21st Century FaustMature

It began on a day like any other . . . .

No, wait.

Scrap that.

It began on a day so unlike any other, that you probably won’t even believe that this story is true.

Seeing that I am the narrator of this little tale, you would be forgiven for assuming that I am also the main protagonist. However, I think of myself more as a supporting actor. It is my intellectually inept bother, Sam, who really takes centre-stage as a player in this drama.

You see, Sam had a problem. Aside from his astoundingly monumental stupidity, he had also developed a rather unhealthy obsession with gambling. It had been going on for a few years, and on many an occasion my baby brother had come begging at my door, desperately needing to borrow money. In the beginning I had helped him, out of some misguided sense of family loyalty. But after failing to repay his debts to me for a third time, I refused to lend him another penny.

The months passed by.

I did not hear a peep from little Sammy, and to be quite honest I no longer cared. So, I don’t mind admitting that I was rather shocked when the call came late one Friday night.

Sam was in big trouble. Or so he said. He needed my help, and no it was nothing to do with wanting to borrow money.

To this day I will never know why I didn’t just hang up the phone, and tell him to sort out his own problems. But for whatever reason, I agreed to meet him that night.

When I arrived in the rather dingy pub on West Street, Sam was sitting in the darkest corner, nursing a pint of beer. He looked skittish, and pale. Dark circles had encompassed his eyes, and a sickly looking sheen of sweat coated his face.

I ordered a double vodka and diet coke from the bar. Somehow, I doubted that a single would be of much use to me.

“You look like a corpse, baby brother.” I stared down my nose at the ragged figure hunched in the shadows before me. “Actually, I think that ‘plague victim’ might be a more accurate description. Soon to become a corpse, naturally.”

Sam turned his hollow eyes on me and smiled. It was a rictus grin. Not at all pleasant or cheerful.

“Big sis. Glad that you could take five minutes out of your busy schedule of being a complete bitch, to drop in and say hi.”

I rolled my eyes and slid onto the bench opposite Sam.

“Look, you said that you needed my help. So here I am, as requested.” I took a large gulp from my drink before continuing. “But all I see is my idiot fucking brother, displaying way too many similarities to a dope-sick junkie. So I can’t help but think that this may have been a wasted journey for us both. I’m not helping you if you’re on drugs, Sam. You’re on your own.”

His eyes narrowed and his lip curled. For a second I thought he was going to reach across the table and hit me, but then that horrible grin returned. A spark of life seemed to flow into him, and he threw back his head and laughed. His left hand was still wrapped around his pint glass, knuckles white and tendons standing out. As his body was racked with laughter beer spilled onto the table, but he didn’t even seem to notice.

“Oh sis, you are so fantastically linear.” Sam wiped at eyes, which appeared to be streaming. “How I wish that being on drugs was all that I had to worry about. That would be a god damn day at the beach compared to this.”

“So what then?” I asked. “Finally lost the wrong bet to the wrong person? Don’t worry baby brother, I doubt there is anyone around here hardcore enough to kill you outright. They’ll probably just chop off a couple of fingers or something.”

I drained my glass and began to stand.

“Where are you going?”

“Home. I only came here because you sounded so scared on the phone. But now I see that this is nothing different to all the other times. You might want to spend your life hanging out in seedy back alley establishments, but I don’t.”


Sam had grabbed hold of my wrist before I had even moved an inch. His grip was like a vice, and pain was beginning to creep up my arm.

Angry, I turned to face him . . . But the face that started back at me stopped to torrent of abuse before it had chance to roll off my tongue.

“Please, don’t go.”

Sam was pleading with me. Not just with words, but his eyes, his whole face, the insistent grip he had on my arm. All of it was pleading with me not to leave him. My brother was the most arrogant little shit that I had ever known, and he had never pleaded for anything in his life.

“Sam, let go of my arm please.”

He shook his head frantically, and tightened his grip.

“I’m not leaving.”

His gaze became hopeful, but guarded. “Do you promise?”

“Yes, I promise”

Finally relinquishing his hold on my arm, Sam retreated back into his corner.

I rubbed my wrist, which felt sore, and sat back down. “Tell me exactly what is going on. Right now, baby brother.”

Taking a shaky breath, and slowly nodding, Sam began to speak.

“I got in deep, I mean really deep. I couldn’t stop. Every time I lost I was so sure that the next time I would win, and these people, they just kept on advancing me more money. In the end I owed so much that I had sold practically everything I owned, just to stay in the game. But it wasn’t enough. I still needed more.” He paused, and scratched at his chest through his ratty looking t-shirt. “There was this bloke, one of the other players, and he said that he could help me. Said that he knew someone who would lend me enough to stay in the game, and to get some of my stuff back. No astronomical interest to pay on top, just an agreement between gentlemen that I had to stick to. Just one thing that I had to give him. Just one thing that he wanted to buy”

I began to feel considerably uneasy about the way that this story was going.

“What did you give him?”

Sam had been staring down into his pint glass so far, but now he turned his gaze on me. It was deadly serious.

“My soul.”

I laughed. A short, sharp and pitiless sound. “Oh please.”

“It’s true!”

“So, let me get this straight. Your reason for expecting me to believe that you’re not on drugs, is because you have actually sold your immortal soul to the fucking devil. How stupid do think I am?”

This time I didn’t give him time to protest, I slid out from the booth where we had been sitting, and made my way to the exit without a backwards glance.

Outside it had started to rain. I zipped up my jacket and stuffed my hands into the pockets, inwardly cursing my own stupidity for ever leaving the house. Despite the weather I decided to walk home, in hope that the rain might cool me off sufficiently that I wouldn’t lose any sleep over tonight’s charade.

Typical Sam, a liar and a fraud to the last. I was an idiot for feeling sorry for him, for mistaking that tone of desperation in his voice for genuine fear. This whole set up had been yet another attempt to exploit my previous sympathies towards him.

Behind me I vaguely heard the sound of someone calling my name. But my blood was boiling, and the sound of it rushing through my veins pounded in my ears.

A hand on my shoulder caught me by surprise, and I jumped a little before turning. The look on my face must have said it all, as Sam retreated backwards a few steps, and turned his eyes down to the ground.

“What’s the matter Sammy? Did you forget to mention the part where the faeries stole your car, so you need to borrow mine in order to make your daring escape!” I spat the words at him with the full force of fury that I was feeling inside. “Being an idiot is one thing, but a manipulative liar is something else. How on earth did you expect to get any money out of me with a story like that?”

“Sis, pleeeaase.” Sam whined. He reached out for me again, but I slapped his hand aside.

“Yeah, whatever. Have a nice life. What’s left of it anyway, before you get dragged into Hell for eternal torment and damnation.”

Sam fell to his knees, and clasped his hands together as if in prayer. His face could have been streaming with tears, but it was raining so heavily now that I couldn’t tell.

“I swear to you that it’s true!” he cried, his voice hoarse and cracked. “Look where he marked me.”

I stared as Sam tore his t-shirt open, and revealed the scarred skin beneath. A huge X appeared to have been burned into his torso.

“What the . . .”

Horrified, I knelt down in front of him. I reached out a tentative hand, and touched the ruined flesh on his chest.

The second that my hand touched the scar, a blinding light flashed through my skull.

I saw a face. A man’s face. Handsome, but . . .

Something was very wrong with this man. I didn’t know it, I felt it. Deep down in my . . . well . . . in my soul. My head swam, and bile began to rise in my throat. The image of this mystery man swam in front of my eyes, and I could see the night behind it. Sam in front of me reaching out to grab my shoulders, his face a mask of fright and worry. The rain glinting off the street light as it fell, and the car headlights whizzing by in the background.

I wrenched myself back to reality, and away from Sam, turning my head as I did so. I collapsed onto all fours and vomited. My eyes and nose were running and my head was swimming. I coughed and choked, until eventually there was nothing left in my stomach fro my body to expel.


Sam was next to me now, pulling my hair from out of my face. I turned my head to look at him.

“What the hell just happened to me?”

“I think that Hell might be the appropriate word in that sentence.”

Holding onto each other, Sam and I got to our feet unsteadily, and stood facing each other.

The rain continued to pelt down, but it mattered very little as I was already soaked through to the skin. I could feel myself beginning to shiver, but whether it was because of the cold or something else I was unsure.

“I’m sorry, I-”

I held my hand up to cut Sam off.

“Stop.” I rubbed at my face with both hands, and pushed my hair back. “There is something very wrong going on here. But I swear to you, baby brother, if this turns out to be some kind of elaborate hoax than I’ll send you to Hell myself.”

“Ok.” he nodded.

“Now, what exactly do you need my help for?”

“I can’t do this by myself, sis.” Sam took hold of my hand and squeezed it. “I’m not smart enough, you were always the clever one. That’s why I need you.”

I rolled my eyes. “Just skip the flattery, and get to the part where you tell me what we have to do to get you out of this.”

“We need to get another soul. To trade in for mine.”

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer. I don’t know why I expected anything else really.

“So, how the fuck are we supposed to do that?”







The End

6 comments about this story Feed