The Bargain

by Broderick Lang

Broderick Lang, Contributor

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Kevin Kowalski unfolded the paper after retrieving it from the paper envelope. At the bottom, it read, “$1,245.” As he stared at it taking in how the rent of his apartment went up $245, he folds the paper back up and tossed it on the floor not minding it going under the bed in the center of the room.

As Kevin opened his closet sliding the clothes hanging from the rack, he heard a growl and a shuffling from his room. He turns around and under the bed is a grotesque hand. The skin was purple and clawed. The hand retracted back underneath the bed. Once the hand had retreated, Kevin saw the folded up apartment bill and next to it a large wad of cash. It was just enough for his rent. Kevin extended his hand and before he made contact with the stack of money, the same purple, clawed hand grasped Kevin’s wrist and yanked him under the bed.

Kevin tried to resist the pull, but the clawed hand was too strong, too powerful and Kevin flew underneath the bed. Kevin started feeling himself falling down rather than flying forward just a moment before. Panic started settling in as he plunged into the pitch black abyss.

Without realizing it, he closed his eyes, waiting for death. “There’s no one that can survive the fall,” he thought to himself.

“Open your eyes,” said a growling voice, “No dude for real open your eyes you’ve landed.”

The creature clears his throat, turning it from a deep growl to a light-hearted voice, almost like a child’s voice.

“Sorry about the scare, there’s really no way to warn people about the freakiness of the dimension portal,” the child voice said, “You might be wondering why I paid for your rent.”

Kevin did not respond as he was taking in the purple cave, the walls were visibly frozen, the tall beast was purple, fangs coming out of his mouth from an underbite and little hairs growing.

“My father was the king of this dimension and was executed for something, the law enforcement wouldn’t tell me, my mother wouldn’t tell me, not even my father would tell me,” The Beast explained, “ The law thought executing my father wasn’t enough suffering for my family so they took me and imprisoned me until I force someone to do a drastic deed. That’s where you come in.”

“What do you mean?” Kevin asked.

“That nice wad of cash you got is yours if you do what I tell you and if you don’t then you’ll be stuck here with me and Sheldon,” the Beast threatened.

Kevin looks over the barred cage and sees a skeleton in the corner of the cage. Kevin looks around the cave as he weighs his options. On one hand, he is imprisoned with a child-voiced thing and a pile of bones. On the other hand, he gets to be free, keep his apartment, but the chance of him getting arrested for a crime is significantly higher.

“Alright, what do I have to do?” Kevin finally speaks unsurely.

One second, Kevin’s feet are touching the ground, the next he feels a powerful force fling him up back into the abyss in which he fell in. Moments later, he flies from underneath his bed, the bill and the cash nowhere to be found. “Where did the money go?” He thought to himself.

“Do what I tell you, then and only then will you get the money you were promised,” a deep growling voice in his head responded.

“How did you hear that?” Kevin said out loud.

“I can read your mind. I know what your thinking so don’t try to get out of it or plan to fake what I tell you, “the Beast said.

“You haven’t told me what to do anyway, so what I’m going to do is get on my couch and watch some T.V,” Kevin replied.

“Wrong. You’re not going to watch T.V. What you are going to do it force a squirrel into a coffee cup,” the Beast demanded.

“That’s all?, is that literally all I have to do?” Kevin asked, knowing it was too good to be true, “Why do I have to do what you tell me?”

“You wouldn’t get a job, even after I wrote on your mirror, “the Growling Beast said.

Kevin walked outside and found a squirrel and a cup on top of a bench. He looked at it and hesitated. “I can’t do that to that poor little squirrel,” he thought to himself.

“Ok then, you can come back and get in the cage and get to know Sheldon,” the Beast threatened.

Kevin started bawling. He didn’t want to stuff a squirrel into a cup. He picked up the cup and looked at the squirrel, passerby looking at him strangely. As he wiped away the tears, he picked up the squirrel and put it in the cup. The squirrel did not put up a fight at all, almost like it knew it was its destiny.  Once the squirrel was finally in the cup, the ground beneath Kevin’s feet was ripped right from under his feet and he began plummeting down into a black abyss.

He opens his eyes as soon as he landed. In front of him was The Beast. The Beast cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak.

“Do you have the squirrel?” The Beast said in his child voice rather than the growling voice Kevin heard in his head.

Kevin held up the cup in which the squirrel sat.

“Give it to me!” The Beast said excitedly, “I finally get a pet squirrel! Here’s your money!”

The Beast took the squirrel and tossed the money at Kevin’s feet.

“That’s all? I thought you had to make someone do a drastic action?” Kevin asked, reasonably confused.

“I made you take an animal out of its home. That is a drastic action, also you gave me a new friend.” The Beast explained.

Kevin then feels himself flying upward out of the cave. He slides out from under the bed and comes to a stop as he hits the wall of the bedroom. Worn out and stressed, Kevin flops down on his bed and falls into a deep slumber.

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