Demonic Candid Camera
Son of a…
Sam Oliver aimed a hefty kick at the box balanced on the edge of the bed and fumed as his toes throbbed indignantly. The box stayed right where it was, refusing to budge. He glared at it for a few moments, before prodding it firmly with his index finger. A crack in the knuckle warned him he probably shouldn’t try that again.
“Guess I could just blow it up,” he considered darkly.
A tempting thought, and somehow he had no doubt that he would be able of such a feat. Hell, he had no idea how any of this was supposed to work anymore. Sam rested his hands along the lid, again thought of sending it in shards across to his bedroom wall, and instead lifted it open. Blinking away the mist – the mist not tears, he assured himself angrily – he pried out the pen and shook it experimentally.
Ok, he could handle that. It was way better than a sweater, after all. And maybe, if he got this done quickly, the Devil could just laugh and tell him what a big joke it was. One of those gags, just for the facial expression. Bastard probably took a picture. Sam nodded. “I can totally handle this.”
Sliding the pen into his pocket, he took shaky steps down to the dinner table, where Kyle was already waiting with that scowl on his face.
“No,” Sam remonstrated himself softly. “It’s not true.”
Left over night was hardly ever that – usually his mum’s excuse to whip up his favourite meal just to make him feel better. Kyle would notice, raise a stink, just like usual. Sam took a few short breaths as his chest failed him. He grunted noncommittally, and took a few long draws of the glass of water at his seat to quell the pain forming in his heart.
“Looks like I lucked out this week for leftovers, huh, Kyle?” he said automatically.
His brother scowled. Sam’s lungs only struggled further. It wasn’t fair that Kyle had had to go through all this, especially if…no, no, I’m just on demonic candid camera. Deep breaths, Sam.
His…father settled across from him, and flashed the usual genial smile, offered to pass over the soggy second rate potatoes first. Sam took the platter wordlessly and dumped a pile of them across his plate. Peering over the table at the cause of all his grief, the young reaper wasn’t sure that could speak without bringing down the ceiling around their ears. Kyle snatched the platter from his hands in his reverie.
“Kyle!” exclaimed his mother in dismay. “You’re too old for me to remind you for your manners.”
Sam buried his gaze in his potatoes, pained. This was what he was used to – hopeless but lovable parents, and good old Kyle bearing the brunt of the parental gale. But staring around at the smiles slipping from face to face, he felt the walls close in on him. He didn’t belong here. Shoving back his plate in disgust, he rose to his feet.
“I’m going out,” he snapped.
The hybrid lay ignored in his driveway, and Sam wandered the neighbourhood in a furious haze. He watched the cars arrive to a triumphant return to their homes, watched the lights switch on and smelled the food spilling from cheerful kitchens. Feeling his envy curiously detached, he flipped up his mobile phone and lazily typed in Sock’s number. Before the call could connect, he found himself hurling the phone away in the hedges.
The phone slammed into the back of his skull.
“I swear to God – ” he growled, wheeling around.
There was the Devil, the proverbial passer-by, all glib and glamour. “Looking to put someone on garbage duty, Sam?”
“Depends who the garbage is, dick.”
“Careful, now, you wouldn’t want to get struck off the inheritance, would you?”
“Leave me alone,” muttered Sam, slipping his hands into his pockets.
The pen jabbed his fingers, and he felt a string of blood slide under his nails. He yelped and shook out the hand in front of his face. Great, just great. All jokes on Sam Oliver today. Sam glowered in a fresh wave of irritation. “Look, I’m not laughing. Get over it already, or give me the punch line. Then we can get on with my job, right?”
“I’m fresh out of punch lines, Sammy, but if it’s the bottom line you’re after…I’m sure I can accommodate you.”
Sam regarded him suspiciously. “Fine, just tell me what the hell this pen means.”
“Already expecting favouritism?” enquired the Devil lightly. “Don’t you think you should slow down a little?”
That was it. No more. Sam burst out, “I’m not your son! I’m just some loser who got saddled with dumb parents and two stupid jobs! I don’t know how you get off on this one – frankly, I thought zapping people was more your thing – but it ends now.”
“Take it easy, you can still be my favourite employee.”
“Oh my God, just go!” shouted Sam.
The porch light nearest to him flicked on. He shot a baleful look at it, and swept back to find the irritation gone. Simultaneously relieved and terrified, Sam hurried off to find Sock.
“Can I borrow this?” Sam asked his friend as he lurched into Sock’s house, spying the baseball bat set against the wall.
Without preamble, the reaper slammed it against his head and let out of a violent curse, worthy of his boss and now, apparently, real father. Mortified, Sock snatched away the bat and petted it. He complained, “This is a good bat, Sam! It’s okay, baby, he didn’t mean it…”
Sam was too bothered to be surprised. He asked dryly, “You didn’t give it a name did you?”
“It’s my bi-atch, Sam. It doesn’t need a name.”
“Oookay,” Sam muttered, but felt his chest lighten a little.
Sock set down his precious pat very carefully before turning back to demand, “You violate the sanctity of my house, play hokey with my bi-atch – is this to do with El Diablo?”
It was not hard to notice how Sock always perked up at the thought of chasing around Seattle for Sam’s other employer. Sam whipped out the pen and tossed it to his friend, who clicked it a few times.
“You think this is what your parents signed with?” Sock asked brightly after a moment.
Sam flinched. “Look, I’ve got a problem. They’re not my parents.”
“Sam, that is a terrible thing to say. You want to keep on the will, right?”
“You don’t get it – the Devil said I’m his son!”