Fifty Fifty

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He heard a chorus of whistles. Familiar tunes. Old slave spirituals he sang in Sunday School.

He paused. Considered turning back. Kept walking.

Something about suffering and Christ and finding salvation in heaven. Lyrics he didn’t believe… Not until Lucifer offered him free, fluorescent bottles of Moonshine. Money. Love. Promises of salvation. The catch… meet him in the alley.

He stepped through puddles.

Blood. Warm to the touch.

Money. Respect. Fame. Every desire. For something intangible. Illogical. Something he didn’t believe in…until the Devil offered him everything he desired. For a price. His most valuable asset.

Tightness in his stomach as he turned the corner. Into the alley.

The smell of sulfur was at its peak. Nausea.

He gripped his pistol in his pocket with one hand. Crucifix around his neck with the next.

Tink! Tink! The coin flips echoed through the alley. Pap! Pap! Spotlights exploded around him.

The sulfur. The nausea in his stomach. The impure thoughts.

He was getting closer.

The sharply dressed boy awaited him under the remaining spotlight.

Last time it was a woman. A woman who resembled his childhood sweetheart. The Devil loved to play games.

Smack!

The boy snatched coin out of the air. Pointed a fist in his direction.

“Play?” The boy asked.

He shook his head.

“Heads or tails?” The Boy inquired.

“I don’t-”

“Fifty fifty chance.” The boy insisted. “Heads for salvation… Tails for…”

For… Damnation?

A lava red glow burned behind the boy’s jagged smile. “Fifty… Fifty.”

 

 

The Upside I

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Zay promised to never look back. Or down. Only up. At the perfectly capsized city in the clouds.

Clearest skies on record since the mirror world –The Upside– emerged from the smogosphere, according to Templar meteorologists. Its the divine sign he’d been praying for. Do what’s necessary. Take flight. For Shalewa.

He pumped the burners.

Balloon ascending. Turbulence. Thinning oxygen.

Flying a hastily built helium-craft composed of antiquated parts from abandoned shipyards was high-risk. Highly illegal. Suicidal. Still… far safer than returning to the Seminary.

Shalewa tiptoed to peer over the edge. “Is that heaven?”

He gently pulled Shalewa back. “Just another city.”

“Mommy and daddy there?”

“Possibly.”

Mirror versions, but their parents nonetheless.

Shalewa smiled. “Great.”

His sister was smart for her age. Much brighter than he was.

Chilly. Temperature dipping.

“Will we feel upside down?” Shalewa asked.

“It’ll feel like normal.”

Or so he’d heard from Solomonic diplomats who’ve visited the Upside.

“But then, our city will be the one upside down,” Shalewa said.

“Correct,” He replied.

“Interesting…”

Rising doubts… They’re breaking laws and risking lives to meet strangers. A selfish, dangerous plot. But… Shalewa deserves better. She needed parents, even if they’re doppelgangers of the ones they lost.

“Are versions of us there?” Shalewa asked.

“Maybe,” He answered.

Shalewa bit her fingernails. “What if they hate us?”

“They wont…”

“But what if?”

Zay felt for the pistol with the disintegration rounds hidden in his belt.

Then we’ll have to replace them…

He pinched Shalewa’s nose. “Don’t worry.”

Too Early

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She’s more interested in war than peace. And by now… So. Am. I.

She’s in the living room. Morning exercise. Smirking like our disagreement is her improv skit.

Too early…

“Sure… you’re above it all.” I climb the stairs.

“Your tone,” She snipes.

Riiight. Play innocent.

I return. “Don’t dictate how I respond.”

She snickers. “Wow.”

“Laughter?”

“Wipe your mouth before you argue.”

I scrape my lip-corners. “Always agitating.”

“Nope…”

“Name-calling, shit-talking…”

“Wrong again.”

She judges. Points fingers. Ignites conflict like an emotional arsonist. Never concedes or compromises! Yet… my tone?!

“I’m done,” I ascend the stairs.

“Fine…”

“Perfection…”

The Order: Monster Mash

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“Their existence is a declaration of war.”

The centennial Monster Mash.

A once a century, secret Congress of the most powerful and influential monsters of all nationalities, species, and realms. A parlay among humanity’s predators. He was tasked with surveilling the meeting by the foolish and misguided Humanic Order. He had greater plans. The Order will thank him whence the smoke clears.

Red Vampire, the host, was in his cross-hairs. Succubus brides trailing behind him, arranging and rearranging furniture. Preparing for their big feast.

“Doesn’t feel right,” Squire whispered. “Ambushing them.”

“It’s war.”

“I know… Still doesn’t feel right to me.”

They bared the mark. His was the mark of a Knight of the Humanic Order. Far more prestigious than that of Squire. He was born superior. A living weapon. A machine sculpted by the Gods. 

“Is a preemptive strike the right move?” Squire asked.

Squires were servants. Living tools and nothing more.

Their existence is a declaration of war. 

Squire sighed. “I think we shoul-“

He twisted squires ear until it bled. Are you Knight or Squire?”

“Sq… Squire, sir.”

“Then be a squ-“

Squire’s pupils turned white.

Its time.

Phwoosh! Inter-dimensional tears formed near the mansion walkway.

He released Squire. “Clean yourself.”

Squire’s blood could attract Red and his wives.

Dragons, basilisk drawn carriages, private jets, stretch hearses and cloaked helicopters emerged from the inter-dimensional tears. Filth. Creating portals with accuracy. Strong magic. 

“Camera,” He commanded.

“Should we contact-“

“No.”

The  Order would stop him. Or try.

Squire handed him the full-spectrum camera. “Red organized all this.”

“Irrelevant.”

Monsters swiftly gathered in the mansion dining room to feast on the raw carcasses on display.

Squire’s eyes widened. “Temporal-“

Knight yanked Squire to the ground.

Whoosh… Whoosh…

Dragon wings materialized among the stars.

Teleporting dragons. Blind, with other Godlike senses encircled them for several minutes. Vanished as fast as they arrived.

Idiot squire left blood-specks on his shoulder plate. Attracting the beasts.

Must act before squire ruins..  

“Amazing,” Squire said.

Knight loaded his cannon.”No more waiting.”

Enough watching.

“Claim your weapon,” He commanded. “Time to cleanse this world.”

Explosion will eliminate most. Then he and Squire will head down and finish all who survive the blast.

Squire knelt to reclaim his scythe but pulled back.

Coward.

He drew a pistol and trained it on Squire. “Claim. Your. Weapon.”

Squire claimed his scythe.

Monster unification is a threat to mankind. Can’t allow it.

“Cleanse the world…” Squire said.

“Yes…

“Okay.” Squire sliced Knight’s neck open with his scythe.

Knight desperately held this throat together with his hand. Collapsed.

Blood gushing. Shadows appearing around him. Reapers? No… worse. Red Vampire and his succubus wives.

Traitor.

“All yours.” Squire handed a succubus bride the bloody scythe.

“I can feel its power,” Red sampled Knight’s blood.

Succubus danced around Squire.

“Stay for dinner?” Vampire sampled Knight’s blood with his fingernail.

“I’d be honored,” Squire answered. “To discuss peace-“

“Yes…Yes…  peace.” Red Vampire licked his fang-tips. “Prepare a meal for our human ally.”

“No, I-“

“We insist,” Vampire whispered in Squire’s ear.