“You are moving it.”
“I swear I’m not.”
“Then who’s moving it?”
“Honestly, I’m not moving it.”
Blake noticed four people huddled in the study when he walked passed the door on his way to the kitchen. They had turned most of the lights off and lit a few candles to set the right mood. With an amused grin he poked his head in. “A Ouija board? What are you, twelve?”
The guy dressed as Dracula, whose name Blake was sure he could recall if he really thought about it for a minute, looked up with his own grin. “Blake! My Dude! Can’t have Halloween without giving the Ouija board a whirl. It’s tradition.”
“A!” the woman with cat ears squealed and leaned towards Dracula with a giggle. Dracula bared his plastic fangs to the smart phone cat-ears was using to record everything.
“Wanna join?” the mummy — Josh, that was definitely Josh — asked.
“Maybe later,” Blake chuckled. He was sure the only spirits in that room sat in the half empty cups next to each person. While on the topic of alcohol, Blake wanted a refill.
“Guys, it’s the big guy himself!”
“Come on, who did that?”
Laughter drifted out of the study as Blake continued his way to the kitchen.
“Hey Satan, why don’t you come party with us? Some people here want to sell their soul,” Josh said, doing his best to hold in his laughter.
“You would,” the woman in a sexy nurse outfit said, pushing the mummy playfully on his shoulder.
“You’re assuming I have a soul.”
“Yeah, Satan, come hang out with us! It’s your night!” The woman with cat ears chimed in, giggling like crazy.
A sudden gust of air blew out the candles. With exaggerated screams of the women and a lot of laughter the four stumbled out of the study back into the party. In the abrupt, inebriated exit, someone bumped their knee against the side table with the Ouija board. No one noticed the planchette coming to rest on “yes”.
The party had spread out through the whole house, but the largest crowd was still in the huge living room where the sound system had been set up and the furniture moved aside to make room to dance. It was a rhythmic moving mass of beautiful bodies and bare skin. Everyone was in costume, although most of them were costumes in name only. They would probably get the wearer arrested for indecent exposure if they tried going trick-or-treating in them.
It was the best Halloween party in miles — maybe even the country. Everyone with even the slightest claim to social-media fame,every vlogger, every influencer, every hopeful wannabe, had descended upon Wright manor. Blake, as the gracious host, laughed and joked with everyone who came up to him. Half of which he hardly knew by face, let alone by name. He hid it well, but the asinine small talk was getting to him. When had having fun become so much work?
Of course his dissatisfaction had less to do with the conversation and more with Blake’s increasing fear that his party didn’t need him. He provided the place, the booze and the guest list, but in the end his guest weren’t here to see him. They were here to be seen by everyone else. It was the third year he put this heavily advertised Halloween party on, yet his follower count had stagnated and the sponsor deals were slowly drying up. Blake was facing a fate worse than death; slowly slipping into irrelevancy. And it looked like he couldn’t flex his way out.
The front door opened and for a moment, all conversation in the room stopped. Every head turned towards the woman in the blood red dress and filigree mask who had just entered. She strode into the room as if she owned the place, going directly towards the sound system. Amazingly, the dancing crowd parted to let her through, hushed whispers of “Who is that” drowned out by the droning techno music.
The woman turned the music off. In the sudden silence her voice seemed to fill the space without even trying. “Lets kick this up a notch, shall we?” A new song poured out of the speakers. Violins and electric guitars over heavy, almost primal drums. A surge of energy ran trough the crowd as they all started moving to the beat.
Blake strolled to the new guest. There was a quality about her. She didn’t need to try to draw attention to herself; she was already the star. As if a spotlight was following her where ever she went. Everyone seemed to be acutely aware of her every move. Even standing to the side as she was, she still managed to be the center of everything. He knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this woman was the answer to all his problems. “Hey, this music is fantastic.”
“It’s Vanity & Lust. Always a crowd pleaser,” the woman responded. She looked approvingly at the scene in front of her.
“I don’t think we’ve met?” Blake said, holding out his hand.
“Call me Lucy. Some of your friends were nice enough to invite me.” the woman said, still turned towards the dancing party goers. Their movements had become more fluid, more sexual than they had been earlier in the evening.
“Well I am very glad they did. I’m Blake. Blake Wright.”
“Of course, the man of the house.” Lucy turned towards her host and took his hand. “A true honor.”
“Lucy,” Blake repeated, seeing if it would ring a bell. He had a feeling it should. He just wasn’t able to tell why. “I’ve never seen someone command a room like that,” Blake admitted.
“Oh, that? An old parlor trick. Anyone could learn to do that.”
“Could you teach me?” Blake asked, much more eager than he wanted to. It was oddly difficult to keep his composure in the company of Lucy.
“Of course I could,” she said, still holding his hand. Lucy sized him up with a little smirk. “Tell me, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light?”
“What?…Oh,” Blake laughed a little embarrassed and touched the mask on his face. For a moment he had completely forgotten he was dressed in a Batman costume. “No. No, I can’t say I have.”
Lucy’s eyes twinkled mischief. “Would you like to?”
Dancing with Lucy was a surreal experience.They waltzed. Blake would have never classified the music — What did she call it? Vanity and Lust? — as a waltz. But as soon as he slipped his right hand around her waist, his ears picked up the distinctive one-two-three and his feet moved along as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
She led. Again, the most natural thing in the world. Blake couldn’t imagine dancing with Lucy and not follow. She led them away from the living room. He was aware that she should not know the way around his home, and that the music should not be at the same volume as they moved farther away from the speakers but those thoughts were faint. Like they were coming not from inside his head, but from far outside him.
Before long they found themselves on the back porch, away from the party and any other people. As promised the moon, a bright half circle, hung low in the sky providing pale light for their dance. It should have been cold out. Blake didn’t feel the cold. The places where Lucy touched him were burning. Burning without pain. His heart was racing. His breathing heavy. His mind slow and clouded. “What are you doing to me?”
“Oooh-oh-oh, so many unspeakable things,” she purred softly near his neck. Her hot breath hit his skin and send cold shivers down his spine. “But not yet. For now, we are just dancing.”
Blake tore himself away from her embrace. Immediately the biting cold enveloped him. It cleared his head a little. “You are Satan? Lucifer, Lucy for short…”
“And he’s smarter than he looks.” she smirked, and gave a little half nod in acknowledgement. “At your service.”
“At my service?”
“Oh yes. I’m here to give you anything you want.”
“Right?” Blake said, incredulous. “For my soul?”
“That’s the price, of course,” Lucy replied casually. “But Blake, I can make your deepest, darkest desires come true. I know there’s something you want. More than anything in the world. More than life itself.”
“I…” Blake hesitated.
“I know there is, I wouldn’t be drawn to you if there wasn’t. You summoned me. I never go where I’m not wanted.”
“You can give me everything I want?” Blake said. It did sound so tempting. “Wait, I wouldn’t need to, you know, openly worship you or anything right? Because I don’t think that would go over well with…”
Lucy laughed. “Oh sweetheart. No. Dealing in worship is my Dad’s thing.” She pulled a parchment scroll out of thin air. “I deal in contracts.”
“So all I need to do is sign a contract?”
“When I started out, not a lot of people could write, you know? I’ll take a drop of blood pressed on with your right index finger. But yes, just a little prick is all that’s required of you.”
“And you will give me everything I want?”
“Anything your heart desires. It can all be yours.” She assured him with a wide smile. “Just tell me exactly what you want.”
Blake paced to and fro, thinking. “I want to be the hottest content creator of my generation. I want to go viral. I want big outpourings of love from my fans… I want my name all over Twitter, and Facebook…” He spun on his heels towards Lucy, holding up a finger. “No, not just social media. All media. I want my name all over the news channels. And magazines, too.”
Lucy nodded approvingly. “Is that all?”
“No, I want…I don’t want to get old.” Blake waved his hand in front of his face. “I should never get a wrinkle. Never a grey hair. I want to always look like this. Can you do all that?”
“Oh yes. If you sign this, before the clock strikes noon tomorrow you will be the hottest creator. Your videos will be viewed by billions. Your fans will openly show their adoration for you. Your name will be in the mainstream news and all over social media. And you won’t age another day.”
Blake reached out for the scroll, his hand stopping at the last moment. He watched his hand hover above the parchment. In a small voice he asked: “How do I know you’re not lying?”
Lucy shrugged and let out a small regretful sigh. “Such distrust and I don’t even know what I did to deserve it. That’s why we’re jumping through these hoops, Blake. If you sign I’m contractually obligated to keep my word. I always honor the contract.”
“So how,” Blake began to say as he unfurled the scroll. “Ow!” the parchment had given him a paper-cut. Parchment-cut? he wondered absentmindedly as he brought his finger to his mouth.
“No no,” Lucy quickly grabbed his hand before he could suck on his finger. “Press down here, bottom right.” She guided his hand to the bottom of the contract.
“Oh, yes, of course. Stupid of me.” Blake grinned sheepishly.
“Happens all the time. Oh, I should warn you, some people get a little…”
The moment Blake’s finger lifted off the parchment he felt incredibly faint. His knees buckled under his own weight and he would have crashed to the floor had Lucy not caught him just in time.
“Yeah, some people feel a bit unwell after signing. Come on big boy, lets get you lying down until it passes.”
The Fire Investigators ruled that the fire had begun in the early morning of November first. A short-circuit, possibly caused by a drink getting spilled over an electrical outlet. Curtains had caught fire and the blaze had traveled fast from there. Fortunately the Halloween Party had mostly died out at that time and guests had been able to flee the burning building easily.
People from all walks of live were shocked to learn that the only casualty of the fire had been popular content creator and social media personality Blake Wright. Never before had the last hours of a celebrity’s life been so thoroughly documented by so many different sources. A morbid fascination gripped the nation as no one was able to get enough of the footage of a young man in the prime of his life, celebrating his favorite Holiday until deep into the night, completely oblivious of his impending doom.
There were even rumors about his parents signing a deal with a major studio for a movie about his life.
Tears flowed freely. Impromptu memorials popped up everywhere. Tributes of all kinds were uploaded all over the internet. Few people ever questioned why the death of this virtual stranger affected them so heavily. What was there to question? He had been an inspiration for all.
For months his peers on Youtube, Twitch or Instagram would retell the story. I was there. I saw his last hours.
Weirdly, no one remembered a woman in a blood red dress.