Sullivan had been a model prisoner for five years.
He kept to himself, and most left him alone: they’d seen proof of the bulky man’s strength in the yard. But he never caused any trouble. Until the day Marc made his little comment at dinner.
“Man, you look exactly like you did when you walked in here. What, you made some deal with the devil?”
The other men at the table joined in the rough laughter, though some felt slightly uneasy at the flat way Sullivan suddenly looked at Marc. He’d been sentenced to life for the brutal killing spree he’d committed in his sleepy little home town, though none had seen a hint of violence from him since then. But that gaze was anything but friendly.
“You’ve noticed,” Sullivan said quietly, taking a bite of food, his unblinking stare still fixed on Marc. “How lovely.”
The whispers spread through the prison that day, and they all looked more sharply at Sullivan. Marc was right: he did look the same. He couldn’t be a day over the age he’d been when he first arrived: 25. Usually, you looked ten years older by the time you were in supermax for a year. But not this guy. How had they never noticed before?
Sullivan’s eyes were bright that day, a smile playing his lips. It was time, again.
It had been too long.
There was no-one to stop the stranger from entering the prison the next day.
A row of dead guards lay slumped in the entrance of the prison. Their blood made bright, gleaming patterns on the blank grey walls. The flies were busily feasting on their flesh. The stranger’s carefree whistling paused when he saw them – this was rather gory, even for him.
“Oh, Sully,” he chuckled, before moving on.
He found Sullivan in the dining hall, slitting the last remaining prisoner’s throat, who died with a wet, strangled gurgle.
“You called?” the stranger said. “It’s been five years, I think. I take it they noticed something off about you…”
“Thanks for coming so quickly,” Sullivan said, turning to the stranger with a smile. “And yeah, they noticed. Can’t stay here any longer, I’m afraid, time to move on. And now here’s a prison full of souls, for your pleasure. I’d like the years, please.”
The stranger returned the smile a little hesitantly. “A deal’s a deal.”
He closed his eyes and gathered up the souls of the dead men, along with the years of life they should have lived – and sent them to the last living man in the prison. Sullivan sighed in contentment and opened his eyes again, which looked brighter than ever.
“I wouldn’t do this so…messily, again, if I were you,” the stranger said lightly. “They’re bound to tie it to you, eventually. You might have extra strength as per our arrangement, but you’re not invincible. You can be killed.”
“You’re worried about me, that’s so sweet. Don’t be. You know, I’m quite looking forward to joining you in hell, eventually. We’ll have so much to talk about, don’t you think? I might actually take you on for the top job once I’m down there, you know. It sounds like fun, being you. See you around, Lucy,” Sullivan said, as he walked out of the prison, whistling quietly to himself.
The stranger stared after him with narrowed eyes, alone among the dead. He was beginning to think he was the one who came off worst in a deal, for the first time in his existence. Why, the man seemed positively eager to join him in hell. And he believed that little threat. Evil schmucks with more confidence than sense had been challenging him for as long as he could remember. Stupid bastards.
But if Sullivan died, it might be the first time someone actually stood a chance.
Lucifer nodded slightly to himself as he began warping back to hell. He should increase the guy’s strength next time he came up to exchange years for souls.
It might be better for both of them, if Sullivan just stayed on Earth indefinitely.