By Kimberlee Akimoto
Saul Reaver – Hunger Demon #666-13 – sat in the corner booth at the Greek diner on Inferno Way and waited. His 8:30 was late and for a brief moment, he wondered if the prospect had changed his mind. They sometimes did, but in the end they always gave in to their hunger.
It was a slow night. Nikos was in the kitchen watching a soccer game and Alexia was filing her nails in boredom behind the counter. Both the cook and the waitress were on the payroll. Their job was to keep Saul happy and to maintain order whenever necessary.
At 8:37, the diner door tentatively opened, closed, and then opened again. A gaunt face peered through the doorway and soon the rest of the man’s lanky frame followed. He wore a petrified expression and a long camel-colored wool coat two sizes too big for his skeletal frame. He flinched at the sight of Alexia who was in the process of sizing him up and quickly scurried over and slid into the seat opposite Saul.
The corner of Saul’s lip twitched in amusement.
“Good evening Mr. Terkel. I was starting to wonder if you had changed your mind.”
“Sorry I’m late,” Terkel mumbled.
“Oh, no need to apologize,” Saul said smoothly. “So Mr. Terkel, tell me: what is your hunger?”
Terkel’s eyes bulged at the question but he remained silent.
“Is it Fame? Wealth? Power?” Saul paused ever so slightly, then said: “Ah, perhaps love?”
Terkel nodded; his ravenous eyes gleamed.
Saul grinned in response – a wicked grin that revealed shark-like rows of pointed teeth. Terkel suppressed a gasp and immediately slumped deeper into his chair.
“Love,” Saul thought smugly to himself. When would they ever learn? Still it seemed to be a popular choice. Most people hungered for human connection but in the end, what did it matter? In the end, they always died alone.
“I think I can help you,” Saul said easily masking the condescension of his thoughts. “Did you bring what I asked for?”
Terkel produced a photograph of his unrequited love and slid it over to Saul.
“So this is Lily. Very tasty,” Saul said licking his teeth. “Some lilies are poisonous you know? Makes them even tastier.” He put the photo down and handed Terkel a contract. “You’re welcome read our standard disclaimers and limitations of liability at www.hungerdemon.com before signing. Remember, no warranties provided or exchanges permitted.”
“That’s okay,” Terkel muttered as he quickly scribbled his name on the contract. His signature illuminated for a split second before becoming permanently etched.
Saul smirked as he placed the signed contract and photo into his briefcase. He looked at Terkel and saw the telltale devil’s mark slowly burn itself into the middle of his forehead. Another happy customer; another deal closed. He shook an exuberant Terkel’s hand and watched him practically dance out of the diner.
“Yes, I know. He really should have read the disclaimers and limitations of liability, but he signed of his own free will. Mr. Terkel shall get what he wants – well, more or less,” Saul said shrugging nonchalantly before breaking into a wide, toothy grin. “Alexia, some ouzo to celebrate! I think I just beat Fatty Faust for Hunger Demon of the month. I am sizzling in soul sales lately. The boss will be so very pleased.”
As Alexia poured the clear licorice-flavored liquor, Saul thought of Lily and of another way that he might celebrate this auspicious occasion….