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What's the common thread do all this discontent, you ask? What is it about most stories that stay the same? It's the human! These aliens and demonic creatures are sick and tired of being the second fiddle in the story. They want what everybody wants: to be the center of attention of the stories instead of the pesky humans for a change...and now they finally get their wish. In Aliens and Satanic Creatures Wanted: Humans Need Not Apply, they finally get top billing and they exploit it as far as they can.
LUCKY LUCIFER SMILED sardonically as the signature was placed on the contract.
Another one bites the proverbial dust.
It would only be a matter of time before another soul was added to his collection. His pool was getting quite large these days, with all the lost hope and despair going around. He loved it when the conditions came together just right for "business." His advertising gimmick for the nineties had paid off in dividends that even he couldn't have imagined. Creative Marketing was how he liked to think of it.
Tired of your life? Need a change? Drive on over to Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium and step into a new car that will put the fire back into your life. Not only will you leave with the car of your dreams, you can even trade your tired old soul in on a new one. No down payment required. No credit check; bankruptcy not a problem. Everything is negotiable as long as you can sign on the dotted line.
Lucky Lucifer had just wrapped up a sweet deal with a business executive from the city. He was the typical, worn thin and burnt-out type who needed a little lift to keep him on the razor's edge. Lucky cajoled him into a hot red Ferrari and sweetened the deal by throwing in the degenerate soul he had taken on a trade in. The guy left burning rubber and couldn't wait to get back to work so he could put the screws to some poor unsuspecting bastard. Yes…Lucky felt quite fulfilled.
* * *
GABE DROVE DOWN the dark and dreary highway, not going anywhere in particular. He was frustrated and fed up with everyone and everything around him lately. He decided to go out for a long drivetonight to get out of the house. He was tired of the work thing, always in a rush going here or there. It seemed like everyone tried to beat out somebody for something. His job seemed full of disgruntled employees moaning and groaning because one person took an extra fifteen minutes for lunch one day, or because one employee had a nicer computer than someone else, or because someone needed to complain about something in order for the union to have something to do.
Gabe remembered a time when people were grateful just to have a job. It seemed funny that when people had less, they appreciated it a lot more. He shook his head, thinking that everyone today had so much, yet all they wanted was more.
His car continued to sputter on, running on only three of its four cylinders, making its way down the dark road. The radio squawked out yet another advertisement. Gabe didn't usually pay much attention to them, but this one had such a unique voice to it. He could almost swear he'd heard it before, a long time ago.
"Tired…feeling left behind?" the voice blared. "Just don't have that 'get-up-and-go' anymore? Well, come on down to Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium. Lucky Lucifer has a car with 'soul.' It'll snap you right out of your mundane little life. He guarantees that you will leave his lot with revitalized enthusiasm and even a whole new outlook. Financing not a problem… Lucky is sure you have something for collateral. Come barter with us and get the best deal of your life. Everyone rides to-day at Lucky's and that's a promise burnt in stone! Located at the corner of Lost Souls Road. Remember our motto: After you've been to Lucky's Car Emporium, you can go straight to H-E-double L, and even they can't beat Lucky's prices!"
The distraction of the ad oddly pleased Gabe. He chuckled. "Lucky Lucifer sure sounds like the hokiest car salesman I've ever heard. Although it might be kind of amusing to see his 'show.' Might even take my mind off the other stuff for a while and it wouldn't hurt to shop around a little either. Old Betsy here is on her last leg."
Gabe happened to be near Lucky's anyway, so he turned in that general direction, still chuckling as he remembered the radio ad.
He read the street signs as he peered through the windshield, trying to get his bearing. Lost Souls Road. Damnation Alley. Purgatory Road. He smiled. "Wonder how he got them to do that? I mean how the heck did he get the city to name these streets? Well, however he did, Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium seems to fit right into the scheme of things."
As he continued to drive, Gabe noticed that there really wasn't anything out in this area. It was pretty desolate and seemingly uninhabited, all in all. But soon, lights glowed out on the horizon. He drove toward them until, finally, there he saw it: Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium. Bright lights, spotlights, balloons, the whole works.
The first sign screamed: FIRE AND BRIMSTONE SALE…GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT! There were scads of people walking about everywhere. Apparently, Lucky's advertising scheme was working well, because he sure wasn't hurting for business.
Gabe parked his old car and got out as it continued to sputter and wheeze as if having the final seizure of a long illness. He stood and stared at the large, red neon sign that stood on top of the main building flashing LUCKY LUCIFER'S CAR EMPORIUM. It also included, of course, the standard emblem of Satan himself in red with the typical horns and pitchfork. But the face was superimposed with that of, Gabe assumed, Lucky Lucifer's. The caption below read: At the price I sell cars for, I'm going to end up you-know-where.
Gabe shook his head and made his way toward the new car section. This is going to be interesting.
Everywhere he looked, people were milling about, peering at the cars. Salesmen seemed to materialize, always right on the spot, helping those who had questions and doubts about affording a new vehicle. Gabe overheard one conversation between a young couple and a salesman.
"We really love the car, but the price is just too high, and you know, with a baby on the way and all…" the young husband said innocently.
The salesman replied smoothly, "Don't you kids worry about what that little piece of paper says on the window. Everything is negotiable here at Lucky Lucifer's." The salesman eyed the swollen stomach of the woman. "Everything. You kids just go on up to the office and ask to see Lucky. He'll be able to reach some kind of deal just for y-o-u."
The young couple walked enthusiastically up to the office, smiling at each other.
Gabe just shook his head and wondered how gullible could people be. He strode along inspecting the large selection of vehicles, noticing there were a lot of red ones in models to accommodate everyone. There were conservative vehicles for families, mid-range stuff for those "up and coming" executives and, of course, the racy-type power cars for those trying to prove something.
"Now, there's something I like," Gabe said as he honed in on a car. It was a mid-size vehicle, yet it offered some sports appeal for his ego. "Very nice." He nodded and ran his fingers over the shiny paint job. Then he circled the vehicle like a vulture quarrying its prey, as if he were performing some type of sacred male ritual.
The salesman must have caught a whiff of those male car buying hormones in the breeze. "That vehicle is made for y-o-u. Yes, sir…been waiting right here just for you."
Gabe turned toward the source of the voice. The man was tall, with a dark complexion, jet-black hair, and of course he was wearing a leisure suit. His chin was sharp, and his nose almost hawk-like. Gabe glanced at the nametag, but he didn't need to. He already knew that this was none other than Lucky Lucifer himself, in the flesh.
The man stepped forward and extended his hand. "Pleased to meet you there, Gabe. I'm Lucky Lucifer. My friends call me 'Luce' for short."
Gabe returned the gesture and immediately noticed how warm Luce's hand was.
"Please to meet you, too, Luce. How do you know my name?" Gabe asked warily.
"It's my business to know these things, Gabe, and I am very good at my business." Lucky stared him directly in the eye. Gabe almost thought he saw a red light there for a minute. Must have been the reflection from the red neon.
Copyright © 2005 Tony Ruggiero.
Posted October 29, 2003
This book is a trip! From one story to the next, I didn't know what to expect but I enjoyed each and everyone of them. If you like a mix in your stories, fantasy, science fiction and horror, then this book is for you!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.