"You know, selling your soul for a bucket of sherbet ice cream seems a little extreme," Louisa said.
"Not just a simple bucket of it. A huge bucket that reaches to the heaven!" Nick said, raising his hands to the sky in praise the sun pose to fake excitement.
"This deal with this devil you've met... it seems fishy," Louisa noted.
"Well, it is a fish devil from the Arctic Ocean near the north pole. That's how I can get the ice cream."
"Whatever. But if things go wrong, don't tell me I didn't warn you."
Nick had only seen the bloody corpse. His parents explained that a burglar had stabbed his sister to death and that his mother had found her first soon after that when it had already been too late.
Not that he would ever admit it even to his BFF, but it was not the sherbet ice cream that had prompted him to summon the devil. No, he, unlike everyone else who had ever been in his family, hated sherbet and each time he thought about such ice cream in detail, it became difficult to fake even interest, let alone excitement. It was his dead sister, Sasha, he was looking for from the deal with the devil. There had to be a way to connect with her spirit, and if someone could do it, it was a devil.
Yes, even a fish devil living in the coldest of seas.
And his sister had liked fish as much as sherbet, ice cream and ribbons, so it would only make sense that a devil associated with fish would be able to help him.
"Son, I need to talk to you about something," Nick's father said. "Come over here. Now that you are an adult, it's time to talk man-to-man."
Nick believed this was about the truths of life school had taught him, but he followed his father. It would not hurt to hear the manly wisdom, no matter whether he had already heard it or not.
"You do remember that your sister was killed back when you were young, right?" his father asked.
"Of course I do! You and mother said that it was a burglar's doing," Nick noted.
"There is something you were never told about it. Your mother doesn't want you to know but... I think you should know the truth."
"What is it, father?"
"Your sister wasn't killed by a burglar."
"What?!" Nick exclaimed. "Who was it then?"
Nick's mouth fell agape. "No, it can't be..."
"Your mother and I both knew of the incoming rule of having only one child made by the same parent. It was meant to cut population growth, but it also meant that any extra children had to be killed while the oldest was to be left alive. Your mother did not want you to die so... she chose Sasha."
"No... you're lying. It cannot be..." Nick could not believe it.
Or was it that he did not want to?
If the fish devil helped him, Nick would find out the truth.
It was best to get on with the summoning and hope for the best.
Sasha was trying to tie her hair with her pink ribbon, her favorite. It was not going well, so her mother helped while Nick followed her hands' movement intently, swearing that one day he would help his sister with her hair.
Some years later, fate decided that that day would never come. Or was it their mother who had decided it? Nick was not sure anymore.
The funeral was small yet painful. Nick only remembered the ribbon on Sasha's hair, the ribbon that he snatched as a memento when no one was looking. No one even noticed it was no longer there.
When the devil appeared, Nick was ready with the old ribbon in his hand. There was a strong, sickening smell of fish in the air, but he was determined to take it for his sister's sake.
"Who calls upon my power?" The fish devil asked with a deep voice.
Nick kneeled and raised Sasha's ribbon high in to the air so that the devil could see it. "O' mighty fish devil, I call upon thy power. Help me seek out the spirit of this girl whose ribbon I hold."
The mighty posture of the devil collapsed and it looked at Nick, baffled. "So... you are not here to seek fish?"
"No," Nick told.
"Then I cannot help you," the fish devil said, starting to dissipate. "Go find a spirit devil or something to help on your quest."
"But... wait!" Nick exclaimed and ran towards the devil, but the summoned being was already gone.
He looked at the ribbon, then sighed.
"That fisherman was right. This could've never worked. I guess it's time to research these spirit devils and figure out how to summon them... I hope it's not too difficult... I need to find out the truth."
Nick was not exactly sure when, but he did notice that something was strange about his mother after the funeral. It was as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
And each time he mentioned her seeing someone like Sasha, seeing her in a dream or thinking that he had seen her ghost, each time his mother had paled...
The more he thought about it, the more it looked like his father had told the truth.
The only thing he needed now was confirmation.
Confirmation from the only person who knew the truth.
The Gauntlet 2021 9: The Man Who Hardly Spoke
Anyhow, this is the story I came up with. I got the idea of going non-linear with flashbacks, and I think it went fine.
This story (c) Me