Alan Dale Dalby
The body is either the temple of the soul or its prison.
In so many years of life I had not achieved a single thing of note. The mirror stood before me and showed me a man lacking any worth. It mocked me and stabbed at me with shards of broken laughter. Each day I would find myself asking it the same question-"To what end do I exist?"-and each day it offered me only silence. My soul was leaving me a little bit at a time, slipping off to some unknown place where I would never have the chance to meet with it again. This caused me to realize I had little use for such an absurd possession. Such little value it held for me.
And thus came along a devil. For when you reach out for a devil you find that your fingertips are singed by the touch of the heated and course flesh of one before you can set out a pot of Earl Grey.
"It's a fine day for a yard sale my friend." The devil spoke without using his tongue for he was licking his dry lips in anticipation as he looked me over. "A truly fine day to do some spring cleaning and make a little profit. Yet I must confess that I see only one item of interest among this mess of baubles dear man."
"Name your price devil." I spoke with a true lack of concern. His browned teeth flashed at me and caused in me much repulsion. He recoiled his clever tongue and flashed me a wretched grin.
"You speak to me as if you were a man confident of things that go beyond his wealth of understanding." The devil's grin gained on me. His feet danced but they were too discreet to draw my attention. I would not have noticed them had he not become moved from my corner vision and slithered closer to my side.
"I will not ask you again devil. I am not a patient man and my watch is ticking fast. Name your price or we will make no deal this day."
"A simple offering is all that I have my friend, but it is one that you will surely find most enticing and in fact quite impossible to turn down."
"Out with it so I may send you on your way devil!" My temper flared and yet could not combat the heat of his foul demonic breath as it brazed the unshaven skin upon my face.
"A life without end is what I have to offer my friend." The devil knew how to deal. He had come prepared to meet with me; a man who did not desire this thing he had to offer me. He could see my extreme lack of desire and quickly coated it with words that had a sweetened taste as I tried them upon my own tongue. They stuck to my lips like fresh honey and sank deeply into my pallet.
"This one thing I can promise to you my friend, and this one thing is all that you shall need know; as you bid farewell to the chain that binds you to conscience and suffering, this bland and worthless mist that makes waste of such precious space within the walls of flesh that encase you-this soul that causes you nothing but grief-you will feel all of your miseries lift and float free from your shoulders. Kind sir, this I can offer you and I think you will find this offer to be most generous-that you will never again feel a care for this world that has spurned you so. You will recline deep into your own self and feel only the comfort of those pleasures that have so long escaped you. Your lust and greed will be satisfied completely. You will never again know what it is to feel the pangs of hunger in your belly or the dryness of thirst on your throat. No man shall bring about envy in your heart for you will have nothing left to covet.
So now then, friend of mine-the man who I have sought to make this deal with-tell me if you care to accept this offer."
"Without hesitation devil, I do." I hated his smile and his stench. I wanted nothing more than to be rid of this thing that caused me to recognize my own senses and cursed me with craven desires which would never come to pass.
"Then it is done my friend." With the snap of his fingers the devil took from me what he craved. My senses quickly dulled as a pencil scratched too many times upon paper-the residue remained as a reminder that once this soul of mine had boiled within me-but never again would those senses be sharpened. This devil had taken them from me and with them had taken his leave from my side. I did not smell his rotten stink trailing in back of him as he vanished. I heard the devil's laughter within a strange echo that faded from the stale air, leaving the depths of my ears yet finding permanence among the other echoes that sat in the back of my mind. For all time I would hold onto that laugh of his.
I do not waste my time pondering the motives of this devil nor of any other devil that comes around knocking at the doors of those men like me, carrying with them a deal that may well be different to each of us. I do not know if the deal I made was singular only to me and I do not care. I find that nothing can spark within me and cause a response any longer. Somewhere in the depths below my feet the devil finds his own feet still dancing to the tune of another successful sale.
On my end there is no dancing. I took the devil's word and indeed the devil made good on it. In my small bathroom I still see my reflection in the mirror. I do nothing now, nothing else after all of these years but stand and watch. No sleep finds me for I do not require it. No hunger distracts me. No thirst draws me to the slowly dripping faucet which now quenches only the basin of the sink. I do not want for money. I do not lust for the warm flesh or companionship of another. I hold my steady vigil uninterrupted by such mortal needs.
If ever I notice one wrinkle or catch sight of one gray hair then I will have that crafty devil right where I want him; that devil that granted me eternity with absolutely no fine print that I can find within the contract that remains spoken but not seen. It took no ink, not even a single drop of the blood that my undying heart still pumps to my unburdened brain. The contract has been forever sealed by my own silver tongue. You left me the victor devil. Why you would let yourself be taken in such a way I cannot tell.
So dance your dance and revel in our deal forevermore devil. Rejoice and do what you will with the soul I once owned but rarely used and do not miss. I will be right here until the earth stops turning-until the fires of the hell you reside in stop burning and the ashes beneath your feet settle-never to be danced upon again. Revel in your merriment while you can devil.
I will still be right here waiting.