The Devil Walks into a Bar

The devil walks into a bar. It sounds like the start of an odd joke but amongst bartenders it's a legend. There are hundreds variations to the story but it's basically the same: the devil walks in, has a few drinks, talks for a while to unburden himself of his troubles, leaves and if he's happy with the service he gives the bartender a tip usually that he lets you live.

It's was late at night and a storm was raging outside. Paul, just an average bartender, his last customer having left the bar over an hour ago and it didn't seem like anyone else would show up tonight. He picks up a newspaper to pass the time but seeing it filled with news of the rise in suicides, decides to puts it down finding it too depressing to continue reading. Paul was about to close up when someone comes in. At first he seems like a normal man in a dark suit with slicked back black hair but he has a certain presence about him that entitled him to your respect if not your fear. He sits down on a stool next to the bar and turns to the bartender.

"I'll have whatever is on tap." He said calmly.

Paul served him his drink.

"What no pretzels? Not even some peanuts? "

Paul placed a bowl full of complimentary pretzels before the man. The man looked up glaring at the bartender for his slow service. Paul having nothing waiting at home and nothing better to do he decided to strike up a conversation with his customer.

Paul asked, "Hard day at work?"

He takes a sip of his drink and said with a straight face, "It's been hellish."

"So what do you do?"

"I'm the devil, I thought it was obvious from my previous answer."

As the man began to examine one of the stale pretzels Paul to started chuckles to himself. "I'm guessing this isn't the first bar that you've stopped at tonight."

The man in the suit simply raised an eye brow and calmly asked, "You don't believe me?"

"No." That was his first mistake of the night.

The man simply snapped his fingers and the entire building began to shake as if someone was trying to tear it apart. The ground cracked before Paul's feet and flames shot out, the flames quickly climbed the walls and it only took seconds before the entire bar is filled with fire. The sickly smell of sulfur made its way through the air, Paul cut off from any means of escape looked deeply into the crack and all he can make out in the seemly endless abyss and the sound of countless screaming out in agony. Paul looked towards where his customer is supposed to be, he didn't see a man at all instead he saw a figure with massive black wings, immense horns and claws to match. He fell to his knees as the heat licked at his body, he closed his eyes and prepared for the inevitable.

He felt nothing and dared to open his eyes to see the bar back to normal and the man finishing up his drink calmly. He signaled Paul to refill his drink.

He turns to Paul to say, "Give me a whiskey this time."

Paul doesn't understand what is happening and in a mixture of habit and fear served another drink.

As he gave the man his drink, Paul found his voice to ask, "Who are you?"

He smirked. "Were the pyrotechnics and horns not enough? I see I'm going to have to spell everything out for you. I'm a demon." He looked at the expensive looking watch on his wrist. "You're lucky I have sometime to kill and that I like to hear myself speak. I've had a lot of names over the years; Mephistopheles has always been my favorite name but recently I've been going as Mister Scratch."

"You're Satan?"

"No, I never said that. I said I was the devil I never said Satan, I'm just his representative. I might let people think it but I don't say it, no one ever claims to be Satan."

"Not even you?"

"I'm one of the fallen, one of those who have met the real Morning Star, I was his third in command and when the second in command claimed to be Satan... let me just say that's when I got my job."

"So if Satan is real does that mean God is real too?"

Scratch ordered another drink and then smirked again. "You reveal yourself as a demon and people always want to know if there is a God. Yes, Virginia, God is real. I was an angel before the first war, the war for Heaven. You've heard the story, Satan raised an army against God and his army lost and was cast out of Heaven. I was one of those cast out." He finished his drink with one gulp and ordered some vodka, seemingly on quest to get drunk as quickly as possible.

"So that's why you said your job was hellish, you were in hell?"

"Yes, demons tend to spend time in Hell." He said snidely. "But that's not why I said it was hellish. It's been a rough day at work. There has been an influx of souls to be sorted. You've noticed all the suicides and the weird rain well there is a reason for that."

"You?"

"No, not me. Do you think I would be complaining if this was my doing? No, they're just a result of the end of the world."

"Wait what?"

"It's the end of the world, it tends happen a couple of times a year. The annoying things is that the world doesn't really end. Someone does something that puts the world at the brink of destruction like releasing Balor of the Evil Eye or something with an artifact like the Sword of Doom or just something that will set the world on fire."

"If this stuff happens all the time why are we still here? Why has no one noticed?"

"The simple answer is: someone did notice. It's the way these things work, if something threatens the lives of everyone someone is chosen to be the champion of man and put to the task of stopping it. That's what I hate about your little decrepit species; you don't notice the world around you it is falling apart and you might never know if just one person notices and decides to do something. Oh and the few of you that do notice get scared off and decide its better off dead than around for what's to come. Then all the suicides happen and we downstairs have to do the sorting."

Paul gave another look at the news paper. "You're saying that the world is ending now?"

"Well, I guess you can't really call it the end of the world until after it ends but this one got a lot of people talking. Everyone downstairs and upstairs is moving on this one." Noticing his drink gone, Scratch made a new request. "How about this time some tequila and cut me up some lemons."

Paul got his drink order and as he was cutting up the lemons when he asked, "But is this one the real end of the world?"

Scratch just looked at him as a smile crept onto his face. "We'll see."

"You don't know?"

"I get CC'd for all things that might end it but besides the two big powers in the Universe I'm not sure that anyone knows when it will all really end. This one does fit most of the apocalyptic signs though. If we're still here tomorrow then it wasn't the real end of the world." He checked his watch. "It's almost time for me to go too. I've got an old acquaintance to meet up with."

"A friend?"

"Listen when I say this: hell no. Let me just say one of the major players in this disaster has been a pain in my side for the last few millennium and there is a chance he might die today. I am planning on being there to watch or if the opportunity presents itself finish him up with my own hands. My boss wants his soul, frankly there are a lot of people in the underworld that would love to get their appendages on his soul."

"You're going to kill him?"

"If I can, maybe after some damage is done, I'm going to play it by ear. I think if anyone could predict the true end then we wouldn't have to have so many false alarms and all this guessing. All you can do is prepare for what might be, in my case I'm trying to get drunk before I have to deal with him. Maybe today will be the day, everyone has to die some day so might as well have some fun while I can."

Scratch finished his drink, got up, left just enough money to pay off his tab and made his way to the door. Paul saw Scratch walk away and a sudden urge took over.

Paul found the courage to speak up. "What no tip?"

Scratch turned around and with a look that seemed like genuine surprise spoke. "A tip? Here I thought only strippers asked for tips. You've got guts, I like that. All right here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to offer you one wish anything in my power is yours all you have to do is ask."

"Anything?"

"Yes, anything. What do you want? What will it be? Money? Fame? Slaves? Your own private island? The presidency? Rock stardom? Women? Men?"

"NO! Nothing like that."

"Hey I'm not here to judge what people do in their bedrooms-"

"No! It's just... I mean this isn't going to cost me my soul?"

"No, where you go depends on what you do. It's the whole free will thing, part of the reason there are so many apocalypses."

"So I keep my soul?"

"Would you like a brain, Scarecrow? Yes, you keep your soul."

"All right." Paul took a deep breath. "I want to live forever."

"Oh immortality the classic choice. Fine, just shake my hand." Scratch held out his hand.

Paul shook his hand, it felt cold and lifeless, as he shook it he felt a surge of power go through him.

"That's it?"

"That's it. There is one thing though, if you ever want to become mortal again all you have to do is say: please let me die."

"Why would I want to do that?"

"I don't know. I made you immortal I didn't do anything about healing."

With that said Scratch picked up the knife that was used to cut lemons and with one quick slash cut through the bartenders vocal cords. As blood started to gush out he fell to the ground.

"To think of it, you had the guts to ask a demon for a tip especially after trying to serve me those stale pretzels. To think I was going to leave you alone but no you just had to ask for a tip. What was it in the end? Did you get greedy? Or was it fear? You think I could save you from what is to come? Did you think immortality would save you from the end? Or did you think you needed protection from me?" Scratch bent down and patted Paul's head. "I guess you can't tell me." Scratch a gave him a smile more suited for a shark than a man. "It's been fun but I do have to go."

With that he walked out to leaving Paul to bleed, out as the door closed behind him the light on the ceiling began to flicker and sparks shot out one landing on a spilled drink. The spark quickly grew into a fire and the fire quickly consumed the bar.

A few days later after the weird weather passed a news story was reported. The story was about a bartender who survived an attack and survived a fire, people were calling it a miracle. His vocal cords were too damaged the doctors never expected him to be able to talk again and most of his body was badly burned. The doctors were trying to manage the pain with medication but he was still in considerable pain. The doctors weren't sure that the pain would ever truly pass. The most disturbing part of the story was that trying to communicate with him they gave him something to write with he just wrote one thing over and over again.

Please Let me die.

There is a story about the devil walking into a bar that not everyone knows about it. There is also a variation of the story that baristas tell involving the devil walking into a coffee shop with a hang over