Author : Jules Jensen

He looked like the most average business man in the world. He even carried a briefcase in one hand. I wondered if he packed away a pitchfork or angel wings or horns or a halo in that thing. These days, no one could tell if they were selling their soul to an angel or a demon.

“I think I’ll pass.” I said.

He blinked. I swear, if I weren’t told from the moment I could walk and talk that these things were a spirit-being of some kind, I’d think he was a computer that just had to force itself to reboot to figure out this problem.

“You’re brother will remain sick, if you do. You don’t want him to die, do you?” The businessman asked. People walking by on the street didn’t even pay any attention to him, or to me. I snorted. As much as it tugged at my heartstrings, I knew that my brother would not want his only big sister to throw my soul away for a bad deal. He’s the one always talking about numbers needing to make sense, after all.

“Twenty years isn’t enough to do everything he wants to do in life, anyway.” I said, to which the businessman frowned. I turned, starting to walk away, but I felt I had to say something else. Did these businessmen make some kind of commission, or were they just dicks? “This deal sucks. I don’t know if your kind have customer service reviews, but I’ll make sure that all my friends will know that you make crap deals.”

I took a single step, and I felt his hand gently on my shoulder. It made me shiver and flinch away, and throw him a dirty look.

“How about forty? Same price.” He said.

Forty? Then, if he was going to die, he’d be forty-nine. He could have gone to college, had fun, found a career, made the best friends in the world. Settle down with the perfect girlfriend. And then he’d die before old age stole away his vitality.

That actually sounded pretty good.

“Forty, and two less lifetimes.” I don’t know why I asked, but he didn’t seem so offended by the counter.

“Deal.” He waved a hand over the paper, and I saw the numbers change. I took the blood-red pen from his other hand and signed the paper, which floated in the air as if it rested on an invisible table.

Four years later.

The funeral ended hours ago. And all that time, I’d been trying to call him. Over and over again, I shouted at the sky, at the ground, because I don’t remember where he said he came from.

Eventually, he came. He looked exactly the same. He even smiled at me.

“You bastard!” I threw the words at him and his smile seemed to only get bigger.

“What?” He had so much nerve.

“You killed him!”

“Honestly, a gas fire is a pretty random event.” He shrugged. Shrugged, like that’s all my brother’s fiery death was worth.

“He was supposed to get forty years!”

“It’s not like I’m going to go out of my way and make sure he lives all those years. If he was going to die some other way all along, then that’s just what happens.”

“Refund. Now.”

“That’s not how it works.” And then his smile changed. And I knew that this was no ordinary demon or angel, this must be the devil himself. “Maybe you should have stuck to the original deal.”

And then he was gone.