Do You Believe in the Devil?

by Tony Greif, age 17
Do You Believe in the Devil?

“‘John, do you believe in the devil?’
John looks up from his book, the old, yellowed pages a sign of its age and use. ‘I’m sorry?’ he asks, confused and little bit frightened.”

“John, do you believe in the devil?”

John looks up from his book, the old, yellowed pages a sign of its age and use.

“I’m sorry?” he asks, confused and little bit frightened. He looks over at his traveling companion for the week. They were on mail duty that week, getting the mail from their little town in the middle of the desert to one of the larger towns, like Sugar Pine.

“I asked, if you believe in the devil,” he states plainly, and John looks into the crackling fire. The wind blows in his direction, and he squints from the smoke blowing into his eyes.

“I don’t suppose I do, Will,” John says, shaking his head.

William chuckles and nods. “Ah. Not a religious man then.”

John shakes his head, and looks up at the sky full of bright stars, smiling. “My mother was though.”

William smirks and nods. “Yes, John is a very religious name.”

“What about you?” John looks over at William, who is also looking up at the stars.

“Hm?” he asks, looking over at John.

“Do you believe in the devil?” John asks.

William chuckles, and John laughs with him, the tension of the moment subsiding slightly. “Of course I do.”

John stops laughing as William’s eyes meet his. John freezes, and for a moment, William disappears, and something else takes his place. But it was only for a moment, because when John blinks, he’s back.

William gets up, and walks around the burning fire towards John. “You’ve heard ‘em talking, haven’t you? The town, the other deputies…” William pauses, and a wry smirk makes its way onto his face. “The pastor.”

William wasn’t normally a menacing man. He was creepy, sure, but he could hold a conversation. But John had never seen him like this, with murder in his soul and a hint of the devil in his eye. John was actually scared of this man.

William places his hands on his hips, resting his right hand on his pistol. He looks down at his gun, and uses his left hand to pull it out. He looks it over, and puts it away in his right hip holster instead. His smirk is wider as he says, “It’s a sign of the devil, bein’ left handed. It’s said that people who’re left handed are marked by the devil to be evil.”

John swallows instinctively out of fear, but doesn’t move, for the fear of being shot by one of the men he trusted outweighed his need to run. “Well, I’m sure that’s not really true…” John trails off, looking at the ground next to him, then up at the rocks lining their little canyon, and then at one of the long dead trees sporadically placed here and there. Anywhere but William’s eyes.

“For some, maybe, but those are the people who have the evil beat out of them by the lord,” William states, waving his statement off. John’s eyes are drawn to William’s, and he sees the murder in them, the sadistic horror that only awaited John this night. “I didn’t get that privilege, of meeting our lord. The devil had too much of a grip on my soul to want to let go.”

John leans back, reaching for his colt, but as he palms the dirt, it’s gone. Looking behind him, all of his guns were gone, and when he looks back, William has his colt in his hands.

William, scrutinizing the powerful weapon, turns it around in his hands, running his fingers over the beautiful carvings in the wood and metal. He holds it out in front of him, and up to John’s head, the gun in his left. “It’s not hard to see why. Why they think that, that is.”

“Who… who are you?” John asks, and William, or whoever he is, shrugs.

“I guess no one really knows. I wouldn’t suspect you, a man without religion, to know…” He shrugs, but the gun doesn’t move. John’s eyes widen, and he starts to shake. John doesn’t know when his eyes started filling with tears, but the harder William pressed the gun to his face, the more the tears threatened to fall. His skin felt like it was boiling under the heated glare. He could feel the cool tears now rushing down his cheeks, and sweat pooling underneath him, soaking his clothes, but it didn’t help. Nothing could bring him reprieve from the feeling of having his skin burned off him. He could feel his heart give way, stopping and starting every time William said or did something, beating faster and working harder than he’s sure it’s ever before. His head is pounding with an ache that’s so severe, John’s almost afraid his head is going to explode. Looking up into William’s red eyes, John’s world changes. William smirks as John has his epiphany, a curious and sadistic look replacing the look of the devil in his eye, because William didn’t just have the devil in his eye, he was the Devil himself. “Still don’t believe?”

“William?” John asks, but the devil standing above him just laughs.

“What a stupid name, William. That was his name.” He points to his body, William’s body. “But that’s not my name, is it?” John shakes his head hurriedly, and the man above him chuckles. He takes a step closer and puts the cold barrel of the gun to John’s head. John gulps, looking up at him, fear completely taking over his expression. “Say my name, John.”

There’s a pause, and for just a second, John doesn’t say anything, but when the gun is pressed harder into his forehead, he whimpers quietly, and speaks. “Satan.”

A gunshot goes off, a body falls to the floor, and standing above John’s lifeless body, the Devil is grinning down at him. “See you in Hell, John.”

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