Hell has no limits, but neither does a friend’s love ...
Actor Simon Kidd can’t believe his ears when he learns his former costar, Alan Ricks, is part of a traveling theater company in Georgia. Just a year before, Alan had been one of the hottest names in Hollywood. What’s he doing performing Doctor Faustus in a tent?
Simon decides to investigate, but when he finally tracks down Alan, he learns that hell is breaking loose in Georgia, and the Devil deals it hard.
What’s the true value of a soul? And how much is Simon willing to risk in order to win Alan’s freedom?
“No, the fear came before the gig. That’s when I ... made my bargain.”
“I still don’t understand that. I mean, Doctor Faustus isn’t real.”
“I didn’t call him to me, if that’s what you’re wondering. I didn’t find any ancient spells or employ witchcraft or even pray to him. When Grace told me she was pregnant, I excused myself and I just ... I broke down. I was so afraid. I had always wanted kids, but I couldn’t stand the thought of my baby sharing a bedroom with rats. And then ... I got a phone call.”
“Lucifer contacted you over the phone?”
Alan shrugged. “That’s not even the weirdest part of this story.”
“It’s pretty weird. Where was he calling from?”
“I didn’t think to ask. I mean, it’s not like he introduced himself as the Dark Lord when I answered the phone.”
“How did he introduce himself?”
“He said he was a friend. And he had an offer for me, if I was interested. Now, at that point, I was always interested. I didn’t even care about the details. So I asked him what it was.”
“And he asked you for your soul?” Simon asked, not quite joking, not quite serious.
“Are you going to keep interrupting me? Trust me, this story will go faster if you just let me tell it.”
“He basically told me that he’d give me ten years of professional success, and provide a lifetime of security for my children, and all I had to do was sign over my soul.”
“Why did you think this guy wasn’t a crackpot?” Simon tried to imagine receiving a similar call and he simply couldn’t wrap his mind around it. For one thing, he wouldn’t have stayed on the line long enough to hear the bizarre offer. But even if he had, he would have laughed it off.
“I did think the guy was a crackpot. Do you really think that I thought for a moment I was signing over my soul? I know how crazy that is. So I told him sure, that sounded good, and I hung up. Apparently, that counts as an oral contract.”
“What happens if you try to leave?”
Simon sighed with frustration. “Yes, I know. The contract. But what happens if you try?”
“No, you don’t understand. I literally cannot leave. When I try to get away from the road show, it’s like running in place. Like I’m in that apartment again, and no matter how hard or how fast I run, I’m always stuck in place.”
“You’re right, I don’t understand.”
Alan ran his hand over his face. “Look, if I started walking down this road, I’d never leave the road. I would just keep walking and walking and walking.”
“You can only travel with the rest of the production?”
“And you’re just going to stay here forever?”
Alan shrugged again. “I don’t know. Maybe he’ll get tired of this and we can move on to Goethe’s Faustus.”
“Prove that we can’t walk out of here together.”
Alan sighed, but he pushed himself to his feet and held out his hand. He couldn’t remember the last time he had held anybody’s hand before that night, but it seemed completely reasonable. Completely comfortable. Maybe Alan just needed the reminder that in that hour, in that place, he wasn’t alone. Simon didn’t want him to forget it. He would never be alone. Simon wasn’t going to let that happen again. He had failed his friend before, but he wouldn’t do it again.
“I did have a pretty good decade, though,” Alan said conversationally.
“Was it worth this?”
“I don’t know. You don’t get something for nothing, right? I’d have to pay for that one way or the other.”
“You have paid for it, though. Fuck, Alan, you spent ten years of your life paying your dues so you could enjoy some success. Why shouldn’t you be able to do that like everybody else? Why do you think you need to pay and pay?”
“Because no matter how much I worked, it was never enough. Do you think I would have had my Broadway show, my movies, and the television series if I hadn’t made the deal?”
“Well, we’ll never know about that, will we?”
“No, I guess we won’t.”
They lapsed into silence -- mostly because Simon didn’t know what else to say. Not a single fucking clue. Alan’s story was completely outlandish. It didn’t make any sense, and he had never heard anything like it. Was it really so easy to sign away your immortal soul? And did such a thing really exist to be signed away? Alan seemed to think so, but Simon didn’t know if Alan’s judgment could be trusted. Had he been to a doctor? Maybe the next morning, that should be their first stop. Though, he didn’t know how well that would go over in a small southern town. People there were superstitious enough that a declaration like Alan’s might result in serious problems. Unlike Simon, they would take him too seriously.