OK, this is a little flash fiction story I wrote for a challenge Chuck Wendig is doing. You can see more about it on terribleminds.com.
The challenge was to pick an opening line and write an 1,000 word story using it. Mine turned out 1,025 words. I hope it’s not bad to be off 25 words. The opening line I picked was “Every second Saturday Tom Pope had a beer with Devil.”
And here is the story…
Every second Saturday Tom Pope had a beer with Devil. He could always count on Devil to bring one hell of a mean brew. The journey was torture and he hated it, but no more so than Devil hated being called Devil.
The two would play chess while drinking to the point of being unsure which board they should place their piece on. It was never as much about the game as it was about the idle banter that inevitably occurred. Devil and Tom had been great friends since Tom first appeared on Devils’ radar. Tom had arrived in Devils’ office after committing his first murder. It was Toms’ humor and nonchalant demeanor about the whole ordeal that amused Devil.
That day, in the middle of Devils’ office, he challenged Tom to a game of chess. The stipulations of the match were clear. Tom would live if he won and he would die and come to Hell otherwise. Devil, however, is a very sore loser. He continued to challenge Tom until it eventually just became a bi-weekly event.
One Saturday, Tom was several hours late for their scheduled match. Devil had already started drinking and was nearing the point of belligerence when Tom opened the doors. “Yooouuure late!” Devil stood up and stumbled over the chess board in front of him. “Yoooer upposed ooo be eer tree ours go!”
Tom laughed and helped Devil back into his chair. “Yes, I see you wasted no time getting started. I also know you’re not that much of a light weight so stop fucking around. I ran into a jam and had to escape some authorities. I was also given shit by one of your minions at the gate. He was convinced that I’m not supposed to be here.”
Devil grinned and positioned himself in the chair. “You never let me have any fun. Sorry about the misunderstanding at the gate. It must have been Fred. He just died last week. He still hasn’t grasped how everything works. I’ll send him to coal duty next week if he hasn’t put his shit together by then.”
Devil filled an ivory mug with a Double IPA whose floral aroma wafted all the way across the room. “You have some catching up to do, and if I remember correctly, I played white the last time, so you start this time.”
Tom made his first move then leaned back in his chair and began to sip from the mug in his hand. He wasn’t much in the mood for their typical idle banter. Nearly being caught that morning had set him on edge, and being held up at the gate didn’t help the situation. He knew that his demeanor would ease up greatly once he’d had time to consume several more brews.
The match went very much like it always had. Devil would curse uncontrollably every time Tom made a move he didn’t like. Tom would just sit there, drink the beer, and tell Devil about the people he had killed that day. There was never anything new or exciting about the conversation. It usually devolved to nothing but, “That’s what she said,” jokes.
Tom did his best to compensate for his being late and consumed the beer that was being poured for him as though it would leak out if he didn’t finish it first. The room started to move on its own and the wall made of Demon flesh was actually starting to look somewhat homely. Despite his increasing level of inebriation, he moved his Queen across the chess board and declared, “Check Mate! I win again Devil!”
He leaned over to taunt Devil and fell out of his chair in the process. Then Devil said something that jostled Tom into sobriety. “You know Tom, I really like you.”
Tom quickly stood up and stared at Devil with his mouth hanging wide open. Devil grimaced for a moment then started laughing hysterically as he realized how his words could have been perceived. “No, no, no Tom! That wasn’t meant in a homosexual way.”
Tom giggled like a teenager. “Are you so sure of that?” Tom sat down and winked at Devil.
Devils’ face would have been turning red if it had been possible for his face to be any more red than it already was. “Don’t make this hard on me Tom.”
“That’s what he said.” They both realized the situation and started laughing uncontrollably. Several minutes passed before either of them were capable of stopping to breathe, none the less having any capability of speech.
Devil sat straight up and became serious again. “Ok ok ok, you got me on that one, but I’d like to be serious for a moment. You’ve been visiting me for several years now. I know what you do. I know when you’re going to die. I think there really isn’t much doubt that you’re going to end up down here. That’s both fairly obvious and inevitable.”
Tom looked at Devil quizzically. “Yes, what are you getting at?”
“Well, I need help. As you already know from the greeting you got at the gate, it’s hard to get good help down here. I don’t have time to train all of them, and I definitely cannot trust them to train each other.”
Tom started laughing at first, but then he became very serious. “Wait, you’re not joking are you?”
Devil shrugged and sighed. “No, I need help. We’ve had a terrible influx of damned souls lately and there’s just not enough of me to go around. I need your help. You would be in charge of training the minions and I could go back to doing what I like, torturing damned souls. It’s so hard to find any time to do any torturing lately.”
Tom raised his finger to his head and thought for a moment. “I’ll be down here instead of up there being tracked down by various authorities, and I won’t be tortured?”
“Will we still have our bi-weekly chess match?”
Devil nearly burst with laughter. “Yes, yes we will.”
Tom stepped forward and shook Devils’ hand. “You can count me in.”