Death Co: 11 (No Prada)
11. No Prada
“Would you like a drink?”
“What?” My vision was blurry and the room around me spun wildly like a carousel.
“You’ve ventured all the way down here to see me, it only seems fitting to offer you a drink. We may be the end of the line, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have manners” It was as if no time had passed since I hit the marble floor. One moment I was there, the next I was in a burnished study, sitting in a chair that was far greener than any chair should be. “It’s nice isn’t it?” I didn’t know what to say. “The chair. Cost me a pretty penny to get it, but spared no expense.”
The man standing before me was ordinary. Like the desk in the hallway he was unimpressive. From beneath a Hawaiian shirt that was a size too small, and covered with far too many flowers protruded a round belly, covered lavishly in black hair. His skin wasn’t red, only tan. He sported a moustache that would have put hipsters to shame, and carried himself with the air of a genial drunkard. Florida is The Big Man’s blind spot, and it looked as though the devil himself might have spent quite a bit of time there.
“Oh yes, it’s quite, green.”
“How very observant of you. Glad to see they pick the best up there. Personally I miss Ug. He had a simple air about him. Nothing going in or out of that head that I couldn’t understand. You, you’ve got an air of mischief to you.” He walked towards me and instinctively I flinched away.
“Frightened easily and yet you made it all the way down here. Impressive, I’ll give you that. Well, it wouldn’t seem that you’re much for conversation, and if I wanted to talk to a brick I’d dig up a Cro-Magnon. Let’s get down to business. You’ve got something I want, and I’m keen to hear how you intend to deliver.”
“There’s a boy.”
“And you intend to save him from death and take him as your lover. A tale as old as time, but I don’t see how…”
“No. I hurt him, and now he’s going to die because of it.” He looked as though he might shed a tear.
“So noble, and yet you find yourself down here. You must have done something really bad. Oh come on now, tell us what it is!” Reverence turned to excitement at a hat drop. “No, wait, let me guess. You were a crooked cop, shot a patsy, and found out that the damage to his family was too much. The mother died shortly after. The boy started turning tricks, and now you want to give him a better life.”
“Well, I guess we can’t say that omnipotence runs in the family. You sure you don’t want that drink?”
“Yes. I really haven’t got much time.” The devil continued to walk toward the bar, and poured a drink of liquid that fell slower than molasses. The dark red color was the only thing that felt foreboding about the entire place. Seriously, lake of fire, budget rent-a-devil. What was the creator thinking? In reality he had been thinking that seven days to create the Earth was an awful long time, and creating is exhausting work (He wanted to play with the newly formed humans). The underworld was hastily slapped together from various pieces of rock and fire that were lying around after the big bang.
“Oh I know exactly how much time you’ve got. Would you like to know?”
“What I would like is help cheating death. If you can’t provide that I might as well throw myself in the lake of fire. They’ve noticed I’m gone by now, and the window to pull this off is ever shrinking.”
“Calm down, relax a little bit. Time isn’t passing nearly as fast as you think it is. What seems like an eternity down here is a few seconds to the puny pencil-pushers upstairs. He forgot to give us a temporal standing in the universe, and as a result we just float. It gives us time to plot, think things through. We may have a flare for the dramatic, but we are calculating with the risks we take. I only pick the battles I think I can win.”
“Speaking of which, you requisition agents have been a pain in my neck. That busload of missionaries took far too long to get down here. I had a whole carnival planned, and because of you the pony died. Why would you do that?”
“Frankly I never saw myself on the other end of this coin.”
“No one ever does, that what makes us so effective.” A wide grin split across his bland face, providing a brief glimpse at the evil within. “Look, I can help you, but we’ve got options to choose from.”
“What are those?”
“So glad you asked!” He said in perfect imitation of a game show host. “Oh Phineas? Bring out the wheel!” From behind a stone pillar stepped a large man, dressed from head to toe in tattered rags. His back had long since decayed, leaving only sinew and bone to hold him together. With him he carried an archaic wheel.
“Matilda, the music please.” From a loudspeaker in the ceiling the Jeopardy theme played.
“This truly is hell.”
“Now you’re starting to get it…”