By Charles Etheridge-Nunn
So the devil turns up at my door.
“Hi,” I say.
“Hello,” he says, smiling. “I’m the devil.”
“I guessed. You’re not really doing much new with the look, are you?”
“I demand a cupcake.”
I look at him for a moment, “Don’t you mean a soul?”
“No. I want a cupcake.”
“I’m not sure I even want you in my house.”
“I know what you were making in there. I demand a cupcake.”
I look back into the house. All we can see from the front door, from the front windows, is the living room. He can’t see the kitchen, where the freshly-baked chocolate cupcakes are. Not unless he was sneaking around the back of my house.
“Were you sneaking around the back of my house?” I ask him.
“No,” he replies. He looks sheepish. Well, like a sheep with horns and a tail and red skin. “Just let me in so I can have a cupcake.”
I shake my head, “If I ask you in, you’ll try and take my soul.” I know that’s one of the rules for vampires, but you can never be too sure with monsters.
He sighs, “How many times do I have to say it, I’m not after your soul. I just want a cupcake.”
“And not my soul?”
“NO,” he says, loudly.
My first excuse is, “You’ve walked all over my lawn and I don’t want muddy hoofprints all over my carpet.”
“I cleaned it just this morning.”
He looks down at the crème-coloured carpet. Nothing special, but still he says, “I understand. It’s a nice carpet.”
“Could you bring a cupcake out here to me, then?”
“I’m not sure I should be giving a stranger one of my cakes. They’re for my class tomorrow.”
“I’m not a stranger. You know me. I’m the devil!”
He had a point, and not just the tail kind, although that was whipping around gently in the night breeze. In some ways I guess he’s like a celebrity, but with more dignity. “If I give you a cupcake, will you leave me alone?”
“Yes,” he says, kicking the ground like a petulant child.
“And If I do, you promise you won’t try and take my soul?”
“Yes,” he says again and I remember this is the devil I’m talking to. I probably shouldn’t annoy him more than I already have.
I smile, turning on happy teacher mode “Then you can have a cupcake. Just don’t tell your friends, otherwise they’ll all come round here trying to get free cake.”
He grins and I see a big mouthful of sharp teeth, jagged shining knives in rows going further and further back, like a shark. As I start to go back inside he licks his lips. With the giant forked snake-tongue, it’s a little disconcerting.
I enter the kitchen. The cake tray and the spare little empty multi-colour cake cups are still spread over the table. Random globs of chocolate icing around the bowl, ready to be cleaned after I’ve had a crafty steal of what’s left in it. The cake mix packets half-full, ready for another batch next week. I pick one out, indistinct from the others. I don’t want to play favourites with the devil, but I don’t want to give him an ugly cake, either.
I bring it out, still a little warm, the icing not quite solid, but ready for the eating. I take one step closer to the edge of my house and hand him the cake.
He looks at it, disappointed.
“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“I don’t like chocolate. Have you got strawberry?”