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rulethem t1_iue2qky wrote

Demons, I've come to understand, have a knack, and I dare say obsession, for dramatism. At least, those who served the Dark Lord did. Their entrances were always flamboyant, always.

Some burst out of the depths of the very earth, screeching at me for the never-changing order of their Lord. "Pumpkin latte, grande!" only to be gone in the blink of an eye after I gave it to them. Others enjoyed the fine art of brief mystery. They entered disguised as regular customers only to melt down into fire and ashes and be rebirth as a charred abomination the moment they reached the counter. Others were performers, they danced their way in, juggling spheres of hellfire.

The latter dressed in fine costumes and wore featureless masks. They were also talkative and had voices that were somewhere between a singsong and a grate. Despite this, a conversation with them was seldom pleasant, for I had to constantly brace for their inexorable out-of-tune screech.

That night the clock marked 3:32 and the winter clouded the shop's window. No customers were here. They never were. Only my coworker, Carl, who slept through most of our shift provided me with some company. Demons didn't like Carl, when he was awake, they never came.

I leaned over the counter, latte in hand, and gazed at the deep night. What would it be this time? I was not in the mood for talking. I never was. I wished for a silent and reserved one, but those, it seemed, didn't exist.

The clock struck 3:33. The window's tarnish dispersed, and rings of reddish light like giant fiery owly eyes, filled the dark. I sighed. So much for hoping.

Yes, the hellfire handling of this demon was magnificent, a private show any person would empty their wallets to witness, but I had seen it a hundred times if not more. I knew it by heart. There, the eyes turned into spheres and then the spheres burst into drops that bobbed and swirled mid-air. At times, I enjoyed pondering whether they imitated the shape of souls. Demons must draw inspiration from somewhere.

But those were short-lived thoughts. The drops commingled into serpents and danced into the shop. They slithered across the air all the way toward the counter, caressing my skin with an odd heat even from afar. I took two steps back. The serpents hissed and pounced onto one another, stretching until the disguised demon rose from their entanglement with a sharp crack.

"Lady, I hope this gorgeous night treats you well," it said, its voice muffled behind the mask.

I flinched, bracing myself for the usual unexpected screech. "It's treating me well, yes. Here's the order of the Dark Lord."

He nodded and with gloved hands clasped the latte. "Is it really treating you well? You seem to be in a bad mood."

That last sentence he screeched. Its voice grated like claws eager to tear apart my skin. I trembled and flinched and covered my ears.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I forget our attempts at empathy hurt your kind," it said. "We are not great liars. But lady, you at this point should understand, we are envoys of the Dark Lord, and your latte-making abilities are critical for him in the Underworld. Whether you know it or not, this thing"--he pointed at the latte--"helps the Dark Lord make important decisions, and therefore you are a part of what shapes the Underworld. We watch you, carefully and from up close. His orders, not our will. You are always safe, and you are always welcome to come with us."

The demon paused. "See how I didn't screech? I was sincere."

I frowned. "First time one of you invites me. What should I do?"

"Well, there's only one way in, unfortunately--"

The clock struck 3:34 am.

"My time is up, lady, cheer up. Not that we care, but have a good night," it said and faded into nothingness.

I was left pondering. One way in, what did that mean? Death? Was that the way into the Underworld? Did I want to go? I shook my head. Of course, I didn't.

Minutes later, the door at the back opened. Carl came out stretching and yawning. He met my eyes, then stared at the floor in front of the counter. He sighed. "Again, Carla? I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think the night shift is good for you."

He moved almost routinely toward the back and brought back a mop and a bucket full of water. "The wood will only drink so much pumpkin latte. Here, throw this in the trash." He picked up a grande cup and handed it over to me.

I obliged. He didn't believe me. He never did. Demons did this. They are creatures of mischief, and so they always made it seem as though I had dropped the drink when they were gone.



rulethem hopes you like it >:)

I'm a bit new to reddit, but I think you can follow me if you liked my stories? I'll collect the stories I write in my personal feed.


Roswyne t1_iuf1ez8 wrote

I really liked the idea that demons screech when they are are being insincere!


rulethem t1_iuf2v04 wrote

Thank you very much, Roswyne! Glad you liked that >>:))