Anger and pain surged through his body as he thought about that fateful day. Even if the man before him was crazy or a figment of his imagination, his offer was better than anything else Adrian had at the moment. He agreed. The man placed a hand on Adrian’s forehead. His skin was so cold, it sucked the heat from his body, beginning with his feet and running to his head. When all the heat dissipated, he was pulled back into darkness. He didn’t feel any pain, there was no bright light, and there was no sudden realization that he had the answers to every question in the universe. It was just him. Naked. Waiting in the darkness for something to happen.
The man reappeared after a few minutes, bathed in a red light. He circled Adrian, who turned to keep him in view.
“There’s no reason to be suspicious. The hard part is done.” He stopped pacing and placed his hands on his hips.
“Where are we?”
“Right now, nowhere. We’re on a plane between life and death.”
“You mean Purgatory?”
The man grimaced. “Not exactly. Purgatory is an actual place, this is nothingness.”
“Who are you?”
The man held out his hand, a sneer on his lips. “I’m the Devil.”
Adrian stared at the limb like it was leprous. He glanced around the room, expecting someone to jump out and tell him it was all a joke. He glanced back at the man, who had withdrawn his hand and placed it in his pocket.
“Perhaps ‘Lucifer’ would be better?”
“What’s going on? Why did you bring me here?”
“To offer you a job. You know, like we talked about in the hospital room?”
Hazy memories of being hooked up to machines and a breathing tube drifted through Adrian’s mind. He shook his head, trying to get a clearer picture.
Adrian’s brain felt like it was expanding in his skull, threatening to explode his head. What was going on?
“Assassin? Why do you need an assassin?”
The Devil clicked his tongue and began pacing again. “Well, you see, Adrian, we have an ongoing tiff with Heaven, and we need soldiers to fill our ranks. Unfortunately, we can only get those soldiers if someone dies.”
“So then just wait until someone dies.”
“Yeah, see, it doesn’t work like that. Not everyone who dies goes to Heaven or Hell. Sometimes, they get stuck in Purgatory. See, I need soldiers now. Your job is to get me those soldiers.”
Confusion covered Adrian’s face. “You mean kill people?”
The Devil pointed a finger at him. “Precisely. It’s not much different from what you were doing, but this way, you can’t get caught. There are a few rules we have to abide by. We don’t just run around picking people off. If we did that, we wouldn't be able to guarantee that they actually came to our side. We don't want to give Heaven any more soldiers. We take souls that probably would survive, but then they’d have a change of heart, become good. We pluck them right in their prime of evil. But those are details you’ll work out later.”
“You said you’d give me the men who killed my wife.”
Lucifer placed his arms around Adrian’s shoulders. “In due time, my friend. Do a few small chores for me, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”