Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week Three: March 15th to March 21st

The Devil and Tommy Walden

I may not be a professor, but allow me to teach you a lesson. Some years ago, I had been in a malicious sort of mood, and decided to trick a young man --still considered just a boy my most accounts-- into giving up parts of his life, for vast riches. Little Thomas "Tommy" Walden was your textbook average boy. A middle child of middle class, who was so plain, he was a glowing beacon to anyone looking. As he dreamt at night, I filled his heads with frightful dreams of greatness, planting the seed of "what if?" into his head. I thought to myself it was only a matter of time before we struck a deal, but I have always been impatient, and decided to gamble instead.
"Why shouldn't I hope for greatness?" the boy thought to himself one night walking home. "Who says I have to be average?” To answer, a voice in the back of his head spoke up, "You'll always be a nobody, stop having these thoughts; life is not a fairy tale." "There is nothing wrong with obscurity. You can be just like your parents" a second voice drones. A third voice shrieks "You will never be of importance, grow up!” "Why can't I!" the boy shouts. "Because you haven't asked the right questions yet" a voice behind him says.
The man nearly frightened the boy out of his skin. "Wh-who are you?" the boy asked. The man steps forward from the shadows with a cigar in his mouth, and a black suit on; he seemed to cast shadows that switched sides to peer at the boy. "Oh, I go by many names, but most of them would give me away, so let's skip the formalities, and get down to business." Pulling a scroll from his sleeve, he unrolls it, and holds a quill out to Tommy. "What is this?" Tommy wondered. "It's a contract, saying you'll give up the lives of your family members, in exchange for greatness." My body shakes with anticipation as the boy looks over the paper.
This would have frightened off any rational person beforehand, but as I have said earlier, the seed has been planted. Looking up at me, the boy asks "how does it work?” "Well kid, humans see their lives and extensions of the present, memories of the past, and hopes of the future, but it's more complicated than that. With this, you can give up certain elements that will open new doors for you. For instance, if your mother died when you were young, to cope, you would take up playing the piano to cope, and with all the time you had, you would have become a wealthy man of power through your connection made. What I do, is show you these paths, and let you chose one, but this is not charity. I get the souls of the members you decide to leave behind." The boy understands who I am, but keeps his mouth shut. Smart lad, smart lad.
I did not hear his answer, but my ears burn with what he said; I had been caught off guard. "I'm sorry sir, your offer was very kind, and I will regret this for the rest of my life, but my family means more to me then fame and fortune ever could." Turning to go, his eyes widen as he realizes he cannot control his body anymore, and his eyes drop to my shadows hand around his leg. I lower my head as the hand starts to creep up his body, and rest around his throat; Tommy's eyes starting to bulge. "I'm sorry Thomas. I gave you a chance to cooperate, but you are a damned fool.” Rolling the scroll up, I return it to my sleeve, and walk away from him. A slight smile creeps onto my face as I hear him being torn apart in the distance; my shadow allowing him to scream. "I'm sorry Thomas, but life isn't a fairy tale." I walk off into the night, looking for the next one.

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