(From the Vampire Cheats Death stories)
The abomination reached a withered fingertip to the screen and caressed the image reverently. The finger slid down the screen leaving chunks of dried skin, as dusty as Egyptian parchment. "This one. I want this one." The abomination pulled the ancient finger to its mouth and sighed, tasting. "Yes, that one."
The old man stood silent beside the ancient one. He examined the screen carefully. It was a girl, surely no more than 5 or 6 years old, shopping for t-shirts with her mother. She was blond, her hair tied back in 2 long pigtails that draped over the shoulders of her Mickey Mouse shirt. The old man watched in silence, the only light in the room coming from the security monitor. His stomach turned over, threatening to empty its contents. He breathed out, listening to the rattle in his lungs echo off the walls, the rattle the doctors told him he would die of. In the silence of the small room the rattle became the marching tune of a thousand drummer boys.
The thing next to him did not breathe.
The old man pointed to the little blonde girl on the screen. "This one. You’re sure. Remember, our agreement was one, no more." The creature ran its tongue over the elongated canines in a gesture of hunger, sandpaper polishing marble. It mocked a cheshire grin. It simply nodded its consent, and the old man felt his heart jump, knowing that he was now bound to their agreement. If he changed his mind now, the thing would be on him in an instant, the death he so feared falling on him in a whirlwind of gnashing teeth and torn flesh. He knew now that he would give it whatever it wanted. The was no price too high. The old man moved to the intercom and sighed. "Michael, I need you."
The door opened almost at once, Michael entering with his head hung down, averting his eyes from the thing that stood beside the old man. "Yes, sir?" Michael asked, looking up to his employers eyes and then diverting them back to the floor.
The old man pointed to the girl and her mother, both browsing t-shirts in one of the old man’s many shops. He paused the security monitor so that Michael could get a good look at who the creature wanted. "I need you to bring these 2 to my office immediately," he said motioning to the mother and daughter.
Michael looked at the screen and his face paled. "But, Sir, we are about to close. It is already dark, and I’m not sure what to tell them to get them…"
"Just tell them they’ve won something. Tell them they’re the millionth customer. I don’t care." The old man paused looking at the abomination, and the hellish smiled that crossed its face. "WE don’t care, just get them in my office now."
Michael ran a hand over his face and nodded to the old man, a shiver running down his spine when his eyes caught a glimpse of the abomination at his side. "Sir, you do not have to do this. We can just put you back to sleep, a cure…"
The abomination hissed and the old man stepped forward, driving a backhand across Michael’s face the arthritic bones in his hand snapping Michael’s head back with a vicious crack. "DO AS I SAY!" the old man wailed. Michael nodded, rubbing his cheek where the hand had caught him. He turned and exited the room immediately, setting himself down the same dark path. He ran a hand on the bald plate at the top of his head. He had lost most of his hair since his boss had returned.
The old man turned back to the ancient thing and let out a coughing fit, a small amount of blood foaming at his lips. "Back to sleep! BACK TO SLEEP!" the old man wailed. He fell to his knees in a coughing fit, unable to breathe. Time passed, an eternity it seemed, before he could calm his breathing and regain his feet. The other just watched, never speaking, never offering so much as a helping hand. "That’s what they want isn’t it?" the old man said, climbing to his feet. He wiped the blood from his moustache. "They all want to ruin my legacy, ruin my dream. But I won’t let it happen. I WON’T!"
The creature laughed. "So then, we have an accord? An agreement?" It stretched a hand towards him, terribly long fingers, like dead vines snaking, meant to entangle him.
The old man looked at the screen, and the image of the little girl frozen, eternally young. A picture of perfect immortality. "We have an accord," the old man mumbled, hanging his chin upon his shuddering chest. He ttok the creatures hand and shook it. Once, twice, three shakes. Bought, paid, and sealed.
The creature released his hand and grabbed his chin gently, lifting it to lock the old man with its hellish eyes. "Well done, Mr. Disney. To live forever has such a simple cost… wouldn’t you agree?" He looked at the screen as Michael opened the door and let someone in. He heard Michael close the door and a small voice say, "Hello?"
He was unable to watch.
Travis Hall is a Grad. Student at The University of Alabama. He has previously been published in: The Pebble Lake Review, The Writer’s Hood, Troublesome Creek, and Poetry.com.
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