The Pact

Printable PDF version (in Italian)

A Sabbath in which the protagonist is the devil, always ready to make pacts with menOne had to leave the house late at night, look for a trivium or a somewhat isolated crossroads, and finally, away from prying eyes, intone the invocation in full. These were all sufficient reasons for him to desist. Still, Michele Borgia now acted as if he had nothing left to lose, and any possibility, even the most absurd, immediately presented itself as a log in the middle of the ocean.

So, despite the reluctance, he did not back down that night. He put on his heaviest coat and searched for a suitable place. He found it near his home, in a sparsely populated area with several lonely roads surrounded only by dense vegetation. He felt stupid but didn’t feel like going home without at least trying. So he exited the car, looked around, and closed the door. No sound could be heard: that place was perfect for its purpose.

He reached the center of the intersection and closed his eyes. One had to gather energy and try to drive out all extraneous thoughts. For a split second, he saw himself from the outside, standing in the middle of the road, upright like a light pole, and he had to laugh. He recomposed himself by scolding himself for that childish behavior and returned to staring at a white dot imprinted on his retina.

After a minute of silence, he began to say all the strange words in the formula. He tried to intone them as if they were the stanzas of a Gregorian chant, making his throat and his entire rib cage vibrate, and although he did not understand the meaning, he still felt a tremor rise from his back and stop at the back of his neck.

The invocation was not long, just three lines, which Michael had memorized to maintain concentration. Immediately afterward, one had to gather in silence and wait: the devil would undoubtedly accept the postulant’s request, and the deal could thus be concluded.

It is an absurd practice, wholly baseless and worthy only of the imagination of novelists. Stuff for children or alienated schizophrenics who, unlike Michael, lived in a fantastic, intangible world where it was enough to wish for something to see it come true. On the other bank, inexorable, stood instead the ominous outline of a different condition, solid as a concrete block and immediately understandable to even the dullest human beings.

Within a few weeks, Michele had lost everything: family, savings, and even credibility. He was left alone, unarmed and devoid of energy, ready to do anything to regain even a tiny fragment of what had been his. For this reason, when he read an article that talked about the wonders of Satan and his followers, he turned the page at first, but soon after, he began to rack his brains. Perhaps all was not lost; if the exchange price had already been set, he would accept it. He did not even know what the soul was, although he suspected that it played a significant role in his suffering. Giving it away, therefore, did not bother him for a moment: “If the devil knows what to do with it,” he kept telling himself. “Let him have it! Just give me back my life in return!”

As the wind began to bother him at the crossroads, he thought back to that sentence and even felt sorry for himself. He jerked his eyes back open and clenched his fists, “Damn it!” he shouted, staring at the cracks in the asphalt, “Clearly nothing is happening! Only a fool could have believed that.”

He imprecated under his breath and returned to the car. Around him, the only evidence was desolation and silence. Even the street lamp, a few meters away, seemed to shine with less energy as if it was not worth wasting effort to give attention to that pantomime.

He was alone and felt ridiculous. If he had screamed, no one would have heard him. If he had shot himself in the head, they might not have noticed it by accident until the next day. He was in the grip of indifference, like a man now reduced, only apparently, to a vegetative state.

He was trying to attract attention, gesticulating, ranting, and stripping in front of a department store. If he ever managed to brush a passerby’s face, he would only get a dirty look and an invitation to move away. As each sentence ended inexorably in the negative, he longed more than anything to return to enjoy, without limits or bars, ready to make mistakes and get back up. He was now willing to appear even ridiculous to draw attention to himself, and that night, he was disappointed not by the failure of the invocation but by the fact that no one had spied on him if only to mock his folly.

Just as he started the car to return home, he noticed a shadow moving slowly between a bush and the side of the road. He put the safety on, turned on the headlights, and began to move without a second thought. It was not unreasonable to think of a robber or a drug addict attracted by his voice, and in either case, such an encounter was the last thing he wanted to do. He began to turn to go back, but as soon as the headlights illuminated the opposite side of the roadway, the shadow moved faster, and within moments, a tall, well-dressed, middle-aged man appeared to his right.

Michele stared at him with wide eyes. Although he did not pose a danger, he felt invaded by a tremor and inadvertently turned the machine off. The man, however, seemed to take no notice: with compassed motions, he approached the windshield, sketched an imperceptible smile, and asked, “Well?”

“I took a wrong turn,” replied Michele, panting. “I was turning around to go back.”
“Yeah,” he said without flinching. “So… so much effort for nothing?” Silence reigned for a few seconds while, in the distance, a row of lights went out in sync, blurring the horizon’s edge even more with the beginning of the starry vault.

“Fatigue? I don’t understand. What are you talking about?”
“You did well,” continued the man without caring about those questions. “I must admit: your warbles almost moved me. Not to mention the accents–perfect! Very commendable for a beginner.”
Michele did not respond. In his mind, the most rational theories swirled like small hurricanes: the man had heard his plea; perhaps he happened to be passing by, or why not? Perhaps he had been tempted to try. Or.

“Or…” he repeated, nodding his head.
In his head, time seemed to stand still. He could no longer even feel his heartbeat quicken, and his body temperature dizzily went from feverish heat to the chill of the atmosphere outside.
“So you are…”

The man did not let him finish: “We are many, but you can call me Lucifer, the name I sincerely prefer. He who brings light!”
He paused by squinting his eyes, then loudly, raising his arms to the sky, exclaimed, “Lucifer ego sum! Remarkable, isn’t it?”
Michele nodded silently in panic.
“The trouble is that people, after reading certain books, enjoy naming things–naming, naming, until the vocabulary runs out, at which point they invent new terms. But in truth, I am.”

“You just are,” Michele repeated like an automaton.
“No,” Lucifer corrected him. “I am, and you called me. There is a big difference, don’t you think?”
“Those who just mention me make me nervous. Time wasters, slackers, pusillanimous! Far from me!” he thundered, making a testy gesture with his hand.
“I called you because I don’t know what to do anymore,” Michele stammered timidly.
“I know, I know,” he replied. “Faust, Robert Johnson–history is full of such hogwash! Mistaken for a merchant of souls. I had better return to heaven with my tail between my legs!”

A new, unusual sense of dismay took hold of Michael: “But why, you don’t…”
Lucifer entered the car without being invited, repeating several times, “No!”
Up close, he appeared even more fascinating. Although he was unquestionably a man, his features concealed the most perfect feminine features, fused into the whole so that even the most experienced eye could never separate them from the rest.
After removing some folds from his overcoat, he leaned close to Michael, whispering, “I want to tell you a secret: I don’t know what to do with souls.”
“But I…”

a couple of street lamps sitting next to each other“You…” he continued as the reflection of the streetlight sparkled in his pupils. “Let’s start by saying that you don’t even know what a soul is and whether you have one. Am I wrong?”
“I have a very vague idea,” replied the young man.
Lucifer shook his head, “That’s not enough,” he asserted with all the firmness he could. “To serve a cause, you need awareness. I have never had slaves, and for that reason, I have always remained in the shadows.”
“But you still tried to tempt Jesus!”

“Jesus!” he muttered, grimacing. “Everyone knows that story.”
Michael did not respond, and Lucifer remained with his eyes on the road as thoughts swarmed in his head.
“He was aware of his soul,” he said under his breath without moving his head. “Stubborn to a fault. A genius amid an inebriated crowd!”
“He refused,” Michele added timidly. “But I’m not like him.”

Lucifer rested his hand on her shoulder, squeezing lightly as one does with a puppy wishing to run away, “I don’t barter souls,” he replied, “And even if I wanted to…”
He did not finish the sentence, letting those few syllables float in the air not to let the meaning they carried fade away too quickly.
As the grip loosened and that manly hand slid down his arm, disappointment began to paint on Michael’s face, “I was hoping that at least you could help me,” he murmured in a broken voice.

The two continued to look at each other in silence as the wind pushed a pile of dry leaves over the car’s hood. An ordinary man next to the devil, each sunk in his world like a pebble in a muddy pond.
“As I read that article, I thought someone else had already met you.”

Lucifer sighed, “Millions of people came to me when all hope seemed lost. Among them were also the mindless, power-hungry, but most were wretched people, weakened in body and spirit. Derelicts who were no longer able even to formulate their demands.”
“The world is full of derelicts,” whispered Michele.

His interlocutor smiled as he brushed his forehead with his hand. Every fragment of his face shone with a strange light, giving the impression that he was the most serene man on earth. Beyond all worries, in a place where every thought, positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, immediately vanished like a soap bubble.
“I know,” he replied softly.

“And you do nothing?” the young man urged him. “Do you just observe?”
A landing plane passed right over the car, causing it to vibrate like a large industrial machine.
“This world belongs to man. For better or for worse,” he said, staring at the road that was lost behind a curve. Then, returning to look Michael in the eye, he added, “I can only observe.”

He slowly opened the door and got out of the car. An icy gust invaded the cockpit while Lucifer’s overcoat seemed motionless as if it had been carved in marble.
“Are you leaving me?” asked Michele.
No response was heard — just the creak of an old, rusty grating.
“First you show up, and now you run away?” the young man shouted, beating the steering wheel with his fist.

Lucifer ran a hand through his hair, turned his back, and started walking.
“But why?” cried Michele. “You were my last hope!”
He began to sob like an infant as he watched the silhouette of the man blur more and more into the vegetation.
“What did you appear for?” she asked him with a bit of breath in her throat. “You could have stayed in the shadows and enjoyed your show!”

The man, now distant, turned around. He smiled again, but his features seemed even more relaxed, almost ethereal.
“I appeared because man, from time to time, needs to be reminded how difficult it is to be made in the image of God! Dear Michael, there is none other than the gods. They, unfortunately, will always remain alone.”

Soon after, it vanished, and in its place came again a glimpse of the withered trunk of a cherry tree, leaning forward like a beggar sitting in front of a church. Even the last lights had gone out, and in the air, only the faint hiss of wind could be heard dispersing through the oil-black fields.

Filed for legal guardianship with Patamu: certificate

Folk and historical considerations

Tales of individuals making pacts with the devil have been perpetuated in folklore and legends over the centuries. These disturbing stories often revolve around desperate individuals seeking power, wealth, or fame, willing to make a pact with the devil at any cost. Here, we delve into some of the most famous pacts with the devil that continue to capture the imagination of people around the world.

1. The Faustian Covenant:
One of the most iconic and enduring tales is the Faustian pact, derived from the legend of Dr. Faustus. Based on German folklore, it tells the story of Johann Georg Faust, a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. This narrative has been adapted countless times in literature, theater, and film, solidifying its place as one of the most well-known pacts with the devil.

2. Robert Johnson’s Crossroads Agreement:
The story of blues legend Robert Johnson is another compelling tale of a pact with the devil. According to legend, Johnson met a mysterious figure at a crossroads, believed to be the devil himself. In exchange for extraordinary guitar skills, Johnson would give up his soul. This pact influenced numerous musicians and increased the fascination with the infamous crossroads as a symbol of temptation and supernatural encounters.

3. The Cagliostro scandal:
Count Alexander of Cagliostro, a notorious figure of the 18th century, was accused of making a pact with the devil. Known for his alleged supernatural abilities and involvement in occult practices, Cagliostro faced persecution and was eventually arrested. Although the truth behind his alleged pact remains uncertain, his story has become synonymous with the dangers of dabbling in the dark arts.

4. The Great Grimoire:
The Great Grimoire, also known as “The Red Dragon,” is a medieval grimoire that supposedly contains a ritual for summoning the devil. This infamous book said to have been written by the devil himself, has been associated with various covenants and occult practices throughout history. Its charisma and potential for diabolical pacts have captured the fascination of both enthusiasts and occult scholars.

5. The curse of the bell witch:
In early 19th century Tennessee, the Bell Witch infestation fascinated the local community. John Bell and his family were said to have made a pact with an evil spirit, believed to be the devil. The relentless torment inflicted on the family and the surrounding area became the subject of legend, leaving a lasting impression on the region’s folklore and the idea of making pacts with the devil.

These are just a few examples of the most famous pacts with the devil that have permeated popular culture and folklore. Although the integrity of these stories may always remain in question, they continue to captivate the human imagination, serving as cautionary tales of the dangers that await those who dare to bargain with the forces of darkness.

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