Logan dragged Elena up Tenth Avenue clasping her fingers tightly.
He led her through the crowded streets of ghosts, bulldozing through their gaseous forms. They dispersed like lingering smoke from a blown out candle, then congealed once again a few steps away.
Elena’s grasp felt warm yet lifeless, like a fresh corpse rapidly fading away. Logan knew he only had minutes to get her out of Purgatory, to save her or would lose her forever.
Mephistopheles could renege on their contract, but if they left quickly, before he changed his mind, then perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
A desperate pact made by a desperate man.
Ten more earth years with Elena for the eternal damnation of his soul.
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Ezekiel Waterford reached for his pawn, hesitated, then nudged it forward to the eighth rank. He glanced at Rodney, his Thursday morning opponent, a 73-year-old black man with a huge grey fro and long, frizzled beard.
“Promote to bishop,” Ezekiel muttered, with the slightest hint of uncertainty. Did he buy it?
“An underpromotion?” Rodney said, his milky eyes squinting under the June sun. “But… why? What are you up to?”
Excellent. It worked. “Never you mind. Your move.”
Rodney uncrossed his arms and leaned forward to study the board, stroking his chin’s bramble and thorny underbrush.
Ezekiel closed his eyes, self-satisfied, bathing in the dappled warmth beneath Zelkova elms. He loved Thursday mornings at Washington Square Park.
A bucket drummer filled the space with a driving pulse. A crowd watched two topless black street performers flip, cartwheel and somersault. Children chased each other around the central fountain.
Ezekiel opened his eyes slightly to check in on Rodney. He was hunched over the game now with a furrowed brow, accenting his many lines of wrinkles. Concentrating, calculating. Ezekiel smiled.
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