They stood apart from the crowd gathering on the beach. It was peak tourist season and there wasn’t a square foot of bare sand. If it wasn’t some pasty out-of-town collegian lounging in a logo embossed chaise from one of the nearby resorts, it was a family of Bermuda short wearing vacationers spreading out under an oversized, rainbow umbrella. There was a seemingly endless hodgepodge of potential souls to barter.
Each millennium they met for a sort of bizarre family reunion. They would exchange anecdotes and lies, brag about their triumphs and bemoan their disasters. They would also lay out the rules of their bet.
They decided who the players would be, what each task would involve, and the details of what constituted a win. Most importantly, they agreed on the loser’s ramifications.
“This year’s candidates are the worst ever.” The Adversary couldn’t keep the smirk off his face or the contempt out of his voice. “Why don’t you concede now, and save us both all the trouble.”
“As you always do, you underestimate their virtue.” The Sustainer watched the beachcombers, making his selection.
They took turns for their contest. This year The Adversary chose the challenge, and The Sustainer chose the contender.
“This isn’t going to be like Job.” A malicious chuckle rose from The Adversary’s throat. “I have concocted an unachievable task.”
“Anything you demand, it can be conquered.” The Sustainer’s quiet demeanor was only making The Adversary more agitated. “Take his money, strike down his family, make him sick – whatever, it won’t break him.”
“We’ll see,” The Sustainer rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation. “Like I said before, it won’t be another Job. Times have changed. Curses are stronger, temptation more devastating. This is my year.”
“Pride comes before a fall.”
“Pride has nothing to do with it. I won’t be the Susan Lucci of all Creation, and you’ll finally know how it feels to lose.”