Fair Trade

The window of the building slid open and an aroma of coffee danced into my nostrils. Coffee was the elixir of life. There have been days that I am sure until after I had downed a cup that I could have been mistaken for a zombie. The barista handed me my change and the ever so coveted steaming cup.

Her lips curled into a smile as she spoke, “Thank you sir, have a nice day!”

“The same goes for you.” I replied with a nod of my head.

Letting off of the brakes the car lurched forward and I made my way back onto the street towards work. Most of the lights stayed green but one turned red right at that moment when you have to make a rash decision to either floor it risking possibly blowing through a red light or stop to wait impatiently. I noticed a police vehicle stopped at the intersection so I opted for the latter. The last thing I needed was a ticket. The radio was playing a song with heavy drums to which I realized I was drumming my fingers to on the steering wheel. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing besides a couple of stop signs. While stopped at the last stop sign on the road I noticed the silhouette of a young child in the front window of the house adjacent to me at the intersection. The young child waved at me so I waved back. The car lurched forward again as I accelerated toward the office. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed that my usual spot was taken by Max the wise cracking ass of a manager that nobody likes. Max is the type of person that when you notice them coming, you do what you can to avoid talking to them even if it means crawling underneath a desk or slipping behind the vending machine. I stepped out of the car and was greeted by crickets still chirping the night away. Five thirty in the morning was way too early for anyone to be moving around. After shutting my doors I made my way to the building. The main hall was clear except for the time clock. I clocked in and walked toward the door at the end of the hall where my office was.

“Good morning Steve!”

Max popped out of his office door just a little too exuberantly. He scared the living hell out of me. The coffee flew out of my hand and down the hall onto the floor where it exploded into a mess. I daydreamed about punching through Max’s chest and ripping his gosh forsaken heart out.

“What the holy Hell is good about it Max?”

“You have your health and you have your job! Too bad about that coffee though. I bet you were really looking forward to it. It’s going to be torture cleaning it up, smelling it, and not being able to drink it. By the way, I can see why you like parking where you do! That is the perfect spot. You just might have to race me every morning from now on!”

“I would race you to Hell but I am already there,” I muttered quietly.

“What’s that?”

“I said, it looks like today you really beat me there.”

“I must be hearing things. I got to go manage some underlings so I’ll see you later, gator!”

Max’s voice echoed in my head. I went into his office, grabbed one of his shirts, and proceeded to clean up the coffee mess. I threw the dirty shirt under his desk where hopefully it would attract mice. I smiled in hopes that the mice would hopefully have developed a taste for human flesh. Right as soon as I got seated in at my desk my boss meandered on over with his chest puffed out like balloon that needed to be popped.

“Stevie Wonder! Listen, I know that job I had you on yesterday was top priority but we have three more top priority jobs that need done. Do you have the one done from yesterday?”

“You gave it to me at 4:55 yesterday afternoon. The end of the day is at 5:00.”

“So, I’m guessing that means you haven’t got it done yet. You know there are more hours in a day.”

“You know that people do more than just work right?”

“Well, I would think that you would put more effort into it than that. Bare minimum effort results in bare minimum reward. Anyways, I am so happy to have three day weekends every week now but still getting the pay for a full five day week! Let me tell you about what my son and I did last weekend…”

His mouth kept moving but I wasn’t listening. I sat there like a good employee and nodded. Every once in a while I threw in a “wonderful” just to fake interest in the conversation.

“Can you believe I didn’t get up until noon Saturday? What time did you get up that day?”

“Well Clive, Saturday I suppose I got up around five in the morning which gave me half an hour to get here.”

“Oh, that’s right. I keep forgetting not everyone gets three day weekends. They are so great! I better get back to work though Steve. You have kept me here long enough! Any longer, and I’d have to have you clock out just so we could continue the conversation.” Clive smiled and walked away. How he didn’t catch on fire is beyond me. My gaze of fury was so intense it was starting to hurt my face. How can a person piss you off so much that it makes your face start to hurt?

The buzzer rang to mark the end of the day. I grabbed a push pin, jumped out of my chair, and ran like a gazelle to the time clock and clocked out. The push pin was the perfect size to briefly stop by Max’s truck and stab a hole in his tire. With any luck, it would stay ok until he got home and deflate overnight. He wouldn’t be getting my damn spot tomorrow! I stayed kind of low to the ground and ran the rest of the way to my car and got in. Good riddance, the day was over.

The silhouette of the little boy was in the window again on the way back. At the stop sign he waved again. A taller and presumably older man came up behind him. When I waved back, the taller shadowy figure grabbed the little boy by the head with both hands and ripped the boys head off.

“Holy Shit!” I screamed.

I threw the car in park and hopped out. Running to the door I pounded on it. I don’t know what I expected; I was just hoping that what I had seen wasn’t real. After about twenty seconds of pounding a young man answered the door with thick black rimmed glasses and a dark beard.

“What the hell man, what is it?”

“I just saw someone get decapitated in the window!”

“You did? That is awesome!”

I stood there stunned for a moment.

“Oh, you don’t know do you. This house is a haunted house. The decapitation is one of the rarest spirits that hardly gets seen. I’m Brian, one of the members of the local ghost hunting group Spiritz. We end it with a Z because it’s cooler. Come on in.”

“Who was it?” asked a voice from inside.

“Some guy that says he saw the decapitation spirit!”

Another man came running into the main room. He had long hair and big horn-rimmed glasses. There was some kind of electronic device around his neck. A little boy walked in the room behind him.

“The decapitation huh? That is awesome! My name is Mike. We have been studying this place for a long time. Apparently, an occultist used to live here and they would perform rituals and séances all of the time. One day everyone in the cult was found slain in this very room. Rumor has it; they succeeded in conjuring up a demon.”

The house started to shake. The walls started to bleed. The damn walls started to bleed! A loud voice boomed from somewhere within the house.

“The pieces are now all together. The time has come for my rebirth. Four souls are all I need to resurrect myself. I will institute a new Reich. People from near and afar will worship me or die!”

The loud voice ended with long lasting maniacal laughter. Mike’s chest all of sudden burst open. A hand was holding his heart. The tall shadowy figure from the window was standing behind him. Blood started pouring from Mike’s mouth. The shadowy figure pulled the heart through the other side and ate Mike’s heart like an apple. The blood of which dripped from his shadowy lips. Brian, perhaps the smartest of us all bolted for the door. Unbeknownst to everyone, the shadowy figure could create and manipulate chains out of the same material that he was made of. A long black chain shot from his hand and wrapped around Brian’s neck. The shadowy figure snapped the chain tight and you could hear the crack of Brian’s bones echo throughout the house. The chain fell though the floor dragging what appeared to be Brian’s soul with it. All that was left was me and the little boy, Mike’s little boy. The shadowy figure crept up until he was face to face with me. He flashed his red eyes and forked tongue. I closed my eyes. When I opened them he was gone. I turned to see where he went and spotted my body against the wall. My death had happened when he struck me and had been painless. My body was a mess. Another shadowy figure entered the room and was gliding without touching the floor. This one had a long scythe in his skeleton like hands. Somehow, I just knew it was a reaper that was here for me. The shadowy figure from before now had his hands rested on the little boy’s head getting ready to rip it off. Something needed to be done. I ran and jumped on the back of the shadowy figure causing him to loosen his grip on the boy’s head. He growled and thrashed around trying to throw me off. In the corner of my eye I saw Death finally get close enough to swing his scythe. In a wide arc he swung piercing my back. The blade came out on the other side of the shadowy figure’s chest. He wailed and black chains shot in every direction as a last ditch effort for him to try and ground himself to this plane of existence. I held tight. Fire started to engulf the both of us. Crimson fire was spreading from the hole in his chest whereas white light started to shine from mine. I gave my life for the life of the little boy. It was a fair trade, and my life was worthier because of it.

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