1:3 It's the End of the World As We Know It

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"Oh great, thanks Marvin, you've let the zealots in again," Chad yelled. It was a common occurrence for various religious figures to come knocking at the doors of the apartment building, but the trick was to play dead, and never answer the door. It was much harder to be converted if a conversation was never had. "The fire's a new trick. Usually it's just pamphlets. How do you get enough donations to buy the horse, eh?" Chad would've chased him off with a baseball bat, but he felt if he stood, he would surely vomit again. Nothing good ever came from dry heaving in front of a horse.

"I am not some door-to-door religious fanatic, and this is not your apartment. I thought we covered that," ground the horseman through clenched teeth.

"Fine, seventh day, scientologist, whatever. Either way, you've got a blank check for recruiting," he said with a loose gesture to the horse, the horns, and the polo shirt. Oddly enough, Chad didn't think the pool of flame at the figure's feet to be all that impressive. Anyone can get a few bright lights and a smoke machine for a few bucks.

"I am one of the four horsemen, you insolent cur!" The figure swept his hands through the air and produced white hot flames.

"Ooh, and a close-up magician," said Chad, genuinely excited. He always preferred magic when he was towards the bottom of a bottle. "Do you have a deck of cards? Wait, I'm thinking of one now. Can you find it?" Genuine, childlike wonder very briefly crossed his face, only to be swallowed by the cynical nature of a fading drunken stupor.

The demon wrung his hands together, producing a series of unsettling knuckle cracks. A red glow had begun to run through his curved horns. "I've got a better trick for you," the horseman ran a hand over one of his horns, the bone growing red-hot wherever he touched. "I'm going to need a volunteer from the audience." He was using the voice of a used car salesman, friendly on the surface, but a gnashing predator waiting just below it.

"Oh, alright then," said Chad stumbling to his feet. The world spun maddeningly, and whatever was left of the liquor and chili fries in his stomach threatened to come back up. Somehow, he managed to hold it down. Puking on a magician would just be rude. He might have been in someone else's apartment, sleeping off a hangover he had stolen, but Chad still thought himself a man of standards.

The demon extended a gnarled hand, and gave him a winning grin. "Take my hand, and think of a lucky number."

"Mind reading?" Chad stuck out his hand and grasped that of the demon. It was hot to the touch, but not enough to burn him. "Not as good as a card—"

Chad was cut off as the demon pulled him close, ran a long finger down the tasteless, flowered wallpaper, and opened a portal to Hell.

"What the shit man?" asked Chad, exasperated. "I'm going to have to pay for that!"

"For the last time, this isn't your apartment," said the demon, and unceremoniously shoved chad's head through the portal.

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