Subscribers Only Fantasy Horror Strange


By Alan Baxter
1,036 words · 4-minute reading time

From the author: This was a short horror story originally published at Daily Science Fiction. It was a finalist for the Best Short Story in the 2014 Australian Shadows Awards.


by Alan Baxter
"I need a volunteer!" Mephisto scanned the crowd, one hand shielding his eyes as if from a bright sun. His red-lined black cape whipped around as he strode from one side of the stage to the other.
Dozens of hands shot up, clamoring to be chosen. Mephisto squinted, heart hammering. He so hated this bit, but had little choice. There's always a choice, a voice whispered in the back of his mind, and he squashed it away into its dark corner.
His gaze fell upon a young boy, maybe eleven or twelve, smiling in anticipation. His hand wasn't raised, and of course, that made him perfect. Mephisto singled him out, one long finger bright in the spotlights. "What about you, lad?"
The boy's eyes widened and he looked left and right. One trembling hand rose, pointed to his own skinny chest.
"Yes, you. Come on, I'll make you famous!"
The boy's parents sat on either side of him nodding enthusiastically. Cajoling from the crowd drove the boy from his seat, up darkened...

Alan Baxter

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