Authors note: I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have stayed with my sporadic updates to this story. Flick, it seems, has turned out to be a very popular character. I have decided to give him his own story and will begin writing when I have a good plot line in mind.

Quick warning.....there is some language in this final installment.

This was an experiment really. A prelude to writing my first novel and after reading what I have written here I realized that I needed more work in the descriptive and narrative forms. I also realized that I write much the same way that I read. You see, I tend to skip over the long descriptive stuff like......The wind blew strongly through the rust colored trees deep in the forest.....I like to get to the meat of a story. This perhaps tells me that I need to do one of two things...either stick to the short form or change my reading habits...lol.

Thanks again and do keep in touch.

Smeegol. _______________________________________________________________________ 15: An Ounce Of Flesh

The raiding party landed with only minutes to spare. I quickly took notice of our surroundings. Satan's throne room was nothing more than a large flat piece of rock suspended over the fiery entrance to Hell Proper. His throne, seemingly made from the skulls and bone of countless victims, actually writhed and moved as though somehow alive. Just behind that....

"Lisa!" I said aloud running towards her enclosure.

Satan stepped in front of Me almost nose to nose. "You have no authority here!" He hissed. "Leave now or her soul is forfeit."

"Go fuck yourself."

"Oooo! Such a potty mouth! Did you kiss your mother with that?" Satan strode casually in front of the Choir despite their drawn swords. Every so often he would blow one of the angels a little kiss or other defiant gesture as he moved to sit on his throne. Michael wanted to reach out and touch someone....badly.

"You can challange him for her soul Sir!" Flick appeared in front of me. He didn't wait for me to ask. "According to the laws of Hell, an individual may challange the keeper of the soul directly to some contest of his or her choosing. No champions may be appointed." He directed this towards Michael who stood nearby fuming.

The archangel looked at Me knowing that his temper would only get the better of him. I nodded in silent permission and he disappeared.

"HA ha ha! See how they abandon You in your time of need?"

I looked into the eyes of Satan. There was nothing there. No pity or remorse. Only an unquenchable thirst for something that he could not have.

I wanted to choose something passive like Chess or Twister. My anger had the better of me though and out came the word....

"SWORDS."

Flick turned a bright yellow. "I'm sorry....did I hear You correctly? Did You say....swords? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN MIND?"

I was a champion swordsman in college. Skilled with both epee and the sabre, I had fought hundreds of opponents in match play. We competed for cash and trophies but never for stakes this high. I walked towards him with purpose as Flick floated beside Me.

"You do realize that this is REALLY gonna hurt right?"

"Would you rather I had choosen Basketball?"

"No....swords are fine." He replied without thinking. "I mean.....I didn't mean..."

"I know what you meant." As we arrived in front of the throne.

Satan stood with a smile and fell promptly on his ass. It seems that Flick had somehow managed to tie his shoes together without being noticed. To say he was outraged was an understatement. There were snickers from the Choir as well as Flick. I gave him a quick thumbs up as Satan roared.

"I have had just about enough of you Orb Head! TAKE HIM."

Several imps sprang forward and encased Flick in a large, zip lock plastic bag. Red and blue made green and Flick was helpless.

"You have spied on me for the last time. I will deal with you shortly."

Suddenly, things were not so funny anymore.

Satan righted himself and reached to his throne's armrest pulling a gleaming, fiery sword seemingly from the chair itself. As soon as his appeared, Mine did as well. It was magnificent. Ivory handled and gleaming with a white fire to match that of My opponent. To those who looked upon it, it was like looking directly into the sun.

"I like the way You think. To the death then. Winner take all."

At that very moment, Albert Einstein arrived. Behind him floating in the air the Nexus could be seen to all. It was barely glowing now and I could see a flash in Satans eyes that he felt in total control of the situation.

"Ah! Just in time Mr. Einstein. I will be with you shortly." Satan continued.

Without warning and with a blinding speed I would not have thought previously possible, Satan launched himself at Me with a vicious overhead blow. I barely managed to get My guard up to block him. Without thinking I sent a thrust at his midriff that forced him to move a step backward. Now I had some breathing room. I looked at the glass cage and saw the look of utter horror on Lisa's face. I had no doubt that she knew everything that was happening. No doubt her confinement was soundproofed or I would have been able to hear her screaming at me to "Watch Out!" Good thing I could read her lips for at that very moment, as I moved a sidestep to my left, Satan's blade whizzed past my right ear in a downward arch. I spun and delivered a glancing blow to his side which opened a small but noticable cut across his chest.

"Touche' Sir! You have drawn first blood." He chortled noticing my heavy breathing. "But your powers are weak old man. I will have you and your luscious bride soon enough."

Death, who had stood by watching the whole affair came forward in anger. His own sword drawn and headed for Satans back. His partner was going to betray him, he was sure of that. Better to kill him now and take the womans soul and the Nexus for himself. Suddenly, as he delivered what must surely be Satans killing blow, Nature took her course.

She had been keeping an eye on Death since her arrival with the raiding party. Mortis had become increasingly unstable as the events unfolded themselves and she was certian that he would blow any minute now. She wasn't wrong.

"YOU SAID SHE WAS MINE!"

She blocked his cowardly blow and removed his head from his shoulders in one, decisive motion of her blade.

"Oh! Did I do that? Terribly sorry."

Satan turned just in time to see Death's.....death. He tipped his sword to Mother Nature.

"Thank you Mother....you saved me the trouble of doing that later."

She smiled at the dark prince. "That aint all I just saved Flameboy"

He laughed and returned to my destruction. His blows were coming faster that even I could see.

T-minus one minute and counting.

The last of My strength was fading and whatever powers I had were focused on simply staying alive. I managed to get to My feet but was slammed like a rag doll into the container with Lisa's soul in it. I landed badly and felt as though I had broken something in my back. Olivia reached out against the magically tempered glass and pushed her hand against it as if to touch My wounded spine. It was through the strength of her soul that I was able to bring myself to My knees and look Satan in the eye once more.

His smile was one of triumph. "So determined you are. Tsk tsk.....I will make this as painful as possible." As he raised his sword for a killing blow.

"NOW EINSTEIN!" I roared as I felt the last of My strength leave Me.

Satan turned to see two things. The first was Einstein and the Nexus fading. Where he once stood, Michael was in his place sword at the ready. The second was the Nexus gate opening just beside Me. I heaved myself towards the gate and thrust my hand inside to accept the power that was now, paid for by right.

"Oh shit!" Was all Satan could muster before I plunged My sword deep into his chest. He fell back on the steps to his throne and muttered.

"How?"

He was not the only one who seemed confused. Mother Nature stepped forward with the same quizzical look on her face. Flick, for once, was now totally speechless.

"Simple explaination really." I said as my breath began to return to my searing lungs. "Einstein never left the Nexus' resting place. I just told you all that he was bringing it to Me here so that no one, either by accident or on purpose, could tip him off."

Satan shuddered. Marilyn appeared on the stairs beside him wearing a nuns habit. She didn't seem too upset.

"Use 'em, abuse 'em and lose 'em huh? You were going to replace me with....that?" She pointed to the glass enclosure. Grasping the hilt of Satans sword, she plunged it next to the wound I had made.... finishing the job for good. Satan gasped staring with wide eyes at Marilyn.

"I really liked.... that nun costume." And he was still.

With one gesture from Me the tank was gone. Lisa ran into My outstretched arms.

"Oh thank God! You are allright."

"You are welcome." I laughed as I looked into her eyes. She kissed Me with such force that My breath once again left Me. It was one of those once in a lifetime kisses born of fear and wanting and everything that makes the universe what it is. Finally, she pulled back and looked into My eyes.

"So.... dead for less than a month and already running the place?"

I laughed. "Well to tell you the truth, the job just kind of landed in My lap."

Her smile slowly faded as the realization and gravity of the situation hit her.

"You can't come home can you? I will never see you again."

"No." I replied. "And once you leave here, you will not remember what transpired either."

"Leave here? Aren't I ....dead?"

"Is that what he told you?" I glanced Satans corpse.

"What an asshole." Flick said exactally what was on my mind.

I explained the situation to Lisa. That she was not dead, just in a coma. That her soul had been taken as a bargaining chip to keep Me in line. A mixture of wonder and sadness began to wash over her filling Me with dread at having to part with her this one last time. At least now, I had to opportunity to say goodbye.

Her tears had begun to flow. "And what do I do now then? On those nights when Im feeling alone and scared? Reaching across our bed for You and there is nothing...no one there to comfort me? What am I supposed to do?" She sobbed heavily.

"You will take care of our son. You will love him and teach him about all that is good in the world."

The shock of My words stopped her sobbing. "Our son. Yes! How could I have forgotten? Jeremy Michael. I.... named him after Your father and of course....his father. Do You like it?"

"I do." I said solemnly taking her hands in mine once more. I kissed her cheek one final time and ....sent her on her way. The pain inside Me was almost unbearable.

Mother Nature had been standing by watching the scene. The Choir had left after a little imp tossing contest. Michael had untethered Tantrus from his bonds.

Tantus approached Me and kneeled.

"Rise Tantrus and be thanked properly." I said. "Rise as an Archangel of God!"

An aura gathered around Tantrus. Shimmering gold and white light all around. When he stood, I could clearly see tears of joy in his eyes.

"All of Heaven owes you a great debt of gratitude Tantrus. As much for your past service as your unwavering faith in this incident. You have My gratitude and My love. Now....I believe you and your friend here have much to catch up on. Go and I will call on you when needed again. Oh and Michael?"

"Yes Sir?"

"Sorry you didn't get to kill anything this time."

Michael simply smiled and returned to Tantrus. Immiediately the two Archangels began comparing wingspans.

"Mine are longer than yours."

"No way! I have you by at least three feathers!"

"You wish!" Their laughter died away as they slowly vanished for a long overdue reunion.

Flick hovered next to Mother Nature. "I have a question or two of my own Sir."

"It's simple Orb boy!" Nature responded for Me. "He had Michael impersonate Einstein. Albert never left the Nexus point but he DID remove the Nexus from it's cradle. He arranged with Einstein to put the Nexus back where it belonged at the precise moment it was needed." She looked at me. "Did I get it right?"

"Pretty much." I replied.

Flick still seemed puzzled. "But how did You get the Nexus Gate to open right next to You?"

"It doesn't suck to have the most brilliant astro physicist of all time on Your side."

Nature laughed at that. "Like a hoover on overload?"

"I said it doesn't suck....nevermind....we'll work on metaphors later."

"And You couldn't let me in on it?" Flick seemed hurt that I would not entrust this valuable information to him.

"If I told you Flick....then I would have had to kill you."

"Oh! Ha! You can't fool me anymore. You love me and You know it."

"I love everyone Flick. It's my job." Flick became silent and I new that once again, I had him fooled.

"Oh...c'mere you little glow ball." I said as I grabbed him and gave him a nuggie.

"What about them?" Mother glanced at the two bodies lying on the floor and steps.

"Oh! I almost forgot." I snapped my fingers and both Death and Satan stood side by side very much alive, terrified and confused. Just the way I wanted it.

"Do you two promise to behave?

Each nodded in the affirmative.

No more schenanigans?"

Each nodded in the negative. Both too terrified to speak.

"Get back to work then." I said as both disappeared so fast that even I had trouble seeing it.

"Oh great! You know I will have to keep my eyes on them just to make sure? What am I? Some kind of cosmic babysitter? If they step one foot out of line again.....BAM....orb enema." Flick complained as he departed.

"So!....Balance restored, universe saved. What else can we cram into today?"

Nature looked at Me with a sly smile. "Well....I believe You and I have some business to discuss? Shall we do it over tea?"

"You wouldn't happen to have a beer would you?"

"I might." She smiled.

As we began our walk towards Nature's cottage a piece of paper appeared out of nowhere and floated gently in front of Me. I grabbed it cleanly out of the air and read the words that were inscribed on it.

"You did a bang up job son. I am very pleased with you. Raised you right after all didn't I? Your predecessor and I are on vacation together and will be quite unreachable for some time. Besides, You certianly don't want Your mother around telling You how to run the universe now do You? Know that I love You dearly and that I will see You whenever. We have all the time in the world don't we?"

And the note was signed: "Love Mom."

PS: "Keep a close eye on the chocolate factory Charlie and well done! Don't worry...your mom is in good hands."

G.

When I see him next....I'm gonna punch him right between the eyes.

FINIS!