Another town and another dingy hotel room, Aida hated it. She had no choice though, the shadows were moving in faster every time they stopped. It used to take months and then days and now they could only stop for a few hours at a time. It wouldn't be long before they couldn't stop at all and then what would they do? Aida was afraid, terribly afraid but she had known what was coming when she had signed that piece of paper. She pulled it from her pocket now as she kept a watchful eye on her daughters as they slept.
At the top of the paper were two pitchforks in an X shape, where they crossed was a crown with two horns sticking out of it. Aida reread the words again but they never changed, the contract was unbreakable. She had sold her soul and payment was way overdue.
Doris and Gaenor woke to the sound of voices. The two girls were twins and seemed to do everything at the same time weather they meant to or not. They slipped from the bed and padded across the room, both trying not to think about what their bare feet might be stepping on in this cruddy room. Doris eased the door open and they put their eyes to the crack, peering through the gloom into the tiny living room. Their mother was sitting at the small table, tears streaming down her cheeks as she shook her head and sobbed uncontrollably. On the opposite side of the table was a man, he was very tall and exceedingly lank. On his head was a bright crop of red hair, his face was all points and angles.
"Who's he?" whispered Gaenor.
"How should I know? I just woke up too" snapped Doris. The man suddenly stood and slammed his hand down on the table.
"Did you really think you could outrun me forever? I am forever!" His voice was a deep, bass growl and his eyes flashed red as he yelled. The twins cowered backwards a little but they stayed where they could see.
"I did it for them. I did it for my girls, I just want them to be happy!" cried Aida. The man walked around the table and leaned against the wall, Doris glanced back and Gaenor and saw that they had noticed the same thing. The man had weird little things sticking out of his forehead, they almost looked like horns.
"I know why you did it, Aida. That doesn't concern me. But what does concern me is that your payment is overdue but nearly a year! You've thrown off my demons so many times I had to come myself! Do have any idea how busy I am? It doesn't run itself down there, Aida." Doris felt Gaenor's hand creep into hers; she was deathly cold and trembling.
Aida wiped her face and took a long, unsteady breath. She stared at the thing that looked like a man but wasn't. He stared right back, fire flashing in his eyes.
"I can't leave my girls all alone" she whispered. He heaved a great sigh, threw his hands in the air and dropped back into the seat he had just vacated.
"The only way you can stay is if I tear up the contract. Things would go back to how they were before I came to you that night in the hospital. It's your choice, Aida." There was a moment of silence before Aida whispered her reply.
"It's too much. Either way, I'm not with them. Tear it up." The man stood and clapped his hands, there was a flash of light so bright that Aida closed her eyes against it.
"Mrs Munroe? Can you hear me?" Aida opened her eyes and looked at the owner of the voice. He was tall and round and wore a white coat, he smiled.
"I'm Dr Stevens, how are you feeling?" Aida shrugged as she stared down at her hands, Dr Stevens asked her a few more questions and then he left the room. Aida began to cry and once she started, she just couldn't seem to stop. She was such a coward! It all came flooding back and no matter how hard she tried, Aida couldn't seem to stop the tide.
They had been travelling across the country to see Aida's parents when the accident had happened. A lorry had almost flown from nowhere and crushed their tiny car against the guardrail. Aida had survived with broken bones but her poor girls had died on impact. She had screamed all the way to the hospital and beyond until her voice had failed her. Aida had felt a rage in her that she had never known before. A rage at the lorry driver, at the doctors that had not saved her children. Aida had lain in bed and prayed that it wasn't true, that it was a dream and her girls were okay. She would give anything for it to be so. Then He had come.
Aida had opened her eyes to find a very tall and very skinny man beside her bed. He was dressed all in black and had a bright crop of red hair on top of his pointy head.
"Hello Aida. My name is Lu and I'm here to answer your prayer." She should have refused, she should have told him no but she wanted her girls so badly that the price had not concerned her. There was a bright flash and Doris and Gaenor had been there, all smiles and sunshine. But then the shadows had come and Aida had packed them up in her car and ran.
Aida rolled over in the hospital bed and let out a silent shriek when she saw Lu beside her bed. He held the two pieces of her contract in his hands and a small smile flitted around his lips.
"I'll see you soon, Aida" he said. She shook her head and crawled backwards. No, she had always led a good life and there would be no reason for her to see Lu again but the smile on his lips grew.
"You made your promise in anger, Aida. And Wraith is one of mine." Aida buried her head in her pillow as Lu's laughter echoed around the room long after he had gone.