A Little While Ago

A little while ago I struck a deal with the devil. I'd seen an advertisement in the local paper - free consultation, no obligations - I figured I didn't have all that much to lose just checking it out. I called the number they listed and his secretary - sweet girl, Lancashire accent - offered to make me an appointment for that Thursday. Having a small amount of my holiday time saved up, and having no prior engagements, I took it.
The devil's offices on Cranham Street were moderately well appointed. The chairs were upholstered rather than plastic, the magazines not that far out of date. I was asked my name and the time of my appointment by the polite but businesslike receptionist, she told me I was expected and asked me to take a seat. I leafed through a copy of Vanity Fair and waited. After a while I was asked if I wanted a cup of tea. I declined.
I finished the article I had been reading, and turned to some of the other literature which lay scattered around the reception. Leaflets mostly, glossy fold out numbers advertising various services of which one might, were one so inclined, avail oneself. They offered immortality at the price of your eyes, payable in monthly instalments for convenience. For your eyes, voice and left hand they'd throw youth into the bargain, although the interest rates on that pact seemed less competitive than other market leaders. They could, apparently, put you in contact with subcontractors who would repave Prague in gold for terribly reasonable rates. Open a credit card account and get a night with Helen of Troy. Of course their APR was lousy, but it's not like you actually have to use the damned thing.
Eventually I was asked through to the devil's offices. They were more Spartan than I had been expecting. Actually I'm not entirely sure what I had been expecting. Possibly I had imagined a little more in the way of quill pens and parchment, a little less in the way of ring binders. The devil himself was a small, unprepossessing man with a grey suit, equally grey eyes, and NHS glasses. I rather felt he should have had a beard. He didn't.
He asked me what he could do for me; I told him that I wasn't entirely sure. He asked if this meant that I was here for the consultation, as advertised in Monday's paper. I told him that I was. He talked me through their more basic packages. He offered me my heart's desire, but I told him that I didn't really have one. He said that this wasn't unusual, that fewer people did than you might think. He told me love was rather popular, particularly with first timers, but I really wasn't all that interested, there are some things I still rather feel should be allowed to take their proper course, besides apparently the services they offer in those areas are less than complete. They can offer assistance, they can provide simulations and simulacra but they are, apparently, bound by certain strictures relating to free will. The Office of Fair Trading would be down on them like the wrath of an angry God if they tried anything beyond their remit. He referred me to a Personal Compacts Adviser.
The PCA was most helpful. He asked me a series of questions in which I was asked to rate on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (so much that I'd sell my soul) the degree to which such things as money, job satisfaction, longevity, location and the service of devils contributed to my personal sense of wellbeing. Apparently I am the type of petitioner who values my place in the world, but who has very few direct or tangible ambitions. Therefore, according to the PCA, I am best served going for one of their more flexible plans. He recommended the service of devils, since the denizens of the lower plains of the infernal reaches can perform a variety of tasks tailored to the needs of the individual supplicant. Alternatively he asked if I may be interested in their all purpose Power and Glory account. I decided I didn't want the responsibility, so I went with the devils.
I hashed out the final details of the account with the devil in person. I was to have the service of Mephistopheles for twenty-four years, nothing payable for those twenty-four years. At the end of this time repayment would be instantaneous. I turned down the extended warranty. Apart from that it was all a matter of signing on the dotted line. I could, it appears, have made the entire transaction over the internet, but I have never been entirely trusting of e-commerce. After sale support, I was told, is available at any time through a free-phone number.
I returned home with Mephistopheles at my beck and call. Anything I desire, he brings me. I have a yacht now, and a home in the south of France. I can't say I ever actually use them - I'm not terribly fond of sailing and I don't speak that much French. The Silver Ghost I got more use out of, and while I used it I never wanted for a parking space and never got bothered by traffic wardens, but these days I can't help but feel it's a little bit pointless driving anywhere when Mephistopheles can take me there faster. I've considered joining the jet set, the movers and shakers, the beautiful people. I decided against it. After all there is nobody I could meet, no contact I could make who could provide me with more than I already have access to. Besides I've never been entirely sure who the 'jet set' actually are, or where you would go about finding them.
I packed in my job, of course. No point in slaving away in an office for eight hours a day when you don't need the money. It's not as if I particularly liked any of my co-workers anyway. Still I miss it every now and again, it's not like I actually do that much any more. Periodically I consider giving Jane from accounts a ring, seeing if she's up to anything, but I somehow never get around to it. Besides, I think I vaguely heard she was seeing that guy from the other building.
I don't get out much these days. Not sure why, just can't think of anywhere I particularly feel like going. I sometimes take a wander down Blockbusters to see if there's anything good in. It's only a couple of minutes and I don't see it's worth bothering Mephistopheles over. I've been eating a lot of toasted cheese sandwiches. They're easy, and while venison and roast peacock are all well and good in their place they're a bit rich for my blood these days, and I really don't like disturbing Him to ask for a ham toastie.
A little while I toyed with the idea of making myself. I don't know. king or something. I don't think it would be all that worth it. I'd have to talk to diplomats and I'd probably only mess it up. Besides, I had a video out that I hadn't got around to watching at the time. I might catch up on my reading in a bit.
Recently, out of curiosity, I asked Mephistopheles what happened to those to whom he had been in service before me. Apparently they're all in a call centre on the banks of the Acheron, providing technical support for diabolists.