Marcella was sitting on her dorm room bed. Feet on the floor, hands in lap, staring at her laptop across the room on her desk. She looked at the clock and it was 4:58 p.m. All the invites to the new recruits would be sent at midnight Swedish time. 4:59. She looked at her fingernails, then over at her keyboard. She wondered if she should have packed, but if she did, it would be her luck that she would not get accepted. She never wanted anything as badly as this, not even coming to college. Not even the piano at home. 5:00. She stared at the computer. Nothing. Refreshed the page. Nothing! Five minutes passed. Nothing! She took a big, deep breath and let it out slowly. Don’t cry, don’t cry, she said to herself as she was gathering her keys to leave. But she felt the tears running down her cheeks and wondered if she was going to be able to make it down to the cafeteria without embarrassing herself, but she was so disappointed. She wiped her face with the back of her left hand, heading out the door and slamming it hard.
“Damn, Marcy, what the fuck?” Daniel was studying with his door open.
“Sorry. Got some bad news. No music school for me right now.”
Marcella could not tell any of her friends what she was really signing up to do. They wouldn’t understand. They would wonder why she would want to be in servitude with no guarantee of ever playing live. They wouldn’t understand the signature in blood that signed away her soul.
“Shit. I’m sorry.”
“S’ok. Things will work out eventually,” she muttered and kept walking.
Miles and Hannah were waiting for her in the cafeteria.
“Here’s our star!” Miles smiled at her.
“Nope, didn’t get it.”
Hannah’s eyes widened and her mouth opened. Marcella said, “I know, right?”
“You didn’t get in?” Hannah was astonished.
“Not this year. I’ll try again. I haven’t given up.” Marcella choked the words out of her mouth. “But I can’t even eat right now, so I’ll catch up later, okay?”
Miles got up and came around the table to hug her.
“You are the best, hon. They are fools to pass you by.”
“I know,” Marcella winked at them, smiled and left.
Marcella started to head back to her room, wondering what it was she could have done better. Maybe her audition tape really sucked and no one would tell her? Maybe she just wasn’t good enough for any of this. Damn it! She was tearing up again and hated it. She stopped outside her door, unlocking it. Three steps into her room, she slipped on something . She reached down to see what she had stepped on. It was a black envelope with a black wax seal. She sat down and turned on the small desk lamp. On the front, her name “Marcella Bryar” was written in silver script. When she turned it over she realized it wasn’t an envelope, but a tri-fold. She slipped her finger under the wax seal, tugging to release it from the paper.
“Dearest Recruit” it read. “We cordially invite you to begin your service to the Church as of tomorrow. Poe will pick you up at 9 am sharp. Please pack only clothing and personal items that you cannot do without. Be in front of 217 W. Elm tomorrow at the assigned time. Should you not be there promptly, your space will be forfeited to the next in line. Act accordingly. CoG.”
Act accordingly? Marcella thought that was a bit harsh but could barely contain her glee and relief. There was something else handwritten at the bottom. She had to tilt it to read it. “Sorry about the email snafu. Server down. Poe” She squeezed the black paper to her chest, grinning and grabbed her suitcase to start packing.
She was standing on Elm Street in front of an abandoned church when a black limo pulled up to the curb. The back curbside window slid down and there was a thin man sitting there. Black suit and tie, small mustache, tousled wavy short hair.
“Poe?” She assumed.
“Good morning, Marcella.” He leapt out of the car, grabbed her bags and placed them in the trunk. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Please,” he gestured to the car and Marcella got in. Poe slid in the other side next to her.
Marcella took a good look at him and asked, “Are you really Poe?”
“You mean THE Poe, like Edgar Allan?” He laughed. “No, remember, nothing supernatural happens unless it involves The Master.”
“No, not even the Director or the Leader, or the Papas or the Cardinals. Only from HIM. They just call me Poe because I look like him. Everyone gets a nickname.” He shrugged as the car pulled away from the curb.
“What do you do?”
“For the Church? I am but a mere administrative assistant.”
“Are we going to the Church now?”
“Yes. Champagne?” He uncorked a bottle, poured and handed her a glass.
“Sure,” she nodded and shrugged, a bit surprised by the offer. She looked around the inside of the limo, hardly believing this was real. She was a recruit now and if everything went well she would be an apprentice, maybe eventually a ghoulette.
Poe handed her the glass and said, “One more thing before we go. Are you sure this is what you want? You signed your soul over, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through with this part. Of course, it means that when the Master is ready for you, he will come and we can’t protect you, but...it is your choice.”
“Yes! This is what I have been working for my whole life! Wait! You can protect me if He wants me before I am finished with the Church?”
“How does that happen?” She took a sip of champagne and looked out the window, still a bit nervous. She had a hard time looking at people when she was nervous. Poe put his glass down and reached into his pocket. She was still staring out the window, watching the scenery pass when he plunged the syringe into her neck and depressed the plunger.
“We’re brokers.” Poe replied, taking her glass as it slipped from her hand and she fell into unconsciousness.