The wind cries out tonight, signaling their entrance. My pulse is as fast as a racehorse.

This will already be our fourth meeting but my palms still get clammy every time.

I check my watch—it’s 11:58 pm. It’s almost time. I clutch the small plastic cooler tightly. I set it aside.

When I made my first deal with them, I was at the rock bottom of my already down-in-the-dumps life.

I had other options, honestly. Plenty of them. But I was desperate. I was getting exhausted of my parents’ mistrust of me.

I wanted to prove that I made the right career choice. I wanted to prove that I can be independent, too—that I’m not just lucky because they can pay my tuition.

I can’t wait to graduate. I can’t wait what lies ahead for me. I can almost smell the expensive coffee.

It’s 12:00 am. As usual, they arrive on the dot.

Two silhouette figures start to take shape. They stride in grace towards me.

Their pale but beautiful faces are painted with smirks tonight.

“Miguel, I see you’re not yourself tonight. So… jittery. Is something bothering you?” the older one probes me, like she’s testing me.

Every conversation with these two is a riveting chess game.

“Uh… I just had too much coffee. Sorry. Do you have it?” I tried my best to act cool.

“Yes, sweetheart—but where is IT?” The younger one peered behind me.

I sighed and dangled the cooler in front of them. “Here. Where’s mine?”

They look at each other with slyly, making their pristine faces shadowy.

“Feel your pockets, homie.” The older one darted at my pocket.

I quickly shoved my hands into my pocket and felt something. Smooth. Wooden. Finally, my prized possession—it’s here.

The one that will let me bag that international award. Next, fame. Money. Women. Success.

Drunk in excitement, I scrutinize its captivating features—its fine, natural bristles are from an animal I can’t recognize. They’re held together by a golden ferrule.

Oh, and the smooth, wooden handle—there are texts written on it.  ‘FEED ME’, it said.

Perfection.

“Hey, how can I—“

As I was about to thank them, they disappeared. Weird…

I wonder what orphanage I am going to visit again.

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