A Lucky Day

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He got awaken by his wife’s yelling… again! Oh, boy! When that was going to stop? What now? What had gotten her screaming like this? He stood up unwillingly and dragged his sleepy body to the kitchen, where she was obviously in bad temper. “Why are you yelling for woman?” he said remorsefully, hoping not to be hearing one of those endless talks once more. Too late.

“Why am I yelling? Why am I yelling?” she screamed, echoing her bitchy voice right through his ears. “I am going to yell as much as I want to, for you are a selfish useless kind of a man. I regret every damn day I keep living in this house” Hell, no! She started all over with this shit! “Of course, you are not to blame. It’s my fault. Only mine, but you see, I had no sense then in my glorious days what life would turn out to be with you. No, not a clue! Fool! I wasted my youth, the very best of my years taking care of you and of this hovel we call home”

“Aren’t you bored already with this stuff?” he murmured, but she kept talking… loudly!

“Bored? I’m sick and tired of this life, of you! Watching you come and go to a meaningless job, playing mister obedient, not having the nerve to go and ask for a raise, for a better position, pushing those keyboards all day long and be proud of it! Bored? Sure I’m bored as I’m tired alright washing and cleaning and cooking and ironing”

He was really full of this talking which he was obliged to bear every single day for over twenty years now. Twenty years? Was it so long? He turned around wondering how quickly time flies and headed to the bedroom. While he was getting dressed, he could still hear the yelling from the other room. What an irritating voice this woman has! He took his hat and slammed the door behind him without saying a single word.

He soon was at the bus station, waiting among other people for the bus to come. Everybody was silent, although they met each other every morning. He guessed they had their own worries, so he remained quiet, too. After a while, he got in the bus and found a vacant seat next to the window. He thought maybe this was his lucky day after all, since he liked staring outside, but rarely had he the opportunity of sitting there.

Absorbed in his thoughts, he almost missed his station. He jumped off the bus the very last moment before the closing of the doors and he sighed in relief to find out that he was five minutes earlier at work this time. For his new boss had been clear enough the other day, that if he kept coming late, he would soon be shown the exit. It was the first time out of twenty five consecutive years of working at the firm that he felt kind of unsafe. The old boss had retired and left his son in charge of everything, but this young fellow was… well… playing the boss without having the slightest clue of running a business. A plain jerk! That’s what he was, but no one had the nerve to spit it out. Neither did he.

He entered the office looking down, because he didn’t want to get stuck in one of those trifling conversations with any of his colleagues. Now on he had to be extra careful with his moves, because the big eye was upon him. He could almost feel it everywhere. He sat on his desk, turned on his computer and started to update the clients’ database. Another tech improvement the new boss had brought in with him. Modern machines, brand new software, experts, websites, online ads, evaluations and meetings were some of the new generation changes that according to him had to be done long ago.

And what was wrong about pens and papers? Alright, maybe they did make the place look messy and all, having piles of papers and files on one’s desk, but they were trustworthy and efficient, too. He stared at the screen for a while lost in his memories and thoughts and not until the phone rang did he regain his consciousness with the environment.

“Yes, sir. I’m on my way, sir” he said, as being on the alert and felt a cold fever come upon his forehead. His boss wanted to see him immediately at his office. Bad sign. Very bad indeed, because he never called him before and his voice… hell, it signified the urgency of this meeting. He stood up, head down and directed upstairs with an unprecedented panic.

He hesitated a little to knock the door, but he eventually did it. He was trembling inside like a fish out of water, while approaching the young man, who could well might have been his son given his age. He nodded indifferently to have a seat before him and then asked him “How long do you work here?”

“Twenty five years, sir” he said proudly.

“And you do what?” continued the young man. Was he serious? He didn’t know that?

“I’m in the clients’ department, sir. I update the database with new information, sir” he replied steadily voiced, not to show his stress.

“I see and how you manage with computing, may I ask?” said the young man with a bit of irony in his words.

“I do my best, sir” and that was way too sincere, since he was trying hard with those devils. He’d even attended some intense computing courses to figure out their operation.

“Well, I believe you. I truly do, but…” he paused a little and continued “…there is a problem on the matter. You see, your working pace seems to be slowing down the other employees…” There! He said it! Oh, boy! What now? “…and this I’m afraid can’t be ignored. Having other sections to depend on you is rather… risky for the efficiency and credibility of the whole company…” Shit! He was in big trouble, that’s for sure. “…so…” Here it comes! The sentence. Oh, God! “…we’ve decided that you must be removed.”

“And go where, sir?” he managed to utter in despair and sort of naively.

“That’s your decision. Of course, you will get your monthly payment normally and the compensation the law defines. I’m sorry, but you see…” he kept talking, saying how sorry he was, that he could provide him with a recommendation letter or even say a word to a friend that owned a warehouse somewhere close and blah blah blah…

The man only stared at this hypocrite who pretended to be caring all of a sudden, but he had only one thing on his mind. How am I going to tell my wife I was canned? How will I bear her yelling over this? And then? Having her all day long in my ears until I get another job and what job would that be, considering my age? Shit! He was so doomed!

Wait a minute! What if… and there he hit him, this vicious idea. His demons occupied him instantly and it took just a tiny moment to change it all. Really, time could be both enemy and ally. He grabbed the stapler that tempted his eyes all along his boss’ cold and careless talking and boom! Right on his forehead, his bloody stupid head. “Here! Talk now you arrogant jerk!” he said and then calmer than ever before called the police.

The “D” Case

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As a New Yorker lawyer, Amanda enjoyed quite a career and her fame grew stronger day by day. Undoubtedly she was a reckless woman, who considered hard cases as a challenge for her skills and never gave up any of them no matter how long the odds appeared to be on her side. As a person, she was tough, rational and independent. Being in her mid thirties, she had no family or any serious affair to settle down and all she cared of was success.

That’s why she decided to take on the case of a mysterious client, who had sent her an anonymous letter signed by the initial “D”. Amanda was quite interested in the case and, well, since the amount of payment was unconceivable high, she thought that he must be a very wealthy man. The only problem she had to overcome was that of the place, for she had to travel back to Louisiana, where she was told by her parents never to return.

The letter’s instructions sounded clear enough and Amanda, being a professional above all, didn’t mind of the sender’s true identity. After arranging the most important affairs of her office, she took the first flight to Louisiana. When she landed, darkness had already fallen.

To adjust herself to the new environment she went into a bar. She walked towards the bar tender and asked for a cold beer. It was a hot summer night and Amanda felt sweaty underneath her white shirt. She hated that, especially when she was about to meet an important client.

Having an insatiable sip, she took a look around. There were a few people listening to the sounds of a local band, consisted of four old black men that seemed to enjoy playing the blues. She never thought much about this kind of music, often saying it was “miserable”, but strangely this night Amanda found it rather intoxicating.

She unfolded the letter to check again the meeting details. Focused on reading, she didn’t notice the young man, who took a seat next to her until he said: “Amanda Wishborne?”

She was much surprised to hear her name from a gorgeous man like him at a freaking place like this. “Why, yes. And you are…”

“Daemon Hunt. Nice to meet you” he said, while shaking gently her fragile hand.

“Likewise. Are you Mr.D?” she asked deducing the initial from his name.

“No, but I’m managing his affairs. You see, Mr.D is a very busy man and likes to keep a low profile” he replied indifferently, yet staring at her persistently.

“I understand” Amanda felt uncomfortable by his gaze, so she used her usual escaping technique – speak about business. “Shall we start now?”

“I believe you are tired. We’d better meet tomorrow about evening. Here, take my card” he said and gave her one hell of a card. It was awesome. She thought to change hers into this brilliant design, when back at home.

“As you wish” Amanda felt relieved, because what she really needed this very moment was a cool bath. Not to mention that she hadn’t gone yet to her grandma’s house.

Amanda was twelve years old when her parents died in a terrible car accident. She could clearly recall though many spooky stories they used to tell her about this house. However, Amanda was a grown up now and as a rational woman, she didn’t believe any of those dark legends that made little children hide under their bed and illiterate people cross themselves.

Despite that, she felt sorry for her grandma, being all alone, having her only son far away. She had no idea why her dad eventually turned his back on her mother, but there surely must have been a good reason for doing so. Yet, Amanda, being the only grandchild, felt obliged to give her some joy by visiting her. Not that she would have planned it otherwise, but since her way brought her here, what was there to lose?

Around midnight she arrived outside the front door of the old house that seemed to be long abandoned. She ringed the bell which in turn left a breathless sound as if it was a step before passing out. She then noticed that the door was open, so she entered anyway.

“Grandma?” she shouted, but no reply came back. She walked towards the wooden stairs which led up to the bedrooms. Surprisingly, she remembered every corner of this creepy house, even though she was only five years old since the last time being here. She left her fancy suitcase on the floor and started ascending the old stairs with caution afraid that they might collapse any time now. Suddenly, she saw a female figure in a white night-dress standing at the top of the staircase.

“Grandma?” she said again. It was dark and she couldn’t recognize the face. The woman stayed silent, pointing towards the big bedroom, but before Amanda reach her she vanished in the long corridor. Amanda knocked the bedroom’s door, but she got no reply either. She entered to find her grandma lying in her bed with her eyes open.

“Jesus Christ!” she uttered and quickly approached the old woman to see if she was alive. Her face was pale and her body cold, but she could still feel her pulses beating through her wrist. Amanda was shocked. She opened her bag abruptly to get her cell phone out and Daemon’s business card fell on the ground. In moves of panic she called him for help.

Amanda was glad for having his assistant, for she knew no one in this bloody town, but it was not only that. From their very first meet, she fell for him something stronger. It wasn’t love, though she found him very attractive. She had met other handsome men back in New York, but he… well, he had something different, an unidentifiable charm.

While waiting in the bedroom for Daemon to arrive, she approached the dusty piece of furniture with the broken mirror. She took a look on the framed pictures that captured images of the past: one of her grandparents married, another of her grandma much younger, one of Amanda’s when she was a baby and one of another married couple, but their faces were torn out. She took a better look on this last one. Gosh! She knew that wedding dress, it was her mom’s!

Amanda left the frames slowly back on the furniture and looked at her immovable grandma with curiosity. Something very weird was going on. She moved around the room, searching for evidence and there she found it. An old leather bound book with symbols and lyrics, ingredients for magic potions and spells.

“What the hell?” she said deeply upset. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She sat down on a black velvet armchair and put the book on her knees. While she was looking it up, she heard a familiar voice, whispering in her ears with a great urgency: “Run!” She closed the evil book and unconsciously put it in her bag.

Amanda was terrified. Outside the window, the full moon was hiding behind the tall swamp trees and dead silence was everywhere. For her relief, she saw the lights of a car coming to the house.

“Daemon!” she screamed and while moving to the exit, the door closed suddenly before her face. She tried to open it, but it seemed to be stuck for good. She heard footsteps on the stairs and started crying for help knocking the door violently.

“Daemon! I’m in here!” she kept shouting, but then she stayed still and white as a sheet, for her mother’s voice was whispering again a familiar legend that she had listened to numerous times in the past:

When a Hoodoo Mistress dies, the first born female offspring cries.
As her soul belongs to him, so the offspring’s soul does.
In a full moon night beware, to collect the souls he comes.

Amanda was shaking in terror. It couldn’t be. No, it made no sense. It wasn’t real. No way. She closed both her eyes and ears, too afraid to see the truth or hear anything else. Just then Daemon entered the room, after breaking the door.

“Amanda?” he said anxiously “Are you alright?”

“Daemon!” she said and fell into his strong arms to find comfort and protection.

“What happened?” he said trying to calm her down.

“Let’s get out of h…” she replied, but before she completed her phrase, her grandmother left an intense cry of pain. Her body started to tremble, as her soul was getting out of her slowly like a rising smoke. Just before she passed away, she looked Amanda straight in the eyes and whispered something in an unknown language.

Scared to death, Amanda hid deeper in Daemon’s hug and not until then had she noticed a little tattoo on the back of his neck, a symbol that she had recently seen elsewhere. In a second she remembered. The evil book was full of these symbols!

“Oh, my God! Who are you?” she said pushing his body away from hers. A little smile came along Daemon’s face, a smile that made Amanda understand that he was not an ally after all.

“I believe you have something for us” he said sharply and he was not smiling anymore – far from it. His expression suggested the importance of the moment.

“What… what do you mean?” Amanda tried to talk about it in order to earn some time for constructing a rescue plan. No luck.

“You owe something to my boss and well… maybe a little gift for me?” Daemon’s eyes twinkled in the moonlight.

“If you refer to the check he sent me, I got it down in my suitcase” she said in hope to get out of the deadly room immediately.

“No, not that” he replied with a bit of irony in his voice.

“What then?” Amanda looked puzzled in fear.

“That…” he said pointing to her bag.

“You want the book? Fine. Here, take it” she opened her bag and got out the damn book, but when she stretched her arm to give it to him, he grabbed her violently and said:

“We are not done yet” and his eyes became red like fire.

Amanda screamed in terror and asked in tears: “Who are you?”

Daemon came closer and whispered in her ears: “The collector”

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