A Modern Retelling of "The Devil and Tom Walker." | Teen Ink

A Modern Retelling of "The Devil and Tom Walker."

November 11, 2012
By Saphirra BRONZE, Auburn, Pennsylvania
Saphirra BRONZE, Auburn, Pennsylvania
4 articles 13 photos 109 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Falling is just like flying except there’s a more permanent destination.” -Some person on Tumblr

The date was October 2012. I don’t think that they’re anyone who truly knows the events of this day. Me? I don’t suppose even I know the events of that day, but what I do know, is that happened.

The tale starts with a mean and crotchety man in his mid 30’s. This man’s name was Thomas J. Walker. Tom was a miser at his best, and you would not live to remember seeing his worst. Well, I saw his worst, but that doesn’t count.

So on this day, October 15, 2012, was beautiful sunny day in a nearby Metropolis City in the south of the United States. As Tom walked through the crowds of people on the street, he caught sections of their conversations: “Look at him! Move away! Don’t give a homeless person money in the city.” Tom was well used to it by now, but that didn’t mean he didn’t mind. He scowled at a nearby street peddler. He was on his way to his job in the mailroom of some large corporation. The mailroom was an absolutely horrid place to work. The walls were never finished, it was hard to see in there, and all sorts of gasses and who knows what leaked in through the ceilings. One would question whether it was safe. Tom had worked in the mailroom for an undefined time. All anyone else knew was that he was there when they got there, and he was there when they left. Before it had turned in to the corporation, the building had been some sort of antique store, so littered in some random places around the room were old artifacts hidden in walls, under floorboards and such. Tom was just going through the motions. Just like he had yesterday, and the day before that. Tom Walker was an ambitious man; he’s just never had the power to accomplish his malevolent ideas to which he jotted down in a weathered, brown leather notebook. He changed into his blue mail uniform, and as he walked back from the lockers, he tripped on somebody’s mail cart. He growled “Jerry! What have I-.” He cut off, looking at a strange groove in the wall he hadn’t noticed before. Tom’s rare curiosity was piqued, and he stood up to investigate. You never know what you could find in here. Tom inspected the strange dent in the wooden wall, and when he pushed against it, a shiny golden knob popped out. Tom looked around warily, and tugged open a secret cabinet door. As soon as he had opened the door, dozen of spider, centipedes and other gruesome insects and arachnids poured out of the door.

“Ahhh!” Tom exclaimed. He hastily swiped at his arms and legs. He hoped no one saw that. Then his attention returned to the stampede of bugs, his adrenaline pumping quite harder than usual. They had all disappeared through a small mouse hole in the rotting wood wall. Tom peered into the cabinet slowly and the only evidence that was left of that happening was a thick spider web. He glanced around the small hallway, and then resolved to break into the janitors’ closet. Grabbing a broom, he made his way back to the cabinet and completely emptied it of the silky threads. Tom grabbed his flashlight and aimed it into the hole. He was disappointed to find that there was nothing in there. He poked around with his broom, and was about to give up the search when a glimmer of gold in the back caught his eye. Tom hesitantly reached into the wall until he was up to his armpit. He could just barely grab the sparkly treasure. His eyes glinted hungrily, for other rare and expensive items were found done in this cellar before, and what he had pulled out was a lamp. Not a light fixture, a lamp. I think Tom was disappointed by it.
He looked at it.

As Tom began to wipe the dust and cobwebs off the thing, it began to get warm, and then hot, until it was so hot that Tom had to drop it. Before it even hit the ground the sparks began to fly. It was flashing, and spinning and strange sounds were emitting from the thing. Tom stood transfixed, rooted to the spot in the now lit up hallway. Then, as if nothing had happened, it stopped, and a red smoke leaked out of the lamp. Little did Tom know, the smoke had solidified, and towering over him was a man. He had blue tinted skin, and had a very thin and flat shape besides his very large arm muscles. He was at least 7 and a half feet tall. He had tan pants, with a red sash tied around the bottom. When Tom turned around, he almost jumped right out of his skin.

“Authorized personnel only.” He said calmly. He got all sorts of random people in here.

“I am known by many names. I am the devil. Therefore, I am authorized” He said the words slowly and deliberately.

“Well I am known as—it doesn’t matter just get out or I’ll call security.”

“You are known as Tom Walker. And you will not call security, for I am all-powerful! You have rubbed my lamp, now you are entitled to three wishes.”

“You must be insane to think that—“ and just like that, the devil transformed into fox right in front of Tom’s eyes. The gears in Tom’s mind began to spin. If this man was truly, well, a genie—Tom started to grin.

“Before you may make your wishes, you must sign this eternally binding contract.” He produced a golden, glowing scroll and a golden feather pen to sign it with. Tom was already light years ahead though, he let his greed take hold and signed the scroll without even reading the terms and conditions. (He did scan it a little, and knew that something bad would happen if he finished his wishes)

“You may make your wishes. There are no limitations to what you may wish for.” He said. Tom’s mind spun. He could wish for money, revenge, or power. But he did have three wishes. He imagined himself; being a ruler for his city, wait. What about ruling the world? Tom’s excitement grew. He could wish to be the unchallenged ruler of the world. He could have whatever he wanted. He could punish those he had caused him pain.

“I wish, that I was the unchallenged dictator of the world.” And just like that, Tom felt himself lifted up off of the floor, until he fell unconscious. The mailroom was left empty, a ghostly shape a genie was left in the wooden wall. No one knew anything had happened; except maybe a security camera. There was magic in the air. And not the good kind.

When Thomas J. Walker woke up, luxurious blankets, and pillows surrounded him. It took a few seconds for him to remember the events that happened.

“Mr. Thomas Walker, may I get you anything?” A man in a waiter-like uniform asked from the doorway of the posh apartment.

“Yes.” He said. Tom was already getting used to ordering people around. “Get me a pound of bacon, eggs, pancakes and he basically was served a breakfast feast. Tom wanted to explore, and more than anything he wanted to begin shaping the world in his own, deranged image.

I don’t know what happened in this gap of the next two months, only that the world was plunged into an awful darkness. Taxes were raised; gas prices were ten dollars a gallon, huge statues of Tom were all around the city, the prisons were overflowing with innocent people, people were terrified to go outside. Tom had also made his second wish. Also through this time I was not able to find out what exactly his words were, but I assume it had something to do with having wizards’ powers. So, now we have an egotistical maniac with infinite power ruling Earth. Just think about that.

One particular story I happen to remember being told was about his horses. He never, ever fed them, never took care of them. I don’t even know why he had horses anyways. When they died, Tom made sure to have them buried upside down, so that when he died, he would be able to ride them. Personally I think this is the work of the gasses from the mailroom, but whatever.

Tom kept the devil by his side during his reign. The devil, biding his time patiently waited for Tom’s final wish. One day, he was out walking the streets of town when a group of protestors came parading down Main Street. Tom looked at them in contempt, with their radical slogans and chants. One particular protestor, a loud termagant, blocked Tom’s path and shouted in his face. The woman was never heard from again.

So, when Tom made his last wish, can you guess what he tried to wish for? Normally, when someone wishes for more wishes people say that’s cheating and such, but the devil did say that there were no limitations he could wish for.

“I wish for three more wishes.” Tom said. But the devil just grinned “devilishly.” Something was really wrong. He began to float off the ground, and fear permeated through him. His body began tingling from his feet up to his head.

“What the devil is going on?” Tom shouted.

“The contract specifically stated, that your soul will belong to me when you use up three wishes. Not when you ran out of wishes, but when you used three.” He held up three of his long fingers to emphasize what he said.

“So what is going to happen to me?” Tom asked desperately. Believe it or not this terrified Tom.

“You will live on imprisoned in this lamp, taking more poor unfortunate souls.” And that’s what happened. Tom’s body went into the lamp like a whirlpool, gone. Many, many years later, perhaps few decades, Tom passed away. And when he died, he galloped off, upside down, on his skeletal horse. Thomas J. Walker was no more. The devil returned the world to its original state, as if nothing had ever happened.

The author's comments:
This was for an assignment in English, where we had to create a modern retelling of "The Devil and Tom Walker" by Washington Irving. This is what I came up with.

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