Work Friends

Mark and Desmond slump down against the basement wall. Demon-killing is exhausting work.

Mark stares blankly for a moment then looks at Desmond. “I’m so sorry. It just came out.”

Desmond wipes demon slime off his axe. “It’s fine.”

“No.” Mark puts down his dagger, still dirty. “I mean, thank you. That’s kind. But it’s not fine. Obviously it’s not fine.”

“Don’t stress about it.” He pulls a plastic bottle out of his coat and pours oil over the axe.

Mark picks up the dagger and starts wiping it off. “I don’t even know why I said that.”

Desmond passes him the bottle. “Said what?”

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Tommy got up and left in a hurry, head stooped, clutching his arm. He headed out into the trees. Some looks went around the campfire. I was finished dinner, so I figured I could take this one. I stood up slowly, and picked up my machete.

Graham nodded too, from across the fire. He went to the RV, and came out with the one remaining gun we had bullets for, a big heavy revolver. I didn’t have to ask how many shots were left. We all kept count in our heads: 11. We saved them for each other.

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“Maybe someday, we’ll live in the castle!” The young man, Devon, sat on the grass and pointed to the cliffs where the Baron’s towers overlooked the bay, the spires piercing the sky.

The woman, his aunt Edwina, had lived long enough to remember when there were only three of those towers. Now there were six. By the time Devon was old, there could be a dozen.

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The Lawyer and the Genie

The lawyer took a deep breath and looked down at the cave floor. The trunk was still there: leather-bound wood, the kind of thing you’d lug onto a steamship. She opened it, and the genie flowed out, a creature of smoke but with a sly face and fire in its eyes.

“How long…?” it said.

“Three months,” she answered. “I work fast.”

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