by Sam Creed
Travis sold his soul to the devil over a mistake, but he may be able to get it back...
|There's something about not having a soul that makes everyone try to stay away from you. Of course, no one knows I have no soul. I wouldn't dare tell anyone. There's just something about me that puts people off, that tells them There's Something Wrong With This Guy. Stay Away.
I am the luckiest man in the world, but nobody knows it because they all hate me.
Ah, the sweet curse of being Different.
For the record, I'm not actually all that different from all the "Normal" people. I know which games are badass and which games are for nerds. I know which actors are up for Emmys and which received the Best Actor Award at the Oscars. I bet on basketball games and the World Cup.
And I win all those bets.
I was once an unpopular kid desperately trying to fit in. I read too many horror stories. I played too many nerdy games. I talked to all the wrong people. I had a wild imagination and I was desperately fighting the popularity battle, and losing. But I refused to surrender - I would do anything to squeeze my way up the social ladder.
And so I poked around with a bit, and found a plan that I thought would fail. But I, with my wild imagination, decided to go with it. Who knows what ideas I would get? And my mind was already running wild with visions of what would happen if it did work.
I made a deal that I thought was fair. I'd always blamed my unpopularity on bad luck, so I traded for luck, and lots of it. What was even better was that what I traded held little meaning for me.
How could I have been so wrong?
My name is Travis McIntyre, I am seventeen years old, I am a perfectly nice person, and I traded my soul to the devil for a whole lot of luck. But then I got the chance to get it back. What happened with that chance is truly remarkable - you need to hear it.
Here is my story.
It didn't take long for me to figure out that my deal hadn't really helped me, other than getting me a lot of money. At least before the deal, people had talked to me, even if they hadn't befriended me. Short conversations, some people I could talk to occasionally. Now, no one talks to me unless they have to, despite all my money. These conversations are brief and uncomfortable; I'll get a polite smile if I'm lucky, a door slammed in my face if I'm not. Even charities treat me like this when I'm donating.
It's too bad it took selling my soul for me to learn that money can't buy happiness, and it sure can't buy friends. Neither can luck.
But I knew one thing: I had to get my soul back. The only question was How.
St Joseph's Church on a Saturday evening was a very bleak place.
The electric lights cast a pale, dark yellow haze over the room, while the evening sunlight comes in brightly from the windows. Few people come to confession, despite Father Clint urging everybody to confess their terrible, hell-worthy sins every mass on Sunday. I guess sitting in a small room, confessing your evil deeds with a wrinkly old man can be slightly uncomfortable. Only slightly.
On the Saturday I went, three other people were there before me. A grim faced old man, a sad-looking, middle aged woman holding a baby, and a younger, happier guy with dark hair and dark clothes.
I wondered what terrible crime they had committed, and laughed silently at myself. What they had done was nothing compared to what I had done.
I sat and waited as the old man went in first, and came out looking determined. The middle aged woman was next, and when she came out, she was sobbing. The young man frowned, and waving for me to go ahead. went to comfort her.
It was only then that I noticed the stiff white collar, and that he was wearing a robe.
He was a priest-in-training, and he was going to confession.
I hurried in.
Father Clint sat inside the small, dark room. He went through his opening, made the sign of the cross, and frowned at me when I didn't do it with him. Finally, he asked me, "What are your deepest, darkest, evilest crimes against The Lord?"
I didn't judge him. I did have a deep, dark, evil crime.
I looked him right in the eye, wanting to see his reaction to what I said.
"I sold my soul to the devil for a whole lot of luck."
His eyes widened, and he edged away from me, shuffling uncomfortably in his seat. He must have been joking when he said "deepest, darkest, and evilest" because he obviously didn't want that.
He gulped, then finally said, "Well, that is...it's truly disturbing, and the biggest sin you could ever commit." He glared at me seriously, but I saw fear in his eyes, and something else...Wonder? "You were right to come to confession, as dealing with Satan is very hard to be forgiven for," He sternly informed me, giving me what was probably supposed to have been the All-Holy Gaze of God.
I think he crossed his eyes a little.
I gave him the most serious, evil look I could muster. "The devil's name is not Satan. It's Winnie, and he wants you to respect his life choices."
He pressed his hands together and gave me the over-the-glasses-stern-librarian-look. "Nothing you do will take this back, or give you back your soul. All you can hope for is Forgiveness with a capital F. Beg The Lord for mercy and he might grant you some. Perhaps if he is especially merciful, He will ensure that you get a nice room in Eternal Hell."
I muttered a curse, thinking of all the bad things that had happened to me both before and after the trade. "I'm already in Hell," I tell him.
Father Clint gave me a sympathetic but somehow still hard look, and replied, "But at least it's not eternal....yet."
When I left the confessional, there was no one left but the priest-in-training. The evening light had dulled to a dark purple, and a few of the electric lights were flickering. The long rows of empty, purposely-uncomfortable benches sent a shiver down my spine.
I guess people with no souls enjoy lots of light and cushioned chairs.
And we sure would like lots of people to talk to.
The priest-in-training sat at the back of the church, and he made no move to go to confession. He sat beside a small table with a basket and a sign that read: Did the confession help you? We appreciate donations. Every cent counts.
Two silver quarters sat unaccompanied in the basket.
They say every cent counts, but I didn’t think fifty cents were going to help replace the dim, almost-burnt-out lights. If they didn’t do something fast, they’d be running by candle-light. And fifty cents definitely wouldn’t help with the heating, I thought bitterly as I shivered once more.
I pulled a crumpled, faded fifty dollar bill out of my pocket and placed it between the quarters. “See,” I said aloud without meaning to, “I am a nice person.”
The priest-in-training stared at me, grinned, and spoke: “Aren’t we all,” He laughed.
He didn’t have the small, sophisticated smile and gentle laugh you’d expect of a priest-in-training. He had the big, toothy, sly grin and the short, loud laugh you’d expect out of a college student.
I liked him instantly.
“Not all of us,” I replied back to him. “Some of us have rules and sophistication!”
Okay, I was going to lose him on that one.
He laughed and said, “You’re right about that.”
So I hadn’t lost him.
I smiled this time, and believe me, there is a difference between a smile and a grin.
A smile is true.
I tried to think of something else to say, but couldn’t think of anything. After an especially awkward silence, he thankfully supplied the words. “So what sort of penance did the Almighty Father give you?” He said it with a sly smile.
Apparently the father had a reputation. Nice going, Father Clint!
I laughed. “Only to beg for Forgiveness with a capital F.”
He ruffled a hand through his dark, excellently-styled hair, and gave me a grave look. “That’s serious.” We both laughed, and then he said, “What’d you do to deserve that?” He said it with a smile, but something flickered in his eyes. “If you don’t mind me asking, of course…”
I smile and shrug, and decide to give him as few details as possible. “I made a deal I’m not exactly proud of.”
He frowned at me, and his back straightened. He leaned forward and muttered something I heard wrong.
I looked down at my watch, and panicked, said, “Oh, I’m running late for a dentist-doctor appointment. Got to go!”
I practically bolted out of there.
It wasn’t until I got a good way down the street that I stopped for breath.
I heard him wrong – I must have. There was no way he had said what I thought he said.
Because the priest-in-training had leaned forward and muttered something I knew a priest-in-training could never say.
He’d said, “It wasn’t a deal with Winnie, was it?”