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.”

“What?”

“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!”

“Excellent!”

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.

“Excellent!”

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.”

“What?”

“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.”

Poof.

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.

Supernatural Television


Previously I wrote about a larger project I am working on that involves supernatural fiction in all its forms. I first discussed supernatural novels and today I am discussing supernatural television series. This does not include all supernatural television series. The criteria are similar to my selection of supernatural novels. I’m only looking at TV series from the last 35 to 40 years and they must involve supernatural events excluding science fiction. I do make some exceptions with TV series based off novels or films only because the TV series surpassed the original source material in popularity.

One can consider this list to be some of my favorite television series. Some are not but I included them on the list because they fit the criteria and were popular shows during their time or still are. I even include some cartoons and Anime. This is a short list compared to the amount of supernatural television series and please keep in mind, the list is short only for my convenience otherwise I would be overworked. The project is extensive as I’ve prepared it and opening up to all the things would make the project impossible to finish. I would like to finish this project within the next couple years.

Here is my list of the best supernatural television series’.

  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990–2000)
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999–2002) *
  • Penny Dreadful (2014–2016) *
  • American Horror Story (2011– )
  • Grimm (2011–2017)
  • Santa Clarita Diet (2017– ) *
  • Being Human (2008–2013)
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (2001–2007)
  • Death Note (2006-2007) *
  • Charmed (1998-2006)
  • Stranger Things (2016- ) *
  • Twin Peaks (1990-1991) *
  • iZombie (2015- )
  • The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017 ) / The Originals (2013- )
  • Channel Zero (2016-2018) *
  • True Blood (2008)
  • Hemlock Grove (2013–2015) * – Case Study (Rule Exception)
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) / Angel (1999-2004) – Case Study (Rule Exception)
  • Supernatural (2005– ) – Case Study

The titles with the asterisk are shows that only have three or less seasons. Some of them will likely have more as they are ongoing, but I wanted to differentiate between the popular shows that were short lived and the shows that continue to be popular after many seasons. As with the list of novels, the case studies are works that have transcended their original media source and have become media franchises. The television show Supernatural (2005 – ) is a case study simply because of its popularity solely as a television show. It’s the first show of this genre that continues to grow in popularity as it continues edging closer to two decades of syndication.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the data I must consume for this project and I am not entirely sure what the point of it will be. What will be my argument in this book length essay? What will be my hook for gaining new readers? How are all these shows, novels, films, games, and comics connected? Why does it matter? These are questions I’ll attempt to answer as I review all the things. All the Supernatural Things. Perhaps that will be the title of the project. Perhaps I’ll never finish this project. It’s something to do.

Supernatural Novels


My exploration into supernatural fiction will be a long and tedious endeavor. I hope to validate this genre, and hopefully have it taken more seriously than it has been treated in the past. I think it has more literary merit than people are willing to suggest. I will begin with my list of novels that I intend to read and research. This is a long list and reading them alone will take a couple years at least. Unless someone will pay me to do nothing but read novels. That would be fun, but I also have films and television to research.

As I have not read many of these novels, I’m not sure how supernatural the stories are. I am confident I have compiled a brilliant list, but I will know more after I have read them all. I am only listing the novels to save time. If you would like a synopsis, you can look them up yourself or wait until I finish reading them and post a review. My reviews will focus on my argument and will not be a general review of the work. You probably think me strange for actively reading and researching things for fun.

Here is my list of novels to read. The first on my list I have started reading and will acquire the others as I go.

  • Beloved (1984) Toni Morrison
  • IT (1989) Stephen King
  • Ring (1991) Koji Suzuki, Glynn Walley
  • Good Omens (1990) Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
  • The Damnation Game (1985) Clive Barker
  • Carrion Comfort (1989) Dan Simmons
  • Heart-Shaped Box (2007) Joe Hill
  • Hammers on Bone (2016) Cassandra Khaw
  • Head Full of Ghosts (2015) Paul Tremblay
  • Affinity (2002) Sarah Waters
  • Crota (1998) Owl Goingback
  • The Devil in Silver (2013) Victor LaValle
  • The Fifth Child (1989) Doris Lessing
  • Fledgling (2005) Octavia Butler
  • Grotesque (2003) Natsuo Kirino
  • Beautiful Creatures (2009) Kami Garcia
  • Goosebumps (1992) R.L. Stine – Case Study
  • The Strain (2009) Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan – Case Study
  • Twilight (2005) Stephanie Meyer – Case Study
  • Harry Potter (1997) J.K. Rowling – Case Study

This list is subject to change as I read through the novels. The last four on the list will be case studies in which I measure the impact these works have made on other media, such as; films, comics, and television. That’s a lot of reading and I’m nerdy enough to enjoy it. I researched the best supernatural novels within the last 30 to 35 years and this is my list. I think it’s a great list.

While I will not turn away suggestions, I will likely not change this list based on other’s suggestions. Any changes will be made after reading a novel and feeling it does not work well with my argument or if I think it’s terrible, but this list is supposed to be the best of the best and I can’t wait to read them all. Some I have already read. One exception to this list is the “Twilight” series. I’m only including it because of its popularity and, to be honest, I want to find out if the writing is as bad as people say. Regardless, this will be a fun adventure for me and I hope some of you join me.