I opened my eyes halfway to the shrieking sound of my alarm. Everything was blurry. My eyelids felt heavy, obscuring my vision. A layer of saliva covered my dry cracking lips. I could barely carry the weight of my head as I lift it off the soft comfort of my pillow to grab a drink of water. As the cold water rushed down into my thirsty soul, it did little for my dehydration. I suddenly became very aware of my dreadful nausea. It felt as though black clouds were looming over my head, putting pressure on my skull, so much so that it was about to crack. The room began to spin as I tossed my legs over the side of the bed and reached for the painkillers on my bedside table.
I couldn’t remember anything from last night, but the empty bottle of Grey Goose by my bedside told me all I needed to know.
It was 8:00 am. and despite my deep unwillingness to get out of bed, I couldn’t miss another day of work.
Stay in bed a little longer.
A voice echoed clearly in my head, one that I wasn’t so sure was mine. I shook my head violently, which caused my panging headache to worsen. I let out a deep sigh and as I started to get up, I found myself unable to move. A sort of paralysis overcame me, and suddenly the dangers of drinking became more apparent to me than ever before.
I said, rest a little longer.
I looked around my room to see the source of this voice - empty. Perhaps I was still drunk. I saw the guitar I abandoned long ago gathering dust at a corner of my room, my gym pass that hadn’t been touched in months was laid face down on my table. My weak willpower on top of my panging aches did little to convince me to get up, and I gave in to the voice inside my head. I lay back down, happily embraced my warm duvet, and closed my eyes.
I change my mind, get up.
My eyes shot open in disbelief, as I groaned at my indecisiveness. I was being pulled up off my bed by any force other than my own, as though I was a puppet and someone was pulling on my strings.
What drugs did I take last night? I thought to myself. I had no control over my body whatsoever. I was having an out-of-body experience in what felt like wasn’t even my body at all. Worst hangover ever. Some greasy pan-fried bacon would surely make me feel better. By some miracle, I was able to carry myself to the kitchen. Ready for what was undoubtedly going to be the best part of my day, I opened the fridge.
No, you’re just going to have a coffee today.
The fridge door slammed in my face. What was going on with me today? I groaned as I poured myself a cup. Reaching for the sugar in my cabinet I felt a tug on my arm.
I recoiled in disgust as I poured the bitter liquid back into my throat.
Hahahaha. The voice let out a menacing laugh. I shook my head and ran to the bathroom to wash my face in cold water, attempting to sober myself up. I lifted my head to see the water drip off my face in the mirror. As I began to inspect the terryfying state of my appearance from last night, I couldn’t help but let out a scream.
A large, tall man stood in the reflection of the mirror behind me.
Good morning Victor.
I could hear the man’s voice inside my head but his mouth only moved to form a tight smile.
“W-who are you?” I said backing away from my own reflection.
I am the devil. He smiled again. We made a deal last night you and me. Don’t you remember?
I shook my head in disbelief. Terror overtook me. This is a dream, this is a dream. I closed my eyes tightly. Someone must have drugged me, this can’t be happening.
Oh Victor please, you know that won’t work.
I felt my eyes begin to force themselves open. I tried to fight it, pushing back but it was no use. As I was forced to stare this horrid evil man in the eyes, I was finally able to muffle out a scream. The Devil rolled his eyes and placed his hand on the bathroom light switch, flicking it on and off.
My body began to seizure involuntarily and I could see the man smile as I began to lose consciousness. He finally let go of the switch, and the lights stopped flickering. I regained control of my body and slowed my breathing as he stared me down.
You’d better start walking He said playing with his hair, I’ve decided you’re not going to take the train to work today.
I was beyond petrified as I walked hastily out of my apartment. I kept my head down the whole way. The voice wouldn’t shut up.
You are quite the negotiator Victor.
I wanted your soul you see. But we settled on your body.
Who are you?
You don’t remember me? That’s a little disappointing. Frankly, I thought we had hit it off quite well last night.
“I don’t understand,” I said out loud in bewilderment.
Shhh! Don’t talk out loud, you’re just talking to yourself! everyone will hear you and think we’re mad!
“WE’RE?” I shouted. A couple of heads turned in my direction with confused and some frightened expressions.
You see, you’re making a scene. You don’t want to get us thrown into the loony bin, do you? We’ll be late for work.
“STOP SAYING WE!”
A woman walking with her young daughter pulled her close to her and dragged her to the other end of the sidewalk.
Not a good listener huh? I guess I’ll just have to make you shut up myself.
Suddenly a paralyzing feeling, similar to the one I had felt this morning overtook me and my lips went stiff. I tried to open my mouth to scream but it felt like it had been stitched closed.
Now that I have your attention all to myself Victor. Let us reminisce over last night’s happenings.
I slipped in and out of the crowd looking for her. Intoxicated bodies slammed into me, and not a single one of them was hers.
I could feel my epilepsy medication wearing off, as the bright strobe lights in the club made my eyes and head ache.
Marta where the hell are you?
I played the moment I’d finally see her face in the crowd over and over in my head. She’d smile at me, reach out her hand and pull me closer to her. “Let’s dance.” She’d say. And we would. I’d place my hands on her waist and we’d move together as one, forgetting the world around us. And eventually, I might even gather up the courage to kiss her.
I saw the back of a blonde head in the line to get a drink. Marta. I pushed through the crowd and caught her wrist with my hand. The girl turned around. It wasn’t my Marta, not even close. I apologized and once again began pushing my way through the crowd.
Just as I’d begun to lose all hope, there she was.
She didn’t turn around.
From the corner of my eye, I saw another hand on her waist and another hand in her blonde locks. The hands of a stranger. Another pair of lips on hers - not my lips. The lips of a stranger.
My heart sank to the floor. I was overcome with a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt my adrenaline had reached its regression point as the alcohol was wearing off. The room began to spin as I staggered towards the bar.
“What are you drinking buddy?” Said the bartender with a devilish grin.
“A shot… of anything,” I replied.
The bartender smirked, “say no more.”
I watched as he turned his back to me and began to concoct my drink. He was tall and pale, his jet black hair was swept to one side, just barely covering his pierced eyebrow, his arms were covered in tattoos from end to end - not a single glimpse of his fair skin was visible. He was the kind of guy they’d cast in low-budget vampire films. One tattoo stood out to me in particular. “What is that a pentagram?” I said pointing to his forearm.
“Star of David… I’m like really Jewish” He leered “and you must be really drunk.” He said hesitating before handing me a cup of dark brown liquid.
I downed it without even questioning what it was, before recoiling in disgust. “What the hell is this?”
“What you don’t like it?”
“It’s really bitter.”
“You don’t like bitter?”
We started at each other for a few awkward moments. The club was beginning to empty, as drunk individuals filed out the doors to hail their taxis. I watched as Marta stumbled out the door with her arm around another man.
“Yeah, this place breeds all sorts of whores.” Said the bartender as he cleaned my glass “I wouldn’t worry about it man, you’ll get lucky next time. Try to have a good time, maybe don’t drink so much either.” He smiled.
“You don’t understand” I sighed
“That girl we just saw leave w-with that guy or whatever… she’s the love of my life.” I stared at my feet dangling from the tall bar chair. “W-we’ve been friends for years. I only came here tonight cause she dragged me out. This isn’t r-really my scene. I have epilepsy you know.” I said slurring my words embarrassingly.
The bartender nodded understandingly.
“You know what they say, man, women are the devil.” He grinned, “the only way I see you getting out of this is if you sell your soul to him.” He smiled and reached out his hand to me over the bar “I’m Lucious by the way.”
As I grabbed his hand to shake it, I caught another glimpse of his tattoo - a better glimpse this time,t of a five-pointed star.
And so you see?
You now belong to me
I don’t understand. I sold you, my soul?
No no, you were very adamant about keeping that. It’s your body that’s mine. I control it, and everything it does. Everything you think.
So then, I must get something in return?
Yes yes, that pretty little selfish blonde thing, that you’ll fall out of love within 2 months or so.
Look, I think that’s her calling you now.
My phone began to ring. As I took it out of my pocket I saw her name light up on my screen.
Marta. She’s mine? She’s finally mine? Fall out of love with Marta? Never. I’d been waiting for this moment my entire life.
“Vic! I’m so sorry about last night! I was looking for you everywhere.”
She sure was. We both saw how hard she was looking for you, didn’t we Victor? The Devil snickered.
“It’s alright, no harm done!” I smiled ignoring the voice in my head.
“We have to talk Vic. Can you come to my place after work today, it’s quite important.”
“Yeah oh, course. What’s up?”
“It’s about us, Victor. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I really think we should talk… about us.”
“Yeah sure, of course, I’ll see you tonight.” I couldn’t help but control the smile on my face as I hung up.
Well, look at that! Looks like we’re both happy.
My smile faded. Are you going to be sticking around… in my body… for long?
Until the day you die, Vic. Until the day you die.
But don’t worry, Marta will never know that it’s my hands touching her just as much as yours.
Ohhh or maybe I have some fun with this! Maybe I’ll never let you touch her at all! Won’t that be fun Vic?
She’s not really my type you know. I’m much more into redheads. Let’s go find us one of those.
SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! I CAN’T DO THIS!
You don’t have a choice, Victor.
Suddenly, I’d got an idea.
Hey Lucious. Can I see the contract I signed?
The contract. You seem like a logistics guy. I’m sure there was some paperwork involved when we made this deal.
Well uhh… no, but thank you for reminding me, Victor.
Silly me, almost lost such a perfectly fine vessel as yourself because of a stupid formality like paperwork!
You see Victor, we make a good team, we can be friends after all.
A contract appeared before me, seemingly out of thin air. Accompanied by a feather pen and bowl of blood-red ink.
Let’s make this friendship permanent shall we.
Just sign on the line at the bottom.
I studied the contract, my eyes skimming the page from the top to the bottom - which I had no intention of signing.
I grabbed the page with my right hand preparing to rip it in half. Something hit the side of my head. My other hand was flailing uncontrollably. The left side of my body was resisting.
This was something I experienced many times before when I got my epileptic seizures. Luckily for me, I was now well adapt to fighting them.
As I hit my own self back and forth, I was finally able to break free from his hold and take control of my body.
Bits of paper lay on the muddy sidewalk and I ripped the contract to shreds. Out of breath, I sat down on the curb as a number of people passed by me, staring and muttering.
I didn’t care, the voice was gone. Silence. Just my own thoughts were present now, in what was now my and only my body.
My pocket began to vibrate. I took out my phone and stared at her name on my screen. The light gave me a headache and I could feel the nauseous sensation coming back to me.
I’d never once missed one of Marta’s phone calls. Hell, I’d never once let one of them go past the third ring.
I hit the decline button.
I waited years for her, she could wait one hangover nap for me.
I headed home, alone.
Or at least I’d hoped.