This blog post was created for Chuck Wendig’s FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: PICK AN OPENING SENTENCE AND GO. The idea is to write a story starting with an opening sentence someone else provided the week prior.
“Lucifer was right, you are a monumental douche.”
Looking down at the corpse addressing him, the middle-aged executive cleared his throat and looked on expectantly. The corpse was not deterred.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time, and this entire situation has to be one of the lamest I’ve ever encountered.”
The executive’s face flushed a deep crimson, and he boisterously sputtered his response.
“Prh-ba-pa-ah! This company and my entire future are on the line here!”
Looking up at man standing above him through dead, glassy eyes; the demon shook the corpse’s head and clucked its tongue.
“First of all, that’s only partially true. Sure the company’s future is on the line, and it might end up being devolved. However-”
“Companies are people too.” the executive quickly interjected. The corpse sat there quietly for several moment before responding.
“I don’t even… Anyway, its not like your life would be over-”
“I’d be ruined-”
“You would not. You have several million dollars in off-shore bank accounts and access to a personal jet. If you wanted, you could have easily skipped town and live out the rest of your days on a beach in some tropical country.”
“I don’t like the sun. I burn to easily. And what about my family?”
The corpse let out a quite, rattling breath. “Just wait till you get to Hell.”
“You don’t have any family.”
“Yes I do.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yes I do.”
“No. You. Don’t.”
“Yes. I. DO!”
The executive punctuated the exchange by slamming his fist on the heavy oaken desk in front of them. The corpse let out another raspy sigh.
“No… No you don’t. You never married-”
“I never found the right woman.”
“Because you’re gay.”
“Phi-pha, haum!” The executive loudly vocalized a serious of nonsense words, before clearing his throat and replying. “I-I most certainly am not.”
The demon swiveled the leather and oak office chair around to face the man. The corpse’s dead, glassy eyes stared up vacantly into his.
“You can lie to yourself all you want. I’ve seen your soul.”
The executive didn’t reply, but did clear his throat again.
“So no wife, no children-”
“That I know of.”
“You don’t have any children.”
The executive’s face darkened slightly.
“What about my brother John?”
“Four years ago. Mountain climbing accident. You didn’t attend his funeral.”
“What? No. I’d have known if he died. My parents or one of my sisters-”
“They’re all dead.”
The executive’s face quickly drained of all its color.
“Your father died of a heart attack eight years ago. Your mother died of a broken heart one year to the day later. Both your sisters attempted to reach you about your parents’ deaths, both times, but you ignored their calls, letters, emails, and even in-person visits.
In fact, your sisters died trying to be with you, oh, what six years ago now. It was Christmas time and they had driven to northern Alberta to see you. You were too busy with work, so they left and their car broke down in the middle of now where, in the middle of the night. They froze to death.”
The man didn’t respond and the corpse snickered.
“Anyway, setting aside the fact that-”
“What about friends?”
The corpse make a choking sound, and coughed up tiny globules of spittle and blood.
“What about friends?”
The man’s eyes narrowed, and is brow furrowed. Little beads of sweat had started to appear on it.
“What about my friends? I couldn’t leave my friends.”
A loud, rattling howl poured forth from the corpse.
“You don’t have any friends. No one likes you.”
“Holly’s your secretary. You pay her salary, poorly I might add. She puts up with misogynistic humor and sexual harassment slash assault because she desperately needs the little you pay her and the rather pathetic health insurance you provide so that her husband can get treated for his leukemia.”
As the executive opened his mouth, the demon cut him off before he could make a sound.
“Smacking and grabbing her ass and breasts is considered assault. It’s unwanted physical-sexual contact. You were her boss and she didn’t want to get fired. Yes, you are that guy. No, it doesn’t matter that you like guys.”
The demon doesn’t pause. It just kept on talking; addressing anyone the executive might have viewed as a friend.
“Raul has been looking for ways to get you out of the picture for months. He wants to run the company himself. Your neighbors are just being polite when they invite you to things. They hate when you actually come over for parties and the like. Paul thinks you’re human filth. But he’s your lawyer. You pay him to obfuscate the truth, and he’s really good at his job. And Jehovah’s Witnesses will talk to anyone. ”
Mouth agape, the man just stood there in silence.
“Anyway, Mr. Douchee, the real kicker is, to me at least, the fact that you could easily-” The demon stopped for a second and tilted the corpse’s head down to gaze at the oozing bullet hole in its chest. “Or, rather, you could have easily made all your problems go away without damning yourself to Hell.”
The executives head jerked back like it had just been hit with a Mack truck.
The demon cocked the corpse’s head to the side and forced a thin grin across its face.
“Well, had you not killed your tax account to summon me up from Hell, he would have told you that you have basically three options. One, you could just pay your fine and back taxes – because you, you know, actually have the money. Two, you could negotiate with the IRS and pay a reduced fine and taxes because, well, they prefer to get some money than none, and they tend to be worried about future compliance. Or, three, he would have been willing to cook the books for you, for a price. He was pretty bent.”
Stumbling backward, the executive fell back into the bookshelf that made up the back wall of the room.
“Won’t help you now.”
Swallowing hard before continuing, the executive looked deep into the vacant eyes of the dead man before him.
“So, c-can you make this all go away?”
Nodding the the corpse’s head, the demon replied, “Can.”
“Ok. So, what’s our next step.”
The corpse was still smiling.
“Oh, there is no next step for us. I’ll be taking this body out for some fun when this is over. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up and about in the world.”
The executive’s eyes flew open wide. Lunging forward, he grabbed the dead man’s blood soaked shirt and shook the corpse violently. In response, the demon forced out a raspy laugh. Undaunted, the man spoke over the noise.
“What do you mean no us? I summoned you up from Hell to fix this mess. I killed a man to get you here. You have to help me. You have too.”
After violently shaking the cackling dead body around for several minutes, the executive eventually wore himself down. Letting go of the corpse, the man fell back against the bookshelf again, and slid down to sit on the floor.
“You have to help me.” he muttered, staring at the corpse.
The corpse stared back.
“I don’t have to do anything. You have nothing to bargain with – and no way to coerce me into anything.”
Leaning the body forward, the demon whispered into the executive’s ear.
“I’ll let you in on a secret. Those rituals you found for summoning demons – they work. For summoning demons. Problem is, in order to perform those rituals, you have to commit sins so dark that your soul is already damned to Hell. So, the minute you killed Luther here,” the demon stated pointing at the body it was manipulating, “you had already handed us your most valuable asset. Most veteran demon summoners know this though. That’s why they normally do all the binding rituals. Because a trapped demon will barter for its freedom. But you were in a hurry. You didn’t bother reading anything about those, did you? So, I’m free to go whenever you cease to be amusing.”
A lump grew in the executive’s throat and his shoulders drooped. Taking a deep breath, he asked, “Are you going to kill me, then?”
The demon shook the corpse’s head. “No, I have no good reason to. But you’re now facing murder charges-”
“Wait, no. Not if you go walk about, like you said you were going to.”
“When. This. Is. Over. I can play dead for a bit, if need be. And so can you. You have two choices. You can either turn yourself in to the authorities, face prison, death, and eventual eternity in Hell; or you can just skip everything else and go strait to the eternity in Hell…”
The demon’s words trailed off, and the corpse’s vacant gaze fell down upon the revolver in the executive’s hand. The executive didn’t waste a single second. He lifted the gun to his temple; pressed the cold, hard barrel against his soft, warm flesh; and pulled the trigger.
Slamming the door behind it, the demon shuffled the dead body out of the tax accountant’s office and onto the rain slicked sidewalk. Almost immediately, the corpse collied into someone.
“Jesus Christ!” the demon exclaimed.
“Watch your language.” the man replied.
“I’m sorry, but it is your name.”
“It’s not just what you say, but how and why you say it.” Jesus stared at the demon for a long moment before continuing. “You lied in there. I could have saved him.”
The demon shrugged. “And? I’m a demon. I lie. It’s what I do. It doesn’t make me happy, but it’s my job. I’m not human. It’s not like I have free will. I have to do what He wills me to do. If you don’t like it, why don’t you talk to your Dad and get Him to change it.”
“Lucifer was right, you are a monumental douche.”
I apologize if quality of this week’s fiction is deficient. Some real life stuff came up during my regularly scheduled writing time. As a result, my work was a little rushed and I didn’t have a chance to have anyone give it a read for errors and content. I also didn’t have a chance to do my normal amount of research and world building.