Sharon’s Note: A special treat this week, a story by special guest writer, Lee McMullen. It’s a fun jaunt into one of the few universal truths, that there’s always a bigger fish. Warning: We all know what assume makes out of you and me.

Near midnight the southern country noises were good enough for any B movie. Crickets, night birds, and a sighing breeze that carried the warm humid scents of coming summer. A muted pop caused sudden silence of the night with the appearance of a man.  An onlooker would describe the man as average or nothing special but with a sense of purpose.

It felt good to be back, thought the visitor.  Several years had passed since he last had the opportunity to answer a call.  The young group that called him this night are still partying and oblivious that the dare to chant the words of the legend at a crossroad at midnight was going to have a price.  As required he had appeared on the road one mile from the crossroad. He did not know why this was so but accepted it without thought. Placing a cigarette between his lips and pulling a gold lighter from a pocket he lit up and inhaled with pleasure.

Looking at the lighter he remembered another night years before when it had come into his possession.  The feeling of elation and terror brought a smile to his face and quickened his pace toward the crossroad.  As he walked along the crumbling road the lower creatures of the night, rats, snakes, and others began to travel with him.  

At the crossroad, a group of students were celebrating the coming of spring and their approaching graduation.  It was the usual gathering of music, beer, grass, and all things teenager. Most were from the local area but some from surrounding communities because the secret party had been well publicized as the party of the year.  In all, about 100 people had shown up. The site of the party had been set at a crossing of a pair of neglected county roads far from any neighbors whom would complain and even farther for any law enforcement who would care.

At the center of the crossroads a large bonfire was set and music blared from a temporary sound system that would do justice to any club in the area.  Throughout the evening as drink and other intoxicants flowed a series of dares and challenges were issued and performed. As midnight neared a special dare was started.

Local legend stated that if you built a fire at a crossroad and repeated a chant the Devil would appear and have to do your bidding.  Most laughed at this idea but some claimed it would be fun and were soon caught up in what they would order done. The plans ranged from the demise of several loathed teachers to unlimited piles of gold.  Several suggested harems both female and male. 

The group that wanted to perform the ceremony slowly grew until the majority of the partiers had joined.  An argument on the exact words of the legendary ritual had produced a dozen possible scripts, and one suggestion that the performers of the ritual had to be naked, a fully clothed version was agreed on.

As midnight approached about 60 of the partiers circled the bonfire and began the chant.  Onlookers watched with interest, boredom, humor, or disdain depending primarily on their level of intoxication. As midnight came and passed with no apparent arrivals, the chanting crew dissolved to other interest and to tell each other how they knew the ritual was fake and stupid but they had done it for kicks.

The visitor was now approaching the crossroad.  He could hear the music, smell the fire and pot.  But what was better he could feel the lives and souls of those who had requested his presence.  The ritual had worked but he wasn’t in the mood to give gifts or follow orders. His summoners would pay with their life force and souls this night.  

As he entered the crossroads his senses could see all the partiers.  The drunks, the silly, the sad. The couples having sex in the shadows and cars especially amused him as he reached out with his power to send them intense pain followed by death and torment.  

He sent his commands then, nothing happened.  

The talking, music, drinking, and sex went on with no interruption.  Again he gathered his energy and sent the command to die. This time something did happen, time froze.  The sounds were gone and flames from the fire looked like a photograph. People were caught in mid motion in disregard to the laws of physics in some cases.

He did not understand! He is the Devil with power over life, death, and eternity.  No being can challenge him let alone thwart him. In his rage he saw her. A single young woman standing near the light of the fire.  She began to walk toward him with a look of disappointment on her face. As she neared he spoke “How dare you challenge me. I am the Devil, ruler of hell and master of your soul.” 

“No you aren’t,” replied the young woman.  

The Devil began to speak and found he no longer had a voice or the ability to move. The young woman looked at him with a calm gaze that did not match her apparent age. “You believe you are the Devil, a supernatural being.  You know you are one of the creators and masters of the universe. You’re not. ” She continued in the same calm voice, “I know this because I am.”

“Humans have this strange ability to create actual physical manifestations of their myths.  It is a strange ability and the only species in all the galaxies that have this capability.” “You are a child’s story brought to life.”  With a sad face, she explained, “This ability has been the major factor of humans not advancing to join the other civilizations in your galaxy.  Hundreds of millions if not billions have died limiting human advancement.” 

The Devil listened without understanding.  How could he not exist? He had millennia of memories of the death and destruction he had personally performed or had been performed in his name.  

The young woman spoke again, “You were called here tonight by the beliefs of these people.  They gave you form and power. Tonight I will not allow that to happen”.  

The Devil felt his being weaken and fade.  In the instance before he winked out of existence he knew that the entire pantheon of gods and devils of all beliefs were only that, beliefs, and had only the power that humans gave them and then he was gone.  He had assumed he was real.

 The young woman looked at the frozen scene and chuckled to herself, “If humans actually knew what existed in the uncountable galaxies they would know that their myths were only cartoon characters by comparison.” With a thought time resumed and the party continued.  Despite their weaknesses’ they were the best in the universe at throwing a party.

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