S ugart reached out a claw towards the pentagram, as if testing it. Robyn took an involuntary step backwards then froze as she saw that she was right up against the chalk outline of the pentagram. She forced herself to move back into the centre of the circle. Sugart’s chest juddered and a grating rumble resonated from its chest. It was laughing, she realised. It was laughing at her.
‘How did you know how to call me?’ asked Sugart.
‘I asked around,’ said Robyn. ‘Does it matter?’
Sugart shuffled to the side and cocked its head as it stared at the pentagram. ‘You have practised the dark arts before?’
Robyn shook her head. ‘I’ve never needed to. But I’m at the end of my tether now and I can’t think of anything else to do.’
‘I am your last resort?’
Sugart smiled. ‘My favourite customer.’ The tongue flicked out. It was several feet long, grey and slimy, and moved as if it had a life of its own.
‘Is that what I am? A customer?’
‘I can give you what you want. Your freedom. You will have to pay a price for it. That makes you a customer.’
‘So you can do it? You can help me escape?’
‘Of course. But are you prepared to pay the price?’
‘You know what the price is. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have summoned me.’
‘Yes. Your soul.’
‘What if I don’t believe that I have a soul?’
‘Your belief is neither here nor there. All that I require is for you to offer it to me in exchange for what you want.’ The tongue flicked out and just as quickly vanished back into Sugart’s mouth.
‘I want to get out of here,’ said Robyn. ‘I want to go far away and I want a new life.’
‘Agreed,’ said Sugart.
‘And I want to never be found, never brought back to this place. I want to keep my freedom.’
‘You can do that? You can really do that?’
Sugart’s face twisted into what passed for a grin. ‘If I can’t hold up my end of the bargain, what would be the point of all this?’
Robyn ran a hand through her hair. ‘Do I have to do something? Sign something?’
‘You mean, sign a parchment with your own blood?’ Sugart threw back his head and laughed. ‘That isn’t how it works, Robyn. You tell me what you want, I tell you the price, and if you agree to the price then the deal is done and there is no going back. Your word is your bond.’
Robyn folded her arms. It had gone icy cold in the room and her breath formed clouds around her mouth. ‘Then let’s do it,’ she said.
‘You understand there is no going back, and a deal once done cannot be rescinded?’
Sugart nodded and his reptilian tongue flicked out. ‘It is done,’ he said.
The smoke rippled and there was a deep rumbling noise that vibrated through Robyn’s internal organs, and then Sugart was gone.
Robyn put her hands on her hips and looked around the room. ‘Now what?’ she said.