Call for Obstruction (The Courier #1)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 6 (v.2) - Twilight Zone

Submitted: June 11, 2009

Reads: 288

Comments: 2

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Submitted: June 11, 2009

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I bounce in my seat over an eroded dirt road. Up ahead, there’s a log marker that reads ‘Bellow’s Ranch’ across the top. A faded ‘No Trespassing’ sign hangs on one post and an OTG Courier sign hangs on the other. To the rear of the van, a hazy trail of dust.

Margery was right. Ten minutes after the attack, I could breathe again. Still, my eyes never stop shifting between the road and the sky, sure those flying white bastards are preparing for another round.

Twenty-four hours ago, being fired from four jobs in a year was an all-time low. How is it I dug myself deeper? My only hope is that I find a way out of this job that doesn’t involve Margery turning my asshole inside out.

Beyond a patch of pine trees, a weathered red warehouse comes into view. Wild sunflowers and rusty mining equipment surround the building. From the look of this place, OTG could have gone out of business half a century ago.

A garage door lifts. A tall man wearing red coveralls and a long salt-and-pepper braid down his back limps into view. He waves me inside, then stands by like a proud Native American chief in a history book.

I park the van in the garage and get out.

“You’re an hour late,” Margery says from a doorway on the left side of the garage.

I halt mid-stride. “How’d you get here?”

The tall man approaches. “Margery is everywhere.”

I mumble, “No shit.”

“Meet Oscar,” Margery says. “He’s in charge of the vans down here and doesn’t know when to mind his own business.”

Oscar grumbles and walks away.

“We need to talk, Honey.” Margery turns to leave the garage.

I follow and hope she’s about to fire me for poor performance, but reaching the Trinidad warehouse in one piece likely qualifies for employee of the month.

We enter a room that’s so freakishly similar to the office in Denver, The Twilight Zone theme plays in my head. The only difference here is a wall where the entryway would normally be.

Margery sits at her table, also indistinguishable from the one up north. “How do you feel after your first run?” she asks.

I sit down, take in a long breath, and hang my head. “If that’s a typical drive, I’m not cut out for this job.”

“Don’t disappoint me, Honey. I’ve got high hopes for you.”

I lift my head enough to stare down Margery’s wrinkled cleavage. Six inches higher, my gaze meets with her spiraling black eyeliner.

My spine snaps to attention. I grit my teeth and fight the urge to speak, but the words come out anyway. “I’ll do better tomorrow. Promise.”

“Good boy.”

Damn her. I turn away and breathe deeply. Mental note. Never look into her hypnotic eyes again. Hell, avoid looking at anything from her waist up.

Margery stands and walks to the kitchen. “You missed the lunch buffet for the drivers. Luckily there’s always something around here to eat.” She opens a cabinet filled with mini-boxes of Froot Loops, a brand name too expensive for my budget.

I rip open a carton and pour most of its contents into my mouth.

Free meals on top of fifty-five an hour, and somehow it’s my favorite food. Nope. Still not worth fighting those white bastards or putting up with Margery and her freaky cigarettes.

Oscar limps into the room and heads for the refrigerator.

“What do you want?” Margery asks.

He pulls out a soda and pops it open. “Thirsty.”

“Give Barry a can,” she tells him.

Oscar frowns at me. “He will need something stronger when he finds out he is working for the man down under.” He opens the cabinet where Margery got the cereal, only now it’s filled with hard liquor. He reaches in for a bottle of gin, walks it over, and drops it hard on the table in front of me.

While I’d like to ask about the cabinet of plenty, I’m more concerned about working for ‘The Man Down Under.’ I want to believe he means we work for an Australian, but it’s time I pull my head out of my ass and admit that this is no ordinary job. “I suppose you mean I sold my soul to the devil.” I squeeze my elbows tight at my side and chuckle.

“Sharper than he looks,” Oscar says.

My chest tightens.

“Had to go and ruin it for me again.” Margery throws her cigarette at Oscar as he gulps down soda. The butt hits the can and bursts into a small flame. He bends forward and jerks the can away from his face. Bubbles spray from his nose.

Margery flips a new cigarette out of the air and points it at Oscar with intent. “Get your ass out of here, or your eyeballs will be the next thing to come out of your nose.”

Oscar coughs while he limps out of the room.

I push on my breastbone and count the rapid heartbeats. I want to run, but more than that, I want to know the truth.

I turn back to Margery and ask, “Did I sell my soul or what?”

“You can’t just sell your soul anymore. No one’s been able to do that since the end of World War II.” Margery’s eyes roll back like she’s dreaming. “Those were the days. Everything was so much simpler back then.”

“But you admit the devil has something to do with the contract I have no memory of signing?” I reach for the bottle of gin and remove the cap.

“Well of course, Honey. Difference is you signed over your human life to serve Satan on Earth.”

“What the heck does that mean? Serving Satan on Earth.” I pause to catch my breath. “Am I some kind of slave?”

“Oh, Honey, it’s not that bad.”

It’s not that bad? I lift the bottle to my lips. She’s nuts.

“Yes, it may sound nuts, but seriously, it’s not that bad a deal.”

I squeeze the neck of the bottle and take a long swig. Smooth at first, with an after-burn that’s less jolting than the realization that Margery could be reading my mind.

As the bottle drops to my side, liquor splashes onto my hand. The juniper aroma begs me to numb my fears a little faster. Another sip builds up my nerve to ask, “Exactly who are you?”

“That would take days to explain.”

I jump back in my chair and shiver. “Are you Satan?”

She barks out a laugh. “Of course not, although the mistaken identity happens quite often. I suppose I’m flattered that you new drivers would consider old Margery the ruler over all of Hell.”

Margery carries on as if I care about her demonic world. “Satan, or The CEO as he prefers we address him these days, has no time for us minions. I’ve been working for him on Earth for over three-thousand years now and still haven’t met him.”

“You expect me to believe you’re three thousand years old?”

“Demons like me are much older. Like I said, I’ve been working for The CEO here on Earth for a few millennia. Before Earth, I was the only demon who had worked in every level of Hell. I’m a certified expert in human vices. Coming here was a natural progression for my career.”

I get up and pace behind my chair, taking half a swig of gin at the thought of demons having careers.

“Honey, we like to indulge in our vices around here, but take it easy. You’ve got to drive back north.”

I turn to face her. “Can’t you snap your fingers and make me sober?”

“I’m a demon, not a witch. You won’t enjoy what I’ll do to sober you up.”

“What, a little fire and brimstone up my ass?”

Margery’s voice deepens and her eyes blacken. “Give me that bottle and sit down.” She throws a cigarette and the cherry tip hits my chest but bounces off.

My knees go weak. One of my legs lifts and awkwardly steps forward as if a marionette string is attached to my foot. When I try to take another mouthful of gin to calm my nerves, my arms spread outward. “What are you doing to me?”

Margery answers with one of her crooked smiles.

One involuntary step after another, I return to my chair. Margery controlling my body is even scarier than the possibility of her reading my thoughts. The unseen force pushes me down into a seated position. Against my will, I slide the gin across the table.

“Now. Where were we?” she asks.

I fall back into the seat in defeat. “You’re a demon, thousands of years old. I’m a slave to Satan, who prefers we call him The CEO. Oh, and it’s really not that bad a deal.” I timidly turn up a toothy grin.

“Careful, smartass. I can make your life miserable if that’s the way you prefer to play this.”

Because you’re not already making me miserable.

Margery raises her voice. “Like I was saying…when you signed the contract, you may have signed over your human life to work unconditionally for The CEO, but in return you get immortal life, a decent salary, and just about any other nasty little thing your heart desires. A pretty good deal if you ask me.”

“What if the only nasty thing I desire is to get out of my contract?” I hold myself stiff in my chair, expecting she won’t let me off lightly for speaking my mind rather than just thinking it.

Margery’s nostrils flare. She takes a long drag on her cigarette. The tip sizzles and glows brighter. Ash falls to the table. She exhales black smoke that floats my direction.

Waving my hand doesn’t dissipate the long stream. It wraps around my throat and tightens. I grope at my neck to loosen the stranglehold, but nothing’s there. Burning heat penetrates my skin and travels over my tongue. As my mouth fuses into one immovable muscle, I moan and wish for the days my smart mouth only got me fired.

Across the table, Margery’s wrinkles are like elastic and mutate into a scaly, snake-like texture. Her muscles grow as burly as the Incredible Hulk. It clicks why she wears stretchy pants. Thankfully her clothes stay on as she grows over seven-foot tall.

A high-pitched screech escapes through my nose when her hair transforms into real flames. Black horns pop out of her head and sparks spray around the room.

I try to flee, but I’m paralyzed.

“I’m through being nice.” Her voice gets underneath my skin like a million fingernails across a chalkboard. Then, all at once, I piss my pants.

Margery howls with laughter as she backs away and deflates into a wrinkled old lady. She sits back down, lifts her feet up onto the table, and takes a moment to puff down half a cigarette.

Whatever spell she put on me begins to wear off. My lips return, but I have to struggle to unstick my tongue from my left cheek. I feel like I’m ten years old again, being put in timeout.

Finally, she speaks. “The CEO owns you now. And he gives me the power to do anything necessary to keep my couriers in line. Understand?”

“Mmwa,” I say and the rest of my tongue releases. I open my mouth to ask a question but pause.

Margery glares at me. “Careful, Honey.”

I guard my face with my hands and shake my head. “I just wanted to ask what World War II has to do with any of this. Why can’t you just sell your soul anymore?”

“After all the years of supervising this project, you’re the first with the guts to ask that. Then again, no one except Vern and Oscar have had the guts to talk back after the first hit from one of my cigarettes.” She turns up one of her creepy grins. “Yes, I do have high hopes for you.”

Just my luck, out of all the bosses I’ve had this year, I impress this one.

Then she adds, “I suppose it won’t hurt to tell you that Hell filled up around the end of World War II.”

I frown. “How could Hell fill up so quickly?”

“Life was horrible back in the early twentieth century. You humans would sell your soul for a piece of chocolate.”

At least they got something tasty out of it. I cover my mouth with my fist and clear my throat, still wondering if she can read my mind. But she appears to be too lost in her story to care what I’m thinking.

“None of us demons estimated the number of souls that would flood in during the world wars. There was a rush to find places to put them all. The CEO had to conjure up a refugee camp for the misplaced souls, which has grown to unmanageable numbers.”

“What about God and religion and forgiveness?”

“Ha. Good one. Forgiveness only works when you humans believe you’re worthy of it. Most don’t.” Margery takes her feet off the table and leans forward. “And the CEO kept his mouth shut when God gave Moses those Ten Commandments. He knew you humans would break them, every one of them.”

Not wanting to have a philosophical discussion with a demon, I change the subject. “What does all this have to do with our mission around here?”

“Honey, if you read your contract, you’d know that it’s all laid out in section two-thousand-twenty.”

Read my contract? I cross my arms and glare at her. “And…”

“We’re opening the Gates of Hell to release the refugee camp onto Earth.”

My arms drop and so does my mouth. “Are you serious?”

“Listen, Honey, you wasted too much of my time with your smart mouth.” She jumps to her feet. “I’ve got a meeting in Hell in about two puffs of my cigarette.”

“Wait a minute. You can’t leave. We haven’t talked about those giant birds,” I say, then mumble, “that aren’t birds.”

Margery points at my wet crotch and grins. “The only thing you need to worry about right now is the mess you’ve made of yourself. Go to the garage and ask Oscar to show you to the showers. There are coveralls in the lockers. He’ll get you back on the road to Denver.”

“You can’t leave. What if they attack again?”

“No reason to fear the white warriors. They won’t attack an empty van on the return trip.” She rushes to the door off the kitchen, but turns back before she goes through. “Don’t forget my coffee tomorrow.” The door slams behind her.

Maybe she’s confident I’ll get home safe, but who knows what else is out there waiting to take me down? Which is why I rush to the cabinet of plenty and grab two pints of gin. If I do make it home in one piece, I’ll drown my regrets about the last few days in her liquor.

I head for the garage to find Oscar.


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Call for Obstruction (The Courier #1)

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