Before I get to this week’s blog, I am supposed to mention that both the comic and this blog are on the RSS feed. The subscription address is: https://www.heroesoflesserearth.com/feed.xml That will let you know whenever there is an update in either place.
Now that that’s done… Lena has been wanting me to put this story online for a while, so I guess it’s about time. It’s a little bit sci-fi, and little bit fantasy. (Ugh. I can’t believe I just put Donnie and Marie into my own head!) This is the first half, you’ll get the second part next week.
Untitled, Part I
Daemona smirked fetchingly as the blood dried on the open page. Harry looked the contract over again to make sure it hadn’t changed once he’d signed. Three wishes, a year and a day to enjoy them, and one soul as payment. He’d hit as bottom as he could in one lifetime, a prime target for the Devil’s collectors. People like Harry thought their lives couldn’t be any more miserable than they were right now, they never seemed to give much thought to eternity. Daemona absentmindedly played with her hair and leaned forward to give Harry a little peak down the shirt of her business suit. Harry’s eyes bugged a bit.
“Harry Darling, you have a year and a day to make your wishes. But there’s no sense is making the deal unless you use them. What do you want?” Harry swallowed and coughed, bunching the threadbare blanket the shelter had loaned him up in his bony fists. Getting rid of the cancer in his lungs might be a good start.
The thought opened a door on the memories of all the things he had lost in his life. Job, house, wife, kids, parents, brother, respect, confidence, health… where to begin? There were so many things to wish for, and only three little wishes to get them with. Harry licked his lips, they were dry and cracked. He opened his mouth to wish for his Elaine… but something held him back. “I wish…” he started, then faltered.
“Yes Dear?” Daemona’s beauty, in such stark contrast to the squalid surroundings of the shelter, combined with the intoxicating odor of her breath to make it almost impossible for Harry to think straight. He opened his mouth again, this time to wish for her.
He remembered a woman he used to work with. A woman who’s charms he had once succumbed to. She had been beautiful too. And so smart…
“I wish… I wish for all my wishes to follow the spirit of my intent, rather than the letter of my request. No shenanigans.” Harry lay gaping at his own moxie. Where had that come from? From you, loser. A voice inside his head spoke. You used to be a lawyer, or have you lost even the memory of that?
Anger flared in Daemona’s face and she snapped forward to clutch at Harry’s wispy grey hair. Instantly she settled back into her calm and confident role, instead caressing Harry along the side of his face. Though he had looked terrified in that split second, she saw through the thin blanket that other thoughts were once more controlling his mind. “Waste of a wish if you ask me Darling. You sure that’s what you want?”
Harry’s eyes were closed as Daemona’s hand crossed over his chest. In his sudden bliss he answered her unheard question with an “Oh yesss…” that Daemona mistakenly took as her response. She rolled her eyes heavenward. It was going to be one of those jobs.
“Fine, done. Now let’s get with the wishing. Yours isn’t the only soul on Earth, you know.”
Suddenly it came to him. The perfect wish. As a child Harry had read hundreds, if not thousands of comic books. He loved super-heroes, and he had never quite gotten out of the habit of wishing he were one himself. Now, dying on a bed in a homeless shelter in downtown Chicago, he realized what he wanted most wasn’t anything he had already had. Look where that had landed him. If he were to have a truly meaningful wish, he would have something that was impossible for him to have any other way.
Harry’s mind raced over his favorite four-color heroes. Which was the best? He lit upon the one hero that had always intrigued him the most, not because of his stories in the comics, or what he had accomplished with his fantastic powers, but because of his enormous potential that he never exploited. The writers of the comic book were making a super-hero tale, and Harry had never felt they did the character justice. A hero such as this had the power to change worlds, and all he ever did was beat up bad guys. Finally, Harry was going to write the comic his way. He looked at Daemona, fully meeting her gaze for the first time since she had appeared to him. “I want to know anything I want to know — just by wanting to know it. You know, I think of something I want to know, and pow! I know it just like that.”
Daemona’s face made a little moue, but perked right up again. “Alright then! One question answered by the Powers That Be. Any question you want. Won’t you be the enlightened one?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. Anything, anytime. Not one question only. What kind of super-power is that? Are you trying to welsh on my first wish? You have to do it right!”
“Oh no, Darling, certainly not!” Daemona’s eyebrows shot up as an expression of nearly divine innocence came over her. “Just making sure I understood what you wanted, that’s all.” She smiled crookedly at Harry. “Are yousure this is what you want to spend your second wish on? You’ll only have one left. If super-powers are what you’re after nothing says ‘super hero’ better than flying. That one’s a real corker!”
“Something tells me if you’re trying to talk me out of it, that’s the one I want.” Though she still made Harry’s breath catch in his chest when he looked at her, some part of Daemona’s glamour had begun to fall away for him. Of course it might just have been that she was no longer touching him.
“Right, good. That’s just what I was about to suggest.” She paused, looking upwards into the darkened corners of the ceiling, but mostly just for effect. “Okay, it’s done. Go ahead, want to know something.” Harry’s head fell back into his pillow. His eyes fluttered up so that only the whites showed. Daemona leaned forward again, onto Harry’s chest, trying to gauge any reaction from her supine client. “Harry? Are you still with me? You still have one wish left!” Harry’s hand brushed her aside dismissively.
Daemona stood from where she had been sitting on Harry’s bed, angry to have been so impertinently handled by one of the Damned to Be. She began a rant, a really good one full of Fire and Death and unholy fury, but just as she was getting into the swing of it Harry slowly sat erect in his bed and focussed his attention on her face. He spoke a word, a name, in a language no man was ever intended to know. The name blackened the air between Harry and Daemona, and set fire to the ratty blanket covering Harry’s legs. He tossed it onto the tiled floor.
“Why you sonofa…”