She came to him for a deal. It wasn’t a spectacular or unique deal, but it was still a deal. She wanted what so many others desired. Fame and Fortune. Again nothing unique or special. Still, She didn’t have much to offer. Or anything really. That’s why she was here. Others had said that their wishes came true. Their greatest desires are fulfilled. So here she stands in the middle of a deserted street at night waiting. The cornstalks blow in the wind, but it’s not chilly the hot dry heat reminding her of all those stories she heard of hell. She had a friend who tried to convince her not to come. Said that it would be a rotten deal and that it wouldn’t be worth it, but she saw how much fun the others were having. How great their lives were, so how bad could this deal possibly be? She didn’t have to wait long. The man that approached her was beautiful and alluring. His grin was friendly and he had a staff in one hand acting as a walking cane. He didn’t look anything like the depictions she’s seen.
“Welcome. How are you this fine evening?” His voice is smooth and pleasant. He could easily be a voice actor or audiobook reader.
“Good,” She was stunned by how kind the man was. So different from the stereotypes.
“Good, now what can I do for you?” She felt like she could ask him anything and he would give it to her. The possibilities were endless, and she thought of how endless her wealth could be. How all her problems would melt away if she just asked for a little bit more. “Wait I know. Fame and fortune?” She breathed out a laugh. How did he know? She felt so seen, so understood. Those people who said this was bad, haven’t met this man. They don’t know what they’re missing out on.
“How did you know?”
“I can fulfill the desires of your heart.”
Some small part of her hesitates. “Will I finally be happy?”
His grin is enticing and mysterious and he holds out a hand.
“It can’t hurt to try.”
She shrugs and takes the hand, but they don’t shake. Not yet. “What will it cost me?”
He pulls her in close. His breath smells of mint and cherry.
“Only your soul. You can enjoy all the pleasantries of hell, but don’t worry about that. Look around you.”
She looks at the corn, and even beyond that to the glittering city in the distance. The city she came from to make this deal. The one that spat on her dreams and left her alone, anxious, and fearful.
“All of that can be yours. You’ll rule this town.”
She wanted that. She wanted to rule.
“Okay.” His grin is still pleasant and they shake. “It is only my soul, so I guess I’ll see you in hell.” She jokes about it, and he chuckles along with her.
“I guess you will. Now go enjoy your new rule.” She turns heading back into the city.
The man rolls his eyes, all of his earlier pleasantness turning to spiteful glee. His reluctant companion moves out of the shadows and joins the man as they watch the woman moves further and further away.
The companion speaks. “Why would you make that deal?”
The man’s grin is malicious.
“Because that’s one more person that He won’t get.”
“Yes, but you said it would cost her soul?” The companion watched the woman, who had such a beautiful purpose waste it away on unfulfilling endeavors.
“It’s easier for them to accept such abstract payment.” The man waved his walking stick and one of his followers started following the woman.
“But you already have her soul.” The companion did not understand what drove the man.
“That’s the best part.”
He was there when the man chased after his own glory and worship. However, that did not change the ending to the story.
“You know your fate.”
The man scowls striking his cane against the ground. A low rumble is felt miles away. “And with me, I will drag down whoever I can.”
The companion understands that part, but what is still questionable is how these deals benefit the man. “What is the point of this?”
The man doesn’t say anything as the woman’s deal comes to fruition. She has her break and becomes both famous and wealthy. Though she had to sleep with one of the directors leaving her questioning her skills. Then she realized her friends would give away her secrets for the right price. There are moments of happiness, but they often involve alcohol, and she starts to rely on it. When the alcohol doesn’t do enough she turns to heavier stuff. Her art and her body no longer her own, but rather a thing to be sold. The masses adore her, and the town takes all of her opinions seriously. She rules the city, yet she is even more miserable, anxious, and alone than when she came to the man. Still, she continues on the path determined that if she gets a little bit more she will achieve true happiness.
“They’re a lot easier to tempt when they have hope in their desires. A lot easier to divert and distract. She is just one example. Everyone wants to feel unique, and special. Careers, sex, drugs, idols, I love to watch His things burn. My favorites are the Holy men. Those who do my will in His name. Though the ones who deny His existence entirely are a close second.”
“What about righteous men?”
The man’s smile turns into a scowl. “Much harder to tempt, and they rarely make deals. The worst part is when they do give in, they make amends and fix things. He gives them far too much power. However, Holy men are pretty good imitators so I make do.”
“Sounds like you care about these men?”
The man scoffs and rolls his eyes. “No, I couldn’t care less how they live their lives as long as He doesn’t get them for eternity. As you said I know my fate. I know what awaits me, so I’m going to make the most of my time free. It’s amazing how many people willing to step into the cage if you put a coat of paint on the bars.”
“I think I understand now, why I was sent to observe this.”
The man starts to wander away and the companion doesn’t bother to follow. “Good for you, now I bid you farewell for it is not my time yet.” The man has moved on while the companion stays.
He will continue his worship soon, but that worship holds more meaning knowing the cage people place themselves in.
“You really are a sly devil…”
I love media and ethical stories. Most of the media I consume is not Christian, but it gives me insight into people’s moral thinking. The discourse around a piece of media gives me an idea of what people value and why they appreciate it. Many Christians shy away from media that portrays the devil in any light, especially in a good or uplifting light. I have seen several pieces of media like this and it got me thinking about the phrase “a deal with the devil.” It’s a common phrase, and more often than not it talks about selling your soul to the devil to achieve some sort of end goal or desire. It got me thinking about how people joke about “seeing you in hell” and “ruling in hell” and other jokes along similar lines because the idea of eternal consequences has lost all significance and importance.
My scholarly brain said, “hold up, the devil already will get these souls, so what would be a Biblical point for these deals?” and rather than an academic paper, I had this short story.
So often in secular media, God is portrayed as the bad guy and the devil as the underdog. A person hasn’t messed up until they willingly go to the devil to make a deal. And the trope “a deal with the devil” often ignores the consequences of chasing after desires when those desires are not the will of God.
The devil quotes part of Psalm 37:1 when talking about giving the desires of your heart, however, leaves out the part where a person first has to delight in the Lord. The devil appears as a light and was God’s most beautiful angel. We underestimate him if we assume he won’t be tempting.
God loves us enough to not deny us of our right to choose Him. The woman in the story has a God-given purpose for her art and her talents, but she chose a different path. God is greater and His beauty and glory are better, so we are only able to see the beauty of the devil when we turn our eyes away from Him.