“So I push this button-” The Devil groaned. We’d been over this what felt like a dozen times. He held out a black remote with one large, candy-red button.
“Everyone,” he said.
“What if it was just a million dollars and-“
“It’s a billion dollars.” I shivered. I’m a good person. I am. But… a billion dollars.
“Yes but what if I just kept my close friends and family. For a million?” The Devil smirked.
“Do you see two buttons?” His voice was dripping with sarcasm and satisfaction. He was enjoying this. I bit my lip so hard I tasted coppery blood.
“No, but everyone I ever cared about-” The devil grinned and shrugged. He started to put the remote away; I grabbed his wrist. It was cold as death. “Wait!”
“A billion dollars. You’ll never be this poor again. You’ll never have to live in your parent’s basement again.” A forked tongue slipped from between his lips for just a moment. My heart ached. But I was so tired of being poor. I hated it so much.
Still, everyone I ever cared about? Jessica Stavnick, who I had a crush on in the third grade? Jesus, every girl I ever had a crush on. Every guy I ever had a beer with. Everyone I ever would.
“My parents?” Old Scratch shrugged.
“They’re in their sixties. You’ve had plenty of time with them. Besides, wouldn’t they want you to be happy?” It wasn’t true, but I wanted it be so bad. The Devil’s face turned to a look of annoyance. “You know what, let’s scratch the whole deal. It’s clear that-“
“Just let me think!” I begged. The Devil winked slyly.
“So you do have some balls. I’m going to make this easy. Ten seconds, then I’ll leave. With the button.”
“Of course you can. It’s just a button. Seven… six…” The button glowed and in it I saw everything I could have… in exchange for-
“Five… four…” The Dark Deal-smith raised an eyebrow, smiling. My heart ached. I didn’t want to… but you have to understand. I’d always been poor. So God-damned poor.
“Three… two…” I pressed the button.
There was a bright flash and then everything went dark. When the lights came back, Old Scratch was gone. A pile of bank statements on the floor showed me my billion dollars. And everyone I every cared for hated me. The remote sat on top of the pile.
It’s been seven years. I’m so lonely now. I still have the remote. I tried to throw it away once, and found it on the night stand the next day. I’m the only one who can see it.
I know if I press it I can have it all back; everything and nothing. My servants are loyal, but hate me because I like them. My wife is not loyal; she hates me because I love her. My parents died hating me as much as I adored them. I have a mansion. No one visits unless they need something. My only friends are leeches. Anyone I start to like leaves me.
Today I’ll push the button.
People matter more than money… right?
Maybe not today.
Tomorrow for sure.