I had to pick myself back up off the floor. When I had realized that he had won, I collapsed. With a goal in mind, I approached my apartment door. Fumbling, I tried to keep my hand steady and get the key into the slot. The first key was obviously the wrong one; it only fit halfway into the hole before it got jammed. I tried a second one and had no luck with it either. I cursed myself, knowing that I should be able to easily identify the key to my own apartment. That’s the trouble with keys though; most of them look exactly the same. After about only four different keys, I gave up and kicked the door in. I was too frustrated to take time for procedures.
Ignoring the clock screaming at me that it was already 3:30 in the morning, I dialed Drew’s number. It was late and I would wake him, but it was too important of an issue to just wait until morning.
“Hi.” Drew said as he picked up on his end. “He beat you, didn’t he?”
“How do you know I’m not calling to say that I beat him? That I lasted out the entire time length?” I demanded, annoyed by his assumption.
“Because you still have twelve minutes before your time would be up.” Drew explained rationally.
“Oh. Well, maybe I just needed support through the last stretch.” I suggested, but he wasn’t buying it.
“The last fifteen minutes are the easiest,” He explained. “That’s when most people start doing their victory dance because they know they’ve won. They know they’ll get to keep their soul.”
His reference to my lost soul hit home. He was pointing out what I’d lost. I felt the water droplets starting to form in the corners of my eyes. I vowed that I wasn’t going to get emotional about this again.
“Hey? You still there?” Drew asked, concerned by my unusual silence. “Did you want to talk about it?”
“Didn’t I wake you?” I inquired, trying not to sniffle and give myself away.
“Nope. I was expecting a phone call, so I was up.”
“Oh.” I said surprised. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow when I get my coffee then.”
“What?” Drew commented, laughing.
“I don’t want to tie up your line.” I tried explaining to him.
“I was expecting you to call. You are one complex woman.” He told me and I found that I was smiling despite my state of mind.
“I’m doing my best at it.” I told him and then began explaining what had happened within the last two and a half hours of my life. Drew was silent during the entire story, only making the occasional grunt to remark on a classic Sikal move or a random “mmhmm” to let me know that he was still listening. When I thought I had finished my story and was getting ready to move on and complain about having my soul taken tomorrow, he interrupted me.
“Wait a minute.” His voice seemed hopeful, but that might have just been my wishful thinking.
“I might have found a loophole for you.” He explained as the static cracked in my receiver.
Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.