Hope everyone is having a good week, I’ve been pretty busy the last while. I was down in Galway with some friends for the Arts festival, which was pretty cool. I also visited the Cliffs of Moher, which were a lot better than I expected, also drove through the Burren, which wasn’t as impressive, but still worth a drive through. It was a pretty good time.
It was nice being down in my sisters for a few days, though Finn has started to jump, which is not a good thing for an Irish Wolfhound to be learning, fortunately it should be easily trained out of him as he hasn’t really done it much so far.
On with the show!
Jack woke slowly, he was tired, groggy. He tried to open his eyes, but they wouldn’t respond. There was nothing but darkness. His entire body ached, sharp shooting pains ran along his spine, his arms throbbed dully. He couldn’t move his fingers. He tried to lift his arm, but it was restrained. Inside his head there was a deep, steady boom, his mouth felt dry, thick. He coughed once, weak and painful. His breathing was shallow, the air around seemed hot and dry, making his mouth worse. He could hear something moving nearby, he started to speak, barely a rasp, he took another breath, then tried again, this time he managed a faint “hello?”
“Shh, don’t try to talk.” The voice was smooth, deep and soothing. “here” a straw was pressed to his lips and Jack took a sip, before he could get anymore the straw was taken from his mouth, a drop of cold water landed on his lip, he licked it away quickly. “More, please.”
“You’re dehydrated, you can’t drink too much too quickly or you’ll throw it up again.”
The straw reappeared at his mouth, again he was only allowed the barest mouthful, a maddeningly small amount.
“You were in a car crash.”
Jack frowned, trying to remember. He got up this morning and had a shower, then, blank.
“You probably won’t remember it. You’re banged up pretty good.”
“Was any one else hurt?”
Water again, cool, soothing.
“Yes, but not too badly.”
“A cyclist, knocked off her bike, her leg is broken in three places. She had a few cuts and bruises, but she’ll be fine. Your daughter has some light bruising, your wife broke a finger. They were very lucky. You weren’t as lucky unfortunately. You went through the windshield.”
Jack opened his eyes slightly, the light beyond caused him to wince, a fresh spike of agony rolled over his body. He opened his eyes again, squinting against the light. It didn’t look like he was in a hospital. The ceiling above was smooth and black, almost looked as though it was made out of glass, he turned his head slowly, ignoring the grinding pain in his neck, the ceiling and walls appeared to be made of the same material, sloping down in a smooth curve. A man stood to his left, holding a cup of water, he was wearing a black suit. He was tanned, about six foot, with black hair and deep green eyes. “Where am I?”
The man smiled, “Well, technically, you’re in hell.”
“You died. In the crash. Went through the windscreen, crunch, right into a wall. The human body is not supposed to go through that sort of trauma I’m afraid.”
The man nodded.
“Oh, I know, you lived a good life. It’s all in the file. Don’t worry, it isn’t a mistake, but you won’t be here for long.”
The man brought the straw to Jacks lips, he took another sip.
“This is just a little fun on my part, really.”
The pain began to recede slowly. Jacks breathing eased as it happened, in a few minutes he felt completely fine.
“Do you want to try sitting up?”
He did so gingerly, expecting pain that never came. When he was sitting up, the man smiled at him and passed him the cup. “Here, drink the rest. You’ve earned it.”
Jack eagerly brought the cup to his mouth and swallowed what was left, expecting his thirst to be quenched, there was only a mouthful of water in the cup.
“Is there more?”
“Not for you unfortunately.”
“But-” Pain, everywhere, he fell backwards, writhing on the bed. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped.
“I am being generous with the water. I don’t think you quite comprehend where you are. It isn’t my job to fulfil you desires. Not now anyway.”
Jack sat up again.
“Now, we have business to discuss.”
The bed Jack was sitting on started to shrink and lower until he was sitting on an uncomfortable wood chair, the floor began to ripple and from the dark, smooth surface a desk began to form, rising higher and made of the same black material. Behind it a comfortable looking armchair rose. The man sat down behind the desk and began to rifle through the drawers, finally he brought out a large stack of papers and a pen. On the desk there appeared a jug of water, beads of condensation appearing on the sides, two glasses also appeared. Jack went to pour himself a glass. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It’ll turn to acid as soon as it touches your lips.”
Jack settled back in his chair, the man reached out and filled a glass for himself, then took a long drink, sighing in pleasure when he was done.
“Could I have a drink, please?”
The man frowned for a moment, then smiled, “Oh all right. Here.”
A mug appeared on the desk, again rising from its surface. Jack picked up the mug, giving it a little sniff, it smelled like coffee, with faint undertones of something else. He took a sip then spat it back into the drink.
“What is this?”
“Oh, just a little mixture of coffee, orange juice, coke, milk, a tiny squirt of toothpaste and a large dollop of blackcurrant cordial.”
Jack shuddered and put the drink down again, he wasn’t that thirsty yet.
“Ah, here we are.” The man stopped rifling through the papers, “It says here that if your life is terminated before my say so, you come here and I will have the deciding vote on your fate.”
“You heard me. And you did after all sign this contract.”
The man spun it around and opened the last page, there, in bright red was his usual scrawl for his name.
“But, I don’t remember signing that.”
“No, you wouldn’t. that’s in there too. I can’t have you running around telling people or trying to get out of the deal now, can I?”
“So…I sold you my soul?”
Jack thought for a moment, “What did I get for it?”
The man grinned, “Wouldn’t you like to know? I’m afraid I cannot tell you.”
“But-” The man waved his hand, Jacks mouth closed forcefully, he couldn’t open it again.
“I cannot discuss it, another clause. Not until you’re here permanently. Now, let me think a moment. I have some things to run through.”
Jack sat in silence, thinking over his life, anything that seemed to be a sudden boon, anything at all that could be linked with interference, but frankly, his life wasn’t amazing. It was perfectly ordinary. He had a normal job, a loving, but normal, wife, they had no difficulty conceiving, they had some money problems but never anything severe. What had he traded his soul for?
“Ok, I’ve made a decision. You will go back, for another few years. I have something cooking, a few hundred people will die, but I can’t go around killing innocents. Not when I’m taking direct actions. So enjoy your next few years. I’ll make sure you’re up and walking again by the time everything happens. It’ll be a little miracle.” The man grinned, his eyes sparkling slightly.
“And don’t worry, you won’t remember any of this, not until it’s over.”
Jacks mouth loosened, he opened it to speak, but the room plunged into darkness.
Pain, everywhere. He groaned and tried to open his eyes, he heard someone gasp, “Jack? Honey? I think he’s waking up!”