Gaero walked past the gates with her heady words echoing in his mind: “Never again.” He had finally managed what he had been working toward for twelve years and finally, finally he was free. He had finally pissed off Mother Theresa so badly that she had told him to get out and never come back.

“I am the greatest sinner ever to live!” he said very softly, gleeful grin at odds with how low he kept his voice. He knew his mutterings had often discomfited the wondrous Mother, even if she had never expressed that distaste until now, but he was no angel–why sing if he could murmur mysteriously instead?

With that, his ejection from the Vatican by order of Pope John Paul II, the fatwa against him pronounced by Ekrima Said Sabri the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the scar where the Dalai Lama had bitch-slapped him, Gaero’s quest was complete. But where was his promised reward? where was the chorus of demons to shower him with gold and gift cards?

“Never again,” Gaero repeated. He began to wonder, as he wandered the streets of Calcutta, whether Mephistopheles had lied to him. Even demons couldn’t break contracts, right? So where had he gone wrong? He doubted that he’d been forgiven by any of the four figures he’d been told to piss off, and he was sure he hadn’t missed one. So he began aimlessly searching for the prize he had been promised, ignoring the Indians staring at the strange Italian in their midst.

“I thought my reward was supposed to be instant,” he said to himself. Instead, there was just urban nothingness, and Gaero began to tear up in fury. He would never trust anyone or anything again; he was done making any kind of deals with anyone. He’d steal the money for a plane ticket and fly to Jamaica, where he could sit on a beach, ripping off tourists for margarita money, with no other problems in sight.

Gaero’s plan worked quite well; after all, one doesn’t get to Rome, Jerusalem, Calcutta, and Lhasa inside of six weeks without some skills in that area. He had been in Jamaica a week, in a hotel room reserved in the name of a man whose wallet he’d pinched in the Kingston airport, when there was a knock on his door.

“Room service, sir!” said the voice beyond the door.

“About bloody time,” Gaeno said, opening the door. He’d put that feast on the stolen credit card ages ago.

The busboy was not a busboy. The busboy was, in point of fact, a horrifying humanoid blob of jelly with tentacles. Bits of gold and plastic gift cards, the leavings of previous victims, were suspended in the colloid structure of the…thing.

“Here’s your promised reward,” it burbled. “Gold and gift cards. Enjoy!” Gaeno was seized before he could lift a finger, and devoured whole.

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