Brian had never pushed the Dodge this hard, his foot buried to the floorboard. The tires came to a screeching halt under the dim light of a truck stop just outside the on-ramp. Brian slammed the car in park, his heart still racing in his chest. He had barely listened to a word his new passenger had said over the last few minutes. He was too focused on fleeing the horror of the hotel.
"So, let me get this straight," his words coming through his gasps, "One day, you are going to come for me and collect on this debt I now owe?"
"You got it, kid, I mean I did save your life after all. Them boys were ready to string you up." Scratch shot a finger toward him, his smug expression growing.
"How long do I have?" Brian asked, fear showing within his eyes.
"Ah, now that's the question, isn't it? I mean it depends, usually enough time to live a little. Twenty to thirty years maybe, I mean I'm not a complete devil," Scratch laughed at his own pun as he picked up Rick Sawyer's journal.
Brian watched as the man flipped through it, scanning over his father's words. He could not help but wonder if this is how his father felt after his run-in with Scratch. He wondered how full a life he could possibly live, knowing that it had an early expiration date. He thought of how secluded his father had been and suddenly it all made sense. Rick Sawyer had tried to protect his wife and son from the choice he had made.
"I'm going inside to take a leak, it's a long road back to Cincinnati," Brian's words almost a scowl as he opened his driver's door.
"What? The road trip with dear old dad over already?" Scratch mocked him.
Brian leaned back over, malice forming on his features, "I came for answers, I have them and so much more. I am ready to go home."
Somehow the smile that rested on his passenger's face grew wider, "But you haven't even asked the most important question yet, kid."
"Oh yeah, what's that?" Brian replied, in the tone of a typical angsty teen.
The journal clapped closed as Scratch leaned closer, his words came just above a whisper, "Don't you wanna know how to get out of the deal?"
Shock transformed Brian's facial expression, he had never once let the idea of being able to break this curse cross his mind. If you could break a deal then what was the point of making it in the first place? He stood, contemplating this before asking for an answer. Scratch gladly informed him that all he needed was to present the coin as a gift to someone else and the terms of that deal would pass to that person. That is if they used the coin.
"I mean, why else would your dad spend so much time looking for me?" the man said while leaning back to his seat, "He forgot to ask that question too and it took him a while to find me again. Poor bastard."
"What do you mean? You got what you wanted, you took his soul," Brian barked.
Scratch obviously found this completely hilarious, his cackles echoed from the car. He even slapped his knee in a most cartoonish fashion. He wiped at fake tears and tried to compose himself. He attempted to respond but seemed to be wrapped in a fit of his own enjoyment.
"S-s-silly boy, I," another laugh interrupted his sentence, "I didn't take your Pops."
Brian almost stumbled at the thought. He was sure he had solved the mystery of the man he never truly knew. The truth came crashing down on him, his hand grasping the door for support. His mind retraced the events leading to his father's death and nothing made sense. He tried to speak but his voice got lost within his throat. A million questions clouded his thoughts.
When he finally spoke the words came slow, "If not you," he paused, "then why?"
Scratch stopped laughing, his face drawing in seriousness, "Well after your father found me and asked the right questions, he spent the next few years trying to find the right person to give the coin to."
Brian sat back down and listened to a story of how his father had been working a case involving a double homicide. A man named Victor Pelora had raped and killed two young girls, leaving them for dead in an abandoned building. His father had been the lead detective and though he knew Victor had committed the crimes, their evidence had been tampered with and had been deemed inadmissible in court. The frustration of having such a monster back on the street was more than Rick could stand and when he took a seat at his desk one night, the idea formed quickly in his head.
"So, you see," Scratch removed a small box from his pocket, slipping a cigarette from it and placing it between his lips, "Your dear old dad let Victor have the coin," he finished speaking before the tip of his smoke was ignited and the mist lifted into the air around him in a cloud.
As Scratch spoke, Brian started remembering the name Victor Pelora from his father's files. He had at least a drawer full on that case, so it was hard to forget. His father had become obsessed with that man and he remembered the long nights Rick would spend in his study trying to crack the case. Now he knew why and what lengths his father would go to in order to seek justice. His thought process was interrupted as he realized that did not truly answer his question.
"What does that have to do with my dad's death?" he quizzed.
Scratch smile, while dragging on his cigarette then releasing the smoke again, "Well, kid, if someone gave you a death sentence, what would you ask the Devil to do for you?"
Scratch didn't have to say another word, Brian had his answer. It rolled in his head again and again. His legs became weak, his body lowering to a crouching position. His eyes rested toward the ground as he thought of the possibility that his father's attempt at redemption had literally killed him. His despair slowly turned to rage, his body rising from the ground as he shoved an open palm forward.
"Give me that damn coin," he growled.
Scratch pulled the shiny object from his jacket pocket, flicking it from the tip of his thumb. It landed perfectly within Brian's waiting hand, "Just like your old man," he said as more smoke billowed from his lips. The smoke engulfed the car, far more than he could have exhaled. Brian had to shield his mouth, coughing from the cloud of nicotine. His eyes watered as he drew back the coin and placed it in his pocket. When the mist dissipated Scratch was gone.
A week later Victor Pelora stepped into the lobby of his apartment building, his key turned upon his mail slot and opened slowly. Only a single white envelope sat inside and he quickly took it in his hands. There was no address but simply the words, "A gift from Rick Sawyer." His eyes widened and a paranoia-filled his body. He found himself looking around the lobby but he was alone. He tore it open from one end and as he tilted the correspondence a small round coin landed between his fingers.
He stood in shock, sure that Rick Sawyer was dead. He had even witnessed the funeral. He searched the lobby and even yelled out to question who had left the message. He received no response. His eyes turned back to the folded paper and upon the back, he read the words, "If you want to settle this meet me on the corner of 3rd and Columbia at 10 P.M."
Victor stood under the flickering light of a street lamp. His hands tucked in the pockets of his jacket, one of which gripped a pistol. He paced back and forth, occasionally glancing at his watch. When the hand ticked by to identify the proper meeting time and he had seen no one approach he grumbled to himself. He cursed out into the night just before he felt the hard metal of a barrel press against the back of his head.
A dark laugh rumbled from the man, "You have no idea who you are messing with."
"No, you don't know who you have messed with. My name is Brian Sawyer and you killed my father," the pain and anger reverberated in every word from Brian's mouth.
Victor's eyes widened at the sound of the hammer being drawn back behind him. He began to plead for his life but it fell on deaf ears. Brian had no intention of letting this man get away. He was going to end this ridiculousness, once and for all.
"You're going to step over to that payphone and drop that coin into the slot. If you run, I shoot you. If you try to fight, I shoot you. If you try anything but what I have instructed, you die." Brian had never sounded so cold in his entire life. He watched as Victor slowly approached the lighted booth, raised the receiver and dropped the coin into the slot.
Within seconds a car came screeching to a halt beside them. From the passenger side stepped Scratch and he thanked the driver before approaching the two men. He winked at Brian before stepping over to Victor. He reached down, removed the coin from the return slot where it had landed, "Good to see you again, Victor."
He smiled back to Brian, "Good going, kid, looks like you're off the hook."
Victor smiled, assuming he had already figured out a solution to his problem. He asked Scratch to eliminate his new problem just like he had the last. His grin becoming monstrous as his focus fell on Brian. Scratch patted the man in the booth on the back and laughed, which caused Victor to laugh as well but nervously. The feeling of unease grew more when a sound like a pack of barking dogs echoed in the distance.
"You see, Victor, I only do favors once. If you drop the coin again, then you're just mine," Scratch's hand rested on his shoulder, gripping tight onto his jacket.
Brian stood a few feet away, his hand still gripping the pistol as the silhouette of canines emerged from the shadows. The closer they became, the larger they seemed to be. There had to be at least six of them and each slobbered and snapped at the air around them in their approach. Their eyes glowed an otherworldly red hue and their bodies were as dark as the shadows that accompanied them.
Victor attempted to flee, but Scratch's grip held him in place. The hounds drew in and latched onto the quivering man before dragging him back toward the nothingness they had emerged from. Brian's face should have been of fear but at this very moment, he smiled. He had finally found justice for his father and two girls Victor had killed. He imagined his father putting his arm around him and thanking him. A single tear trailed his cheek as he finally lowered the pistol.
Scratch slowly made his way to Brian, the coin turning between his fingers. When he stopped beside the young man the coin came to a stop. He reached over and dropped it within Brian's palm. Scratch flashed a grin before speaking, "Good doing business with you, kid, I will be seeing you around," the words fading into the wind as he disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
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Written by L0CKED334