A Little Somethin' for Boss

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Inside the industrial-sized kitchen, an plump two-headed woman chops carrots. The head with the tight salt-and-pepper bun sits centered, as if original to the body, while the one with blond hair and rosy cheeks appears attached at the right shoulder. Both look around sixty, but if they're immortal, there's no telling their true age.

Oh shit, Boss says. It's Ulla and Inez.

Who?

Necromancers, Demon Whisperers, you name it. Two heads you want on your side when they open up a magical can of whoopass.

"In a convent?" I say. Father Timothy's concerned about me being here, yet they get a pass. The Catholic Church used to burn their type at the stake.

The priest snaps his attention to me, his expression drawn and sober. "Did you say something?"

"No." I shake my head.

After placing the wooden box onto the counter, Father Timothy addresses the ladies. "He needs the antidote for a soul contract, and he's possessed, so he'll need to regain control of his body as well."

The two-headed woman moves in and sizes me up, the one with the bun expressing a more judgmental frown. Around my back, a finger draws up my spine.

Oh, crap. Boss says. It could turn ugly if they detect I'm the demon possessing you.

They dislike you?

Try despise me.

"Hello." I grin and twiddle my fingers at them.

The blond makes an effort to smile, but the other grunts and turns away, taking them into the walk-in refrigerator. Then the door slams.

What do they have against you? I ask.

They exorcized me from my last host, but I escaped before they could put me into a keepsake jars for use in a potion. In the end, the fight resulted in a scar under their housecoat that traumatized me more than them.

Trisha leads me to a tall table in the corner. We sit at the only two chairs. The priest starts to pace. "Pete," he says, "considering what just happened, we require your support more than ever. But you not going after the keys when directed concerns me."

"Why did you hold back?" Trisha asked.

I tell them Boss immobilized me, even if I was equally hesitant to retrieve the keys.

Father Timothy's brow puckers. "We need to work together, but we can't accomplish this without trust. So, Pete, we need to know if you're up for this?"

"You hesitate again," Trisha says, "I lop off your head."

Promises, Boss says. Wading across the Sea of Shit in the eighth level of Hell with a bunch of false flatterers would be more pleasant than a face off with a fallen angel.

No matter who chops off my head, our fates are worse than that, I remind him. Me guarding Hell's Refugee Camp comes with ten times higher levels of punishment. And you could lose your identity in the molten demon recycling pool. If we take down Azael, we're free.

Trisha's eyes tighten in on mine. "You want to share the conversation you're having with your demon."

"Boss has no confidence I can beat Azael." So I have to ask, "Why do you believe I capable?"

"Our beliefs are not up for discussion." Father Timothy's pacing slows. "Azael prefers to procreate with holy women, and now that he has what he wants, we must get to Trisha's cave before he impregnates the nuns."

Told ya Azael's horny, Boss says.

"If he's able to impregnate any of the five sisters," Trisha says, "they'll come to term in a few hours. Each of his offspring will make him stronger, and forcing him back into his cell will be more difficult. Basically, we've got to capture Azael before he creates a litter of Nephilim."

"Nephilim?" I ask.

"Children of fallen angels and human women," Trisha clears her throat. "Listen. There's no more time to stroke your ego. What's it going to be? Help us, or lose your head?"

"I agreed to help." I rub my hands on my jeans to release nervous energy. Too bad it doesn't work. Then I add, "I won't go back on my word."

The refrigerator door pops open, and I nearly jump out of my skin. The two-headed lady exits holding a tall green cup. She waddles over and places it in front of me. "Drink it. Every last bit," the blond head says. "In a half hour, it will free you from your contract with Satan, and your demon will no longer drive your actions."

Ulla cuts in. "Although you can still communicate with Boss."

Shit, did she mention my name?

I ignore him and ask, "But I'll continue to be immortal?"

"Of course," Ulla says. "While couriers like yourself wish to regain their freedom from evil forces, they're not so willing to lose the amenities—"

Inez adds, "We have taken this into consideration in our antidote. Unfortunately, the automatic cash flow to your wallet for service to Satan will end."

Boss gasps. How will you buy me porn?

Inez leans in close and smirks. "I heard that, and I know you're in there, Boss. We've added something special for you. You'll figure it out when it hits, but you won't like it." While she walks away, she sniffs and grunts an odd sort of laugh.

Drink it and I'll twist your balls. Boss strikes at my coccyx.

Knock it off. I draw in a deep breath and cup my crotch, prepared for a below the belt punch.

"What's the matter?" Trisha asks.

"Boss is resisting."

"Listen here, demon." Trisha digs in with her nails into my arm. "I'm sure you deserve whatever Ulla and Inez put in the antidote, so don't ruin Pete's only chance to keep his head."

"Hey," I say with eyes wide on her grip. "That hurts me, not him."

They both lighten their hold. Last thing I want is to be in the middle of their war. Boss is probably already plotting his revenge.

I focus on the brew. How could a release from the underworld be as simple as downing a potion? Then tiny eyeballs float to the surface along with the ass end of a beetle. The foul odor of a sunbaked bait bucket burns my nose hairs. "You expect me to drink this."

"Yes," Trisha says. "Until your contract is fully broken, Margery can track you. Satan can find you."

I lift the cup and wonder why I agreed to help. I'm not the sort of man who saves the world. I'm the sort who sits in a van for nine hours a day, and by night, consumes a microwave dinner, half a bottle of scotch, and the latest political thriller. In a few gulps, fifty years of dependence on the forces of evil will end. It sounds terrifying, although not as horrific as Azael impregnating nuns.

Don't be a fool, Boss says. You're no fighter. Grab the sword, weaken Trisha, and I'll lead us to safety in the mountains.

I'd never beat her to the wooden box, I tell Boss. Besides, life isn't worth living on the run for an eternity.

Trisha waves her red fingernail at me. "Is your demon giving you more trouble?"

Still holding the glass, I shake my head and let out a slow exhale. Swiftly, I chug a few swallows, then gag. After a long burp, it's obvious that keeping the potion in my nervous stomach will be challenging. But the disgust I have for the drink is nothing compared to how I feel about the dead and kidnapped nuns.

You better hope this is worth it, Boss says, because thirty minutes from now, you're on your own.

We can still talk.

Why? If I can't get arise out of you, I might as well take a nap.

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