Family Secrets Summary Sam learns who his father is and where his powers came from. This story is inspired by an interview given by the creators of Reaper. I.
Andi entered the DMV on Friday afternoon. "Hi Gladys. Are you busy tomorrow?" "Why do you want to know?" Gladys responded sarcastically. "Sam's birthday is tomorrow and his mom and I are throwing him a surprise party at his parent's cabin on Webster Lake!" Andi replied. "I've left a voice mail for Tony to invite him, but he hasn't called back. I hope he and little Stevie are all right." Gladys thought for a moment before responding. She liked Sam more she was willing to admit, and she hadn't talked to Linda Oliver in more than twenty years. "I suppose I can come if I have nothing better to do. Will there be beer? I hope Sam doesn't expect a gift because I'm broke." Andi smiled. "Of course there will be beer and don't worry about a gift. Sam never asks for anything; all he really wants is a day off from reaping." Suddenly Andi looked worried. "The Devil won't be able to ruin the party, will he?" She didn't want their plans to be spoiled. "No, he's on vacation with someone named Mimi in Cabo San Lucas until Monday, so you are in luck," Gladys replied. Andi didn't know that Tony had received her invitation and was going to use the occasion to kill Sam and overthrow the Devil. He and Steve spoke daily about their plans to rule Hell together. They laughed at how trusting Sam had been ever since their first meeting. In building up to the event, Tony addressed a large group of demons in Hell. "This is what will happen tomorrow night. I'm going to kill the devil's favorite son Sam Oliver. When the Devil shows up to rescue him, we'll overpower him. He'll be caught off guard--he's more interested in indulging himself than running Hades." He looked around the room of eager demons. "Oh, hello, Adam, I didn't see you over there. Can I count on your help tomorrow night?" Adam nodded. "I'll be there." He would be there, but he was going to protect Sam just as Sam had protected him. He vowed to kill Tony if necessary. Adam returned to his quarters where John Oliver was waiting for him. Adam had secretly been caring for him, although he risked the Devil's wrath by doing so. "What's Tony up to?" John asked. "He's planning to overthrow the Boss, using Sam as bait," Adam replied. "But don't worry, I'll make sure nothing happens to Sam. Did I tell you that I've been watching over him? He's become a fine Reaper and best of all he hasn't lost his kindness despite the Boss' best efforts to turn him evil. Do you remember when you asked me to give Sam a gift from you?" "Yes, of course I do, Adam, and I'm so grateful you're watching out for him." Adam smiled happily. "I gave Sam a pet rabbit which he named after me. That's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I'll gladly protect him for you, John."
Mr. Oliver thought for a moment. "I can't believe Tony is still spreading the lie that Sam is the Devil's son when he knows the truth. This is getting bad. Adam, thank you, but I have to protect Sam myself. He deserves to hear the truth from me and I've missed him and Linda so much. I owe Linda an apology for forcing her to lie when she wanted me to be honest with Sam from the start. If only I knew how to regain my powers." "What about that ancient blood rite?" Adam asked thoughtfully. "Will that work? It might be your only option. It'll only work if you think you are stronger than Tony."
John Oliver looked determined. "I am, and I'll do anything in my power to save Sam. Let's do it." Adam went into his bathroom and cut his wrist with a razor. He caught his blood in a paper cup. He handed the cup to John Oliver who drank it down as quickly as possible in order to keep from gagging. As soon as he finished drinking, John Oliver was transformed from a zombie into a demon. "It worked!" he exclaimed. "Oh, Adam, I can't thank you enough." He shook the other demon's hand feverishly. "I want to help you keep Sam safe and make sure that traitor gets what he deserves," Adam said, putting a bandage on his wrist. "I'm going to disappear for a while, but I'll try to stay in touch. Good luck!" II.
John Oliver left Hell by flying through the first portal he could find. As the portal closed behind him, he searched for the first landmark that would allow him to see where he had landed. Instead of the Space Needle he saw the Golden Gate Bridge, which meant he was in San Francisco. This is perfect, he thought to himself. I'll need a place to take Linda and Sam when we leave Seattle. His family was unaware that he owned several properties including a winery and home in Northern California. He decided to fly to wine country to check the condition of the home he hasn't seen in two years. He had allowed one of his demon friends to live there rent-free in exchange for managing the property.
He flew to his home and entered through one of the windows. The house was a mess. The furniture was covered with a thick layer of dust, there were cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink. Mr. Oliver was furious--this was not a proper home for his family. He had learned that Tony could not be trusted; he didn't want to think that another demon friend had betrayed him as well. "Kevin, where are you?" he bellowed. Within seconds a demon appeared and changed into human form. "John! It's good to see you! It's been much too long!" his friend greeted him warmly. "Kevin, what happened here? It looks like the house hasn't been cleaned for a year this is unacceptable!" Kevin looked sheepish. "I'm sorry. I spend most of my time supervising the winery, and I sleep in the guest house. Will you be staying overnight? You can stay in the guest house and I'll sleep with the workers if you wish." John felt his anger settle. It was nice to learn that he still had some friends among demons. "No, I can't stay; I'll be leaving for Seattle shortly. I'll be bringing my family to live here permanently and I need the house to be sparkling clean. I'm taking them away from the only home they've ever known and I want them to be comfortable here." He looked around the room. "Family? What family?" Kevin wondered. "I have a wife Linda and two sons Sam and Kyle. Linda and Sam will be coming to live here," he replied. "Linda? She's the beautiful blond you were seeing right? I thought the Devil forbade you from marrying her?" Kevin looked interested. He had been out of demon life for a while, and he missed the gossip. "He did but I disobeyed him and married her anyway. He stripped me of my demon powers but I didn't mind! Until I got sick, then I was forced to sell the soul of my first born to the Devil in order to be cured. Sam has been working as a reaper ever since his 21st birthday." John looked genuinely upset as he remembered this family history. "Does he know that you are a demon?" "Not yet. He inherited my telekinesis when he turned 21 but he doesn't know that his powers came from me instead of the Devil. Can you believe the Devil tried to convince Sam that he was his father and not me?" John looked angry. "All of the Devil's children are spoiled brats. Sam is the best son I could've ever asked for. It's all so wrong. Well, I'm going to fix matters very soon."
Kevin raised his eyebrows. "Does he know what you used to be?" "No, he has no idea I used to be a world class thief," said John, smiling for the first time. He had good memories of his thieving days. "Can I make you something to eat? You look like you could use a good meal," said Kevin, looking at the other man up and down. Kevin fixed steak, baked potatoes and corn on the cob on the grill. While they were eating, Kevin continued with his questions. "You've never gone into detail about what you did for the Devil, John. I've always been curious how all this came about…"
"I was a master thief. If I saw something I wanted, I took it. Pretty easy to do with the telekinesis. The Devil took advantage of my powers, and skills. If he needed jewelry for one of his lovers, he would turn to me for help. I would steal masterpieces for his homes. I would take anything that wasn't nailed down I also learned how to forge documents making the Devil even more wealthy in the process. He paid me handsomely whenever I assisted in one of his schemes. I used the money to buy real estate at rock bottom prices. I bought this winery and apartment complexes in New York City and Chicago and a home in New Orleans." He nibbled on his corn on the cob, and his eyes turned reminiscent. "I met Linda when I was on a museum job. I was bored, so along with the gems, I stole her purse. I didn't really realize I'd taken it until she chased after me sobbing. She said I had taken all the money she had and she begged for mercy. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen so I agreed to give back her purse if she would have dinner with me." III.
"The story of how you met Linda sounds like a fairy tale," Kevin said. "More like a soap opera," John laughed. "She definitely played hard to get. She had lived in a series of foster homes and didn't trust strangers. She was working temporary jobs and living paycheck to paycheck. I took advantage of this and bought her things she could never afford and even paid her rent while she was unemployed. She knew I was a thief but I was able to hide my demon powers from her for the longest time. Tony had shown me how to hide my horns from the outside world so Linda never knew until I was forced to reveal my true nature.
"What happened? There was a demon named Andrew who also became interested in her. He would write her letters and follow her home. I told him to back off but he refused. He said I was a coward and I wouldn't fight if my life depended on it. He tried to force himself on Linda and when she tried to free herself he started to abuse her. Linda screamed and I beat him to within an inch of his life. Andrew ran to the Devil for help and that's when I was forced to choose between serving him and a life with Linda. I've never regretted my decision until Sam's life was put in jeopardy. Want to hear something truly ironic? Andrew's brother Adam has been secretly protecting me and he helped me regain my powers." John finished eating and sat back, musing on his past history. Kevin nodded. "That really is incredible. When will I get to meet Sam and Linda?" John did a few mental calculations. "My idea is, Sam's birthday is tomorrow and it should take two or three days to drive from Seattle. I would guess we'd be here by next Wednesday. I'll call you before we arrive." He stood up and cleared his plate. "Thank you for everything, Kevin. I can't wait to see my family again, and start our new life together down here." John transformed into a demon and took off into the sky. During the flight home he remained lost in thought. He prayed that he would be able to convince his wife that Sam's life was in danger. Linda had been consumed with fear regarding her son's safety ever since his 21st birthday. She had pleaded with him to tell Sam the truth about his true form the day Sam had witnessed them arguing within a circle. He had wanted to hold off, and she had bitterly resented him for failing their son. Then, there had been all that stuff with Solomon's cage; he became a zombie, and still Sam was stuck being a Reaper. He knew his idea was right, but how to get Linda to agree? He decided to treat her as though they were dating again. He also would point out that Sam needed them to be a team to protect him. When he landed at his old home he found the house empty. He entered it using the spare key Linda kept hidden under the mat. He wandered through the house as if he were seeing it for the first time.
He went into the living room where he examined the photos of his sons that covered the walls. He looked at the ones of Sam who was always smiling, and Kyle who had a serious expression on his face. He thought that was ironic considering how their adult lives had begun. He remembered how his colleagues had nicknamed Sam the shadow since he had been willing to follow his daddy anywhere. Kyle's nickname had been old man since he wasn't interested in playing with the other employee's children and he seemed like a miniature adult. Mr. Oliver vowed to tell Kyle the truth once the rest of the family had reached their new home. He deserved to know why he had been expected to achieve more than his older brother and the sacrifice Sam was forced to make.
He was brought out of his daydreams by the sound of a car door slamming. He looked through the window and saw his wife struggling to carry bags of groceries. He guessed that this was food for Sam's birthday party. He wanted to assist her but he couldn't risk being seen by the neighbors, and he didn't want to startle her in public. He waited in the living room until she had finished putting the groceries away and she was sitting down with a cup of coffee. He moved to the door of the kitchen. "Hello Linda," he said with a smile. Mrs. Oliver looked up at the sound of her husband's voice and was so startled that she spilled her coffee all over the floor. "John, is that really you? You look so different from the last time I saw you," she stuttered. "I-I--where have you been?" "I've been to Hell and back," he replied. "I asked Sam to send me down there so that I could find a way out of his contract. He didn't want to, but I convinced him that it was the only way." He shook his head. "The look on his face when we said goodbye broke my heart."
Linda looked at him hopefully. "Did you find what you were looking for?" "No. I found the soul who Sam had met, that we thought might have the answer, but the Devil got to him before I could and erased his memory. It was a dead end."
"How did you get your horns back? Last I saw, you didn't have any of your demon nature." "I met a demon--a friend of Sam's named Adam. He sheltered me gave me food and helped me perform an ancient rite that allowed me to be a demon again." John stretched his arms, enjoying the feeling of strength. But Linda looked sorrowful. "Why do you want to be a demon again? You told me that you loved me more than serving the Devil." Tears welled up in her eyes. "I don't blame you if you hate me. I said some terrible things the last time we saw each other. I never should have sent you away." Mr. Oliver squeezed his wife's hands. "No, it's not your fault, and I don't hate you, I love you, I'll always love you. I was so afraid Sam would discover my secret, for too long. I thought I could talk my way out of anything, but Sam ended up paying the price for my pride." "What do you mean?" "I was so afraid of revealing to Sam that I was a demon that he started to think that Devil was his father. When I heard that I became so upset that I had to act. Who would tell Sam such horrible lies? I'm to blame, though. I ripped out the pages in the contract identifying me as a demon. Then, Steve and Tony started to convince Sam that he was the Devil's son." "The Steve and Tony who were at our wedding? They held Sam when he was a baby for heaven's sake!" Linda was becoming angry. "How could they betray you like that?"
"There's more, Linda," John said quietly. "Steve and Tony are part of a rebellion, planning to overthrow the Devil using Sam as bait." "What? When will this happen?" Linda's face turned white. "At Sam's birthday party tomorrow," John replied. "I'm prepared to kill them if necessary." He looked grim, but Linda looked grimmer. "Do whatever you have to do in order to protect our son."
John sighed in relief. "Well, then, I need you to do something for me. Go to the mall tomorrow and buy new clothes for the three of us. We are leaving Seattle right after the party." "Where are we going to go?" "Linda, I've been keeping a secret from you. I own homes across the country. Yes. I took money the Devil paid me and invested it in real estate. I own homes in Chicago, New Orleans, New York and Northern California. I arranged to have my demon friends manage the properties in exchange for free rent. I met with Kevin the manager of the California house and winery today and he'll be expecting us." Linda looked a little dazed at all this new information. "Are you sure you want me to come with you? If you and Sam went by yourselves you could fly with him--if he isn't afraid." "Linda, of course I want you to come. We area family: you are still my wife and the mother of my children." He looked at her tenderly. "We have to convince Sam that this will work out for the best. He will be torn between us if you stay here, and I want us to be a family again." Linda looked at the clock in the kitchen. "I can't believe it's eleven already. You can have the master bedroom I'll sleep on the couch." He stood up, looking down at her. "Oh no, Linda, I'm going to be a demon tomorrow. I want to be human tonight." He took her hand and they went upstairs.
Saturday dawned hot and sunny. Mr. and Mrs. Oliver woke up at seven o'clock. "This reminds me so much of the day Sam was born," Linda said. "I was in labor all day and I couldn't wait for it to be over." John looked serious. "When was Sam born exactly?" he asked. "I think that is when the attack will happen, it is when he is most vulnerable." "Sam was born at nine at night. How could you forget?" his wife teased him. He looked at her lovingly. "All I can remember is being in awe of you and thinking that my son was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I thought the nurses would think we were crazy because of how closely we examined him." She looked somber. "I was so relieved that Sam was born without any…defects." "Did you really think he would be born with horns and a tail?" her husband asked. "Yes," she whispered. "I was afraid I wouldn't be able to love him but he was perfect."
"You never told me that." Her husband was shocked. "You've always been such a great mom." She looked abashed. "I felt guilty and I was terrified that the Devil would come and take Sam away from us if I was less than a perfect mother." "I had no idea you were feeling that way I'm so sorry that you've been carrying this guilt for so long, I promise I'll make it up to you," Mr. Oliver said. "You'll love Napa Valley, it's peaceful and there's no one around for miles. The wine is excellent and as I recall you love wine." "I do and if the winery needs an official taste tester, I'll happily volunteer for the job," she smiled. "Now, come on. We have work to do, so that's enough of a stroll down memory lane." "Yes, ma'am," her husband smiled. "What can I do to help?" "Well, if we're really going away, you can pack our suitcases and bring them to the car, and then you can sample the food for the party to make sure it's good enough for our son and his friends. Andi told me that Sam is working until four, so I think the party should start around five. I'll call him during his lunch break and invite him down to the lake—remember, it's a surprise! I need to get to work in the kitchen. Where will you be this afternoon?"
John drew himself up. "I'll fly to the cabin and wait for Steve and Tony to show up. I just wish there was more that I could do." She kissed him. "You are going to save Sam's life; that is the most important job of all." Mr. Oliver went upstairs and emptied their closet into two large suitcases. He waited until he was sure that the neighbors weren't looking and then put the suitcases in the trunk. He returned to the kitchen where his wife was preparing food for the party. She smiled at him. "How are you at making fruit salad? I'm making pasta salad and I have hot dogs and hamburgers in the freezer. Can you pack the cooler for me too? And," dimpling at him, "Don't even think about eating that raw meat."
"Now why would I do that?"
"I'm sure old habits die hard," she smiled. Mr. Oliver smiled back. Actually he been tempted by the smell of the hamburger but he knew that eating raw meat would disgust Sam so he fought his natural impulses. And so it went on. The Olivers worked to make the day special for Sam who had sacrificed so much for them.
"Are you ready to go, Linda?"
"I am but the car is filled with everything for the party. How can we fit?" "Have you forgotten that I have my own mode of transportation?" her husband teased her. She looked dubious. "Are you sure that is a good idea?" He grinned. "Of course. Demons in flight look just like large birds. I'll be right over you; no one will know the difference. I did offer to take you flying once if you recall." Remembering back, John cursed all the lost time he could have used to instruct Sam about demon customs. Sam had been more concerned about protecting his father from the outside world. Sam, I promise I'll teach you everything you need to know his father vowed. He asked his wife, "Does Sam ever talk to you about his reaping?"
"No, but I overhear Sock and Ben talking about reaping their nickname for Sam is Batman. Sam tries to keep them quiet about his other job." She looked pained. "Let's go before it gets too late." She got into the car and her husband transformed and flew right above her. The trip to the cabin took about half an hour. When they arrived at the cabin they worked quickly to unpack the car. "I'm going to head to the mall now, to pick up some clothes. What are you going to do?" Linda Oliver asked her husband. "I'm going to plan my attack for tonight. I'm also going to try to get some sleep. It's been so long since I've been in any type of fight and I'll need to save my strength." Linda tried to hide her fear. "OK, I'll see you in a little while?" "Honey, we won't be able to speak until all of this is over. I can't risk being seen until Steve and Tony have been defeated." They kissed and Linda Oliver left to run her errands. John walked into the woods determined to find the portal where he knew the other demons would emerge. He hiked deep into the forest until he located the portal. Hot spot, he thought to himself. He used his telekinesis to move two large boulders until they sealed the opening from Hell to the outside world. John winced in pain after his task was complete. I'm so out of shape, he thought; while I'm training Sam it will be good practice for me as well. He walked through the forest until he located a lake whose location was known only to demons. He jumped in and he let the cold water wash over him. He remembered teaching Sam to swim when he was a little boy. Sam had been reluctant to jump in the water until his daddy told him everything was going to be OK. Sam had learned quickly after that and the promise of Popsicles hadn't hurt either. As he floated in the cool water, Mr. Oliver found himself regretting that he had kept Sam from growing to his full potential. He had been afraid that Sam's powers would appear before he could cope with them. Although Sam was an adult in the human world he was still a child to the demons who had lived for thousands of years. "Sam will be my shadow again, I can't wait. I have so much to teach him."
He finished his swim and flew into the tallest tree he could find near his family's cabin. He knew he would be fighting the most important battle of his life later that night and he wanted to be fully rested.
Linda Oliver drove to the mall as fast as she could. She thought she could hear her heart pounding through her chest. What if the Devil is following me? What if I run into someone I know? What should I say if someone asks why I'm buying all these clothes? she said to herself. "Pull yourself together," she said out loud. John and Sam have to deal with the Devil; this is the least you can do for them. She decided to tell anyone who asked that she won a trip to California in a radio contest and she was taking her son with her as a birthday gift. Before entering the mall, she called Sam's cell phone and he picked up on the second ring. "Hi, honey! Happy Birthday." "Mom? How are you?" Sam was very glad to hear from his mother, since it appeared that his friends had forgotten his birthday. "I'm running errands now, but what time will your shift be over? I was thinking of having a cookout at the cabin." Sam grinned. "That sounds great. My shift ends at four and I'll need to stop at the house to get my bathing suit. I suppose it's ok to invite Ben and Sock? Ben has a new girlfriend named Nina--do you want to meet her?" "Invite anyone you like Sam. I'll see you soon, sweetheart." Linda Oliver hung up and entered the mall. She breezed through, buying Sam enough clothes for a week and a large duffel bag for storage. She was putting her packages in the car when she heard a familiar voice behind her. "Hi, Mrs. Oliver. What are you doing here?" "Hi, Andi. I could ask you the same question. I'm buying some new clothes to go on vacation," Linda stated. Andi said, "I've brought Sam's birthday cake from Coldstone Creamery. Can I follow you to the cabin?" Linda smiled at Andi's thoughtfulness. She considered Andi to be the daughter they never had. She waited for Andi to pull up behind her and they drove away. When they reached their destination, Andi revealed that she had a passenger with her. "Mrs. Oliver, this is Gladys, she's a friend of ours who works at the DMV. I hope you don't mind that I invited her along." "Of course I don't mind, Andi, I enjoy meeting all of Sam's friends. I'll put the cake away before it melts." Gladys looked around her; the cabin seemed quiet but she was aware of the presence of another demon. "I'll go in with you; I need to use the bathroom," she announced to her hostess. "Do you need my help?" Andi asked. "I'm dying to go for a swim." "Go ahead, honey I think I can manage," Mrs. Oliver said. The two older women went into the cabin while Andi dove into the water. "How about a drink, Gladys?" "I'd love a beer, Linda, and you look like you could use one yourself," Gladys said bluntly.

"I'd like a glass of wine, but I'll take what I can get" Linda took two cans from the cooler and handed one to her guest. "So. It's been over twenty years since I've seen you, how are you my friend?" She smiled at the older woman warmly, remembering that Gladys had been close to John Olive, and she had been the first person he had introduced to Linda while they were dating. Gladys smiled back. "I'm fine, my life stays the same which is how I like it. I have my cat and my angels and that's all I need." Linda's voice dropped almost to a whisper. "How did you come to know Sam?" "I'm the demon assigned to handle the vessels after Sam reaps a soul," Gladys replied, watching the woman's reaction carefully. Linda gulped. "Gladys, is Sam…?" Linda couldn't finish her sentence. "He's a sweet kid, Linda, you and John did a great job raising him," Gladys reassured her. "He seems to have no idea that we know each other." Seemingly unrelated, she asked, "Do you still have that photo album? Of the old days?" Linda looked perturbed. "I wish we had been honest with Sam. I wanted to, but…photo album? Yes I'd never part with it." Gladys geared up to ask another question. "Okay, well…I know John is here--but why is he here?" VIII.
Linda Oliver turned white. "How did you know John was here? Even I don't even know where he is." Gladys smiled. "I'm a telepath, Linda, I always can sense the presence of another demon. Especially someone I've known for hundreds of years." Linda relaxed a little. "John received a warning that Tony was trying to overthrow the Devil and he was planning to use Sam as bait. Can you believe that Tony tried to convince Sam that the Devil was his father and not John? How cruel could he be? John adored Sam from the moment he was born. He used to say that Sam was the best thing to ever happen to him and that he didn't deserve such a gift from God. And now, this." Gladys felt guilty, knowing that she'd had a part in all of this. The Devil had forced her to lie to Sam as a condition to keep from being tortured. She vowed never to lie to him again. "Gladys, I need a favor from you. Can you make sure Sam's friends get home safely? John is going to tell Sam everything tonight and then we'll leave for California. I have our bags packed and John has arranged for us to live in a new home." She said it in a rush, almost as though she was afraid of changing her mind. Gladys remained deep in thought. She knew that the Devil would never allow Sam to be taken from him, and he was going to be furious with the demons who went along with Tony's scheme. She knew that she had to convince John to leave his son behind. "Of course I'll protect them but promise me that I'll get to see John one last time before you leave," she requested. Linda looked relieved. "Absolutely. I know John will want to say goodbye to you."
Sam's mood improved after talking to his Mom. He hated celebrating his birthday ever since he had become a reaper when he turned twenty-one. The Devil had always given Sam impossible souls to reap on that day. He stated that Sam would think of his birthday the same way the Devil thought of Halloween--as a day for everyone else to party. Sam had been pleasantly surprised that the Devil hadn't shown up to taunt him. His shift at the Bench had been a piece of cake in comparison. When Sam's shift ended he drove home where everyone was waiting for him. "Hey Sam, let's go to the Brick!" Sock said eagerly. "Ben might even buy you a beer." Sam smiled. Sock was always ready to spend someone else's money. "There's been a change in plans. Mom is having a cookout at the cabin and you all are invited. We just need to bring our bathing suits and towels." "That's awesome, my friend! I'm starved." "You are always hungry, Sock," Nina said sternly, unaware of the irony. "Nina ,you'll be meeting my mom for the first time. Please promise me that you won't eat a live animal in front of her. There will be plenty of food so you won't go hungry. My mom has never met any demons so I'll just introduce you as Ben's girlfriend, OK?" Nina considered. "Does she have any dogs? I don't want a repeat of what happened with Ben's grandma." Sam grinned. "No, we have a cat. Let's get our stuff and go! Mom is waiting for us." The ride to the cabin took about half an hour. Sam was surprised to see Andi's car already there. Then, he was shocked to see the trees decorated with streamers and a large banner reading "Happy Birthday Sam!" Sam went to the front of the cabin where he was embraced by the two most important women in his life. "Surprise! We love you so much!" Sam couldn't remember a more perfect day.
"Mom! You didn't have to do all of this for me!" "Of course I did sweetheart, you deserve it!" Sam's mom bit her lip. "I'm sorry that I haven't always been there for you." Sam didn't know how to answer her so he just gave her a tight hug. He turned to his girlfriend. "Andi this is amazing! You must have been here all afternoon. How did you keep this a secret from Ben and Sock?" Andi smiled. "Easy! I never told them we were planning anything for your birthday. I knew they would never be able to keep their mouths shut. Gladys is here too--I think she's in the house." Sam grinned. "How did you convince her to come? Did you promise her free beer?" "No, but that would have worked for Sock." They were interrupted by the other guests. "Let's get this party started!" Sock bellowed. "Sock! Can't you wait for anything longer than five minutes?" Sam said, somewhat annoyed. He wanted to finish the introductions. "Mom, this is Ben's new girlfriend Nina. Nina this is my mom." Linda Oliver smiled. "Nina it's nice to meet you. I'm very fond of Ben. Help yourself to drinks and snacks." "Thank you very much, Mrs. Oliver!" Nina thought that Sam's mom was very nice but she was definitely nervous about something; however she didn't know what it was. She thought to herself, as long as she isn't giving me the evil eye, it's still better than meeting Ben's family. Nina was aware of the presence of other demons nearby, although she couldn't recognize them. Sam went into the cabin to change into his bathing suit. He narrowly missed seeing Gladys, who was fixing her hair in the bathroom. Gladys went into the bedroom in order to put her comb back into her purse. She walked in just as Sam was taking his shirt off. I had no idea he was that handsome she thought to herself. She immediately felt ashamed. He's the son of your best friends and you changed his diapers when he was a baby, she scolded herself. Sam turned around and he turned crimson when he realized he wasn't alone. "Hi, Gladys, I didn't see you there," Sam stuttered. "Oh don't worry, you don't have anything I haven't seen before," she snapped. Sam smiled. This was the demon he had come to like although he'd never admit it. "Want a beer? We should take one now before Sock and Nina decide to go on a binge." Gladys took the beer Sam offered her. "Nina? What is she doing here, that flake?" Gladys rolled her eyes. "Nina is definitely a flake, but she is Ben's girlfriend and he would be hurt if I didn't include her!" Sam stated. He went on: "I'm glad you and Mom were able to meet. I've been nervous about introducing her to my demon friends. "Your mom might surprise you, Sam," Gladys stated, shrugging.
Sam finished his beer and decided to go for a swim before his mom fixed dinner. "How about a swim, Gladys?" "Demons don't go near the water, Sam," she retorted. "That's a pastime for humans." Gladys didn't want to admit that she didn't know how to swim and was afraid of looking foolish, especially in front of Nina, whom she didn't trust. Anyway, Gladys was more concerned with finding out where John Oliver was hiding, and she couldn't do that with other people watching her. "I'm going for a walk. I'll see you in a little while," she said to Sam. Sam thought that was very strange but he learned a long time ago not to question a demon's behavior. Sam dove into the lake and was instantly refreshed by the cold water. He remembered how his father had taught him to swim, and all the fun times he had as child. He thought to himself, I don't know why I stopped coming here. Maybe I can turn the cabin into a devil free zone. Andi and I need a place where we can be together and not think about reaping for once. He was brought out of his daydreams by Sock nearly doing a cannonball right on top of him. "Hey Sock! Watch where you are going!" "Sorry, Sammy, I didn't see you there! Water, wahhoo!" "That's obvious!" Sam couldn't stay annoyed with his best friend for very long. "Where are Ben and Nina?" Sock shrugged. "I don't know. Nina told Ben she was going to teach him how to swim underwater since he didn't know how." Sam smiled to himself. Gladys told me a white lie but I'll let it go for now. He noticed that the sun had disappeared and the sky was filled with dark clouds. "We had better get out of the water before a thunderstorm hits." He and Sock grabbed their towels and headed into the cabin.
Gladys was able to follow John Oliver's trail easily. She walked to the portal to Hell and smiled when she saw that it had been closed up by some huge boulders. You were busy today weren't you John, she thought to herself. She noticed that the trail had gone cold until she looked up into the trees and saw a large black bird watching her every move. So there you are, she said to herself. She was about to hail her old friend when she was struck by the worst migraine she had ever felt. Through the blare, she knew: Steve and Tony are here and up to no good. The large bird swooped down and flew behind her towards the cabin. "Gladys, get in here before it starts to rain!" Sam called to her. Ben and Nina had shared a romantic moment and they quickly followed her inside. The large bird found a tall tree near the cabin and closed its eyes. "Everyone OK?" Sam asked. "Gladys, are you all right?" He noticed that the demon looked pale as a ghost. Gladys grimaced. "It's just a migraine, I get them all the time. Stormy weather, probably," Gladys said as she sank down on a chair, closing her eyes. Sam looked concerned. "Mom do we have any aspirin?" "I have Tylenol in my purse, honey." Sam found the pills and handed them along with a glass of water to Gladys. Gladys felt foolish but she was impressed with how much Sam was like his father, back when John Oliver had helped her recover from many a night of drinking. "Thanks to both of you," she said weakly, as she dozed off. The rain continued to pour when Sam heard a familiar voice calling him from outside. "Sam, I need your help!" Was that Tony? The others were clustered in the kitchen, and Gladys was asleep. "Sam! I need help! I think I sprained my ankle and I can't walk!"
Sam jumped up, concerned. He grabbed an umbrella and he headed out into the storm. When he got outside he saw that Tony wasn't alone.

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