This link to the contest is here, and my short story is featured below. For those of you who did not check out the contest link, here's the contest details in a nutshell--write a story that deals with the Faustian bargain, which is simply making a deal with the devil. Pop culture movies like The Little Mermaid, The Devil's Advocate, and Bedazzled all feature the "making a deal with the devil" motif.
**Warning: This story was emailed and entered into the contest earlier this morning; it is now in the hands of Daniel and Dina (contest creators), so it would be pointless for you to even think about stealing it. Create your own story.**
Please see below to read my short story. Hope you enjoy!!!
Gone were the days of perpetual sun, sand, and surf. Grilled hot dogs, corn on the cob, and crisp watermelon. Sunset bike rides and baseball games. Gone were the girls in their summer dresses and boys in their summer growth spurts.
Winter had now settled in. The snow was already falling. Lakes were already frozen over; animals were hibernating. Children have brought out their sleds; adults their shovels. Christmas decorations already hang from the eaves of every house, and carols can already be heard in the city square.
Frank Faust hated winter. He despised the bitter cold on the nape of his neck and crunching of the frozen snow beneath his boots. He loathed the way he could see his breath every time he stepped outside, and hated the way the harshly cold wind would take away his breath.
Ironically, Frank lived in Winter Falls, Alaska, where summer was short and sweet, and winter was long and dreary. No matter how hard he tried, he could not escape winter. During the fleeting summer months, he thought if he stayed outside long enough, drank enough iced tea, and pedaled fast enough on his bike, the mythical weather gods would see how he enjoyed summer more than life itself, and would cut him a break. Every year was just as, if not more, disappointing than the last. Summer seemed to get shorter every year and winter seemed to creep in weeks too soon.
Because Frank was an able bodied teenage boy, his mother made him offer his snow shoveling services to the senior citizens in town, help cut down and carry Christmas trees, and even participate in the annual Snow Ball, which was an event held in the town square every New Year's Eve. Frank would grumble and mumble and swear under his breath, but he finally figured out it was just easier to go along with it than to fight it, so every year he swallowed his pride and hesitantly asked a couple girls to accompany him to the dance.
It was no surprise Frank was rejected every winter, and always ended up escorting his mother to the ball. He was a good-looking adolescent boy, strong facial features and a popular haircut. Girls rejected Frank not because he wasn't nice, or cute, or friendly; they rejected him because he wore a bad attitude like a favorite outfit. The girls in town worshipped him during the summer, with his bronzed skin and bleached blond hair, but ignored him in the winter, which was probably for the better. It was as if a dark force overcame him in the winter months, and Frank knew he would be better off in hibernation.
One night during dinner, a week before Christmas Eve, his mother reminded him about the Snow Ball, as if Frank would ever forget.
"Have you got a date yet?" she asked, playing the same routine year after year. Janet popped a baby carrot in her mouth, and forced a smile.
"No. Do you?" Frank replied cruelly. He wanted his words to hurt, just like his parents had hurt him. It wasn't until looked at his mother and watched as her face went from pure shock, and then crumpled deep into itself in agony that Frank's mother had not had a date in years, not for lack of trying, but she had always put Frank's needs above her own.
"Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that," he said quickly, as if his apology could erase the hurtful words that he spat from his mouth.
"I won't stand for backtalk Frank. It's spiteful and unnecessary," she said sharply, and her words sliced through him like a jagged piece of glass across a fleshy pear. Frank swallowed hard and lowered his head.
Frank and his mother ate the rest of dinner in silence. Usually, she asked Frank to help her clean up the dishes, but that night was different. Janet wept as she washed each plate, and Frank watched her struggle with keeping her tears out of sight. Eventually, he retired to his room, but could hear his mother's quiet, forlorn sobbing.
Every year as the Snow Ball approached, his mother would get weepy. The holidays always made her weepy. Frank's father had left on Christmas Eve when he was just four years old, to start a new life with a new wife. The holiday season crushed Janet's spirit, but the Snow Ball always seemed to revive it.
That night as he lay in bed, Frank mumbled a weak prayer, to anyone who would listen.
"Please make winter go away. Please make winter go away. Please make winter go away. I'll do anything," Frank repeated, over and over again, until he eventually fell asleep.
The following morning, Frank engaged in his typical morning routine. It was the last day of school before Christmas break; a day during which most kids could barely contain themselves, but Frank dreaded it. He looked outside and as usual, his prayers were unanswered. Winter was still here, and it appeared as if it had even snowed several inches overnight.
Frustrated, Frank stormed out of the house and headed toward the bus stop. To his surprise, there was a man standing there. Winter Falls had hardly any crime, but Frank couldn't shake the creepy feeling he had as he approached the stranger.
"Good morning," he muttered in an attempt to be friendly, and also to stop his teeth from chattering.
"Hello Frank," the man replied, staring at him confidently. The man wore a freshly pressed black suit, a red tie, and had a thin mustache. Apparently he was unaware that it was below zero degrees, and seemed to not mind.
"How do you know my name?" Frank asked the stranger, backing up a few steps.
"Don't be alarmed," said the stranger in a voice that sounded hundreds of years old, a voice that invoked feelings of fear in Frank's gut. He was certain he was about to get mugged or murdered, although that seemed like a stretch.
"Um, no. And you're creeping me out. You mind leaving?" Frank asked honestly, figuring he had nothing to lose by being rude. Ignoring him was not an option, so being blunt was the next best thing.
"You can't stand winter, can you?" the man asked self assuredly.
Frank stood in astonishment that the stranger was relentless, then eventually shook his head and licked his dry, cracking lips. Even his lips couldn't stand winter.
"I have a bargain for you."
Frank was afraid, yet intrigued. Something about the confident way the man spoke fascinated Frank, although his senses were still trying to attach to the correct emotion. Was it fear or curiosity Frank was feeling?
"If it's money you want, I don't have any. On me, I mean," Frank stuttered the first thing that came to his mouth.
"I don't want your money. I want to make a deal."
Frank was shaking at this point, partly due to the frigid Alaskan winter air, and partly because the man's presence was overwhelming.
"What kind of deal?" asked Frank. The man leered at him, a half smile forming in the corner of his mouth. Just then, the bus pulled up. Frank glanced at his bus driver, held up his index finger signaling to wait just a moment, and he turned back to where the man was standing.
Except the man was gone. Frank twirled around several times on the snow, looking in almost every direction, until the bus driver honked loudly and opened the door.
"Get on the bus!" the bus driver shouted. As the bus peeled away, Frank looked desperately out the window for any sign of the strange man. He was nowhere to be found.
The rest of the day at school, Frank was distracted. He wondered if the man had been a dream, or at the very least, a hallucination.
During lunch, as his friends bragged about their new skis and sleds and vacation plans for Christmas break, Frank sat in silence, struggling to make sense of the strange man and his "bargain".
On the bus ride home, Frank was ready to chalk up the entire experience as a delusion, one that he was more than prepared to put behind him for good. When the bus stopped, Frank stepped off and started his half-mile trek home.
As he turned the corner onto his street, he heard someone whisper his name. Frank stopped dead in his tracks, and glanced around furiously. Was it happening again? Was this yet another hallucination?
He suddenly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and as he slowly turned around, he discovered exactly why.
"Whoa!!! Who the hell are you?" Frank yelped, and was immediately embarrassed for the girlish tone of his voice.
"I wouldn't use the word 'hell' loosely like that if I were you," he said ambiguously. "And you can call me Damien."
Frank took a few steps backwards, shuttered, then walked briskly down the road. His house was in view, and he had never been so excited to see it before in his life.
"I didn't ask to be here Frank. You summoned me," the man said matter-of-factly. He was still wearing the black suit, and looked exactly the same as he had this morning.
"What are you talking about?" Frank mumbled under his breath.
"Last night. You prayed for winter's end," the strange man announced, and Frank stopped walking. In the bitter cold, the memory of last night came to him in a whirlwind. But I don't even believe in God, Frank thought to himself.
"You don't have to believe in God to believe in me," the man said, surprising Frank.
His eyes got huge and his heart started pounding. "How did you...I didn't say that out loud!" he yelled, then took off running. This had to be a bad dream. His feet pounding the hard snow, Frank willed himself to wake up and snap out of this dreadful hallucination.
Out of breath when Frank finally reached his house, Frank put his hands on his knees and breathed in the harsh, cold air. He looked behind him and was relieved to see the man had not followed him home.
"Are you ready to bargain yet?" the man sneered, standing on the front step. Frank was so startled that he fell backwards into a pile of snow, and cursed loudly. The man reached out to help him out, but Frank ignored the offer.
"If that's what will make you disappear, then YES!!!" he finally agreed, brushing snow off the seat of his jeans. There was no point in trying to escape this man. He was around every corner; in front of and behind Frank. He dropped his book bag on the ground, crossed his arms in defiance, and glared at the man.
"I can give you summer. Forever," the man began. Obviously Frank thought the man was crazy.
"Where? Here? Or in Florida?" Frank joked. Maybe it was Frank who was crazy. Either way, he was going to play along.
"No. Here. I can give you an Alaskan summer forever, where the sun never sets and the air is as fresh as the day is long."
This piqued Frank's interest.
"What's the catch?" Frank questioned the man.
"You must sabotage the Snow Ball by six o'clock in the evening on New Year's Eve. If you fail to do so, you have just bought yourself a lifetime of winter," the man explained.
Frank toyed with the idea. It might be difficult to sabotage a highly regarded annual event, but Frank was up for the challenge. He stood there, contemplating the offer, when the stranger interrupted his thoughts.
"Let me warn you that once you agree, a deal is a deal. There will be no turning back, no changing your mind. This is a bargain that will never be undone," he warned ominously.
After a few moments of reflection, Frank extended his hand towards the man, an offering to seal the deal. The stranger studied his face for several moments, before accepting the handshake.
Frank spent the next week researching and making plans for his master sabotage. He thought of everything from arson, to a bomb threat, to kidnapping, and discovered he was incapable of committing any crime.
Christmas came and went, a quiet celebration in the Faust house. Frank and his mother exchanged a few presents, a couple sweaters, hats, gloves, and new boot, the same as every year. Nothing he could use in the summer; just the winter. For the millionth time in his life, he felt defeated.
The night before the Snow Ball, Frank still had not devised a scheme to sabotage the ball. This was turning out to be more difficult than he had anticipated. Even worse, the snow was continuing to fall, and the water was still frozen over. A skier's dream, a skater's fantasy, was actually Frank's nightmare that he prayed he would escape from soon.
He gave up and headed to the kitchen for a snack. Being devious had made Frank extremely hungry. Frank grabbed an apple from the table, and watched his mother roll out fresh cookie dough, and cut holiday shapes in preparation for the party before the Snow Ball.
Janet Faust lived for the Snow Ball, and looked forward to it every year. Frank was convinced it gave his mother a renewed sense in romance, if only for one night, and that true love actually does exist. Because he loved his mother, Frank bit his tongue when she asked his opinion about what kind of punch to make, or what dress she should wear every year.
Normally, Frank just smiled and nodded, but this year as his mother talked about the Snow Ball, he felt sick to his stomach because he was going to sabotage the one time of year his mother was truly happy.
With a sated appetite, Frank felt refreshed, yet uneasy and returned to his room to continue planning, although he had barely started. He closed his bedroom door and saw an instant message flashing on his computer screen.
"24 hours," the message read in thick, red writing. Of course, there was no name or a reply button, but Frank knew exactly whom the message was from.
Frank stayed up all night, and it wasn't until the wee hours of the morning that he finally devised a plan guaranteed destruction of the Snow Ball. If he could pull it off, summer would be here for good. If he failed, he would be trapped in this winter nightmare.
Sunlight was fading, and the Snow Ball would commence in two short hours. Frank put on his suit and combed his hair back to better blend in, and headed downstairs to execute his scheme. He drew no attention to himself, and no one suspected anything.
Frank's scheme involved sabotaging the ball, but he wasn't going to destroy the venue, the food, the DJ, or even the ball itself. No, he was going to start at home. What's a ball if no one shows up?
As Frank looked around the living room, he noticed people were already starting to grab their coats and were getting ready to head downtown for the Snow Ball. It was now or never.
He quickly walked to the back of the house where the security alarm panel was located. After Frank's father left, his mother had installed a security system since they had no man and no dog to protect them. Barely noticing, he had bumped into Damien, and he was wearing the same suit with the same red tie.
"Time's almost up Frank," he stated seriously, tapping his wristwatch. Frank was instantly flustered. In order to execute his plan, he needed to take action immediately. Frank looked around the house one last time, and noticed only a few people had left. He shrugged it off because the majority is what counted.
Of course, Damien had disappeared once again, but in his place he found his mother, who was smiling diamonds and looked stunning in her slimming black dress, her hair done perfectly. But there was something that distracted Frank from his plan. It wasn't necessarily his mother; it was that she was talking to a man. Rather, she was flirting with the attractive ski instructor named Jack, the same instructor his friends bragged about and the girls fawned over.
With his hand on the security alarm panel, ready to shut it off, which would lock everyone in the house and bring him closer to his dream of destroying winter forever, Frank watched his mother and Jack closely.
He watched his mother's grin light up her face like the downtown Christmas tree as Jack asked her to the Snow Ball, an invitation which she humbly accepted. Janet had shown many expressions throughout Frank's existence, but this one was brand new to him.
It was then Frank made his decision.
Promptly, at six o'clock, the clock tower bells chimed, signifying the start of the Snow Ball.
"Time's up Frank," Damien stated, standing in front of Frank, who sat on the front steps of his house, looking up into the clear, cloudless black winter sky.
"I guess I'll just have to get used to this," Frank said, exhaling loudly.
Without winter, there would be no Snow Ball, and with no Snow Ball, Frank's mother would never again smile the way she did tonight. Although Frank was cold, he wasn't cold-hearted.
"Goodbye summer," he whispered mournfully, and a harsh wind skated across Frank's face as if to remind him of his bargain, and he knew what he had sacrificed wasn't nearly as significant as what he had just saved.