Gus was now in charge of Hell. Or, more accurately, he was about to be. The way he'd explained it, the spell worked only in my absence. When I departed, he would instantly be granted the ability to sign Satanic Orders (which apparently are extremely difficult to forge) and all debts to me would be transferred to him--which meant that, for example, Vilnius would be his puppet until I got back. He would remain fully human and acquire no telekinetic powers, but otherwise, he'd pretty much be the Devil.
He was not happy. But he understood.
He frowned at me as I prepared myself to jump back to the realm of the living. "I have a bad feeling about this, sir," he said glumly.
"About what I'm doing or about what you're doing?" I asked.
He gave a halfhearted shrug. "Mostly just everything."
"You'll be fine," I assured him with confidence, closing my eyes. "I'll be back soon."
"Good luck, Boss-man," he said.
I nodded in acknowledgement, focused as wholly as I could on my parents' house, and willed myself to return to the place I'd been so many times. I experienced, for the first time, the sensations that accompany an intentional journey between the land of the dead and the realm of the living.
Something that seemed like air but probably wasn't rushed through my body and I felt momentarily separated from it. My flesh was chillingly cold but my consciousness felt unpleasantly warm. There was a brief burst of disorientation, nausea and vertigo, followed by a second rush of pseudo-air, and then I was standing.
I opened my eyes. I was staring at a portrait of my family taken a few years ago. It was hanging on the wall in my parents' living room.
Holy shit--I was home.