The Poet & the Devil

Author’s Note: Today’s prompt: “Use these five words in a mystery story – Power. Devil. Clutter. Blonde. Poet.” I just let the words flow with this one. It’s a bit weird, I’ll be honest. But please do let me know what you think.

Flames licked his bedroom walls, the clutter on the floor smouldered, his duvet burnt to ashes.

Will stood, frozen in shock in the middle of it all. Sweat dripped down his face, but he couldn’t feel the heat. His wide eyes stayed locked on the fiery being looming large above him. The ceiling must have disappeared because there was no way his tiny flat could accommodate a beast of such magnitude at its usual size.

When It spoke, Will could feel the Earth shake, his whole body vibrating with the sheer force of it. “Who hath summoned me?”

Will gulped, pushed a hand through his blonde hair, realised it was stuck down with sweat. He couldn’t yet find his voice, what was his most powerful tool, so he raised his hand a smidge, into the air. However small the action, the beast noticed, and pierced Will with its blood red stare.

“If I find you to be wasting my time, there will be consequences of the Highest Order.”

Will’s voice clawed its way up his dry throat, came out a squeak. “Yes-yes, sir. That is to say, uh, master, uh, devil, uh, uh, your Devil-ship.”

The beast growled, the fire around them burned brighter, more intensely. “I am no Devil.”

This gave Will pause. He turned quickly to his desk where the book lay open.

‘Summoning the Devil‘ it wrote in cursive script. He was sure he’d done it right.

Turning back, he eyed the beast. It was red, enormous, and smoke billowed around its lower half. Its face was sharp edges, ferocious but human-looking, and its bald head shone in the light of the flames. It fit the description of the Devil, that was for certain. Or at least what Will had been led to believe was the description.

Will cleared his throat. “Apologies, master, for this most grievous mistake,” he said, bowing his head, thinking this the right course of action. “Will you permit me to ask your name?”

The beast huffed, crossed its arms, muscles bulging against its chest. “I am Satan, lord of the djinn. The fire is my home, the water my enemy. My power is unmatched, my influence reaches far and wide.”

Will blinked. It sure sounded like the Devil to him. 

“And you, human? What dost thou call thyself?”

Bowing lower, the human replied, “I am Will, a lowly poet, in desperate need of your services.”

“A poet?”

“Indeed.”

“What do you request, and what do you offer in return?”

Will straightened up, grew a little bolder. He took a seat at his desk, his hands lay in his lap. The beast – Satan – did not move.

Will began. “I have written many a play and poem in my life, thus far, but none are receiving the accolades I know they deserve. I beseech you grant me the recognition I am owed.”

The beast considered him, stroked its chin. “And your offer in return?” it asked, after a moment.

Will stared. “Why, I offer you my soul.” Wasn’t that obvious?

Satan huffed. “I do not want it.”

If he weren’t sitting, Will would’ve fallen over. “I beg your pardon?”

“Pray, tell, what need would I have with a human soul?” Satan asked.

“Well, I cannot claim to know what the Devil does with his prizes.” Will shook his head. “Is it not what you always ask after?”

“I told you once before, human. I am no Devil.”

Will was frustrated now. He’d spent months figuring out the logistics of this summoning spell. This was his last resort. If he was to get nothing from it, his life may as well be forfeit.

“Then what are you?”

“I am Satan, lord of –”

“’Lord of the djinn’ – yeah, yeah, I heard it the first time,” Will interrupted, pacing round the room, the flames all but forgotten.

“YOU DARE INTERRUPT ME!” the beast bellowed. But Will had no time for this. His work was at stake.

“I brought you here, so I dare do whatever the bloody hell I want!” he screamed right back.

Satan’s jaw dropped. It was shell-shocked. Had it never been screamed at before? Will doubted that, since it was the most infuriating being in existence.

“Listen,” Will said, softening at the confused look on the beast’s face. “I do not mean to yell. But this is very important to me. I risked a lot to bring you here. I am not even sure how to take you away.”

This woke the beast back up. “Take me away? Do you not understand the spell you cast at all?”

Will looked up at him, froze.

“I suggest you read again,” the beast said, with a flourish of his hand. 

Returning to the book, Will read it over.

And saw his grave mistake.

At the bottom of the page, in small, cursive letters, it wrote:

Warning: Once the Devil is summoned, he will be your constant companion. Until death do you part.

“Impossible.” How had he ever missed this? He’d pored over this page for days, weeks, months. “Until death do us part?”

The beast nodded.

“It is legally binding.”

“What is this, a marriage contract?” Will sputtered, aghast.

Satan shook its head, and moved around until it slumped onto Will’s ruined bed. Something like pity grew in Will’s belly. The beast rubbed its eyes, resembling an exhausted human more than a being from a realm of fire. “The truth is… a long time ago, I was married,” it began. “To a beautiful woman. We lived together in bliss, and love.” Satan sighed, and the flames reached higher. Will took a quill and parchment in hand. A play was brewing in his mind.

The beast continued, “But after a while, I got restless. I ruined everything we had built. In short, I was unfaithful. I’m not proud of it. Mostly because the woman I spurned was skilled in the art of witchcraft. Stupid of me. For ruining the sanctity of our marriage, she cursed me, doomed me to an eternity of what is akin to a marriage contract. Without the more enjoyable aspects. Though if you wish to…”

Will waved his quill, shook his head.

“No, nobody every wishes to,” mumbled Satan, but Will was not listening.

 “Hold on just a moment,” he said. “We are bound together for the remainder of my life. And you must do whatever I tell you?”

“Indeed.”

“But what was the talk of ‘my offer in return’?”

Satan’s lips thinned. “Another truth… you need not offer me anything. I only ask it every time to gauge the new life ahead of me. It is rare for the summoner to not understand we are bound for their life.”

Things were looking up for Will.

“Well, then. Satan. I cannot claim to understand everything you just told me. But I can promise a good life with me. Especially if you get me the acclaim I deserve for my plays and poetry. We can live in luxury together. What say you?”

Satan looked up, expression gloomy. But at the spark in Will’s eye, it smiled. And Will believed it was a smile of friendship. A smile that promised him everything he dreamed of, and more. 

How was he to know Satan was a trickster?

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