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The rawboned young man sat lonely at a table in a restaurant, staring at the shadows of the candle-lit table. Just a few hours ago, he had been counting the few coins he had gathered at today’s harmonica-playing in the streets, several of which were coins he didn’t recognize and would not be able to spend. He liked to save them anyway and put them back in the cap the next day, so that it would look like he had already got plenty of money. He had figured people were more likely to give money to him if they thought others did as well. Suddenly, he had heard someone call out his name.

He hadn’t heard anyone call him by that in years. All his family and friends had died or left. He must just have imagined the voice. But he turned and looked around anyway . He was surprised to see a man in a dark, mud-stained coat staring at him, just a few feet away. The man looked old, with a pale face. Deep wrinkles, set beneath all-white eyes peered into his soul and caused the young man to shrink back into the shadows . Carlson could only stare; if his muscles would have responded, he would have left the restaurant screaming, never to return, such did that man affect him. The grizzled stranger lowered himself painfully into the empty chair across from Carlson, a blackening, jagged smile darkening his sinister countenance further. With the old man came the fetid odor of decay. If horror could be personified, this horrific being met every criteria, assailing each of Carlson’s senses, making him want to vomit and scream simultaneously. Unable to move, and numb from the shock, Carlson could only stare wide-eyed, gasping, desperately wanting to flee from here.

"Hey man, you alright?" Someone across the room had noticed his panic but not what had caused it. Carlson couldn’t respond; he was not even able to answer the anxious query directed at him. He felt like the prey for some ravenous beast, and wondered just how much time he had left on this earth. Then suddenly, just as quick as he came, the old man had vanished.

Without perceiving any movement, suddenly someone was shaking him, trying desperately to get a coherent response. "My dear niece…" Carlson finally realized he was saying nonsense. he didn’t even had a niece. He looked around the restaurant quickly, and realized no one else had experienced the spector. He looked back down at his coin pile and noticed a new coin had been contributed. The coin was fashioned of some unyielding, gray material containing no perceptible edges. Carlson’s blood ran cold when he realized the wraith-like figure must have left it for him.

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