How did it even come tot his? A contract laid out in front of me, detailing the terms of a very dangerous agreement? Where was the turning point in my life, that irreversible pivot, that brought me down this path? Wracking my brain for the answer was futile in the moment, I knew. It didn’t stop the churning attempt.
I just wanted to be happy. I was willing to give anything to live out the rest of my days without the struggle and hardship I’d endured thus far. But this? Was this too much?
A man in a very nice suit, and a too-pretty face stood over me with a sickening smirk smeared across his lips. Hands clasped behind his back, he had been waiting patiently while I read the entirety of the document he’d presented. I was sure that most of his … clients… probably didn’t care about the fine print, but I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t anything added without my knowledge, or removed for that matter. To his credit, he hadn’t seemed even the least put out by my request to peruse.
“Are you on the verge of changing your mind? It’s not too late.” His voice was honey-thick, matching the rest of his smooth presentation. He must have noticed my pause.
“I don’t know.” I didn’t try to hide my nerves, or my lack of confidence. I figured it would be futile to try. I was his exact opposite in every way, really. Him: collected, calm, suave, ethereally beautiful. Me: near sweating with indecision, frazzled by life, homely.
“You know everything you’re getting. It’s all there. But how about this: on top of it all, I’ll grant you another twenty years in addition to your natural lifespan to enjoy it.”
“Sure, but they’ll be the super shitty years where I’m old and decrepit and incontinent.”
“Ah, smart. No, I’ll assure you retain your youth and vigor – and dignity – all the way to the end. You’ll have to go out violently, perhaps painfully, but you won’t age, you won’t be sick for even a day, for the remainder of your life.”
“And I won’t be taken earlier by some freak accident? If my natural life shows me to eighty, I’ll be here until I’m one hundred? Completely youthful and healthy, with everything else in the contract?”
“Yes.” The word was tight. He was displeased. I was pushing for a lot here, and he was clearly unhappy that I could see through to the potential loopholes.
“Put it in the contract.”
With a wave of his hand, the addendum appeared, in full, at the bottom, with a space for a signature. His infernal seal burned itself into the parchment next to it. The pressure mounted. I knew that this gift would not stay on the table long, and he was counting on me to waver so he could take it away again. I also knew that he would likely take off other provisions if I didn’t sign right now. Every delay would mean another piece of my negotiation lost. He was on edge, and trying to keep it contained. I’d been too exacting, too thorough.
“Alright.” I said to him. “I’ll sign.”
A knife and quill appeared. Blood. I should have known it would take blood to seal this pact. I attempted to keep my hand steady while I pulled the blade across my palm. The sharp edge bit with no remorse. With enough blood pooled there – and it had welled up quickly – I dipped in the nub and brought tip to paper.
It’s not actually easy to write in blood, I discovered. It’s too thick and clots too fast. My signature required several dips before it was completed, if I had not been so determined and set, it might have given me too much time to back out of the deal. Could a contract be fulfilled with only a partial signature? Curiosity would have me looking up the legalities later.
His grin when I finished was unnerving to stay the least. He picked up the contract, and folded it neatly into the aether.
“Goodbye for now. Enjoy your long life.” He bowed and was gone, leaving me to consider what I’d just done.