“So you’re telling me that if I just sign right here all of my problems will be solved?” I said, lifting up my pen.
“You’re not even going to read the whole contract?” Devon (at least that’s what I think his name is) said to me.
“Sure, why not? What do I have to lose? Besides my built-up college debt,” I said, elbowing him in the ribs.
“Don’t do that,” he grumbled under his breath, “Well what are you waiting for? Like you said you have nothing important to lose!”
“Ok..ok just give me a sec,” I said as I scribbled my name onto the paper.
“You just made a huge mistake!” Growing horns, he continued. “Well, what do you think? Do you regret your decision, yet?” He said, this time nudging me.
“Nah, I’ve done worse things!” At this comment, he looked visibly annoyed. “So Devon, what did I miss in the contract?”
“Ok, first of all, my name isn’t Devon, and second of all why don’t you just read it?”
“Devon...Devon, you clearly don’t know me. There’s a reason I have so much debt,”
Sighing, he said, “I’m the Devil, you’re the Grim Reaper. How do you feel?”
“Ohhhh...Not any different, but that’s cool! Who do you want me to murder first?”
Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t know yet, let me think it over and I’ll get back to you.”
“Wait, how are you going to tell me what to do?”
“Well, if you would have just read the contract you would know, I will-nevermind see you tomorrow.”
He disappeared and I was left with my thoughts and the bright city around me. Even in the night, it was hot. Although during the day you could see the heat writhing above the concrete like a worm who is stuck in the middle of the road after a storm. Right now, even though there were no stars to be seen, the night was brighter than when the sun shone in the sky. The neon signs, with ‘casino’ and ‘strip club’ written on them blinked, and the street performers who begged and tricked people out of their money lined the streets. I once lost chess to a chicken, but that isn’t saying much. I’m not smart and I know that. My life isn’t extraordinary, I live paycheck to paycheck and can barely afford to pay for my studio apartment on the outskirts of town. Dialing an uber to bring me back to reality, I wonder if the so-called ‘devil’ was actually real or if the alcohol was just catching up with me. (Shows how he is very lost and doesn’t really have a purpose in the world)
Yawning, as I woke up the next day, my hand touched a mysterious figure. Feeling a nose and a pair of eyes I moved my hand up their face until I finally felt a distinguishable feature. As I grabbed and pulled on a pair of horns, I heard, “STOP THAT! Why don’t you just get off of your butt and show me some respect!”
“Oh, hi Devon gimme a sec, lemme get some pants on. That’s right turn around, don’t be a creepo,” I say, as I buckle my pants. “Got anyone for me to murder yet?”
“Well, you really don’t murder people. You just extract their souls and bring them to me.”
“Blah blah murder blah blah extracting souls. That all sounds the same to me. OOOH, do I get a special staff or costume like you?
“This is not a costume, and here this is your staff,” He said handing me a wooden stick, with a small blue orb fashioned on the top that looked like the decorative garden balls my grandma used to put in her yard.
Grabbing it from him, I couldn’t help but admire it. “Woah, this is how I kill people?”
“Sort of, give it to me,” handing it over, he moved into a wizard-like stance. “You stand like this and hold the staff in front of you. You look into the person’s eyes and their soul will be sucked into the orb.”
“Woah that’s pretty freakin’ cool, who’s soul should I steal first?”
“Here are the papers, I’ll keep it easy for you today,” He said, handing me a clipboard.
As I flipped through the pages I noticed the different states and Countries listed on each person’s profile. “Wait how am I supposed to get to these places?” I said pointing to papers.
“Lay your hand on the person’s profile and tap your staff twice, it should bring you to wherever they are. The easiest is when they don’t beg and just lay there and accept their death,” He said laughing.
After several months of me stealing the souls of innocent people, I never thought about it. I didn’t know what the criteria was for me to reap their souls, I just knew that if I reaped them then they would be in the devil’s possession. If their name is not on my clipboard and they die, their souls are sucked up into the Heavens. That was the ideal way, but the Devil controlled me and I needed to do what he asked.
Today was a normal day, I got my clipboard delivered and I set off to work. My first victim was Robert Paterson from Tampa, Florida. He would be easy, it was definitely his time to go, he was 82 and was in the hospital with leukemia. Laying my hand on his profile and tapping my staff two times I was transported to his hospital room. He was on life support and could barely breathe, I was glad I could take his life. I just didn’t know what he did wrong to have his soul now belong to the Devil.
As I went through the day, and quickly made my way through about 50 people’s profiles. It all happens so fast unless they begged for mercy. I don’t even have the choice to do that. I don’t know why anyone has come to that assumption that I can save them. Flipping to the last profile of the day, it was Jennifer Altana from Atlanta, Georgia. Fulfilling my ritual of getting to her location, I ended up in a tiny living room that was only slightly less cluttered than the houses on “Hoarders”. The pittering and pattering of rain hitting the roof was easily heard, and could slightly be seen through the dirty windows (Shows transformation of him realizing that he is taking people away from the people they love). A woman was laying on her couch and three kids huddled around her. They were shrieking, crying, and clearly didn’t know what to do. Their mom was passed out on the couch, struggling to stay alive. I pitied them, my parents died in a car accident when I was five, leaving me in foster care. No one wants a troubled 5-year-old, or eventually 6-year-old, an 18-year-old, up until I aged out of the system. I knew their pain, but I had a job to do.
Once they noticed that I was in the room with them, the oldest came forward like an alpha wolf stepping in front to protect his pack. “Are you goin’ to help our mommy?” He whimpered.
“In a special way, now get out of the way. Let’s not make this too difficult!” I demanded.
I felt bad for the kids, jeez they were going to lose their mom for god’s sake! As I was checking their profile to see if they had a dad to move in once she was reaped. “Of course, their dad is a drug lord who hasn’t been seen for years. Hope they have a grandparent or something,” I muttered under my breath.
Just as I was warming up my staff, the littlest one came into the room with a book and was crying, “You are goin’ to kill my mommy, see!” He says as he points a book with a picture of my staff on the page. “HE IS GOIN’ TO KILL MOMMY!”
“Woah kids calm down, you can always move in with your grandparents,” They all made little pouty faces and shook their heads side to side, like a pendulum clock. “Well, do you have any other close friends or family?”
“No,” They all echoed.
“Well, now you guys are just trying to make me feel bad,” Their pitiful looks reminded me of myself. “I-I don’t know if I can do this. Hey, how about you guys go hide in your room and don’t come out until it is safe. Devil I summon you,” As I tapped my staff two times.
“Hey, Grim how's it going? Sooo.. why am I here? Did you have a question or did you decide to move to Georgia?” He said as he scanned the room, “Wow this is really a downgrade! Wait who’s that on the couch?”
“Well, that’s really who I had a question about. Umm, this really isn’t easy for me to say, but I can’t do it!”
“What do you mean you can’t do it?” He questions.
“I can’t reap her, her kids would be left all alone,” At this point I was begging like a dog waiting for table scraps for him to realize how terrible it was.
“If you really care that much, why don’t you take them in yourself?”
“Just tell me is there anything I can do to save her?” As I said that a clipboard appeared in his hand. The one with my contract on it.
Flipping through the pages he responded with, “Nope, nothing you can do. You are legally bound to me, and must kill anyone I want you to! Is there anything else you need?”
I looked to the floor in grief, and even though I didn’t know Jennifer personally I felt the need to save her. I saw the book laying on the floor, open to the page with my staff on it. “Wait!” I scream as I pick up the book, “It says here I can exchange a life for a life!”
“Well, I guess you could do that. By why would you?”
“Can I do it?” Once I said that he gave me a look of disbelief and I nodded in response.
“I can’t stop you, it doesn’t say anything about that in your contract. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yeah, my life sorta sucked anyways,” I said semi-solemnly.
As he began to perform a ritual, I began to feel weak and started to black-out. My strength was given to her, and her illness to me. Before my senses were compromised, I heard, “Hey, kids where are you? Mommy is ok now!” Even though I couldn’t express my emotions, for the first time I felt complete.