Caveat

Hello all! Happy Halloween! I hope you have a wonderful night, with many a fright. It’s been a little bit since I uploaded a shortstory, and I’ve had this one saved up for a bit. Enjoy!

 


 

 

Phillip sat at his desk sipping on whiskey from a coffee mug. Some of the drink spilled out onto a stack of overdue bills. He sighed and pushed them off to the side. He hadn’t had a case in months, and those weren’t even all of the bills. He began to wonder if he should just call the whole thing off.

Maybe I can just downgrade my office… It appeared that sober Phillip wasn’t entirely gone. He looked around his office. It was pretty nice, hardwood floors, a fancy oak desk, an engraved name plate, and a comfy chair. Definitely more than enough room to swing a cat. Not exactly high end lawyer office, but he was doing well for himself. He span around in his chair to pour himself more ‘coffee’. He had almost downed enough whiskey to kill off sober Phillip.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Phillip almost dropped the bottle, then gently sat it on the shelf behind him. “Just one second!” Dammit what do I pay my assistant for- Oh I let her go. He straightened himself out. For all he knew this was going to be the client that would pull his practice out of the gutter. “Alright, come on in!”

The knob clicked, and a red man with curved horns and a tail stepped into his office. He was dressed in a nice suit and tie, and wore the smirk of someone who was actually successful.

Phillip stared blankly for a moment. Is this what my life has come to? Satan hitting me up in my office? “What can I do for you?” Phillip managed to sound not completely plastered.

“Alright, we don’t have too much time, so I’ll cut this short.” The devil sat down in the chair across from him. “I want to make a deal with you.”

“You have my interest. What’s the deal?” Phillip was drunk most of the time, so he was becoming a natural at being a high functioning alcoholic. He made some of his best decisions drunk. Then again, he made most of his decisions drunk.

“I want to offer you absolute power.” The devil grinned and revealed pointed teeth.

“Who are you? Are you the actual devil or am I just that gone?” Phillip began to question how high functioning he was. Maybe this is it… Is this what an alcohol induced coma feels like?

“Sorry, in my hurry I forgot proper introductions.” He stood from his chair and stuck out his hand. “I’m Stanley. Here’s my card.” He handed him a business card that read ‘Stanley Jones, Sarasota DA’.

“I’m Phillip.” He limply shook his hand. “So what was that about absolute power?”

“I give you absolute power, you give me Phillip Anderson.” Stanley sat back down.

“What do you mean? My soul?” Phillip was intrigued, he hadn’t really believed in souls and all, but he supposed Stanley might know otherwise.

“No, nothing like that.” Stanley laughed and shook his head. “I give you power, you give me your life. Your job, your house, your name.”

“I don’t know about that…” Phillip felt something wrong about this, after all, he was bargaining with the devil… Or at least someone who looked like it

“Your alcoholism, your student debt, your crumbling legal practice, your crippling loneliness…” Stanley counted on his fingers as he continued to list things.

“You know what?” Phillip slammed a different bottle of whiskey on the table and chugged half of it. “Screw it, my life sucks! You can have it! Give me the power!” He jumped up from his desk, and then leaned over, trying to not throw up.

“It’s a deal.” Stanley smiled again. He extended his hand for a handshake.

Phillip slowly extended his hand. He thought about his mom, but remembered he was a disappointment anyways, and that was his only remaining attachment.

Phillip shook Stanley’s hand, just as a green light washes over the room.

He looked around and saw himself sitting across the desk where Stanley had been. He looked down and saw that his skin was completely red. He felt a tail pressing up against his clothes. He felt a weight on his head. He ran his hands along two curling horns like a goat’s “What the hell!” He was completely sober now.

“There is a caveat…” Stanley smiled. “Unlimited power… But you look like that. Also, tiny thing, you can only use the power in deals. If you want something, you have to find someone who has it, or also wants it, and make a deal.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, also, stop thinking of yourself as Phillip. You’re not Phillip, I’m Phillip. You’re nobody.”

Nobody sat slackjawed at the realization of what he had just done. He supposed that he had it coming for bargaining with Stanley.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He cleared his throat and began to scream. “Security! There’s an intruder!”

Nobody’s heart raced even faster. Phillip’s guards were Russian, and were definitely not associated with the mob, and definitely not told to shoot first and ask questions later. Nobody looked around Phillip’s office and saw the window that Phillip had forgotten he had. He leapt headfirst through it, shattering it with his horns.

Nobody slammed onto the ground outside of his office, and stumbled to his feet. He swept broken glass off his face, and swore as it just dug further into his skin. He took a moment to catch his breath.

Nobody ran. Nobody needed to find a way to be somebody. For now… Nobody ran.

 


 

〈  More of my writing  〉

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