Fiends Like Us

“No. I will not bind myself to you.”

“And yet that was what you sought to do to me, was it not?” The heat in his voice was a scalding, blistering wind on my skin. I closed my eyes and screwed up what passed for my courage.

“There’s no way I’m going to bind myself to a demon. There are fates worse than death and that’s definitely one of them.”

He stared, the reflective surfaces of his jetty eyes a shiny carapace.

“I won’t bind myself to you.” I repeated. I had to keep saying it, because there was a part of me that was very tempted, like being offered a steamy extra marital affaire after years of an indifferent marriage that had doused the fire from your belly.

He was silent and I realised we had lost the only chance we had of sorting the whole sorry mess. I looked hard at my boots as though the answer was written there and turned to leave while I still could.

“What else could you possibly give me that I might want?” The soft silken voice insinuated itself like a breath across my skin. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Of course, it would have to be something very special, unique evem, to make it worth my while. Something that I don’t already have. Now what could that be?”

The demon had known all along I would refuse and this was the thing that he really wanted. I was such a fool and a vain one at that, I even surprised myself sometimes.

“As you can see,” he indicated the broken mirror with a sweep of his hand, “I can cross any boundary I choose, but there is one problem. Like the rest of my kind, I cannot cover my tracks. My enemies can track me with ease, should they be foolish enough to do so and that can be unfortunate.”

I waited for the punchline, unwilling to indulge the demon in its desire to torment me.

“But what would allow me to do that Rose? Come on now, don’t you have the answer to this? No?” The moment stretched out and out and out into a series of little eternities. I knew that whatever he was about to suggest was going to be worse than binding myself to him. The punishment for my pride was his joy.

“Get on with it, will you. You may have eternity, but for us lesser beings time is short-”

I had no time to react, let alone defend myself. I was pitched out of my body into a grey twilight world where things scuttled just out of sight chittering, as I ran along a twisting path set in flat featureless countryside. Huge shadows moved across the landscape in a grey, lightless world and I knew something was coming for me: I just couldn’t see it yet. Nameless deformities writhed always just out of sight giving me a brief glimpse of a tail, or the mutated stump of a limb and I forced myself onwards in an effort to outrun whatever it was in pursuite.

“You’d better hurry if you’re to have a hope of outrunning it,” whispered the voice close to my ear, “it’s got your scent and it’s coming for you.”

I ran.

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