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Daniel didn't know how long he had been in the dark and dank hole, but he knew it had been too long. The smell and the sense of perpetually falling had driven him mad long ago. That is most likely why he had not yet crossed over.
Instead, he had stayed in the hole, forever falling but never reaching the bottom. Looking down, he could occasionally see a hint of gold glittering up at him from the depths of the darkness, and occasionally he would hear a guttural rumble and shifting of something enormous, often accompanied by muffled screams. But that was all it ever came to. Most of the time, the silent darkness was thick and palpable, as though you could catch it if you cast a net around it.
But now something was changing. Dan didn't know exactly what it was, but he felt the change nonetheless. It whispered to him of his moment to be free. And Danny recognized it’s voice. It was his old pal Jenkins.
“Danny Boy, what the fuck are you doin’ in here, man?”
“Who’d you expect? St. Peter?”
“More like Beelzebub himself, old friend. We ain’t likely to be seeing any more angels after what we did.”
“True enough, but looks like you might have to play the part of an angel, Danny. But first we got to get you out of this hole.”
“Can’t. This is my punishment.”
“I don’t know, I just figured that when I fell in and just kept falling that this was it for me. Purgatory, you know?”
“Danny, you didn’t keep falling. You fell right smack into the dragon’s lair, and he ate ya.”
“You’re a ghost, Dan. So am I. You’ve been haunting the shaft of this old outhouse of your own choice all these years.”
“Sorry man, it’s true.”
“Buddy, so are you. Now don’t get all offended. Think about it, man; before you died you were all caught up with your own shit, and I don’t mean metaphorically. Then after you kicked off, you continued the trend by convincing yourself that you are destined to eternally float beneath an outhouse. Tell me that’s not crazy.”
“When you put it like that, it does sound pretty crazy. But what do you expect? You were there, you know what we did.”
“No need to rehash that right now, Dan. We have more things to worry about than the sins of the past. At least not that sin. Look, Danny, I’m in a lot of trouble right now. Actually, we all are. You, me, everyone here at Midway.”
“Midway? The gas station? Who cares about the gas station?”
“Danny, you don’t understand. I made a big mistake. Capitol-B big. I kinda sold my soul. Twice. And I managed the second time to sell my soul to someone I couldn’t trick into giving it back to me. To make a long story short, he’s taken over my body and intends to use it to help him take over the world. Or something like that. Okay, truth is I don’t really know what he’s planning on doing, but I know that a) he’s got my body and I don’t, and b) he’s still here. That means he’s planning something bad. I can’t do a thing about it, but I think you can.”
“Sorry, let me try that again. After we did what we did, I figured there was no way I was gonna avoid goin’ straight to Hell. So I thought I might as well make the best of it. I sold my soul in exchange for… well, that doesn’t matter. I sold it, and then I figured out how to get it back. I had the idea even before I made the deal, but I didn’t figure out the trick until after. As it turns out, our world has rubbed off on the supernatural one more than you’d believe. They have the same bureaucratic nonsense and legal loopholes that we do. I just had to figure out exactly how to take advantage of the red tape.
“Once I knew, it wasn’t hard to make a deal. Didn’t even actually have to exchange someone else’s soul for my own; I just had to promise not to share the knowledge I had gained, about the loophole, I mean, and they agreed to leave me be.
“If I were a smart man, which we both know I’m not, I would have quit there. But then HE came along, and ‘made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.’ Next thing I know, the deal is done. But he tricked me with the same kind of semantic sleight-of-hand that I had used on the demon and his pals, and I found myself evicted from my previous residence, if you know what I mean.”
“There you go again with the excrement, Danny Boy. You always were the first one to go for the ‘pull my finger’ jokes, weren’t you?”
“What do you want me to do, Jenks? You want me to go up against the Devil?”
“HE’s not the devil, man. He’s not a demon, he’s not a goblin.”
“What is he?”
“He’s Not of this World. Not of this Time. He is All and Nothing. He Is.”
“Jenks, what happened to your voice, man?”
“Jenks can’t hear you now, Daniel. Jenks has been sent away. Jenks did not maintain his end of our agreement. He wasn’t supposed to talk about me to anyone. Not even another ghost.”
Sylvia Navarro stopped in the middle of peeling an apple; something she never did. She felt the scream even though no human ear could hear it. The sentinel that she had placed to protect them; the damned man whose soul Sylvia had trapped in the outhouse so many years ago, had faced HIM and had failed.
Perhaps there was no hope, after all.
Word Count: 993