Excerpt from “Rest for the Wicked”

Posted a little later than I intended, but still posted!

This is somewhat old stuff, and more than a bit theological, but it’s the only complete scene I really have that I’m not working on for the book on hand.

Enjoy. 🙂

“Face me, demon!”
The mayor shrugged and turned around, peeling open the skin on his chest with his fingers— he pulled it open as if it were taffy, pulled off the dripping, gory mess like a suit, and cast it aside, where it hung on the coat rack with the mayor’s nose upon the hook. The bloody man grinned at her, spreading his arms wide to present his dripping, glistening body. “You like what you see?”
“At least I haven’t drawn first blood.”
“Oh, but I’m pretty sure you have. It’s that time of the month, dear.”
“Enough talk! Draw steel— or whatever you use, monster, and prepare to die!”
“Die? Oh, you see, that’s just not something I do. Perk of being sculpted by the Creator’s hand Himself, before even creation had begun. My time will come some day, but it will not be today, nor tomorrow, nor all the tomorrows of you and the children you won’t have.”
“God, did he make you a motor mouth too?”
The demon laughed heartily, spitting blood and pulling out his entrails as he doubled over in heaving gasps. “Oh, oh God! You’re hilarious! You see, because on the one hand, it’s blasphemy for you to use His name in vain, but it’s also a question! God, He sure did make you guys a regular bunch of comedians.” He giggled again, flicking a bloody finger at Karoline, spattering her soaked armor in yet more blood.
“But seriously. No. Ain’t gonna fight. Nope, not for me.”
“Weak. I knew it. A cheap trickster with his sleeves all emptied out. Coward.”
“Coward? No, not I. A coward is one who must fight and refuses; while I’ve little choice in my fate, I’ve that same perfect capacity of choice that you do, and this is a fight I don’t need. Besides, you’d be pretty disappointed in the result.
He sauntered over, ignoring her sword as it plunged into his gut, and leaned over, whispering into her ear. “It’d look like me, but a hell of a lot less sexy. I’d probably scalp you, wear that around until I got bored.”
With a titter, he pulled himself off the sword and walked back to his desk, holding a section of his intestine in his hand with the rest of it dragging behind like a slimy crimson tail. “Feeling lucky, hot tots?”
“I don’t care if I die; I’ll not be the one who first cries hold. You’ll not have your easy victory today, demon.” Her sword quavered in her hand, just like her voice.
“See, that’s just the thing!” He laid himself sideways on the desk, crossing his legs and slowly twirling the length of his intestine, smiling and winking at her. “You’re so dedicated right now! So in the moment! I can just see that faith of yours, you all prim and cocksure in the efficacy of your destiny and the grace of His ineffable hand! What’s the point of killing someone like you? It’ll just be fhlup and then you’ll be heavenward bound and all I’ll have is this wet little meat puppet to play with for a few minutes, instead of your tormented soul for all eternity. The joy is so ephemeral. Kind of like sex.
“See, right now, both of us know exactly where we’re going. But only one of us really knows; tomorrow, maybe your faith should fail you? Look outside, look at all the corpses strewn in the street. A few weeks ago, ask them if they thought they were going to the Good Place if they should be struck dead by the Divine. Most would say yes, I think. But how many, really? How many really do you think went Upstairs? And considering what delightful butchers’ work you and I have made of the place, do you really think it was that many whose faith was so sure they made it past your good old Saint Peter?”
“It’s not my place to know nor to ask—”
“Oh no, of course not! Blasphemy to question the Divine, isn’t it?” The demon swept his legs off the desk and sashayed over to her, circling round and round, touching her here and there— wherever he touched, her armor and clothes disappeared from sight till she was naked with the demon but for the sword still clutched in her white knuckle hands. “Look at you, a readymade saint, following orders and your fevered visions with nary a qualm about its righteousness. You really think you’re the kind of believer He spoke of? You’re a sheep alright— a thoughtless, brainless, greedy little animal that has about the same self-preservation instinct as a lemming. My, you do have the shakes. You should find some medicine. Or maybe not; knowing you people, it’ll probably make it worse.”
“Lord who art in heaven—”
“Oh hush, we’re not talking about Him, we’re talking about you! You’re the one with the power to change! You’re his little precious with the right to choose? That sacrimonious right to choose, huh— give Man a choice between heaven and hell and he’ll choose hell every time. Wanna know why?
He leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek, then whispered, “It’s what you deserve. You know it’s true. That black little heart of yours has no more mercy nor pity than mine. You stole from the starving, abused the defenseless, and murdered the innocent for your own vanity. Face it, pretty little kid; yer goin’ to hell.”
“God forgives—” she tremored, feeling his touch all over her, hot, warm, yet cold and salty all at once, his voice resonating gently in her ear.
“Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! Proclaim your confession aloud all day! Sure, sure that means something when every fool on the street will parrot you a moment after. But to forgive, one must repent. And have you, really? You who takes lives “in the name of the Lord,” you who swear revenge upon a man who, to be honest, would’a done the world a favor if he’d actually killed you— you who, right now, with a sword in your hand and allies within earshot, pulses and trembles under the sensual touch of sin incarnate. I feel your pleasure at it; I feel your desire. So many things you desperately want, so much, much, much more than the far off and vaguely promised prospect of salvation. Sex. Wealth. Security. Power. Love. Family. Justice. And the power to dispense it from your own hands.
“Come on sweetie. We both know where you’re going. So why not enjoy the ride?”
Cold. Alone. Afraid. Little had changed. What had she to show for these weeks of penitence, of what she thought might have been genuine remorse? A weak, gutless, irreconcilable relapse into sin. God might exist, but forgive her He never could. The agony of it— to believe for so long she had been saved, only for her deception to come crashing down on her in a moment, as she had waded through the fallen, like she was some savior of all mankind. A crooked, greedy, prideful, unchivalrous knight was all she was, and it’d be what she’d die as— the torment of these months had been a pointless exercise in fraud and a self-perpetuated lie on the scale of a pagan saga.
Her heart broke.
With a cry she turned the sword on herself and drove it through her stomach as the demon leaned over her shoulder, his eyes widening as he saw the sword lance through her and straight into his chest, an unearthly roar rising up from his throat as the both of them sank to the floor, impaled on the silvered, bloodless steel.
“God dammit! God damn you to hell, you Isaacian, blockheaded, ass-sired, selfless little twat!”
Karoline coughed, blood dripping from her mouth, her entire chest becoming leaden as her muscles fluttered and split against the razor edge of her sword. “Ah, go fuck yourself.”
“I’m a demon. I can’t orgasm. It’s basically just a dildo.”
“Sucks for you.”
The bloody corpse groaned its last, and fell limp over Karoline, pressing her further up the sword hilt. She grunted, spat, and fell onto her side, no longer trembling, but still— not quite the still of death, but the calm of sudden, ineffable peace. Things didn’t seem so bad from the other end of the sword, to be honest.


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