#ThursThreads, week 514


It had been eons since Lord Beelzebub felt unsure of what to do next. She had many great ideas for torture and had refined them over millennia. But the reports she’d been getting from Earth were getting more and more confusing, and the things that had always worked just didn’t seem to be…enough?

She sighed deeply and pushed the button on the intercom. “Send them in.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

The demons she’d been waiting for entered her office – some slithering, some on leathery wings, others on a blurry cacophony of feet – but none of them would meet her eyes. Not in the “please don’t tear me in half, Lord” way either. That, she was used to. This was just more uncertainty.


The snake-thing raised its head. “We already submitted our report, My Lord.”

Beelzebub glared.

“Yes, uh, My Lord. The extra report. So it’s all, uhh, true.”

“They are destroying their habitable environment, for profit?”


“They are dying by the millions from a wholly preventable illness, for profit?”

“Well, that one is more for power, but yes.”

“And this latest one? They are sacrificing their children, over and over?”

“For profit and power, yes, My Lord.”

“And that’s why they’re not suffering when they come here?”

“Yes, My Lord. They are…grateful, I think. At least this makes sense to them.”

Beelzebub sat back in her chair and sighed. “We have got to do something, soon – by the end of the week, if possible. Home Office is not happy.”


#ThursThreads, week 513


The fuel mixture must have been off or something, because the engines hadn’t sounded right since we took off. The props were still spinning, though, and as long as they kept going ‘round and ‘round, we had a chance to get out of this mess.

Charlie poked his head into the cockpit. “Hey boss.”

I was nobody’s boss, but get him to realize that. We’d picked him up at our last stop – he was running from the same people we were – but I already wanted to see if he could fly without a chute.

“Yeah, Charlie?”

“I was running some numbers,” at least he was good with them – I couldn’t pass fifth grade math, even on the third try. “Looks like we have two options. There’s the landing strip in Paraguay, but I haven’t heard from them in ages. Don’t even know if they’re still operational. I know we can land at Tres Hermanos in Bolivia, but do you think we’ve got enough fuel to make it to that?”

“Could be.”

“Bad news, Ernie,” called the voice of the third member of our motley crew. Who’d bring their ex on a journey like this, other than me? Sure, hon, let’s spend forever together running for our lives when we couldn’t even last through our honeymoon without getting on each other’s nerves.

Rachel popped her head in the doorway next to Charlie’s, her eyes twinkling. Oh, right. That’s why I could never get rid of her. Those eyes.

“We got company.”


#ThursThreads, week 512


I retched again and she rolled me over. Again. I’d woken up staring at a pool of my own vomit more times than I could count, but this time the disgusting puddle in front of me was streaked with blood.

It was getting worse.

I tried to push myself into an upright position and cried out in pain as the stump where my left hand used to be bumped the guardrail. “Fuck me!”

Even my curses were feeble now, not much above a croak.

“C’mere. I’ve got ya.” She put her arms around me and helped me shift to a more human position.

As the room started to come into focus, the rest of the situation joined it. I did my share of waking up feeling this shitty when I was younger, but that was my own damned fault. This, though, this just happened.

She scooted next to me and took my right hand in hers. They’d cut my left one off trying to stop the disease, but not soon enough to do any good.

“How long…how long was I out this time?”

Her eyes didn’t leave mine, but they were filled with unshed tears. “Three days.”

“Three days.” I swallowed, the mixture of saliva and bile and blood almost choking me. “Not long now, is it?”

She wiped away the tears with the back of one hand and tried to smile for me. “No. No it’s not.”

“Stay with me? Until, y’know?”

“Until always.”


#ThursThreads, week 511


I can’t decide how to die this time. I’ve done all the common ones – getting hit by a car, jumping off a building, contracting Ebola. I’ve done exotic ones – suicide by cop, becoming an astronaut and then opening my helmet during a spacewalk, bringing a dish to a KKK meeting and then telling everyone a Black man had jerked off into it.

No, this isn’t some Groundhog Day thing where the universe is teaching me a lesson in becoming a better person. For one thing, I’m already dead.

I guess that needs some clarification. My body is dead. I lived ninety-seven years and passed away peacefully in my bed, surrounded by people who said they loved me and all the luxuries a man could want.

My soul, on the other hand, lives on until I complete my task. We all owe a death, this is true, but I owe millions. I didn’t kill all 8 million individually – not even I had that kind of time – but I did my share. After all, if I expected my staff to get their hands bloody, then I had to as well. Besides, I enjoyed it.

So here I am, forced to die one time for each of the 8 million I was responsible for. And this time, I can’t outsource any of the work.

Maybe I’ll see if the alligators at the zoo are hungry.