|"Watain 27 03 2014 08" by Vassil - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons|
Thank you to everyone who entered and also thanks to those who help spread the word about the monthly contest. And now for the winners:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to John Moralee for his story 'Appy Endings'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Diane Arnelle for her story 'Paulie's Mom'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Lee Hodgson for his story 'The Devil's Barber'
Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:
Appy Endings by John Moralee
Don’t blame me for what happened. Our start-up needed money to get it off the ground – but no banks were willing to invest in our idea. Our Kickstarter campaign had failed miserably. We were desperate for funding. That’s why we ended up summoning Satan.
Understand this. I had nothing to do with the satanic ritual. Eric found the book of demonology on eBay. He also made the altar and performed the first sacrifice, slicing off his own pinkie finger, the price of an initial consultation with Satan. Tom and I were just there in the room when Satan’s image appeared in our pentagram, looking like a slick lawyer in a sharp suit. He glared at us with a look that could literally kill – if we had not bound him inside the pentagram.
“WHO DARES CALL ME?”
Eric did the speaking for us. “I do, sir. My name’s Eric. That’s Tom and Jason. We’re business partners.”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, HUMANS?”
“Master, we need help with our start-up. We have a great idea for an app called DreamR - but we don’t have the money to get it running.”
“TELL ME MORE.”
“We’ve created a piece of hardware that turns dreams into a digital format. That means dreams can be copied and delivered into another person’s mind via a wi-fi connected device. Each time someone borrows a dream from us, we intend to charge them a small transaction fee and pay the original dreamer a royalty. We believe it can be worth billions. All we need is the money to develop the technology and marketing.”
“I CAN PROVIDE EVERYTHING YOU NEED – BUT HOW WILL I BENEFIT? I HAVE NO NEED FOR MATERIAL WEALTH. I WANT HUMAN SOULS.”
Eric answered immediately, making me suspect he had already worked out his pitch long in advance. “We will use a subscription service, master. Users will have to sign up – so you can make giving away their souls part of the agreement.”
“NOBODY WOULD SELL THEIR SOUL FOR AN APP.”
“That little detail can be hidden in the terms and conditions, master. Nobody ever reads the small print.”
“VERY WELL. YOU HAVE A DEAL – BUT I DON’T LIKE THE NAME.”
“It can be changed,” Eric said.
“YOU MUST ALL SIGN A LEGAL CONTRACT. I WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH THE FUNDING, BUT I WILL TAKE YOUR SOULS IF YOU FAIL TO GET AT LEAST A BILLION SUBSCRIBERS IN TEN YEARS.”
“Sounds doable,” Eric said.
You know the rest. Our app was a huge success. Our subscribers all unknowingly gave away their souls to Satan while we became the richest people on Earth. Our app easily reached a billion users by the deadline. Over half the world’s population subscribed.
The rest wasn’t my fault.
I didn’t know Satan was going to turn our users into an army of soulless monsters, bringing Armageddon to Earth.
Paulie's Mom by Diane Arnelle
She walked to the overflowing closet and started digging through game pieces, porn magazines, and sports equipment. Hitting the inside wall, she noticed the small dormer door ajar and lights flickering behind it.
She bent low, pushed the door open and saw Paulie, backlit by dozens of candles, pouring red liquid onto a large starlike drawing on the floor.
"That better not stain," Paulie's Mom shouted. "Now get a bucket and clean this mess up!"
As she watched Paulie leave the room the candles on a makeshift alter blew out with a gust of wind from nowhere. She sighed, and stepping onto the floor drawing said, "I'd give anything to have that boy listen to me!"
"Seriously?" A voice like a hailstorm on a tin roof said. "Anything?"
Paulie's Mom looked at the squat figure in the dim light. "Do I know you? You one of Paulie's stoner friends?"
"No," the figure said and relit the candles with a snap of the fingers, "But I think we can get to know each other… very well."
Paulie's Mom gasped as she took in the huge fangs, the purple hairy, naked body and the short horns on top of his head. "Oh," she gasped. "You're a… a,,,"
"I'm a demon and I can grant your every wish, in exchange for your soul of course."
"Every wish? Well, maybe… I mean… Paulie is a nightmare and his father was a womanizing bum. You could punish my husband, make him suffer?"
The demon smiled, "In ways you can't even imagine."
"Make Paulie finally realize that I'm right when I tell him to do something?"
"Every word from your lips will be like gospel to him."
Just then Paulie walked in, "Here's your bucket."
I want you to clean this mess."
"Ah Mom! Paulie whined then looked at the demon. "Whoa! It worked. "Like you're mine now, so like, kill my mom for me OK?"
"Actually I'm hers now."
She nodded, "OK, you said everything I tell him?"
"Paulie, you know I love you but I want you to take my place in hell, I don't think my demon, uh, what's your name?"
"You can't pronounce it."
"I'll call you Harvey then. Anyway, Harvey won't mind."
"Nope, a soul's a soul."
Paulie frowned, "No way!" but he suddenly was signing the contract that magically appeared before him.
With a scream, he vanished.
"Will he be all right?" she asked.
"Sure," the demon said. "We done now?"
"Well, I need another son, I want you to take Paulie's place, Harvey."
The demon scowled, "Well all right, a deal's a deal. By the way you cook meatloaf?"
"Only the best on Earth," Harvey's Mom said. "Now let's clean up this mess and go eat dinner."
The Devil's Barber by Lee Hodgson
Harry consulted the mouldy leather-bound tome, studying the ancient diagrams. His wire-frame spectacles glimmered in the muted crimson light.
He turned from the book, chalk in hand, and knelt down next to the large pentagram on the floor. Sweat beaded on his bare torso, and as he leaned forward a drop fell onto a dusty white line. Harry tutted and dragged the chalk over the spoiled section.
With a grunt of satisfaction, he stood and directed his attention back to the book lying open on the altar.
As he examined the volume, a noise from behind made him pause, finger poised over the page. He turned slowly. A tendril of smoke spiralled up from the chalk line his sweat had fouled. Flickering into flame, it quickly spread across the pentagram. He watched through the hazy air as the flames blazed high and the pentagram crumbled away, leaving a ragged hole smouldering in the floor.
Eyes wide, Harry stepped forward into the acrid smoke and peered into the hole.
A large slug-like demon was climbing towards him using incongruously short limbs, tongue lolling from a gaping maw framed with an incomplete set of splintered, rotting teeth. It dragged its bloated body from the fiery opening and squatted in a haze of sulphurous smoke, bloodshot eyes staring hungrily at Harry.
‘You must be … Gary,’ slurred the beast, tongue snagging on its teeth. ‘I’ve been ordered to give you three wishes.’
‘Harry,’ was all Harry could meekly articulate.
The demon scowled at him. ‘If you say so.’
Harry’s tongue felt thick in his mouth. ‘You’re a demon,’ he said, his mind in the same predicament as his tongue.
‘You’re a sharp one.’ The demon slumped forward onto its distended abdomen and undulated across the floor toward Harry.
‘I … I didn’t summon you,’ he stammered, backing into the altar. ‘I was casting a spell to make my hair grow.’ His hand went up to his shiny pink scalp.
The beast stopped moving and squinted up at Harry’s head. ‘That comb-over is bordering on satanic. No wonder you were messing with the dark arts.’ It resumed its slither.
‘Y … you mentioned wishes?’ Faint hope stirred in Harry’s dark soul. ‘I wish for a full head of hair,’ he blurted.
The demon lurched upright, supporting itself on underdeveloped legs. It leered at Harry with a malevolent chuckle. It sounded like rocks being grated together.
‘Let’s see what I can do.’
Harry flinched as the creature raised a cruel serrated blade before his eyes.
The demon leaned forward and slashed the blade across Harry’s bare chest.
Harry screeched in shocked pain. ‘What about the wishes?’ he cried, hands clasping the wound as blood spurted between his fingers.
‘Wishes?’ The demon’s mottled brow knitted in confusion. ‘Oh no, I meant gashes. I always get those two confused.’ It drew back the blade and displayed its teeth once more. ‘Two to go.’