Starlight, Season 1, Episode 3: The Devil and Helene Ouellette
Copyright (c) Ben Foth 2021
Word count: 6820
Jane accidentally sells her soul to the the Devil itself. Now it’s Helene’s responsibility to bail her out of the deal and save her from an eternity of burning in lakes of flame.
And Bryce gets up to some bullshit too.
The Devil and Helene Ouellette
By Ben Foth
Jane O’Connor was grateful she’d worn flats that day, as chasing a man with a talisman around his neck down streets illuminated by the evening sun would have been very uncomfortable in heels. As if she ever wore heels. She wasn’t that type of girl, right? Not the type of girl who’s pretty, glamorous, or seductive. She’d always wonder – what was those girls’ secret?
She’d been tasked with recovering this talisman, for some reason. She was never told why. But it was an easy mission.
She tranquilized the man, then pulled the talisman from his neck and exerted herself carrying his unconscious body into an alley, away from passersby.
Jane wasn’t too physically inclined growing up. She’d done a season of lacrosse in high school, played a bit of recreational volleyball over the decades, done decently but far from exceptionally in physical education, and that was it. Until she’d joined Starlight and her boss Tom Holroyd had put her on an intense physical regimen, that surprisingly to her, she enjoyed.
Her mind hadn’t caught up with her fit voluptuous body, however. She’d still always see an average, unremarkable, plain Jane in the mirror. Plain Jane. That was a nickname she’d dread someone giving her, but no one she knew growing up ever called her that.
Jane had cleaned up her diet in her early 20s. Gave up everything processed – sugar, soda, fast food, unnatural chemicals. She had learned to cook, and she’d enjoy cooking dinner for the Starlight team if they had to stay through the evening for whatever reason. Such as that night.
The team sat around the dining room’s wooden dinner table, chowing down on the chicken and stir fry Jane had cooked.
“…then Scott was like, ‘Satanic cult? I thought we were going to a house party!’” Tom exclaimed. He and the rest of the team laughed. Tom always liked to name-drop Canada’s prime minister Scott Harrison.
Jane silently chewed her food as Tom, Omar, Simon, Helene, and Bryce were caught up in their own conversations.
“Let’s make Bryce puke his dinner up,” Simon said. “Who wants to tell him about the dog eater? If he’d joined us just a few months ago, he’d have been traumatized.”
“Oh boy, the dog eater. That was a gory one,” Tom reminisced. “Why didn’t we just shoot him?”
“We incinerated him alive, that’s what he deserved,” Omar interjected.
“Guys, please don’t tell me about the dog eater right now, whatever kind of alien that was,” Bryce said after swallowing some chicken. “I can already guess how that story went.”
Simon stood up and poured himself another glass of whiskey from the fancy wooden liquor cabinet.
Helene laughed at something on her smartphone. “Guys, look at this.”
She showed Tom some funny video on her phone. Then Omar, Bryce, and Simon extended themselves to see the video as well. They all laughed. Jane didn’t join in.
“Helene, you’re the best,” Bryce said. “If I ever need someone to cheer me up with some hilarious videos, I’m calling you.”
“Aww, thank you,” Helene said all girlishly.
What was Helene’s secret? Jane wondered. Bryce obviously thought she was hot, the way he’d always tense up around her. Tom looked very comfortable with Helene, and she was just as comfortable with him. Omar and Simon, maybe she wasn’t their type but they were still warm with her. Was it being thin? Do men only like thin, model-like women and not women built more like Jane, who was in shape and lightly muscled but still curvy? Was it how outgoing and extroverted Helene was?
“I’m sick of catching those demon cats with you,” Bryce turned to Jane. “Seems like every week, there’s a new one on the streets.”
“Oh yeah?” Jane kept her composure but struggled to make eye contact with the young gentleman.
“The first few times were interesting. But now, it’s like, every time I see a random cat on the street, I go into high alert. Then I see it’s not actually a demon cat… Except that one time when it was, and my buddy Ryan got really confused when he asked me why I was running so fast from it. Have you ever wondered where they’re really coming from?”
Jane opened her mouth, ready to say something.
“They’re from Hell,” Tom interjected. Bryce’s face got quizzical.
“Oh, um, ever been?” Bryce asked.
“Bryce, Hell is somewhere you never want to go,” Tom put his hands on the table. “Unless you’re on official business. Then they’ll let you leave. You don’t want to be making any deals with anyone from there. Because if you do, there’s almost no way out.”
“ALMOST no way?” Bryce smirked.
“Don’t count on the ‘almost’. Play it safe when it comes to the supernatural, alright? It’ll destroy you only as much as you let it,” Tom pointed his fork at Bryce.
“So, Simon, did you find out anything new about the talisman?” Jane turned her head to him.
“I’m not interested in work talk right now, Jane,” Simon half-whispered back. “But what else is up with you?”
“Just been working… And reading… And relaxing… You know, the usual.”
That night, Jane picked a book out – a romance novel – from her bedside bookshelf. It was filled with books about self-help, finance, analysis of historical events, and some fiction. Mostly the classics, and some romance novels that Jane would feel guilty about buying. Jane always saw herself as a practical woman, not a superficial one. She wasn’t like the girls who only cared about fashion and cute boys and making babies, right? She was a girl with some real ambition, some real depth to herself, right?
As Jane’s eyes went through the words of her romance novel, she imagined herself as the young heroine – a small-town girl who’d moved to the big city to work as an accountant… Spending more and more time with her boss – her young, wealthy, savage, animalistic, secretly compassionate and broken-hearted boss… Who one night, just takes her and ravishes her right in his office.
No, not Tom.
Tom… If his heart was more open to me, Jane thought. She imagined herself and Tom as the leads of the story. Tom overcome with desire for Jane, staring her right in the eyes, bending her over on his desk and filling her with himself. Filling her heart with his.
Why am I like this? Jane beat herself up. She hadn’t had a proper boyfriend in years, and their sex life was fairly vanilla. He’d penetrate her for a bit, touch her in a bunch of places, then orgasm and go to sleep. He’d sometimes even choose porn over her.
Jane imagined herself and Bryce in a car together. Bryce Waterman, the mysterious new addition to the team. What did Jane know about him? He was a blogger, bit of a degenerate, but rising up in his career with Starlight. And he was fit and strong and had that masculine je ne sais quoi… What if he and Jane were alone together and he opened his heart to her? Had his way with her right there in the car? A female passerby opening the door and desirously kissing Jane on the lips.
Jane pushed her fantasy away and thought of more practical things – work, reading, her health. Her under-eyes were slightly more wrinkly than they used to be. What cream could she buy for that? Then her practical thoughts and career woman persona melted away. When was she ever going to belong to a man? Have him to call her own? She returned to her fantasies and reached into her panties.
The next day, Jane sipped her usual coffee order – small dark roast, milk, no sugar – at her favourite cafe while reading her latest refined-looking book that she hoped made her seem smart, studious, and interesting.
Jane scanned the lunchtime lineup, hoping some successful, smart, confident, professional man would notice what she was reading and chat her up about it. But that fantasy would never come true for her.
Jane was 24 and single. All the men she’d date were lacking, even if they were making good money and ready to settle down. Jane would go on the same date every time; those men could only talk about their paycheques, their boring feelings, their boring families and boring hobbies and boring trips to interesting places – and boring mundane things absolutely anyone could talk with her about. They didn’t turn Jane on like the men in the romance novels did. Her career excited her more than they ever could. Other men would seemingly turn her down at first sight or on the first date. But why? She was in shape, professionally successful, and well-read. A catch, objectively.
“Is this seat taken?” A clean-cut, white collar, late-20s gent asked Jane.
“Oh no, it isn’t, go right ahead,” Jane looked up from her book at him like a deer in headlights.
“Thanks, you have a nice day” the young professional man dragged the seat away and brought it to a table of his similarly refined colleagues who were chatting and laughing their lunch break away.
I’m Jane by the way, she imagined herself saying. I hunt aliens and other weird things for a living, but I can’t really tell you that, so I’ll just say I do boring admin work at the government. She buried her eyes back in her book while glancing at the group of men who didn’t seem to notice her.
Whatever, he’s probably boring and unexciting like all the rest. Back to work, Jane told herself as she shut her book and put it back in her tote bag.
The team crowded around Simon in the conference room as he gave them his analysis of the talisman.
“Nothing weird about it,” he said. “Did every scan and every test I could, and it seems like it’s Earthly in origin. Those guys who thought it had special powers were probably just on something.”
We get it, Bryce, you’ve done drugs, Jane thought.
“But Jane, at least you got yourself a new fashion accessory,” Tom joked. “Anyway, slow day today. No orders from me, but if something comes up, I’ll tell you guys. Oh wait, Bryce, supply closet’s a mess, can you please clean that up?”
“On it,” Bryce said, with the same enthusiasm he’d have about a hunting mission.
“Jane, my office!” Tom said.
Jane followed Tom into his office. He sat at his cluttered wooden desk, full of alien figurines and paperwork. Band merchandise, books, and esoteric artifacts filled the shelf behind him. Jane’s heart beat faster.
“Close the door please,” Tom said.
Jane closed the door. She sat in front of Tom. Blood rushed to her face.
“So Jane…” Tom said. “Now that you’re doing a lot more field work, I’d like to follow up about the raise you asked me about.”
Jane’s heart slowed and her tension let up.
Jane checked out her new talisman necklace in Starlight Manor’s women’s bathroom. It had been calling out to her, so why not try it on? It went well with her conservative blouse. Could it be her new signature item?
“Hey, Jane,” a thin blonde woman in a tight red dress reaching her shapely mid-thighs passed by her. Jane jumped.
“Um, who are you?” Jane asked, perplexed.
“Scratch that,” she said, putting her hands on Jane’s shoulders and resting her chin on one of them. “I know you’re Jane O’Connor, and you’re quite the sinner.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Gluttony, all the sweet indulgences you used to binge on. Pride, how you look down on those who don’t have the success you do. Lust, I’ve seen what you like to read before bed. Wrath, not really. You’re a calm woman, externally at least. Greed, trying to have it all but only getting some of it. Sloth, those times you’re lazy when you could be working. And envy. Oh, envy. It’s like a perfume on you.”
The blonde woman sniffed Jane.
“Are you a demon?” Jane asked. “My boss said not to trust beings like you.”
“Does your boss… Tom… really know you?” The woman said, staring Jane’s reflection righti in the eyes. “Or what you really think of him?”
“Are you a demon?”
“You can say I’m the devil himself, excuse me, herself. Excuse me for a moment.”
The woman walked into a stall and urinated fire into the toilet. She stayed standing up. She flushed the toilet and washed her hands.
“Now, about why I’m here,” she continued. “I saw you at the cafe looking all sad and lonely, feeling all ignored, so I thought I’d come here and do you a favor.”
“What kind of favor?” Jane asked.
“This kind of favor,” the woman morphed into a rugged, square-jawed man in a white suit with a red tie, long flowing blonde hair, and red eyes that quickly turned blue. His voice turned deep and velvety. “Remember how the cheerleaders and the athletes and the party girls had the boys drooling over them, while you, Jane, you had your head in the books and the TV dramas and never gave any of the boys a chance? Maybe some of them actually wanted you, but they all went for the prettier, more popular girls in the end. The girls who were so mean to you.”
“What was those girls’ secret?” Jane blurted out, mesmerised.
“They were women and unashamed of it. Girlish. They were extremely female,” the sexy man said. “You were barely one of the girls with how in-your-head and frumpy you were. Now you wonder why you can’t get a man. You need a bit of the devil in you, you good girl. Of course, not without your consent. Even I pride myself upon only being with people who consent to having me.”
Fantasies rushed through Jane’s head. Other women seeing her looking like a famous model on the street and wishing they could be as gorgeous as her. The sexy man in front of her whisking her away from paperwork and reading… Was that what she was missing, a bit of devilish femininity? She imagined herself dressed as a sexy devil at a party, and everyone’s eyes being on her exposed curves.
“You’re sure thinking about it,” the Devil said. He summoned a paper contract out of nowhere, and clicked a pen made of charred brimstone. He offered both to Jane. The pen and contract stayed levitating after he took his hands from them.
“Of course, I should read it first,” Jane twitched with temptation.
“Here’s the gist of it,” the Devil crossed his arms. “You become extremely female, I make you one of the girls, you get into the clique you’ve always wanted to be in, you get the man who makes you feel more alive, and I get your soul. How about it?”
“My soul?” Jane’s excitement faded.
“You’ll be in service to me for all eternity, Jane O’Connor. But it’s a pretty good deal, you get the social life you always wanted, you finally feel like a woman, and I’ll treat your soul as well as I can.”
Jane stared into the mirror. The floating brimstone pen pricked her finger and drew her blood. It floated above the contract.
“What’ll it be, Jane?”
“I’m not signing it,” Jane said, infuriated.
“Oh, but you want to. I can feel it. I feel how badly you crave it.”
Jane put her hand on the pen and clicked it. Her blood dripped from it onto the dotted line on its bottom. She pulled it away from the contract.
“Wait, did that count?” She asked.
“It’s all I needed,” the devil said. “You’re mine now. Enjoy what I have to offer.”
“Wait, but I didn’t…”
The handsome man shapeshifted back into the woman in a red dress. She hugged Jane and kissed her on the cheek while bending one calf upward.
“Thank you!” She said, then disappeared into a portal made of fire.
Jane shuddered as she stared her reflection in the eyes.
Jane strutted down the street in a tight, bright red top, black cargo pants that hugged her curves tightly, and black skate shoes. Her new talisman necklace dipped into her cleavage. She’d usually have her long black hair in a conservative bun or ponytail, but this time, she let a few strands out on each side to frame her soft face. Every handsome man she passed by glanced at her.
She entered Starlight Manor feeling like she was on fire. Helene checked her out and her jaw almost dropped.
“Jane! You’re looking… Daring,” Helene said.
“Just trying a new hairstyle, do you like it?”
“I love it,” Helene emoted. “Your necklace too. It goes so well with your top.”
“Thank you!” Jane savored the girl talk, which she hadn’t had in forever.
“Jane, go with Bryce!” Tom passed by the ladies. “Bring a carrier, it’s another demon cat.”
Tom scanned every inch of Jane with a startled look on his face, but he didn’t say anything about it and went on his way to the kitchen.
Bryce drove Jane through a suburban neighbourhood. He looked more rigid, more tense than usual.
“So I’m going out tonight,” Bryce spat out. “Just me, my buddies Chad and Ryan, and a couple girls. Just hope work doesn’t get in the way.”
“Can I come too?” Jane blurted out. “Sounds like fun.”
“Um, sure. The more, the merrier. What’ll our cover be?”
“I’m just your coworker. Say I do admin.”
“There it is!” Bryce spotted a pretty white cat strolling down the street. “Another one of these fuckers.”
The two Starlight agents got out of the car. Bryce carried the cat carrier.
“Pspsps,” Bryce got the cat’s attention. “Come here, kitty.”
He turned to Jane.
“You know, what if this isn’t the cat we’re looking for and we end up kidnapping some random stranger’s cat?” Bryce said. “Let’s make sure.”
The cat approached Bryce and he petted it while being prepared to jump away. It manifested its fangs. Bryce prepared to tranq it. But it lovingly meowed as it rubbed itself against Jane’s leg, eyes still red, fangs still out.
“Why’s it like you so much?” Bryce said, confused.
Jane picked the cat up and embraced it. The cat purred and licked her face.
“That’s weird, all the demon cats I’ve met were absolutely pissed at Starlight,” Bryce said.
Bryce, Jane, Chad, Ryan, Claire, and Rachel sat around a club table that Rachel had reserved for them. The dance floor under red lights was slowly getting more and more packed, as was usual on a Friday night there. A server came and the entourage ordered their drinks.
Jane pulled her shoulders back, accentuating her cleavage to Chad, who was sitting right in front of her. He looked like the guys in her romance novels, with his tall, muscular, burly physique and perfect full head of hair.
“So Chad,” Jane put her hand on Chad’s upper arm. “I see you work out.”
“I get a lot of lifting done at my job too,” he said. “I do construction.”
“Construction? Must be rewarding,” Jane imagined what Chad must have looked like at work. Sweating, laboring in dirty, tough clothes in the hot summer sun, his sweat sticking his gray t-shirt to his skin, his eyes darting to Jane as she walks by him…
Bryce and Ryan chatted with Claire and Rachel.
“He stabbed a huge spider to death!” Claire said. “I was so scared! I wanted to run away so bad!”
Rachel, a girl who looked like Tom if he was a young female student with her jet-black hair, ripped black jeans, and tucked-in tight women’s band t-shirt with its sleeves cut off, looked at Bryce like a deer in headlights.
“Wow, that must have been so brave,” Rachel said. “Were you scared?”
“I was more scared for Claire,” Bryce said. “Wow, Chad and Jane are really hitting it off.”
The group turned their attention to Chad and Jane on the dance floor. Chad was pushing and pulling with Jane.
“She’s my coworker,” Bryce sighed. “I helped my coworker get with my buddy. Lucky for her, I can keep a secret.”
“You guys got classes picked out yet?” Ryan asked.
“Yep,” Claire said.
“Picked all of mine today!” Rachel said.
“Shit, I was so busy with work that I forgot today was the first day for that,” Bryce said. “But I’ll get on it.”
“This is my song! Let’s go!” Claire exclaimed, then dragged Rachel and Ryan to the dance floor by their wrists. Bryce followed them. They all joined Chad and Jane, who couldn’t keep their hands and lips off each other.
Rachel had her eyes away from Bryce, but she kept bumping into him. Why was she so clumsy? Bryce thought. He kept dancing. Then he spied Chad and Jane leaving in each other’s arms. He didn’t interfere.
After the club, the entourage sans Chad and Jane sat down at a shawarma place together.
“Ugh, these guys can’t leave me alone!” Rachel whined, scrolling through text conversations on her phone. “They keep asking me for nudes and to meet up, but I like it when a guy talks to me and compliments me in person. I don’t bite.”
“Please never bite me,” Ryan said. He and Rachel chuckled.
“I’m done for the night,” Claire said. “I’m going home. Ryan, do you wanna walk me there?”
“Sure sure,” Ryan said.
Claire hugged Bryce and Rachel with a bubbly “byeeeeeee”. Ryan fistbumped Bryce and hugged Rachel.
Rachel finished her shawarma sandwich. Bryce was still working on his.
“Are you gay?” Rachel asked.
Bryce swallowed. “No, why?”
“It’s just that I’ve never seen you try to get with a girl. Are you single, or..?”
“I consider myself married to my job these days. It keeps me very busy.”
“Where do you work?”
“I’m an intern at the government.”
“Nice. Must not be too exciting though.”
“It has its animated moments.”
“Wait, you’re not into any girl right now? Not any girl?”
“Still got a bit of my ex to get over. But she can get fucked.”
“Oh no, what happened?” Rachel said faux-empathetically.
“I smoked too much weed, did too many drugs. The booze, she was fine with, but she hated seeing me high. She told me it was like I wasn’t even there. She told me to quit the weed and the drugs or she’d break up with me, and I chose getting high over her cause I didn’t think she was serious about it. I did really well in school even if I’d get high all the time, so I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”
“Do you still smoke? I could go for a smoke.”
“No, no. I quit getting high when I got my job. Trying to go the rest of my life without getting high on anything.”
“Okay, good, because I don’t like weed that much. I just do it socially sometimes. Even if me looking punk rock says otherwise.”
“I like your look.”
“Aww, thanks,” Rachel put her hand on Bryce’s forearm. “Can you walk me home?”
At Rachel’s doorstep, Bryce prepared to say goodbye to her.
“Well, I guess this is goodnight,” he said. “I have work in the morning, so I should head home.”
Rachel didn’t move.
“But I could come in with you,” Bryce said.
Up in Rachel’s studio apartment, its walls covered in posters, random books and girly things on its desk and bookshelf, she and Bryce leaned back on her black bedsheets, cuddling each other. Rachel stared up at Bryce, waiting for him to make a move.
“You really want to hook up with me, don’t you?” Bryce said bluntly.
“Yeah, you fucking idiot,” Rachel said. “You really cute fucking idiot,” she cuddled closer into him.
“It’s just, I don’t know, I’ve never really hooked up with a girl before. I mean, I had sex with my ex, but we were a couple.”
“Bryce, stop killing the mood. Maybe this’ll help you get over your ex,” Rachel, frustrated, pulled Bryce into a makeout and put her hand on his erection.
The next day, Bryce showed up to work in the same clothes as the previous day, with bruises on his neck and more of a spring in his step.
He ran into Jane on his way into Starlight Manor, who was also in the previous day’s clothes.
“I need to know,” he stopped her at the front door. “Chad!”
“He was so vanilla,” Jane poured out. “But he was so hot, oh my God. Oh my Gooood. I hooked up with him. Please don’t bring it up at work. I hooked up with Chad Preston. Oh my God, he was hot. And he smelled so good.”
“Don’t worry, I can keep a secret. But my neck is a different story.”
Jane also had a spring in her step as she did some boring paperwork to start her day, planned a shopping trip with Helene, and overheard Omar and Simon debating whether time travel is possible during their first coffee break of the day. Simon did his best to contain his laughter when he saw Bryce’s neck.
Then Jane took her first trip to the bathroom.
“So, how’d you like it?” The same seductive blonde in the red dress greeted Jane as she exited the stall.
“It was everything I dreamed of,” Jane said. “Being the popular girl, hooking up with the hot guy, feeling like a girl instead of just a person. How long will this last?”
“I’m afraid your time being a free woman is up,” the Devil teased. “I said I’d give you everything you dreamed of. So let’s go now.”
“I didn’t think it’d be a DAY,” Jane said. “Please give me more time, I can’t go so soon.”
“Jane, you agreed to this. You have to honor your contract. It’s unbreakable.”
“No, no, no! Help! Somebody help me!” Jane screamed.
Tom and Bryce burst into the bathroom.
“Jane, what is it?” Tom said, concerned, ready to kill, gun in his hands.
“Her!” Jane pointed to the woman in the red dress.
“Oh, you again?” Tom whined. “Jane, don’t sign her contract.”
“Um, Tom, that’s the thing… I signed it. I didn’t mean to, but…” Jane said with shame.
“Oh no. Oh no no no,” Tom’s face became full of sorrow. “Jane, I’ll miss you.”
“Wait, what’s going on?” Bryce asked, confused.
“You can’t see her,” Tom said. “Your heart’s too pure. She only appears to people who’ve sinned so much, they’re going to Hell if they don’t repent and atone, or people who have some trials ahead of them that’ll test their heart’s purity. Me, I have a lot of repenting and a lot of atonement left to do.”
“Wait, Hell’s real?” Bryce exclaimed. And what I did with Rachel last night didn’t count as sinning? “Does that mean…”
“Too many questions, too little time!” Tom interrupted. “Jane, the only thing you can do with her is take it to trial. Find some way to break the contract. I know one man’s done it before. Can she get a trial?”
“The contract was clear, Tom. Unlike you, she couldn’t resist it and her language when she met me wasn’t so colorful. I’ll be taking her to Hell now and you’ll sadly never see your dear Jane ever again.”
“What an ending,” Tom said. “You get what you want without a fight. How satisfying is that? Not very. If your contract’s really that indestructible, you’d crush us in court no matter how great our arguments are. Wouldn’t that be so much more satisfying?”
“I see your point…” The Devil said.
“Bryce, get Helene,” Tom said.
Jane, Tom, the Devil, and Helene occupied the leather couches of the conference room.
“Jane is well within her rights to demand a fair trial, seeing as both your meetings have happened on Canadian soil,” Helene said, showing her legal background. She’d been in law school before joining Starlight, after all. “And the trial will have to happen here, not in Hell. We need an impartial judge and jury.”
The Devil snapped her fingers. She and Jane and Helene were transported to an underworld courtroom made of jagged stone and lit by flaming torches.
The judge was a demon with black eyes in a robe made of hyena hide and holding a gavel made of bones. The jury were all damned souls who’d rejected God.
“We said, not in Hell!” Helene raised her voice.
“Oh, I know,” the Devil said. “This is my basement apartment in Gatineau.”
Thus, the trial began.
“So I, Satan, have reason to believe that no violation of my unbreakable contract occurred, neither under Canadian nor Hell law, when Ms. O’Connor pledged me her soul. She read it, and agreed to all of it. Didn’t you, Jane?”
“Well, I didn’t read the whole thing!” Jane spoke up, then whispered to Helene. “That counts, right?”
“But you still signed it,” the Devil said, manifesting the floating contract again. “You signed it in your blood, see. That one drop was all I needed. Just like when you don’t read the terms and conditions to a website or an app, Jane, doesn’t mean they’re invalid because you ignored them.”
“Satan, Lucifer. Can I call you Lucifer?” Helene said.
“Oh, I’m not Lucifer,” the Devil said. “Lucifer’s trapped in ice, in the deepest circle of Hell.”
Jane and Helene’s faces turned to confusion.
“Anyway, Ms. Devil…” Helene continued. “Satan… What exactly were the terms of this agreement?”
“She’d feel like the pretty popular girl she never got to be, be with a boy who really turned her on, and then I’d get her soul in exchange. It wasn’t too complicated or wordy. I never specified how long it would last, and it was framed as an immediate exchange anyway. No compromise from me, Ms. Ouellete.”
Shit, Helene thought. She sat down. “Jane, were you in a sound state of mind when you signed it? You weren’t under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, mental health conditions…”
“No, Helene, I wasn’t. I was perfectly sane and sober.”
“Bryce, sign this,” Tom handed a small card and a pen to him in the conference room.
“Deepest condolences?” Bryce read the cover.
“We have these laying around for every team member just in case, and spares in case the one delivering it dies on the way. Saves us an unexpected trip to the store. Still need to get some for you.”
Bryce opened the card. Tom, Omar, and Simon had already signed it. “Dearest condolences to the O’Connor family. Jane was a valuable asset to our team and we’ll miss her with all our hearts. Tom, are you really giving up on Jane like this?”
“It’s the Devil, Bryce. You can’t win against the Devil if you agree to its terms. The only way is refusing its contracts. So Jane’s spending eternity in Hell, and we’ll just keep doing what we do. We’ll tell her family she drowned or got hit by a car, or whatever BS cover story Helene thinks of. So how are you?”
“Um, fine, I guess.”
“Fun night last night?”
“Because of my neck?”
“Yeah. And you’re wearing the same clothes two days in a row.”
“She was fun. Could go for that again.”
“Just don’t get too attached, Bryce. The job may last, but people don’t. Your youth won’t last either. You’re the better part of a decade younger than me. Have your fun while you still can. Go to the parties, have your wild adventures, make your memories, have fun with the girls, stay in touch with the guys. Because one day, you’ll lose it. You’ll grow up just a little too fast, get replaced by the new generation of young guys taking on the brave new world and thinking anything’s possible, and wish you could go back and do it all over again, knowing what you know now. You’ll get sick of it and wish you weren’t so sick of it. You’ll wish you took more risks, said the things you wanted to say, did the things you were too scared to do.”
“Don’t want to be a coward,” Bryce half-heartedly said.
“This won’t last, brother. No one ever lasts. Look at Jane. Look at me. I regret not giving her more to remember us by before she left. I could have hugged her. But you know what? I’ll remember her. Even if she’s burning in Hell for all eternity, I’ll remember her as a good woman, a valuable part of this team. And I’ll carry on doing what I do. Let yourself feel the grief, let it flow through you, but don’t let it consume you. You’re allowed 10 minutes in a day to be sad, then you have to be a man about it. The world won’t slow down for you just because you’re grieving.”
Bryce put his arm around Tom.
“I’ll keep all that in mind,” Bryce said.
“Now let’s wait for Helene to get back.”
Helene had presented every possible legal loophole she knew to get out of a contract, but the Devil’s case was airtight. Jane had consented with a sane, sober mind. She knew the deal and the risks. She wasn’t coerced. Both she and the Devil carried out their sides of the contract. The drop of blood was a valid signature, though Helene had done her best to challenge that.
The Devil stood haughty in her corner of the court, looking at her sharp, sleek red-painted nails that matched her dress. The jury of damned souls cackled at Jane – another poor, greedy sinner doomed to suffer with them forever.
“Why’d you do it?” Tears entered Jane’s eyes. “Why me?”
“I don’t come to you for the first time, Jane. You come to me,” the Devil said. “You decided to wear the talisman with my image. You were craving to sin, you good girl. I took that as a cue to say hi and fulfil your desires.”
Helene consoled Jane as she cried on her shoulder.
“Now, if there’s nothing else to say…” The black-eyed judge began.
“Objection!” Helene exclaimed.
Jane jumped in her seat.
“My client, Jane O’Connor, is a Canadian citizen. Born and raised in this beautiful country,” Helene stood up straight and open. “She’s served it quite wonderfully as an invaluable part of the Starlight team. And under Canadian law, she is not guilty of any crimes in this case. According to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Jane has the right to life, liberty, and security. She can’t be unlawfully detained or imprisoned or removed from society in any way. Now, your contract may have been perfectly valid, Satan. But it was signed on Canadian soil, putting it within our legal jurisdiction. It goes against our laws. Against our Charter. You may be powerful, Satan, but you’re not above the law. Jane O’Connor is a beautiful soul who is entitled to her comfort, freedom, safety, and security. And I look forward to many more days of working with her.”
The Devil clapped. “Pretty speech, Ms. Ouellette. Almost brought a tear to my eye. But sadly for you, Jane still consented. I’m lawfully taking her soul, both under my law and yours. This is a lawful seizure of property, under contract. No eloquent speech will unbind your client’s soul from me. Abandon all hope, Jane.”
“You could let me stay on Earth,” Jane chimed in. “I’ll be yours, but I’ll work for you on Earth, not down here.”
The Devil laughed. “That’s cute. Bargaining. They all do it.”
The Devil snapped her fingers. A fiery portal to Hell opened up in front of the judge’s stand. Screams and cries of the damned echoed out of it, distorted but somewhat intelligible, agonized, begging someone, anyone to save them.
The devil laughed haughtily. “I’m afraid this one’s going right to Hell forever, Daniel Webster.”
“Who’s that?” Helene was confused.
“Oh, just me being dramatic,” the Devil looked back at her nails. “Your dear Jane’s far from the first poor soul who’s dripped blood on my contract.”
“Say that again!” Helene exclaimed.
“I’m afraid this one’s going right to Hell forever, Daniel Webster!” The Devil said with the same dramatic flair.
“No, what you said after that.”
“Oh, just me being dramatic. Your dear Jane’s far from the first poor soul who’s dripped blood on my contract.”
“Dripped blood!” Helene slapped her palms together. “Sounds passive, like Jane accidentally signed the contract. She was unaware she was signing it, if so!”
“Ms. Ouellette, it’s over…” The Devil began.
“Do you have visual evidence of Jane signing the contract?” Helene interrupted.
“Absolutely,” the Devil snapped her fingers. A large, floating flatscreen TV appeared at the front of the courtroom, showing the Devil meeting Jane, pissing fire into the toilet, transforming into a man…
“Of course, I should read it first,” Jane said on the TV.
“Here’s the gist of it…”
Do I really look like that? Jane picked her filmed self apart. I look so fat in those clothes. That ponytail makes my face look so wide. And my ankles…
Helene crossed her arms and watched the footage intently. So that’s why the toilet looked so burnt, she thought.
“I’m not signing it.”
“Oh, but you want to. I can feel it. I can feel how badly you crave it.”
Jane put her hand on the pen and clicked it. Her blood dripped from it onto the dotted line on its bottom. She pulled it away from the contract.
“Wait, did that count?” She asked.
“It’s all I needed,” the devil said.
“Stop right there!” Helene said. “Rewind it just a bit!”
The footage showed the same thing.
“See, Jane actually didn’t consent!” Helene said. “She was unaware she was signing it! She even said right there, ‘I’m not signing it!’ followed by psychological, manipulative coercion from the Devil. Followed by Jane clicking the pen in response to it, pulling away, unaware she’d just signed the contract! She didn’t enter this agreement freely! She was coerced and unaware she was doing it! You even drew her blood without her consent!”
The jury of the damned gasped. The Devil’s eyes widened.
“And you said… Even you always ask for consent, except not with Jane, as we’ve just seen, rendering this contract null, void, against both Canadian and Hell law, and an absolute piece of garbage I wouldn’t even use as toilet paper! Do you have anything to say about that?”
“No. Well played, Ms. Ouellette,” the Devil said. “You’re the second person to ever beat me in a court of law. I’ll admit I got a little too impatient taking Jane’s soul. Bad day.”
“My verdict is clear. I rule the defendant…” The black-eyed judge said in a deep, booming, shrill voice. “…Guilty! Ms. O’Connor is free to go and her soul will remain her own property.”
He banged his bone gavel. Light enveloped Jane and Helene.
Back in the conference room, Jane, Helene, and the Devil rejoined Tom.
“We won,” Helene said.
“Good. So why’s she still here?” Tom pointed to the Devil.
“I’m here to tell you your fortunes before I go,” the Devil said. “Let me tell you where your current and future sins are taking you.”
“Fuck off, Satan. We reject you,” Tom said. “We don’t need to hear any more out of you.”
“Okay, past sins then,” the Devil added. “Tom, you should tell your team the real reason Alyssa and Jacob died. Too bad they went to Heaven. You won’t be seeing them ever again, Tom. Oh, you degenerate…”
Then the Devil disappeared into a fiery portal.
Tom leaned back onto a couch, looking borderline catatonic. Helene attempted to comfort him.
“Just go,” Tom pushed Helene off him. He stayed on the couch, staring into space, too drained to move.
When Jane got home that night, she changed out of her form-fitting clothes into sweatpants and a zipped-up hoodie, and put her hair up into a conservative bun.
Jane stared at her bookcase, indecisive, imagining the man she’d want to share her bed with – tall, strong, refined, savage with a sweet side, intimidating but caring – feeling safe cuddling in his arms, then… Jane took a sharp breath in and out.
She wasn’t going to find him by reading books and staying in her head.
Jane brushed her teeth and spit her toothpaste in the bathroom sink, then fixed her eyes on the covered-up young woman in the mirror.
She let down her hair, pulled her hoodie’s zipper past her cleavage and let it down to expose one of her shoulders. Jane coyly leaned on the bathroom counter as she gave the mirror a seductive glance and devilish smile.
- Starlight and The Devil and Daniel Webster officially exist in the same universe as of this episode. (read it here!) It’s one of my all-time favourite stories and writing my own adaptation of it was the most fun I’ve had writing Starlight so far.
- Shawarma is life. And the shawarma scene in Ottawa is unparalleled by anywhere else I’ve been.
- I fucking love cats. Even if they’re demonically possessed.
- Jane’s character arc in this story didn’t come from my imagination; it’s a feminized version of one I had in real life 😉 I had my own head in the books and the TV dramas back in high school (even if I was jacked and fun and putting myself out there). Then as an adult, I got to know myself as a man and a sexual being, not just as a person. What would I have sold my soul for as a teenager or young adult? About the same things Jane did. (and I actually did, but that’s a story for another day)
- The original ending was Jane adding a Bible to her bookshelf and starting to read the scripture. It fucking sucked and the half-assed moral message was way too forced, so I changed it to something more natural and satisfying.