Nick was minding his own business in the bathroom when the Devil first appeared. He’d just finished washing his hands, and was reaching for a paper towel, when…
“I expected you to be taller.”
Startled, Nick whirled around quickly, banging his head on the wall. Of course, there was nobody there. The bathroom lock was secure, and it wasn’t as if anyone could be in there without him knowing. Maybe it was someone talking loudly outside. He rubbed his head, and reached for the door latch.
The voice returned, slow and sly. “In the mirror, Nicholas.”
Nick froze. There was no mistaking the proximity of the voice. Still, if nothing else Nick was great at denial. He closed his hand upon the door latch and twisted it to open. He heard it give with a soft snick.
And then he heard it re-lock itself with a not-quite-so-soft return snick. Nick stared down at the LOCKED sign, and blinked hard several times.
“Not going so soon? You’ll stay and talk awhile, won’t you? Yes, of course you will.” A chuckle. “Well, turn around and let me get a good look at you.”
Nick shut his eyes obstinately, and whispered, “Goddamn it, I hate flying.”
The voice went soothing. “Yes, yes, I know. Airplanes are so crude, it’s no wonder.” Then, “But Nicholas, you still haven’t said a proper hello. You wouldn’t want to make me think you’re rude, surely.”
Nick turned to face the mirror. His eyes bulged. Or at least, he felt them bulge, rather than seeing them do so, because instead of his own face, he saw someone else’s face in the mirror. The someone was impeccably dapper (if, Nick thought, a bit fay) with a regal nose and the slightest bit of a cleft in his chin. As Nick stared, an arch smile brightened the stranger’s face.
“Ah, there we go.” The sharp green eyes appraised Nick. Then, he snuffed with satisfaction. “I see we’ve finally bred that nasty old Flaherty nose out of you. No doubt it was your lovely mother’s influence.”
“You know my mother?” Nick asked dumbly.
The sly voice came back. “Well, not in the biblical sense.” The man chortled, and raised one delicate hand up to his chin wistfully. “Quite a beauty!” He waved his hand to bat away his reverie. “Ah well! It’s you I’m here to see, Nicholas!”
Nick rubbed hard at his face, a mounting hysteria threatening to overwhelm him. Was he crazy? Was he having some kind of hallucinogenic episode? Feeling a bit woozy, he fell back against the door.
“Relax, my boy! You’re not crazy!”
“That’s not really comforting coming from a – from a – ” Nick stabbed at the air towards the mirror.
“I am the Devil, Nicholas.”
Nick’s mouth slackened. He opened and shut it several times, then covered his face again. “Oh my god, this isn’t happening!”
The voice continued on, oblivious to Nick’s consternation. “I’ve come to collect on an old bet.”
Nick yanked his hands away from his face. “Wait a minute, here! I never made any bet with you!”
The Devil simpered. “Well, of course you didn’t, Nicholas. You’re the prize.”
“Prize?!” Nick squeaked. “That’s not how it works! I didn’t sign anything, I didn’t get any pot of gold! You don’t have any right to my soul!”
The Devil beamed. “How quaint your ideas are, my boy. All the same…”
“No!” Nick said, asserting himself. “Prove it! Prove that you own me!”
The Devil gave him a mock bow. A tattered, dirt-stained piece of paper fluttered down from the mirror. Nick snatched it and began reading it aloud. “‘I, Dougal Flaherty, agree to give the Devil my first born great, great grandson (if I ever have one) in return for a sturdy donkey and a case of whiskey’.”
Nick gaped, and shook the document in disbelief at the Devil. “You’re telling me my great great grandfather whored me out to the Devil for a donkey and some whiskey?!“