This is a companion story to my Lighter Than Dark advertisement from Feb. 3, Best Friends Forever. https://hauntedmtl.com/originals/lighter-than-dark/ltd-best-friends-forever/

Misty glanced at her phone. It wasn’t like him to be late. She checked her messages: no contact, no email, no sign of any change in plans. She checked her calendar. This was the right time and place. What could be taking him so long?

“Sorry I’m late,” a throaty calm and collected male voice echoed in her head. It was the kind of deep hollow voice that sinks into your heart and reverberates through your soul, the sort that should be narrating those late night mystery shows that leave you awake in bed, pondering the unfathomable. There were many who would give themselves freely over to that voice and follow it to the ends of the earth, but Misty knew better.

Nothing had changed. To the casual observer, the middle-aged woman sat alone at the café table, sipping a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey and nibbling intermittently on a beignet. Her bobbed black hair perfectly framed her gaunt face as she stared blankly ahead, a slight smile creeping to her ruby lips while she lost herself in her thoughts. There was an almost otherworldly quality about her, but nothing anyone could place without more of an understanding of the inner workings of the Dark Arts. Her visitor arrived unbeknownst to anyone else as a pinpoint glimmer of green light deep in the recesses of her eyes, which she discreetly hid behind dark sunglasses.

Misty blinked slowly. “Did you take care of it?” she thought.

The voice answered in her mindscape. “The deed has been done, exactly as you specified.”

“Good.” Misty’s smile widened and she took another sip of her tea. “And the onlookers?”

“No one suspected a thing. He just fell over when the Pact was discharged; he had broken his vows and thusly paid the price. It was assumed to be a heart attack. He was pronounced dead on arrival.”

To engage in this kind of dark magick was risky, especially out in the open, and on parade day no less. Those that could navigate the alliances were in high demand and were often tied up in a multitude of things beyond their own puppet-mastery. But parade day was actually perfect timing, as most spectators wouldn’t know the difference between a spell or a hex or a soul-binding incantation, and the throngs of tourists provided a great diversion.

The deed needed to be done, and Misty couldn’t do it herself because that would break her own end of the bargain. She’d had to find an arbitrator, an angel walking the earth as its conscience of sorts. But these “angels” always had their own agendas… She fingered the gold ring on her left hand and grimaced, hearkening back to the day she’d found her husband in bed with his buxom young secretary who had been wearing Misty’s very own bathrobe. She’d wished she could have ended it then and there but she knew better, so she bit her tongue and bided her time.

“Do you remember our arrangement?” the male voice interjected rather forcefully, jarring her from her reverie. “Now it’s up to you to uphold your part in this…”

Misty’s smile faded and her demeanor became more somber. That was the problem with soul-binding, you had to wheel and deal your way out of it through the darkest of magicks, and for every Pact that you wanted to break free of, it seemed you formed another two lesser alliances. It was tiresome, but this was the end of the line and it was worth everything.

Misty stroked a small wooden box in her purse, which she had been holding in her lap. “Yes,” she answered, her lips parting slightly to mouth the word as she thought it. “Payback’s a bitch, especially when you deal with devils,” she thought to herself, contemplating her late husband’s fate as much as her agreement with the arbitrator.

“Good,” the voice in her head hissed, “You know what to do with it…”

Misty nodded slowly to herself and took a long last sip of her tea, which had grown cold. She hated playing a pawn in all of this but it was too late to turn back now. She meticulously opened the box and pulled out a diminutive antique single-shot pistol. She wrapped the gun in her folded cloth napkin and placed it in her lap as she lowered her purse to the ground, poised and ready to strike. The single silver bullet marked her fulfillment of her end of the bargain.

A small brass bell sounded as the door beside the café leading to the upstairs curiosity shoppe and small apartment opened. Madame Alcatrez, spiritual advisor, was seeing a client off after a Tarot reading. As they parted ways, Madame Alcatrez lingered in the doorway a moment too long, just enough time for Misty to strike.

Misty stood and brandished the pistol, releasing the napkin to drift to the ground. Her eyes ablaze with green fire hidden in the dark recesses of her sunglasses, she aimed and fired the single silver round at Madame Alcatrez, hitting her squarely in the heart. Madame Alcatrez’s dying words filled the void between them, “I’ve been expecting you.” Misty fell slowly to the ground as her final obligation and the magicks that surrounded it left her body. Madame Alcatrez crumpled, and the street flew into a frenzy of activity.

Misty came to in jail. The trial was short and the sentencing was abrupt – two life sentences. Still, it was better than the alternative, and Misty had finally extracted herself from the Pact that she bore. She smiled as she was escorted to prison, now all she had to do was await Eternity…

haunted ghost of an antique pistol, its hollow form accentuated in limelight on black
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.