Devil in the Details

“Mrs. Walker?!” The cloud of yellowy, stinky sulfur dissipated enough for Murray to identify the figure in the pentagram. She locked eyes with him and sighed.

“It was bound to happen at some point, I suppose. Hello, Murray. You’re interested in selling your soul?” the blonde woman asked.

“You’re a demon?” Murray paced around the outside of the pentagram while looking her over. She looked the same as she every day at school and still wore the same outfit that she taught in that day. Mrs. Walker shook her head.

“Not a demon; more like a freelance contractor. Let’s talk about your soul,” she said. “What’s it going to take to take it off your hands?”

“Wait a minute. Are you really Mrs. Walker or demon that took her form?” Murray asked.

“I already told you I’m not a demon,” she shrugged. “This late in the year you have to be aware that I don’t like to repeat myself. Let’s talk about how much you value your soul.”

“It is you!” Murray’s grinned. “Why did you show up instead of a demon.”  Her familiar, stern, hazel eyes turned colder.

“Murray, this isn’t a social visit. I’m here, on behalf of hell, to buy your soul. If you’re not going to sell it I have other leads I could be following.”

“I do want to sell my soul!” Murray blurted out, then he shrugged. “I’m just really surprised is all.”

“So, what are you willing to trade it for?”

“I want to be super rich. Always. No loopholes where I get a winning lottery ticket for a moment then lose it, or go bankrupt or anything. I want to always have money.” Mrs. Walker crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one leg. She looked Murray up and down.

“Remind me; are you 18 yet?” she asked. Murray puffed his chest out and nodded.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Then I have an offer for you. How’d you like to always have money without selling your soul?”

“I’d love it!” Murray replied. “What’s the catch?”

“There’s no catch, it’s quite straightforward. You become a freelance contractor, like me and…” she reached into her pocket and pulled out a black credit card with red numbers on it. “… you get one of these. No limit. Accepted anywhere.”

“And I buy people’s souls?” Mrs. Walker shrugged.

“There are different departments. There’s no telling where you’ll end up. But, it’s a proper job with a schedule and everything; it won’t interfere with your schooling. You can turn in your credit card and quit if you’re not satisfied with your assignment.”

“Really? Just like that?”

“Well it’s never, ‘just like that‘ in a bureaucracy, but as I said: straightforward. If you do quit there’ll be mountains of paperwork to wade through. The process is simple, if not short.”

“I”ll do it! Where do I sign?”

“Right here,” Mrs. Walker gave him an onyx clipboard with a single sheet of paper on it and a pen. He signed it without hesitation. The moment he finished his signature a black credit card appeared on the clipboard with his name on it.

“This is awesome! So I can use it already?” Mrs. Walker nodded.

“Buy whatever you want. You’ll get your assignment in the next couple of days.”

“Whooaaa..” he stared at the card with glee. Suddenly his smile flattened out and he tilted his head at Mrs. Walker. “Hey, you have one of these, right?” She nodded.

“Why are you still teaching?” She smiled at him with sparkling eyes.

“I couldn’t afford to, but now I can.”

“You couldn’t afford it?” He wiggled the black credit card at her. “I thought it had no limit.” She nodded.

“It doesn’t. But it’s still a credit card. At least until you recruit someone. If you manage to hire someone,” she winked at him. “Like I did; it becomes free to use.”

“But you said I’d always have money!” Murray yelled. She nodded.

“And you do. I never said you wouldn’t have to pay it back.”

“Nevermind, this doesn’t help me at all. I’m not going to rope anyone else into it. I want to quit.”

“Are you sure?” Mrs. Walker asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes.” Mrs. Walker shrugged, then snapped her fingers. A plume of yellow smoke filled the room and blinded Murray for nearly a minute. When the smoke cleared he was no longer in his basement.   The ground felt odd and he looked down. He stood on top of a small hill of loose sheets of paper. Murray looked up and found himself standing at the foot of a towering white mountain. He could not see the peak from where he stood.

“‘Mountains of paperwork’ wasn’t just a colorful exaggeration was it?” he asked. Mrs. Walker shook her head.

“I’m your student! How could you trick me like this?”

“I didn’t trick you. It’s not my fault you assumed things and didn’t ask questions. And I’m not your teacher anymore. I can afford to quit and it’ll probably take you a few hundred years to get through all the paperwork anyway. You’re not going back to school anytime soon.”

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