Code: This is an excerpt from a novel I'm writing. I recently started doing some major rewrites and this entire part of the story has been excised. I hope you enjoy it. The man in the black suit and tie flicked his cigarette into the storm drain. Water was swirling about in the street and it carried the cig down the grate like a small ship over a waterfall. It glowered up at him from the sloshing gloom for a moment before the water doused its light. He reached for another in his pocket and discovered his pack was empty. Swearing under his breath, he looked up and down the street. There had to be a convenience store somewhere in this rat hole. Places like this were good for very little. Actually, they were good for exactly two things. Easy meals and cheap cigarettes. His eyes alighted on a small store on the corner. In the window a neon pink light flashed “Sam’s Super Stock” in a nauseating flickering of color. The man smiled when he saw the name. Now that was a coincidence wasn’t it? He didn’t believe in such things as fate, but he found the sign interesting at the least. He stepped down into the street and his shoes sucked down noisily in the accumulating water. For a man dressed in such expensive clothes, he didn’t seem the least bit concerned over the effects of the water on his clothing. The block was largely empty at this time of night. The entire city was for that matter. Everyone around here was so frightened of the dark, and most of them didn’t even realize why. He smiled. Sam’s Super Stock was filthy. The only window on the store front was in dire need of washing. Dirt and finger streaks coated it like a thin layer of skin. The inside was no better. It was a small store, with a few rows of shelving housing all kinds of junk food and household staples. In the corner a large cooler hummed away softly, casting dull light out on the dimly lit store. The floor hadn’t been swept in ages, and swirls of mud and dust clawed across the floor. The man had heard the expression “clean enough to eat off” used before in reference to floors. If anyone were to eat of these floors, they’d be taking in a healthy dosage of filth and hair in addition to their meal. But the man wasn’t concerned with cleanliness. He had no interest in eating off this floor, or any floor for that matter. What he had interest in was a new pack of cigarettes. He approached the counter. Sam was a balding man in his late forties. His thin wiry frame sat propped up on a chair behind the counter and he was reading a trash magazine with a stupid look of content on his face. The man cleared his throat. “Ayeah. One sec,” Sam replied, flipping the page of the magazine. He whistled. “Did you know that the President has an alien baby and the first lady is really a big old hairy sasquatch?” Sam asked without looking up. “I’ll tell you these National Enquirer magazines sure do get all the dirt on them politicians and celebs. Serves them right. Imagine us not knowing our own President’s son was from Neptune. Where would that leave us?” Sam finished scanning the magazine and tossed it to the side. He climbed out of his seat slowly. “So what can I do you for?” “Pardon?” the man asked. “I said what do you need?” “I’m looking for cigarettes. You do carry them here I presume?” “Sure do,” Sam said. “What kind you want?” “I’ll take the ones with the camel on them. They seem to be fairly popular in this city,” the man said. Sam cocked an eyebrow, reached for the cigarettes and placed them on the counter. “$4.20 chief. That all you want?” The man stared at Sam strangely, his eyes glittering in the light given off by the soda cooler. “Yes? No?” Sam swayed his head side to side, accenting each word with his motions. The man didn’t answer; he just kept giving him that strange look. “Would you like to know something interesting Sam?” the man in black asked. Sam looked taken aback. “Err how did you know my name…” His eyes scanned the room to see if anyone else was in the store, he saw the blinking neon sign. “O yeah…” “I said would you like to know something Sam?” “Uh yeah sure. What do you need to tell me?” Sam asked. The hair on the back of his neck was standing on end. “Well Sam…we have the same name. Or nickname that is. Some people call me Sam.” “O yeah?” Sam said, his eyes looking everywhere but at the man. “My uh, my real name’s Samuel,” he said, playing with the pack of cigarettes on the counter. “Not that it could really stand for anything else right? I mean what else could it be short for? Samantha?” A nervous laugh rattled around in his throat. “But uhh…$4.20 for the cigs.” “$4.20…” the man said, as if he was mulling over some great philosophical question. “You know my name isn’t Samantha. It isn’t Samuel either.” “That so?” Sam replied. He didn’t know why, but the back of his neck had broken out in a cold sweat. His forehead was dripping and his palms were slick with it. “Yes it is so. My name is Samael. Does that mean anything to you?” Sam shook his head. Should he recognize that name? Samael frowned slightly. “Yes it seems no one around here has heard of me. That will change before long.” He looked around the shop, taking in the filth and shelves, and then turned back to Sam. “Hey listen buddy. You just take the cigs, I won’t even charge you. Take them and I’ll just go back to reading,” Sam said. His eyes were shifting towards the door. Why wasn’t anyone else coming in? “Yes, so you can go back to reading about the president’s alien. Correct?” Samael said as he raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, so just take them and whatever else you need.” His hand was groping wildly under the counter. Where the hell was his gun? It should be right there, right in the rungs… His face went white. Slowly, he looked towards the back corner. His shotgun sat propped against the wall where he had been cleaning it. Samael followed his gaze and saw the gun. He looked amused for a second and then looked back to Sam. “Just take them? Now why would you do that? You don’t know me,” Samael said. “Please,” Sam pleaded. Sweat coated his face now. “Please just take them, I insist.” “You insist?” Samael reached for something in his pocket. “Please…” Sam had tears in his eyes. “Look-” But what could he say? Why had he decided to clean his gun? Tonight of all nights? He squeezed his eyes shut. “Here you go,” Samael said. Sam looked and saw him pull his wallet out of his pocket. “$4.20.” He withdrew two one dollar bills, one two dollar and two dimes and placed them on the counter. Sam looked with relief at the money. Nervously, he whistled, “A two dollar bill. Haven’t seen one of those in long time.” Samael glanced at him, smiled slightly, and pocketed the pack of cigarettes. He lit one as he walked out of the store. Sam didn’t tell him there was no smoking inside the building. As he reached out to open the door Sam said “Thanks for your business.” Samael walked out without acknowledging him. The store owner wiped at his brow with his hand and plopped back down in his seat. His hand was shaking as he opened the magazine to an article on mutant reindeer. Apparently, one of them had been spotted eating a hobo in central park. Sam realized he was still shaking. “Get of a hold of yourself Sam. Ain’t nothing to be scared of.” He took a deep breath, and turned the page. “Crazies…What kind of name is Samael anyway? Maybe I should tell the police about that one” he muttered. He looked up when he heard the door jingle. “Hello?” he said as he rose up from his seat. “Who’s there?” He craned his neck from side to side, trying to see around the shelves. There was definitely someone in the store. “I got cameras in here. You shoplift and you’re gonna get it good,” he said, his voice shaking. The truth was he didn’t have cameras. He wouldn’t have minded having them but they were just too expensive. “Cameras you hear me? You want to be on America’s Most Wanted? You better put whatever you have back and scat.” Sam knew his threats carried little weight. All anyone had to do was look around to see there were no cameras and Sam wasn’t exactly the most intimidating man alive. Slowly, the store owner slid towards the corner where his shotgun slumbered. One hand stretched for it as he kept his eyes on the storefront. “Last chance kids,” he said as he cocked his gun. “1…” He started creeping down the rows of food. It was impossible to see over the shelves clearly. “2…” Yes, there was someone there, he could hear them rustling around in the chips row. Any second now he’d be able to see them. “3…” Sam hopped around the corner and swung his gun right into the face of… An old lady. She screamed and dropped the bags of chips she had been considering. “Don’t shoot,” she shrieked. “I was going to buy the more expensive ones!” She kicked the cheaper bag of chips away like it carried the plague and scrambled to put her hearing aid in. Her glasses slid down her nose as she did so. Sam lowered the gun. “Sorry…I thought-” The old lady backed away slowly and then hobbled as fast she could out the front door. Sam’s heart pounded in his chest. What was he doing? He headed back towards the counter. This city was getting to him. That was it. He hated working in the shop after dark. Nothing good after happened after the sun went down. He tried to laugh off his firearm faux pa but realized his breath was coming out ragged. Shaking his head, he placed the gun under the counter where it belonged. Some night. Instead of going back to reading he decided to close the store early before he ended up blowing off someone’s head. What was the point of your own store anyway if you couldn’t go home early? He emptied the cash register, grabbed his coat and walked out. Once outside he locked the store. He jangled the handle to make sure it was secure. Satisfied, he turned, already trying to decide what he would eat once he got back home. Traffic was practically nonexistent so he didn’t have to wait for a crossing signal. As he walked towards the opposite curb his foot caught on something and he fell flat on his face. The unforgiving pavement embraced him and blood spurted from his nose. His head swam and his vision blurred. Rising to his knees, he turned in time to see an SUV about to crush him into pieces. A second slower and he wouldn’t have been able to dive to the side. The SUV passed, the drunk behind the wheel swerving as he drove right over the spot Sam’s head had rested just a second. Sam exhaled. This night just kept getting better. Who the hell left stuff in the middle of the street? His head swiveled and the question shriveled and died when he saw who. The old lady had left something in the street. And by something, she had left her corpse. She lay sprawled on the ground, her face (or what was left of it) covered in blood. For a second he thought she had been run over, but as he scooted closer he saw that this wasn’t the case. Something had gnawed off her face. Hysterically he blurted out “Mutant reindeer.” He blinked wildly, trying to decide if this was really happening. The woman’s face had been clawed and gobbled up. This wasn’t some imaginary reindeer monster from a trash magazine. This was something far worse. Something real. Sam swallowed and stood up, looking about wildly. He had to call someone. The phone in the shop was no good, it had crapped out two days ago and the phone company hadn’t bothered to fix it yet. He looked around for a payphone. There should be one right on the corner… But which corner? He looked up and down the street. And saw him. Samael stood on the corner, a cigarette glowing in his mouth. He was staring at Sam, and smiled when he was noticed. The glow of the cigarette revealed his teeth to be covered in something. Sam took a step towards him to ask if he had a cell phone and stopped. Something wasn’t right. The man wasn’t looking at Sam. He was staring right past him at the corpse. Staring at it with that strange look in his eyes. The look seemed to suggest that he and the dead woman shared a secret together. His eyes, glowing with the reflection of the cigarette, turned back to Sam. He nodded curtly, smiled and walked away slowly. As he stepped away, he walked into the sea of yellow given off by a nearby streetlamp. Sam saw what it was that was splattered over the man’s clothing. He gagged, and felt his consciousness wobbling. He looked back at the woman, her face utterly destroyed. Then he passed out.