The Transaction

She took a deep breath, savoring the sweet air of the mortal realm. Her eyes closed, she lived in that sensation, the simple rise and fall of her chest.

“What have you done!” a man shouted to her left, bringing her out of that moment.

She stood indoors. A basement, if she was to guess from the lack of air flow and the slight mustiness of the place's aura. The floor and walls were unfurnished cement, the roof spackled. Most of the furniture was covered in sheets, all covered in a thick layer of dust. At her feet, a circle had been drawn in chalk, a square inscribed inside that. Something bloody had been left in a bowl in front of her. An offering for her, she supposed. Mortals always seemed to think demons wanted blood or souls or something. She shook her head, she, at least, would have come without that distasteful thing.

“What have you done!” the man demanded again. His voice hovered between panicked and furious.

“I took what was offered,” she replied with a shrug.

Although she had answered, his question hadn't been for her, but rather, for this body's previous owner. Probably this woman and man had been friends. Maybe lovers? It was too early for her to say. It would take a few more minutes to absorb the memories in this body.

“What was offered?” Shock? Disgust? Anger?

A book lay open, pages down, on the floor. Had it fallen from her hands as the ceremony completed? She picked it up, inspecting the open page.

“Yes,” she replied. “Offered. I'm not some brute who takes bodies by force.”

“Why the hell would she offer you her body?” The question dripped in disdain, in spite. Charitably, in disbelief.

“Why does anyone sell anything they own?” she asked. “Because one does not want it.”

“Give it back.”

She laughed. “I just told you, she does not want it. Why would I force it back on her?”

The man towered over her, standing close enough to touch her now. “Release her!”

She'd taken half a step back without realizing it. A habit engraved into the very muscles of this body? She certainly wasn't afraid of this growling mortal. But, a memory of the previous owner bubbled to the surface. She scowled.

“Release her?” she asked. “How do you think this works? You think I have her locked up in the corner of my soul? She has left. Vacated the premises. Transferred ownership. Gone. Of her own will.”

The fist in her stomach caught her off guard. Before she knew it, she was lying in a crumpled ball on the floor.

He stood above her, rage in his eyes.

The pain was more than she expected, more than she remembered. But this body remembered.

“For a man so intent on getting her back to this body, you are so eager to hurt it.”

The man growled, bending down and grabbing her by the already bruised wrist. “You bring her back! Bring her back!”

She spit in his face, yanking the damaged arm back, more of this woman's memories flooding into her, fueling her growing anger. “I've killed mortals for less.”

“Yeah? You think you can hurt me in that little body you've stolen?” He reached out to grab her again, his hand going for her hair this time.

She understood him this time. Expected the grab, stepped under it, past him. She put a finger to her lips, whispering an old word of power, pulling up the energies from the realm she'd come from.

Purple spikes materialized from the floor, impaling the man behind her. He fell still immediately, dead in that instant.

She shook her head. Such a waste really. But that was all the previous owner had asked as payment. She could have asked her to torture the man, on this plane or the next. Could have had her humiliate him daily, poison his food, destroy his fortunes. She could have cursed him, could have asked for a slow and painful death for him. All of these would have been within her right as payment. And she would have done it.

But that poor girl, that previous owner, all she wanted was to be free of him. And yet, even after everything that monster had put her through, that frail little heart couldn't bear the thought of hurting him.

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