He walked among the market stalls, pretending to ignore the whispering and giggling women. His relaxed demeanor, handsome features, and ready smile meant no female in the town missed his weekly sermons and the church’s coffers were overflowing of late.

Feeling a touch on his sleeve, he turned and his smile disappeared. Looking first left and right, he angrily spat, “I told you to never speak to me again!”

She blinked, her long lashes brushing her cheeks, and said, “But, I need to talk to you.” Leaning closer, she paused, and lowered her voice. “You see, I’m…”

(Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.)

Reverend Rugger Gramm rambled down the narrow aisle of the North Georgia Farmers’ Market. He took a deep breath, inhaling fall’s perfume of apple-cider-spiking the crisp air. Gramm tightened the grip on his Bible. Its worn pages contained the coded Reaper Rules. A century before, Gramm had broken them and slept with one of Death’s Ambassadors, and she had nearly ripped his balls off.

Today, Mary hunted him.

Gramm stopped at Sally Goodwin’s stall. His long fingers picked up a big red apple. He raised the delectable fruit to his lips, letting temptation linger on his tongue before sinking his teeth deep into the flesh. Its ruptured juices exploded, flowing down his chin. He turned around and winked at Mary, stalking a few stalls back.

Gramm wiped his mouth, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a ten-dollar bill, handing it to Sally. “See you at church Sunday.”

Sally blushed and giggled, dropping her brown eyes down. Her five-year-old daughter, Celeste, rushed up to Gramm. She clutched her Princess wand and hugged him. “Reverend, I love you.”

“Good girl, keeping up with your wand.” Gramm reached back into his pockets and pulled out a pink rock candy sucker. “A sweet, worthy of my Angel.” He did not bother getting Sally’s permission. Whatever he wanted, Sally obliged.

Before Gramm could turn around, Mary slid up to him. She traced her long red nails across his hand. He jerked back.

“I told you, I never wanted to see you again.” Gramm grabbed Mary’s arm, and pushed her out of earshot of Sally and Celeste.

Mary smirked. “Rugger, once you shouted my name.”

“Because you tried to rip off my testicles.”

“Fun times.” Mary moved in closer. “I’m here to cash in my favor.”

“I owe you nothing.”

“Leo was killed last week.” Mary arched her brows.

Gramm bowed his head for his fellow Reaper. “Who did it?”

Mary pressed against him. “He failed to supply me with a soul.”

“I’ll kill you. ” Gramm narrowed his dark eyes.

Mary laughed. “Rugger, we both know that’s not possible. A mere Reaper isn’t allowed to kill one of Death’s Ambassadors. Only an Angel can kill me and you’re far from one. I’m here to cash in. I kept silent of our….” She licked her lips. “Indiscretion. Kept it hidden from your boss.”

“I made peace with Him a long time ago.”

“I’m not talking about Him. I’m talking about Michael.” She pointed a finger against Gramm’s chest. “Vengeful Michael, king of the Reapers. The one holding the power to strip you of your immortality and send you to Hell.”

“You wouldn’t,” Gramm spat.

“Let me tell you a secret. Hell’s whores don’t like to get frisky.” Mary tilted her hand to one side. “Kinda an extra punishment. Celibacy by fire. Tell me Rugger, how long would you last without partaking of the flesh?”

“You have no proof.”

Mary giggled. “Unless you disposed of the evidence, your left testicle bears my teeth marks.”

Gramm took a step back. “You, she-devil.”

“Don’t insult me. I’m classier than those heathens. I need a soul.”

“I only claim used-up souls.”

“Don’t try that I only claim people when it’s their time to go, crap. I want a full soul.” Mary pointed to Celeste. “I want her.”


“You can still have her mother. I smelled you on her and five other women in this market. Busy, busy boy?”

Mary turned and pointed at Sally. She fell.

“Don’t kill her,” Gramm hissed, rushing over to Sally as she lay unmoving.

“You know I can’t kill a human. But you can, and you will unless you want to spend eternity lusting but not touching.” Mary walked over to Celeste. She reached out, touching the girl’s tender flesh on her arm.

Celeste crashed onto the dirt. Her body jerked and then went still.

Gramm crawled over to her. “What have you done? You don’t understand. She’s special.”

“You like them young now?” Mary questioned.

Gramm glared up at Mary. “I would never hurt a child.”

“Here’s the Gall, one drop and it will pull her soul out so I can suck it.”

“No.” Gramm shook his head.

“Hell or her?”

“Forgive me.” Gramm snatched the small vial of Hell’s poison. He unscrewed the lid and squeezed one drop into Celeste’s mouth.
Mary bent down, hovering over Celeste “I want every whiff of her soul.”

Celeste’s eyes fluttered. Her tiny fingers scraped across the dirt.

“You’re going to be so tasty.” Mary whispered.

Celeste groaned. She touched her wand and pulled it to her. Her eyes flew open.

“What the?” Mary hissed.

Celeste brought the wand up. It began spinning. The tip pulsed with blinding light.

“No,” Mary screamed.

Celeste pointed the wand at Mary. A burst of light shot out, hitting Mary in the face. Wisps of black smoke poured out of Mary’s mouth. The smell of sulfur filled the air.

Right before Mary collapsed dead, Gramm whispered in her ear. “Celeste’s an Angel. She can kill you. The Gall only stuns her.”

After it was over, Celeste rose. “May I have another sucker?”

“Anything for my Angel,” Gramm said, pulling out her prize.