I have to admit I'm apprehensive--frightened to be exact--about the location of this interview. Just moments ago I entered Hell. If not for the Book Diver Magic protecting me, I would be downright terrified.
So far this part of Hell isn't as terrible as I expected it to be. The best description of it is in a quote from Soul Debt: The Boon Collector by Sara Jay:
"Tall rows of yellow grass swayed in what must have been perpetual autumn. The air flowed in a cool but not unpleasant breeze. All of the trees stood dormant, dead leaves forlornly surrounding their bases. No matter where she looked, there was nothing but dead grass, dead leaves, dead everything."
In the distance, I see a figure approaching. As he walks toward me through the tall grass, I notice he is very tall with an athletic build. His long, black hair floats on the breeze and his fiery red eyes stare into mine, sending a chill down my spine. His eyes are so hypnotic that it takes me a moment to realize he has purple-black skin and a long tail floating behind him.
He pauses in front of me and stares.
SBD: Hello. Are you Bane?
Bane: I am.
[Ah. A man of few words. It seems we're going to remain standing here for the interview, which makes sense. After all, we're in Hell, where I'm sure comfort isn't a top priority.]
SBD: Would you tell us what being a demon is like?
Bane: It is many things to different demons. There are hobgoblins, gremlins, incubi, you name it. I am more of a psychological fellow, myself, so you don’t want to let me get in your head. The best way to do that, of course, is to let go.
[Something tells me that’s easier said than done!]
SBD: Do you ever get attached to humans you're sent to deal with?
Bane: It happens. Some more than others.
SBD: How would you describe Tisha?
Bane: (sigh) Tisha is not who she seems. I have to remind her who she is and what she must do.
SBD: Is there any chance of you getting out of Hell and even if you could, would you want to?
Bane: Of course. Anyone can get out of my Hell if they just listen and do what I say. I’m a reasonable demon, but you do have to follow the rules. (Another sigh.) I don’t particularly want to leave, myself, but to each his own.
SBD: Is there anything you'd like to add before the end of the interview?
Bane: You humans need to learn to live in the moment. And to get over it, already.
SBD: I’ll keep that in mind. Would you share one of your favorite excepts from The Boon Collector?
Bane: Sure. Here is part of the scene where I introduce Tisha to what’s in store for her here with me.
Flames ran furiously up and down the walls in vibrant displays of orange and yellow. Angry red welts slashed at her wallpaper, though nothing seemed to be burning. No smoke could be seen. The room was simply set ablaze.
Hairs on the back of Tisha’s neck leapt up.
“Boo,” a deep, masculine voice growled behind her.
Shrieking, Tisha leaped over the flames into the lit but otherwise empty kitchen. Backing away from the source of the sound, she saw a creature straight out of her nightmares.
He was unnaturally tall and muscular with a lean athletic frame hugged in an expensive-looking suit. Long black hair wildly framed his face in a lion-like fashion, and a goatee of the same shade framed his quirked mouth. Fiery red eyes that matched the flames in Tisha’s kitchen peered at her in amusement. He could have easily been a human wearing contacts, but then there was his purple-black skin. And the long, round-tipped tail.
“You -- you’re -- what are you?” Tisha wailed, cowering back from the creature helplessly. She felt behind her for a weapon but only encountered her burning wallpaper. Oddly, her fingers didn’t burn from it. They only felt warm.
The man casually brushed off invisible lint from his expensive suit, sighing. “You know the answer to that question already, Tisha.”
Something told her he was right. He did seem familiar, but that was absurd! Why would a -- well, whatever he was -- look familiar?
“How do you know my name?” she demanded. She later thought it was a bit of a stupid question, as he was in her house, after all.
“I know a lot of things about you. I know that you were so shy to correct your teachers that for twelve years people called you Tricia instead of your given name. I know that you lived with a deadbeat boyfriend for three months before he left you high and dry, not to mention penniless. I know you’re still wondering why you ever let him into your heart. And I know you’re going to pay his debt for me.”
“I -- what?” Tisha desperately searched around the room for a way out but saw no escape from this strange debt collector or the apparent arson he’d committed in her house. “Look, I don’t know how you know all of that stuff about me, but I can pay you. I still have the house I can mortgage. Please, don’t hurt me.”
“I don’t want your house or your money!” The purple-hued man laughed.
His eyes, so sharp and cruel, crinkled at the corners in juxtaposition. He really looked so familiar -- the angle of his square jaw, the wryness of his smile…
“Your man beseeched me for a boon not long ago and I granted it. I have come to collect. Since he isn’t here, it’s your duty to pay up.”
A parchment scroll suddenly appeared in the air, fully displaying Jeremy’s trademark scrawl. Before she could read it, the faded contract rolled up into itself and disappeared.
“Boon?” Tisha trembled. “You mean like, um, a wish? Are you a genie, then?”
A whoosh of hot air blew back Tisha’s hair from her face and instantly, the dark monster stood right in front of her, towering over and nearly touching her.
“Do I look like a genie, my dear?” he murmured into her ear.
That definitely leaves me wanting more!
While I find Bane fascinating, I can't say I'd like to stay longer in Hell, however I would like to find out what happens to him and Tisha. If you would too, check out: