Man! challenge in a can Man!





Paying Up

If dead is a feeling, he supposes this is it. He'd always thought of dead as more of a state of being. When he'd thought of it at all, of course, seeing as it was a state of being that happened to Other People. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Richard Wilkins considers himself an open-minded man, and he certainly would never let a little thing like dead interfere with a good working relationship with the world. Some of his best employees have been dead, or are dead, or possibly both. They are no doubt still exceptional employees, wherever they are at the moment.

Which is apparently not here. If there is a here. Three shakes of a lamb's tail ago he had been mayor of Sunnydale, California, as well as a demon incarnate well on his way to eventual world domination, and now he isn't entirely sure that there is a now. Richard Wilkins does not appreciate uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to sloppy thinking, and sloppy thinking leads to sloppy people, and sloppy people lead to absolutely nothing. Wasteful.

Richard Wilkins supposes dead can be a feeling, but fear can just be gone, by golly. As unsuitable a feeling for the situation as he can think of, though he has a sneaking suspicion he's not thinking entirely clearly at the moment. State of feeling or being, isn't death supposed to be some great clarifying force, or is that just for Other People? And seeing as so very many of them die (and with such ease, he notes), shouldn't there be...well, more of them, here?

If there is a here.

Oh, this is not pleasant in the least. He concludes there could be a more cheery way to go about it, but it's awfully hard to be chipper when there's no one for whom to be chipper. He thinks Faith would have a few choice words to say on the matter. (A truly classy girl, but one with a streak of the gutter in her. Whose company would, at the moment, be dearly appreciated. Oh well, it can't be helped.)

If there is a here, and he is in it, then he might have just heard a scraping sound behind him. If he can hear. He might be turning to face a large shadowy shape behind him, though it's a mystery to him that he can see it at all when everything is pitch-black, anyway.

There might be horns. Maybe fangs.



Of course.

Richard Wilkins never forgets a business dealing, or a business dealer. Unfortunately he has also never brokered a full deal with this particular associate, having promised to deliver to the creature in question an exceptional payment via credit card as well as a large portion of South America's population to devour. He hates loose ends, and this end is as loose as can be. Sloppy, he chides himself. Very sloppy.

His associate slithers closer, opening and closing its mandibles thoughtfully. It does not appear pleased to see him, nor particularly angry. If anything, it appears hu--


Richard Wilkins believes it is a good thing that Faith is not here, after all.

He turns with far more casualness than he feels and sets off at a brisk pace in the opposite direction, ignoring the screaming sensation that he is not moving in the least and that there is nothing to move, anyway. Fear is unacceptable in such circumstances, he concludes. However -- dead is a feeling.

The Mayor. Dead. Credit card.

Man! challenge in a can Man!