Once again, I would like to push my books from Musa Publishing. Come on! You know you want to read them.
Eddie stood at his locker, staring at the manila folder. He opened it for half a second before slamming it shut and heading for the command offices. He threw it onto Assignment Officer Diaz’s desk, who looked up at him from his paperwork, expressionless.
Eddie placed his fists on the desk and leaned forward. “I want Shaun Harris.”
Diaz grabbed the folder and flipped it back at him. “Harris is out on another mission. This is the best I could do.”
“I can’t do it.” Eddie pushed himself away from the desk and paced the room. “I can’t go out with a woman.”
Diaz leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his stomach. “Rie Danalgo is highly capable.”
“I’m sure she’s more than capable, but that doesn’t change that she is a she,” Eddie spoke between gritted teeth and chopped his hand through the air to emphasize his point. “Do you know what I just went through? What I will be going through? I can’t trust ‘em. I can’t handle being around them. I might lose it. I might say something rude, and then I’m stuck with her for months. I filed the paperwork asking for Shaun, just like you asked me to.”
Diaz threw his hands out to his sides. “What do you want me to do? We’re short on personnel right now. Petroid’s expansion is growing exponentially faster than the manpower I have to oversee it. I read your request and did the best I could. This is the only assignment I have open right now. If I had any say in the matter, you wouldn’t go out at all. You would stay landed until you got your crap together.”
Eddie stopped pacing in front of the desk. “What about a rookie expedition? Isn’t there one of those going out?”
Diaz leaned forward and punched a few keys on his keyboard. “Sorry. Everything’s booked.” He leaned back in his chair. “It’s only three months.”
Eddie snatched the folder off the desk and headed for the door.
“Hey,” Diaz stopped him before he walked out.
Eddie glanced at him over his shoulder.
“You have your medication? The shrink’s number?”
Eddie sighed and nodded curtly.
“Use them both. Everything will be fine. I know how hard this is for you. But, you know what? You’re not the first person to go through a divorce. It will be all right.” Diaz smiled, attempting to lighten the mood.
Eddie clenched his jaw and stepped out of the office, refraining from slamming the door behind him. Diaz was trying to be nice, to help him out during a difficult time, but the only thing that was truly going to help was a different shipmate.
The Devil Made Me Do It
Anger and pain surged through his body as he thought about that fateful day. Even if the man before him was crazy or a figment of his imagination, his offer was better than anything else Adrian had at the moment. He agreed. The man placed a hand on Adrian’s forehead. His skin was so cold, it sucked the heat from his body, beginning with his feet and running to his head. When all the heat dissipated, he was pulled back into darkness. He didn’t feel any pain, there was no bright light, and there was no sudden realization that he had the answers to every question in the universe. It was just him. Naked. Waiting in the darkness for something to happen.
The man reappeared after a few minutes, bathed in a red light. He circled Adrian, who turned to keep him in view.
“There’s no reason to be suspicious. The hard part is done.” He stopped pacing and placed his hands on his hips.
“Where are we?”
“Right now, nowhere. We’re on a plane between life and death.”
“You mean Purgatory?”
The man grimaced. “Not exactly. Purgatory is an actual place, this is nothingness.”
“Who are you?”
The man held out his hand, a sneer on his lips. “I’m the Devil.”
Adrian stared at the limb like it was leprous. He glanced around the room, expecting someone to jump out and tell him it was all a joke. He glanced back at the man, who had withdrawn his hand and placed it in his pocket.
“Perhaps ‘Lucifer’ would be better?”
“What’s going on? Why did you bring me here?”
“To offer you a job. You know, like we talked about in the hospital room?”
Hazy memories of being hooked up to machines and a breathing tube drifted through Adrian’s mind. He shook his head, trying to get a clearer picture.
Adrian’s brain felt like it was expanding in his skull, threatening to explode his head. What was going on?
“Assassin? Why do you need an assassin?”
The Devil clicked his tongue and began pacing again. “Well, you see, Adrian, we have an ongoing tiff with Heaven, and we need soldiers to fill our ranks. Unfortunately, we can only get those soldiers if someone dies.”
“So then just wait until someone dies.”
“Yeah, see, it doesn’t work like that. Not everyone who dies goes to Heaven or Hell. Sometimes, they get stuck in Purgatory. See, I need soldiers now. Your job is to get me those soldiers.”
Confusion covered Adrian’s face. “You mean kill people?”
The Devil pointed a finger at him. “Precisely. It’s not much different from what you were doing, but this way, you can’t get caught. There are a few rules we have to abide by. We don’t just run around picking people off. If we did that, we wouldn’t be able to guarantee that they actually came to our side. We don’t want to give Heaven any more soldiers. We take souls that probably would survive, but then they’d have a change of heart, become good. We pluck them right in their prime of evil. But those are details you’ll work out later.”
“You said you’d give me the men who killed my wife.”
Lucifer placed his arms around Adrian’s shoulders. “In due time, my friend. Do a few small chores for me, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”
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