I'll Be Damned, I Won

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Start your story with somebody taking a photo.... view prompt


Fiction Contemporary Fantasy

I’d conquered the world. What next? Only one thing. A spent day to enjoy my victory. I stood on a balcony overlooking the capital as the parade roared beneath me.

            They hated me really. All of them. My citizens. I brought them death and destruction. I turned good men into proficient killers to remove the borders on the maps.

            “Ready or not. It’s time to go,” the demon’s voice. The evil god I sold my soul to. That voice was honeyed whiskey, sweet and intoxicating.

            “Let me take a photo before I go. You can be in it if you like. You made all this possible. I’m going. The empire will crumble. My photo will remain, for a while.”

            On our world he looked like a movie star. The most handsome man you’ve ever seen. His smile made my heart quiver, even though he was about to take my soul. He posed at the balcony, raising his middle finger for the camera. The fake shutter sound clicked. I checked the focus and the sunset lighting. No matter what filter I chose he dripped cool beauty.

            I called the photo, ‘I’ll Be Damned, I Won.’ I uploaded it to my public profile and set the phone down. I was certain you didn’t need phones where he was taking me.

            “Relax Conqueror, it’s just your soul,” he said. It felt like the greatest pick-up line ever spoken.

He put a hand on my shoulder and took me away.

A new world appeared before me. It wasn’t the fiery pit I was expecting. Skyscrapers went up and up into the blue sky. Endless beautiful demons walked up and down the street we stood on. No pitchforks or forked tails. It looked like Wall Street if the buildings were on a steroid drip.

            “You remember our deal?” Asked Paris.

            “When I have conquered every land of the world I stand in, my soul is yours.”


            “I see a world unconquered. A promise yet unfulfilled, demon.”

            He turned and flashed his perfect teeth. Perfectly formed eyebrows rose in consternation. “Excuse me?”

            “When I have conquered every land of the world I stand in, my soul is yours.” I gestured to my feet as I stood naked before him. A grizzled old nothing before a god in his own domain. I was nothing there. He was just one of the almighties that walked past.

            “No.” He glowered.

            A cold wind blew through the hell he had taken me to. A shivering tingle passed over my old bones. Wrinkled skin flapped as I shivered.

            “Have I conquered every land of this world?” I asked, spreading my arms. Skin sagged from arms which had once been muscular, the arms of a soldier on the front lines.

Paris pulled at his collar. The gold chain that had bound his power to me still hung around his neck. I brushed my hand over my wrist. The chain that held him still graced it like any other bracelet.

            I smiled. Rattling breaths whistled between the few teeth I had left. My smile caused his fists to clench. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t hit me. He was mine until our contract was fulfilled.

            “Who’s in charge around here?” I asked.

            “King Minus,” he growled in a performance that made my heart flutter. “But you can’t see him looking like-”

            “An ugly old naked man? No. I don’t think so either. Fix me up. Make me beautiful.” He waved a perfect hand with the grace of a ballet dancer. “Now I need you to explain everything to me. Is there a Starbucks around here?”

            “Of course. This is hell.”

            We drank one of their hot chocolates each. While Paris explained the hierarchy of hell I wondered if the Starbucks was a franchise or if I was sitting in the first branch.

            Enslaved souls brought us free refills. Each one had the gold chain around their neck and a standard uniform. All exhausted because they hadn’t slept since their soul entered the realm of damnation. Their service with a smile seemed to bring a malicious grin to every demon that stopped by.

            The demons were all as beautiful as Paris or more. Lusts I have not felt in years stirred for the evil goddess who reminded me of my first crush. When I say crush, I mean she ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it, publicly.

            “What’s step one?” I asked. He had to come up with the plan. It was his world. He stared at me with his eyes wide as if he still thought I was joking. I gave my wrist a yank as I pictured the chain around his neck.

            “We need more demons,” he said, massaging his throat. “A lot more.”

You can trick a demon. I did it. First, I tricked Paris. Then I sent him back to Earth to trick more. He posed as a human to have demons make their deal with him. Unlike a human, a demon pretending to be a human can make as many deals as they like at the same time. Evil Gods have shapeshifting souls. Bound only to honour their deals in the most sadistic interpretation possible.

            My pyramid scheme trickled down until all of them worked for Paris or the demons who were working for him. With each of them we had the souls they had gathered since the dawn of time. Paris himself had thousands.

            King Minus caught on. His rage was as terrible as beautiful. A torrent of petals cut the pretty faces of his servants as he asked how they could have been fooled by a mortal.

            “Arm wrestle me.” I said to him. “If my human hand touches the table first you own my soul and my bind over your kin will be undone. If demonic skin touches the table first, then your soul is mine forever.”

            Paris had taken my form. I had taken his.

            “You are the conqueror.” He pointed to the real me with a finger whose nails were in the most picturesque proportions. “You will wrestle me and lose your soul.”

            “We’ll see. I asked for strength from my minions.”

            He summoned the most magnificent table that has ever existed from the air. Two stools slid us into place. He waited with his elbow in the centre of the table, sleeve rolled up in an effortlessly cool look. I took his hand and tried with all my might.

            We shook with the exertion. Being so close to a being of effortless perfection almost melted me. Like the rest of the demons, he was beautiful as butterflies and shooting stars are beautiful. There was no lust in it but awe, the recognition of something in its ultimate form. Sweat beaded on his muscles the way water beads on rainforest leaves in calendar photos.

            I’d learned in the army that a wide stance with your feet is important. I was stronger than I had ever been. My skin barely had pores. My tattoos gleamed with a neon glow.

            Our arms trembled as the marble table began to crunch beneath us. He smiled a victorious grin as my arm began to descend towards the cold stone. King Minus roared a lion’s passionate roar as he slammed my fist down on the table.

            “Victory!” He leapt up with his arms raised, only to be brought back down with a jerk of my hand. He coughed, feeling a new gold chain around his neck.

            “I’m not human anymore Minus. I’m a demon.” I turned to look at Paris. “Now I’ve conquered this world I owe you a soul. Take his,” I said. A gold chain appeared around Paris’ wrist. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a throne to sit on. Bring me a hot chocolate.” I pointed to Minus. “You make it.”

            The demon bowed his head. He would have been the perfect brooding immortal for a film franchise aimed at adolescents. “Yes, my king.”

            “And make one for every human soul in this world. Then he’s all yours Paris.”

            “Yes, my king.” Paris’ smile was breath-taking.

            I thought about the enslaved souls of mortals who would toil eternally for the demons. Even my shrivelled heart couldn’t let it be. I looked down at my world. I cast my eyes upon my demons. “Set every human free that’s served a thousand years. When those you own have done their thousand years you let them go. A millennium is long enough to serve for anything they might make a deal for. Am I understood?”

            “Yes, my king.” I inhaled their words as a drowning man does the air on the surface.

I’d conquered the world. What next? Only one thing. Sit back and bask. My hot chocolate tasted of vengeance. The sun was shining, the wind in my hair.

            “I’ll be damned. I won.”

May 07, 2022 01:58

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Philipe Nicolini
02:04 May 20, 2022

I enjoyed your intro.


Graham Kinross
02:07 May 20, 2022

Thanks, that was the line that I thought of first, then “what comes next?” Not my most polished story but it had to cover a lot of ground so I’m quite pleased with it.


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Ayesha 🌙
16:45 May 10, 2022

A very creative story! It got confusing near the end and it was uncertain why, plot-wise, they were arm wrestling. I was also confused who Paris was. It felt like the story started in the middle, but this may be part of an ongoing series. Excited to see more from you!


Graham Kinross
21:30 May 10, 2022

Thank you. It was a lot happening in a short story, too much perhaps. It’s a little bit of everything, all of the time. 🎶Thank you for your feedback.What is your favourite Bo Burnham song?


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