Nope, it wasn’t just me. The pewter slipped through my fingers and fell, gonging off the floor and spraying the last of my Old Gil-galad Artisanal #7 across a pair of filthy bowling shoes. The air thickened with screams and the scent of brimstone boiled up as the demon materialized before me, striking a theatrical pose in the reddish light. “Nice place ya got here.” The demon’s voice was smooth and smoky, like a long drag on a fine cigar with a chaser of Precambrian scotch. “Can I have a minute of your time?”
That fucking elf rotgut sat in my belly like a seaslug, weeping neurotoxic slime. “Uh, actually no. Gotta split before noon– geas and all that. You know how it is.” Which was the wrong thing to say to a demon, of course. They rebelled and got consigned to Hell, while the fair folk – well, they didn’t drink the Lucifer kool-aid but you didn’t hear ‘em singing hosannas, if you know what I mean. So they fell too, just not as far.
The demon’s eyes, already livid yellow and more helter-skelter than a bucket of Charlie Manson’s brains spiked with sweet chili sauce, writhed with rebel-angel wrath for a split second but its ruddy face remained smooth. “Actually, I’ve slowed down time for you and I – the red light, you understand. Redshifting and that.” The hell-dweller waved it all off, like changing universal constants was something it learned to do about the time it learned to stop shitting in its pants, didn’t everyone? “So at this rate we can talk for an hour before pushing the limits on your little oath-problem.”
I looked around and it was true, Enemy Mine was pushing his face into the fishbowl, bobbing for guppies or some shit, a furious bubble-cascade frozen in place, shooting up from his glorious nostrils. Man, that nose of his. I returned my attention to the demon, who covered up a mock-yawn with a taloned simulacrum of a gentleman’s hand. “Okay, so. Whaddaya want?”
The demon smiled, exposing a triple-row of gleaming enamel shark-teeth. An indivdual of lesser fortitude might have quailed at the sight of all that serrated, meat-slashing dentition. Not I. Because I am a fucking ogre, and I’m not scared of anything except having my heart explode. And I have a pretty respectable set of chompers myself, each bronze tooth cast an aeon and a day ago by Nin-Agal in Sippar-Amnanum to microcubit specifications. How I came to inherit them is another story entirely. “Just to talk for a bit, my not-so-fallen friend. Can’t we brother bastard-children of God exchange civilites once in a while?”
“Sure. ‘Hi.’ Now get to the fucking point.” A new bubble was inching its way out of Enemy Mine’s cavernous nose, and this timeshifting shit was playing merry hell with my perceptions: all around I was witnessing things that happen too quickly for normal people to notice. Flashes in the upper atmosphere, sudden detonations of cosmic rays smacking into rogue atoms, quanta of insanity whirling in lazy outbound spirals before the mean-ass bitch of a teacher at the front of the room notices and WHACK down comes the ruler on those naughty knuckles. Either that, or the blotter that Nose-Boy put in the juice was still fucking with me.
“Right,” the demon sneered and straightened its tie. “I’m looking for a contract killer – id est, an ogre – to take out one of the opposition. All I need you to—“
“Fuck no,” I interjected, the nectar of the Tuatha de Damn’d making me ballsy. “I don’t sign contracts with demons. What do you think I am, a fucking moron?”
The demon forebore to answer directly, merely venting a small quantity of exasperated hellfire from its nostrils. “Kill the angel, and I’ll break your geas. I’ll be in touch.” And with that, it disappeared in a puff of Drakkar Noir and dead hopes. The timesponge, having soaked up all it could of my attention, shot back to full-speed-ahead; Nosey making burbling noises in the depths of his fishbowl, something small and scaly flailing at the water in a mad, doomed effort to escape.
“Nosey! You fucking freak, leave off tormenting that finny bastard and let’s get out of here, there’s a demon lurking in our spacetime.”
“Lemme grab a shower first,” replied my comrade, and inverted the fishbowl over his pink triangular ears. Fishwater cascaded over his pork-pie hat, soaked the zooty shoulders of his cheap gangrenous-green polyester suit. A piece of fake algae caught in his lank hair. “Ahhh, refreshing. Ready when you are!”