His bearded face towered
over to me with such a serene quiet that I could have believed that I had
stopped right next to him in order to complete the sigil—but he certainly
hadn’t been there a moment before. A white gloved hand reached for me, and I
knocked it away. I repressed the urge to put my fist into that smirking face—it
may be my first instinct to go physical, but this time, I doubted that it would
end well for me.
The Burger King once
again opened his russet robes as if to flash me and withdrew a sandwich. A meatnormous
sandwich. A sandwich so desirable that I could not turn away. I wanted to take
it from him.
The world lurched. The
Fast-food Monarch saw his reflection in the mirror inscribed with Ereshkegal’s
gaunt hand. I released the mirror. Milliseconds ticked by as it started to
slide from my fingertips, milliseconds became seconds, the seconds seemed to
The mirror struck the parched
Arizona dirt and shattered into a thousand scintillating splinters.
That delicious, meatnormous
sandwich exploded into glittering fragments in The King’s grasp.
Caught by surprise, The
King looked down at his empty hands and threw them up. In defeat maybe? I
didn’t stay long enough to find out. I was hauling ass with a vengeance and both
hands this time—and just as quickly running out of options.
Worse, a burger sounded
really good right then.
As I went, I laid down
a path of magical destruction. I threw marbles made from the stained-glass
windows of St. Anthony’s Basilica, dropped entire packets of Zulu spirit ants,
Navaho and Hopi Kachina dolls, even self-igniting hell money firecrackers, something
had to stop this thing—I even accidentally dumped my gummy bears out onto the
dirt behind me. I silently hoped the bastard would slip on those; I was saving
them until they were nice and soft from the heat.
To no avail. Every time
I looked behind me, that terrible parody of a human face grinned back at me,
unmoving, but each time appearing a little closer.
The walls were closing
in… Literally. I had turned a wrong corner. Ahead of me: a dead-end; behind me:
From my pockets, I
withdrew two cans of spray paint that I keep just for this occasion. I went to
work on the wall with the silver and orange paint.
The Holocaust Star
quickly emerged from my frantic flailing and I completed each of its points
with supplications to every one of the thirteen deities of the Underworld. The
world trembled beneath my fingertips as I labored.
A familiar shadow
appeared behind me as I drew the last supplication—and, to my dread, my silver
paint expired. Vainly, I squeezed the nozzle and shook the can. Empty.
The orange spray paint was the same. I turned around and backed against the
wall. I was so screwed.
That mocking, plastic visage
loomed ever closer; and the bearded, demoniac caricature with its cavernous
mouth enveloped my vision. The King smiled wordlessly as he hovered, inches
from my face. The craving for a juicy, tender burger threatened to consume my
Then, he reached once
again into his voluminous cloak and—
please respond,” squawks the radio in Vex’s cab.
“Damn, I have to go,”
Vex says. She ditches the table and rushes to get the radio. “Again, thanks for
voice sounds shocked, almost panicked. “Wait! What happened next?”
Vex looks over her
shoulder as she climbs into the cab and says:
“As it turns out, even
The King can’t handle a steel-toed boot to the Royal Jewels.”