—n for forty miles

and I come up runnin' late!

don't you know I live it down

when the Devil comes a-callin' I ain't gonna be around!

black ice

black ice

black i—

Black tilted his head back and let the wind whip strands of his hair all about. The cold, night air filled his lungs, and for a while, he was at peace.

Then he rolled up to a stoplight on red, and he had to gasp silently. He felt the Blackness swirling and filling his lungs, mixing with the cold air he had just inhaled, and corrupting it utterly. It wasn't long before its cleansing effects had dissipated.

"Awwww, Hell..." he groaned in his thoughts, and pulled the steering wheel to his coal-colored 1962 Ford Convertible into a parking lot. This was a routine he practiced most every night, in the vain hopes that things would be different this time.

His head rolled on the head of his seat, and for a moment Black remained silent, eyes shut.

Then the characteristic "whooshing" of his wife's apparition coming toward him began. The man pulled his hat's brim low, and gripped the steering wheel. It wasn't fear, or preparation that held him - but tension. It was always the same, he knew that before she even approached.

"They Must Be Helped, Wyatt..."

His wife's tinny voice grated like steel against Black's nerves. Especially when, on nights like this, she used his real name. When he spoke, it was with a voice that oozed anger and resentment.

"I don't want to help those bastards anymore! I didn't know this was what I was signing for..." His shouts would have appeared, to anyone observing him, to be directed at open air. But his wife, who stood directly in front of the car, acknowledged him fully. Tears in her eyes.

"You Signed With Him, Wyatt... There Isn't Any Escaping That. You Know It. And I Know It, Too. He Made You Agree To Help Them. The Seekers."

Black's teeth set on edge, and his usually pale knuckles grew white in complexion. The Man who had made him sign an agreement some two hundred years ago fluttered through his head like a dark, never-fading memory. A nightmare of sorts.

"They don't deserve it," his access was thinned from years of living in the modern world, but it still held a certain cowboyish charm which was undeniably handsome. "Every last dang one of 'em is foul to the teeth. Damn asshole. I ever see that man again, his hide is mine!"

"Wyatt Black, You Signed A Contract. You Willingly Accepted The Blackness Into Yourself. You're Just As Bad As They Are..." That was him talking, the contract. Certainly, Virginia wouldn't have spoken in such a tone to him

"Dammit, you bastard! Let 'er go! I ain't doing this anymore! Not until you free her!" But it was in vain. Black's wife looked tearfully at him, and waved a sorrowful little wave.

"My Time Is Up Again, Wyatt. Goodbye. I Do Love You, Still... Always."

Black punched the steering wheel's center, enraged. He knew what he would find the next morning; a small bundle, inside of which a list of Seekers-in-Need was contained. It made him howl at the night sky in an extremely livid moment.

"I'll get you... you hear? I hope you do, Jack. This deal o' ours is gunna be cut loose one day, and then I'll have ya'. I promise it."

With that, Black swiveled his steering wheel and punched the gas; he headed back on to the road again. His radio blaring music, the icy air slashing at his face, he could almost imagine that he was human again. Before The Blackness erased his body's ability to feel once more, he had the sensation of a journey being started.

For a while, out on the road, Black could lose his head and didn't have to think about the job before him. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he could do anything he wished with his free time. But he had to keep his end of the bargain, and fulfill his duty, or suffer torments worse than Hell.

That was the damn Contract. The fuckin' Contract. He knew it by heart and there were, to his knowledge, no loopholes.

The below signed, do hereby agree to the terms of service within the above Contract:

Wyatt Black

Jack Empty

As far as Black was concerned, he'd sold his soul to the Devil with that Contract. But it wasn't like he'd had much choice, at the time. Bastard had forced him into it.

His tires crunched into the driveway beside his home, and a large, black dog at the window wagged its tail excitedly. He knew instinctively that, since it was past midnight, Karol would be asleep. At least she was safe.

Black quietly entered the house, kicking off his boots, and turned. He put his hat up on the rack and breathed outward. It was a cheap imitation of a sigh.

The darkness of his home was almost palpable, so he turned on a light. It didn't used to be his way, being afraid of the dark. But men could be instilled with such fears when enough pressure was put upon them. It had eventually overtaken most of Black's rationality, that fear. He shuddered a bit, as he felt the creeping of the Blackness down his spine.

It was trying to avoid the light.

With another deep sigh, Black slid down the hallway and into his adoptive-daughter's bedroom. Karol was sleeping peacefully, her little chest rising and falling, a teddy bear clutched tight to it. He took a seat in the wooden chair by her bed.

"Little girly, you are one unlucky bitch..." he whispered the words on a smile, certain the tiny child could not hear the vulgarity. "But I love ya." With a chuckle, he laid his hand down on her head and rubbed the warm brown hair there.

This was possibly the only good part of the Contract, and still he detested it. It put this innocent little girl in harm's way most every day. And she didn't even know it. All she knew was, she was getting a father. That was enough.

Black slipped back out of the room, and shook his head, leaning against the hallway wall. There was no telling what age it would happen, but it was bound to occur. Even Black knew that, and it angered him to the core. Even enough to cause the Blackness to writhe.

No, it didn't anger him. It pissed him off.

He loved Karol, and in doing so, he was practically condemning her to a life of misery. But she was his daughter, at least legally. When she turned to a life of Seeking invariably by way of the Contract, Black would have to cut the ties loose, and swear never to help her. That cruel bastard's idea, of course.

The man turned down another section of hallway, and pushed his way silently into his own room. Hanging up his coat in the closet, and heading for bed, Black growled inwardly.

"One o' these days, Jack... you asshole. I'm tellin' ya' now, I'll get out. I'll break free and escape. And I'll get ya."