The Deal: A Cold Night In New York Part 5

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


   Suddenly the hot lead was racing back towards its point of origin even faster than it had come towards me. Argatol let out a gargled scream as the bullet smashed through his right hand, I could see a couple of his fingers float through the air and land somewhere near the doors.
   I had no idea how it could have happened but I was not letting the situation slip by, and as soon as I heard my gun clatter to the floor I was dropping to my knees soon after it.
A large chunk of my right cheek hung loosely from my face like a curtain hanging on by only one hook, and I could feel the cool air circulating the room brushing against my teeth. I reached out with both hands, well one hand and a fist, trying to locate the missing weapon.
   Eventually after a few seconds of searching I was able to find the cold butt of the gun and clasp it tight in my grip. Now I really did have the upper hand and it was time to bring this deal to a close.
   Well, that had been the plan until I heard Argatol climbing out of the bed. By the time I was in a position to get to my feet I felt something hard hit me on the back of the head, and then the beeping from the heart monitor stopped.
   The world swam before my eyes as the force of the blow knocked me further down on to the floor. While I was trying to regain clear sight I was vaguely aware of Argatol rushing towards the rooms’ only exit, blood gushing from the stump of his hand.
   Slowly, far more slowly than I would have liked, I tried to get back up and to my feet. It took a few moments and I had to use the metal footer of the bed to steady myself, but I eventually got there and despite the incessant ticking of that inner clock, I was somehow mildly pleased to see that I had managed to retain the small calibre golden bullet which was turning out to be the most essential thing I needed.
   The doors leading in and out of the room where swinging rapidly on their hinges which meant Argatol already had a head start on me. But as I found sure footing once again I charged after him out in to the hallway.
   Although I wasn’t looking for it, I did note that the body of the guard had been cleared out of the way, probably by the hospital technicians no doubt. There was no police or other signs of authority trying to figure out what had happened to the poor hulk, but I suspected that my employer had something to do with that.
   What hadn’t been cleared out was the pool of blood left behind by the corpse and I could see the stark red prints of bare feet leading through it and round the corner. The wanted demon was making his way for the outside world.
   Mustering all the energy I had left, I ran in the same direction, secretly hoping that the magic bullet in my hand would be able to give me that extra boost. Unfortunately it did not give me super-human speed, but I was able to make good enough time that when I rounded the corner I could see the old dragon just a few feet away from the receptionist area.
   Another few feet beyond that lay the entrance to the hospital and freedom into the world that would make a mockery of me if I even dared to recant what had happened to me that night.
   Desperation began to creep in again as I continued to give chase. There was simply no way I was going to catch Argatol unless some god like creature was able to magic up a pair of rockets strapped to my shoes, which by the way where not designed to be chasing demons with.
   Then an idea popped into my head and I glanced down at the hand holding the bullet. It was literally a long shot, but since I was now officially out of options it seemed perfectly viable considering everything else that had happened.
   Argotal was just a foot or less away from the corridor entrance which would give way to the waiting area and the doors leading to the ambulance bay and his freedom.
   Now was the only chance I had.
   As small rivulets of sweat cascaded down my forehead and dripped from my chin, I raised my right arm, as if I was going to pitch a baseball. With every ounce of strength I could find, I threw the bullet at the running demon.
   To my surprise the bullet raced through the air at lightning speed, just as fast as if it had been fired from any gun. I prayed my aim was good enough to at least slow the harbinger of death from reaching the ambulance bay. How I was going to stop him if I couldn’t regain the bullet was something I would have to deal with as it happened.
   Argatol let out and enraged scream as the bullet thumped into the back of his head. Even though the beads of sweat dripping into my eyes made my vision blurred, I could see blood and bone fragments splatter in all directions.
   The sheer velocity of the bullet had merged with the running velocity of the demon which meant Argatol was still moving forward even though I suspected it was not out of his own free will.
   I heard the homeless guy sitting three rows back in the waiting area cry out in alarm as Argatol crashed head long into him and before they both went sprawling to the floor.
   Breathless I slowed my pace to a quick walk. I glanced over at the reception desk expecting to see the old nurse cowering in fear, but to my surprise she was still sitting there, small specks of bright red blood dashed across her brilliant white uniform.
   There was no time to wonder why she hadn’t reacted to the whole incident, my one and only thought was making sure that I had finally got my target.
   When I cautiously reached the fallen man and demon, I noticed that the old homeless guy had been knocked out cold, a brand new bruise beginning to show on top of his head.
Mancini, or Argatol as he was really known, showed no signs of breathing at all. But if he was a creature of the undead then that didn’t really count for much. I was going to have to double check.
   Remaining cautious I reached down, grabbed the shoulder of the wrinkled and abused body the demon had been using as a host, and slowly pulled him over so he was laying on his back.
The bullet had really done a number on him. Where his pompous and arrogant face had once been was nothing more than a gaping black hole from which the inner matter of his skull continued to ooze out into the waiting area.
   Next to him lay the small piece of shaped gold which had caused all the damage. After realizing just how powerful it was, I quickly scooped it up and stuck it in to my pocket.      Somewhere in the back of mind there was a small voice of reason which suggested that I should maintain ownership of it until a later date when it could become useful again.
   As I was starting to straighten myself up again, my attention was still on the gaping wound where old Mancini’s face had been when I felt an ice cold blast sweep through the waiting area.
   Followed by the wind came a very unsettling sensation of time slowing down to a full stop. It was as if the universe had decided to play dead and everything around me was suddenly no more real than a dream a child may have.
   ‘You’re ten seconds late, Samuel.’
   I turned towards the direction of the voice and saw Satan sitting in the exact same spot where the old nurse had been only a few moments ago. He was still draped in his fine white suit with black shirt and crimson red tie.
   ‘Well, it is my first time hunting a demon.’ I said, pointing down at the fallen Argatol.
   As my gaze followed the path of my own finger I was rather stunned to watch as the dead demons body began to turn to ash and blow away in an unseen and unfelt wind.
   Then just to compound my astonishment I turned to watch the dark one walk through the solid, Formica topped reception desk, like it was made of nothing but the same air which I breathed.
   ‘If you had been ten minutes late then that would be a problem we would have to resolve, ten seconds, on the other hand, is not something I would get upset about.’ His voice was calm, but there was something there, woven between the words he spoke like an unseen thread holding them together.
   Was it anger? Rage? Disappointment? I wasn’t sure, but there was definitely something his horny dark one was not happy about. Maybe it was the fact that I had just killed his one-time best friend.
   ‘Does the deal still stand?’ I was hesitant to ask, but figured there was no point in beating around the bush.
   ‘Only if you accept the amendments I have chosen to make to it.’ The tone of his voice suggested that there would be no bartering but I found myself very curious as to what his changes to the deal would be.
   ‘Well, you’ve got me by the balls. What amendments do you have in mind?’
   ‘You managed to kill a demon whose only competitor to the throne of hell is me. Do you realize the gravity of that Samuel?’
   I must say that after all the chaos of the night I was finding it hard to believe in anything other than self-preservation. And all things being said and done, I knew fine well that the devil was not the kind of guy you took to be one hundred percent honest. For every truth he told there was probably ninety percent lie to it, and so I decided to humour him.
   ‘I’d like to stay out of hell for as long as possible, so if you think I’d try and take your throne you can forget it. I’m not that dumb.’
   ‘Oh I know just how smart you are Samuel. And that is why I am still willing to grant you eternal life, but only on the condition that you remain loyal to me. If I require you to perform a certain task for me then I expected you to do it without hesitation or I will strip you of everything and feed your soul to the bottom feeders of hell.’
   It sounded very much like Satan wanted me to be his bitch, and on the thought of facing countless years in untold agony, I decided it was best that I played the part. At least until there was a way to get away from him.
   ‘Okay, and what about Lisa?’ This was the most important aspect of the deal to me. By anyone’s standards I was scum. I took life in exchange for money, but Lisa had been pure, at least in the way that a brutally hedonistic world could breed such a woman. ‘You said as part of the original deal you would grant her passage to heaven.’
   ‘I know exactly what I said Samuel, but you where ten seconds late. Any other soul who dared to waste that much of my time would be in the slaughter rooms right now…However, to maintain some semblance of respect I will grant her asylum from the torture she endures, but she will not go to heaven Samuel. Not until I’m certain of your loyalty to me.’
   It actually came as no surprise that he would backtrack on his deal. In-fact, to be honest, I was pretty sure the whole deal thing had been nothing but a clever rouse to get me to do what he wanted in the first place. My only consolation in the whole thing was that he was at least going to grant her asylum away from the pain and anguish she was suffering which raised another question
   ‘Why is Lisa in Hell?’



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