There it was again.
The distorted tinkling of distant wind chimes, metallic and hot in the air.
THE GODDAMN SNAIL.
The woman watched as the large white shell trundled ever closer. The slow sway as it inched closer, pendulous eyes furiously stretching out toward her with rage-fueled purpose. It wanted her. It's entire goal was to touch her a single time. TO END HER.
She begrudgingly stood up from where she had been sprawled on her sofa, watching it approach. The wooden flooring felt like ice against her bare feet. She knew where it had come from - the window she'd left open, just a crack, in the furthest bathroom. That's where the GODFORSAKEN SNAIL had made it's way in, and had likely been creeping toward her for the last few hours.
She groggily rubbed her face, her unkempt blonde hair tumbling around her slim shoulders. It had been a while since she'd seen the snail.. maybe a year. And it had grown again.
When she'd originally made that dreadful deal, the snail he'd shown her had barely been the size of half of her fingernail. Now, it was a monstrous looking thing, bigger than an apple.
She carefully lowered herself to her haunches, studying it. It's shell, previously a solid dark brown, was now white and streaked with gold and olive. Its body rippled as it angrily strained toward her, a deep red slab of honed muscle, edged in black.
But now? Now the bloody thing had teeth. Snails aren't meant to have teeth, right!? It silently gnashed and snarled, small flashes of white from underneath those swaying stalks, topped by those entirely furious, blood flecked eyes.
See, initially, she had not realised how serious things would become. She thought it had been a joke. She'd been at a party, everyone was drunk, someone had whipped out an Ouija board.. you know how it goes...
Next minute, she'd been entirely alone, face to face, in the dark, with an impossibly handsome demon with an intoxicating smile and twinkling eyes. She could still remember how he'd smelt - a heady mix of spice and musk. Her heart had raced the moment she'd set her eyes on him. She'd barely been able to hold eye contact, as those hungry green eyes had casually flicked between her gaze and her mouth. He'd asked her what she wanted, and she'd replied, in drunken false confidence, that she wanted to live forever.
The demon had leaned in toward her face until she felt the heat of his breath against her cheek. She simply could not move away, even if she'd actually wanted to. In a sensually deep, calm voice, he had gently whispered her name into her ear.. and told her that it was possible. Even now, she could remember every moment. The electric pause, filled with tension, that had crackled between them. She felt her breath catch with disappointment in her throat as he'd slowly drawn back.
There was a premise to his offer. A snail. THE snail. A snail that would always pursue her. She would be able hear the direction it was coming- hot metal chimes thrumming in the distance. She could not trap the snail. The snail could not be killed or shot or frozen or melted or kept in any form of confinement. It would ALWAYS be moving toward her, whether that be through walls or salt or fire. It would always choose the least path of resistance, like an open window, but if there were no paths, it would make one. A very very slow, but utterly unstoppable force. And if this snail ever reached her? Her very essence would belong to him, for the rest of eternity. At the time, drunk on his heavy presence and the alcohol, it didn't seem such a terrible idea.
And .. yep. That was that. Here she was. Three hundred and sixty nine years later, holed up in a goddamn hotel in another non specific village. Frankly, she wasn't even sure which country she was. She'd used her time to learn how to invest intelligently, but mistakes had been made first. For example, she could not buy houses for herself. The snail seemed able to remember her previous locations, and if she chose to live in one of the houses more than once, it would find it's way back into her line of sight MUCH faster. No, instead, she would simply fly to the opposite side of the planet each time it found her.
But.. now? Now, she understood the true cost of her deal. When you live for eternity, your family as you know them is dead in what feels like the blink of an eye. When you're always moving, and can't return to the same place.. it's hard to make friends. It's hard to have a routine. It's hard to think about outliving your children. It's hard to get attached to ANYONE. She had quickly learned that no one else could see the goddamn snail, and any attempt to explain her 'deal with a demon' had been met with raised eyebrows and concern about her 'delusions', and advice to seek a doctor.
Nope. Screw that.
Instead, she was a nomad. Never staying in one place for too long so that people did not notice that she did not age. Sure, she would occasionally stay on contact on the internet - but the closeness of having someone physically there with her felt like a distant memory. An all expenses paid, jet set lifestyle always sounded exciting to some of them, but since they could not even see the snail, and she could not explain it, she could never quite find the reasons that they needed to randomly uproot and leave. The excitement always faded when nothing was stable. It was simply easier to exist without the complications of others.
With a soft sigh, she lowered herself fully onto the floor. Her eyes suddenly felt tired as she watched the snail inching closer. Sometimes, she would find herself thinking about .. HIM. Some days, spending the rest of eternity around him did not seem such a terrible fate. She didn't know a THING about him, of course.. it was incredibly doubtful he even had her best interests in mind. He was a demon, after all... But the thought of just being WITH someone, in one spot, enjoying their presence, wasn't the worst way to spend the rest of her existence...
The snail was so close now, she could see the tiny little white fangs, hear the angry hissing. It was MAD. But.. maybe it didn't need to be mad for much longer.
She closed her eyes, and waited.