Jim instinctively pulled his trench coat closer to his body, as he quickened his pace down the damp alley. He kept the dense evening rain away from his face with a quickly fading newspaper. He told him. Four doors down. Knock three times. Wait 2 seconds. Knock again once. Wait for the response, then say “I’ve been here since Tuesday.” His attention shifted to the now-soaked paper that just collapse over his head; just as his foot slid into a deep puddle. He considered the pause as a possible omen , but continued.
Knock. Knock. Knock. His knuckles tapped a loud rhythm. One. Two. Knock. The patter of rain filled the silence. No response. How long was that? I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t be doing this, I….The metal door opened slightly.
“How long you been in town?” a man’s voice asked. An unshielded bulb behind his interrogator revealed his short stature.
“I’ve been here since Tuesday.” Jim replied.
“Good. Missed you great deal. Now come in.” The man guided Jim in by the shoulder, closing the door behind him.
“I’ve…I’ve got the money right here…” Jim stuttered.
“Not time or place now.” The man continued, “Must go over details. Might change mind. Follow me, if still want minion.” Matching the pace of his host, Jim followed him into a room at the other end of the hall. Jim entered the room, and pulled off his trenchcoat.
“You sit there. Then we go over things.” Gesturing to the chair on the other side the desk, the man said, “Have seat.”
“Is all of this legal? I mean..I don’t want any trouble.” Jim admitted.
“Course. Of course. Is legal….and there will be no trouble. We conduct business. You need minion. We make one for you. Only problem is when people. Other people take shortcut with minion process. End up bad. We not take shortcut. No ones gets hurt. Process safe. Based on ritual from old country, he explained. “Oops, almost forget manners,” the man wiped his hand on his pant leg. Straightening up, he extended his hand. “Name is Victor. Nice to meet you.”
“Victor.” Jim repeated. “My name is Jim. It’s nice to meet you. Alexi speaks very highly of you. I work with him. That’s how I…”
“Yes, Yes. Alexi. I work with him long time and know him well. He’s good people.” Victor continued. “Process to make minion simple. However, you must follow all my words. Making minion means opening place between worlds. No room for funny business. Funny business means great damage. Buildings broken. People die. Like those on evening news.”
“Like what?” Jim asked, having second thoughts about the minion process.
“Depends on how you make minion. And depends on how you use minion. Bad use mean objects missing or moved. Things broken. Buildings damaged. People hurt…or missing…or torn apart.
Jim flinched. “T-t-t-torn apart?”
“Listen!” Victor explained, “You safe. Victor knows whole ritual. Made many minions for people. To make minion is serious thing, but Victor careful. Do you wish to make minion?”
“Uh, yes.” Jim said.
“There’s no ‘uh yes.’ ” Victor said. “Either NO or YES. Pick one.”
“Yes.” Jim replied more confidently.
“Ok., first thing. I tell you about what minion do. Minion ritual takes piece of your soul for you to command. Ritual opens up space between worlds. Your soul is drawn toward other world, but ritual holds soul here. I draw enough soul out to make piece good minion. Too little soul makes bad minion. Too much soul makes demon, leaving your body like empty shell. Like zombie. Victor make it right. Once minion is here, it is yours to command. However, must be careful with that. Bad jobs for minion will taint your soul. Good jobs make soul better. Minions can leave sight. But move easy through places you know or been to. Minion cannot move things but can listen and see. Minion only seen by you. No one sees other minions.”
“Minions can make you do bad things?”
“Big way minions go wrong have to do with bad ritual. Some rituals cut corner. Souls not separated, but pull other souls through. They attach to your soul. Not work out. Battle of wills. One body with two souls means people go crazy. I know ritual to use your soul. Victor not cut corner with rituals. Question now is do you trust me?”
“Good. Next thing. To make minion, we sit in quiet room. You drink this potion of herbs to help you relax. Made from safe plants. No bad drug. Side effect of feeling sleepy. You sit in chair. Victor draw circle to protect you and Victor. We must not leave circle Victor draw on floor around chair. Ritual takes 30 minutes. Time may move different for you. However, you must not interrupt Victor. You just sit. When time come, you repeat full name. Then, you have minion. You have minion.” Victor said.
“When do I pay you?”
“After we are done and you see your minion. Take care money later. Other questions?”
“No.” Jim said. “Let’s do this.”
Jim took the small glass bottle with a bright red liquid inside. “Go to next room with chair in middle of room. Sit. Drink. Then wait. Will be there shortly. Jim followed Victor’s words. Sitting in the chair, he drank the bitter red fluid and waited. Some time after, Victor entered and started drawing an ornate chalk circle around both of them. Jim struggled with focusing on Victor, as a warm, tingle filled his body. Victor spoke in a low voice, in a language Jim did not recognize. A low buzz grew loud in the room. Everything outside the circle grew blurry, then shifted into a grayish-black mist. Jim closed his eyes.
“What is your full name?” Victor touched Jim’s shoulder and repeated his request. Jim responded. His eyes closed again.
“Jim. Can you hear me? Can you see your minion?” Jim remained groggy. “Jim. Jim. Wake up.” His weight shifted in the chair, then he leapt to his feet.
“Is it over? Do I have a minion?”
“Yes, you do. Don’t you see it?”
“Wait. Yes. I see…them?” Jim said as he pointed across the room. “They’re over there in the doorway.”
“That’s impossible! How many do you see?!” Victor demanded.
“I see five of them. They all have a slight glow to them…and they’re beginning to look angry.”
“That’s not supposed to happen. Victor followed the ritual right way. It is not possible. Must consult family in the ‘old country.’ This cannot be happening. You wait here. Must find out what this means.” Victor left to return to his office. Jim heard him pick up the phone and speak. Jim watched his minions, floating in the doorway. The minions slowly floated towards Jim. Expecting apprehension, Jim felt remarkably calm. He recognize the faces. Startled by hearing their voices in his head, he knew what he had to do.
Victor slowly replaced the phone into its cradle, hesitant to return to the other room. His brother told him what had occurred. It wasn’t the ritual. He had done it correctly. However, this legend was unfolding in front of him. He had set the supernatural wheels in motion. Victor, sighed, and when back to see if Jim was alright. Jim was standing near his minions, who stood between the mortals. I should not be able to see his minions. But I can.
“Victor, Listen to our words, “ Jim spoke more deliberately. “The time has come. You are no longer to make minions. You must remove all traces of your work from this place, then leave. Do not return. Do not hold this ritual anywhere else again. We shall not harm you, if you follow these words. Do you understand, pajarhi?
“Yes, Baar-Nante,” Victor responded. “Your mercy is a gift.” Victor reciting what his brother had shared in his last call.
“We shall be watching, but now the cleansing begins.” Jim stated. “Your role, Victor, is over. We will see you at ‘The Collection.’ ” Jim and his minions left the building and stepped into the rain.