It was a year since she was taken from us. Nobody knows quite how. All they found was her favourite necklace and a vast amount of blood in the doorway outside the old barracks. She was only 14 and yet she had the spirit and wisdom of a 30 year old. She adored writing and she wrote about what she adored. She wrote of the dark; of the shadows and of the unknown world of the supernatural. She probably knew of a thousand ways to survive what horrors faced her that night, having met them a thousand times in the pinched space between pen and paper. She liked to watch scary movies. She said they gave her inspiration. She came up with scenarios such as a serial killer trapping his victim in a room, making them jump out of window in a desperate attempt to escape only to have their legs broken by the fall, making the throat slitting all the easier. Even now it baffles me, if this was the case, why she allowed herself to die that day.
I make her sound like a dark girl. The type of girl with rings punched through her ears, lips and nose. But I can swear she wasn’t. She was not even a little bit like her stories. She laughed at fat people falling over like any other person as well as enjoying hot chocolate by the fire at Christmas. She would have loved to have been here.
It was the Victorian fair. I make a tradition of coming every year because it was the night I failed to come that she had to walk home alone. I enjoyed the bright lights; the street performers and the sweet-sour smell of pancakes. The sound of children whizzing down the helter-skelter made me chuckle as it warmed my heart. It was then I saw him standing in the shadows.
He was about 17, at a guess. He was my height and wore a brown leather jacket and blue ripped jeans. He had jet black, straight hair and a face to match. He looked at me, nodded to one side and walked into an ally. I presumed he wanted me to follow so I did with caution.
As I turned the corner, I saw that he was standing there; smirking as he had just leaded me into a trap. After about half a minute he spoke:
“Good evening Mr. Harrison. I suppose you don’t know why you’re here.” I consciously stayed near the entrance of the ally way; ready to flea if I had to.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ranett but most people know me by my job title.”
“…Which would be?” I carefully queried. He chuckled in a dark, gruff voice before replying,
“Mr. Harrison, I’m the devil.”
I was doubted he was telling the truth; as would anyone. However, when someone claims to be Satan, they are always either playing a joke or insane; so I began to briskly back away only to be confronted with the thump of hot brick hot brick upon my back. I turned to see a huge wall of red stone where the stampeding crowd once was. I was bricked inside a dark alleyway with only Lucifer for company. My eyes grew wide as they darted about, searching for an exit. Seeing this he spoke quickly.
“Please Mr. Harrison.” He said in an attempt to calm me down. “I realise why you are uncomfortable but let me assure you, though I may be the devil, I am not Satan; Or Beelzebub; or Lucifer. Those men are dead and I am their successor.” I was unsure of how this was supposed to make me less uncomfortable but then, as if reading my mind, he said, “The devil’s only job is to give people who have all but given up hope the one thing they desire over all else for a price. The fact that my predecessors were extremely evil and wicked was but an unfortunate coincidence.”
I calmed myself down and steadied myself before shakily asking, “And you know what I want, do you?”
“Of course I do. Your screams of mourning are so loud, they are practically famous. I can return to you your daughter and will do gladly. All I need is a piece of a soul as payment.” I was about to make a futile attempt to climb the wall via a dustbin and escape when, again he stopped my line of thought by saying,
“Metaphorically speaking, of course. Although Satan chose to actually take the mortal’s souls, I choose a different method.” I stood once again confused. “To have your daughter return, you must surrender something you cherish. You will then be taken back to the time you last saw your daughter but this time it won’t be the last time. She will continue living her life happily thus making you do likewise.” My throat was so dry, speaking was near impossible. I managed to croak one question:
“If I choose to accept, what will be taken from me?” Ranett smirked.
“That, my dear fellow, is from me to decide. Do you agree to this deal?” He stood silently, awaiting my reply. Just as I was about to answer he vanished without a single disturbance. I turned to see the wall had done likewise. I was back at the fair. I was just thinking of how he must have tricked me when I heard a voice next to me like birdsong.
“Here you go Dad.” She said handing me a hot chocolate. “This will warm you up.” It was all I could do, after 5 seconds of fantastic joy to embrace her and say the words,
“Thank you, Suzie!”
Much to her disappointment, I insisted that we head home immediately. As soon as I got in, I searched and searched to find, (or rather not,) what Ranett had taken. It took me less than 5 minutes to realise that Susie’s necklace, the one they found at the crime scene, had disappeared. I was smart enough to know this had some sort of poetic meaning. I was also, however, not smart enough to know what it was. As I stepped into my room, I felt a wash of relief that I would never know my daughter to die. As I lay in my bed, I felt a wash of uncertainty, for what happened to her killer.
My question was answered as I read the local paper the following mourning. My mug smash against the chilled stone floor as I read the story.
“Last night, at around 11pm, I scream was heard by one Stephanie Green. On hearing this she went to investigate the noise, when she found 18 year old Rennet Day lying at the door way of the barracks, throat slit and knife in hand.”
I looked at the corpse face unable to look away, for one of his eyes were closed, as if he was winking. I could almost hear his blunt voice saying,
“You’re quite welcome.”