Ruth's hands shook as she opened her bag. She glanced around, seeing nothing in the darkness of the cave beyond the pool of light cast by her flashlight. She pulled out a cloth bundle and set it carefully on the dry packed dirt at her feet. Next to it she placed a cracked, leather bound journal and a Swiss Army knife. Sitting crosslegged, she picked up the journal, gingerly turning the aged pages until she came to a drawing of a dagger. Silently, she read the words she had already memorized.
She put the open journal on her lap and carefully picked up the cloth bundle. She unwrapped the soft cotton revealing a dagger. Its blade was chipped and rusted with age. She could barely make out the twisted serpents on the hilt. So much depended on this working.
Balancing the dagger on her knee, Ruth opened the pocket knife. Pausing, she tried to decide if it was clean enough. Her mouth twisted in a wry smile. After she finished here, a tetanus shot would be the least of her worries. Not for the first time she wondered if this was mistake. "It has to work. It has to."
Before she could reconsider again, she drew the blade across her palm, blood welling in its path. Hissing at the sting, she quickly grabbed the hilt of the dagger and stared hard. "Please," she whispered.
As blood dripped down the hilt, the dagger began to change. The serpents shone, their eyes clear blue diamonds. Rust flaked off the blade revealing a razor sharp edge. Eyes wide, Ruth felt her heart slow. Even knowing what was supposed to happen, what she'd hoped would happen, her stomach clenched at the proof in her hand.
"It's been a long time," a silky voice whispered in her ear sending chills down her spine that had nothing to do with the cool air in the cave. "A very long time." Breath caressed her ear, stirring the fine hairs at her temples. Ruth jumped to her feet, pointing the dagger into the darkness. "Why have you called me?"
She swallowed, forcing herself to focus. "I seek to break a Rule."
"Yes. Of course you do. They always do. But why have you called me?"
Please work. She squared her shoulders. "I want to make a trade. My soul for a favor."
Suddenly he was in front of her. His golden hair fell in waves around a chiseled face. High cheekbones slanted under ice blue eyes. He lifted a hand towards her breast, holding it slightly above her heart. Ruth flinched.
"It's a lovely soul," he murmured, his eyelids drooping. "It would be a beautiful addition to my collection. The clean ones have powerful reasons to turn dark."
For a split second, the cave echoed with the cries and screams of the damned. Nausea rose in her throat.
"And what," he ran a finger down her arm, leaving a trail of ice in its wake, "favor would you like?" His hand whipped out. He wrapped it around the back of her head.
"So many have sold themselves to me. Money, fame, revenge." Scenes of blood, murder, hate filled her mind, his musical voice at odds with the visions in her mind. She locked her knees, willing herself to hold strong. "Which do you want?" His hand gentled, cradling her skull.
"My son," she gasped. "I want a cure."
He released her so suddenly she staggered.
"A cure?" He recoiled, his eyes narrowing.
"Please," her heart pounded. "A cure for my son. I want him to live."
"And you think I can break this Rule?"
"I know you can."
He tilted his head, considering. "Just who do you think I am?"
"Um," Ruth shifted her feet. "I think you're, well, the devil."
The man's eyes widened, his face spasmed. Then, to her bewilderment, the cave filled with the sound of his laughter.
This is a bit of fiction that popped into my head when I read the Write on Edge Prompt, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." And now I kinda want to finish it. It was a lot of fun to write outside my comfort zone.
Any concrit is, as usual, appreciated.
14 hours ago