Justify the Means (short story)

Some traders deal in stocks and bonds.  I trade lives and souls.  I buy low and sell high.  The problem for Matt is that his potential had just maxed out and I was here to collect, with intrest.

It didn’t help that I was already pissed off that my Louis Vuitton hand bag had a hole in it, and this asshole in front of me was responsible.  Okay, maybe it happened when I slugged him upside his head with it when I kidnapped him, but it still pissed me off.  No one likes me when I am pissed off.

Matt sat blindfolded, tied to the chair.  I placed my pistol at the base of his skull, making sure the hard steel bruised that tender part of his neck.

“One more time, where is the little girl?”

Matt growled and stained against the ropes.  I wasn’t expecting much from this conversation, to be honest, but I have my own demons and I needed to justify to them what I was about to do.

I pulled the trigger then spit on Matt’s remains.  “Now I own you,” I growled.  I scooped out what brains were still left in the body and painted a pentagram around the cooling corpse.  I then took out my hip flask and poured a drink offering into the vacated head cavity.  “Okay Belial, fetch me his soul.”  I set fire to the liquor and the blue flame turned deep purple before flaring out.

The body jerked twice then became still.  “Where is the girl?  Talk and I’ll let your soul go.”  The body twitched back and forth as it tried to resist what was happening.  “Belial, if you make him talk and his soul is yours.”  Demons loved collecting souls.  It was their version of Pokémon.

The body stopped spasming.  Flames leaped from the cranial cavity.  “How can you give away my soul?  That’s against God’s law.”  The voice originated from the reignited fire.

“Because when you have pals on both sides of the war you get to break the rules.”  I was beginning to lose my patience.  “One more time.  Where is the girl?”

“She is locked in my ex-wife’s dominatrix hideaway.  I knew the bitch would be in Europe for the next month so I had time.”

I shook my head and took a shot from the hip flask.  “Your whole life is one big fucked up mess, isn’t it?”

“I don’t have any life now.”

“You should thank me for that.”

“Go to hell, bitch!”

“I will, but I won’t be seeing you there.  Belial, he is yours.”

“But…”

The body self-immolated as the sound of Matt’s scream echoed in my head.  I took another hit from the flask and poured another shot onto the flaming body.  I should have brought some marshmallows with me.  Oh well, better luck next time.

I tucked away my flask and pulled out my cell phone.  “Janet, it’s Felicia.  She’s at the ex’s torture chamber.  Any idea where that is?”

 

Image: orig00.deviantart.net/839a/f/2015/021/2/5/belial_by_tentaclesandteeth-d8ew5ja.jpg

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Buzz Kill (a 100 word post)

Harry was half listening to his mandatory job training.  His current one was on working in a drug and alcohol free workplace.  Harry thought this was a total waste of time, then he realized he could use it as a writing prompt.  Harry began brainstorming what he could write about.  Should he try to write about an angel who was addicted to devil’s food cake?  How about a demon who was addicted to Mexican soap operas?  As the training droned on and on Harry knew one thing, he wasn’t going to even think about addiction.  The training killed his buzz.

Justice and Retribution (A Lost Hope Story)

The Man walked out of the mists, Retribution sheathed on his hip.  Lost Hope materialized from a gas lamp lump of light attempting to fight back the evening fog and never really making much progress.  The buildings here almost waved in the slight breeze that carried the smell of cheap liquor and even cheaper despair.

Tobias had been waiting here for the Man, leaning on his staff for strength.  He was always a bit spooked by the eyes of the Man that were just black and white, exactly how the Man saw the world.  Tobias wished he didn’t have to work with the Man, but he had no choice this time.

“Why did you summon me?” asked the Man.  His voice was a whisper, but carried with the force of a thrown sledgehammer.

“We have a killer here,” Tobias said.

The Man snarled.  “You called me for that?  Bah!”  The Man turned and began to walk back into the mists.

Tobias wanted so badly to just let him go.  He could let the Man walk off into myth and legend.  He would then tell the council he had tried.  But then the thoughts of the families and he couldn’t keep his voice silent.  “Six murders, all women and children,” he said.

The Man stopped in his tracks.  Without turning around he said, “And?”

“All of them blinded before having their left hand chopped off,” Tobias spit out.  Just speaking of the atrocities chilled Tobias to the bone.

The Man turned around and walked back silently to stand in front of Tobias.  Tobias stared the Man in his eyes, but refused to say more, wishing he was anywhere but here.

The Man finally blinked his weird eyes and drew Retribution out of its sheath.  The sword glowed with a blood red light.   The mists seemed to retreat from it, and Tobias wished he could join them, but he stood his ground.

“Retribution has been drawn.  It will not return to its sheath until the killer is dead,” stated the Man.  The Man didn’t wait for a response from Tobias and walked into town, looking at everything through the red glow of Retribution.

Tobias turned to watch the Man, but didn’t move to follow.  He helped bring the Man here, but he wasn’t going to stay and see what happened.  He hobbled into the mists using his staff and whistling, making sure anything from Hell that followed the Man knew he was there.  Maybe heaven would have mercy on his soul, but the deal was made with the devil and he didn’t want to be there when the bill came due.

 

The Man walked into town, Retribution sweeping back and forth.  No other people came out to witness the spectacle.  The Man walked the street alone until he came upon something that even his unseeing eyes widened in horror.  Six people were staked to a crude wooden fence, their left hands scattered on the ground in front of them.  Most were dead, but one boy still cried what little life he had inside out, one tear at a time.  That was when the first shot rang out.  The musket ball hit the Man in the shoulder spinning him around to face the next six shots that were fired from the rooftops of the adjacent buildings.  The Man staggered under the impact of the onslaught and Retribution almost slipped from his hand.  Another volley sounded out and the Man fell back onto the ground.  Retribution’s glow intensified as the Man gasped to breathe through lead riddled lungs.

A man wearing a law badge came out of the building across from the macabre fence.  “How does it feel now?” he asked.  The Man’s reply was swallowed by the blood competing with the air leaving his lungs.  Retribution continued to glow more brightly.  The lawman walked close, but made sure to stay just out of the Man’s reach.  “No one is above the law of man, especially not one of the Fallen,” said the lawman.

The Man lifted Retribution and pointed it at the lawman.  The lawman pulled out his six shooter and in rapid succession fired six more bullets into the Man.  Retribution fell back to the ground, but the Man still held onto the sword and kept on breathing.

“Gary, you need to use the boy before he dies,” a voice called out from behind the fence.  The Man turned his head to see a man wearing a priest’s collar cutting the boy away from the fence.  The boy fell face first to the ground with a sickening thud.

The lawman, Gary, moved around the Man and scooped up the boy.  “My God, Brent, don’t make the pour boy suffer more than he has to,” Gary said.

Brent pulled at his collar.  “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Gary.  You don’t want to be damned for eternity.”

“And this hasn’t done it already?” Gary asked as he dropped the boy nearly on top of Retribution.  The Man began to writhe in pain, but he still held Retribution, its glow now driving back not only the mists, but the gaslights as well.  The holes in his chest seemed to be closing in the blood red light.

“Sometimes the innocent must be sacrificed to kill a greater evil,” said Brent.  “And ridding creation of a Fallen is a greater honor.  The sacrificed will dance on his grave in paradise.”

The Man looked at Brent and growled in his whisper voice. “You will never see paradise.”

Brent began to weep blood.  He blinked back those tears and shouted, “Satan, get behind me!”  The Man propped himself up on the hand not holding Retribution.

The Man heard a metallic click and looked back just as Gary let loose with another six shots from his second gun.  That put the Man back on the ground, but Retribution was now almost humming power as it became blinding.

Gary leaned over the boy who was breathing his last few breaths.  “God will wipe away your tears.”  With that he reached over and grabbed the hand of the Man that held Retribution.  The lawman picked up the Man’s hand and raised it over the boy.  The Man screamed as the blade plunged down through the boy’s heart, pinning the boy’s corpse to the ground.  The sound of a thunderclap sounded and Retribution broke in half.  The Man stopped his screaming and closed his black and white eyes forever.

“We are saved!” yelled Brent.  “Praise the Lord!”

 

Tobias listened to the thunderclap as it reverberated off the distant hills. He wondered if Lost Hope was now saved, or damned to yet another hell.  No matter what, he wasn’t going to stay around to figure it out.  These were not his sheep anymore.  It was time to find a new shepherd.  He hobbled on, his staff Justice in his hand to help him on his way.

Outer Demons

The airstrikes were coming any minute now, but Francis couldn’t even think about anything but containing the magic building around his team.  His arms moved in lazy figure eights, drawing upon his image of the infinite.  His calculus professor always told him the math would come in handy.  The pressure pushing in on his bubble threatened at any point to burst his protection, unleashing hell knows what on his men.

“Bogey at seven o’clock!” yelled Maurice as he swung his AK47 in that direction, unleashing a tight volley.  Six of the other seven swung that direction, combining their firepower to release another bogey to meet whomever he prayed to.

Francis noted that this bogey had four arms and six legs.  The variety of demons was amazing.  It was like all the rejects from evolution had gone to hell, waiting to be released for a second chance to exact revenge on the human form that had won.

Francis looked at the only other person in his group who didn’t wield a conventional weapon.  Ariel held her sword in a two handed grip, glowing even though it was noon.  She kept her eyes scanning over a one-hundred eighty degree arc, but never moving a muscle other than the slight natural movement of breathing a bit heavily in the heat.  That movement almost bothered Francis more than the bogeys out there, but now was not a time to get metaphysical.  Where the hell was the other mage?

“Sir, we need to fall back.  The cavalry will be here in four minutes,” said Sanchez.

Francis knew he was right, but if Francis didn’t neutralize that enemy mage the jets didn’t stand a chance.  Time for a different tactic.  “Ariel, get ready, I’m going to fold the shield.”  Ariel gave the briefest of nods while her eyes continued to rove farther than seemed possible.

Sanchez purposely didn’t look Ariel’s way.  “What does that mean sir?” asked Sanchez.

“Get the men pointed in the direction of that last bogey.  We are going to have visitors.  Get ready to fall back,” Francis commanded.  He eased his shield, moving it into more of an American football shape.  The pushing he felt intensified and Francis purposely let it flutter for a second.  In that moment Francis’ world lost all color as the mage redoubled their efforts.  Francis fell to his knees, blood pouring out his nose, but he now knew where the bastard was.  He pointed just to the right of the dead bogey.  “There, about two clicks,” he said.

Arial unfurled her wings and launched at near supersonic speeds mere couple of feet above the ground.  Her wake shredded the remains of Francis’ shield.  Bogeys began pouring through the rifts that had been opened.  His troops began opening fire, maintaining their firing arcs while slowly moving back towards friendly lines.  Francis activated some of his magic reserves and boosted his physical stamina.  He rose to his feet and began back pedaling, not wanting to take his eyes off of where Ariel had flown.

“Why are they staying back?” yelled Maurice.  That snapped Francis back to the battle at hand.  None of the bogeys were advancing.  They still came out of the portals, but they just held their ground.  It was as if…

“Press forward!” yelled Francis and he began wielding lightning, mowing through the closest bogeys as he ran, tapping farther into his reserves.  He was going to pay for this later, if there was a later.

The bogeys reacted as one.  They must have been waiting for Francis to figure it out.  He just hoped he wasn’t too late.  More lightning flew from his fingertips and Francis could feel burning as his fingertips darkened.  His flesh might be too weak for this.  Francis felt his will begin to falter, the lightning lessened in intensity.

A grenade arced over Francis’ head and landed in the largest group of bogeys and the explosion sent most of them back to where they had come from.  Francis’ men ran past him, trying to send as many of the bogeys to hell as they could before it was their time to take that final step.

Sanchez got too close to one of the demons and recoiled.  He took a set of quills to his face from a porcupine looking bogey, dropping Sanchez to the ground in agony.  Sanchez’s face began to melt around the spines when Maurice put a bullet in his head to put Sanchez down before spraying the porcupine bogey, splattering it.

Francis dug deep and sent lightning arced over his men and into concentrated knots of bogeys.  Bullets and magic took their toll and finally the bogeys broke, running in any direction except at Francis’ group and the direction Ariel had flown.

Francis pointed a smoking finger where Ariel had flown.  “That way,” he said.  A loud rumble emanated from the sky.

Maurice pumped his fist.  “Here comes the cavalry,” he said.

Francis looked up and realized how wrong Maurice was as a star fell from the sky, crashing to the ground right where Ariel had gone.  “No!” screamed Francis.

“What?” asked Maurice.  Those were his last words as a sword blossomed from his chest.

Ariel slid Maurice’s body off her sword.  The rest of troops were frozen in fear and disbelief.  Francis sank to his knees.

Ariel smiled at Francis.  “I am free,” she said in her sing song voice.  Her voice tore at Francis’ soul like her flight had shredded his shield.

“I know,” Francis said.  “Just please make it quick.”

The rest of his squad finally snapped out of their surprise and started to open fire.  Ariel killed them all in a matter of seconds, looking no worse for wear.  “You shouldn’t have bound me,” she said.

Francis could feel drops of blood crying from his eyes.  “We needed something to help against the demons.  Your kind would have abandoned us to our extinction,” he said.

“So you resorted to slavery of the divine?” Ariel asked.  She slowly walked up to Francis, the sword pointed at his heart.

Francis looked to the sky and sent a flare into the sky with the last bit of his magic, pumping himself dry.  “The divine abandoned us.  You’re no better than the bogeys,” he said.

“I am better than a demon.  For example, you cannot kill me,” she said as she slowly sunk her sword into his chest.

“We’ll see about that,” Francis whispered as the air to ground missile exploded.