George picked the back corner at the corner bakery. His coffee cup teetered on the edge of the table as a sign that he’d paid for his right to sit there for the next few hours.
The laptop started up. He’d given up trying to learn how to work the stupid thing. It had a power button and it had an app icon. That was all he needed.
A black screen popped up. In the center of the screen was a blue orb button. Scrunching into the corner and angling his computer away from the preying eyes of the public, he stabbed the orb with his finger. The screen faded. The blue progress bar glowed bright against its black background. 25%. The counter girl glanced at him, and he wriggled further back. 87%. His leg started bouncing. 100%.
Small white letters typed out across the screen in a stead mechanical cadence. “This is a contract for your soul. You have five days remaining.” Two buttons outlining in a pulsing blue appeared. “Negotiate” and “Cancel.”
His hand clutched at scrap of paper in his pocket. It said, “I give half my remaining days to spend my final time with my wife.”
These words had been perfected. His family lawyer approved. He said it was a simple statement, but a more complete contract would provide better protection and one could be drawn up at $150/hour.
The priest at the catholic church told him that any bargain with the devil would be hallow and leave him wanting. That he risked his eternal soul by considering the exchange. George thanked him and momentarily considered tell him that his eternal soul would never be accepted into heaven where his wife surely lived.
His son gave him a sad smile and told him it would be a wonderful dream to see mom again. It was his son who suggested a fair exchange of half his days, one for her and one for him until his natural death. Afterall, George wouldn’t want to have her back for a day and lose her again. He barely survived her death the first time.
The paranormal investigation group had been so excited. They wanted to know how he found the program and if he’d read any reviews on it and if it really worked. They investigated his laptop and pressed the orb, but no one was ready to offer their soul. They asked to be present when he made the deal. Having them watch him felt too raw, so he refused, but if his wife came back to him, he’d take her by to say hello. They were nice kids and didn’t treat him like a senile old man.
He’d even asked the lady at the greeting card store. Her eyes grew round and shinny. She must have been to wrapped up in the spring love season because she gushed at how romantic it was that I still loved my wife after ten years since her passing. She had obviously never been married for forty years and grown to rely on having that person there.
There he sat. His knuckles bulged with arthritis. His hands shaking. The counter girl bending over the counter to stare at him better with horror filled large eyes.
The light around him dimmed as if the darkness from the computer reached out to consume him.
It was time to make his choice. Negotiate or cancel.