The Devil really did have a very nice speaking voice, Karyn thought.
He stood before her, eight feet high, wreathed in flames and stinking of sulphur. He stared down at her with eyes that blazed with internal fires, his skin a dark red, every inch the quintessential picture of the Lord of Hell. Yet he spoke to her in a voice that sounded like it should be doing voice-over work for nature documentaries, a sort of Patrick Stewart-meets-Ian McKellen baritone that put Karyn surprisingly at her ease. “Very well done,” he said. “You should be quite proud of yourself. Archaeologists have been working with those scrolls for years, and every single one of them has failed to work out exactly how to pronounce the dipthong on that third-to-last syllable. But you, my dear...you have a bright future ahead of you. I’ll be very interested to see what you do with my offer.”
“Offer?” Karyn held the scroll in front of her like a talisman. For all she knew, it was. She was an archaeologist, not a demonologist. She’d been studying ancient Sumerian scrolls for their value as historical artifacts, not because she believed them to have some literal power to summon forth creatures from Hell. Hundreds of respected academics had produced reams of interpretations of the characters on the scroll, and not a single one of them had accidentally summoned the Great Adversary. Apparently, they’d all been reading it wrong. Lucky her.
The Prince of Darkness didn’t seem interested in dragging her back to the nether realms, though. He just studied her with interest, a crooked smile on his grotesque face. “Oh, yes, Karyn.” His smile widened when he saw Karyn flinch. “Yes, I know your name. I know how old you are, as well as how old you tell your students you are. I know that you dye your hair brown because you think it makes you look smarter, that you broke up with your boyfriend a year ago last week and that you haven’t had sex in seven months, and I know exactly what shape the birthmark on your inner thigh is. I don’t observe the fall of every sparrow like some I could mention, but I do pay attention. And I have an offer for you. A most generous offer, in fact. I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to read that scroll.”
Karyn shook her head. She’d never been a very religious person, despite (or perhaps because of) studying the ancient roots of modern religion, but every culture had its stories of “deals with the Devil”, and now that she was standing there, staring face to face with the real thing made flesh, she knew better than to accept any of them. “Whatever it is,” she said, “the answer is no.”
“You haven’t heard my offer yet,” the Devil said. “I will give you, Karyn Bell, the power to make anyone do anything you want. Simply think it, and anyone you wish will happily—nay, blissfully—obey your slightest command. No matter what it is, from the most mundane matter to the most depraved desire, it will seem like the most natural and obvious thing in the world to them to do.”
“And what do you want in return?” Karyn asked mockingly. “Just my immortal soul?”
“You misunderstand,” the Devil replied. “This is not a contract. This is a gift, offered free and gratis, with no strings attached and no obligations implied. The power is yours. It entails no lien upon your soul, save that which you incur through your own actions.”
Karyn lowered the scroll, feeling somewhat silly. “So what’s the catch?”
The Devil steepled his hands together. “The catch is that there is no catch. The power is yours, do with it what you will. Or don’t use it at all. That’s the nature of temptation, Karyn. I’m simply extending to you a greater opportunity to sin. If I’ve misjudged your nature, if the temptation of absolute dominion over your fellow man...or woman...holds no sway over you, then you have nothing to fear. But if I’m right, and the same passions lurk within you that lurk within so many of your race, then I need no contract. You will corrupt yourself, and your soul will fall to me on its own. And I will welcome you to Hell with open arms, one sinner to another.”
“Then I say no.” Karyn felt proud of herself. How many people would turn something like that down? Then she wondered about the sin of pride, and tried to temper her feelings with a bit of modesty.
The Devil shook his head, slowly. “Not an option, I’m afraid. What kind of temptation can be resisted so simply? The power is already yours; I will return in twenty-four hours, and we will see then whether or not you wish to keep it. I’ll be watching your day with great interest.”
And with that, he vanished. The stench of sulphur remained, though. Karyn felt certain the whole thing was real. But if she pretended it wasn’t, if she decided to believe that she had merely dozed off due to an insufficient amount of coffee this morning and had dreamed a devil’s dream, then surely the twenty-four hours would pass without incident?
Karyn returned the scroll to its case and set off to her first class of the day.
Temptation first set in about ten minutes later.
When the first student filed in, another freshman in an introductory class that Karyn hated but had been maneuvered into accepting by the Dean, Karyn knew at once that it had been no dream. She could feel it, intuitively, this young man would do anything she said. No, not even ‘said’—she could feel his mind from her desk, feel the way that pressure from her own will would channel his thoughts into new paths, make him long to obey her unspoken wishes. She could feel the power, welling up within her, and it terrified her. She prayed for another student to come in, to cast a wary eye on her and keep her honest.
Instead, it made it worse. When a second student entered, she realized that she could make the first boy yield to her will while keeping the second oblivious to events. Worse, she could control them both—numbers were no obstacle to her power, she sensed that now. As more and more students filtered in, both men and women, she imagined them falling under her spell, first one or two, then in groups, until finally the whole class was performing whatever depraved act she wanted them to...Karyn had never thought of herself as having much of an imagination when it came to depraved acts, but she amazed herself now.
She pictured the whole class, masturbating in perfect unison for her voyeuristic enjoyment. Perhaps she would then move to mutual masturbation, arranging the students in a circle and forcing them to stimulate the person to their right. Or she could simply make them rut for her amusement; she’d always had something of a dim view of college students’ sex drives, and turning them into mindlessly horny animals probably wouldn’t be such a change.
She forced herself to take a deep breath. It had to be the power that was putting these thoughts into her brain, she told herself. The Devil must have known she would never succumb on her own, and he decided to put these horrible, wonderful images into her head...even as she said it to herself, she knew she was lying. She looked at the clock. Five minutes before class started. “Excuse me,” she said to the students already present, “I’m just going to get a bottle of water. I’ll be right back.”
She stepped out into the quiet hallway, grateful for the solitude. Maybe she should cancel all her classes for the day, just wait out the twenty-four hours in the privacy of her own home? Would that be “cheating” in some way? Would the Devil renege on his promise to remove his gift? Come to think of it, Karyn thought, he’d never actually said that he would take it away if she asked him to. He’d said he would return, that he would ask her if she wanted to keep the power, but he hadn’t actually said he’d honor her request.
She walked quickly into the cafeteria, trying not to notice all the men and women going about their routines, and asked the clerk, “May I have a bottle of water?”
She saw it in his eyes at that moment, a subtle glaze of mindless obedience too subtle for the average person to detect, and realized what she’d done. “Of course,” he said, handing her the bottle. She tried not to notice how happy, how blissful, how fulfilled he looked to be following even a simple request. Karyn knew if she walked out the door, he wouldn’t think for a moment about asking for payment. She also realized she’d left her purse back in the classroom.
I’ll pay him back later, she thought as she headed back.
She’d never had a more attentive class, or one she did a worse job of teaching. She stammered, she stumbled, she had long pauses where she tried not to think about picking a random person out of the class and having sex with them while the rest of the students looked on in mindless silence, she drank long swigs of ice-cold water to keep herself from flushing with sexual heat, but the students still hung on her every word. She almost wished one of them would pull out a cell phone and disrupt the learning process, just for old time’s sake, but she dared not wish for it too hard, for fear of forcing it to happen.
The human will suddenly seemed too fragile to be around her, like she was walking on eggshells. Every time she looked out at her class, she could see it in someone’s eyes, that mindless, blank joy that came from following her orders. Even if they were subtle, inadvertent orders like, “Pay attention, class,” or “Write this down, it’ll be on the final.” They didn’t just do it, they loved it. They didn’t just follow orders, they obeyed. They wanted to do what she told them to do. She wondered what it felt like to them.
After class, she called up the Dean and explained that a small emergency had arisen, and that she’d be unable to handle classes or office hours for the rest of the day. He started to ask her exactly what the problem was, but she told him not to worry about it. Even over the phone, Karyn heard that tone of empty, obedient bliss in his voice as he said, “Of course.” She felt guilty about shirking her job, but rationalized it as being necessary to prevent herself from doing something worse. She locked her office, left a note on the classroom door apologizing to the students for the canceled class, and headed across campus to her apartment.
The walk was pure torment. Every person she passed, she imagined them with that same hazy, glazed look in their eyes, mindlessly doing whatever she told them to. ‘Yes, Karyn, I will lick your pussy.’ ‘Yes, Karyn, I will fuck you now.’ ‘Yes, Karyn, I will give you all the money I have.’ ‘Yes, Karyn, I will strip for you.’ ‘Yes, Karyn’, ‘Yes, Karyn’, ‘Yes, Karyn’—
“Professor Bell?” Karyn almost jumped to hear someone addressing her. She turned to see Arthur Bingham, one of her prize students, approaching. “I was hoping to take a moment to ask you about the work we’ve got due on Babylonian murals. Do you have a moment?” Arthur was gay, she knew that, she’d seen him outside of classes with his boyfriend. He’d never be interested in a woman, especially an archaeology professor in her mid-forties, she’d always known that, it had helped her to sublimate the feelings she got when she looked at his tightly-sculpted body, but just looking at him, she knew that his real sexual preference wouldn’t matter at all to him, his mind would just melt under her power like ice under a blowtorch...
“GO AWAY!” she shouted, and seeing his eyes made it worse. He didn’t look hurt at seeing his favorite professor snap at him. He just smiled blankly, said “Of course,” and turned to leave.
“Wait!” Karyn said. She suddenly realized that if she left the command at that, she might never see him again. Nobody might ever see him again, for that matter. “Continue whatever it was you were doing,” she said, “and forget that you saw me this morning.”
He sighed a long, rapturous sigh, and continued on his way across campus. Karyn practically sprinted home, trying not to think about the look in his eyes as he left.
At home, she pulled out one of her favorite toys and masturbated. It didn’t take long; she just remembered the eyes of the people she’d commanded, given those tiny little requests that were part of everyday life. But they’d looked so happy. Would it really be a sin, she thought, to make people that happy, that blissful, that mindless, blank, obedient...she shuddered in orgasm.
Of course it would, she thought as she recovered. That was the whole point. She was being tempted to find excuses to sin. She’d lived a relatively blameless life before now, been a good person, tried to educate and edify young minds, contributed to charities...really, when you thought about it, she didn’t have a whole lot to worry about in the “judging the immortal soul” department before now. And she wouldn’t have anything to worry about again tomorrow, either. Her resolve firmed as she looked at the clock, watching the minutes slowly tick away. She could stay here, at home (looking at the shabby furniture, the old television set, the things she’d always wanted to replace but had never had the money), away from people (people who would kneel in front of her in a state of pure ecstasy tonguing her clit, behind her licking her ass), and when the twenty-four hours were up, she’d never have to worry about it again. She could go on with her life.
...but if you thought about it, really, how much damage to your soul could you do in twenty-four hours? It wasn’t like she was planning to commit any mortal sins. If she gave up the power tomorrow, then surely she’d have a lifetime to repent whatever she did today? And she’d led a good life up until now, she’d be leading a good life after this point...really, it would be such a waste to have one day’s worth of this, and not use it. She would have time to balance the scales. She just needed to save her resolve for the important point, giving the power back. In fact, when you thought about it, spending the day using her gift would help her when the Devil returned. Instead of being tempted by regrets, by unresolved longing, by the wish that she’d made use of the power when she had it, she could give it up with the memories of one wild day to comfort her. Honestly, it was the best way to handle things.
She grabbed for her purse on the way out the door, but realized that she wouldn’t really need it.
First, she went shopping. She found a strapping young man with an SUV, waiting at a red light, and said, “Let me in.” With that look of obedient bliss that was becoming more and more familiar to her, he unlocked the door, and she climbed into the car. “You’re going to be my chauffeur for a bit,” she said, and the tone of pure pleasure in his voice as he said, “Of course,” almost drove her mad with desire. For a second, she thought about telling him to pull into an alley and finger her to orgasm...but no, that would come later. Shopping first.
‘Shopping’ consisted of driving around to various stores, walking in, picking out things she wanted, and commanding the store’s employees to load them into the back of the truck, erase any security records of the event, and forget that she’d ever been there. They complied—no, more than complied, they were thrilled to help her steal. They looked like they had found purpose in their life for the first time. She’d never imagined that anyone could be so happy, but just simple, mundane tasks turned into wonderful ideas when she told them to people. It took a few trips, but eventually, her apartment was completely filled with the latest in furniture, clothing, and consumer electronics...and quite a bit of cash as well. She’d asked them to empty a few cash registers at the bigger stores, and they’d been thrilled to obey.
Finally, she let the SUV driver head off to whatever he’d been doing when she met him, with orders to forget the last five hours completely, and returned to campus. She didn’t head back to her own apartment, though. She headed to a different one. Using the student records to find out where one of your prize pupils lived was probably unethical, of course, but by this point, she was a bit past worrying about that. After letting herself into the building (thanks to an exiting tenant who found herself graciously opening the security door for a complete stranger), she walked up the stairs and knocked on Arthur’s door.
“Professor Bell!” he said. “This is a surprise. James and I had just gotten Heather over for a study session.” She stepped inside, and he closed the door behind her. “Say, I saw the note on the door today. Is anything wrong?”
“No,” she said. “Take off your clothes now.”
“Of course,” he said, and the look of bliss on his face as he stripped naked sent fiery tingles all the way down to Karyn’s pussy. He looked passionate, like the act of obedience had already started to set off his arousal before she even commanded it. She wasn’t surprised at all to see that he had an erection.
She led him into the living room, and for a moment, James (who she recognized as his boyfriend) and Heather (a pretty young brunette that she knew from classes) looked startled, but then she commanded them, and their eyes went away into that wonderful place where only pleasing Karyn mattered. She had them strip for her as well, and it was the most erotic thing she’d ever seen in her life. Heather just looked so sexy with that half-lidded, vacant stare, and Karyn wondered again what it must be like to feel so good to do what you were told. That was probably what gave her the next idea; she commanded Arthur to lie on the floor, and while she took her clothes off and mounted him, she started giving commands to Heather and James.
“Play with her tits,” she said, feeling Arthur’s cock slide into her and watching the look on James’ face as he obeyed. “Heather, run your hand along his cock. James, kneel down, kiss your way down her legs to her feet. Heather, pinch and rub your own tits. James, kiss your way back up her legs to her pussy. Heather, run your hands...oh, that feels good, Arthur, don’t stop, don’t cum until I tell you to...Heather, run your hands through his hair.”
She just kept trying to think of new things to tell them to do, as fast as she could think of them she said them, because it wasn’t what they were doing that was so erotic, it was that look, that blissful expression that came upon them as they understood that the most important thing in the world was doing what she’d just commanded them to do, and it looked so hot, and... “Heather, tell me how it feels to obey.”
“It...unnnh...” She was gasping now, distracted by James’ tongue. “It feels like sex, Professor, like that moment in sex right before you cum, when the pleasure is so intense that it takes over your mind, and you know that you’re going to, oh, going to cum but you’re just on the edge and that feels even better, because you can hold it there, and when I obey, it’s like I’m holding it there, I never want to stop doing what I’m told for you, oh, oh, oh!” She shuddered, and slowly sank to her knees. James helped her sink down safely, still licking her pussy. He hadn’t been told to stop yet.
“Arthur,” she said, looking down at the man she was fucking, “tell me how it feels to obey.”
“It’s...” his eyes were so glazed with pleasure and need that he had difficulty forming words, but she could see that her command was forcing him to talk despite the panting, gasping, aching need to cum... “It’s so good,” he whimpered, “like being held and taken and fucked with your words, fucked by your mind, so good, ohhh...” Karyn felt herself ride over the edge into orgasm on hearing his mindless, chanting babble of lust and submission, but she wasn’t sated yet.
“Heather, lick and suck James’ cock. James, tell me how it feels to obey, and don’t cum until I tell you to.”
The two of them switched positions, and James began to speak. She could see Heather’s juices glistening on his lips. “It feels like floating, floating in an ocean of pleasure, like there’s nothing but me and your words, and I...” He let out a shuddery gasp of pleasure. “I can’t stop myself, but I don’t want to stop myself, I want to obey, I need to obey, it feels too good to stop myself, please, command me more, please...”
And she did. “James, come around behind me and start fucking my ass. Heather, caress my body, fondle me all over.” Karyn had never touched a woman before, never even thought of herself as having bisexual tendencies, but Heather just looked so sexy when Karyn made her do things, and...and suddenly, she felt two cocks inside her, sliding in and out, working her body in rhythm, pumping into her, and Heather’s hands rubbed her tits, caressed her neck, and it just felt so good, and Karyn felt herself sliding over into orgasm again, so much bigger than the last, so much more powerful, it was just going on, and on, and on, and on, and she heard herself gasping out, “Cum, cum, all of you, oh, cummmm...” She felt them shooting their load into her, saw Heather suddenly and spontaneously shudder in orgasm, and that pushed her past the edge into one last, deep, explosive burst of pleasure before she finally slumped down onto her students, exhausted.
And then a few minutes later, she did it all over again.
“No?” The Devil sounded more astonished than angry. “What do you mean, ‘No’?”
“I mean ‘no’. I don’t want your gift. What you have offered, I now refuse. I don’t think I can make it any clearer than that.”
The Devil paced up and down the length of Karyn’s bedroom, leaving brief flaring hoof-marks that quickly vanished. “This is impossible. I watched you. I saw you. I know you. I know everyone. Nobody ever turns this down, not ever. It’s what everyone secretly wants.” He almost sounded depressed. Karyn had to fight a strange urge to pat him on the shoulder and tell him it wasn’t his fault.
“It’s not what I want.”
The Devil rounded on her, eyes blazing. “Then what the Hell do you want?”
Karyn smiled. “I thought you’d never ask.” She explained her idea. It didn’t take long.
The Devil listened. “And why would I want to do that? It doesn’t sound like it would tempt you very much—you might wind up doing evil, but not in a way that would tarnish your soul. Free will is an important factor, you know.”
“You’d do it because...you gave me the power in the hopes that it would tarnish my soul, because I’d be tempted to make people do wicked things. Right?” The Devil nodded. “Think about all the souls that would be tarnished if you did what I ask.”
A slow, cruel smile spread across the Devil’s features. “Done!” he said. He made a complex, occult gesture, and vanished, but Karyn already felt it deep within her. He had granted Karyn her heart’s desire, and she couldn’t wait to begin using it.
The students of ‘Introduction to Anthropology and Archaeology’ waited impatiently. Professor Bell was already five minutes late for class, and they’d heard the rumors that she’d flaked out and canceled classes yesterday. Many of them were already looking toward the exit, wondering if they could get away with leaving, when Professor Bell walked in. And when they looked at her, they knew. They all instantly, intuitively realized it, without even knowing how. She would do anything they wanted. All they needed to do was give her a command, and she would obey. She would happily, blissfully obey any command she was given. All they needed to do was say it.
They began to wonder what it would be like...