Fiction Friday: The Demon’s Favor

I first met Mr. Yao at a political rally, although this meeting didn’t occur in the conventional sense. Everyone attended the rally to raise money for street repairs. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing anyone would protest against. But you never know what motivates other people.

Everyone’s cheers and chanting fell. Muffled screams and load pops moved closer to the door. A man with a white beard crashed through the glass doors.

“Everyone run! He’s got a gun!”

Screams filled the room. Only the loud pops from the rifle broke through the screeching and yelling. I hid around a corner with two others. People fell like sacks of potatoes. Blood crawled along the grout between the tiles. Constant screaming. More rifle pops.

The active shooter turned towards me. I closed my eyes with my hands in the air; waiting. The screaming stopped; no noise.

Am I dead?

I waited a moment. Silence. I opened my eyes. Everyone stood frozen in place; like wax figures.

Is this death? Does time stop when you die?

That’s when I met Mr. Yao. He walked up to me while everything else remained motionless.

“Good evening, Mr. Pion. My name is Mr. Yao. I have a proposition for you.”


“You see, you are about to get shot. I can stop this from happening. I can save your life.”

“How? What’s happening?”

“As you may or may not have noticed, I have stopped time. I can only hold it for a couple more minutes, so you must make a decision. Would you like to live…”

He pointed at the active shooter.

“…or die?”

“Of course, I want to live!”


With a smoky poof, a stack of papers and a pen appeared in Mr. Yao’s hands.

“I need your signature before we can move forward.”

I stared at the contract.

“What’s the catch?”

“Simply this, I do a favor for you today and in return sometime in the future, I will call upon you to do a favor for me.”

“That’s it?”

“That is it. Nothing more and nothing less.”

“What if I don’t do your favor?”

“Then you die like you should have to today.”

He remained calm and cool during the whole conversation. Everything about him looked pleasant except his smile; that wolfish grin.

Is this a lie so he can eat me?

“Time will be starting up soon, Mr. Pion. Sign or do not. It is your choice.”

I walked forward, took the pen, and signed my name.


He turned the page.

“And sign here.”

He turned another page.

“Initial here. Initial again. Sign here. Mother’s maiden name. Sign again…”

“Can’t I do this all with one signature?”

“And finally, stab your index finger with the pen and smear the blood on this page.”


“I am kidding. That is a terrible joke.”

“What the hell, dude!?”

“Hey, lighten up Mr. Pion. I saved your life. And please do not call me dude.”

With a puff of smoke, he was gone.

“NO!” The shooter said.

The rifle jammed. Police fired their pistols. The shooter dropped to his knees and the rifle fell to his side. He choked on his own blood and fell to the floor.

“The target is down! Move in!”

The shooter looked up at me, struggling for words.

“Your turn.” He said.


Seven years passed, and I never thought of that day; a bad dream long forgotten. I lived alone, with my dog Max. I got home one evening excited to see my floppy eared friend.

“Hey Max. I got you a new bone.”

“Hello Mr. Pion.”

“Jesus Christ!”

With a lump in my throat and chest pounding, I grabbed the umbrella next to my door. Max put his head on the floor with his tail wagging in the air ready to play.

“Your jasmine green tea is delicious. And my name is not Jesus.”

“Who are you? How’d you get in my house? How’d you get passed my dog? Why are you sitting in the dark drinking my tea?”

“I am very offended that you do not remember me, Mr. Pion. I only saved your life many years ago from a misguided shooter. But to answer your questions, you may recall my name is Mr. Yao. I come and go as I please and Max is unaware of my presence, and I’m waiting for you to turn the lights on. Allow me.”

He snapped his fingers and the lamp next to him lit up. Max didn’t acknowledge him and acted as if only I stood in the room.

“I apologize; I didn’t recognize you.”

“No harm; no fowl. Do you recall the agreement we made?”

With a poof, a stack of papers appeared in his hands.

“I owe you a favor, don’t I?”

“Excellent memory, Mr. Pion. Yes, it is time to repay that debt. I am afraid you will not commit to what I am going to ask of you. Do keep in mind, by signing this document, you have already agreed to the undertaking. Would you like to review the contract before I continue?”

“I remember the agreement. Let’s get this over with.”

“Very well. Please sit down and enjoy this fabulous tea with me.”

A cup of tea poofed onto the coffee table. I couldn’t help but examine it before taking a sip. The aroma climbed up my nostrils with hot steam almost burning my nose. I burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth. It tasted sweet, as though Mr. Yao knew exactly how much honey I like in my tea. How did he make things appear out of thin air?

“Simply put Mr. Pion, in exchange for your life, you owe me another life. As I have said, you have already agreed to this and backing out now is not an option. We cannot go back in time to when you should have died so you must take a life. You can choose the life, or I can choose for you. I will give you one day to decide. I will return this time tomorrow.”


He vanished as quick as he appeared. The cup of tea left with him and Max never noticed things coming and going in my living room. The lump in my throat wouldn’t go down and I felt nauseous. I’d never taken a life.

I couldn’t sleep. Max snored all night on the floor. I felt anxious the next day. Small children even scared me.

“Hey, mister? Bang! Bang!”

“Steven don’t point your toys at people!”

I walked by a movie poster covered with monsters and demons and a big, bold ‘Coming Soon’ on the bottom. Every time someone spoke, I heard something different.

“You gonna kill some people?” 

“What!? What are you talking about?” I said.

“I said, do you have a light?” 

“Oh! No, sorry.”

I avoided everyone the rest of the way home. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I decided not to go through with the contract.

It must have a loophole.

~ An excerpt from “The Demon’s Favor” from the short story collection The Morbid Museum.

Free eBook Friday: July

The free eBook this month is Dollar Tales from the Morbid Museum: The Ghosts Inside. This was the first eBook in the Dollar Tales series, and it featured two versions of one story. The first version, which I had published previously was about a serial killer. The extended version is the same story but with the detectives who later arrest the killer. The extended version offers more insights into the lives of the detectives. The short version was featured last week for Fiction Friday: The Ghosts Inside.

This is the last time I’m offering this eBook for a free download. An updated version of the story is included in my forthcoming paperback, The Morbid Museum, releasing September 17. At the end of 2019, I will unpublish this eBook. I will eventually unpublish the other Dollar Tales eBooks, but I have not decided when yet. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, I would appreciate a review. It can be one short sentence and that’s enough. Reviews mean a great deal to me and even the smallest ones help more than anyone could imagine. Also, I may include a portion of the review on the information page for The Morbid Museum.

If you enjoy this story, I recommend you pre-order the entire short story collection. You can Pre-Order The Morbid Museum on Amazon Kindle now. It will deliver on September 17. The paperback is available on September 17. You can pre-order copies of the paperback in my Personal Shop. Books will ship no later than September 24. I’m sorry I cannot get them out any sooner. The Morbid Museum includes a collection of 19 stories framed around the story of the museum itself. All the stories in the Dollar Tales series are included in the book as well as many more.

Fiction Friday: The Ghosts Inside

An old man and a little girl were walking along a dirty street. Usually called the bad side of town but with how hard it was raining no one wanted to be outside. The old man struggled to hold his umbrella while the little girl grippe his hand. They turned down an alley with nothing but trash and an overflowing dumpster.

“Where are we going?” the little girl said.

“You’ll see soon enough. It’s a place where I go to feel better.”

“Will I feel better?”

“Oh, I think you will; I’ll make sure of that. Now be quiet; no one can know we’re here. It’s a secret.”

“Okay.” The girl said.

The old man opened a door near the end of the alley to an abandoned building. The little girl was getting more frightened with each step. Down the end of the hall was a door with a dim light shining through the cracks. The old man opened the door to reveal a room with candles and pieces of cloth all over the floor. Mountains of stuffed animals filled the room. Each one was something different, but they all looked similar. An animal smiling, looking pleasant. 

“Everyone looks so happy here, don’t they?” The old man said. 

She nodded. 

“Well, let me show you something.” 

The old man picked up and took the outside of the animal off to reveal a white ghost version of the animal with a frown. 

“They’re sad. They pretend to be happy on the outside because they’re scared to tell anyone how sad they are. Do you know what that’s like?” 

The little girl nodded again as she wiped the tears from her eyes. 

“Would you like to help all the animals not be sad anymore?” 

She nodded and got very excited. 

“If you help my friends here than I can help you not be sad. Would you like that?” 

The old man held the little girl’s chin as she smiled in agreement. 

“I don’t want to be sad anymore.” The little girl said.

“Well, to help our friends, we have to let their ghosts out. We have to set them free so they can’t get hurt anymore. There is only one way to let the Ghost inside out; to kill it.” 

The old man took a knife and offered it to the little girl. She was reluctant.

“Isn’t killing wrong?” 

The old man thought for a moment and then smiled. 

“Killing is terrible, but if we don’t take their life then they’ll go back home to their daddy. A daddy that hurts them and touches them when their mommy’s not around.” 

The little girl cried again. 

“They don’t want to go back to their daddy.” 

She sat down on her knees and continued to weep. 

The old man kneeled down next to her. 

“Everything will be all right my child.” 

He picked her head up and cut her throat with one fast swipe. 

“No one can hurt you anymore. I’ve saved you.”

Despite the heavy rain, the next day was sunny and clear. The old man walked for quite a while. He smiled at everyone he passed. He made small talk with comments like “Beautiful day!” or “Trying to stay active.” No one knew his true purpose. He walked past schools and parks, looking for the one child off away from the other children.

He saw one in a school playground. The other children were making fun of the little girl. She looked at the old man. He smiled through the fence and told the little girl, “Don’t listen to them. They’re only jealous because you’re so pretty.” 

The little girl gave him a dirty look and ran inside. A little disappointed, he returned to his walk.

His next stop, a few blocks later, was a small park. These children were much younger than children usually spoke with; the ones too young to be in school. He saw a young boy poking at the ground with a stick. He was older than the other children. Remaining by the fence, the old man called to him.

“Young man? You there, young man?” 

The little boy looked up at him confused. The old man continued.

“Hello. Shouldn’t you be in school?” 

The little boy shook his head still looking confused.

“Oh! Well you’re almost a man; I thought you’d be in school.”

“I was but my mommy didn’t like me being in the special classes. She said I don’t need special classes because I’m like all the other kids.” 

The child seemed unhappy with his mother’s claim.

“Well, I agree you look special.”


The old man thought this was a strange reply. 

“Hey mister? Why do you walk funny?”

“Oh, that’s from an old injury I had many years ago.”


The little boy’s mother called him. 

“There you are. Have you been behind this tree the whole time? I’m sorry; I hope he wasn’t bothering you.”

“Not at all, he was asking about why I limp.” 

The old man smiled.

“Come one sweetie, it’s time to go home.”


The little boy looked disinterested.

The old man walked slower watching the mom and the little boy. He saw them get into a dark green sedan and memorized the license plate number. He was curious about the boy. He differed from the other children.

The old man was clever. With a description of the green sedan and the license plate number, all he needed to do was ask around. He developed the ruse that the little boy had left a stuffed animal at the park and wished to return it. With a reputation as a polite old man, everyone was happy to help him. It did not take long before he knew where the boy lived. He learned the boy’s name and the mother’s name. He even heard about the dispute the mother had with the local school.

He made his way to the boy’s home to verify it was the correct place. As he passed, he heard raised voices. The boy seemed to shout, and the mother was trying to quiet him. The front door opened, and the boy shouted back inside.

“I’m playing outside; I’ll stay in the front yard.” 

 He slammed the door and sat on the porch, holding his head in his hands.

“How strange.” 

He watched the boy for a moment. He looked in the window and saw the mother standing with a blank expression. There was a phone ring, and the mother went to answer. The old man took his opportunity.

“Hello young man.”

The boy looked up. The old man waved at him.


The boy looked confused.

“You forgot something at the park.”


The old man revealed a stuffed animal. It was a platypus.

“This is Paul.” The old man said.


The boy looked disinterested.

“Well, you can have him. Do you want him?”

“My mommy won’t let me keep him. She won’t let me have things I want.”

“You’ll like him. Let me show you something.” 

The old man pulled material off the platypus. The inside was white, and the face was dark and sad. It was a ghostly-looking platypus.

“You see? Paul’s sad too.”

“Why is he sad?” The boy said.

“Paul’s mother doesn’t love him, and he has no friends. Would you like to be his friend?”

The boy looked at Paul for a moment. He glanced back at his house to see if his mother was watching.

“You don’t have to tell your mom about him. Then you can keep him as long as you want, okay?”


The old man covered up the platypus and handed it to the boy.

“You take good care of him now and I’ll come and see you tomorrow, okay?”


The boy hid the stuffed toy under his shirt and ran back inside. The mother was still on the phone as the old man made his way down the sidewalk whistling a cheerful tune.

The old man was patient. He observed his prey from across the street, hiding in the bushes. He felt accustomed to this. Watching and waiting several days for the right opportunity. He did not expect the opportunity to come too soon.

He watched the boy go out into the yard. The boy sulked and dragged his feet. He was unhappy about something and the old man wondered what was bothering him. The mother walked out with her purse on her shoulder and keys in her hand. The old man listened.

“Make sure you pick up all your toys in the yard and wash up for dinner. I’ll be back in about ten minutes; I need to pick up butter from the store.”

“Yes, mommy.”

The mother stroked the little boy’s hair, but he pulled away. She held her hand in the air for a moment and took a deep breath. She turned towards the car.

“I’ll be right back, sweetie.”

“Okay, mommy.”

The old man had moved out of the bushes by now, acting as if he were walking down the sidewalk. He knew no one would think it was unusual for him to be walking two streets down from his own. He waved to the mother as she waved back. He wondered if she remembered seeing him in the park. As the green sedan turned the corner, the old man crossed the street to the little boy.

“Would you like help with that, young man?”

The little boy continued his task and did not look up to answer. 

“No, thank you.”

“Well, you got a lot of toys to pick up. You and your friends must’ve had fun.”

“I have no friends.” The little boy said.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well, you still have Paul, don’t you? Isn’t he your friend?”

“My mom took him away.”

“Why’d she do that?”

“She was mad at me.”

“Why was she mad?”

The boy shrugged his shoulders. He had stopped picking up toys.

“Would you like to go on a walk with me? I thought we could be friends.”

“My mom would get mad again.”

“I’ll speak to your mom when she comes back. It’ll be okay.”

The boy stared for a moment. 


The old man considered reaching to hold the boy’s hand but thought it best not to. The boy walked alongside him with his hands in his pockets. He watched his feet as they trampled over the discolored wet leaves on the sidewalk.

“What’s your name, young man?” 

The old man tried to remain causal and friendly. It was too soon to enact his true desires.

“Jason. What’s your name?”

“You can call me Mr. Noone. Jason’s a good name. I had a nephew named Jason.”

“Had? You mean he died.”

“Yes, a long time ago. He drowned in his family’s swimming pool. It was a tough time for everyone. He was about your age. And like you, he didn’t get along with his parents. I gave him a stuffed bear the day before he died. I’m sorry; I’d rather not talk about this.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

“Well, what sort of things do you like to talk about?”

“I don’t know. I don’t talk much.” Jason said.

“It seems like you have lots of things to say.”

“Yeah but many people don’t listen because I’m only a kid.”

“Nonsense. I’m listening right now.”


Jason’s response confused Mr. Noone. What an unusual child. He saw a bus rattling down the street. This was the right time.

“Would you like to go to my shop and pick out another toy? I have too many. You can have as many as you want. You can even get one for your mom.” 

The old man was anxious. He did not want to miss the bus.


Jason’s response sounded melancholy, but he did not hesitate to get on the bus with Mr. Noone.

“If we leave now, we can go where we want and get you back home in time for supper.”

“What’s supper?” Jason said.

“I suppose you call it dinner.”


The bus ride seemed longer than it was. After only fifteen minutes, they had arrived where Mr. Noone looked out the window and sat back down. He didn’t want to get off the bus.

“Shouldn’t be much longer now.” Mr. Noone said.

Read More. Read the ending or the extended version in the eBook Dollar Tales from the Morbid Museum: The Ghosts Inside. Download Free on Amazon Kindle July 26 Only. Read the extended version in The Morbid Museum eBook and Paperback coming September 17, 2019.