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Mr. Norbert finished his bitters, and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
"My daughter is turning 40 in a few days. I don't know if Alziel will return, but I tend to think he will. I can read the signs well enough. I can feel him coming, Mr. Arlen, for his other pound of flesh."
I had heard enough lies from Mr. Norbert's lips over the years to know the truth. And this was truth. Impossible but perfectly truthfully the truth.
"But Mr. Norbert," I said. "Don't you have a choice?"
"None," he said, and laughed. "She is my only daughter. I would give anything."
"Maybe you do have a choice," I said after a moment. "There is always another way."
A week later we sat, clinking glasses in The Ravens Claw. It was awkward for me, because though I was right-handed I usually drank with my left.
People avoided us, two bent old men with hooks for hands, but they would be our bosom friends soon enough. We were lively and fun after all. And we had a story to tell, a doozy we concocted about us escaping from a Moroccan jail handcuffed to one another.
"I can't thank you enough," said a tearful Mr. Norbert. I had given him little choice after all in taking his place.
"Pish!" I said. "You may have one daughter, but in all this lonely world I have but one true friend. And what's a bloodthirsty demon, more or less, between friends?"
The Spirit of Michael John
By Jesse Ferreras
It was cold atop Mt. Currie. Yet there stood Michael John in the middle of October, gazing down on a Pemberton Valley blanketed in strokes of red and yellow.
That he died 40 years prior allowed Michael to survive the climate. He didn't feel the minus 40 C temperature at the mountain's summit, but he still felt cold and alone. His new form defied description. He could not be seen. He could neither touch nor smell nor speak in a manner that humans could comprehend.