The old man glanced at the people nailed to the rock face. He sighed wearily and pulled his worn toga more tightly around him. He ruffled his white, unkempt, hair as he slowly walked towards them to look at their nametags. All the people on the rock face were naked. Some of their nametags were pinned to their ears; some to their feet; some just pinned to chests or to cheeks.
At ground level, a demon was nailing the arm of one young man to the rock as a different demon tightly held him. The young man howled in pain, struggling as the demon hammered and hammered and hammered the nail through his arm. The man writhed, tears dripping from his face. He pleaded with the demons-
But they ignored him as the nail was pounded in.
As the old man neared them, the demons paused and turned to him. The young man continued sobbing, his head trembling, as he tried to focus on the approaching figure. He mouthed begging words to the old man but no sounds were heard from his mouth. Indifferently, the old man opened the thick tome he carried. He compared the name on the young man’s tag pinned to his chest with those in the never-ending list in his book.
He frowned at the entry. He glanced up at the gasping and shaking man as he spoke quietly, almost whispering, “Edward Dalton. Often called ‘Red’ Dalton.” He paused. “You sold-”
The old man stopped speaking as he slowly closed his book and then turned to stare at the demons who were torturing Red Dalton. The old man said nothing but the demons cowered, their twisted small wings flapping erratically.
The old man looked away, pursing his lips as he thought, and continued walking along the path he’d made over many centuries, walking this exact route. He was oblivious to the burning sand scattering over his gnarled feet. He was also unaware Red Dalton trying to pull the nail in his arm while the demons had turned to torture another man nailed to the rock face.
Dalton silently screamed
as he slowly twisted
and slowly pulled the nail out from his arm.
The demons were still not looking at him. They were focussed on tormenting someone else.
Only a little way from him, the old man was squinting as he stared into the distance, past the fields of dried sand with moving body parts littering the ground. There, shimmering in the heat was the vast rock containing the cave entrance leading down to the Devil’s throne room.
Absently looking at the path in front, the old man continued to walk, ignoring the other demons murmuring respect to him as he passed. Once they were behind him, they continued with their duties, punishing those for their crimes whilst on Earth or, indeed, on the other places. The path meandered, going by other groups of victims being tortured, sometimes veering away from them to wind across the harsh landscape.
The old man paused, gazing up at the fierce sun or at least an exact facsimile of the sun. It was traditional, for some reason, that this area of Hell was a hot, harsh wasteland. An unforgiving desert. He shrugged. Well, unforgiving for some.
He peered into the distance at the cave opening, passed the burning sand and the twitching dismembered bodies. It still seemed so far away. The old man sagged his shoulders as he lowered his eyes in tiredness.
He looked up again, stared at the vast rock and then tilted his head slightly as he looked down at his book. The tome opened itself and the path leading to the cave swiftly became shorter as the pages of the volume flipped rapidly with entries seemingly written by some invisible hand.
The tome slammed shut and the old man looked up.
He now stood at the cave opening. He paused and then walked in.
Had he looked behind him he would have seen Red Dalton staggering hurriedly away from the rock face he’d been nailed to. Dalton looked around him uncertain of his direction and weaved in his course, scared of the other demons torturing various people. He focused on the cave opening the old man had entered. Wincing at the hot sand under his bare feet, he ran towards the opening.
His eyes widened as one of the dismembered arms on the sand grabbed at his leg. He kicked at it and then reached down to pull it off. As he threw it a short way from him he looked around, hoping the demons hadn’t seen him. He ran toward to cave opening, sighing as he reached it.
As Red walked inside, his eyes slowly adjusted to the gloomy interior. Torches hung from fittings on the walls. Their flames cast rapidly moving shadows illuminating the arch of the roughly shaped roof. He passed several chambers. Some were feebly lit, with weary moaning from other sinners emanating from them.
The old man didn’t look behind him. If he had, he would have seen Dalton uncertainly staring at him while he crouched to the tunnel wall. Instead the old man paused to check the contents in his book again, nodding with satisfaction. He walked along the descending long hallway until he stopped at a pair of golden doors on his right. The old man turned to them, his eyes tracing parts of their ambitious but crudely fashioned decorations. He heaved one of the doors open and it groaned open to reveal a cavernous room.
As the old man walked in, he was distracted by voices above him in this high chamber. The ceiling was in shadow as the wall-hung torches failed to cast their illumination high enough. However, in that darkness, he could make out indistinct movements.
He looked down ahead of him to see the Devil. He wore a grey double-breasted suit, a white shirt, and a red tie. He was looking up, calling to the ceiling. The old man frowned, bewildered.
The Devil spoke to the ceiling. “That’s it,” He looked up carefully, “almost. No, move the other one to the left - No, to the left. No, my left! My – look I’ll go up there and-” He looked down and noticed the old man. The Devil smiled. “I thought a few more of the condemned hanging by their feet from the roof might look quite nice.” He turned towards his large throne on the far wall behind him. Its presence dominated the room, decorated with outcrops of glowing multi-coloured crystals. The Devil shook his head, deciding against approaching it and twisted to look at the old man again. “Look, I thin-”
He was interrupted by the thud of a falling body, landing behind him. A distant voice from above shouted, “Sorry.” The fallen body moaned slightly.
The Devil didn’t react. “Look, I want to go up to the surface. I mean it’s not exactly as if I’m needed here at the moment. I thought I’d take some demons and a couple of succubi.” The old man dipped his head respectfully. The Devil looked down at his suit. He smiled, “I thought I’d go up to the United States or something - maybe New York. I mean, I haven’t seen the place in quite a while.”
“Indeed, my Lord; shall I accompany you?”
“No, no, no; besides,” He paused, “you’re always needed here. So,” He looked uncertain before assertively speaking, “Right then. To an Exit.”
He passed the old man and hesitated in the open doorway of his throne room. He turned to his right and walked down the corridor with the old man shuffling behind.
The passageway bent sharply to the right. The Devil stopped, blinking thoughtfully. “A tunnel here leading directly to the Exit.” Instantly, a large tunnel began forming on the left. The Devil smiled in satisfaction and began to walk along the newly forming passage. He called to the old man without looking at him, “I’ll go to Manhattan.” As he walked further, he shouted, “Get me two succubi and a couple of other demons. You know the types I like. Get them to meet me at the surface.”
“At once my Lord.” The old man bowed at the receding back of the Devil. As he straightened up, still looking up at his master, he quizzically peered at him.
Dalton hugged the wall of the tunnel as the old man turned from the Exit, walking down the main corridor away from him. He slowly crept towards the Exit. As he cautiously peered up the rising tunnel, he gasped at the light at the end of the rising tunnel. He could see the distant marching of the Devil. Dalton hesitated but his feet began to move into the Exit.
He didn’t notice that the old man had stopped walking and turned to watch Red Dalton hesitantly walk into the tunnel. The old man didn’t move. He just watched him.
The Devil continued to walk up the tunnel, focusing on the rising passage. He could see in the distance the tunnel reached daylight. As he continued walking, the rough rock walls of the passage began to change. Yellow-white tiles began to be scattered over the walls.
As he further ascended, the tiles became more frequent and the curve of the ceiling became squarer. Soon, graffiti began to appear on the now common wall tiles. The Devil smiled slightly as he recognised he was no longer just walking up the dusty brown floor of the tunnel; he was climbing steps. Ghostly shadows of people, unaware of his presence, hurried up or down by him or even through him. The Devil wasn’t disconcerted or surprised by these apparitions. He just stared up at the opening, where he could see occasional clouds drifting in the blue sky.
As the Devil stood at the top, standing on a sidewalk, he gazed at the cars going along the road passed him and he looked up to the tall buildings towering around him. He paused as he saw in the distance the top of the Chrysler Building. He was distracted by a discreet cough that gently awakened him from his reverie. A young and attractive red haired woman with pale skin gracefully walked towards him out of the shade in front of a shop. She wore a revealing long black dress with a small purse attached to her wrist.
She quietly spoke, “We were summoned to meet you, my Lord.”
The Devil’s eyes narrowed, studying her. He tilted he head and frowned. “Didn’t you used to be a large man?”
The woman looked surprised. “Erm, yes. That was very long ago. I used to be known as,” She briefly frowned as she lost focus, recalling the memories of that time, “Liam.”
“Ah, yes. As I remember,” He hesitated, thinking, “We were in New York when they were trying to,” He laughed briefly, “repeatedly - and failing - to get funding for that,” He paused, “giant pedestal for the statue thing coming from France.” He looked at her. “And you were involved in setting up the arm and torch in,” He sighed as he tried to recall, “Madison Square or somewhere?”
The woman smiled. “Yes, Madison Square.”
“We had some interesting times then.”
The woman nodded, still smiling. “Yes, we did.” For a moment her false smile flickered uncertainly.
“What do you call yourself now?”
She quickly refocused. “At present, Leah Tentata.”
He nodded. “So,” The Devil walked along the sidewalk, gazing up at the buildings around him. “New York’s gone through a lot of changes. And I’ve not been to this city since,” He paused, stroking his beard, “since around the Great War.” He brightened and spoke more confidently, “Where are we now?”
Out of the shadows stepped a young man. He was shorter than Leah and stooped. He wore casual clothes with a red cap, which seemed misshapen by lumps underneath. He took off his hat and clasped it to his chest in reverence, revealing small horns randomly scattered across his head with tufts of black hair sprouting around them. “We’re on Lexington Avenue, Lord. Close to Central Park.”
The Devil scrutinised him. “I don’t recognise you.”
The demon respectfully looked down. “My name is Fallax. I was created quite recently. I am your facilitator.”
“Aren’t people around here put off by your appearance?”
Fallax gave a lopsided grin and answered, “Most humans see me as what they want to see.”
“Ah, a mirror demon.” He looked beyond him to scrutinise the shade Fallax had walked from. Two other people stood there, faint and indistinct. He beckoned them. They both stepped forward and, like the other two, became more solid in the sunlight.
One, an attractive young black woman, wearing a long tight fitting fiery red dress with a matching wrist purse, spoke first, “I am called Lila Tentata, my Lord.”
The other, a large square man bowed his head. “And I am known as-”
The Devil interrupted, “No, you won’t do.”
He waved a hand across in the man’s direction. A dark circle quickly formed around the man’s feet and he was sucked downwards, surrounded by fire. A tall slim but, evidently, muscular man then stepped out of the shadows and as he solidified, he introduced himself, “I am Atrox, my Lord. Your protector demon.”
The Devil looked at the man’s sober outfit, a light grey suit that, whilst smart and similar to his Lord’s, was carefully less impressive than his superior’s. The Devil nodded approvingly and turned to Fallax. “Take us to Central Park.”
Fallax nodded and scanned the road for a taxi. He waved at one as it neared and the taxi weaved through the dense traffic towards them. As the car pulled over, Fallax opened the rear door and courteously ushered his superior inside. Once inside, the other companions climbed in after him with Fallax sitting on the floor by the Devil’s feet. The driver turned to look at them all through the scratched Perspex shield dividing him from the rear of the taxi. “So, where d’ya wanna go?”
Fallax answered, unseen by the driver, “Take us to Central Park. 79th and 5th.”
The cab driver nodded. “Sure thing.” He turned and looked at his wing mirror before driving from the curb. He spoke above the car horns, “Say, are you guys from England?”
“Sometimes.” the Devil replied.
Red Dalton was afraid to believe it. He had died. He had gone to Hell.
Here he was - walking along a tunnel that led up to the surface-
To live again.
He couldn’t believe his thoughts, (To live again.)
He looked around him. The tunnel was becoming square. He looked down. The rough and sloping ground of the tunnel had become steps.
His eyes widened as he thought. (Feet - Bare feet!)
Dalton looked up and saw shadows of people walking up or down at him. As they quickly became more solid, several looked shocked at him.
Several others looked embarrassed, looking away.
He looked down and understood. He was completely naked.
He stopped, cupping his hands over his genitals. He was suddenly aware of how unprepared he was. He looked back. The tunnel had disappeared. Now on the steps led down to a subway station.
It occurred to Dalton that he was now destitute and vulnerable. No one would believe where he’d come from.
He knew he’d have to lie.
He quickly thought. (Tell someone working here I’d been… mugged and assaulted.)
He slowly treaded down the steps to an open area where people were wandering, buying tickets for the tubes and-
He was remembering.
He knew New York. He knew where he was but-
He looked downwards at the feet rushing past him. He could hear muffled words.
“Oh my God.”
“Don’t look. Jeez, don’t look. Just don’t look.”
He was a shock. He was an embarrassment.
Dalton called out, “Please, can anyone help me? I’ve been mugged. Please, help me.”
No one. They continued to rush by him. Desperately they turned their eyes away. He was a ‘nobody’, an embarrassment.
At least in Hell he was seen and labelled and-
Dalton paused. (I was seen and tortured. I was humiliated merely because that woman-) He stopped remembering. (But those memories solve nothing.)
He slowly walked to a wall beneath some adverts and a map of the subway. He turned a slowly slid down to sit on the floor.
He knew, (Eventually someone will notice me.)
While the taxi driver drove the Devil to Central Park, Hell’s ruler calmly looked out of the car windows at the vast number of vehicles passing. His mind pictured New York over a hundred years ago: the carriages, the formally dressed men and heavily attired women strolling together. The thick snow on the ground and the crunch it made under your feet as you walked. The-
“Central Park.” The car stopped and the driver turned round. He glanced at his meter. “That’s-”
Fallax interrupted the driver. “Keep the change.” and handed him some bills through the small opening in the Perspex barrier. The cabbie smiled as his passengers climbed out.
As they stood near a large entrance to the park the Devil spoke to Fallax, “That taxi driver didn’t seem to notice you back there.”
Fallax grinned. “As I say, most humans see what they want to see. Many taxis around here can only take four passengers so he didn’t notice me.”
The Devil smiled and began to walk into the park with his companions. He paused as they passed a playground and, unemotionally, he looked at the children running around. “Can you control what you get seen as?”
“A little. I’m slightly telepathic so the needed changes are often almost instinctive like back then. But usually I can also choose to be seen as what I want when needed.” He paused. The Devil had turned to look at the crowds of people walking and running around them. He continued strolling.
Fallax quickly scurried to be alongside him. “What is it you want us to do, my Lord?”
The Devil glanced at Fallax. “Oh, just fun. I’m not supposed to do anything,” He paused, “dramatic but I just want,” He pursed his lips, “fun.”
At that point, a gasping young man ran towards them closely followed by a female cop. Just as he neared them, the Devil stuck out an arm.
The young man hit the inflexible arm and fell over backwards. He looked up with a sneer. “You’ll be sorry you ever fuckin’ did-”
The Devil leant over and interrupted, “You’ll do nothing. You’ll go to prison where you’ll catch an incurable disease. Some time after that,” He tilted his head, slightly raising his eyebrows, “we’ll meet again.”
The man’s eyes widened and didn’t resist as the police officer bent down to cuff him. As the young man was dragged to his feet, the Devil, ignoring him, turned to Fallax. “I want to meet a few people like him.”
Leah politely smiled at her superior and Fallax. The Devil spoke to her, “You remember. I did this kind of thing the last time you and I were together, remember?” Leah nodded but remained silent, her face troubled. Her master smiled and then turned back to Fallax, pointing casually at him, “Your telepathy will be very useful here. I want you to scan anyone I indicate. I don’t need any major details. A feel for their state of mind’s all we want.”
Fallax bowed his head respectfully. “Yes, my Lord.”
The Devil then looked thoughtful. “The Bethesda Fountain - is that still here in the Park?”
Leah nodded, “Yes, Lord. It’s along this way.” She pointed ahead of them. The Devil nodded for her to lead them.
Red Dalton started to wonder he hadn’t actually escaped Hell but then he saw two pairs of shoed feet standing motionless by his legs. He was waiting for abuse but instead heard a gentle voice. “We were told you were here. Here’s a top and trousers.” The clothes were gently placed next to him. “Looks like you're feet are about… a size nine? Try these. They're probably a bit big but they’ll do you for a mo’. Got a home to go to? Know anyone?”
He looked up and was met by two smiling faces looking down at him.
He thought rapidly. (Everyone up here thinks I’m dead.) He looked at their faces. (A middle-aged woman and a guy probably in his thirties.) He shook his head. He spoke quietly, “No.”
He grabbed the T-shirt they’d put down and pulled it on. He then quickly dragged on the trousers, standing up as he pulled them up and fastened them. He tightened the waist belt and then leaned on the wall, staring at these two people.
Dalton looked at the woman as she spoke, tilting her head in curiosity, “Where did you come? I mean,” She slightly moved her head side to side, “from before being down here?”
The question Dalton feared to answer. Truth began to fall from his lips. “I- I- I was tortured. I- I-” He held out his arm to show them the tattered hole in his arm where the nail had been. He winced as the aches in his arm reminded him of where he’d been.
But neither of these people could see the piercing, the burns, the cuts or the bruises on his arms. There was no horror in their faces.
He frowned at their lack of reaction. (Am I still in Hell?)
He closed his eyes, waiting for the laughing and more pain.
Instead there was a pause. Dalton was waiting for them to become the demons nailing him to the rock face but he was still in the subway.
The woman spoke, “I had no idea something like this could happen here.”
The man almost whispered, “I do. I know this kind of thing can go on,” He sighed deeply, “anywhere.”
Dalton held his arm out again to them. “Look at my arm. Can’t you see? The hole in my arm; there.”
But the woman smiled and gently took his hand. “Come with us. We know some people who can help you. We can help become,” She paused as Bill shook his head.
Bill spoke, “We can help you cross that,” He hesitated, “bridge in your mind.”
Dalton glanced down to slip on the boots by his feet.
Then he let them lead him out of the subway.
At the same time over in Central Park, a young man called Ashley leaned on the balustrade on the Bow Bridge. He looked across The Lake. The trees lining the water were starting to turn golden and brown. Summer was coming to an end and yet another year of just living but not living. He was oblivious to the constant vibrations as people crossed the bridge. He ignored their chatters.
He held a little drawing pad and sketched one of rowing boats in the distance. He leant on the bridge railing, pencilling in the two passengers in a distant boat. He paused and looked down at his wristwatch. He sighed and stood up straight. Ashley crouched down to his small rucksack and put the pad and pencil inside. He looked at his watch again, as he pulled the bag over his shoulders. Back to work. He looked across The Lake. He wished he saw this openness and peace more often.
His jobs were dull and boring, usually in kitchens, clearing up and cleaning. At home all he seemed to do was clear up and clean for his mother but here was different. Here he could pretend that nothing existed except the park. It was only for an hour but then at night, as he dreamt, he could see this place again without interruptions.
He reached down to grab the handle of a bulging shopping bag. As he turned to walk off the bridge, pulling it along, it skittered erratically on its wheels.
The path he took from Bow Bridge led Ashley to Bethesda Terrace. He found it hard to not smile at the sight of the enormous fountain but he had to rush now and quickly head for the steps up-
Joe Chalmers wandered around Cherry Hill. He casually looked at the various people milling around the fountain, taking photographs of each other. A young woman approached him and he smiled at her. “Ah, Ms Walters. Ann isn’t it?”
She looked irritably at him. “No, Mr Chalmers, it’s just Ms Walters to you.” She scanned the area. “And why meeting here?”
“Oh, I just thought-”
“Yeah, well, I know what you thought. I’ve a meeting soon so we can talk as we walk.” She began to stride to the path leading towards the
Joe sighed and glanced at her bottom as he quickly strode to her side. “Well, any change? Does your client wish to settle?” He turned to Ann
Walters” face as she stared ahead. He spoke indifferently, “My client is still asserting constructive abandonment.”
Ms Walters stopped walking and turned to him. “Oh, we’ve gone over this before. She didn’t want,” She hesitated, “sex with him because of his,” She paused, “tastes. And that,” She gazed around angrily as she considered her next words. “That constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment.” A jogger passing them distracted her. “But you know all this. So why are we here Mr Chalmers?”
He calmly looked at her. “Again, she could have left him.”
“She wasn’t able to leave him because she couldn’t-”
“Be bothered.” He interrupted. “She lived in his nice home. Comfortable surroundings. She lived off his nice income. Had good food.”
“She has a network of supportive friends in Manhattan-”
He interrupted, “Which he introduced her to. And he maintained contact with them for her when she couldn’t be bothered to talk to them. This includes the ones who were international. Except, of course, for the affair.”
Ms Walters tightened her lips. “We’ll not even go there. That’s all part of your client’s inhumane treatment as you know.” Her eyes narrowed.
“There’s also the custody of the cat.” She squarely looked at Joe.
He laughed. “You can’t be serious? After all this?”
“She’ll take this to court if she has to. You know she has a strong case.”
Joe leaned closer to her face before whispering, “No, she doesn’t.” He pulled out a folded sheet of paper from his jacket and gave it to the woman.
She opened up the paper and began to read it. She glanced at Joe, her expression incredulous. “An affidavit? From her mother?” She continued reading the document.
Joe smiled at her growing discomfort. “Her mother was evidently very well informed about the - shall we say - the intimate sides of their relationship. As well as her daughter’s medically recognised psychiatric conditions.”
She pointed severely at him. “You know that won’t be admissible in court.”
“Who knows? In court, your client may end up giving that information herself. If you really want to take this to court that is.” He looked her up and down, scanning her fitted suit. He pointed at the paper. “These - and other things - will add to our case citing constructive abandonment.”
She waved the paper at him. “You know you can’t prove any of this. It’s-”
“It’s only part of the story.” He sighed as he glanced at her legs. “You know, we don’t have to be adversaries.” He raised his head and smiled at her. “Look, why don’t we talk about this over dinner? Near here there’s-”
“I don’t think so, Mr Chalmers.”
He smiled and slowly scanned around. “Don’t call me Mr Chalmers. You know my first name is Joe.”
“I know what you first name is, Mr Chalmers. I think we’ve said all there is to say. The next time you want to waste my time talking like this, do it in my office. Or over a negotiation table.” She reached into one of her hip jacket pockets and pulled out a business card that she put in Joe’s top jacket pocket. “Call me when you have something useful to say.” She turned away.
Joe watched her stride away and shook his head. He had little intention of discussing things about her client. In fact, he had little desire to discuss anything with her that wasn’t... more personal. He took the card from his top pocket and looked at it. Ann Walters. Business address and her business telephone number. He could easily get her mobile number or even her home phone number from her PA. He looked up, watching Ann Walters in the distance, striding purposefully. She was an attractive young woman. She was someone to have - for a little while. He watched the people passing him: no one here to monitor him and nobody here to back up any accusations of sexual harassment. He could never be too careful talking, especially to another lawyer.
He looked at his wristwatch. Soon he would be attending another case. Perhaps involving a lawyer a lot more malleable than Ann Walters. She’ll be a hard one to break but-
He paused as he realised he was entering the Bethesda Terrace. He looked up at the cloudy sky. Soon, snow will arrive in New York and with that Christmas. With increased household disharmonies, and more clients as a result. He wandered around studying the people walking around. So many tourists, many looking at various travel guides. As usual, they’d stare at the huge fountain and tell each other that this is the ‘Angel of the Waters’. They’d slowly walk round the Terrace, perhaps go to wonder at the sight of The Lake and then admire the Terrace lawn with its women doing aerobics. Alright, he had to admit he did look there as well.
He turned around and-
The Devil walked next to Leah as she led them down the steps to the underpass leading to the Terrace. Dominating the courtyard, there was the ‘Angel’. He stopped and smiled at the sculpture. He remained gazing at the fountain for several moments until he was distracted by a noise near him.
Close by, two men were involved in some argument. One, a man smartly dressed in a dark blue suit, seemed to be shouting at the other man who was wearing a plain and untidy woollen cardigan and grey trousers. The plainly dressed man cowered and hurriedly retrieved the fruit that rolled out of a toppled and partly crushed shopping bag. The other man pointed at him, yelling, “Pulling that bag thing. Nearly broke my fuckin” neck falling over it, you dumb ass. I’m gonna-”
His voice faded as the Devil spoke to Fallax. “What can you read about them?”
Fallax scrutinized the two men and, after several moments, he turned back and shrugged. “The man in the suit, I’m certain, you’ll be meeting sometime in the future. The other guy, however, is harder to read. He has some strong guilt on his mind that seems to suggest something significant, but this row,” He indicated the smartly dressed man still shouting at the crouched man who clutched several apples to his chest, “is clouding things.”
The suited man stopped shouting and looked at his wristwatch. He began to rush away whilst pointing at the other man, waving it accusingly.
The Devil turned to Lila. “Follow him and find out what you can.” She nodded and ran after the man. He then turned to Fallax. “I want you to scan the other man and get as many details as you can.”
He nodded and looked back at where the two men had been arguing but all he could see was an orange on the floor. He quickly gazed around and saw the man quickly walking through the archways towards the steps to the Mall. Fallax ran to try and catch up with him but was obstructed by a large group of school children coming down the steps. As Fallax struggled through them, several of the children were shocked by his appearance but he ignored them, concentrating on the retreating figure of his quarry.
He leapt up the remaining steps, dodging around other people. He paused at the top of the steps, searching for the man. Fallax smiled as he spotted his target and closed on him.
Fallax peered at the man’s neck, frowning and occasionally tilting his head to one side. Eventually, the demon stopped, still watching the man rapidly stumble away with his bag trailing behind him. Fallax turned and began to walk back.
He weaved between the crowds, intermittently gazing at people as he passed. Some looked at him but he knew none saw him as he really was.
A woman saw him as a tall attractive man. A pair of twins both saw him as an old woman who reminded them of their late grandmother. A well-muscled man saw Fallax as a man who was also powerfully built and gently flirted with the demon. Politely, he smiled back. He turned his head and spotted a strange old woman, standing up from a park bench. She stared searchingly, even piercingly, at him. She reminded him of something.
Something he could not clearly remember. He shook him head as he quickened his walk to a jog and ran down the steps into the shadows of the underpass.
As he exited, he stood under the central archway, scanning for his companions. They were standing at the far end of the Terrace, looking over the Lake. He trotted to them and was spotted by Leah as he approached. She gently nudged the Devil’s arm and he turned, speaking with apparent casualness, “Did you find him?”
Fallax nodded, bowing his head. “Yes, I did, my Lord. His name’s Ashley Jennings. I also learnt where he works as well. Or at least the job he’s going to now.”
“Good.” The Devil turned to look back at the Lake. “Will he do?”
Fallax frowned and then, understanding the question, he nodded again. “Yes. Definitely.”
“Why?” the Devil asked, not looking at him.
“He murdered his father.”