Mari recently awarded this blog the One Lovely Blog Award. In accepting the award, I'm supposed to thank Mari, and award it to 15 other blogs. However, since I enjoy responding to people's work, I'm challenging myself to find interesting work that triggers a response. When I eventually get to 15, I will accept the award.
The first response in the One Lovely Blog Award Series is to Adam Keeper's Friday Flash, "Wealth, Luck, Love Guaranteed, no disappointments", that tells the tale of a sorcerer who builds his business on credit card sorcery.
Stringer's commute was hellish, but that was far better than living in hell. He picked the straw from Farmer John's wagon off his vest while hoping the mites he had seen hopping over Farmer John's plague-infected children hadn't found him. Stringer knew that Beng would smirk at Stringer's wrinkled clothes with wheat chaff embedded in the threads.
Stringer pushed a button on the side of Westminster Hall's wall. The seemingly solid support slid to the side exuding a scent of brimstone. Yes, the hellish commute was the proper trade-off. Behind the support, a three foot square pedestal levitated, black cracks showing at the edges. Entering the room, the door slid shut and the pedestal dropped to descend down thousands of feet past wailing voices, their high-pitched volume vibrating his skin. The air warmed with the smell of rotting fish and burnt sulfur, and it would take him hours before he acclimated to the smells. The platform stopped. Beng's baleful eyes glowed red beneath the Devil's black and red spiraled horns. Stringer sighed, Beng was in a bad mood, like usual.
"Sorry, I'm late," said Stringer whose grimace caused his neck to tremble as he cowered away from Beng. "I've got good news though, tempers flared after one of the wagons tipped, spilling chickens everywhere. You must have earned lots of points against --"
"Don't say his name," Beng's voice rumbled shaking the floor and his fetid breath stank worse than the brimstone in the air.
"Sorry," squeaked Stringer. "I... I... wasn't going to say his name. Your arch nemesis --"
"I should penalize you like one of the entry-level souls." Fires danced within Beng's eyes. "I'd enjoy hearing your screams as you dig a trench through scalding cooled lava with your fingertips scraped raw. I might get a better use out of you."
"Yes, sir. I mean, no, sir. Boss, I thought of a diabolical plot on my way to work today. At least listen to my idea, before you do anything drastic."
The cloven hoof came within inches of Stringer's foot as Beng strode around Stringer glaring at him. "This isn't going to be like your black plague plot. Exquisite suffering but they didn't live long enough to sign any pacts with me."
"Oh, no, no, no. This is much better," said Stringer.
Beng's tail lacerated Stringer's leg raising red welts. "Well, don't be coy."
"I'm sure you know about the wannabe sorcerer's," started Stringer. He looked into Beng's eyes and the fire leaped higher. He saw a vision of himself in the flames with an overlord whipping his bent back. "Yes, I know they're already under your thrall. But, there are so few of them."
"What if we eliminated the barrier to becoming a sorcerer." Stringer's eyes lit up and a lock of his hair curled into a point sticking up. "You get a mere handful of souls from the sorcerer trade these days, but if we get more people dabbling in sorcery we could corner the market on souls."
"How do we eliminate this barrier?" asked Beng.
Beng tapped a thick, curled nail on Stringer's chest. "A card won't get them to commit evil."
"Wait." Sweat beaded on the back of Stringer's hands. "The cards will provide them the sorceress power before they actually have it. It may not force them to create evil initially, but we can charge interest on the soul energy. Tease them into maxing out their souls and becoming ours. And there will be plenty of room for small print to confuse and toy with them."
"Interesting." Beng stretched out the syllables creating a whole sentence out of the single word. "I trust you'll start on that invention immediately."