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Danny Faustus

by Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley

Scene: A college room on Staircase 2, October 1984.

Danny stretched out in his Trinity room, a Leslie Thomas novelette hanging limply between his finger and thumb. He sensed a disturbance in the air — a chill praeternatural wind accompanied simultaneously by an apocalyptic banging upon his door. He awoke from his semi-slumber with a start — rushing toward the door, trembling as he opened it. He came face to face with a deathly pale figure, wearing a mirthless smile with the very faintest traces of blood leading down from the corners of its mouth to an erratically blood-stained collar.

‘Ah — Danny Henrey. I understand,’ the figure recited slowly, ‘that you’re a new English graduate here. Welcome,’ he said, proffering a scaly hand as cold as ice, ‘to Trinity.’

He then began to laugh, it beginning as a dry sound like the shaking of marbles and curtain hooks in a glass jar, building up to an insane cackling — wilder and weirder than any human utterance — like some hell-abused Jackal. Danny was shaking slightly with mingled horror and fascination — for he could not help being turned on by the sheer machismo of the Satanic figure.

‘May I come in?’ the figure inquired.

‘Um ... I suppose so. Would you like a seat?’

‘Thank you,’ he said slowly, regarding Danny carefully as he said so. He stared at Danny’s collection of Romantic poetry on the bookcase and wandered idly up, picking a ‘Penguin Classics’ Byron selection off the shelf.

‘I hate the Romantics myself, I really hate them! Did you know that Byron once raped a serving-maid, threatening her with his pistol?’

His voice lapsed into a languid Oxonian drawl, barely audible:

‘But he had power over her. Power ... power ... power ... power. Mmm ...’

He turned around suddenly, addressing Danny, clasping the palms of his hands between his finger and thumb in a razor grip. Danny squeaked with pain.

‘I suppose you were wondering who I am? All you need to know is that you willed me to be here. You summoned me. I can do things for you.’

‘No!’ said Danny, ‘No! I didn’t. What are you talking about, anyway. I never heard such rubbish. Get out! Get out!’

But he knew that his resolve was not strong. He backed away and sat down in a corner of the room. ‘I want to be President of the M.C.R., and —’ his voice became a hoarse whisper, ‘President of,— the Byron Society!’

‘Ambitious little scum,’ rasped the creature, ‘do you know what this will cost you? Your soul — your soul! I do hope you realise what that means.’

‘I don’t believe in any of that stuff anyway. I’m an atheist. And anyway I don’t care,’ he moped.

‘Very well,’ said the creature. ‘I can do these things for you. But there will come a time when you will have to pay — with your soul!’

On this word the creature dissolved into a thin blue-grey smoke, which fled quickly through the open window, seeking its refuge in All Souls.