Ritual

The young man does his customary cough as he opens the door and walks into the shop. He’s a familiar sight for the shopkeeper – just a little bent, wearing the same shirt every time but in a different colour, with spectacles that slide down his nose every other minute. Nondescript but easy to remember.

‘Will it be the usual?’ the shopkeeper asks.

The young man nods. He never talks. Even the first few times, he wrote out his request on a piece of paper.

The shopkeeper pours out a coffee from his machine. As usual, it’s adulterated. As he hands the cup of coffee to the young man, their hands touch. Time stops.

The young man looks at the adulterated sludge and mutters a spell. A chunk of soul to the tune of 20% coffee price leaves the shopkeeper. The young man pockets it.

Time starts again. The young man and the shopkeeper grin at each other. The shopkeeper looks slightly less alive than he did a moment ago.

The young man walks out. Proud old Red, skint, but still buying souls, even if it is in installments.