by Darla Hogan
image by gingaparachi
It was ten o’clock on a Monday night and Joseph was ready to go to bed. It was always the same on a Monday evening, after the ritual excesses of the weekend and the shock of the first full day back at work, he was tired, exhausted and feeling very irritable. He climbed into his unmade bed and threw his head, deep into the twisted and lumpy pillows; it was always the same, when he was over-tired he could not sleep.
He reached out for his tablet and with his right index finger,pressed the little button that would bring his cyber world to life. He was not sure which site to play on, but he knew in half-an-hour from now his eyelids would be as heavy as the steel shutters of the shop he finished working in a few hours earlier. His alert showed ‘The Horny Devil’ was online and wanted to chat. He only joined the site a couple of weeks ago and already had over thirty friends. He touched the icon for ‘The Lost Souls’ site and started a conversation, with ‘The Horny Devil’.
It was the usual mild teasing and attempts at playing childish mind-games, just what he needed to make him sleepy. One of the boxes lit up and he read the friend request.
Miss Lucy Fur has sent a request to be your friend.
He touched the green tick icon and waited to see if “Miss Lucy Fur” had left him a message. The message appeared and he smiled as he read the contents.
Hi Joseph, I hope we can chat very soon; I am a devil of a woman!
He was surprised to see his name at the start of the message, his site name was “Naughty Norman” and he was sure he had never revealed his real name to anyone on here. He sent a short message.
Hi, Lucy what do you like to talk about?
I like to talk about collecting souls; in fact, I am very interested in yours. Would you be willing to sell it to me?
How much would you pay me for it Lucy?
I could offer you the standard contract; it is the most popular option.
What is that then?
In exchange for your soul, which will be mine to place in moderate and eternal damnation, you will have sixty years of perfect health, untold wealth and every woman you desire will willingly give herself to you, for as long as you want.
Sounds too good to be true, anyway, I thought the Devil was a man.
No the Devil is all woman; a man would be too lazy to take care of tormenting all those souls.
He thought briefly and asked a simple question.
So is God a man?
There is no God, only the Devil and I am she. I am very busy, are you interested in my offer?
If I were, what would I have to do?
Just reply to the email that I have sent you.
How could she send him an email, she did not have his address. He noticed Miss Lucy Fur was gone, he was back on the home screen and she did not even show up in his list of friends. His email box flashed an alert at the bottom of the screen. He open the mail sent by Miss Lucy Fur.
This contract is for the exchange of your soul. At the end of your mortal life, your soul will become my property, to be placed in eternal damnation (moderate). You will receive exactly 60 years of mortal life, during which you will want for nothing, all of your desires and wants will be totally fulfilled. To accept this contract fill in all the fields requested and chose the ‘I agree’ option.
He was feeling tired, but the fields asked for, were few and basic. He typed in his full name, address, date of birth and gender. He touched the ‘I agree’ button and waited. The screen changed to a picture of a woman dressed as the devil, he hoped this was Miss Lucy Fur, because now she had his address, he hoped she might decide to pay him a visit. His drowsiness became more intense and he placed the tablet on the floor, letting his head sink into the uncomfortable pillows.
He woke up and felt a moment of panic. He tried to open his eyes, but he could not feel his eyelids, in fact, he could not feel anything. Suddenly his vision ‘turned on’ along with the perception of sounds, he did notice there was an absence of sound, a moment earlier. There were three men standing in front of him, they were looking at him, but something was not right, he felt disconnected and disorientated. One of the men spoke, but he seemed to hear the words slightly after the man spoke them, there was a lack of synchronization between the moving lips and the words he heard.
“I think we have him back, he will need a bit of time to adjust.”
“Joseph, you can talk. Do you know where you are?”
“No, where am I?”
“I will explain everything to you shortly. Tell me, what is the last thing you remember?”
“I remember filling in a form, it was last night. Then I fell asleep.”
“What date was it?”
“It was the twenty-third of November, twenty-sixteen.”
He watched as the three men turned to each other and began a discussion. He could not hear everything they said, but he watched as they referred to a screen. He tried to move, but he could feel nothing, it was as if his body had dissolved and then spread out, to become an infinite dilution. He tried to listen to the conversation held by the three men. All he could discern from the conversation was something about the loss of someone’s memory; then, how it would be better to tell him everything right now.
“Your name is Joseph White and you died just over two hundred years ago. Sixty years before your death, you were very lucky, very lucky indeed, you won a big lottery jackpot. It was a nine-week rollover and you became a very rich man. From our notes it seems you had a Midas touch, every investment made for you, brought you more wealth. A year before you died, you made arrangements, to have your body cryogenically stored, in the hope that one day technology could bring you back. It seems there was some damage to your memory and I suspect the last sixty years of your life is lost forever. You are fortunate Mr White, it seems you knew you were going to die and you called in the team on the day of your death. We have now developed the technology to bring a few of you back; the law obliges us, to obligate the contract to revive those who did not suffer irreversible brain damage. Your body was aged beyond repair, but we have isolated your brain and made a connection to external hardware, you can see, hear, talk and remotely control certain devices. Your brain is in suspension in a nourishing solution and will remain healthy indefinitely. I regret it is unlikely your brain can ever host a body again, but to keep you occupied we have arranged for you to have access to over twenty thousand television channels. One more thing Mr White, one of the side effects of this treatment means you will never sleep again.”
Darla Hogan was born in Southampton, England. For 25 years, he worked as a Physics teacher in the UK, before realising a dream and starting his own business. He currently owns and runs Hogan’s, a sandwich shop in Blackpool (an obvious connection?). Darla has always been passionate about reading and amongst many genres, enjoys short stories and science fiction. In 2011 Darla began writing a novel, titled ‘First Awakening’. This is the first book of a quartet, which is currently available on most e-book platforms. During the editing process of this book, Darla has written and published a book of 17 short horror stories titled, Sc@re E-stories 17 #internet #Horrors. This book is currently available on Kindle and is free to borrow for UK kindle prime members.
Links for the Darla Hogan’s currently published work are: