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"Damn your black heart, King!" Sheriff Sam cried, struggling against the chains that held him to the damp stone. They made a strange, muted rattling sound in the dungeon-like basement.

Steven King just chuckled, an evil gleam coming into the eyes behind his coke-bottle glasses. "Oh, I'm sure it already is. But you can't go to hell twice, can you?"

Stubbornly the Sheriff continued the fight against the thick iron chains that bound him. His eyes kept straying to the bizarre glyph that had been carved into the rock ground and had been filled in with a rusty liquid that looked too similar to dried blood to be anything different.

"Why are you doing this to me?" asked the helpless Sheriff, giving in and letting his arms hang slack. "What is this all about?"

Once more the Master cackled. "Why, it's simple, really. I need to sacrifice a fledgling writer to make sure the critics keep away from my books. That's the secret to my success."

"You hack!" Sam shouted, kicking out at the distant King. "You talentless jerk! You haven't had a good story since The Wastelands came out!"

The Master's face went purple as he grew almost apoplectic with rage. "Why do I sell millions, you maggot?! You can't even get a short story published in those stupid pulp magazines you read!"

This time it was the Sheriff's turn to rage. "I'll show you! You bastard! You're gonna be sorry you even considered this, you two-bit hack!"

King's wicked laugh grew as his prisoner continued on with his rant. Just as Sam had finished on the L's and was drawing breath to insult him with the M letters, a doorbell broke his concentration.

"No doubt another fan, dying to get my autograph," Steven said, putting a strange emphasis on the word dying. Adjusting his glasses, he was suddenly an average looking, slightly nerdy fellow; there was no hint of the black pit that was his soul.

King walked up the basement stairs, pausing to wave down at the Sheriff before disappearing from sight.

"Think, gotta think!" Sam exhorted himself, his brows furrowing as he let his mind try and find a way out of his predicament. It was then that he heard a strange sound, something akin to a popping. He looked up and saw a woman standing there, wearing clothes like a cowboy in a Clint Eastwood flick. At her side were a pair of six shooters, large ones, somewhat like his big Magnum.

"My name is Lilith, and I'm here for ye," she said in an accent he couldn't quite place.

I've got a bad feeling about this was the last thing he thought before the blackness overcame him.

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