The Price

Lilah sat curled on the sofa with her stockinged feet pulled up beneath her. Her once beautiful dress was now all torn frills and faded black ribbon. Her ebony curls spilled haphazardly from the bows that had kept them pinned to her head and now fell in messy strands around her pale, cherubic face.

She reached over to the elaborately carved mahogany end table piled high with books and plucked one from the top. Looking down at the large volume in her delicate little hands, Lilah saw that she had chosen Dante's Divine Comedy.

"Perfect," she sighed contentedly, settling herself down for a long night of reading. Suddenly, the night's serenity was broken by an urgent knocking at the door.

"Now who could that be?" Lilah murmured before setting the book down and easing herself up to answer the door. She crossed the foyer with slow, graceful steps and hesitated upon reaching the door. A faint sense of foreboding was tugging at her mind, trying to convince Lilah to step away and go back upstairs to the safety of her room. But what could there possibly be to be afraid of?

Lilah cautiously flipped the latch and pulled the door open just wide enough to peer out at her unexpected guest.

He was a tall man, towering far above Lilah's petit frame. He was dressed finely in a clean black suit and wore a matching wide-brimmed hat. His entire face was in shadow. All Lilah could see of his skin were two stone-gray hands with fingers curled into claws like a gargoyle's. An overwhelming aura of darkness and menace spread outwards from the Black Man.

Lilah tried to scream, but found that there was no air left in her lungs. The darkness was closing in around her, pressing down, asphyxiating her. Lilah fell to her knees in the doorway, unable to move or speak.

The Black Man looked down on her and shook his shadowed head.

"What a pity," a deep voice rumbled out, seeming not to come from under the broad-brimmed had, but rather echoing out of the night from all directions. "I trusted you. I really thought you'd remember your promise. But instead, you act just like all the others, ignoring my reminders until it's too late. Well, now it's time for me to collect my payment."

As he spoke, the echoing voice seemed to drift farther and farther away, becoming each second more faint, until all Lilah could hear was a deafening silence. She knew she should be feeling fear, or even panic, but the darkness was pressing in too hard, smothering all emotion. Waves of blackness erased the world before Lilah's eyes, and she slowly fell away into the void.

A/N: For those of you that didn't catch the reference, the Black Man is the Devil, and the price is Lilah's soul. I figured I'd explain this here in case I never get around to writing the rest of the story and you're left wondering.

This was written as a challenge my sister gave me to include all of these words and phrases:

Black ribbon, Dante's Divine Comedy, Gargoyle, Asphyxiate, Faded, Foyer, End table, Urgent, Faint, and "I trusted you".

This is the first time I've ever written a story based on words from a challenge. Please review and let me know how I did.