‘You finally figured it out did you?’ Nebecenezer sneered, “You can run all you want, but the truth was going to catch up with you eventually wasn’t it?”
“I haven’t done anything I need to apologize for.” She snapped, angrily wiping melted cheese from a plate. “My only crime is finding a few pages of an ancient Sumerian text that detailed how to make an alliance with a supposed dark power.”
‘Here I am and you dare to say you’re innocent?’ Nebecenezer laughed, ‘I have made you all but immortal and given you a window to the knowledge you so desperately crave!’
“I only asked you for help once, and that was out of adolescent ignorance.” Purdue said, “You’re also not nearly as powerful as that text claims. Nebe, you’re just a shitty little con artist and you know it. I figured you out decades ago.”
‘Hey, I know a lot more than I pretend.’ Nebecenezer said, ‘I’m telling you all the answers you want are literally at your fingertips. I just need a little more from you.’
“You’ve taken all you’re getting from me.” She put the last plate into the drainer and dried off her hands. “I have this damn habit and I can’t kick it thanks to you.”
‘Oh quit complaining. You know you wanted to be a smoker anyway and thanks to me it won’t kill you.’ Nebecenezer said, ‘That was your first command.’
“Request.” Purdue said, “I asked for it, I didn’t issue an ultimatum.”
‘That’s not how it works and you know it.’ He said and laughed bitterly, ‘I have to obey your commands and I get to take things in return.’
“At first you said you wanted to be allowed to stay out of hell. You failed to tell me that meant you got to take half my soul.” Purdue walked to the closet, pulled on her jacket and stepped outside, tapping a cigarette out of a fresh pack. “I doubt I’d have agreed to it if I’d really understood that you’d be hitchhiking along in my brain.”
Snow swirled in front of her as she cupped her hands to light her cigarette, the wind seeming to outline a vaguely humanoid shape leaning against the porch railing. She squinted and looked closer at it, “Nebby? Is that you?” He’d never manifested a physical form before.
Purdue blew a stream of smoke at the figure and it passed through it without slowing down or distorting. Whatever it was, the figure wasn’t really there. She flicked the cherry off her cigarette and tossed the butt into the garbage can, barely taking her eyes off the thing. Just as she was slipping through the door, she was almost sure the figure pointed at her.
Nebecenezer was uncharacteristically silent. A shiver ran down her spine. It was time to get to bed.