Walking home from work one night, a man encounters the Devil.
|This story was written as response to a writing prompt on Reddit: "'Don't deal with the devil' they said. Little did they know, the devil was a terrible haggler." It's not a perfect response to that prompt, but I liked it anyway.
He dug his filthy fingers into the collar of my coat. I could smell the vomit in his hair. “C’mon man, I go- I gotta have it.” His voice was jittery and slurred all at once, angry and pitiful, forceful and impotent. The blackened alleyway from which he had emerged loomed up from behind like a gaping wound in the line of buildings.
I just sighed and shrugged, pushed away from him, refused eye contact. Every night on my way home from work. “Ain’t gonna happen,” I murmured, turning away. “I just wanna get home, alright?”
“Nah, nah, c’mon, don’t leave me here again man, c’mon...” He slithered up from behind, slipping in front of me and pushing his face close again, locking eyes. His breath was too cold, like a sick dog. “You got-“ those emerald green eyes flashed darkly - “you got the good stuff, I can... feeeeel iiiiiitttt...”
“Look, just- get lost, will ya? I don’t have anything for you, and you don’t have-“
“Nah, man, nah, I got the good stuff too, you know I pay good, always.” A grubby hand shoved into his left pocket, despite the fact that the huge hole in the side of his jacket should’ve made that pocket useless. He pulled out a thick stack of cards, the gothic pattern on the back ratty and torn. But when he flipped the top card, the front was not ratty, not torn, it glowed and flashed like a gilded, silvered mirror. The girl in the picture wore flimsy a blue robe, cut low, a sultry smile on her angelic face. She was upside down. “Anything, right? I mean, anything. You got the whole world here.” The next card showed a man, jolly and flushed, with nine cups arrayed on a huge table before him. Every gulp he chugged was from a different cup. “If the world’s got it, I got it. The trade’s easy, you’ll hardly even notice what’s missing and, I mean, hell- whatever. you. want. I’ll do anything, man. I need it. P-please, man.”
I stepped back, turned away again. “I’ve told you. I tried all that shit, and it doesn’t work. You’ve got nothing. Now just... leave me alone.”
A dark, vicious shadow flashed across his face. Sharp teeth, flaming eyes, and such violence, a truer face trying to force its way out. But it only lasted a second. Then he started grumbling under his breath about something or other and slipped off, melting back into the dark gap between the buildings.
He’d be there again tomorrow, just the same. Pretty words, grand promises... utter desperation. Every time.