|Created by Engagedesign.com|
A man in a button-down shirt, khakis and scuffed leather penny loafers weaved through the mall shoppers and joined thirsty office workers lining up at the food court Starbucks. He took his place behind a woman who clearly looked 20 years younger than him.
"What about him?" The voice of the apprentice demon thundered - unheard by those flocking in the food court.
The khaki-clad man had his nose in a sci-fi book. From behind the book, he noticed the woman shift her weight from one red heel to the other. She was perspiring slightly through her thin red blouse. Her skin glistened. His eyes began moving towards her black skirt. With a jolt, he shifted his gaze back to his book.
"With the books?" A second demonic voice deeper than the first pierced the air.
"That one, indeed."
The master demon and his apprentice considered the scene at the coffee shop.
"He's tempted," the apprentice said.
The master snorted. He shifted his hungry eyes onto the heeled woman whose perfumed sweat reached the demons perched on the upper level railings above the food court.
"No?" The apprentice pressed. "He's weakening."
A second later the khaki-clad man jumped out of danger. He ran out of the food court looking at his shoes every step of the way.
"Not today." The master turned his back on the coffee shop. His red eyes penetrated into his apprentice. He let out a sigh. "Lesson number one: target the willing. You are not yet ready for the other kind. Death speaks loudest to those who flee to us."
The apprentice demon faced his master. With a sneer, the master demon raised his left hand and swirled at the air with his index finger and pinky extended. The air reacted like rippling water. The demons were pulled into the swirling air. They whirled away, and then, quite suddenly appeared above an open-air market. The master then recounted the following story:
Many of their years ago I was apprenticed to Death himself. It was in the year 1187. We were visiting one of the many villages that Richard the Lionheart's crusaders were traveling through on their way to the so-called Holy Lands. We had been watching these vile creatures as we were now - looking for subjects. I should clarify. Death had an appointment later that evening. We were killing time, as they say, so he was testing my ability to identify subjects. Then, I was nearly as awful at choosing subjects as you are now.
The apprentice demon weakly supressed a growl.
"If you plan to challenge me, please, don't let me stop you." He bared his fangs. "It will be my fleeting pleasure to rip the essence from your body and swallow it whole."
The apprentice turned his gaze away. The master sneered, then continued with his story:
As I was saying, we were in an open market, this market, watching His pathetic children trading and buying goods. I noticed a servant hovering near a fruit stand. Apples, I believe. Figs, too. I pointed him out. Death smiled when I suggested the servant.
Death instructed me to watch. He descended to the market, transforming into a woman. Death brushed against the servant who then turned to look. I was allowed to see through Death's eyes.
The servant found the woman's form pleasant to gaze upon. The servant's attention caressed her. As you know, you can not look into Death's eyes for long. But the servant did. The blood drained from his face. A tremble shook his soul, and the servant ran away. Death lingered, looking at the ripened fruit.
Before Death returned to me, a wealthy man approached. With the forcefulness afforded only to the nobles of the time, the man grabbed the woman by the shoulder, turning her forcefully towards him.
"Why have you made threatening gestures at my servant?" he asked Death.
"I did nothing of the sort." Death's voice was deep like a man's. "If you know who I am, it would be wise to remove your hand."
The wealthy man obeyed.
I could hear Death's thoughts. She was searching the man's soul, reading his mind. Laughing.
"Your servant mistook my surprise for a threat," Death said, betraying a smile. "You see, I was astonished to see him here in the market."
I could hear Death laughing louder and louder inside my head. Death was laughing at them.
"I take it your servant has fled? You lent him your horse didn't you?"
The wealthy man took a step back. His eyes widened. His mouth parted slightly as if to say something to deny the claim.
"No need to speak, man. I know," Death said. "Your servant saw me, then fled to you, asking if you would help him hide in the next village."
The wealthy man did not need to confirm the truth of Death's assertions. The man's wide-eyed stare betrayed him.
"Fools… Death speaks loudest to those who flee."
Death moved in close to the wealthy man, their noses nearly touched.
"Your servant rode away from here to avoid his fate… But the boy doesn't realize he is running to me."
Death kissed the wealthy man on the lips.
"The look your servant saw was of astonishment," Death said. "I was astonished to see him in the market now since my appointment with him is not until later tonight in the next village."
The master demon swirled at the air again. The demons whirled, and the mall coffee shop re-appeared. The master demon settled on his perch.
"Shall we try this again?"