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."