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The Ridder by temporary99


Winter is over, at last in the calendar sense, as in a forest surrounding a small town of an unimportant name some snow and ice is preserved. Ellen, on her 560-lb mechanical horse, enjoys the first ride of the new motorcycle season down a hilly road. A number of curves provided the rush of adrenaline that she likes. As she cut the next corner, her wheels lost friction on a patch of ice...

Above, in the sky, someone just finished his cigarette. "Organ donors," the figure grinned and threw away the stub, while, beneath his feet, various motorbike parts fell down in an impressive radius. The main body, thanks to a great impact force, penetrated an old tree and seemed to be fixed in place. Near it, an unmoving female body lay on her back, dressed in a black motorcycle suit torn here and there. The face of the blonde was frozen with unseeing eyes, gazing straight ahead, as the cracked helmet finally stopped many feet further away in the forest. A trickle of blood ran down her cheek, from the corner of her lips, only to sink into the long, blond hair unfolded on the young grass.

In the next second, the spirit of the unfortunate girl materializes near her dead body, dressed in the same way as she was at the moment of her death.

"What happened?" she says confused as she looks down on her former self.

"Isn't it obvious?" half-asked a calm voice from behind. "You just died and I'm here for your soul," announced the approaching voice.

"This can’t be happening!' her mind screamed, but somehow she knew he was right. She was beginning to become a believer.

Ellen turned around to see a man in a business suit wearing a hat and sunglasses, typical for the 1980s. "So this is the end?" she asked on the verge of tears. "What have I done to deserve this fate? Is there anything that can be done to change my position? And who are you?" she continued to add new links to the growing chain of questions.

"Questions, questions... and the time of our meeting is limited," he responded, annoyed. "I had many names in the past, so call me just what you want. About your recent death," he pointed at her slowly cooling body. "You know what? I've been in this business for a really long time and some things never change." He picked up a cigarette and lit it before continuing. "Normally, this is a find and pick up kind of job, but since you died in such a spectacular way, I may just have a proposition for you." He took a break to inhale some smoke and exhale it through his nose. Ellen observed him silently, in utter puzzlement.

His hand disappeared into the air on his side, only to come back with a piece of paper rolled over a decorated piece of metal. "Sign it," he said as he presented it to her, "and you will be alive and healthy again."

Ellen regained enough composure to ask what the catch is.

"There's none, as I don't want a lot. Let’s say that in years to come, I may ask you for a few favors," he answered with a mysterious smile. "And once you die, what may happen soon with your current lifestyle will see where your soul belongs." He let another cloud of smoke out while waiting patiently for the girl to take the pack from his hand. "Either way it's a win-win situation," insisted the devilish one.

"Everything is written in here," he shook his hand in slight annoyance. Ellen reluctantly picked up the scroll and started to unroll it clumsily. In fact, it took such awkward movements that she cut her finger on the sharp ornamentation. The pain was so unexpected that she removed her hand and let the document unroll itself to the ground. Before she brought her cut finger into her mouth, a ruby drop fell just above the place marked for signing.

"That will do," said the devil as he snatched the paper out of her hand. It rolled itself up before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

"Hey!" shouted Ellen in awe. "I haven't had a chance to read it"

He ignored her protests. "Not my fault. What's done is done. Now let me do my part of the deal," he grinned, revealing more teeth than humans have. Ellen didn't have a chance to start arguing as her spirit-self vanished shortly after the Devil pointed a finger at her.

Back on the ground, Ellen sharply inhaled air, arching her back in the process. Once her breathing settled down, she started to recall what had happened - the ride, crash, and the pact with the Devil. Still pale, she turned her head to the side and saw, near her bike driven into the tree trunk, the devil was burning out something in the grass by merely touching it with his index finger. Soon she got up and, while standing up unstable, she recognize the symbol being drawn on the ground - a pentagram.

"What are you doing?" she asked, concerned about her life. The sign didn't bode well.

"A little bonus. I can't let a lady stay in the middle of nowhere without a ride," he replied, as, with a flash, a red portal opened and a number of small imps emerged one by one, giggling evilly. Those evil spirits seemed to know what they were summoned for, as most of them scattered around to collect parts and bring those to the edge of the road. A few, which gathered around the main body of the motorcycle, grabbed it from the sides and, surprisingly, pulled it out effortlessly, then carried it to the rest of the collected parts.

There, a show began as those unreal creatures, with ease, repaired parts and restored her machine to its previous shape by straightening and melting together parts in their bare hands. She looked dumbfounded as, in a matter of minutes, her motorcycle was whole again and even shining as if it was waxed. The portal closed as the last of the imps vanished.

They were alone again. "Now it's time for you to do something for me," said the devil, pulling out a small cardboard box and offered it to Ellen. "You will deliver this package for me," he said strongly, perhaps stronger than he wanted.

"I didn't agree to do anything," she protested while crossing her hands on her chest.

"Oh, but you did, my young lady," he said in false amazement. "And that's why you will deliver this package as any lady would. Since you chose not to read the document earlier, then I will treat this as your first and last warning. I wouldn't like to carry out any retributions against you, just as it is stated in the document, but if you make me, then I won't have a choice."

Ellen took her time. At first, she didn't know what to do, but eventually she reluctantly accepted the package, thinking that once she drove off, she wouldn't have to deliver this package anywhere, since the devil didn't say where he wanted it delivered. She hoped that it would stay this way.

The Devil produced another box, this one not bigger than a pack of cigarettes, and put it on the package already in Ellen's hands.

"Accept this as a token of our partnership," said the devil with a fake smile of honesty.

"Thank you," she said and returned a similar smile while trying to maintain her composure. "Just a few more steps and I will be off," she thought. The devil remained silent until they reached the edge of the road.

"Now hop on your motorbike and go," he said and motioned towards the motorcycle.

   Without a word, Ellen placed the packages in the trunk under the motorcycle seat and put on the helmet. She quickly turned the engine on and scooted off as if the devil was to change his mind or tell her where to deliver the contents of the trunk under her.

She didn't have a chance to notice how the devil followed her with his eyes full of amusement before breaking into maniacal laughter as he vanished.

Miles away, Ellen relaxed a bit and almost forgot about her recent encounter with death as she slowed down and turned right onto a dirt road. "Only a few more minutes and I will be back home," she thought. She failed to notice red tendrils creeping out from under the seat and down near her feet and hands. Once a sufficient amount collected unnoticed near her limbs, the liquid-like substance flowed under her gloves and boots and hardened into mittens, effectively fusing Ellen to her motorcycle.

"What the.. ?" Ellen asked herself as she lowered her eyes from the road to look down at her hands to find them fixed to the handlebars by something glossy red showing up through holes in her fingerless gloves. She tried to pry her right hand from the handlebar, then her left, but she couldn't even buckle them a bit. Next, she tried to lift her leg from the foot peg as she could barely see her legs in this position.

The realization that those were fixed to the foot pegs didn't help her to stay calm. Suddenly, the motorcycle started to accelerated on its own. "I can't afford to look down anymore,” as she has to look at the road so as not to crash “Again," she added in her mind as she turned her attention back to the road. She didn't see more of the red goo pouring out from the trunk and starting to flow under her garments, tingling only a bit.

Glancing down at the speedometer, she discovered with fear that the scale was ending while the engine seemed to work smoothly under the load and that there was no sign of it breaking down anytime soon.

The tingling spread out enough to give her an idea that something was terribly wrong. She glanced down at herself, but couldn't figure out what was causing the tingling. "It’s probably the pressure of air," she thought as suddenly the glove on her right hand tore apart and flew away, followed soon by the other, to reveal more of the red material, which reached under the sleeves of her leather jacket.

The Rider

The ripping noise pierced through the roar of the engine as she felt something flowing over her scalp. The speed indicator went beyond the scale as her remaining garments fell apart, exposing a glossy red bodysuit covering her from the neck down to the tips of her feet and a matching helmet, which let her long hair flutter behind her. She missed the bend toward home... leaving a cloud of dust behind.

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