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 Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe - by D.L. Reynolds

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D.L. Reynolds
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Join date : 2011-11-13

PostSubject: Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe - by D.L. Reynolds   Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:46 pm

Chapter One




The Calling
Tonight was a night for the calling. The wind howled as it rolled through the cemetery, working its way between headstones of all shapes and sizes. The grounds were poorly groomed in this section. Nearly hidden by the weeds, a tattered old flag marked a long-forgotten grave. Plastic flowers bleached white and melted from years of hot sun drooped at the foot of several headstones. The light of a full moon filtered through passing clouds, causing shadows to dance across the cemetery like ghosts in the dark.
An old rat shuffled in and out of the shadows. Scurrying from one mound to another, he sniffed around for a snack. Creatures of the night had come out to feed.
The air crackled. Sparks snapped and popped flashing in the dark. Arcs of light danced through the air, over the tombstones and across the graves. The night came alive with electricity.
Rodents ducked and scattered. Bugs burrowed in the dirt and dove under piles of dried leaves. The old rat trembled as it peeked around the corner of a tombstone.
A dark swirling portal opened. Fog poured out and rolled across the ground. A black figure floated into the cemetery followed by a trail of gray smoke. The electricity stopped and the portal sucked the fog back in like a vacuum as it silently snapped shut.
The Ghoul turned toward the rodent. Red eyes flashed in the dark. The old rat squealed and ran without stopping to look back. Every creature knew well enough to steer clear of the caller. He was the keeper of souls. The keeper of the Balance. Nobody knew his real name except God. They called him Striker.
Striker wore a tattered black cloak faded from many long-forgotten nights. Patches of gray hair jutted out from under a ragged hood concealing his face in darkness. He smelled ancient. Like a stale cellar. Like grandma’s closet. Striker was the Grim Reaper’s assistant, and being Death’s top Ghoul, he was not to be taken lightly. He cared for no one. No one cared for him. Nothing could stand in his way. He never failed. Like his master, he dealt with the dead. He held the destiny of all souls.
 
Striker floated quietly from grave to grave as he searched. Every soul remains fast asleep and bound to their graves by the Grim Reaper’s shackles, that is, until they’re called by Striker or God himself at the resurrection. The night was deathly still. Nobody wanted Striker’s attention. As he passed an uneasy presence hung in the air. It was thick like the suffocating humidity in the deep south during the dog days of summer. It was his job to send a soul on its way. Only God and Striker knew where a soul would go tonight. Never would he offset the Balance by calling more Evil than Good. Tonight, his list had four souls who spanned centuries of life.
Striker raised his wooden staff and brought it down hard on the ground, ker thump! A shock wave shot through the cemetery like the rumble of an earthquake. Insects and rodents scattered running for safety. The wind stopped, and the night became still as death. An eerie green fog rose out of the grave and rolled across the ground.
 
She opened her eyes and saw the lid of a coffin. Her eyes were dry and raw; they burned. Inside the rotten coffin rose an eerie green mist. The putrid stench of rot and decay was overwhelming. She gagged. She choked. Her skin bubbled. Bugs scurried across her cheek. They ran down her legs. A swarm of bugs scattered off her body. Terror overtook her. She tried to move, but could not. Her shackles held tight to the grave. The only thing she could do was sweat and stare.
Suddenly, she was yanked violently from her coffin. She screamed. The force was intense. It pulled her up through the ground. Patches of skin peeled off as dirt and rocks raked her like sandpaper. Slowly, she rose out of the grave. The faint shimmering form of a thirteen-year-old girl took shape. Striker had called forth Darla Jade.
She wobbled on top of her grave struggling to stand on legs stiff from rigor mortis. Fragments of a faded dress shredded from dry rot stuck to her trembling body. There was a time when this was her best dress. She wore it to her first dance. She wore it to Sunday school. But that was long ago.
The pain was intense as her soul grew into a new body. Darla shed her old body like a lizard peels it’s skin. A bug ran out of her tangled brown hair and scurried down the back of her neck. She jumped and squealed. Frantically, she tried to stomp the bugs as they fell off her body and ran across the ground.
The night breeze tingled as it blew across her new skin and through her soul. She shivered as her new body came to life. Darla became aware of her surroundings. She glanced around nervously. Her sparkling blue eyes were the only remainder from a life once lived.
Darla struggled to understand. What was happening? Her thoughts ended abruptly as Striker yanked the chain with such force she stumbled and nearly fell. She quickly regained her footing and scrambled after him. Every time she lagged, the chain was yanked. Never once did the Ghoul look back. Never once did he care. Striker continued through the cemetery calling up three more souls.
 
They stopped in the oldest section of the cemetery. The ground was barren and dry with scattered clumps of stiff brown grass. The wind howled like ghosts riding wisps of dust across long forgotten mounds. Recognizable graves were few and far between. The dead in this place had been forgotten long ago.
Darla felt hopeless as she waited on Striker. Those seconds ticked away like an eternity. She was alone and knew it. Tonight, there would be no hero to save her from this terrible nightmare.
Darla looked at the others. A frail blue-haired old lady trembled, while a chubby red-headed boy sobbed silently beside her. A handsome sixteen-year old boy with piercing green eyes stood to the side. He was still and quiet like deep water. She could tell he was on the edge of exploding like a cornered cat. A quick glance from him told her he was scared, but wasn’t about to show it. Given a different time and place she might have found him attractive. He was one of those handsome bad boys who would draw a girl’s eye. But not tonight, she had more pressing problems.
Darla didn’t know what was coming next. Nobody wanted to know. They were scared to the depths of their being. Whatever tonight had in store for them, it wasn’t going to be good.
Slowly, Striker turned and faced the souls. He extended his rail-thin arm into the night sky. The wind whipped his ragged sleeve back exposing a long skinny hand. The pale white bones of his fingers jutted through tattered patches of wrinkled dry skin. He rotated his hand palm up, and it began to glow a faint gold, growing brighter and brighter until the night air opened. Floating in the darkness, in a pit of Nothing, was a Golden Key of pure light. His hand shot forward with the speed of a striking cobra and yanked the key out. With a clap of thunder, the Nothing snapped shut, sending a ripple across time and space.
Darla broke down. Had she lost her mind? From what she’d seen so far, tonight was going to end bad. Tears streaked down her dirty cheeks as she cried.
 
Striker turned his attention to Johnny. The dark-haired boy glanced at Darla. She watched his eyes fill with fear. Striker unlocked his shackles with the Golden Key and dropped them. They sank into the Earth and headed back to where they came from.
The Ghoul stared into his eyes and within seconds had read the entire story of Johnny’s life. Striker spoke a single word. It came from a place that cannot be found. Heard, yet not heard, as it floated across the Dimensions. “Evil!”
The ground shook and the Earth split open. A spinning black vortex shot toward the surface with the force of a Kansas tornado. Swirling in the vortex’s howling wind came the tortured voices of the damned. The stench of smoke and brimstone filled the air. Thousands of tiny Demons rode like cowboys chasing a whirlwind on the raising smoke. Like an army of spiders, thousands more Demons scrambled up the inside walls of the vortex. Hell rushed forward eager to accept the new guest.
In a mass of rippling darkness, hoard after hoard of Demons swarmed out of the abyss into the cemetery. The black wave rolled across the ground straight for Johnny. Like an army of giant ants, they scrambled up his legs and took him down. Razor-sharp teeth and jagged claws ripped and tore his flesh. Pain shot through him as the Demons pulled him toward the abyss. Tiny voices laughed with Demonic glee. Johnny screamed! He looked at Darla. His eyes begged for help.
She did nothing. She was frozen by the sight of the tiny Demons.
He cried out in terror.
She didn’t move. Darla was afraid. All she could do was fear the worst . . . Was she next?
Johnny grabbed frantically at the dirt. He couldn’t stop the Demons as he was slowly pulled across the dusty ground.
The souls panicked and jumped away from Johnny. Darla stumbled and fell on her back. In the flash of an eye, hundreds of Demons swarmed out of the vortex. Before she could move, they were upon her. Claws dug in her ankles, and pain shot through her legs. They began pulling her toward the abyss. She screamed and kicked. More Demons swarmed her. Darla grabbed the chain between her shackles and swung it into the Demons. The impact sent them flying. She swung left, then right. Again and again, she swung the chain. Darla felt strong. Something gave her strength. What was this new power? There were too many Demons. They kept coming and coming.
Striker looked at Darla. He hesitated a moment. Could she be? Is she the One? He turned and cursed the Demons in the language of Hell. Their tiny voices squealed in pain as they scrambled back into the vortex. The night air thickened under the weight of the cursed language. Darla’s ears burned. Her head throbbed and a trickle of blood ran from her nose. Was this Ghoul going to send her to Hell? She scampered to her feet and ran behind Striker with the others. At least for now, the Ghoul had kept the Demons at bay.
Johnny begged, “No! This can’t be right. Don’t send me there! Nooooo . . .” The night howled as if banshees rode the wind. Johnny screamed as he dropped in the swirling darkness. Hell’s gates squeaked as they opened eager to accept him. The laughter of a million Demons drown out his cries for help. Hellfire shot up the vortex and grabbed his ankles. It drained the last drop of hope he had left. Johnny became an empty shell as fire engulfed his soul. Like the snap of a bullwhip, he was sucked down with blinding speed. The abyss snapped shut, and instantly the night was silent. The wind stopped. Except for the rancid stench of smoke and brimstone, no evidence of the horrific event had been left behind.
Striker grabbed the chains and yanked the rest of the souls out from behind him. He unlocked the shackles of the feeble old lady. His gaze paralyzed her as he read her life. “Evil!” Hell gleefully swallowed another soul.
 
Striker turned and faced Darla. Dropping to her knees, she shook with fear. She didn’t want to go to Hell. It was too late to repent, and she knew it. There was no question whether Heaven or Hell existed. The answer was crystal clear. Panic swelled within her. Doubt set in. What if she didn’t make it? She couldn’t spend eternity in Hell. She just couldn’t. Darla prayed under her breath. “Please . . . Oh, please, don’t let this be—” Her words froze as Striker locked her in his gaze.
Darla floated in the air dangling like a limp rag doll, while Striker scanned her deepest memories. She tried to resist, but couldn’t. He saw her darkest secrets. Those seconds became an eternity as she lived the memories of her life. It was like watching herself in a movie. Her sins, her secrets, everything was exposed, baring her faults and dashing her hopes. She felt violated. She was ashamed. There was nothing she could do but watch as they unfolded in her mind. Darla became lost in the dream that was once her life. She knew that after you’re dead, there are no secrets. Nothing is hidden! Coming from somewhere far, far, away, she heard a single word “Good!” It echoed inside her head, growing louder and louder until she fell to the ground, released from Striker’s stare.
Instantly, her fear was gone. Darla felt renewed as a wave of freshness flooded her soul. Indescribable happiness embraced her heart and joy filled her mind. The sky opened, and tiny splinters of light gently extended toward her. Growing larger and longer, the splinters whirled around and around, until they become a spinning white vortex sparkling like a strobe in the darkness. The sweet fragrance of honey and flowers after a fresh rain filled the air. Darla inhaled deep and smiled as soft Angelic singing floated down from Heaven. She felt light, as light as air. Darla was gently pulled into the vortex, her soul growing brighter and brighter as she ascended toward Heaven.
Angelic singing grew louder as it floated through the cemetery. All living creatures, birds and bugs alike joined in celebration with the Heavenly host. Singing and dancing with joyous rapture, the cemetery came alive with the sound of music. Moonbeams danced and grass swayed. All life moved to the rhythm of Heaven’s song.
Everything and everyone except Striker. He remained still and solemn, like a stone statue. The vortex snapped shut with a flash of brilliant light. The last thing Darla remembered was the word “Good.”
 
The pain was intense. Johnny struggled to understand as he fell deeper and deeper in the darkness. The speed of the fall turned his stomach. Demons tore his flesh. The fire burned. It was hard to think.
True, he was into Death Metal and Black Magic. But they said that stuff wasn’t real. Besides, he never believed it was real in the first place. He screamed. “Why should I have to pay?”
Being Evil was how he made a statement of his own. Johnny liked the dark side, mainly because it bothered his parents. He showed the world he could do what he wanted. It was his life, good or bad. Nobody had the right to say anything. He never cared what people thought of him anyway. What he wanted, was all that mattered. He was all that mattered. No rules, no laws, Johnny was a rebel to the core.
It was painfully clear those lies were behind him. Like it or not, Hell did exist. He knew he’d soon learn more about Hell than he ever wanted to know. Life wasn’t about him after all. He had been deceived.
Johnny believed the Greatest Lie of all time. Satan did not exist. Hell laughed! Another soul earned. The deceivers had done their job well. Satan’s greatest victory and his greatest lie were one and the same. Convince the world he doesn’t exist. Convince the world he isn’t real.
Johnny knew it was too late to repent. Payment had been called, and he was found wanting. He’d been a lot of things in life, but he wasn’t a quitter. Strengthening his resolve, Johnny turned his thoughts on how to survive as he landed in Hell and burned.
 
“Darla . . . Darla Jade!” a soft English accent disturbed her sleep.
“Go away,” mumbled Darla as she rolled over.
“Darla! Wake up. Wake up now, or we are going to be late.”
Darla rolled over on her back. She yawned and stretched. Her bones felt unusually stiff this morning. It was like she had the world’s biggest charley horse lodged in every muscle. She opened her eyes and looked directly into a set of big round glasses framing Marie’s beautiful hazel eyes.
Marie’s long brown hair dangled down and tickled Darla’s cheeks. “You need to get out of bed and get ready right now, young lady. We are running out of time around here.”
Darla was entirely too comfortable on the cloud-filled bed. She was snuggled deep in a cotton blanket as soft as air and certainly had no intention of getting up. It took a several minutes of Marie’s badgering before Darla finally sat up on the edge of the bed.
“Good morning, Darla! It is another beautiful day. You will find we have lot of them in Heaven.” Marie noticed Darla’s blank stare. “Oh, I forgot! You are new and do not know a thing about what happened to you,” she laughed. “You live in Heaven now, and this is our room. We are roommates and I know we are going to be best friends!”
Singing, Marie danced over to the only window in the room and pulled back the sheer white curtains. The crystal blue sky was glossed with a golden Haze. She opened the window and the fragrance of fresh flowers, honey, and rain flooded into the room.
The sweet scent caught Darla’s attention. She blinked as she looked around. The room was small and plain, with very little furniture. The walls were yellow, the doors and ceiling white. There was just enough room for two guests, with two of everything. The beds were plain and simple, but quite comfortable. The desks were small, but functional. “No designer stuff here,” sighed Darla.
 
Johnny walked. Walking wasn’t much to hang onto, but it helped him keep his mind off this forsaken place. His feet burned as each step sank a couple inches in the molten lava. In dramatic contrast, he stung from the bitter cold of the deep darkness. His fingers and lips had turned a dark blue. The rest of his body was pale blue down to his red-hot ankles and feet. He cursed the pain. He had no idea where he was going. He walked. Johnny knew he was headed in no direction. He was on his way to nowhere. But he kept walking.
Hell was pitch-black. It was the darkest black of the deepest Darkness. The frigid air was stale and poisonous. The wind never blows here, it refuses to enter Hell. Johnny coughed as his lungs burned from the smoke and brimstone. His head pounded from lack of oxygen. The cold burned. The lava burned. His mind reeled as he tried to adjust to the hostile environment. Johnny moaned. Everything hurt in Hell.
The only light was a crimson glow hovering a couple of inches above the red-hot lava. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, Johnny saw several molten lakes in the distance. The lakes were dotted with little flames. He gasped when he realized the flames were tormented souls. The souls swam frantically, but they went nowhere. Their limbs burned off each time they dug into the lava and grew back as they passed through the air beginning another stroke all over again. It took an awful lot of work to keep from sinking. In Hell, a swim to shore can last for an eternity.
Scattered across the forsaken landscape were the crumbled walls of once magnificent buildings. But those days were long gone. Every stone was covered by souls desperately hanging onto anything they could to escape the burning lava. The tortured souls cried for forgiveness and mercy. No one listened. Nobody cared.
Johnny wanted no part of this place. He looked around for a way to escape. He wanted to run, go anywhere but here. There was no escape from Hell, and he knew it. It was too late to repent, too late to beg for forgiveness. As he watched the whining souls, he shook his head. Johnny resolved not to cry. “Save the energy,” he mumbled. “Nobody would listen anyway.” Hell was hopelessness and pain. No matter how soon Judgment Day came, it wouldn’t be soon enough for these tortured souls. Anything would be better than Hell, even the Second Death.
Johnny knew there was only one way to survive down here. He had to be the most Evil, the most deceitful one of them all. He needed to be the meanest one in the valley. Laughing out loud, he vented his desperation in madness.
“Focus on a plan,” he whispered. “If I help Evil overcome Good, maybe Evil can take over, and if Evil wins, just maybe, Evil can destroy the Book of Life.” Johnny rubbed his chin and grinned. “Maybe Judgment Day will never come and I can get out of here. If Evil is in control, Evil will rule the Earth!” He felt better. At least for now, he had the beginning of a plan.
“I’m too smart,” he shouted in Darkness, laughing hysterically. There was no echo, because Hell is dead.
 
Evil laughter boomed with a thousand tangled voices. “Ya think so, boy? An’ just, who are you?”
Johnny could barely see the fast approaching Demon. At seven feet, Brimstone was intimidating. His huge muscles bulged under tight black clothes trimmed in red and lined with small steel spikes. He was a menacing sight. The Demon’s brownish-red skin, jet-black hair, and red eyes bore an uncanny resemblance to pictures of the Devil. He was surrounded by Evil creatures known as Spawn.
Johnny was terrified. He tried to act tough. His voice trembled with fear. “My name is Johnny.”
The huge Demon mocked him, singing as it danced in circles around him. “My name is Johnny an’ it might be a sin.” The Spawnz joined in with an evil hiss. Brimstone stopped in front of him and burst out laughing. “Guess it was a sin after all, huh, boy?”
Johnny choked on the Demon’s retched breath.
“I’m Brimstone, an’ I’m a dyin’ to hear what makes you so smart. Specially, right after arrivin’ in Hell! Ya know, boy, most people cry out their last bit of water in tears when they get down here.” Brimstone boomed with laughter. “Not you! Nooo, you’re a laughin’. I gotta hear this.”
Johnny grinned as he slowly raised his head and paused. His cold, black eyes stared back at Brimstone. He tried to be strong, but faltered for a moment. His mind raced . . . run! Find someplace to hide, but there was no escape. Spawnz had him surrounded. He dug deep for courage. Now was time to be the meanest one in the valley or suffer the consequences. Johnny straightened up and puffed out his chest. He knew better than to show fear a second time. Grinning, he bargained with the Demon. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you everything after you get me out of here. I don’t care where we go as long as we get the hell out of here.”
“Good play on words, boy, but you’re in no position to be a barterin’.” The Demon ran a dirty clawed finger down the side of Johnny’s face, carving a jagged slice deep in his skin. The blood froze instantly on the side of his face as it oozed out. The air was cold here. It was cold as hell. Brimstone sucked in his breath and grinned. “Ohhhh . . . that’s gonna leave a nasty scar. Better hope it don’t get no infection. Down here, infections can be painful, real painful. Cause ya ain’t gonna die from ‘em.” Brimstone stepped back. “We already own your soul! Ya ain’t got nothin’ else to bargain with. So why would I wanna strike a deal?”
Johnny remained calm and grinned as evil as he could muster. “I know how to take over and spread Evil across the land! I’m talking about so much Evil. It’d be unstoppable and in the end, victorious!”
Brimstone glanced around to make sure no one was listening. He leaned in. “You talkin’ ’bout the Balance boy?” His voice dropped to a whisper. “The Balance of the Universe?”
Johnny had no idea what the Balance was or what it did. But he carefully hid his lack of knowledge. Using an old trick, Johnny figured he’d goad Brimstone into revealing the information he needed. He’d use that information to frame his plan with Brimstone’s very own words. “Yeah, that’s right. It’s the Balance and I’m going to upset it,” he growled. Johnny could see Brimstone liked to be in charge, so he rubbed the Demon’s ego to get his plan moving. “The only thing missing from my plan is a leader. Do you know someone who’s all powerful? A Demon with the right connections? Someone who gets things done?” Johnny rubbed his chin as if he was in thought. He pointed at Brimstone. “My plan needs a leader like you!”
Brimstone laughed. “Ohhhh, I like you, boy, I do! I’ll hear ya out. But your plan better be good, real good. If’n not, you ain’t gonna be standin’ on solid ground when I bring ya back here to burn.”
Brimstone shouted at the Spawnz. “Saddle up, we’re a headin’ to Ghost Town.” The Demon grabbed Johnny’s wrist.
Johnny bit his lip as his bones cracked under Brimstone’s powerful grip.
 
Marie was dressed and ready for school. She wore the uniform of an intermediate student. All academy uniforms were exactly the same. Girls wore white blouses and dark blue skirts. Boys wore white button up shirts and dark blue slacks, which fit just right. Everyone wore shiny black shoes and dark blue jackets with their student insignias sewn neatly on the upper left side. The insignias were the only difference in school uniforms. Each student had a personal insignia, which indicated their class level and course of study.
Styling her hair in the bathroom mirror, Marie frowned when she saw Darla’s head bob up and down as she half-dozed off sitting on the edge of her bed. “Come on now, you need to get going. We do not want to be late on First Day. Besides, if we get there early enough, we will have our pick of classes. If we are late, we have to register for the leftovers. As you can guess, those are the classes nobody else wants.”
Darla got up and meandered across the room still half asleep.
A couple of minutes later, Darla had finished dressing. She spun around in front of the mirror admiring herself. “I look great as usual! I think I’ll skip the jacket. I want to look my best for the first day of school.”
She peeked around the edge of the bathroom door and winked at Marie. “As they say, first impressions are lasting impressions. Look out, boys! You’ve seen the rest. Now, here comes best!”
“Bit stuck on yourself, are you? It would do a young lady good to be a little more modest!”
Darla rolled her eyes. “And who made you my mom?”
“Never you mind,” said Marie as she handed Darla a backpack and her degree sheet. “See there?” She pointed out the title at the top of the sheet. “It says Guardian Angel. That means you have been appointed for training to become a Guardian Angel just like me!” Bragging, she continued. “You know, they do not let just anyone into this training program. You have to be special! Only a select few are chosen to become Guardians.”
Marie pulled a silver necklace out from under her blouse and showed it to Darla. “Do you see this emblem? The Greek letter alpha nestled inside an omega. It is the Guardian’s symbol, our essence. A Guardian will always be there from the beginning to the end. And that is exactly how long a Guardian will protect their Human. This is a very special necklace. In fact, across the entire Universe, only Guardians are allowed to own one. You will be given your very own necklace during the graduation ceremony at the end of First Week.”
 
Marie noticed that Darla was puzzled. She explained further. “The first week of school is called First Week. Makes sense, does it not? It is a very special week.” Marie tucked the necklace back in her blouse. “Being a Guardian is an important assignment. You will find our training to be the most difficult program at the Academy. I should know. I have been attending the Academy for quite some time. This year, I have been promoted to an intermediate student. What do you think about that?”
Before Darla could reply, Marie grabbed her by the hand and headed for the door. “We need to get going. You will have plenty of time to admire yourself at the end of the day.”
 
After a moment of jumbled confusion, Johnny found himself standing across the street from a broken-down saloon. The town was empty and barren. The only sounds came from the across the street. Ghost Town looked like a scene pulled out of an old Western movie except there were no stars or moon. The place felt alien. Johnny didn’t know where he was, but it wasn’t Earth. Dust hung in the air like a fog. It was cold in the twilight, but nothing like the freezing burn of Hell. The smell of smoke and brimstone had been replaced by the stale air of antiquity, tinged with a slight hint of decay.
 
Brimstone released his grip. Johnny’s wrist throbbed, and his arm ached. But he was relieved. The burning had stopped, and Hell was gone. Sucking in deep breaths, he coughed as his lungs washed out the poison. It felt good. His mind soaked in the oxygen, and his body rejuvenated from the fresh air. He felt stronger with each step as they walked across the street toward the saloon.
 
Brimstone shoved the saloon doors so hard they slammed back against the wall and nearly ripped off their hinges. Silence greeted them as they entered. Everyone sized up the new guys. Brimstone took his time and slowly stared down anyone brave enough to look him in the eye. It was his gunfighter’s stare, and he loved to use it. He liked to fight as much as any Demon, maybe more. He didn’t need much of an excuse to start a fight, about any reason was good enough. Having won the stare down, he threw back his head and roared with laughter.
As if nothing happened, the piano man began playing. Everyone went back to gambling. “I love it. The only thing that could have been better was if a tough wanted to play my hand. Hard to beat a good fight!” laughed Brimstone.
All types of ugly and disgusting creatures played poker at the small round tables. Smoke filled the dimly lit room, hanging like a gray fog over the tables. From the second floor balcony, girls leaned over the handrail carefully eyeing the crowd below. With the cunning of black widow spiders, they picked out their next victims.
Johnny followed Brimstone along the crowed bar to the open seats at the far the end. The old floor creaked under their feet. Johnny scanned the back stage. It was rough, but large enough for a full-fledged play. It had been a long time since he’s seen a play. Johnny grinned, be nice if a show was on tonight.
With a swing of their legs, they mounted the old wooden stools and bellied up to the bar. “Get me an’ my Humanish buddy here some drinks. Keep ’em comin’ an’ don’t stop ‘til we pass out!”
Johnny grabbed his beer and took a long deep swig. He didn’t stop until he was forced to gasp for air. The moisture moved through his bones and soaked into his muscles like a sponge takes on water. He sighed, it felt good to get liquid back in his body. He wiped his mouth and finished the beer before taking a second breath. Slamming the mug down on the bar, he shouted. “Another round!” Johnny turned to Brimstone. “You called me Humanish. What does that mean?”
Brimstone whispered. “It means you’re no longer Human. You know, alive an’ kickin’ on First Earth. Any dead Human ain’t Human no more. They’re Humanish. I wouldn’t be a braggin’ ‘bout it if I was you. On the Evil side, it’s our job to destroy Humans an’ that could a easily been you.” He leaned back and slapped Johnny on the shoulder as he laughed. “Come to think about it. I guess it was you!”
They downed drink after drink. It wasn’t long before they had too much booze in them. Johnny’s speech slurred as he outlined his plan. “Ya see, all we, uhm, need ta doo.” He swayed and put his hand on Brimstone’s shoulder to steady himself. “Uhm, need to do? Oh yeahh! Steal dat dead guyeyes Stafff. Yeap, jusss steal it awayyy.” Johnny waved for the bartender to bring them another round.
Brimstone’s head swayed. “Steeel a Stafff?”
Staring at his drink, Johnny continued. “Deaddd guy, ghost, maaan. I dunno!” He burped. “Er, whatver ittt was, the one whooo sennn meee ta Helll.”
Brimstone thought about it and nodded. “Ya know, I tink itsss a goo idea.”
Johnny swayed as he pointed his finger in Brimstone’s face. “Toll ya, Balanccce in allll.”
Brimstone giggled like a little girl as he gulped down another whiskey. “I see, wherez ya goin’. Use da Stafff for raisssen up Evilll soulsss an’ tipsss the balanccce innn ar favorsss.”

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D.L. Reynolds
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PostSubject: Re: Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe - by D.L. Reynolds   Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:43 am

Readers
Please post your opinions and comments about the 1st Chapter. I am interested in you as the reader and your feedback. This is book 1 for a series of 7 books. I always incorporate feedback into making my writing better. 

Thank You
D.L. Reynolds

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Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe - by D.L. Reynolds
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