Body and Soul (part 16)  

ojos_que_no_ven 33F
3 posts
7/20/2006 6:52 am
Body and Soul (part 16)

He raised the glass unsteadily to his lips and wondered how his life could have turned to shit. His business was effectively finished, the fines would break him. Simon noticed his glass was empty again, he couldn't even remember drinking it. He staggered over to the bar and bought a double whiskey.

He had spent most of the morning checking the center. Someone had let rats loose in the basement. The sanitation officials were very displeased by what they saw as an unchecked vermin problem. After that he had sent the staff home and retreated to the nearest bar.

He stumbled on his way back to his seat and only avoided spilling his drink when he was steadied by a tall man. "Thanks," he said in a slurred voice to the man.

"Not at all," the man replied in a surprisingly cultured English accent. "Are you sure you are all right?" He asked.

"No, I'm not. I've just lost everything." he proceeded to spill his entire story to the man he couldn't even see properly.

The man seemed perfectly content to listen to the rambling story and he didn't move or speak until Simon had finished.

The man shook his head sadly. "You seemed to have hit a really bad patch of bad luck. However, I can help you."

"How, can you just wave your hand and make all the fines disappear?"

"In a way, yes."

Simon laughed out loud. When he had recovered enough to look at the man again he saw no amusement on the man's face. "You're serious aren't you?"

"I very rarely make jokes."

"What do you want?" Simon was half convinced the man was some kind of underworld boss looking to take over his centers.

"Your soul."

Simon looked at him and then laughed again. "You had me going there for a minute."

"I am serious." He picked up an empty bottle and held it above the table. He took his hand away and the bottle just sat there floating in mid air.

Simon reached up and touched the bottle. It seemed to be real. He ran his hands around it trying to find the device that was keeping it a foot above the table. Nothing. He couldn't get it to move at all. By now Simon was stone cold sober, he stood up and pulled the bottle with all his strength but still it didn't budge. "It's some sort of trick. It has to be."

The man simply reached up and touched the bottle and it started to writhe. Simon let go of it and watched as it slowly dropped to the table melting as it went. When it reached the table it turned into a miniature green dragon. Seemingly made of glass it could and did move about. Simon reached down and ran a finger down its back, definitely still made of glass, he thought. How can it move?

The dragon didn't like the attention and turned around and breathed fire at Simon's finger. "OWW!" He put his singed finger in his mouth. He looked at the man on the opposite side of the table. "Who are you?" Asked Simon after removing his finger.

"I have many names. I prefer Lucifer."

"The Devil? That's not possible. You don't exist." Simon's protest seemed weak even to him. He hadn't drunk enough to start seeing miniature dragons yet there it was. It was presently helping itself to the contents of the ashtray. "What are you offering?"

"Guaranteed good health for life and more money than you'll ever need. In return I get your soul upon your death."

Simon thought about it. All his life he had wanted to be rich and in the last couple of years he had managed it. He couldn't bare to lose it all. But if the devil existed then so did God. Could he really trade fifty years of pleasure for an eternity in hell?

The devil could see the uncertainty in Simon's eyes. He was losing. Simon was nowhere near desperate enough to take his offer. But he knew he had to move now before Dan Sandford consolidated his hold on him.

Simon shook his head. "Look, thanks for the offer and everything, but no deal."

Before Lucifer could reply the door to the bar crashed open and a figure ran in. "Oh hell. It's my wife." said Simon.

She didn't seem angry, just very concerned. "Simon, thank God I found you. I heard what happened at the center. I..." She stopped as she saw the figure seated across from Simon. "You stay away from Simon. You hear me!"

"I was just enjoying a drink with your husband." Behind his benign smile his mind was working. He could turn this to his advantage.

Simon frowned. "Wait a minute, Alison. You've met this man before?"

"Yeah, if I told you who he was you wouldn't believe me. Just take my word for it, he's trouble. Now, come on. Let's get out of here!"

Simon said. "He's the devil. He told me." He watched Alison's face drop in horror. "You knew who he was, didn't you Alison?"

"N-no." Dan replied, failing to sound convincing.

"Do you know how she knows who I am?" Said the devil suddenly. "I'll tell you. Several days ago your wife died. A brain haemorrhage, I believe."

Dan took Simon's hand and tried to pull him away. "He's lying. COME ON!"

But Simon stopped and looked at the devil. "What are you talking about?"

The devil tickled the miniature dragon and then said. "Heaven knew she would die, but they did nothing to save her. But they decided to trick you by placing another soul in your wife's body."

"Nooo." Moaned Simon quietly. But his mind was slotting the pieces of the puzzle together. It explained why Alison had suddenly started acting so oddly. Why she had gone from totally disinterested in saving their marriage to desperate. She was still tugging at his arm, urging him to leave with her now. "If this isn't my wife who is she?"

"Observe." Said the Devil and gestured at Dan. Dan felt nothing but a glowing ball was appearing above his head. In it the distinct image of a man's face appeared. Dan's old face.

Simon was visibly rocked. A man?!

Dan tugged on Simon's arm again cursing his body for having a fraction of the strength of his old one. "He's lying. Please! get away from him!"

Without warning Simon whirled around and gripped Dan's shoulders in his powerful hands. "Who the hell are you?!!" He yelled in Dan's frightened face.

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