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William A Pusey

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Night Journey(Chapter 5)
By William A Pusey
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Last edited: Wednesday, January 11, 2006
This short story is rated "R" by the Author.
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Recent stories by William A Pusey
· Night Journey(Chapter 4)
· Night Journey(Chapter 3)
· Night Journey (chapter 2)
· Night Journey(Chapter 1)
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The following is a novel in progress about a young man forced into a deal with the devil and the aftermath

Charlie had been in a doze when he opened his eyes. At first he didn't remember where he was. He looked over at Raphael in the driver seat and then he remembered. Raphael looked over at him and smiled with his yellow rodent-like teeth. "Have a good nap?"

   "Yeah, the I woke up and saw that I was still in this mess."

   "Quit your griping. You're still alive and you're safe with me."

   "Like that's a comfort. I'm in the protection of an imp who's supposed to keep me out of harm's way until it's time for Lucifer to claim my soul and then it's off to the hoary underworld for an eternity of suffering."

   "Don't snap at me. You knew what you were in for when you took the deal. It wasn't like someone put a gun to your head." He laughed. "Oh yeah, there was a gun involved. Look at it this way, you had a few good extra years. You had some good times and you banged a few hot broads. You even married that one chicky you spent years pining away for. You had a good run and now the bill has come due. Plus what would have happened if you didn't take the deal? You know your mom wasn't the most stable person around when she was alive. You remember the times when she would stay in her room for days on end when she got into one of her depressions. Imagine her losing her only child. It would have sent her over the edge. Probably a few days after your funeral Mrs. Conrad would have gone over to check on her and found that she hanged herself in the living room so you saved your mom from suicide. And there's also all the children that you saved from Kyle because the Big Boss chosed to sacrifice him for your worthless ass. Those kids owe you their lives because of what you did so some good did come out of the deal. Plus things worked out in our favor with Kyle in the long wrong. He died earlier than he was supposed to so he was able to make the transformation quicker."

   "I remember Blackwell saying something about a 'final transformation' for Kyle. What did he mean by that?"

   "Around ninety percent human souls are neither good or evil when they arrive on your plain. Time and circumstance determines which way a soul goes. That leaves about five percent or so that are born pure good and the other five or so is born pure evil, like our friend Kyle. They may look human but their souls have enough demon in them that when they die they can..."

   "Become a demon themselves?"

   Raphael smiled and patted the dashboard. "Did you hear that, Gilda? Maybe our friend Charlie isn't as dumb as we first thought. Hey, you're looking a bit pale there, my man. Are you feeling okay?"

   Charlie had starting feeling ill when he woke up. He wiped the cold sweat that was starting to form on his brow. It had been a while since he last shot up. He was about to do that when he was at Punch's place when the Assassin Angels showed up. Now he was feeling the withdraw kick in.

   Raphael asked, "You're not going to yack up in here are you? Gilda won't like that. I'll pull over if you're feeling sick."

   "Shut the fuck up. Your yammering is giving me an even worse headache. I'm not going to throw up yet but I can't make that promise down the road. Are we close to where we're supposed to be going?" He looked out the windshild and saw that they were driving down a gravel road in the middle of the desert. "Where are we going? It looks like we're in the middle of nowhere."

   "We're close to the Nevada border. At the end of the road is an old ghost town that was rebuilt back in the Thirties by a movie studio to be used as a set for Western movies. Accidents began to happen on the set and it started to get the reputation for being haunted. The studio sold it to a competitor for next to nothing and that studio starts having the same problems. The ownership of the town bounced around until it fell into the hands of one of our own. He runs the Big Boss' deals on Earth. The town sits out here in the middle of the desert. It may look empty but it is filled with the spirits of those who died violently. The town was considered one of the most violent towns of the old West  and most of those who died where of the evil sort. Knowing they were dead and what awaited them they decided to stay where they were."

   "So we're going to a literal ghost town?"

   "You got it. There's someone there who can help you feel better. He was a doctor when he was mortal. He was a lot of things before he crossed the Big Boss' Opposite. We'll be there soon." Raphael looked out the windshield at the setting sun. "We should be there after dark. Perfect."

   Charlie closed his eyes and tried to shut out the sickness that was threating to overtake him. He managed to doze off again until he was awaken by the ringing of a church bell. He opened his eyes and saw that it was night. Up ahead of them was a faint green light. Charlie saw the outlines of buildings in the light. Raphael asked, "Here the bell? That's them. They know we're here."

   They entered the town. The town was bathed in a sickly green light. To Charlie the run-down buildings looked like the set of a Western like Raphael said. He thought he saw a couple shadows in the windows. He tried not to get a good look at whatever they were in the windows. The car came to a stop in front of the saloon. Raphael untied the blocks from its hooves and opened the car door. Raphael hopped down from the booster seat to the ground. Charlie got out of the car and looked around. He felt eyes watching him. Raphael said, "Don't worry. They won't harm you. They'll protect us if the Assassins show up." Raphael sniffed the air. "Shit."


    "Smell that? That's brimestone. That means there's demons here too. Fuck. Someone downstairs must not think I can handle this job myself so they sent up a bunch of drooling, slack-jawed demons. Come on. Let's go in." Raphael pulled out the .44 from out of its toga and walked towards the saloon. Charlie followed, looking over his shoulder the whole time.

   The saloon was lit up by old gas lamps that gave off the same green light. There were man-shaped shadows walking around the saloon. One of the shadows looked at Charlie. Charlie could see the skin from what was once a man's face had rotted away and a skull smiled back at him. Charlie quickly looked away from it. At the bar Charlie saw a group of large creatures with scaly red skin and yellow eyes sitting around. The creatures had swords and axes sheathed by their sides. The creatures looked over at Charlie and Raphael. One of them laughed and said, "Well, well, look what Cerberus just dragged in, the human and the little imp."

   Raphael said, "This little imp was busy bumping off three members of the Assassin Guild while you smelly bastards were busy buggering your mothers. I don't know why you're here. I have things under control."

   The demon who spoke said, "We have our orders. We are to make sure the human comes under no harm until you are given your new orders on where to take him. Plus it has been a while since we have faught angels. It might be good practice for the final battle to fight the Assassins when  they show up. It will take away the indignity of playing babysitter for a human and an imp."

   "Is Mordecai here?"

   "He's at the table in the back."

   Raphael said to Charlie, "Let's go. The stench here is making me ill." As they walked to the back of the saloon Raphael tucked the gun back into the toga and muttered, "Them babysitting us? They have some nerve. We don't need any stupid demons to watch out for us."

   At the table in the back sat a man with long black hair wearing a flowing grey robe. The man was working intently on a large house of cards sitting on top of the table in front of him. The man reached into a pile of card decks next to the house and took out another pack. He opened the pack and dumped the cards out in front of him. As the man sifted through the cards Charlie could see that they weren't regular playing cards. He recognized what type of cards they were.

   Without looking up at them, the man said, "That's correct, Mr. Jobson. These are Tarot cards. I have all the various styles. The one you were with before your reunion with Andrea, she was into things like the Tarot and the occult. Gabby had quite the collection of cards didn't she?"

   The mention of that name took Charlie aback. "How did you know?"

   The man looked up Charlie with blazing pale blue eyes. "Because I have seen it. I have seen lots of things. When I was mortal I was a prophet, a healer, and a holy man. I thought I knew it all but my arrogance proved to be my downfall."

   Raphael said, "Since you're a prophet you probably see what we're going to do next." The imp climbed up into one of the chairs across from the man. Raphael motioned for Charlie to sit down in the other chair. When Charlie sat down Raphael said to Charlie, "Since he knows who we are I guess there's no point in introducing ourselves to him so I will introduce him to you. This is Mordecai. Have you heard the legend of the Wandering Jew?"

   "Isn't it something about a man who denounced Christ and was condemned to wander the Earth until Christ's return?"

   Mordecai said, "Back then I was what you would call a 'big deal' in Jerusalem. I welded a lot of power and then this person arrives claming to be the Son of God. Those of us in power ignored him at first, we thought he was just another insane prophet, until he started gaining a following. The others thought he was a charlatan but I wasn't as sure about that. He had a power to him, I could tell that and that's what scared me. I never knew another who had similar or even greater power then me so we sicced the Romans on him. "

   Raphael said, "It was bad enough what you did. What probably fucked you over was when you spat at him as he dragged the cross through the streets. That's got to be up there on the list of all-time bonehead moves."

   "Touche, my grotesque friend. That might have been a mistake but I think on the list of bonehead moves I'd say you and the other former angels who joined Lucifer in his attempted rebellion against Jehovah are tops."

   Charlie saw Raphael flinch. Mordecai asked, "Did you see that, Mr. Jobson? Raphael and the rest of the fallen cannot stand to hear the name of Jehovah. It brings them pain to hear that name, Jehovah. Have you noticed that Lucifer never refered to Jehovah by name, always as his 'Opposite'? Even the all-powerful Lucifer cannot say the name of Jehovah."

   One of the demons at the bar stood up and unsheathed its sword. It looked over at the table and yelled, "Enough with that name! We have orders to make sure no harm befalls the other human and the imp but nothing about not harming you."

   Mordecai looked at the demon with disdain and snapped, "Oh, put that thing away and sit down, you foul-smelling oaf! You cannot harm me. You can chop me up to tiny bits but the pieces would grow back together. I am cursed with immortality until the one I had condemned to death returns to forgive me." When the demon sat back down, Mordecai looked at Charlie and said, "That is something the two of us have in common, Mr. Jobson. You were cursed with your own type of immortality. Remember the time after your wife died and the multipule suicide attempts you made?"

   Charlie nodded. There was the time he put the business end of a double-barrel shotgun in his mouth and when he pulled both triggers nothing happened. He thought both shots misfired and he nearly messed himself when both barrels fired when he pointed the shotgun away from him. Then there were the times when he held various knives and razors over his wrists and his hands would shake so badly that he ended up dropping them.  Then the self-induced overdoses which only put him in a coma for a couple days. And when he sat in the Duster in the garage with the engine running which he expected to gas him to death but only made him violently ill. Charlie said to Mordecai, "I didn't think there was a force stoping me from killing myself until the last attempt. Until then I thought it was bad luck or nerves. For the last attempt I figured I'd walk down to the beach and throw myself into the ocean. I wore multiple layers of clothes and filled my pockets with coins and junk to weigh myself down. I must have looked a sight to anyone who was on the beach that evening. I probably looked like a homeless man. As I made my way down to the shore I could see myself falling on my back and struggling like a turtle laid on its shell, my arms and legs flopping around as I tried to get back up to my feet. I was feeling rediculous but it wasn't enough to stop me. I was almost to the water when a voice popped in my head. It was Blackwell or Lucifer or whatever you want to call him. The voice told me that if I went through with this that I wouldn't die but be trapped underwater alive until it was time to claim my soul and the fish would feed on my flesh and I would feel it all and nothing would stop the pain. I didn't know if he was bluffing or not but it was enough to scare me so I ended up waddling back to my house. I stopped trying to kill myself and just drank and drugged myself into oblivion until now."

   Mordecai said, "And now you come to me because you feel the sickness starting to build. I have something for you." He reached into the folds of his robe and took out a vial filled with blue liquid. Charlie asked, "Do you have a syringe? I left my works at Punch's place."

   "I'm not a drug dealer like your late friend and this isn't something you shoot up. Drink this; it will cure you of your addictions." He put the vial down on the table in front of Charlie.

   Raphael said, "I'm not sure about this. The Big Boss always wanted Charlie to be so messed up that he'd be docile. I don't think he would want Charlie to be cured." Raphael looked at Charlie and said, "Making you a junkie was part of the plan. Sorry I had to tell you, pal."

   Mordecai said, "Well it's too bad that curing Charlie isn't part of Lucifer's plan. It's either this or let him go through withdraw with the Assassins on your ass. Try to protect him while he's shaking and vomiting all over the place. Have him puke on the Assassins when they close in on you. Maybe that will drive them back. If you don't want him to have the cure then I will have to ask you to take your leave of me. I have nothing else for you. If something happens to Charlie, it's not my head that's in the noose." He reached down to take the vial back but Charlie snatched it up first. Charlie pulled the cork out of the vial with his teeth and then chugged the liquid. The vial dropped out of Charlie's hand and he whispered, "Oh shit, it burns." He leaned forward until the top of his head touched the table and he began to make gagging noises. When black smoke began to pour out of Charlie's mouth and nostrils Raphael pulled out its gun and pointed it at Mordecai. "You poisoned Charlie! You're working for the Opposite!" The demons stood up and unsheathed their weapons.

   Mordecai said, "No, I didn't posion Charlie. The posion that was in him is now leaving his body. I can assure you that I am not working for anyone. Now calm down and put your weapons away."

   The black smoke began to dissipate and Charlie sat up. He said, "Oh man, that was fucked up."

   Mordecai asked, "How do you feel?'

   "I don't know. It's strange but I think I feel better than I have in a long time."

   Mordecai smiled. He looked at the demons and said, "He's fine." The demons mumbled to themselves and sat back down at the bar. Raphael put the gun down on the table and said, "You scared me there, Charlie boy. I need a drink." He looked over at the bar and said, "I need a beer over here."

   Mordecai said, "I think I could use a mead myself." He looked at Charlie and asked, "How about you? Do you need anything?"

   Charlie shook his head. "I think I'll stay sober for a while. I've forgotten what that feels like."       

   Mordecai nodded. "That's probably a good idea. I'm sure when Raphael gets his orders to take you to Alexi that they'll probably put you back on drugs until Lucifer needs you."

   Raphael said, "I figured that Alexi would summon us to him. Is this something you have foreseen?"

   "Yes though whether you two make it to him I cannot say. There are too many varibles now. Things could go either way. In some visions I see Lucifer's plan succeding and in other visions I see failure. The only constant vision I see is Charlie in the gun sights of an Assassin but I cannot say if he survives or not."

   Raphael said, "For a prophet you can see worth shit."

   "Despite what you may think, prophecy isn't an exact science. There is only one who can see how things will be but I cannot say his name without hurting you or making our friends at the bar more irritated. When I was mortal and was asked to see into the future for someone I would more often tell that person what they wanted to hear unless I was certain what the outcome would be. Even then I would sometime not tell the whole truth. No one wants to be told that they are going to die and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. If that was to be someone's fate I'd leave that part out. It wasn't like I'd get any complaints from them if they did die. I was lucky in that I never had the power to communicate with the dead. I knew a few with that power and they all ended up going insane from it. The dead do not rest. This place is a prime example of that. Of course Charlie's deal with Lucifer made things worse. Because he didn't die when he was supposed to it weakened the barriers between this world and the next.

   Raphael smiled. "Just the way we planned it."

   The drinks were brought over to the table by a woman, or at least Charlie thought it was a woman. It was hard to tell since most of the flesh was missing but since it wore a dress Charlie assumed that it was at one time female. As it sat the drinks down in front of Mordecai and Raphael it looked over at Charlie and winked at him with its one remaining eye. As it walked away from the table, Raphael laughed and said, "I think she likes you, Charlie boy."

   Charlie asked Mordecai, "Back in Vegas Blackwell told me that he had some grand plan for me. What is it?"

   "Are you familar with Milton's Paradise Lost which tells of Lucifer's fall? Well, Milton got the story half right. Lucifer did leave Heaven but it was by his own accord. The battle for the kingdom of Heaven had ground to a standstill that threatened to destroy the very fabric of the universe. Both sides came to the realization that there was no way to win without the total destruction of everything so they came to an agreement. Lucifer was given his own kingdom to rule until the final battle was fought in this world, winner take all, by the Children of Destiny.  There will be thirteen children; six born of pure good and six born of pure evil with one that will be born with the same powers of the other twelve but is not born good or evil. Which side that one chooses will decide the battle. Most of the children haven't been born yet but will be within another year or two unless Lucifer's plan succedes."

   Raphael said, "The Big Boss agreed to the truce but he always tried to figure out a way around it so he could take over without having to use the Children. He came up with the idea to do something that would shake up the balance of the universe, like saving someone from death when they were destined to die. Then he came up with what to do with the souls of the people he'd save. He began to work on the designs of a war machine that was the size of a large city and would be powerful enough to knock down the Pearly Gates. The machine would be powered by fuel cells filled with the souls, including yours, Charlie. The machine will be called Leviathan. The different parts of the machine are being built in factories around the world. Only a select few working on the project know what they are building. When the machine is built and put together is when we'll need the souls. And guess how many souls Boss calculated he needed. You'll get a kick out of this. It turns out he needs six hundered and sixty six souls. That's the true meaning behind that number, not the mark of the beast. You know what that is. It's in your hand. Once the souls are collected and placed in the fuel cells, Leviathan will be filled with the armies of Hell to launch their attack on Heaven. With the balance of the universe knocked off with all the souls that didn't die when they were supposed to we may have shifted things in out favor without having to go along with the original plan."

   Charlie said, "That's a lot to get my head around. With all of this talk of war machines and 'Children of Destiny" it sounds like some sort of double concept album by ELP or Spinal Tap. So I was saved from death because it would alter the balance of the universe and my soul will be used as fuel cell for this Leviathan thingy because Lucifer is too much of a sissy boy to fight the final battle he agreed on with Jehovah. Is that it?"

   Raphael said, "Watch your mouth, Charlie boy."

   "Or what? You can't do anything to me. I'm one of Lucifer's chosen ones. I can say Jehovah all I want and you freaks can't do anything about it."

   Charlie stood up and looked over at the demons at the bar. "Do any of you ugly fucks have a problem with me saying Jehovah? Well, your mama, okay? I'll say whatever I like because I'm one of the ones that will help you win this fight against Jehovah so fuck all of you?"

   Charlie felt someone grab his arm. He turned and saw Mordecai standing behind him. "That's enough. Going into hysterics isn't going to help anything. You asked me your fate and you were told the truth."

   "Maybe you should have lied to me like you lied to those you saw were going to die."

   "No. The time for lies has passed. You should have been told the truth a long time ago."

   Raphael said, "Not that he and the others would have wanted to know the truth. Most of them were so greatful for being saved that they didn't question any potential downside and then the money and the sex and whatever else their greedy hearts desired came pouring in. By then they were totally blinded."

   Charlie knew that Raphael was right. The times he questioned taking the deal were during the past few years when things were going badly for him. He rarely thought much about it when he was flying high. Sometimes there were nightmare but all he had to do was drink a little more or do a little more dope and everything would be okay.

   Raphael said to Charlie, "You need to sit down and cool out. Right now Boss has a soft spot in his heart for you and when the time comes to claim you he will make sure it is a painless as possible. Anymore outbursts like this and he could change his mind if you make him angry enough and then you'll end up facing the fate of the others."

   "And what's that?"

   One of the demons at the bar said, "Those who bare the mark will be given to us and we will slowly tear the flesh from their bones and feast on their internal organs. It will be a long, agonizing death."

   Raphael said, "Hear that? You'll just be given a shot and you'll fall asleep. You'll be getting off lightly. Are we ready to calm down now?"

   The demon said, "Listen to your little buddy, human. We'll remember your insults and if you are sent to us we will make sure your death is a especially painful one."

   Raphael looked over at the bar and said, "Watch that 'little' crap. I'll come over there and show you little."

   Mordecai said in a stern voice, "That's enough, all of you. Now we're all going to sit down and relax."

   When everyone sat down Charlie put his hands over his face and muttered, "Why, why did I take the deal?"

   Raphael said, "You did what you had to do to survive. Don't listen to anything Mordecai tells you. He'd probably convince you that you should have let that nutjob at the fast food place kill you. He might even talk you into letting the Assassins wack you just so it will make everything right in the universe again. Mordecai is probably trying to score brownie points with the Opposite."

   Mordecai said, "I can assure you that me and the Opposite, as you refer to Him, are not on speaking terms. I have nothing to gain or lose if the Assassins get Charlie. My fate has already been determined. I am condemned to eternal life until the one I wronged returns."

   "That won't happen if we get our way. But don't worry about a thing. I'll let Alexi know how much of a help you've been to us. You'll be amply rewarded."

    "I have no desire to be rewarded by Alexi or his master."

   "Don't be a dick about it. Since you're not affiliated with the Opposite you're free to join up with us. We could use someone with your power in our organization. You might as well join up with the winning team."

   "Don't claim victory just yet. There are many factors still in play."

   "If you don't take this offer now I can't promise that it will still stand once we take over."

   "I'll take my chances on that."

   Charlie put his hands down from his face and asked Mordecai, "If you have nothing to gain from helping me, why did you?"

   "I knew you needed help and I cannot turn away those who need my help. That was something I did when I was mortal.  Maybe that was why I was spared from Hell for what I did. Despite my greed and hunger for power I would help those in need. And I knew you would take it despite Raphael's reluctance to allow it."

   Mordecai and Raphael finished their drinks and ordered another round. They drank while Charlie sat and brooded. Charlie thought that he knew how someone sitting on death row felt just before the cell door opened and the guards came to lead them away. Raphael punched Charlie in the shoulder and said, "Lighten up, Charlie boy. You look like you're going to a funeral."

   "I am going to one. My own."

   "If it makes you feel any better I won't mention that little outburst of your from earlier. You don't have to worry about falling into the hands of those ugly bastards over there. I'll do all that I can to make sure of that. I like you." Raphael looked at Mordecai and said, "I even like you a little bit." Raphael looked over at the demons at the bar. "I even like....Nah, I'm not that drunk yet. Someone get some more drinks over here."

   Mordecai asked, "Are you sure you want another drink. The Assassins could arrive at any time."

   "I'm fine. Don't go killing my buzz after I told you that I like you." Raphael picked up the gun from the table. "If those Assassins show up I'll give them another taste of what I gave them earlier. I'm not afraid of nothing." Raphael leaned back on the chair. The back of the chair broke and Raphael fell backwards onto the floor. The demons at the bar erupted in laughter. One said, "It looks like the little one can't hold his liquor."

   Raphael stood up and yelled, "Stop laughing at me!" Raphael pointed the Magnum at the bar and said, "I took out three Assassins today and I'll take out the whole lot of you. You wanna fight? I'll give you a fight." Raphael staggered towards the bar on unsteady hooves.

   Mordecai said to Charlie in a low voice, "Okay, now's your chance. Off to your left is a hallway that leads to the bathroom. Go in there and climb out the window. Once you get outside make a run to the highway. You'll be safe once you make it there."

   "What do I do when I get on the highway?"

   "You have an appointment to keep. December Thirteenth, remember? If Raphael takes you to Alexi, you're as good as dead. You know this. If the Assassins get you, you'll be separated from Andrea for all eternity and that's something you fear more than anything. I can see this.  I've also seen another way out for you. You have to make it to Clarkston by the Thirteenth. If you do then you won't fall into Lucifer's hands and all will be put right with the universe. I must warn you that once you take off that all of the forces of Heaven and Hell will be after you and there will be little that I or anyone else can do to help you. You will be on your own."

   "Why would you help me escape?"

   Mordecai smiled. "Maybe Raphael wasn't that far off of the mark when he accused me of trying to score brownie points with the other side. If helping you screws up Lucifer's plans then maybe that will help me in the end. Go, while Raphael is distracted."

   Charlie got up and slowly walked towards the bathroom. All the while his eyes stayed on Raphael and the demons as they exchanged taunts and insults. None seem to have noticed Charlie. When Charlie entered the bathroom the first thing he noticed was the stench. The bathroom was filled with the smell of rotting bodies and burning shit. Charlie thought, good thing you haven't eaten anything in a while. You might have thrown up from the stink

   Charlie was surprised that despite not eating for a while that he was filled with energy. He figured it must have been from the elixir Mordecai gave him. He saw the window at the other end of the bathroom. As he walked towards it he looked around. With its row of stalls off to his left and the row of mirrors and sinks off to his right the bathroom looked more like it belonged in a truck stop than an old saloon in a ghost town. He looked up at the celing and saw that there were flickering fluorescent lights.

   Charlie heard Mordecai's voice in his head. As I mentioned before the barriers between worlds have weakened with every soul Lucifer has saved from their appointed deaths. That is why there is a modern-looking bathroom in a relic town like this. The fabric of time and space is unraveling, especially in places with high paranormal activity like this.

   "Damn, you scared me popping up in my head like that. I should be used to hearing voices in my head with all the time Lucifer would pop up. There were times when the bastard wouldn't shut up."

   That's not surprising. A vain creature like Lucifer is in love with the sound of its own voice. You didn't hear much from him after what happened in Italy, did you?

   "No, and I rather not talk about that time either. It was bad enough when you mentioned Gabrielle's name."

   She meant a lot to you, didn't she? Almost as much as Andrea or your mother.

   "She was the first woman after I took the deal that I really loved, though I know I haven't been easy on the women in my life. I was a shitty son and I put Andrea through hell with my addictions. Maybe Gabrielle got off lucky by dying when she did."

   Do you blame yourself for her death?

   "Even though I think Lucifer was behind it and that's why I rarely heard from him afterwards there were times when I wondered if me being in her life cursed her. I also thought that when Andrea was dying of cancer. I figured that if I was damned that it might have been contagious. Wait, didn't I say I didn't want to talk about it? And is the window on the other side of the room moving further away the closer I get to it?"

   It's all part of how askew time and space is here. Just close your eyes and keep walking until you reach the wall.

   Charlie closed his eyes and streached his hands out in front of him. As he walked he heard water splashing from behind one of the stall doors. He tried not to think about what was making the noise. Charlie's hands brushed against cold glass. He opened his eyes and saw that he was standing in front of the window. He reached down and tried to pull the window up but it only opened a crack. Charlie muttered a curse and pulled harder. The window moved slightly. He thought, it's going to take forever to open the window like this and I don't have much time.

   Charlie kept pushing and the window slowly opened. Between the sound of the window creaking as it slowly rasied and his muttered cursing Charlie didn't hear the slithering nosies from the floor until he felt something cold and slimy wrap around his left ankle. Charlie let out a little yell and looked down at what grabbed him. It was a black tentacle and Charlie saw that it came from under the first stall door at the other end of the bathroom. Charlie shook his leg trying to get it off. When that didn't work, he began to kick it. He finally got loose with all the shaking and kicking and he stomped on the tentacle with both feet. A low shriek came from behind the stall door and the tentacle slithered back to the stall, leaving a trail of green blood behind it.

   Charlie turned his attention back on the window when he heard water churning angrily from behind the stall door. He looked over his shoulder and saw five more tentacles come from beneath the stall door and slowly coming towards him. He turned back and pushed on the window with all his might. The window went all the way up with a loud groan. With the window open Charlie climbed up on the sill and climbed out. Once outside he slammed the window shut on the tentacles that reached out for him. He could hear the shreik from outside. He turned away from the stuck tentacles flailling in the window and ran think that they must have heard the shriek all the way in the bar.

   Mordecai's voice said, no, they're still argueing. I think things are starting to settle down. I'll tell Raphael that you're in the bathroom. That might buy you a few mintues so get moving. The highway isn't far.

   As he ran he thought, I'm not sure if this is a good idea, running through the desert at night. I hope I don't run into a nest of rattlesnakes or trip and break my leg.

   Charlie heard the sound of an engine starting and he saw the Cadillac come around the corner of the saloon. The headlights caught him. Charlie said, "Hey, Mordecai."


   "Is Raphael still in the saloon?"

   He is.

   Charlie muttered, "Shit" and took off running. He heard the sound of tires shrieking over sand and rock as the Cadillace came after him. The car quickly drew parallel with him and then pulled ahead. The car's breaks screeched as it swung around to face Charlie. Charlie stopped to catch his breath. He heard the car's idling engine rev up. Charlie said, "Okay, you wanna play? Let's play a little chicken. You can't hurt me. I'm too important to your boss."

  The car's engine revved twice as if to say, I don't care and then came at Charlie. Charlie ran towards the car with Mordecai's voice in his head screaming, what are you doing?

   Showing this thing that I'm not afraid of it.

   Charlie could feel the heat coming from off of the car. The blinding headlights caused him to throw his arm over his face. At the last second the car turned to avoid hitting Charlie. He laughed and said, "I knew you couldn't hit me. Catch me if you can, fucker."

   He ran towards a nearby hill. He heard the car following him. He hoped that the car would have trouble following him once he got on the hill and indeed, he could hear the car straing as it came up the hill after him. When Charlie got to the top of the hill he could see the headlights on the highway. The sight of the lights filled him with something that he hadn't felt in a long time, a sense of hope. He thought, maybe I do have a chance to get out of this nightmare after all

   He started down the hill. About halfway down he stumbled over a rock and tumbled the rest of the way down the hill. For a minute or two he laid at the bottom of the hill. He felt sore but he didn't think he broke anything. He looked up at the top of the hill. The car had finally made it to the top and it was starting its decent when it began to slide out of control. Charlie saw that it was going to land right on top of him. The car horn honked twice as if to say, get out of the way, dummy. Charlie rolled out of the way and the car landed on its side where Charlie once laid. The headlights dimmed and went off and the engine did the same.

   Charlie got back on his feet. He laughed and said, "I showed you, motherfucker. Don't mess with Charlie Jobson, bitch."

   He turned and walked towards the highway lights. He walked a few feet when he heard a crash behind him. He turned and saw the car had gotten itself back on all four wheels. The engine and headlights turned back on. Charlie started to run. He was looking over his shoulder at the car so he didn't see he was running towards the edge of a ravine until he fell into it. He heard the car above him, circling the ravine. Charlie thought, dammit, the car's got me trapped. I guess I'm stuck in here until Raphael and the demons come get me. Got any ideas on how to get out of here, Mordecai?

   Mordecai didn't answer him. Charlie wonder what happened to Mordecai when he heard the church bell in the town ringing and then the sound of automatic machine gun fire. He thought, oh shit, the Assassins.

   The car drove away from the ravine and head towards the town. Charlie climbed out of the ravine and ran towards the highway. When he got onto the highway he ran out into the middle while waving his arms. A car slammed on its breaks and came to a stop, inches away from hitting Charlie. The driver stuck his head out the window. "Are you crazy or something?"

   Charlie ran over to the passenger side of the car and opened the door. The driver saw the scrapped up man that got in his car and asked, "Jeez, buddy, you alright? What happened to you?"

   There was a loud explosion from the desert. The driver looked over there and then back at Charlie. "What's going on out there/"

   "Don't ask questions. Get driving if you want to live."

   The driver looked at Charlie like he wanted to say something but decided not to. He drove.


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