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Repossessed

Repossessed by A. M. Jenkins
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Don't call me a demon. I prefer the term Fallen Angel.

Everybody deserves a vacation, right? Especially if you have a pointless job like tormenting the damned. So who could blame me for blowing off my duties and taking a small, unauthorized break?

Besides, I've always wanted to see what physical existence is like. That's why I "borrowed" the slightly used body of a slacker teen. Believe me, he wasn't going to be using it anymore anyway.

I have never understood why humans do the things they do. Like sin—if it's so terrible, why do they keep doing it?

I'm going to have a lot of fun finding out!

HarperCollins; June 2009
240 pages; ISBN 9780061947995
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Title: Repossessed
Author: A. M. Jenkins
 
Excerpt

Chapter One

First thing I did was, I stole a body. I could have made my own, but I wasn't in an artistic frame of mind.

I was just fed up, you know; fed up with being a cog in a vast machine, with doing my pointless, demeaning job. It's not like I was the only one who could do it—anybody could do it. Tormenting the damned—it practically does itself, no lie. And it's depressing; I can't tell you how depressing it is.

I didn't tell the Boss, didn't tell anyone I was going. No, Hell could get along just fine without me.

As for the Creator, the One—if you ask me, He hasn't ever paid the place much notice. He wound the watch up, set the hands, and let it start ticking.

Really, the Creator is the one I have the grievance with. Not the Boss. The Boss is just doing his job like the rest of us, just fulfilling his function. The Creator is the one who set up all the rules. And now He never checks in, doesn't seem to know or care whether the peons of Hell are getting overworked and fed up. I've never been fool enough to expect redemption, but even a tiny spark of recognition of my drudging toil—or even my mere existence—would have been nice. For thousands upon thousands of years I've labored under a slowly fading hope.

After a while, it was just too much. Even a being like me—no, especially a being like me—has its breaking point.

So. The hard part was picking a body. I wanted to keep it simple, start small. Slip into a life that was already taking place. Something with all the synapses in working condition. A body that was carefree, insulated from earthly considerations like hunger; a protected place to try out physical existence. A body without responsibilities—no job or family to care for; someone who had time to experience the things I wanted to experience. But not too protected. Someone who wasn't watched every second. Someone who had a little time on his hands, but also a safe place to go to every night.

I knew I wanted all this, so I decided to take a middle-class suburban American teenager. I looked around for a bit and found a few that I observed closely, waiting until one turned up good to go.

The actual hijacking of the body took place about one second before the guy was about to step out from behind a parked SUV into the street and get iced, as they say, by a speeding cement mixer. My candidates were all slackers, you see, not too quick on the uptake, and this one was talking to his friend and stepped off the curb without looking—or started to. The fact that he missed the last two seconds of his life didn't really matter; I could see exactly what was going to happen. And although technically there's free will and anything could have interfered with his death, like a timely muscle cramp to make him pause on the curb—or heck, a bird could have been flying overhead and suddenly taken ill in midair and fallen on his head and knocked him out the second before he stepped into the street—there are laws of physics, and trust me, after millions of millennia, I can spot an inevitability.

Body-snatching is pretty rare amongst my kind. Technically speaking, I broke a few rules, but what are they going to do? Send me to Hell, ha ha?

Anyway, he stepped out into space and I jerked his foot back, and there I was on the curb while he was making his whooshy tunnel-of-light way to the hereafter.

All at once I was in this brand-new, slightly used body. It was a fast-motion fill-up, like pouring myself all at once into a too-tight vessel. I'm not used to boundaries, and to be suddenly constricted—to need to breathe, to have a beginning and an end—gave me a feeling of . . . well, almost panic.

But then everything else flooded in and I was swimming in a vast sea of sensory information. I wasn't expecting it, and it threw me into confusion. I'd been expecting to just take over, smooth and unnoticed—it looks so easy to be human, considering that they're all a little dim—but suddenly I could see, hear, feel. It was beautiful.

Everything was beautiful.

"Shaun, you okay?" said Shaun's best friend, Bailey. I looked at him through Shaun's eyes, and it was the weirdest thing.

I have never been anything but spirit—anywhere and everywhere I wanted to be, just never in a physical sense. This was the first time I was ever in exactly one place. Before, I could have known what anybody on earth was doing, if I'd felt like it. I wouldn't have been able to see or hear what they were doing, but I would have been aware of it. Sort of an amorphous cloud with the ability to inhabit many discrete sites at once.

But now, in a human body, I was immersed in an ocean of details. Every single one of them was crisp, clear, and distinct. I was overwhelmed, so even though I had exactly one person—Bailey—in my field of vision, I only had a dim, muffled idea of what his facial expression and body language might mean, and I had to think really hard to try and remember a human American word for what I thought Bailey might be feeling right now.

Taking on a body, it seemed, was constricting in more ways than one.

"I'm okay," I answered, feeling the sound rolling out of my throat like a wave. It was so thrilling, I did it again. "I'm okay," I told Bailey, and I looked at the way his irises had bright color, a bluish gray. Color—what a concept! What a wonderful thing to see, what a great creation! I had to give the Creator a tip of the hat on that one.

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0061947997
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9780061947995
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