The Devil is real.
I saw him one day when I was in the library. I was in my favorite section, classic literature, and saw him across the aisle. The summer sun from the window behind him lit his shoulder length golden hair. His head almost reached the top shelf. He looked like a man but, instinctively, I knew that it was him.
He caught my gaze and approached me. Mesmerized by his beautiful face and form, I smiled and held out my hand to his. It was cold, just like mine. I told myself that it was due to nerves or maybe he was anemic.
“My name is Richard,” he said and took off his black suit jacket. I watched him carefully fold it in half and place it over his left arm. He smoothed the nonexistent wrinkles with his right hand and held it slightly away from him to inspect it. After a moment, and apparently satisfied, he returned his attention back to me.
“Hello Richard,” I replied. I played along and gave him a fake name, Amy Claire.
“Amy,” he repeated and for a moment I thought that he knew I was lying. He smirked and motioned towards the row of cushy chairs next to the windows. I nodded and followed him. I couldn’t say no. The only thought I had was to go with him. He still held my hand and sat me down next to him.
“What are you reading?” he asked as he leaned over to read the title of the book in my hand. “Ah, Pride and Prejudice.” The light made his blue eyes shine with golden specks. He smelled like lavender soap and cigarettes.
“It’s one of my favorites. My mother first read it to me when I was ten after we watched the mini-series.” I said.
“That’s sweet,” he replied and smiled at me. The dimples that formed on both side of his face reminded me of my baby cousin. I was soothed for a moment. Maybe he was just a regular guy and I was just going crazy. In my twenty years of being alive, I never showed any extraordinary talents so why would I suddenly have the ability to see the devil.
“And you?” I asked. I attempted to copy him and leaned over to read the title of the book in his hands. He turned away from me to put his jacket back on. He tucked the book in the space between where his right thigh and the chair met. He placed his hand over the spine, obscuring the words from my view but I could still make out a golden circle with a dot in the middle of it.
“I’m just perusing,” he replied and placed his left hand on my arm rest. I noticed a ring with a black stone on his ring finger. “Don’t worry, I’m not married.”
“Of course not,” I replied.
“So Amy Claire,” he said after a few moments of silence. “What are you doing here in the middle of the day in the middle of the week? Are you a student like they are?” He motioned to a nearby table full of people my age furiously typing on their laptops as they drank big cans of energy drinks.
“No,” I replied. “Just unemployed.” I was fired from my job at the local bookstore that week for accidentally bringing home a book without buying it. I don’t remember putting it in my bag but found it there when I reached for my phone on the bus ride home. I texted my supervisor and returned it the next morning. Honesty doesn’t count for anything, I learned.
He turned and smiled at me as if he found delight in the fact that I was jobless and almost broke.
“What?” I asked, sharply.
“Nothing. And what type of work are you looking for?” He tapped his ring against the arm of the chair and continued to smile at me. The dimples on his cheek seemed to become deeper. I decided to leave before he began asking for my life story. I would tell him that I needed to get home in order to clean the house and start preparing dinner before my parents returned home.
“Anything really,” I replied, surprised that I answered. The sun gradually began to disappear even though it was noon. I looked out the window and saw storm clouds had formed.
“It looks like rain,” he commented.
“But it’s the middle of summer.” I looked back at him and he was still smiling. I wanted to slap it off his face. He chuckled as if he could hear my thoughts.
“It’s the summer solstice to be precise,” he added. “The day when the sun stands still for a moment and seems to reverse direction.”
“I didn’t know that.” I replied. I didn’t want to sit with him any longer. I wanted to smash his hand when he reached over to take my book from me. He placed them on the floor in front of us.
“There are many more things I could teach you Amy Claire, if you’d like.” He tucked a strand of his beautiful blonde hair behind his ear.
My mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. Embarrassed I looked around us.
“Where is everyone else?” I asked. I couldn’t hear any voices except for ours. There were no footsteps on the wooden floor. No more students working on papers that were probably due that day.
“There was never anyone else except for us, remember?” he replied, amused at my momentary panic. “And you never answered my question.” He took my chin in his hand and turned my head towards him until our eyes were inches away from each other. I calmed down and the feeling of being in danger dissipated.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I replied. “Nothing to do with retail or customer service. Those were the only types of jobs I had and I’m tired of it.” I remembered being yelled at, spat at and belittled by customers. I wanted no more and part of me wanted to see them begging for forgiveness.
“Customer service is just the socially accepted term for getting paid to be abused.” He commented and patted my hand.
“Exactly,” I said. “And they should pay more than minimum wage for that.” We laughed like old friends and fell into a comfortable silence. After a while he grasped my hand and squeezed.
“I can assure you that you’ll never have to do that kind of work again. You’ll have your dreams and more money than you can spend,” he said.
“And how can you guarantee that? Are you a billionaire and offering me a job at your company? Or trying to sweep me off my feet?” I teased him.
“I may be a little of both,” he said as he smirked.
“Well what type of company is it then?” I asked, wincing slightly as his grip tightened.
“We make dreams come true, for a price that is. Everything has a price, as you’re well aware.” He replied and smiled at me once again. “And before you ask, the price depends on each individual. What’s your price?” He cocked his head to the side and folded his hands on his lap.
It never occurred to me until then to ask him what he was doing sitting next to me in the middle of the work day. He was too nicely dressed to be unemployed like me.
“I’m here for you,” he answered, a little bored. “And yes I can read your thoughts and yes I am the Devil.”
He laughed at my horror and jumped up from his seat. “You’re quite intuitive. You knew who I was at first glance. I can use someone like that. Just name your price and I’m sure we can work out some sort of deal that would be mutually beneficial.” He held his hand out for me as if he expected me to agree and join him.
“I assure you that the pay and benefits are out of this world. You will have to die first, of course. I can engineer the most pleasant death for you.” I looked up at him from my seat and shook my head no. He laughed and the room darkened. The stacks of book disappeared one by one. I could no longer make out the exit sign or the door that it hung above.
“Oh come on, Amy, or should I say Elizabeth Williams. Daughter of Maude and Steven Williams. Born on October 31, 1995. Older sister to twins Robert and Paul, fifteen years old. Your grandmother, Vinya, just had a stroke. It’d be a shame if she never recovered and her condition became worse and worse.” His beautiful face twisted into something grotesque and angry.
“Why me,” I asked, panicking.
“Because we are the same, you and I.” He kneeled down in front of me and took both my hands in his. “I could hear your despair even in hell. I’ve watched you and saw into your dreams when you were sleeping. I know you better than anyone else including your family. Most importantly, you knew who I was when you first saw me. If you were a normal human, you would have thought me just another guy”
I laughed harder when he threw my hands down. I couldn’t stop and tears began to form in the corner of my eye. Then, he slapped me. I still have the scar from his ring on my cheek.
“Shut up,” he said.
Shocked, I could only stare at him.
“I will only offer this to you today.” He said as he placed his hands on my shoulder and pressed me into the chair. His eyes were still blue. I expected them to turn completely black like in TV shows. “You don’t have a job. You’re not in college and we both know that you don’t have any sort of marketable skills except for folding shirts. You will spend the rest of your life poor and asking your parents and then your little brothers for money. You need me so just be smart and accept my offer.”
“No, never,” I said and spat in his face. He yelled and released me. I kicked him in the groin three times and stood triumphant over his writhing body. For a few minutes he lay in the fetal position, moaning. Then he began to shake and his moans became louder. I jumped back expecting him to transform into some hideous demon with horns. I waited anxiously and uselessly scanned the darkness for a way out.
Horrified, I looked on as he unfolded from the fetal positon and stretched out on the floor. He sighed in pleasure and stood up.
The sun returned and we were once again in the library. The students were still studying and patrons walked up and down the stacks. He picked up my book and handed it to me.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I had such plans for you. And I still do,” he said as he disappeared into the stacks.
I gasped and was promptly shushed by a group of old women at a nearby table.
I haven’t stepped inside a library or bookstore since that day. I took down the shelves in my room and gave away all my books.
My grandmother is fully recovered and my family are all doing great. I told the twins what happened and they both agreed that I should have taken his offer. I didn’t speak to them for months. Our parents overheard our conversation and made me see a therapist. I told the therapist that I was just kidding and wanted to freak out my brothers as all older siblings do.
Eventually, about two months after the incident, I was hired at a call center for an insurance company.
I hate the job.
The summer solstice is coming up. It’s the perfect day to end my self-imposed ban from the library.
Thank you for reading!
If you enjoyed it, then please consider checking out my patreon page: