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Dance With the Devil
“If you dance with the devil, you better take the lead. For if you do not, with your soul you will plead”
The world was dark; the night was black. Even the angels from above wept in the form of pelting rain drops falling to the Earth. Pain was felt from everywhere and everyone.
Persephone stood in front of her sister’s grave. Her sister, Amanda, had died in a terrible fire that claimed the lives of more than thirty people. Right now, however, the only one that mattered was Amanda, and Persephone couldn’t think past her grief.
The funeral service had been short, and everyone was gone by now. All except for Persephone. She just didn’t know how to leave her sister. Even in death, Persephone couldn’t leave Amanda. It went against everything she was.
She laid her half of their shared heart-shaped necklace on top of Amanda’s grave stone. Just as she was about to step away, a hand fell on her shoulder. She didn’t move, only slightly startled, she was too over whelmed with grief. Heat soaked into her shoulder from the hand. Not a comforting heat, but a sweltering heat, almost like a flame was kindling on her shoulder.
“Darling Persephone. Death has claimed your sister and left you all alone”, a deep masculine voice said poetically in her ear. His voice was handsome, putting her under a secret compulsion. He pulled aside her hair and pressed a kiss to her cold shoulder.
She felt like she was in a trance. Not even attempting to turn and look at him, the mysterious stranger, she tilted her head back. “Who are you?” she whispered.
His arm snaked around her shoulders and pressed to fingers over her lips. “Ssh. Don’t worry about who I am”, he said and mesmerized her senses. “I can take you away here. Take you away from this world and all of this pain that your heart is pulsing with”. He moved his hand to rest over her pulse on her neck.
She shook her head in an attempt to escape his thrall, but failed. “I can’t leave her. She’ll be afraid if she’s all alone”, she said desperately. Even though her sister was dead, she might be able to feel Persephone’s presence to comfort her to know she wasn’t alone.
She felt the nod of his head against the side of her own. “Allow me to take this pain from your heart, Persephone”, he whispered and turned her around to face him.
The first thing she noticed was his golden eyes. She could see the tint of evil behind them, but it just made them all the more mesmerizing. They were as captivating as his haunting voice. His long, flowing black hair was swept to the side of his face by the slight breeze in the night air.
Oddly enough, he was dressed in a black tailored suit. Perhaps it wouldn’t have caught her attention normally because they were in a graveyard, but there was something about this man that just screamed danger. Like he should have a big warning sign attached to his forehead.
He grabbed her hand, which looked like the size of a child’s compared to his own. That’s when she really noticed his size. He towered over her by a good ten inches. She had to crane her neck to look at his face. He trailed his fingers down the side of her cheek. “Honor me with a dance, Persephone”, he said, and she had the feeling it wasn’t a question.
She looked at him as though he were crazy. She knew that she must be. Here she was, in the arms of some stranger who somehow knew her name and was now asking her to dance with him. What next? He’s a vampire or some insanely creepy werewolf. “But we’re in a graveyard”, she said and before she could say the last word, their surroundings melted away into an enormous empty ballroom.
She couldn’t help but gape at the ballroom and this mysterious stranger. Definitely, she was going to check herself into a mental institution. That was, if she could come back to her senses in a graveyard instead of something out of a Renaissance movie.
She stepped away from him and spun in a circle to take in her surroundings. Only then did she feel the material of the dress brush against her skin. When she looked down, she noticed that the black dress she’d warn to her sister’s funeral had changed into a long golden satin gown.
Insistently, he grabbed both of her hands and coaxed her into a waltz. She’d never learned the waltz, and yet her feet didn’t miss a step. “There’s no music”, she said and tried to stop dancing, but she couldn’t.
Instantly, an orchestra of men surrounded the room and music echoed off of the walls. The Devil’s Waltz. The words popped into her head, and she didn’t know why. “What do you want with me? Why are we here? And who are you?” she asked, demanding answers.
He smiled down at her and she got the impression of slyness instead of amused. “I’ve been called many things; many different names. You may choose what you wish to call me, for there are many names to choose from”
They made a sharp spin as the music sped up and then slowed down once more. “What is the name that you were born with?”
His eyes bore into hers; she could see his anger. “I wasn’t born with a name. I do, however, prefer to go by Hayden now-a-days. It just has that distinct ring to it, wouldn’t you agree?”
She silently agreed in her head. The name was different, but it seemed to fit him, just as the demeanor did. “Hayden, what do you want with me?”
“What would you do for Amanda, Persephone? Would you face death right in the face? Would you sell your soul? Or maybe even dance with the devil by the light of the moon?
She gasped and it could be heard over the music. One of the violinists in particular stopped playing. She looked over at him, and her cry of distress was distinct when she noticed for the first time that each man in the orchestra was missing their eyes. Some were even missing limbs.
Hayden turned to look at the one who’d stopped playing. His eyes turned black and he looked like something out of someone’s worst nightmare. When the man vanished, Hayden turned back to her and his eyes returned to gold.
She tried to push Hayden away from her, but her body just wouldn’t listen to her mind. Instead, her body continued to be pliant and danced with the man she now had no doubts was the devil. She’d never believed in such Dieties.
She assumed a look of calmness on her face. She wouldn’t show any weaknesses, not with someone who was keen at finding them. “I would do anything for her”, she said with confidence.
His smile sent a shiver down her spine. “I can give you what you desire most of all. I can give you back your sister”, he said as the music slowed almost to a stop, but then the orchestra started back up once more and they didn’t miss a beat.
Hope fluttered in her heart, but she knew that there was always a catch. Some downside that would make the situation turn bad. “How?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Quite easily. However, she is dead to everyone and she is now buried with her body rotting away. As much as I would love to, I cannot create flesh and blood; it doesn’t fall under my abilities”
“What are you saying? That she’ll look like a zombie?”
A chuckle escaped his lips and he didn’t even try to mask it. “No, my darling, she will appear as normal as ever. Nevertheless, she will not appear as she once did. If she returns, it must be in a body of someone else. Someone who must take her place in the afterlife”
Despair filled Persephone. To bring back her sister, she would have to take her place. Death would claim her and her sister would take over her life, literally this time. However, she did promise Amanda that she would always take care of her, no matter what. And now was not different. She had the chance to save her sister, and she would take it. “I’ll do it. I’ll take her place”
Their dance came to a stop, but the music continued. He walked in a slow circle around her, examining her from head to toe. “Yes, I believe that you do. She can indeed return in your body, but she will expire soon after anyways. Maybe she’ll have five years at most”
“What? Why?” she asked. She was going to give her life for her sister’s life, only to have Amanda die in such short of a time frame.
He reached out to place his hand on her shoulder. “Beneath my hand, as we speak, your bones grow weaker and more fragile from the cancer that is now taking its’ toll. If you live instead of your sister, it would have claimed you as well”
She shook her head in denial. “No, I can’t have cancer. I’m her only chance, but I’ll be condemning her to a short life. I can’t do that to her”, she muttered and then looked at him with desperation. “Is there anything that you can do? Can’t you make it just go away?”
Again he shrugged his shoulders. “It’s a possibility. I can make it disappear, but what will you give me in return? There is always a price to pay, and nothing is ever cheap”
“I’ll give you my soul”, she said without hesitation and that’s when a flicker of a smile haunted his lips. “It’s what you came for, right?”
He nodded his head and pulled her into a waltz again. “It’s what I may have come here for, but now I’ve changed my mind. I do not want your soul anymore. If I take your soul, then all you will be is another victim in hell. No, I have better plans for you, my darling”
She couldn’t help when her jaw went slack with shock. “Better plans? And just what might those other plans entitle?”
Hayden tilted his head to the side to catch a better glimpse of her face. “I seem to enjoy your company. Truth be told, I have been watching over you since the day of your birth. Did you never wonder why anyone who ever hurt you was severely punished, some of them even dying in horrid accidents”
It was hard to swallow past the lump in her throat. Her breathing quickened in panic. “No, I never wondered why”, she said, but it was a lie, and she was sure that he knew it.
“Anyway, I have decided that it is time for someone to take the throne beside my own. I’ve watched over the dead for millennia, and they seem to keep getting more and more boring. I can’t even hold a conversation with most of them. Do you know how lonely that can get?”
She shrugged and he continued. “There are some that won’t even look at me because they see me as an evil creature, something disgusting that they believe isn’t even good enough to wipe their shoes on. I’ve never given into what I want, but now that’s going to change. For centuries I haven’t asked for anything, but now, I am taking”
She frantically shook her head. “No, I can’t. I can’t let you take me for the purpose of hurting others in your world of hell”
He looked away from her, seething with anger. “I do not look over only hell. I am the keeper of the dead. It’s my responsibility to give them what they deserve. However, it’s hard to do so when they look at you like you’re the lowest of the low”, he turned back to her.
“I can make sure that your sister lives past the age of eighty and that she will always be happy and never want for anything. All you have to do is just say the word and sign the contract”, he said and a piece of parchment appeared in front of her with a pen next to it.
Hesitantly, she grabbed the pen. If she had to do this for Amanda, be the queen of the dead, then she would. The pen had a spike that speared through her hand, and siphoned out blood. When she signed, it wasn’t in ink, but with her own blood.