“You’re persistent; I’ll give you that,” the old man says, opening the door to let in the salesman.
“In my line of work, I have to be.” The stranger removes his tan fedora and holds it to his chest. “Denial and such. It’s only human.” The salesman places his briefcase on the coffee table. He notices the old man’s wife in the corner and tips his head in a nod. “Ma’am.”
She nods back but says nothing. Given her obviously frail condition, the fact she can remain upright is a miracle.
“We’re both going,” the old man says suddenly.
The salesman turns to him. “I see. Well, it’s an unorthodox request but not unheard of. You have the gold?”
“Yes.” With trembling hands the old man retrieves a ceramic vase from a nearby table and hands it over. “It’s all we have.”
“This will do.” The salesman nods. He places the vase on the table. “If you’re ready…”
The wife nods in agreement.
The salesman thumbs open the latches on the briefcase, opens the lid to reveal endless darkness within.
The old man asks, “We won’t die, correct? That was the deal.”
“You won’t die. Though, you may wish you could, one day, when the madness sets in.”
“We’ll deal with that when the time comes. As long as we’re together…” He trails off, obviously unsure whether what he’s about to say is true.
The old man and the salesman lift the wife into the briefcase, feet first, and she drops several feet down inside. Then comes the old man’s turn.
The salesman’s face is the last thing the couple sees before the briefcase lid closes, and all goes dark.