By Ian Cho

In the cool sterile confines of his laboratory, James had no way of knowing that ominous storm clouds suddenly turned a bright, love-smattered day into a brewing pall of uncertainty and gloom.

James pushed his glasses firmly back over the bridge of his nose. Nervous sweat glistened on his face like sheen of moisture on a dew-drenched windshield of a car that was about to crash into oblivion.

He pinched the rubber end of a glass dropper and watched as a green-tinged liquid eagerly bubbled in. A small smile crept at his mouth’s edge, but he quickly quashed the premature rebellion.

With a sigh, James carefully brought the full dropper to a boiling Erlenmeyer flask. James checked and readjusted the Bunsen burner that flamed beneath. James held the dropper over the boiling concoction, and gave a moment’s pause before pinching the rubber end one last time.

The green liquid dribbled out, almost in slow motion. James knew laboratory procedure; he knew he shouldn’t have droppered this kind of liquid at this height, but he had a flare for the dramatic as well as a love for danger.

After what seemed like eternity, the liquid hit the boiling innards of the Erlenmeyer flask. James waited. And waited. And then he waited some more. Then James remembered the old laboratory maxim: “a watched Erlenmeyer flask never boils”. And so, he turned around.

The second his eyes hit the periodic table at the opposite wall, a loud bang shot from the flask. A sharp sound of glass breaking shrieked into James’ ear, and then a putrid stench of eggs vomited over more eggs sitting out in a hot desert wafted into James’ nose. But most curiously, he heard a grown man’s groan.

James whipped back to the commotion faster than Alan Rickman swirling his black cloak—as a Dark Wizards and scientists was bound to do— and in the settling cloud of gaseous eggs, stood a very, very confused Satan.

Satan took his wide brimmed floppy sunhat into his muddy flower-patterned gardening gloves and took in his surroundings.

James’ glasses slid completely off his face and crashed into the linoleum floor. The noise perked Satan back into a semblance of attention. He stared at James, glancing around a bit before saying, “Where- where the fuck am I?”

James barely heard what the Devil said, and after some time swallowing away the lump in his throat, James mustered, “a- a- are- are YOU the cure for cancer?”

Satan scratched one of his horns, shuffled his feet before replying. “I don’t— no. No, I’m not,” he trailed.

“So, do I have to sell my soul for it?” James asked. “Like Faust?”, he said, his voice quivering.

Lucifer stared at him for a moment. “Dude,” Satan started. “I was in my paddock, about to herd in my sheep when I heard a noise, and then found myself in an shit-stain of a cloud. So, I don’t- I really don’t know...” Satan looked away.

James stared intently at Satan, not wanting to lose this one chance, whatever it may be. “But can I?” he asked, his voice rising. “Is that still an option?”

“What.”

“Selling my soul, for the cure. Like Faust. Okay, not really like Faust, but you know, same concept.” James said rapidly.

“I’m sorry,” Satan said slowly, “I have no idea who this Faust guy is.”

“Faust? Goethe?" asked James "You know," he said, trying to jog the Devil's memory.

“I really don’t,” Satan said.

James looked to the side for a moment. The soft flapping of flames from the Bunsen burner was the only sound in the room besides Satan’s awkward breathing.

“But you do soul to dream transactions, right?” James asked.

“Look, I really can’t mess with anything without God’s permission,” Satan replied impatiently.

After beat, Satan gave James a gesture, “So, how about getting me back to my paddock?”

“I don’t know, man.” James said.

“Oh come on! I just told you I can’t make any deal without God getting all angry, strutting his jurisdiction in my face!” Satan snapped.

“No, look!” James said, holding his hands up, “This was a complete and huge accident! I thought you were a cure for disease! I’m a chemist, not...”

“Wizard?” Satan offered.

“Yeah, wizard,” James said. “Or an astral projectologist…?” James offered after a bit.

“What?”

“Nothing,” James quickly said. “But yeah, you’re basically boned.”

Satan forcefully took off his gardening gloves, and thew them down. James recoiled, taking several long steps away from Satan. Satan pointed a delicate finger at him, and after a moment, he turned away.

“Well, absolutely fuck this then,” he exclaimsed raising his arms in frustration before stomping off.

James stood stockstill. The sound of The Dark Lord of Hell's footsteps growing ever fainter. After a while, James finally sat down grumbling all too late, "Well, absolutely fuck you, too."