Finding that spot in the sun: By Dani Random
Finding that spot in the sun where you can bathe and bask and not quite burn. A place where you go and the air flows free, that place of stillness, a welcome break for a creature like you and me.
"Crippled, bent, broken, riddled and torn, I have the cure if you'd just hear me out over a cup of sweet black blood tea."
Standing at the oh-so-familiar crossroads that I had visited over the centuries, I shook my head and gave out the usual sigh. "Every time it's the same boring, rattling, lame old speech, Derek!"
Derek was a Crossroads Demon, pretty much your standard deal-making demon for fame, fortune, power, and life extensions. He dragged his cane through the dusty sun-scorched ground and drew a line. "Go on then - cross the line if you dare, Dani Boy!"
"Seriously? Are we doing this right now Derek? Surely you've got better things to be doing like, oh I don't know, ripping souls out of people's bodies for the hell of it?" I shouted, placing my one hand on my hip.
Derek flung his head to one side as if a major insult had slapped him across the face. "You know that makes you look gay, right?"
I gritted my teeth and seethed. "OK, whatever, Derek, we'll do it your way if makes you happy." I slowly hobbled my way over to him and broke the line by rubbing my foot through it. "There. Happy now? I've crossed the line. I've broken the boundaries between worlds. I've crossed from the purist light into the eternal darkness. Blah blah blah..."
Derek whipped his head round. "Do it properly or don't do it at all" he demanded as he smoothed his hair back into place.
My shoulders dropped and I let out another sigh. "OK. From the top, but with feeling this time." Derek nodded and smiled smugly.
"I crossed the line. I broke the boundaries between worlds. I crossed from the purist light into the eternal darkness. I call upon you, dark demon."
Derek interrupted - "I call upon you oh great dark demon!"
"Oh my God, Derek! Really! Did the Hell Hounds use your cereal bowl as a litter tray again?"
I turned and shuffled over to a small wooden bench, paint peeling and bleached by the sun, and slumped onto it. "Just juice me up Derek and put it on my tab... please?"
"Why you insist on doing the whole 'calling up from the dark below' is beyond me - I texted you like an hour ago to meet here and you were here waiting for me. You were here before me, Derek!"
Derek walked over, pulled his handkerchief from his top pocket, unfolded it, and placed it on the bench before sitting down. A few empty seconds passed.
"I didn't make quota last month", he said, staring straight out into the desert. I turned and tilted my head to one side.
"You didn't make quota?" I said with some surpise and raised eyebrows.
"Nope - first time since the Black Death."
I joined Derek's fixed gaze out into the emptiness. "Damn, Derek, I'm sorry to hear that. How is Lucy by the way?" I politely enquired. Derek sniffed. "She's a little irritable - you know full of fire, a tad cranky. She sends her best as always." I smiled. "I never did understand why she likes you so much, I mean look at you - a failing mess of blood, bone and gristle. A five year life extension on rotation I might add, hardly worth one's presence... no offence, of course."
Taking in a deep lungful of the desert night's cold air, I replied. "I fight fire with fire, Derek, what can I tell ya? She likes the heat of my kitchen and I make some mean hot chicken wings."
He turned back to stare out into the darkness. "Hm" he remarked disdainfully. "Well she does like her little pets."
I was slightly puzzled, I'd never seen Derek quite so worked up in all the years that had flowed by. "Hey man, you're really worried about this aren't you?"
Derek jerked his head up high, jutted his chin out, and ran his finger around the inside of his collar. "To say I'm worried would be a regrettable insight on the matter, but yes I am somewhat uncomfortable with my current situation and I may have to seek a counselor for professional advice."
I pulled my phone from my pocket and clicked the calendar app. "I can fit you in next Tuesday around four o'clock - that work for you?" Derek brushed a hand across his leg and stood up, picked the handkerchief up from the bench and neatly folded it back into his breast pocket. "Tuesday will be fine. Here - payment in advance." He clicked his fingers and vanished.
I shook my head in disbelief of his arrogance - which you would have thought I would have been used to by now - and threw my Zimmer frame into the back of the truck, jigged on the spot and shouted out into the night.
"Yeah, see you next Tuesday... Derek."