“January 7th, 2013: Day 1-,” Max read his first journal entry. He sat in his study on a soft patch of grass next to a red pine tree. He could not remember why he decided to plant a tree and some grass in his study, but he did not regret the decision. No matter his mood, the tree always gave him comfort somehow. He assumed it had to do with having a connection to the Earth in the room he spent most of his time in.
“Everything Lucifer promised is working out. So far, anyway. I decided to start keeping journals to keep track of my life. I’ll have to make it a habit to read back through them annually. It’s crazy to just wake up rich one day. My mindset is already changing! This is actually the second journal I bought for this. I bought one already and I put it on my nightstand; but, there was no nightstand when I woke up. I should’ve realized everything around me would transform. Anyway, the point is I lost a notebook and instead of obsessing over it, I bought a new one. Because I can do that now. This money thing is going to be awesome. Anyway, more journaling later. If not, then I’m out spending money. I’ll check in again tomorrow.” Max chuckled to himself and shrugged.
“Another year and still no changes,” he smiled to himself. “This is the best deal I ever made.” Max read through the journal entries backward. Once he was done he liked to sit and reflect by the tree. He leaned back and relaxed against the large tree-stump sized stone that sat next to the red pine tree. Years of leaning against it wore it down to a smooth, comfortable surface.
“Ow,” Max felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck and hunched forward. He clapped his hand to the back of his neck to capture whatever pricked him; but, nothing squished under his hand. He rubbed his neck a bit to be sure, and he looked back at the stone. He did not see anything skittering. With a shrug, he turned around and settled back in place. Then, he felt the prick against his neck again. He spun around and ran his fingertips on the spot and he felt something sharp.
“What the hell?” he ran his fingertip over it several times and it seemed like something sharp was poking out from inside the stone. It only took him a moment to make a decision. “It’s just a rock,” he thought to himself.
With his decision made, Max stood from the grass and walked out of the room. Two minutes later he returned with a hammer and chisel. Max’s curiosity decided the rock was just a rock and could easily be replaced. He wasted no time in trying to crack his way into it. He started from where he felt the sharp point. After the first chunk popped off, Max realized the point was part of something bigger. He broke off more pieces; it was a corner.
After almost 10 minutes of constant chipping he broke enough of the stone to reveal a nightstand. A notebook and pen sat on top, undisturbed.
“No way…,” Max recognized the lost notebook and flipped through it. There was only one front and back journal entry.
“January 6th, 2013: Day 0. I’m finalizing my deal with Lucifer tonight. There might be changes in the morning, or over time, so I’m going to start keeping journals. Since this is the first entry I need to write down things that are important that I might forget as time goes on. Because I know myself and once I get rich I’ll be too distracted to remember these things later,” Max felt a knot growing in his stomach. He knew he’d already forgotten the important things because none of his other journals mentioned anything.
“First: I’m not immortal forever. I know that going in, Lucifer isn’t tricking me there. The deal is I am immortal as long as the tree is alive. I don’t know what tree yet, but he says there’ll be a tree. Once the tree dies so do I. I need to make sure that tree has a long, healthy life.” Max stopped reading then looked up at the red tree. After a moment he nodded to himself. “I’m good there at least.”
“Second:,” he continued reading. “Hell already has my soul. At least, they will as soon as I make the deal. They don’t have to wait until I die to claim it. That’s it for now. I’ve got a shopping list to make.” The entry ended there, but after several blank lines, more was written.
“P.S. Deal made! I’m immortal AND I tricked Lucifer into protecting the tree for me! Because a tree is wood, and I got to thinking I’m screwed if my house burns down. Since he was getting my soul up front, I told him I needed some sort of guarantee too or I wouldn’t deal. He totally caved. So new important info!” Max reached the bottom of the page and found the rest written on the back.
“Third: there’s going to be a magic stone by the tree now too. As long as the stone remains intact, the tree lives. The best part is, I convinced Lucifer to enchant the stone so that I’m the only one that can damage it. As if I’m ever going to do that! Anyway, I’m going to sleep now to make my money get here faster. Also, I’m not complaining, but it’s kind of weird that I have to sleep in the dirt as part of the deal. It makes me feel like I’m in a grave. Anyway, I think this is the only night I have to do this. To the future me that reads this: Congratulations! We outsmarted Lucifer!”
Max felt something land on his arms and head. He looked up and saw the pine tree was black now. Its needles were falling off and raining on him.