Something seemed wrong as she turned up the radio. “Oh! There’s no place like hell for the holidays!”
She nearly lost control and drove off the road. Every song was ridiculously blasphemous.


It was two days until Christmas and Victoria Stanic was ready to end it all. Forever overshadowed by the accomplishments of her mother, a successful lawyer who never lost a case. Victoria rebelled and went her own way but life as a musician wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. On the outskirts, ‘the rock star life’ appeared glamorous but the reality was constant drinking and late night drug binges. She’d been at it for five years straight and her group still wasn’t signed. Three boyfriends and a two-year-old daughter later, her ‘make it big’ window was quickly fading.
The mark she had intended to leave on the world would soon be a distant memory.
Now, Victoria stood on the edge of the train platform ready to take her own life. The insurance money would secure her child’s future she told herself. She could hear the train only a few streets away. It won’t be long now she thought.

“Excuse me, aren’t you Victoria Stanic?”
Victoria froze. Hardly anybody knew her in the city, let alone by her stage name. She turned around to find a handsome dark haired man in his thirties. He was dressed in blue jeans and a leather jacket, his face seemed vaguely familiar.
“Can I help you?”
“I hope you can. I’d like to offer you a recording contract.”
Victoria frowned, “Is this some kind of a joke?” She hissed and then suddenly realized who the man was. His name was Damien Malum and he was a famous record producer.
“No it’s not and I apologize if I upset you. I don’t normally approach people on the street. I am Damien Malum. My father Randal owns Daboli records and he asked me to look for you.”
Victoria cocked an eyebrow, “Look for me, why?”
“I saw you open for Dog Feces last month at The Widow Maker. I was impressed with your vocals and told my father. He’d like to meet you to see if you’d consider signing with us.”
“A contract?”
Damien nodded. His blue eyes bore into her giving her a chill. She wrapped her coat around her body. She could hear the train, it was just around the bend. Her eyes darted up. This could be over in seconds she thought.
“A recording contract Victoria, unless you have other plans?” He took a step back, leaving a path to certain destruction.
“Get something for your efforts, don’t just give it away.” He let the words hang in the air as if he’d read her mind. A smile spread across his face.
Victoria stepped away, this might just be the break I need she thought.


An hour later Victoria found herself at the gothic office of record mogul Randal Malum. The guy was a known eccentric. Notorious sexual escapades and tales of animal sacrifice were only the tip of the iceberg. Still, this was New York City.
Everyone needed a story to fuel their notoriety, an edge to succeed in business.

“What I am holding here is what we like to call our standard lifetime contract” said Randal. “You will make four records, which I will guarantee at least one will be enormously successful. This will leave you with enough money to do whatever you want for the rest of your life. After your death, I promise at least once a year the world will remember you”.
Victoria frowned. “I’m not understanding, what kind of a contract is this?”
Randal leaned back in his chair and smiled. “Exactly, the kind you’d think. This isn’t a contract for your voice Victoria. You sound like a crack monkey. This is a contract for your immortal soul.”
“My soul?” she stammered, pulse racing.
“Sure, it’s the only thing you’ve got that I want. If you want to go back and jump in front of a train that’s fine with me. It costs me a hell of a lot less but there’s this waiting period and some other bullshit that makes your signature way more convenient.”
“I don’t know” she whispered. The whole conversation seemed unreal but something inside told her it was the truth.
“Victoria. You’re not listening. Do you want to go home and tell mommy she’s right or do you want to show her a record contract? You know she has leukemia but she refuses to tell you. All that money she made as a lawyer is gone, pissed away on drugs that don’t work. She could die tonight. Who’s going to take care of the baby?”
Victoria let out a sniffle.
“On the other hand, if you want to head home with a record contract and enough of a signing bonus to buy your mom another ten years , sign on the dotted line. In your blood…”
As much as Victoria wanted to sign, a voice in the back of her mind screamed, NO!!!
“Can I have some time to think it over?”
“That’s not customary practice.”
“Then my answer is no.” said Victoria rather matter-of-factly. She could feel her body shake.
“Perhaps we can make an exception this one time father?” interceded Damien.


Snow pelted the windshield as she nudged her Chevy into a turning lane. The meeting seemed to take only minuets but in reality lasted hours. The bad weather forecast had the streets deserted. Victoria turned on the radio and started to make the long drive home.

“Santa slay me and stuff me up the chimney tonight” she must have dozed off, mishearing the lyrics.
She changed the radio station. “I’m dreaming of a black sabbath, just like the ones where witches go.”
Something seemed wrong as she turned up the radio. “Oh! There’s no place like hell for the holidays!”
She nearly lost control and drove off the road. Every song was ridiculously blasphemous.
“Severed heads roasting on an open fire, hellhound nipping at your nose” the radio confirmed.
Then slowly the truth began to dawn on her. She’d make a record and become trapped in her own Christmas hell. She’d be remembered but not for talent. It would be some silly song they would insist she record. They’d play it every holiday.
“Deck the halls with your dead body!” said the radio.
Eventually, her fan base would die and she would only be remembered for that song! The irony of the devil she thought.
She reached her destination and parked. The storm had really picked up, even walking outside had become treacherous. She was glad she’d made it home.


“Where in the devil have you been? I put that ungrateful daughter of yours to bed hours ago!”
Victoria stared at her mother. Her mom was very intimidating. It was a rarity to view her so directly but she noticed the sunken eyes and pale skin. Her body, a little more than a bag of bones under the nightgown. The demons had told the truth. She might die at any moment. Victoria made up her mind to sign the contract. The devil would help her. She knew there’d be no counter offer from God. Nobody was going to magically put food on the table. She needed to take care of herself and if it meant she’d pay in the afterlife, so be it.
“Actually, I was meeting with a record producer.”
Her mother laughed. “You? A singer? You sound like a crack monkey!”
Victoria smiled. “I am a singer and we’re going to find you a new doctor. I love you mom, I don’t want to lose you.”
Her mother stared back at her, tears welling up in her eyes. “Do you mean that?”
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Surprised, Victoria tore herself away and opened it.

Outside stood Randal and Damien Malum. “May we come in please?”
“Of course! said Victoria. I’m ready to sign the contract.”
Randall laughed as he stepped inside. “Silly girl! The offer has been retracted!”
“I don’t understand” Victoria stammered.
“Your willingness to sign means you have already given yourself freely, we owe you nothing” snickered Damien.
“You tricked me” she screamed!
The demons smiled.
“Why are you here” asked Victoria? “I’m not deceased.”
Randall laughed again. “We’re here to collect the soul of your mother!”
Victoria whirled around to find her mother’s crumpled remains on the ground.
“A lawyer who never lost a case, you really are a simpleton.” said Damien with a giggle.

Merry Christmas!


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