Death Co: 12 (If the Price is Right
12. If the Price is Right
As I have said previously, there are precious few ways in which death can be cheated. However, when carved on to a giant, stone wheel it appears as if there are quite a few more. I already had an idea of how I was going to do it, but The Devil was a volatile being and I had to play along to keep myself in the game. Cheating never happened without his approval, and I wasn’t leaving unless I followed his lead.
“Why don’t you come up here and give the wheel a spin [NAME REMOVED]?”
“I really wish you wouldn’t call me that.”
“Oh I know.” He said flashing me that same game show grin while motioning to the wheel at his side. “Come on now. This may be serious business, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun with it. Spin the wheel and reveal your options to your old pal.”
There goes that grin again. Never trust a used car salesman. For someone who had clearly let their body fall into disrepair, The Devil had a surprisingly white set of teeth. Each grin he sent my way made me feel as though I was in a toothpaste commercial (no doubt another rung of hell). Any moment I expected a young, blonde girl to pop out of a wall brandishing floss and a tube of whitening paste.
I had no options. The room’s door had inexplicably decided to take a break from being an exit, and instead turned into a solid wall. Reluctantly I walked up to the wheel and put my hand on its cold surface. Evil can surround objects like a haze, that goes doubly so for game show props. I can’t even imagine the levels of evil lurking inside Bob Barker’s musty, powder blue suit.
I spun the wheel and watched as it turned laboriously. Creaking and crunching filled the room. The device wasn’t used often, and much like the lesser aspects of the underworld had become decrepit. Just as I thought it would fall off it ground to a halt. “No whammy, no whammy, no whammy, STOP!” Said The Devil jovially. “Ooh, what an option. Intrigue, murder, more intrigue, and a dash more of murder!”
Just as I had expected, my option was replacement. There was a little known clause in the handbook of the nearly-dead that stated souls could be replaced. It was quite the process to do so, but one of the avenues to bypass the system was to get an executive order. Only two people could do it, God and The Devil. God was never too inclined to stop playing with ocean currents and mass extinctions long enough to give it a try, but The Devil was always willing to bargain.
“Looks like you got replacement. One of my favorite options. It’s going to save your little friend, but it’s also going to damn your soul to eternal hellfire!”
“I’ll take it.”
“What? Don’t you even want to see what’s in the showcase?”
“Well you’re no fun. Don’t worry; we’ll have plenty of time for that later, an eternity to be precise. Now let’s get down to brass tacks.” He snapped his fingers and a puff of smoke appeared. We both waited a few seconds and anger grew within him. “God Damnit, whoops, Lord’s name in vain, ah well. Phinneus! Where is the God Damn, oops did it again, contract?! I am really sorry [NAME DELETED], there was supposed to be a contract in my hand by the time the smoke cleared, but teleportation of even the smallest objects is quite difficult, and good help is hard to find these days.”
He stood, tapping his foot impatiently. I had never noticed before, but poking from the ends of his lime green Crocs were long black claws. They made an incessant pattering noise when he tapped them on the floor. “PHINNEUS!”
“Coming sir.” Was what I thought he said, but frankly the man’s jaw was half missing and his tongue drooped out like an unenthusiastic earth worm, speaking was no longer his forte. The man sidled over with an unpleasant limp and handed The Devil a scrap of paper and a pen.
“Thank you Phinneus. Now go strap yourself to the rack. Remember we don’t tolerate lapses in punctuality. It’s bad for our image and moral.”
“Ok sir.” Or more guttural noises that I chose to interpret.
“Now [NAME DELETED], I’ll send you back to Earth, at which point you will have twenty-four hours to find a replacement. If you lapse beyond this limit for even a second you will be returned here immediately and your precious boy thing will die. Am I understood?”
“Yes.” The terms were simple enough, it was carrying them out that was going to be the difficult part.
“Good. Now sign here, initial here, and put your social security number there.” He laughed maniacally and thrust the contract into my hand. As I grabbed for the pen he grabbed my hand, pricked it with one of his fingernails and spilled my musty blood onto the page. “On second thought, that will do just fine. Twenty-four hours [NAME DELETED], be seeing you soon…”