher, but Vaniah's mug as well, ending up with both of them sprawled on the floor, a beer-covered mess.
"Oh my god, I'm so so sorry," the barmaid said as she tried to get up. "It's my first day at this job and I've just been terrible so far." She started to slip a little, but Vaniah caught her before she could fall again. "I'm just so sorry. I'll bring you a new beer and I'll refund your money."
"That won't be necessary," Vaniah said. "It's alright, really."
"Thank you," the barmaid said. "I'll go get a towel to clean up this mess."
Since the table was still wet, Vaniah switched to sitting at the bar. However, in sitting down on the stool, he realized something was missing, a familiar weight that was now gone.
He turned to see the red-haired barmaid exit through back door and then felt a finger tap on his shoulder. He turned slowly.
Its skin was a dark grey, its teeth black and oozing. It would have looked like it had crawled out of some primordial sea somewhere, had it not been wearing a three-piece suit.
"Shedim!" Vaniah said.
"Gunslinger," the shedim said, its voice acidic. "So the prophetess was right." Its mouth stretched out and Vaniah realized it was trying to smile. Over the shedim's shoulders, Vaniah saw two more of the murky creatures entering the tavern.
"I don't suppose we could talk this over?" Vaniah asked. The shedim let out what seemed to be a chuckle. "Didn't think so."