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He Listens

By Ezra_M All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Horror

He Listens

The man throws his head back, downing his third shot. He smacks the glass down onto the table and motions for the bartender. The older man hobbles over to him, leaning over the counter in a friendly manner. 'What'll it be this time?'

'Another one of, um,' he pauses for a moment, his hazy mind trying to remember what it was he just drank. He shrugs, deciding he doesn't really care, 'one of those.' He finishes, pointing to his glass. The bartender gives him a skeptical look; since he walked in a few hours ago he could swear this guy had tried every drink they served more than once. He doesn't complain though, the man will be the one to pay for it; in more ways than one.

'If you say so,' he says, pouring the guy another shot. 'Hard day?' He asks; the bar isn't particularly busy this evening, so he figures he may as well make small talk with he who is quickly becoming his most profitable customer. The man gives him a somber look, one that, even in his drunken state, makes it clear that his experience wasn't one that should be shared over drinks. 'Sorry buddy, didn't realise it was so serious.'

'I was supposed to be a dad.' The man mutters. The bartender, in his many years of experience with drunken lunatics, had seen many of grown men cry, but none had been burned into his memory the way the sight of this man was going be. He looks broken. 'How did this happen? I was going to teach him how to draw, take him to football games, I would've been the best dad! It's not right, I want my baby boy back!' He sobs, the bartender watches this, and listens to the man pour his heart out to him, helplessly. People often come into his bar with sob-stories, with various experiences they'd like to drink into their subconscious, but rarely anything this serious.

'Relax man, it'll be okay.' He says, rubbing the man's shaking arm. His words mean nothing, as he's aware, but it's the best he can do to console a man in such an un-consolable situation.

The man sits up abruptly and throws his head back, swallowing his final glass of alcohol. 'I'm going home.' He slurs, throwing his credit card down on the counter.

The bartender collects the card and swipes it through the machine. 'Would you like me to call you a cab?' He asks.

'I'm fine.' He states, taking his card back and stumbling out the door. The bartender considers saying something else, but figures the guy has enough on his plate.

The man puts his key in the ignition and the car springs to life. He knows he shouldn't be driving, but can't really bring himself to give a shit. What else does he have to lose? The car swerves slightly in a way that confuses his inebriated mind and he tries to get it back under control, now noticing how much his hands are shaking. His teeth begin to chatter also and he decides it's about time to pull over, preferring not to die during a panic-attack.

He sees a shadow approaching the car door, the lack of street lights in this part of town make it difficult for him to make out much about the silhouette, other than that it's obviously male. The figure taps on his window, he considers ignoring them but know that, if they're out in the dark this late, they're not just looking to make idle conversation. He winds the window down. 'Hey dude, my name's Micky. Sorry to bug you, but can I catch a ride? You seem to be going the right way and I'm sort of stranded.' Micky asks, giving the man an awkward, hopeful smile. He can see Micky's face properly now and is surprised to find that he's just a kid. He looks like he couldn't be much older than nineteen – sixteen at the youngest.

'Uh, sure, hop in. I'm Robert.' He stammers out, already slow mind still trying to process the situation.

'Thanks Rob.' The boy says happily as he climbs in next to him. 'Wow, it's warm in here. I really thought I was going to freeze to death before, thank you.' Micky gives him a big smile. Robert forces one back and starts the car up again, driving down the road and focusing what little brain power he has left on not accidentally killing his newly acquired passenger.

They drive in silence for a few minutes before Robert realises he doesn't know where to take this kid. They pull up at the lights. 'So, Micky, where do you need to go?' He glances over at him and is visibly startled to see and inverted pentagram tattooed on the teen's hand in dark, black ink. The boy just gives him another pleasant smile. He figures it's best not to ask, there's no point in upsetting such a nice kid over something as trivial as religion.

'Oh, anywhere is fine.'

Robert raises an eyebrow. 'Anywhere? You said before that you needed to go this way.'

Micky lets out an amused giggle. 'No, I said you were going the right way. I only need to go where you're going.'

Robert feels a shiver run up his spine. This is the last time he's picking up any hitch-hikers, he decides. He turns his head back to the road only to realise that it's not there anymore, only blackness. 'How much did I drink?' He mutters, squinting his eyes.

Micky suddenly bursts into a full-on fit of laughter, wrapping his arms around his abdomen and throwing his head back. Robert glares at him, not understanding what's funny and desperately wanting him to put the road back. 'I like you,' he announces through ragged breaths, 'I don't know if it's all the alcohol you drunk, or if it's just your personality, but I've never anybody react so chilled. It's hilarious!' He says, slapping Robert on the leg.

'What the fuck did you do to the road?!' He demands, slapping the boy's hand away.

'It'll be back soon,' Micky says, putting his hands up in mock surrender, 'that is, if you decide to make that choice.'

'What're you talking about?' By this point, Robert's sure this isn't just the alcohol's doing.

Micky grins inhumanly wide, showing off roughly 52 sharpened fangs, glistening under an indeterminable light source. The skin on either side of his temple begin to stretch under the weight of two grotesque growths, it then bursts, spraying the car's roof with blood as two goat's horns protrude from his skull. 'A bit stereotypical, I know, but you get the idea.'

'You're –you're the devil!' Robert makes no attempt to hide his horror as he shoves himself hard against the car door, mouth hanging wide open.

'Careful,' Micky giggles, 'you'll catch flies.'

'Why are you here? What do you want from me?!' He scrambles for the door handle, only for Micky to point out the windshield to remind of the abyss waiting for him outside.

'I'm here because you asked me to be. I don't want anything, it's about what you want and what I know you're willing to trade for it.' Micky says, leaning back in his chair casually.

'I don't know what you're talking about! Where are we?!' Robert continues to shout.

Micky sighs. 'This is where I do business, so do you want your son back or not?'

At this Robert pipes down, shocked. 'How do you know about him?' He whispers, almost inaudibly.

'Unlike the man upstairs,' he points at the roof, 'I listen. I listen to all you human's needs and desires, and if I sense that you're willing to pay the price, I draw up a contract. Just like I've done for you.' He reaches into a cheap-looking brown satchel and pulls out an envelope, handing it to Robert. After a moment of deliberation he takes it, deciding that any harm the monster across from him may choose to inflict likely won't come from mere paper. 'Read carefully, there are some things in there that will certainly effect your decision.'

Robert slowly opens the envelope and pulls out a folded white document, it isn't nearly as long as he'd expected it to be, considering it's regarding a deal with Satan – ruler of the underworld. He reads over it slowly, pausing in one particular passage. 'It says here that you're going to subtract thirty-four years from my son's lifespan.'

'Ah, yes. You see, to make this a fair deal I can't be trading a full life for half of one, so I have to take into account the number of years you've already wasted here and take them off of the life I give him.'

'Does this mean he'll live for as long as I have left?' Robert asks, still not sure of the circumstances.

'No, in the scenario he'd survived his birth there would have been a set number of years he was supposed to live, I'm subtracting it from that.' Micky gives him another pleasant smile, this one a little less reassuring than the last ones, his newly grown horns likely being a factor.

Robert nods slowly, starting to understand. A short life's better than none, he decides. 'So, if I agree to your terms, what'll happen to me?'

'It's very simple,' Micky grins, 'you'll die. After that, I'm not allowed to say. Sorry, but it's a rule.'

'Okay, I get it.' He pauses for a minute, hands shaking. 'Do you have a pen?'

'Splendid.' Micky exclaims, clapping his hands together. 'There should be one in the envelope.'

And sure enough, there was. He signs his name quick and messy, and has no doubts about his decision, but would be lying if he said he wasn't terrified.

'Good, good. Now that the deals official I'll send a message through to my men telling them to "wake up" the infant. I hope he enjoys his few weeks of life, because that's all he's getting.'

'What?!' Robert asks, horrified.

'Oh, didn't I tell you? Your son would've died in a car accident a few weeks after his thirty-forth birthday.'

'No! This isn't fair!' Robert screeches, as he feels his vision fading. His chest starts to hurt and he can feels his limbs becoming slack.

'I'm the devil, remember? I always get the better end of a deal. See you in hell, sucker.' The overly cheery voice fades to nothing as Robert's world turns to black.

A silent. Dark. Never ending stream of black.

And what happens after that you'll have to see for yourself.

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