“It’s a hell of a deal.”
The estate agent’s words crept slowly into my head on that first night. They were soon banished by the scratching.
By the second night the scratch had become a thud.
It was coming from the kitchen. From under the table.
I toppled it over and threw the dusty rug to one side. A hatch.
I pulled it open, stared into the darkness beneath. Slowly, a man appeared.
It was me.
Hair longer, beard overgrown, but it was me. I, the other I, murmured something, his voice distant and tired.
“It’s a hell of a deal.”
The darkness didn’t bother Arthur all that much; he’d grown accustomed to it over the years. The being buried alive irked him a little, though.
He could still hear their laughs as the concrete poured over him. It crushed down on him now, remorselessly breaking bone after bone after tiny, pointed bone.
He passed considerable time imagining the ways in which he would one day carry out his revenge. Perhaps not on the people who did this to him, of course, but their ancestors would do just fine.
If being buried alive was bothersome, being immortal was going to be murder.
DIAL THE NUMBER. STATE YOUR DESTINATION. CLOSE YOUR EYES.
That’s all the note said. Written on a scrap piece of paper tucked under an old, black cell phone.
John had used the phone once since he found it. “Home,” he had told the operator. He was surprised to open his eyes and find himself on the porch of his childhood house.
He planned to go a little farther this time.
“Operator. Please state your destination.”
“Wherever my wife is.”
There was a click. John took one last look at the headstone in front of him and closed his eyes.
My Millie bounces past the well-dressed man and onto the sitting chair. Mother watches from the arch leading to the food room.
“You know why I’m here?” asks the well-dressed man.
My Millie looks up at me. The well-dressed man turns and stares, then shares a long glance with Mother, who now has water coming out of her eyes again.
“Is Hector here right now?”
Mother leaves the room.
“How many invisible friends have you met before, doctor?” my Millie asks.
“None, Millie,” replies the doctor man.
My Millie smiles and waves me over. “Hector will be pleased.”
Oh, I am.
Short dress, big chest, freckled cheeks. She’s almost too pure.
“Thanks again for the ride, mister.”
I’ll be damned if this hitch-hiker is a day over eighteen. She’s fluttering her baby blue eyes in my direction.
It’ll all be over soon. Keep calm.
“Not a problem,” I lie.
She crosses her long legs, flashing up a wink of black lace.
The engine revs.
Just make it quick.
By the time I turn the passenger seat is empty, stained black leather stretching back into its usual form.
I lean forward and gently tap the dash. “Feel better now?”
A cold, quiet domicile. Perfect.
Then, sirens. Sounds. Painful, unwanted noise.
They scream, panic. Usually at my hands. Today, something else.
A growl, slowly building. I sense it.
They hide on the second floor. Watch from windows. I lurk, unseen, silent.
Sirens drowned out. Now, only a roar.
They see it. A rising carpet of blue and black. They hug, pray, whisper. I simply watch. For a moment, the warmth of normality.
But the blue rises.
Soon, the domicile is gone. So are they. Their screams washed down.
I drift away. Searching for somewhere new to rest.
Short red dress, long auburn hair, tight creamy thighs; she stood out from the rest. He pulled over.
“Chessels, please.” Her voice was soft, careful. She slid inside.
Mirror adjusted, he watched her, red dress riding all the way up.
“I do believe you plan on raping me.”
His body stiffened. “I’m-”
“Except, you will not. You see, if you were like me, you would already know what was soon to occur. And, importantly, who I was.”
A half-formed realisation was blasted from his consciousness. Pink and red painted glass.
A short roll and a sudden stop later, she was gone.
It was always quiet at the end.
Most of the humans had already perished. Mother Nature, as they’d naively called it, had taken care of that. They had no idea who had been pulling the strings all these years.
There were survivors, sure. They had proven to be a stubborn species, the humans. But even the strongest of them would cease to exist after what would happen next.
Jacob listened to their voices, quiet whispers and final, desperate prayers from across the planet. Despite his apathy, he’d learned to cherish them.
After all, he wouldn’t hear any again for a millennia.
“You’re only as good as the creature you hunt.”
My father, three days before he was slain. I was nine.
Forty years on and things have changed. The War left nothing to hunt.
So I created my own wild. The pitting of man against the deadliest creatures to have ever walked this earth. Any beast, past or ancient past.
Now, man is hunting again. Winning. One man in particular. Marshall Marcus. He’s rich and he’s deadly. And he’s killed everything I have to offer.
After all, it’s been a while since I’ve been out in the wild.
The Devil will end you, the Devil will end you, the Devil will end you.
Jane whispered slowly, as instructed.
She stared at the candle-lit photo on the table in front of her, as instructed. She focused on his cheating face.
“You’ll know if it has worked, dear,” the shopkeeper had told her.
Jane closed her eyes. “The devil will end you, Max Haggins.”
Not as instructed.
A sharp pain shot through her stomach and everything went warm. Her limp body was raised up from the floor. A cold whisper trickled into her ear.
The Devil ends you.