For St. Patrick's day, I found myself without anything green to wear. So on the eve, I went slightly mad with tape and construction paper, creating a pilgrim-style (i.e. leprechaun) hat. Enjoy!
I was the Dark Mistress's chauffeur and Susan was her personal assistant. For a being from the spirit world she spent a lot of time on mundane tasks. Stepping out of line brought a taste of her power; her only weapon was fear, but she weilded it like a scalpel. Susan was her preferred target, especially when Mistress saw how much terrorizing her pained me.
Every day she would keep us busy from dusk till dawn, and every day at dawn I would drive Susan home. One morning in December she invited me up to her apartment.
"David, what would you give to be free of Mistress?"
"Just about anything."
"Would you give up your car?"
I thought about that for a while and finally nodded. Better no car than eternal servitude.
A few nights later I was driving Mistress and Susan home from a meeting with the Queen of Nightmares. When we got to the railroad crossing on Commercial the engine died. Right on cue. The 11:35 freight was on time too, and the engine compartment transformed into a mass of splintered metal.
Mistress's whisper was like sizzling acid. "That doesn't let you out of your contract, boy. We'll just go to the car dealership and get a new one."
And we did. Mistress dictated her terms to the salesman, which he meekly accepted. Then she had Susan draw up the new contract on her laptop and it was dutifully printed on the dealership's printer.
Mistress signed and the dealer signed. Both copies. The dealership secretary witnessed. The dealer handed her the keys, which she promptly passed to me. Susan smiled and took out a sheet of paper.
The Dark Mistress stared at Susan. "What is that, girl?"
"The missing paragraph. See, it goes between number 12 at the bottom of page two and number 14 at the top of page three. You should have paid attention to the details."
"I have an assistant to do that!"
"Had an assistant. Read it and weep."
The Dark Mistress read it and glared at Susan. "You can't ..." and then she was gone.
I looked around. "It's over? Just like that?"
"Sort of." Susan handed me the extra sheet:
13. The Dark Mistress, upon surrender of the vehicle keys to any other person, forfeits her existence, transferring ownership of all goods, chattels, funds, and real property to her assistant.
Susan smiled. "Not quite. I'm free, you're one of the chattels. But you do get to keep the car, my slave. And I'll explain your new duties when we get back to my bedroom."
"No." Her hand stopped moving and rested on my chest.
"No, I'm not going to drive you home. I got this car for my use, not yours." It was all a bluff, of course. I doubt there was any way I could really stop her doing whatever she wanted, but she didn't need to know that.
"You signed the contract, boy. From dusk until dawn you are mine to do with as I please; from dawn until dusk the car is yours to do with as you please. Now, take me home or I will have to discipline you, boy."
"David. My name is David."
"I am well aware of that. I don't care. Now drive." I didn't budge.
Her hand reached up and flicked off the dome light. The lights of the city seemed muted somehow, and I was sitting a pool of deep shadow. Thousands of tiny claws caressed my skin and I could hear the sussuration of thousands of tiny bodies gathering around me. Everywhere I looked was shadow, but all of it was concealing movement. I knew I would live until dawn, but only because that would prolong the agony I would feel.
I started the engine. The courage of conviction only goes so far.
Her home was an apartment in an upscale building downtown; I had been expecting a gothic castle. She only stopped for a few moments to pick up a briefcase, which I heard her opening in the back seat.
And then we ran errands. I had to go in and pick up her dry cleaning - six slinky black gowns and a pastel pink jacket and skirt. I picked up a prescription at an all-night drug mart and dropped it off at a nursing home. I waited while she had her manicure touched up. It was all so ... ordinary.
About 5:45 a.m. we pulled into an old quarry outside of town. When I turned the car off I could hear sobbing. The Dark Mistress instructed me to fetch the pink suit out of the trunk and give it to the woman here to wear.
The woman was maybe twenty with dark hair and an attractive figure. She was nude and huddled up on her knees, shivering and crying. I deliberately didn't stare. She looked at me gratefully when I put the jacket over her shoulders, and silently pulled on the skirt. It wasn't much, but at least she was decent. We both got into the car.
"Now girl, do you understand why you shouldn't disobey me?"
"And do you understand, boy?"
"Yes, Mistress." I understood all too well. Her only power was fear, but that was enough.
The first rays of sun illuminated the roof of the hopper tower. I sensed that the girl and I were now the only ones in the car.
"Is she gone?"
I did a second check of the car. "Yes, she's gone. I'm David, by the way. Who are you?"
"Susan." She had sparkling green eyes, and now that I could see it her hair was a deep chocolate brown, completely disheveled from her night-time ordeal. "I hate to ask, but could you ...?"
"Where would you like to drop you off?"
She gave me an address. It wasn't that far from my own. Just before getting out of the car she gave me a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks; you're a lifesaver. No student loan is worth this."