“So, you’re the Devil?” Jordan asked, “I thought that the Devil was… male.”
“First, I am a devil,” corrected Marchosias, “Secondly, the Devil, the undisputed ruler of Hell, is known as Lucifer Morningstar.”
Jordan took a sip of coffee and pondered this new information.
“So there’s more than one Devil?”
“Lower case devils, yes. Uppercase, only the one.”
“Does that mean the bible is right? There’s a God and Heaven? The Earth was created in seven days?”
Marchosias pushed her golden hair behind her ears and smiled. Most mortals found it disarming. She had honed this combination to perfection over centuries.
“Some of it is right on the money, but consider the source.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, imagine you had a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend,” began the devil.
“You’ll find Hell is surprisingly tolerant, so no worries about that. Back to this hypothetical. After the fight, you go to your friends and talk about what happened. She is doing the same thing. However, you are both telling different stories.”
“So the bible is a lie,” stated Jordan.
“What I’m saying is everyone is the hero of their own story,” suggested Marchosias.
“Even fallen angels?”
“Especially fallen angels.”
Marchosias reheated her coffee with a gesture and took a sip. Delicious. A quarter’s worth of coffee for four dollars was one of Hell’s best ideas.
“I have so many questions,” Jordan blurted out.
“Clearly!” the devil replied with a laugh, “But let’s get back to why we’re here. What can we do, to get your soul?”
“So souls are real?”
She smiled as if she meant it. Why did everyone want to talk so much these days?
“Jordan, if souls weren’t real, this would all be a waste of time.”
“Excellent! Now, what do you want? Anything and everything is on the table!”
Jordan tapped his fingers on the table.
“And you’ve done this before?”
“Many, many times.”
“Anyone I might’ve heard of?”
“If I told you, you would be shocked!”
“Can you give me one name?”
With a wicked grin, she leaned in and whispered into his ear. Jordan’s eyes went wide.
“It doesn’t make sense!”
With a shrug, Marchosias smiled.
“But they’re so talented! Why would they do this?”
“The universe is full of undiscovered talent. Getting your break, that’s something else entirely.”
“Wow! I mean…,” he grasped for what to say but ended up just saying wow again.
“Also anyone who gained fame on the internet, that’s us.”
“Ewww! People sold their immortal souls to be internet famous?”
“As I said, we don’t judge in Hell.”
“Not everyone likes the spotlight. But there must be something you want? Riches? An endless supply of gorgeous lovers? Power?”
“Why not? You could be the world’s first Super-Hero! Or Super-Villain!” the devil offered.
“So, you can offer me anything? Anything I can think of?”
She held her arms wide open and uttered, “Literally anything you can dream of!”
Jordan looked her straight in eyes and said, “I want you to release all the souls you tricked into signing contracts with and to stop the business of tempting people, whoever or wherever they are. Universe wide.”
Silence of a sort followed this. The sounds of people ordering coffee, eating scones, enjoying free wifi, working on novels and screenplays filled the cafe. Then, an explosion of laughter. Marchosias had not laughed that hard in centuries. When she finally stopped she said, “Thank you! That was hilarious, really. Now, what do you actually want?”
“I just told you.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did.”
She smirked but then looked at him. Not joking.
“You would sacrifice your soul for strangers? Greedy, stupid strangers?”
“-because of the terms of my wish, everyone who signed a contract will Hell would be released.”
“That’s not how it works.”
“If you fulfill my wish, then that’s exactly how it works.”
Marchosias was about to counter but stopped and thought. A moment later, she replied, “We can’t do that.”
“I thought you said anything?”
“Hell is not a charity!”
“If you don’t have the power…”
Her eye twitched and her fangs began to protrude, ever so slightly. It was not going the way it usually did.
“Power? Would you like a demonstration of the infernal power of the underworld?”
Crack! Marchosias transformed into an enormous, fire-breathing wolf with griffin’s wings and the tail of a snake. Panic ensued in the cafe.
“BEHOLD ME IN MY TRUE FORM! LET TERROR BE YOUR ONLY COMPANION! FEAST ON FEAR AS YOUR BLOOD BOILS IN YOUR FETID BODIES! THIS IS BUT A TASTE OF WHAT IS TO COME!”
Fire erupted and oily smoke roiled from jagged rents in the floor and walls. Marchosias reared back and breathed a gout of hellfire that engulfed everything.
And then it was over. All traces of Hell vanished. People shook their heads and slowly returned to what they had been doing, the brief, waking nightmare fading.
“Powerful enough for you?” asked Marchosias who returned to her human form.
Jordan was pale and sweaty. He picked up his cup with both hands and drank.
“Impressive,” he finally said.
“Just so we’re clear on things.”
“So, what do you want?” she asked.
He took a deep breath and said, “I told you what I want.”
“Are you shitting me?” sputtered the devil.
“I am not.”
“That’s not going to happen. Pick. Something. Else.”
He took a moment.
“I’m going to pass.”
“You can’t do that!”
“We’ve had a meeting. You’re committed.”
“I didn’t sign anything, we don’t have an agreement.”
“That’s not how it works!” she hissed.
“Isn’t it? From all I’ve read, Hell is big on rules.”
She frowned and her eye smoldered a dark crimson.
“Why in the name of all that is unholy are you doing this?”
“That is new,” the devil growled.
“I always wondered why someone would sell their soul. It seemed like an obviously bad deal, like subprime mortgages.”
“We’re very proud of that one,” she said with a wistful smile.
“That tracks. But I wanted to see if it was real. Hell, Heaven, all that stuff. And now I know, so thanks for that.”
“You are not at all welcome. By the way, I left out a lot of details so you actually don’t know the real deal with the universe.”
“I know more than I did before.”
Marchosias stared at him, then asked, “Did you think Hell would grant your wish, did you?”
“It seemed like a long shot, but you miss all the shots you don’t take.”
“Fine, if you’re not going to play ball, get out of here before I drag you back to perdition,” she snapped.
“If you could do that, you’d be scooping people up with, I don’t know, monster trucks? Rules are rules. Even for devils.”
“Have a terrible life, knowing that your wildest dreams will go unrealized,” the devil churlishly spat at him.
With that, he left. Marchosias thought to herself, ‘We have to stop recruiting through LinkedIn.’