Prologue: The Deal
I stepped out of the car and told my ever reliable servant Steven that I wouldn’t be long. After all, I’ve been in the business for almost 150 years. Ah negotiations with the dearly departed, it does gets old after the first hundred or so times. But still, a man - or demon in my case - has to make a living somehow.
I entered the old Robinson medical building through the front gate. I still remember when the hospital used to be the forefront of modern technology, housing the brightest and best physicians from around the globe, but after the suspected “suicide” of a particularly high profile patient, and the following incidents, the place is all but abandoned. The medical equipment has long been removed, and all that’s left of its former glory are rusted bed frames and broken windows. Alas, time wasn’t kind to this particular building.
I strolled towards the heart of the place, the wards, and whistled tunelessly as I went, enjoying the nice evening breeze that flowed through the cracked windows and rusted flood boards. It was a beautiful night out. Eventually I got to room 407, and from the swirling mass of negative energy I knew immediately that I’ve found the right location. I casually walked in, and took a seat on the rusted bed frame.
Right then, on to business.
“Great place, eh?” I said to no one in particular, “But it needs a change of décor.”
I wasn’t kidding, the place looked like an utter mess. There were garbage scattered everywhere, no doubt left by vagrants or hippies, and the various stains on the ground made the place seem like a set from a horror movie. An apt location for an actual spirit, if not a tad cliché.
As if in response to my earlier comment, the chaotic energy condensed into a blob not two feet in front of me. I felt the temperature in the room drop 10 degrees, and with it came a feeling of dread. The bed I was sitting on started to vibrate and shake, the door slammed shut behind me and an eerie rasp filled the room.
“Cut the theatrics, please.” I said with a sigh, “I don’t have all night.”
The energy blob solidified into a vaguely humanoid shape, and finally materializing into the guise of a man. The spectre was dressed in an old fashioned hospital gown, with impossibly spindly limbs and a hollow, elongated face. He had long, wispy hair, the rest of his features were all but impossible to make out. His face could have been forgettable if not for the two solid black holes that took the place of his eyes. An ugly sight to say the least.
He (or an even uglier she) hovered towards me, getting so close that I could almost imagine the smell of his breath, if he had one. He opened his gaping maw, showing a neat set of needle sharp teeth, and a horrible screeching sound came forth. The Voice of the Dead, always a pleasure.
“Slightly better,” I said, inching back a little, “But you must work on your people skills.”
“Get out!” it rasped, before attempting to murder me with its long, pointy claws.
I sighed again. They always chose the hard way. I extended a hand outwards, willing the tattoos on my arms to flare up. Ancient power engulfed my arms, my torso and finally my entire body. I felt skin peel off, bones break and organs disintegrate, before the fragile human form I wore finally broke off. Hell fire erupted beneath my feet, ruining another pair of perfectly good pants, and I felt the old, familiar power course through my veins.
The spectre’s claws bounced harmlessly off my skin, and noticing the futility of his attack, it wisely backed off.
“Servant of Hell…” it said in that same dead voice.
“Former servant, didn’t get enough benefits with the last boss.” I corrected, “Only work for myself now. But never mind that; back to business. I need you to do something for me.”
“What do you want, Demon?”
“Since you, my friend, are still bound this world I can assume that you have a certain unfinished business to attend to. No doubt revenge and what not. I simply want to help. I can free you from this prison.”
“Whoever said that there’ll be a price?” I said with a sly smile, “I’m doing this from the goodness of my heart.”
“You fool no one.”
“No sense of humour, eh?.” I answered, feigning exasperation, “But you’re right. Due to some… unfortunate circumstances I’m stuck in the Human world, and as such I need a means of funding.”
“You seek… money?” it said, before producing a ear shattering shriek that I could only imagine as laughter, “A Demon seeking money? How the mighty have fallen.”
“It’s a sad state I’m in, I know, but it’s a necessity.”
It laughed again. Ugh, dreadful.
“What I propose is simple.” I continued before my eardrums exploded for its laughter, “I free you from your cage, you can have your revenge on the Robinson family for what they’ve done to you - no doubt in a particularly gruesome manor, and all I want in return is your cooperation. No hidden fees, and you even get to keep your soul. It’s simple, both sides win.”
I explained the plans to the spectre and what I needed him to do. Before long he agreed to the conditions, and with that out of the way I produced a business card from my now ruined suit and gave it to the thing.
“You understand what you must do, yes?”
“It shall be done.”
“Good, now if you’ll sign the contract…” I said, producing an old, black parchment. The spectre sighed without hesitation, and with the last pen stroke I felt our two souls bind together, sealing the deal.
I nodded, and extended my senses. I saw the structure of the barrier preventing my good friend the spectre from leaving, and focused on a crack in its design. I willed power between the crack, forcing it apart, and with a final mental nudge the whole structure fell. As soon as the last particles of energy dispersed, the spectre vanished into the night.
“Well,” I said to myself, donning my human guise once more, “another job well done.”
Steven greeted me as I left the hospital, producing a new jacket to replace my burnt one.
“Did everything go as planned, sir?” he asked.
“Expect to hear a call from the Robinson family within the week.”