Aaron tapped his foot in a steady rhythm, this was only supposed to take a few seconds, instead it had taken almost ten minutes. The woman in front of him smiled, “it will only be one more moment sir.”
He nodded once.
Aaron had always assumed the process was fast, so you couldn’t change your mind. As it was he was tempted to stand up and just walk right out, and he would, if he didn’t need this so badly. The woman tapped at a few keys and pursed her blood red lips, at first Aaron thought she was just wearing garish lipstick, but now he wasn’t so sure. He tried not to stare as a long pointed tail moved from behind the chair and curled around one of the poles of the desk. That was definitely real. He snapped his eyes back to her face, hoping she hadn’t noticed, she hadn’t. She brushed a lock of her black hair behind her ear. That too he thought might have been fake. It was too black, if such a thing was even possible. Her skin was pale, almost porcelain like. His eyes roamed around the room while he waited, it looked like a typical office really, calendars with dates, papers piled in one corner of the room, motivational posters. Though he tried not to look too closely at those, slogans such as “More Work Means Less Pain.” And “Where Else Are You Going To Work?” were used, the images themselves weren’t much better.
The woman smiled at him again, “I’m really sorry about this, there seems to be a bit of a glitch, I just have to fetch my supervisor.” She stood, straightened up her black blazer, fluffed her hair a little and sensuously walked out of the room. Aaron felt his face going red. While he waited, he resorted to fidgeting. He hadn’t brought a book with him and there were signs plastered everywhere telling him to keep his phone in his pocket. The images of what would happen otherwise were creative, the one that stood out to him was the stick figure with a phone shoved somewhere unpleasant. There was a strange temptation to just sit on the recently vacated chair and start clicking through the computer, seeing what they had on file for him and everyone else. His mouth was starting to get dry, and he begun to sweat.
Had he done something wrong? Really, heinously wrong? Was that what this was about? What if this was all some ploy to get him to sit around for a while before doing something horrible to him? He took a deep breath and forced his foot to stop bouncing. No. That was ridiculous, they didn’t do stuff like that. They were a public company, people had to have some amount of trust in them, otherwise they’d go out of business immediately. Sure just look at how badly they struggled in the first year or two, before people started to believe it was legit and not just a bunch of costumes and gimmicks.
The door opened behind him and an old man walked in, slightly hunched, thinning white hair and a little shaky. Aaron was surprised, so far everyone he had seen had been young looking. The old man sat behind the desk and extended his hand, “Hello, I’m Lucifer. Sorry about all this. Lilly ran into some difficulties, we should sort it out quickly.”
Aaron took his hand, and found it warm and dry, almost uncomfortably so.
“That’s all right”
Lucifer nodded, the started tapping away at the keyboard.
“Hmm. Yes, I see where she was having difficulties. That is odd.” He tapped at the keys a few more times.
Aaron wasn’t sure if Lucifer was talking to him or just talking aloud so he remained silent.
“Let’s try this, shall we?” He pressed a combination of keys, then frowned at the screen.
“No, that didn’t seem to work. Ok. Let’s trace this back to the beginning aaannnnddd….ah. Ok. I see. That is odd, very odd indeed.”
“Hmm? Oh, yes, sorry. Just give me one second to double check and confirm what the computer is telling me. Blasted things sometimes screw up around here.”
Aaron felt uncomfortably hot, a woman walked in carrying a tray that held a jug of ice water and two glasses. She set it on the table, filled the glasses and placed them in front of Aaron and Lucifer, then, she left, leaving the jug behind. “Please, help yourself. You’ve been here much longer than usual. We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service. If you are hungry at all let me know and I can get you some food. I am terribly sorry about all this.”
“I’m ok, thank you.” Aaron eyed the glass for a moment, watched as a bead of condensation slowly formed and slid down to the table. He picked it up and drank half, immediately he felt better, the cool water was soothing and delicious. He took a final sip and set the glass down again. Lucifer picked up his own glass a second later and took a gulp.
Finally, he turned away from the computer and faced Aaron, “Ok, so what the computer is telling me, and from what I can tell it is correct, is that you don’t have a soul to sell.”
“What? Everyone is born with a soul, and you can take them all, that’s what the ad says!”
“Yes, that is true, everyone is born with a soul, but it seems your soul has already been sold.”
“What? How? By who?”
“Well, it says here that it was sold in the 1700’s, by your ancestor Frances T. Jackson. He made a deal to sell his soul, but what he wanted, land, property and power, was unfortunately not covered by the entirety of his soul, he was a bit of a bad one. He agreed to throw in the soul of his first born son, or first male heir, and, unfortunately for you, you are the first male to spring out of that bloodline since.”
“How could he sell my soul? It’s my soul!”
“I’m afraid things weren’t quite as regulated back then, but it was all above board. Usually the son shares in the wealth and power and can make of it what they will, unfortunately for you, His granddaughter squandered the wealth though drinking and gambling.”
“So what now?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said I should have shared in the wealth and so on, that was my payment for the soul, but I didn’t receive it.”
Lucifer smiled slightly, a sad smile, it reminded Aaron of his grandfather. “Well, technically what you possess today, and the conditions you were raised in more than make up for the luxuries of the time. We didn’t account for long gaps then and didn’t factor in improvements in living conditions and inflation, generally we could skew things a bit if it was taking too long, but you managed to slip through the cracks. Really, your soul might have gone on its normal journey if you hadn’t come to us.”
“So there’s nothing you can do? Nothing at all?”
“Hang on, I didn’t say that. We have a few options here, we can remortgage your soul a little, it’s in good condition and more than makes up for what old Frances was lacking. We can offer you wealth, not power though, in saying that, power often comes from wealth anyway.”
“No, I don’t want money, or power.”
“I don’t think Lilly mentioned what you actually wanted, so you’ll have to excuse me on that part.”
“My friend, he’s sick. Cancer. He only has a few months left. I don’t want him to die.”
“Oh, that’s an unusual one. And you’re not family you say? How strange. In these cases it’s usually a parent, occasionally a sibling…well, let’s see here…”
Aaron felt a faint bubble of hope rising, maybe this would work out after all, “Ah, yes, he’s supposed to die on…January the- Woops. Sorry, that was unprofessional of me.”
Aaron felt like he’d been punched in the stomach, January was only two months away, the doctors said he would have another six.
“Ok, well his cancer is advanced, so we can’t heal it entirely with what we’re getting from your soul, he’ll get an extra five years out of it. However, if you’re willing to throw in something else we’ll be able to cure it entirely and he’ll live a normal lifespan, free from any major illnesses until he is let’s say…at least eighty?”
“What do you want in exchange?”
“Well, I’ll need a little extra juice for that, so ten years off your life.”
“How long am I supposed to live?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. That is a kind of deluxe package. I can heal him for five, but I can’t throw in the extra guarantee, so the cancer could return a few years down the line, or he could develop all sorts of illnesses. This will just guarantee that he will remain healthy up to a certain point which I think is more than fair for the extra five years.”
Aaron looked down at his hands, it was better than he had expected, after all, he had thought they would only heal the cancer and that would be more than enough, but for ten years he could have all that. Was it worth it? He didn’t even know how much that shorted his lifespan, would he live for a few more months, years, till he was sixty? He tried to take good care of himself.
“If I exercise more, eat healthier, will that increase my natural life span.”
“Well, that is the case for most people, yes.”
“So I could potentially gain back some of those ten years.”
“Well, yes, you could.”
Aaron took a deep breath and looked back at Lucifer.
“Ok. I’ll do it.”
Lucifer smiled, “Perfect. If you’ll just sign here.”
He slid a piece of paper that Aaron hadn’t noticed across the table and handed him a pen. There was a brief flare of pain as he gripped it, as he wrote the ink was thick and red, it didn’t take him long to figure out that he was signing in blood, most likely his own. Once he had signed Lucifer took the contract back and stood, “Thank you very much for doing business with us, I hope you are very happy with your deal, we are always here for follow up queries, though I will remind you that once a deal is struck, it cannot be undone. If you would like you can stop on the way out for some refreshments, or you can visit our calming gardens to have a moment to yourself, some people can be quite emotional.”
Lucifer stuck out his hand and Aaron shook it, hoping that what he had just done was really worth it.