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The Devil and Jonathan Carter
You may say he was foolish or ignorant, but some say he was desperate. A small town in New Jersey was filled with happiness. Daises, sunflowers, daffodils, tulips, carnations and every flower imaginable bloomed during the spring season. Ranch style houses covered the green grass on Forest Avenue. Among the many houses, one stood out in particular. The dry grass in the front lawn was overgrown, the windows were dirty, and the blinds were closed. It was as if the sun did not shine on that house as it did on the others. A shadow of sorrow cast the abode. This was the home of Jonathan Carter.
Ever since Jonathan was fifteen he had a passion for writing. He spilled out all of his emotions onto paper. Jonathan loved to help others solve their problems and he had decided to combine both of his passions. He would to write books about problem solving, morals, happiness, encouragement, and life in general. After Jonathan attended Rutgers University and received a Masters degree in Literature, he began his writing career. He was 24 when he published his first book, The Lessons of Life. Unfortunately, the book did not become as popular as Jonathan expected. Living and Learning was his second publication, but it was even less popular than his first. Jonathan began to doubt his writing skills and became discouraged. After praying for over a year for inspiration and the strength to continue writing, he took one last chance. Optimism was the last book that Jonathan wrote and just like his other two books, it did not make enough of a profit. Jonathan was beginning to doubt God and lose hope.
Fourteen years of writer’s block had tortured Jonathan. He was now forty years old and had given up on life. Jonathan had no desire to write books on encouragement and happiness when he was not happy himself.
It was now winter and the cold air made Jonathan shiver. He sat on his revolving chair and browsed the internet on his Apple computer. The Oprah Winfrey Show website currently covered his glaring screen. It happened to be on Oprah’s Book Club. Oprah’s list of books was one that Jonathan dreamed to be on. He knew that once an author was part of Oprah’s book club, they would become instantly famous. Jonathan thought, “If only I could make the list!” Almost immediately, a big black blinking pop-up sprung onto Jonathan’s screen. It read: YOU MUST TURN AROUND IMMEDIATELY! At first, Jonathan was alarmed and did not know what to do. Instinctively, he turned around, his mouth opened wide, and a cacophonous sound reverberated throughout the Carter residence. A man began to speak.
“Hello Mr. Jonathan Carter,” the unknown man remarked.
“Who…who are you?” Jonathan managed to say.
“I am someone who can make you very, very rich.”
This unknown man was frightening. His face and skin were shriveled and his body was decaying. An obtrusive stench filled the small room. Oddly, the man was wearing a black suit; he was ready to do business. Jonathan came to the conclusion that the man was living, but dead!
“Let’s get to business,” the terrifying man said.
“What! What do you mean? Are you the devil or is this some practical joke?”
“You can say that. I’m the devil. It’s nice to meet you!” he said sardonically.
Jonathan was searching the room for some kind of escape, but he was cornered…by the devil. Suddenly, a brilliant idea came to mind.
“Nice to meet you too! I would like to ask you for a favor.” Jonathan played along.
“Oh, what is that favor you ask for?” the devil asked curiously.
“I want to be part of Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. I want one of my books to be her favorite.”
“No problem! You only have to pay the mere price of your soul,” the devil joked.
The devil handed a piece of paper to Jonathan with the terms written on it. He asked Jonathan to sign it with his own blood. Curious about his future after the pact, Jonathan quickly signed his name with his crimson blood.
Months passed and writing was easy for Jonathan again. He enjoyed it and was proud that he was finally making progress. Another month passed and his fourth book was published. Ironically, it was called “The Golden Rule: Honesty.” Since all of his other books had failed, Jonathan doubted the success of his latest one. As the devil had promised, the book made it onto Oprah Winfrey’s book club! Jonathan Carter was thrilled, excited, anxious, and many other emotions all at once. This was a turning point in his career as a writer. He was going to be famous.
Jonathan Carter gleamed at the sight of his name on Oprah’s book list. One thing he did not expect was for Oprah herself to call him and ask him to come on her show. He jumped for joy and accepted. Next month, Jonathan was interviewed by Oprah herself and after the show aired, he was instantly famous. Jonathan Carter hadn’t been happier in his life!
The sweltering sun shone on Jonathan as wet drops of sweat skipped down his face. He sat on a patio chair, typing up a story on his computer, and eating ice cream. To his surprise, a pop-up danced on his screen as it had almost a year ago. This time it read: YOUR TIME IS UP! Jonathan was astounded and prayed that his time wasn’t up so soon. He closed the pop-up and waited to see if it would return. Without a doubt it returned, this time it was demanding. It read: TIME IS UP! YOU MUST LEAVE! GAME OVER. The devil was serious and sure enough he appeared in front of Jonathan. On his knees, Jonathan pleaded to the devil to give him more time on earth. The devil laughed and whisked Jonathan away. On the table, the ice cream in the cup melted slowly in the intolerable heat that day, just as Jonathan Carter would for eternity.