11:59

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Emporium Press

May 6, 2020

Cover art: Reese Dante

Genre: Speculative fiction, romance

The first time Asuka Kawashima met the Devil, he had been falling headfirst from the thirty-third floor of One Penn Plaza.

“Want to make a deal?”

Suspended downward, Asuka stared at the face of a gentleman with the highly particular yet slightly indescribable features of a century long since past. New York City and Asuka’s inevitable death lay as a backdrop to the blond in a three-piece suit with a high collar, tapping an unlit cigarette against a silver case in one hand. Shards of broken glass hung in the air around Asuka, reflecting the tungsten orange glow of the city at night.

“Wh-what?”

The tip of the cigarette burned, smoke curling in lazy circles around the blond.

Asuka didn’t remember seeing him light it.

“If you could have anything,” the blond said, smiling a smile just this side of inhuman, “what would it be?”

“I want to save people.”

The blond angled his head and blew smoke devoid of the heady scent of tobacco from his lips. He reached his free hand up and touched the badge pinned to Asuka’s beat cop uniform, as if amused by the irony of his comment. “Are you certain?”

“What choice do I have?”

The blond glanced down at the city far below and then smiled once more at Asuka. His stare was endless. Bottomless. Piercing.

Asuka looked away.

“I can make you immune to dreaming. The nightmares will never find you. You will never be transformed into one of the monsters you’ve witnessed tonight. But the cost will be great.”

Asuka swallowed hard. He looked at the Devil again. “A soul.”

Your soul, my sweet little bird.”

The wind began to blow.

And one by one, the shattered pieces of glass began to fall.

“Deal,” Asuka whispered.

11:59 p.m.

© 2015-2020 C.S. Poe