"Ah want no part in this," she said. "Yuir going to have to find it on yuir own." -click-

Irish chicks. Can't love 'em, can't hate 'em, can't blame 'em for not wanting to follow you halfway across Europe.

Moira and I were old college pals. Well, a little more than that. Actually, a lot more than that. We were pretty intimate for a while. The whole "I love you. You have my heart, my soul, my everything" deal. Heh, college is long past now. We both graduated class of '89 with honors from Oxford. Dominus Illuminatio Mea, eh? Yeah, well he left me a while ago and all that's left is the shade.

Que sera, sera–as the locals say. Whatever will be, will be. I hate that song, but the words ring true. I'll do this without Moira's help, the only reason I need her is because I'm scared. I'd much rather not leave France on my own.

Ever get that feeling? That feeling that you can only say what it is in French? I get that feeling all the time. I feel this uneasy feeling of repetition and that there's something missing. Empty, like a hunger that can't be satiated–I didn't think it would feel like this. It's his fault. Well, not really. It's my fault for getting involved. Stupid move. I figured that if Johnny could do it, why couldn't I too?

Long story, short: We met, we chatted, we made a bet. I lost, I lost it, and now I need it back.

Tomorrow. I'll try to call Moira again tomorrow. I'm scared.


"Hello?"

"Moira, it's me."

"Ah thought ah told ye. I'm not going."

"Please. Moira, I can't do this on my own."

"Ye know how ah feel about this. Ah told ye not to do it in the first place."

"I know. I made a mistake, but I'm scared Moira. I'm fucking frightened."

"Ah'm sorry. Ah won't be seein' him again. One time is one time too many. Ah won't be makin' it twice."

The next thing I hear is a dial tone, and an operator asking me to please hang up and try again.

I guess I'm on my own. Scared to fucking death, but I can't live in this uneasy, perennial feeling of nothingness anymore.

I need it back. I'll take my chances with him, and if I fail, death will be easier than the alternative.


I knew where he'd be. I don't know if it's the preternatural connection I have with him, or if I just know his type, but I boarded the next train to Berlin. I'd come armed, but conventional weapons would make no difference. It was a Sisyphean task to gather the cojones that I needed to get on that train--and I'm in no rush to arrive at the destination. Just recalling the stench of the room from when I met him last was enough to send shivers down my spine. Again. And again. And again. I can't do this. I can't stop now, but I can't do this. God–no, Hell is more like it–Hell, what am I going to do? The strain and worry on my mind is too great, I haven't been able to get a good night's sleep in... I can't remember the last time I slept. I yawn, and suddenly it feels as if there are fifty pound weights on my eyelids.


I wake up to the sound of the conductor telling all passengers that we've arrived at the Berlin terminal. It's imminent now. I can feel–sense him–and that feeling again, the one that's in French, cuts through my mind the way a Japanese hibachi chef slices through vegetables in mid-air.

I start walking at a pace in between a jog and a leisurely stroll. Not fast because I'm in no rush to be there, and not slow, because I want this over with.

I arrive at the Feuer und Schwefel Café, and see him, right where I knew he'd be. His back is turned to me, but it's impossible not to recognize him for what he is. As I approach him from behind, he doesn't see me walking towards him. He says, "I knew you'd come. Have a seat."

Sweating now, and having a difficult time staying still without bolting off, I sit.

He speaks. I panic.

"Have you come to wager something more, my dear man? I believe you still have one thing left which I want," he says with a mirthless grin.

"No." I gulp back the vomit kicked off by the anxiety of this situation. "I've come to take back what you've taken from me. I can no longer live without it."

He laughs, but his laughter is more of a maniacal cackle than an actual laugh, "But my good man! We have already been through the rules, you knew what was at stake when you signed the contract."

Fear takes me. I don't know what to do. I don't know if I'm scared, or if it's just the aura that he gives off, but I muster up the courage for an audacious reply. "Please. I know, and I know you always win. It was stupid of me to bet with you, but–I can no longer live like this. Please, I'm begging you, is there anything else I can do, anything I can trade? Please, please, please..." I break down into tears and kneel by his boots, my hands covering my face.

He cackles again, "When I'm here, I'd appreciate no public displays of groveling. Down there, yes–but when I'm up here, no."

I attempt to regain my composure, but to no avail. The best I can do is look up; the weight of his evil force is pinning me down.

His laughter stops. "I see you're serious, " he says with a sick grin. "Well my dear boy, are you familiar with the Bible? Specifically, Exodus 21:23–27, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' I believe it goes, yes?"

I hold back more tears, "I... used... to be. I know... what that... means."

"Well, I simply cannot just give it back to you. I will return it to you on the condition that you provide me another, and this offer is good for the next 15 seconds." He places a piece of parchment paper down on the table and a quill, already dipped in ink.

I don't know what to do. I panic even more. My chance at living a normal life again, without these constant, torturous feelings. I have to think fast, but what can I offer him in trade?

I hear him counting, "7, 6, 5..."

God, please forgive me for what I am about to do.

"4, 3, 2..."

I grab the quill. Deftly and swiftly, I write on the parchment. I finish, just as he says, "1... Zero." And can no longer take the pain of what I am doing. I collapse on the floor in greater tears and suffering than before.

He snickers and says, "The transaction is complete." He snaps his fingers, the parchment bursts into flames and disappears. "Now I shall return what was once yours, along with a receipt of your injustice, for you to bear for all time." I faint. Darkness overwhelms me.


When I wake up, I am no longer outside the Café in Berlin, but back in my room in France.

I wonder, was it a dream? Did I really do it? Praying that I didn't, I step out of bed and go to wash my face.

Looking into the mirror, I notice dark markings all over my right arm. I glance down at my arm to read a message made out in burnt flesh;

I hereby offer to you, the Prince of Darkness, the soul of Moira Callaghan in exchange for my own.

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