Negotiatus

by Lewayne L. White


Frank sat on a bench near the river edge, and stared up at the gleaming copper-topped erection of 801 Grand thrusting up from the downtown skyline. He shifted a child-size suitcase back and forth between his feet, glanced at his watch, and looked for the Dark Man. He felt a chill that didn’t just come from the October wind flapping his jacket collar against his unshaven face.

“You’ve been difficult to reach,” said a smokey voice behind Frank.

“I think I lost my phone,” Frank replied without turning.

“Your contract is up.”

“I’d like to renegotiate,” Frank said, hands barely shaking.

“What part of ‘one soul in exchange for one wish’ did you not understand? You got your fortune. You even had a year to spend it in. Now, I get your soul. ”

“Does it have to be my soul?”

Frank could hear the Dark Man’s smile.

“A man after my own heart.”

“If you had one.”

“Such bitterness,” the Dark Man said. “Didn’t you enjoy your riches?”

“I enjoyed them a lot,” Frank replied. “I’d liked to continue enjoying them. That’s why I brought you a present.”

“Is that what’s in the case?”

Frank leaned forward, grabbed the suitcase handle, and stood. “Let me show you.”

Frank whipped around and roared ancient, forgotten words as a mixture of herbs, fluids, and totems erupted from the case.

And melted a homeless man like a screaming, stinking candle.

Frank stood, stunned, staring at the pink, bubbling goo. “Oh, sh-”

The Dark Man’s claw gripped Frank’s neck from behind, wrapped his throat, and squeezed. “Nice try,” said the Dark Man. “But I’ve been around a long, long time.”

The Dark Man hoisted him into the air.

Frank felt the creature’s grip tighten. He saw spots dancing across the sky.

The Dark Man chuckled, and slammed Frank to the ground.

Frank lay in the grass, sucked in air in ragged gulps. He struggled, rolled to his side, then onto his back. He squinted up at the Dark Man.

“Any last words, Frank?”

“Three,” Frank gasped. “Blessed silver bullets.”

The Dark Man’s wicked smile erupted in a spray of black ichor as his head exploded.

The second bullet hit his chest, sending a geyser of oily fluid from his back.

Grass died instantly wherever the foul liquid touched it.

The remains of the Dark Man sagged to the ground, like a scarecrow cut from its stand. After a moment, the body began to liquify and seep into the already polluted soil.

Frank scooted out of range of the soupy mess, and raised his left wrist to his mouth.

“Now what?”

“Holy water,” a voice crackled in his ear. “Followed by the incantations.”

Frank staggered to his feet, withdrew a 20-ounce Coke bottle from his jacket pocket and poured the clear, sparkling contents on the Dark Man’s remains, as though he was putting out a fire.

“Ahman alach pa-row ka-MAW!”

“Not bad. Accent’s a bit weak,” said a mellow tenor voice behind Frank.

Frank turned to the slim, blond guy who held an elaborate sniper rifle. “That thing nearly killed me. Can’t the big guy just smite, or slay, or send you with a flaming...” Frank slapped the man’s rifle.

“Sword?” the young man said.

Frank scowled. “Why do I have to get the stink of sulfur on me while you sit a mile away?”

“I was only about 1300 meters away, and you have to do it, because you made the pact. And you begged for a way to escape it.”

Frank looked down at the fading pool of the Dark Man. “Killing twelve more of these things seems like a steep price to pay.” He wrinkled his nose as if smelling genuine sulfur. “On top of giving most of my fortune to charity,” he added.

“Perhaps you’ll think twice before making another unholy pact,” the other man replied, smiling.

Frank dearly wanted to smash the man’s infuriating, perfect teeth. “Or a holy one,” he replied.


Copyright © 2010 by Lewayne L. White

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