Wormwood (flash fiction)

The gods often come in disguise. I know this, I know it all too well. But I forget sometimes. The slick salesman didn’t look like a god – far from it. He was a wheeler-and-dealer, a card shark. He told me so.

Jet-black hair slicked back, greasy with gel. White dress shirt, dark red tie that screamed “power!” and “too much testosterone!” What a bore this guy was. He tried to sell me a used car, something that wouldn’t get me very far, one that would creak, moan, die by the side of the road.

And man, was he pushy. He smelled like cheap cologne, he was a close talker, a night stalker. He grabbed my arm, told me, “This is the deal of a lifetime, dude!” I told ‘em, point-blank, he was being rude. But jeez, he didn’t stop. You’d think he’d get the hint. But then he pulled out a pint of whiskey, slammed it back, and got back on the salesman attack.

Finally, I had to punch ‘em in the nose, show ‘em I meant business. I got boundaries, buster. Go bother someone else, you stinky scammer.

But the strangest thing started happenin’. I began seeing this fella in random places, ‘bout twice a week. He’d peek his head up from behind the bushes, or he’d be waiting at the bus stop. I told ‘em, in no uncertain terms, to knock it the hell off.

He’d shake his head, walk away – but I’d see ‘em again soon. That’s when I knew he was a god in disguise. I suspected as much. Yeah, he was very sly, I’ll tell ya. So I asked ‘em, straight up, “Who are ya? Where ya come from?”

He said, “Hades. I’m a demon in training. Call me Wormwood.”

So there it was. He wasn’t no god, but somethin’ worse – a creature from below. Well, you know, my hands started to shake, I needed a break from this fella, so I asked, “Why won’t ya go away? Leave me in peace?”

In the end, I had to get with the program. You see, this Wormwood guy recruited me. I followed ‘em down into the Underworld and joined his team. It’s all like some weird kind of dream.

So, if you see some fella, a stranger, keep appearin’ in your life, you may be in danger and end up just like me.

The End

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

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