Balance of Power
Roy ran through the alley–plenty of back alleys in Hell–with four of Jude’s minions pounding the cobblestones behind him. This area looked like something from Bombay–Mumbai, they were calling it these days–and not a particularly nice place to get killed.
As if any place was nice.
Roy was laboring, not having run any distance farther than to catch an elevator in ten or fifteen thousand years, and not far nor fast then. All those cigarettes, cigars, and pipes of assorted noxious weeds really cut into a demon’s wind, and the four behind him seemed to be in a lot better shape. It was only the fear that kept him ahead of them.
He jinked to the left, around a couple of trash cans, and dug deep, putting on a burst of speed.
If they cornered him, he’d fight, and he was a pretty good barroom brawler–he had dirty tricks out the wazoo–but the four chasing him were big dudes, each a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier, easy, and he expected they’d seen every dirty trick in the book and a few that weren’t in it.
Plus each of the suckers was armed with a machete, and all Roy had to wave back at them was his bare dick.
It was really too bad that guns didn’t work down here. He’d love to have an electric mini about now.
Getting killed here wasn’t permanent–demons didn’t stay dead–but it it could be really painful, plus there was the problem of getting your shit back together. If the goons behind him did what he expected, which was to chop him into a bunch of pieces, then haul them to all the corners of Hell, it might be a long damned time before he was able to reassemble himself. The legend of Javul the Evil flitted across his mind: J. the E. had pissed off somebody Low Among the Fallen and been drawn and quartered for it, his head whacked off, and the cut-up corpse scattered hither and yon. It took J. the E. eight millennia for the parts to inch their way back together, and another two thousand years for the reassembled body to locate and dig up its head–that part being buried under a ten-foot slab of granite in the relatively-cold section of Hades North. Javul’s head had been trying to chew its way out, but even demon teeth take a while to grind through that much granite–
A quick glance back revealed that the fastest of the four thugs was no more than twenty feet behind Roy and gaining.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
Roy looked for something he could use. Ahead, to the right, was a dumpster, filled with enough body parts so the lid wouldn’t close.
He’d have to slow, and he’d have to time it right, and it was a risk, but he wasn’t swimming in options here ...
As he neared the dumpster, Roy angled in, caught the rim, and used his weight and momentum to swing himself around it, so he was facing his pursuers. The fear gave him strength, and he jerked the heavy steel container out, turning it so it blocked most of they alley crosswise as the demon behind him raised his machete–
–Roy shoved the dumpster for all he was worth, but followed it, his left hand on the lid, which would open toward him–
–the big demon was moving at speed, and apparently decided that the way to go was to leap over the sucker, which is what Roy would have done.
He never slowed. He jumped–
–Roy set his feet, bent his knees, and raised the lid, gripping the edge tightly with both hands. He straightened his arms, but didn’t lock them–
–The big demon had enough height to clear the main body, but the lid added another four feet, and he hadn’t allowed for that. Roy couldn’t see him, but there was no turning once you were in the air like that.
The demon slammed into the heavy lid. The metal dented where he hit it with his leading knee.
The impact shoved Roy and the dumpster backward and almost knocked him down, but he managed to stay steady enough so the big demon’s forward motion stopped, and he collapsed into the squishy body parts inside the dumpster.
Ow. That had to hurt.
The big demon’s moan was music to Roy’s ears.
Roy grinned. But there no time to stand and enjoy this small victory. He turned around and took off. The dumpster would slow the other three a hair.
A couple hundred yards away, there was a cross alley. Roy turned left.
Another fifty yards, a Chinese demon smoking opium from a long iron pipe stood behind the back entrance to a Mah Jong parlor. He saw Roy coming, made a decision, and gave him a short nod at the door.
Roy skidded, slowed, and managed to get through the doorway without smashing into the frame. There was a smoky hallway and the sounds of demons playing the Chinese game, tiles and voices, mostly in Mandarin.
Behind him, the Chinese demon stepped inside and closed the door. He threw a bolt the size of Roy’s arm, locking the portal. Even if the goons figured out where he’d gone, they couldn’t get through that unless somebody opened it.
Roy looked at him. Why did he help him out?
“Remember me to Larry,” the Chinese demon said. He smiled.
Roy nodded. That fucking Larry ...