The body halted with the impact, but didn’t fall.  A tiny ring of red marked the entrance over his lung, and spread as the white of his dress shirt soaked up the blood.  The Devil tsked again, shaking his head slowly.  I watched as he paused, raising a hand with long, sharp claws to his chest.  He grinned at me, then sank his claws into the hole.  The wound squished and sucked around the many fingers, blood spurting a little to fall bright red on the papered floor.  “Ah,” he said softly, and jerked his fingers free.

“Little good your bullets do, Leslie,” the Devil said, showing me the mushroomed mess of my hollow-point bullet.  He flicked the bullet into the trashcan, where it pinged and rolled about the metal bottom.  Then, he tapped the side of his head with one finger, and pointed it at me with a grin.  “I am the Devil, after all,” he said.

“Let him go!” I screamed, losing it.  “Let him go!”

The Devil shook his head.  “No can do, kiddo.  You see, he’s leverage.  I want you to agree to come with me, and then, I’ll let him go.  No questions asked.  Your father will be free to live the long, prosperous, saintly life he’s always craved.”

“Liar,” I said.

He grinned at me again, the razor teeth pricking out between Dad’s lips.  “So that wimp of an incubus told you things.”  He sat on the front edge of the wood desk, and his blood-soaked clothes squished around him.

“This isn’t about him.  This is about Dad, and me,” I said.

“Right, right,” the Devil said, waving a lazy hand in the air.  “So what will make you happy?  I’ll let you talk to him, one last time?”

I looked down at my gun, and felt useless.  This was like a hazy, strange dream, but the shard dug into the skin of my hand, and I knew it was real.  “Okay,” I said, stepping forward.  The Devil’s eyes gleamed as he stood, and I knew he thought he had me.

“Let me talk to my Dad,” I said, leaning forward.  He raised his clawed, long-fingered hands to embrace me.

At the last instant, I plunged the long shard through his chest and into his heart.

He crumpled forward onto me, and we went down among the strewn-out books, the disheveled, ruined papers.  Across the room, the Devil, thrown from my Dad’s body by death, shrieked in anger.  “Damn you!  How dare you take him from me!  I had you both – both of you! – in my glass!!”  Red slicked my hands, warm and sticky, but I drew my gun and fired a round at the razor-edged figure.  The bullet thumped, useless, into the bookcase as the Devil faded from view.

I sagged.  In my arms, Dad gasped for air, his lips turning blue.  Tears coated my face, pulled under my chin.  I swiped at them with the back of my wrist, smearing them.

“I’m sorry, Daddy, I’m so sorry,” I sobbed.

“Leslie, Leslie-sweetheart, don’t cry.”  He looked up at me, eyes clear grey and calm.  Air wheezed into his lungs, and he smiled, his smile.  “It’s okay now,” he said, and was gone.

Collin found me, still hanging onto the last remains of my father, sobbing like a child.  He held me, quiet and still, while I cried.  When I couldn’t cry anymore, he offered me his hand.

* * *

(This piece is part of an ongoing serial story. You can catch up on the plot via the Serials page. If you liked this work, please consider purchasing one of my other stories, or some of my music for your collection. 🙂 )

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