Monday, June 22, 2009

Daily Story 68: Rate of Exchange

The rock bounced off of thin air with a sound like a struck gong. Oblivious, Malich continued to clutch the massive flesh-bound tome and chant, blood from the sacrificed goats soaking the front of his shirt. Another rock struck nothing and rebounded, and James threw his slingshot down in frustration. "No good!" he yelled over the supernatural wind, digging through his Wilderness Scout backpack. Mary continued to push closer to Malich, crucifix trembling in her hand. She could feel a numb tingling in her toes as she slid her foot closer and closer. The tips of her sneakers began to smoke slightly, the smell of burnt rubber mixing with the blood and dust.

"I can't get closer!" Mary threw the crucifix - it passed the point where the rocks had stopped and hit Malich on the shoulder, but didn't interrupt his chant. "James! The crucifix went through!" She fell back and started checking her pockets for anything that had survived Malich's attack on the cathedral. Her retainer, her mother's cell phone, and a handful of change fell to the ground. She had given all of the relics back to Sister Agatha. James found a tiny cross at the bottom of his backpack, and launched it at Malich only to see it ricochet off into the trees. "I don't have anything holy!" His sternum was vibrating as if from a deep bass note. The air was rippling, warping, and his head felt like it was going to explode.

Mary was crying. They had tried so hard... in the stories the plucky kids won. They stopped the evil adults with the nefarious plots. She had nothing, no more ideas. Giving up on flanking Malich, she ran over to James. He shrugged sheepishly, apologetic. They really had done their best. She looked down to stop him from seeing her tears, and there, in the lip of his shoe, she saw a finger bone. The fight under the cathedral sprung into her mind, and she could see the tomb erupting just before Malich ran off with the book. She grabbed the bone, pressed it into James' hand. "I think it's from the saint's tomb! It's a relic!" His eyes went wide and immediately he loaded it into his slingshot. It was so lightweight, but...

The bone fragment hit Malich in the right eye, and there was a strange shattering noise. Malich dropped to the ground, hand to his face, and Mary ran forward as she reached for her stolen handcuffs. There was no resistance, no more shield. With only a few feet to go time seemed to slow down to a crawl and she saw Malich train his remaining eye on the book. One final syllable left his lips, and the world tore asunder; in an instant the entire universe dropped into an endless abyss of black flame, and then returned. The wind had stopped, the sun was shining, and the only difference was a striking man in a suit as dark as midnight.

"My lord Satan..." Malich said as he bowed, "I have summoned you away from your prison that you might once more walk the Earth."
Lucifer raised an eyebrow. "And what, exactly, were you hoping I would do while I'm here?"
Malich's jaw dropped. He stammered for a moment, and then pointed at Mary and James. "Crush the world, starting with them! They would have kept you imprisoned! I have freed you! I pledge my soul to you!"
The Prince of Darkness squeezed the bridge of his nose as if he had a sudden headache. "Are you seriously expecting me to try and dethrone the almighty himself? Are you that much of an idiot? I tried that, back when I was young and incredibly stupid. Here's a news flash for you: It didn't work. Never could have worked. God will always win, because he's God. The end. It was an arrogant, moronic, blindly selfish act and now I'm stuck running hell - which is a lot of work, let me tell you. Do you think pulling me away from that makes my day easier? I have a meeting with Jesus, he's helping me get things organized down there - and now I have to apologize to him and explain that I left him waiting because some jerk wanted me to vandalize the Earth for no particular reason. Seriously, think about things before you do them!"

Satan turned to Mary and James. "Are you two kids okay? Nothing broken or anything, right? Good," he said, not waiting for an answer, "I want you to call the authorities to deal with this douche and then go home and get some rest, I'm sure you've both had a really long day. And be good, I don't want to see you again. I have enough souls to worry about already."
Malich stood, throwing the magical tome at Lucifer's feet. "I have pledged my soul to you! You can't do this!"
"Pledged your soul to me? That's a hoot. Listen, kid, I'll tell you a secret. I've never, ever, purchased anyone's soul. Know why? First of all because I have no interest in making hell more crowded than it already is, but mainly because the kind of person that is willing to sell their soul is already headed there. Here's a deal for you. I've been working on reformation rather than torture, but if you so much as touch a hair on these kids' heads while you go peacefully to the police with them I will make you beg me to unmake your soul entirely which, by the way, I can't even do. Is that better? More like the kind of thing you thought I'd say? Good."

And just like that he was gone. The only sounds were a sparrow chirping in a nearby tree and Malich putting on his handcuffs.