Not exactly like that Bedazzled flick, huh?

The Real Deal
by Darrel Duckworth ©2016

Reggie went over it again.

Unbroken circle? Check.

Runic marks match the book?

Uh . . .yeah. Check.

Candles and blood? Check.

Okay . . .okay. He was ready.

He took a deep breath and read the incantation.

Once.

Second time.

Almost screwed up that weird word.

Concentrate man! Concentrate!

Third time.

He held his breath. Looked around. Waited.

Nothing happened.

He looked at the book. What had he missed?

"Hey sport. What's up?"

Fingers of ice traced down his spine. Time-and his heart-stopped.

He turned slowly and found himself face-to-face with the devil . . .who was a she. And black . . .really ebony . . . and pretty . . . smiling, looking and dressing like a teenager.

"Y-Y-You're the devil?"

She laughed. "Man, you guys. You're amazing. With thousands of people calling for a deal every day, you think the biggest, baddest demon of all is going to show up for the likes of you?"

"Me? What do you-?"

"Don't take it personal, sport. Wait. Yeah, you should take it personal. How should I put this? You're a loser. And the boss . . . ? Well she only works with big league players . . . people who have the power to create real evil on this spiffy, little world. Or have the potential to become power players. She doesn't waste time on anything less than the best of the beasts."

"She? Satan is a-?

"She. Yeah, sport. The biggest badass in this reality really is a bitch. Hell has no fury like a woman . . . well, like a woman period." She grinned and went on. "I know. Your precious, male ego thought that the devil was a guy because the holy books say so. Well, the holy books were written by a bunch of insecure guys terrified of woman-power so, what did you expect? But the boss? She can appear any way she wants so . . . sometimes she's a guy, sometimes she's a gal. Depends on the target. Now let's get back to you."

"Me?"

"You called, remember sport? Try to focus. You're dealing with primeval evil here. Might be good to concentrate on the job at hand.

"As I was saying, the boss gets the big-time customers. From there, we work down the pecking order. The big-name demons with great track records get the next batch, then the lesser demons . . . all the way down to me, just starting out. I get the losers. Oh, I love that look on your face. Hey! Evil, remember? Tormenting the weak, helpless and stupid is a kick." Another grin. "And buddy, that's you. You are a loser."

She began to tick off items on her claws. "You won't stick with one thing long enough to make it work. You want big success without having to do big work. You bounce from crappy job to crappy job. You can't stand the few friends you have because they are so pathetic that they remind you of what a loser you are. Your reputation is so dismal that a two-bit, local punk wouldn't let you be one of his small-time, drug pushers. That's pretty sad when the lowest of the low doesn't think you've got what it takes to hack it at his business.

She pointed toward him.

"But you go around annoying people with big talk of the big-time stuff you've 'got in the works' and spouting motivational speaker crap from DVDs you stole from the public library. Oh yeah, you're a grade A winner climbing the ladder of success all the way to the top. That's why you're standing in a shithole apartment with a badly-drawn, magic circle spouting words you don't understand to ask the source of all evil to make your life better.

She shook her head.

"Well, sorry sport. You don't rate the boss lady. All you get is me and I'm just starting out so, I don't get to make deals."

"No deals? But I called you and-"

"Save it sport. I don't do deals. I just do retrievals."

"Retrievals?"

"Yep. Bag'em and drag'em down. That's my job. Which doesn't mean I can't have a bit of fun with them first."

"But I haven't made a deal yet. My time can't be up if-"

"Deal? Sport . . . you became a candidate just by making the call."

She waved at the circle around them, the candles and the book still in his hands.

"Calling on evil counts as evil whether you make a deal or not. The intention was there, the blood was spilled, the accursed words were spoken . . . although not very well. So, you're up for grabs. And since you're stupid, you're eligible for our slay-away plan right now."

"What do you mean?"

The black girl smiled and shook her head.

"There are two types of circles, sport: binding . . . and protective. When you summon a demon, you can summon them inside a binding circle while you stand outside it . . . or . . . you can stand inside a protective circle and summon them outside it. The choice depends on whether you want to make a deal or send them out to do some dirty work. But you, being a genius, drew a binding circle and stood inside it. Why do you think I've been standing so close to you? Because I think you're attractive? Not! Despite what Hollywood likes to put in movies, stupid isn't a turn on. But it does make this a retrieval instead of Let's Make a Deal."

Too late, he tried to jump out.

Her claws sank into his bicep.

She snapped the fingers of her free hand and the radio switched on, blaring out AC/DC's "Highway to Hell."

"Love that song," she said, her eyes changing to snake-eyes. "It's so inspirational. Motivates me to be all I can be."

She dug her claws in deeper.

He screamed.

"Here's the deal, sport. You promise to scream, mewl and whine for me and I promise that it will only hurt for the first dozen centuries or so. Deal?"

She amused herself in time to the song, having her bit of fun with his corporeal form. Then in synch with the final line, she ripped his soul out and dragged it down, leaving his body to collapse inside the circle.

The police described the murder as "some sort of ritual."

x x x

Bedazzled is one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" flicks so this story was almost a shoo-in as soon as I read it. Its quirky "humorous horror" theme sealed the deal and I'm happy to use it to kick off 2016. Your comments to our BBS, please - GM

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