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Jaston stood and began pacing, his eyes never leaving the demon. “In fact, if you thought about it, you could probably blend in with the rest of us humans, no problem.”
The demon stood, spilling some of his drink with the sudden motion. “It is not my job to ‘blend in’. It is my duty, my sole work, to further the goals of my Dark Lord!” The demon was angry, but he still had the foresight to lick the drops of whiskey off of Dillard’s hand.
“Easy, easy! I’m not arguing the point, good buddy. I’m just saying, you know, when in Rome…” Jaston’s eyes glinted almost as brightly as the demon’s.
“I’m not familiar with that expression.”
Jaston Phillips crossed to the possessed body of Dillard Whatever-his-name-was, placed an arm across its shoulders in a fatherly way, and explained.
The auditorium glowed under a starscape of soft lights. The crowd, numbering in the thousands, sang along with the 200-piece PRAISE Gospel Choir and Band, their voices a mere hum compared to the wall of music issuing from the sound system. Cameramen with high-end digital cameras stalked the aisles, the catwalks, and even the stage itself in pursuit of the perfect angle.
Jaston Phillips stood backstage, waiting for his cue with no hint of nervousness. He was not the main event tonight, merely a ‘special guest minister’ on The Right Reverend Harlow’s Hour Of Righteousness. The show lasted three hours, in reality, but television lives by its own rules, and Jaston was willing to live with that. For a little while, anyway.
Three months. He still couldn’t believe it had taken so long to get to this point.
Jaston was a patient man, in most things, but demonism had turned out to be a real pain in the ass. Dillard -- the demon would not admit to a name, so Jaston used the most convenient moniker -- was not the sharpest netherlord in Pandemonium, but he was as stubborn as a Baptist. Jaston had spent a week just outlining his plan, and another to finally convince Dillard to agree. Then there were the experiments with changing hosts, each success inspiring the demon to ‘try out’ his new bodies in more and more perverse ways…
Well, Jaston had to admit that he’d enjoyed some of that process, especially when he found out that Dillard, while asexual, could possess members of either sex…
Still, it had taken more than a month to get the bugs out of the act, and another to draw the attention of the network boys. Even with all the planning, he was only being offered a guest spot, which was not quite the victory Jaston had pictured.
But that’s all fine and dandy. I only need one night, after all.
The Right Reverend Harlow’s voice boomed from the stage. “Brothers and Sisters, I want to introduce to you a fellow soldier of the Lord. Some of you might’ve heard of this young fella, and the miracles he’s done recently. In fact, I bet a whole lot of you good people might just be here to see what happens tonight.” There was a muffled response of genial laughter. “Then I think it’s ‘bout time we brought this good man out here and let him do his work, how ‘bout y’all?”Amen!, the audience roared, and Jaston smiled at the sound of their enthusiasm.
“Then let me introduce to you a man that the Devil dearly wants, but thankfully the Good Lord already recruited…” Jaston had written that part himself, and he could hear the applause crash like thunder over the stage even before Harlow had finished the introduction, “God’s Exterminator, Jaston Phillips!”
Jaston jogged onstage, his smile one of complete innocence, his gestures loving and kind, and he shouted out, “Are you ready to believe?”
And the crowd danced in his hand like angels on a pinhead, and he talked the talk and walked the walk, and when it came time to drive out the demons, when the lovely blonde in the short skirt levitated above the audience and began screaming for his blood in a voice from the bowels of Hell itself, Jaston remembered the final thing he’d told Dillard, the one convincing argument that led to this fruitful partnership.
“But I can’t go out there in the middle of all those people,” the demon had argued. “I can’t survive that many worshippers of the Adversary!”
“Son, you’re all confused. Those people aren’t there to worship God,” Jaston had explained. “They’re there to worship me!”
Jaston faced down the demon. The crowd went wild.