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  Viper Wire by Richard Kadrey

Bad Blood

The demon was in Ted's kitchen, gnawing on the cat.

"I wish you wouldn't do that," Ted told the beast.

"You didn't seem to like the animal, and I was hungry. I didn't think you'd mind."

"I do mind. And, no, I didn't like the cat. He belonged to my ex. But that doesn't mean I want him chewed up by some smelly hell-spawn."

"So-orry," said the demon, tossing the half-chewed carcass into the sink.

"Explain this whole thing to me again?"

"Sure, Ted. You're cursed. Your whole family is cursed. I don't want to go into the dull details, but I'm your demon now. Boo."

"You're not really what I thought a curse would be like. You're more… annoying."

"It's an old curse, Ted. Remember the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy. Everything fades, the longer it runs."

"So if this other family that cursed mine — what was their name?"

"This is old world stuff. Fifteenth, sixteenth century. You've never heard of them."

"But if this family got it together to — I don't know — make a sacrifice, something to goose the curse back into high gear?"

"I'd be all over you like stink on a dung sprite." The demon took the TV remote and tuned to a Japanese game show where a pantless man was being spanked with a giant wooden hand wielded by a woman dressed in a schoolgirl uniform. The demon laughed. "Don't worry. The family is long gone. The last one died off back in the forties, when the Nazis were tromping around Europe making all that noise."

"So the curse isn't likely to get any worse?"


"But it's not likely that you're going to go away, either?"

"Not likely. I'm your demon. Get used to it."

"There's nothing I can do?"

"Do you know any magic? Can you banish spirits? Perform an exorcism? I didn't think so."

"I could learn."

"You can't even program your VCR, Ted."

The demon smoked the last of Ted's American Spirits, flicking the ashes casually between the cushions of the leather sofa. Ted went to the refrigerator for a beer, but those were gone, too.


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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.

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