What’s Playing: “Elizabeth Lee” by Nakia
I have nothing interesting to say today, so I’m going to give everyone something to read. It’s a small taste of my upcoming work, “Devil’s Daughter.” It’s due out in the very near future thanks to the generosity of No Boundaries Press. No cover art yet, but that won’t stop me from sharing post-edit story goodness, now will it?
I should warn now… this is an intensely personal story. It’s my way of attempting to change the past, so please forgive me if it seems a little emotional.
We’re starting a few pages in, after Lydia has made her sloppy deal with the Devil to save her father’s life.
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On my twenty-first birthday, my mother called me at work. She caught me on one of the rare occasions that I wasn’t wrestling some deadbeat to the ground, and she told me that my Daddy had been in an accident at work. Scaffolding collapsed, pitching him to the ground from two stories up. The doctors said his back was broken, his left lung punctured and his liver lacerated. He wasn’t expected to make it through the surgery to reset the bone protruding from his leg. In short, it didn’t look good.
When I collapsed to the sidewalk in a hysterical puddle, time stopped again. The familiar smell of brimstone filled my senses. It made me dizzy and I knew that it was time to repay that favor. He could have picked a worse time to appear, but I’m not sure when that might have been.
“A favor then for a favor now,” He said. “I need your services.”
My services? That was sketchy. I was too busy freaking out to really consider the implications of that statement though. I needed to be on the other side of town. Yesterday.
“Can’t you come back some other time?” I asked. “I’m kinda busy here.”
He chuckled, and that sick, slithering feeling wormed its way into my spinal column again. I had to find how to keep this guy from laughing. I was already nauseous, but that sound made me want to lose my lunch.
“A favor then for a favor now,” He said again. I shuddered. “Without question.”
“I need to get to my father.”
“You will in time, sweetheart, but you and I have a deal to finish.” He produced that same scroll from inside His pristine white coat and unrolled it. He began to read again, this time to Himself. I watched His face, unconcerned until those smooth, wicked eyebrows rose and a ghoulish smile curled His lips. “Well, isn’t this an interesting predicament?”
I really didn’t like the sound of that.
“It appears that there are two parties signed to this contract.”
“No, there aren’t,” I argued, but that smile only widened. He turned the paper toward me. Scrawled in my blood was my name. Overlapping it at the edge of the page was a small drop of blood. It was a slightly different color than mine and I realized what I’d done. “No!” I shouted, but I knew it was already too late. Because of my stupid mistake, He had us both. My father’s life hung in the balance and it was all my fault. I was willing to bet the collapsed scaffolding had a bit of help.
“It appears you will do anything I tell you, Lydia,” He said, his voice eerily without inflection. “Because if you cross me, I have the power to take him forever.”
If I hadn’t already been on my knees on the sidewalk, I’d have fallen. I hung my head, defeated by the cunning monster.
“Fine. I’ll do it. Just don’t take him from me yet.”
That nasty sound filled the still air again and He knelt next to me. “I have need of your services, dear. You have a particular set of talents that will be quite useful to my operation.”
“I’m just a bounty hunter.”
“Exactly. You see, child, I am an extremely busy man. I don’t have time to chase down the shirkers and delinquents. You seem to be particularly good at it.”
“How is that a favor?”
“I have one in particular I need taken down…by any means necessary.”
“What if I can’t find him?”
“You will find him.” The way He said it left no room for argument. And I already knew what the punishment would be if I failed…