The man groaned, released my shoulder, and doubled over. Black blood seeped out of his guts, and I knew it was the same substance coating my fingertips. Another shove, and I momentarily lost eye contact with the demon. When I saw him again, however, I was shocked to find just a regular man, his face twisted in a look of pain and betrayal. He was just a pudgy, middle-aged guy trying to make sense of his final moments, his throat straining to call for help over the sound of jazz and people cheering. He died without anyone noticing.
I felt a presence at my side. From the corner of my eyes, I peeked at the alleyway. Dark, serpentine-like tendrils rose from the shadows, and weaved together into the shape of a man. Into the shape of Papa Etienne.
“Come,” he murmured, his soft voice somehow louder than the music around us.
He led me back into the bar, where I spotted his snake slowly coiling itself around the bartender’s torso. Was I going to suffer the same fate?
“You did better than I expected,” said Papa Etienne, as he circled around me and pulled the object from my hands.
He turned me away from the bartender and held the object in his gloved fingers up to my face, showing me a bloodied knife. Hundreds of tormented faces had been carved into its ivory handle. Their mouths opened and closed as crimson drizzles pushed over the edge, and reached them.