It was said in such velvet tones that I didn’t realise she had even asked me a question at all. It wrapped itself around me, caressed me like an expensive hooker, lifting the stress of the day from my shoulders. It felt good, like slipping into a warm bath. Now I will point out that I’m not usually taken off guard as easily as this, but life had been difficult lately and I wasn’t running what you would call my ‘A Game’. Luckily for me I have years of built in reflexes and all kinds of little alarm systems in my head to help with situations like this. Well, not like this exactly, but close. This was a unique experience, and saying that as someone who ran errands for Death, well I hope you understand the gravity of the situation. So, there I was sat at a table in a restaurant I had no business being in, across from me sat a woman with auburn hair framing a teardrop face. Pretty you know, bookish. I smiled like an idiot at her, all the while there was a little corner of my brain screaming at me. It managed to plough through to the forefront of my mind just as she repeated the question.
“What would it take for you to sell me your soul?”
And this time I heard it with my ears, without the glamour her voice carried. I wont lie to you, my arse twitched. When The Devil has a proposition for you she doesn’t mince her words, she just ups and asks. You have to respect that given the stereotype leveled against her. Oh, and just so we are clear this wasn’t some two bit devil from the fourth circle, this was The Devil, The Morningstar, the one who held the copy-write and pursued legal action against those who used it with willful infringement. Mere mortals like you and me are not supposed to cope well when such a being asks for your soul. I like to think I did alright, I like to think I was fast on my feet so to speak but in truth I went a bit numb. The British politeness my mother had ground into me took control.
“Um, beg pardon?”
The Devil folded her, its, arms on the table in front of it and raised one perfectly maintained eyebrow at me. It was clear she wasn’t going to ask a third time but my mind was reeling at the proposition. That part of my brain that likes to think of itself as clever was jumping up and down screaming about the situation we were in, begging me to move things along and scarper sharpish. She caught me with hollow eyes, a gaze few men could ever hold and I’m not ashamed to say I couldn’t, so I grabbed a bread stick and sat back with a confidence I didn’t feel.
“You’re taking the piss right,” it wasn’t a question, it was playing for time. She leaned back, crossing its borrowed arms and arching its back ever so slightly. It narrowed the eyes and pursed the lips, when The Devil scowls she does so with her whole stolen body. I had nothing and I needed to stall so I focused on the question, which is one of value. Pushing aside the issue of whether or not such a thing was entirely wise, the history of such bargains being against me, I tried to put an estimate on it. Now I have been Deaths chosen disciple, I have fought nightmare creatures and laid to peace restless dead Gods, but right now I was drawing a blank. Try to valuate something you don’t really care about, or have no real interest in. Now apply that to losing a limb and you’re coming close to what I was being asked to do, only with an eternity of torment tagged on. I only had one soul and not all souls hold an equal value. A depressing consideration at any other time but one my experiences had told me was true and if you say otherwise then we would both be liars. I didn’t use my soul all that much, not as far as I could tell anyway and it must have been a little ragged, frayed around the edges and maybe a little soggy but it was mine. I would be stupid to get less then its worth.
“I could give you anything you wanted,” she coaxed.
“Oh I am all aware of that Love, it’s just that my last employer had some rather unkind things to say about you. She isn’t the kind to be telling tall tales,” another scowl.
“Yes well there are two sides to every story darling, but let us be honest me and you.” Red flag, red flag my brain screamed. “I’ve seen your soul, you would be far better off without it,” oddly enough that made sense to me, it struck me as a little profound at the time. If I’m honest, like she was, I look at this shit show we are in and it makes me wonder. All this could be different, we could be better. I like to think I made the right choice but it’s hard to see clearly when you’re in the thick of it. Like my granddad used to say, ‘no good living in what ifs lad. If your aunt had balls she’d be your uncle’. But still, if I could answer her again…