Before I answer, a caveat:
I had a lengthy response started for this week’s What If? Writing Challenge prompt. I finally had to admit to myself that I was writing a piece of such length that nobody wanted to read it as a challenge response. It looks like it may aspire to novel-length. That being said, I decided to rise to the challenge again with a different piece, and hopefully nobody will be disappointed. If the other project pans out, I’ll release it in chunks over the Halloween season, as time and finished work permits.
The Devil came up to Bismarck, and was looking for a soul to steal. He did this from time to time; after all, people weren’t always willing to deal. He liked to keep the old chutzpah in shape, practice the skills he had honed millennia earlier when it seemed like every day presented a new opportunity and he always tried so hard to do top-notch work.
In other words, he wanted to be artistic about it.
Not surprisingly, he flowed as smoke through the holes of a manhole cover and coalesced outside of a Starbucks on a brisk autumn day when the cloud cover was so thick it muted the light to a light gray. The wind slapped his face, draining the excess warmth instantly, cooling the hot red of his skin down to something less noticeable.
And yeah, he could go for coffee.
He ordered his java black with a shot of classic syrup and took it to the corner of the shop, accosting a writer who was sitting quietly, typing away at a laptop and sipping voraciously on a skinny caramel macchiato. I had surprised myself by starting a novel to respond to a writing prompt, and so I was somewhat displeased when the Devil roused me from my groove with a challenge.
He saw the look on my face and smiled broadly. “Boy, you’re on a hot streak, aren’t you?” I just glared back. How can you not know the Devil when you see him, am I right? “I bet you didn’t know it, but I’m a writer too. I wrote the history of independence, and I’m willing to work with you.”
He bet me a golden typewriter that he could finish a novel before me. I wasn’t sure what I could do with a typewriter made of gold; first of all, where would I get the ribbons? Or does it take cartridges? But I found it tough to turn down a writing challenge, so I accepted. Besides, I was curious if he had real fire or whether he was blowing smoke.
He sat down and pulled the lid off the golden typewriter. “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” He loaded his first sheet of paper, and began to type. Faster and faster his fingers went, until they turned red-hot and shot fire and sparks from the tips. Page after page flew seemingly of their own accord out of the typewriter, until nearly an entire ream had been consumed and sat neatly stacked on the table. He looked at me expectantly.
“That’s impressive,” I said. “You realize I can’t compete with that.”
The Devil grinned.
“I’d think much less of you if you tried, but if you’d like you can retrieve your soul.
Because I like you, I created this challenge but I left a little loophole.
If you give me a single day of pure evil you just might make me smile;
if you do that you can have your soul, and we’ll just call this a trial.”
Intrigued by the idea of a day without consequences, I began to think of all the interesting things you could do. Find a way to get rich, get rid of all your enemies, or just have fun. But I realized that evil isn’t fun, I don’t have any enemies worth paying attention to, and if I get rich off of evil – consequences or no – it just feels like cheating. Still, I told him I’d think about it. I packed up my laptop and left, not feeling much different for the loss of my soul.
I haven’t had time to plan out my day of evil since, because I am red-hot on the trail of that novel. As soon as I finish it and get it sent out to some agents, I’ll have to look into what I can do to try to get my soul back, if time allows.
After all, life doesn’t begin until forty, and I’ve still got four years till then.
This post was crafted for this week’s What If? Writing Challenge. Head on over and take a shot at it – if you dare!
- 9/15/2013 Writing challenge. What if you let your dark side take over? (kagisomarcus.wordpress.com)