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Eternal Payment

Episode 1: Bad Luck Follows You

    Getting beaten up by a troll was an odd feeling. It was one I wasn't keen on repeating. The problem is I hadn't learned my lesson yet. At least the winged jerks in the sky seem to think so. It's 2017 now and my New Year's resolution is to prove them wrong. I'm turning over a new leaf. No more dice. This time, I'm going to pay off my debts and get my damn wings back. I flinched again... Maybe after a little more practice.

    It is an odd feeling getting beat up by a troll. Emotionally, I mean. Physically it's still a kick in the teeth, and I'm no slouch. It's just that when you're actually standing there and this big - smelly - gray - smelly - hulking - smelly - witless - did I mention smelly (I mean I don't even know what kind of dead fish, skunk fat, and giraffe ass combo that is, but wow) monster is bearing down on you, what would you be thinking about?

    I can tell you, that at least in my experience, it aint what's on TV later. It's more along the lines of “Why the hell did I take this job?” I knew the answer, of course. I owed the wrong guy a favor and now I got to stand here and try my hardest not to die too soon because junior is still trying to make good on his escape.

    The troll had already trashed the office outside the safe room. They were looking for something they could use to bash the reinforced door in. Me being the lucky idiot who stayed out of said safe room as a distraction got to be the lottery winner in tonight's “What's on the menu?” episode.

    The trolls could probably get through the door quickly enough. That's when I drew the short straw. Keep the door secure until help arrives. Got it.

    There were three trolls that came a knockin'. The one that stood before me now hunched over and drooled on the tile floor. He stared at me with a hungry, stupid, and once again, smelly grin. “Here I am. My name is Jonathan and I'll be your dinner this evening.” Sarcasm in the face of dismemberment, that's just typical. This is why my brain doesn't take my mouth out for walks or nice steak dinners.

    “You. You need to open the metal door. Open it now.” the troll growled stupidly at me.

    “You.” I mocked, “You need to go kick rocks. Kick rocks now.” I growled stupidly back. My response went over about as well as you'd think. It took the loud warty idiot about four seconds to actually process what I said. It's expression changed from confusion, to realization, and then finally, to anger. He snarled at me and reached to his side.

    I figured out what he was doing about a half a millisecond before the chair started flying toward my skull. I ducked it easily enough. There was some distance between us after all. The troll hurled another chair at me. Finally, he let out a bellow and charged. I had been playing for time. Every second we weren't actively fighting was a second that I was still breathing and hoping that backup would show up soon.

    Why did I agree to this again? Oh, yeah. Favor. “Damn.” I said and reflexively winced; angels, even disgraced ones aren't supposed to curse. Let me back up a second here. When I say “disgraced”, what I really mean is “dis-GRACE-ed.” Sorry, got side-tracked again.

    The troll charged and I pulled out my revolver from the leather strap it hung in inside my jacket. I looked quickly into the cylinder and saw a light blue glow. Thumbing back the hammer I fired into the troll's center of mass. One thing to know about trolls, they hit like a truck and if you want to physically hurt them, you're going to have to hit like that too.

    I didn't have that kind of strength, but what little magic I maintained after my “going away party” as I liked to call it, went into crafting several special bullets. They were my proverbial truck and one of them flew right at that chair-throwing peabrain's chest. It pained me to use the bullet. That round was one of only a handful I had left. They were my lifeline back into the good graces of the lads upstairs. Once again, graces with a capital “G”.

    The round, as expected, hit the brute right in the center of his heaving lungs. Immediately acid started eating away at his flesh and sinew. One point Jonathan. The bad news is even with all the screaming he was doing, his momentum didn't diminish.

    His weight slammed me to the floor. He continued to scream and writhe on the floor of the office. “Not good. This is very not good.” I said rapidly as I tried to push the grunt off me. That magic acid would work on me just as much as him. I don't want it on me. No, thank you.

    Peabrain sat up and the pressure on my chest lessened immensely. My diaphragm expanded to breath again and I scrambled back on my elbows to get away from the acid. He took a nasty side swipe with his inch-wide claws. They missed, but barely. I kicked up with my boot and it connected with his nose. Crunch. “Yes.” I thought.

    The troll howled again in agony. “C'mon acid, work faster.” I said through gritted teeth. A fist the size of a dinner plate slammed down where my head had been. It was a blind swing through bleary eyes and I dodged it easily. I jumped to my feet.

    I was unscathed. Cool. The troll on the ground would not be getting up. That acid would bind it in pain until it's organs were eaten away. One down. I let out a small cheer. Okay, it was more of me turning to the beast on the ground and curb-stomping his face a few times, but hey, what's the problem with a little celebration, right?

    A malevolent snarl from the door cut my curb-stomp-fest short. Oh, yeah. There were three trolls weren't there? Just peachy. How had I forgotten that again? I really am the worst angel ever. The second troll was just as predicable. It charged just like the last one did, but I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't have the time. This particular troll was more of a green booger color than the last one, but just as strong. He grabbed me around the waist and threw me headlong into the metal door.

    My head rang like a tuning fork as I stumbled to my feet. The third troll stalked into the office. I know that the sin that got my wings clipped was gambling. I love me some dice rolling. I love me some dice rolling so much that I got in deep. It was as bad a run of luck as anything. “Kinda like right now” I thought.

    I stepped to one side and crouched behind a cubicle wall; my face already starting to swell from headbutting the safe room door. Oh, and by the way... OW! The sounds of clawed feet shuffling around the office slowly became clearer. Now what?

    I still had managed to hold onto my revolver. Lucky stars. I had five more rounds in the weapon. Only one of those was another of my special bullets. I'd loathe to fire it. They were dwindling rapidly.

    I gritted my teeth and stood back up and looked over the waist-high wall. Both trolls were very close, but were approaching from opposite directions. Why is it they learned tactics NOW? I fired three barks of my revolver at the troll on the left. At least two of them went straight through him and splattered the wall of windows behind him with thick red blood. The glass was bullet-proof and spider web cracks danced on it's surface. The troll fell back into a desk and crushed it to splinters.

    I had one more round before the last-ditch effort bullet. The revolver was a special make and fired a special caliber round. It had worked well on the beast. His green flesh stained red. It would have probably worked well on the final one had I been able to spin around fast enough.

    The claws slashed down and I felt my back split like a fillet-of-Jonathan. I crumpled to the floor and my vision clouded up with pain. I touched the bracelet on my right wrist to my forehead and I felt the inscription's magic knit up the gash on my back. I was just about to flip over and give this jerk the last two pieces of my mind when a heavy fist came down and everything went dark.

***

    “That's quite a story, Jonathan.” the man said. He looked down at a clipboard and wrote something on the paper he held.

    “Every bit of it's true. Doesn't that count for something?” I asked.

    “Yes. It counts for something. The young man did get away. One favor down, four more to go. I'm sending you back.”

    “Oh, C'mon! I earned at least-” I started to say, but a white flash cut me off. I woke up in pain on the floor.

Want to read some more? Click below to check out Episode 2!

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