The small print wasn’t even small when you made a deal with the devil. So why did people still sign up? The question had lived inside his head for as long as he could remember.
He took another drink and looked up at the disc of silver light that hung just above the horizon. Bathing in the reflected fury of a distant star, the lonely satellite crawled a path around its protector. It was nothing but a second hand jewel, an enslaved rock, and yet its mass was enough to drag the tides of the planet below. He squinted, holding the moon between his fingers. Perspective pulled it all down to flesh and blood, and flesh and blood pulled it all down to time.
Everything that had been before was gone. Time was illusion. The beginning and end of everything, wars, famine, disease were nothing. They fell like the insignificance of raindrops on an infinite ocean.
They were nothing.
But those billions upon billions upon billions of tiny drops of nothing also made up the ocean. Without even one of them that ocean of nothing would be a different place. Change one drop of nothing and you could change everything. And suddenly, each drop was the most important thing in the universe, without it the universe would be gone.
He had realised the implications when he agreed to sign the contract. Touch one part you touched it all, move just one part of nothing and… The knock on effect was incredible.
Time had a suggestion of Lycra about it. People went around treating it like it would hold its shape no matter how many times you washed it. But it was more like the George Bailey scenario than they had ever imagined. That whole town had re-shaped because one man had never been born. The film had set its boundaries around Bedford Falls, and no one got to see what happened outside of that sweet shop utopia. Throw a stone into the water and the ripples grow bigger as they fly away from the centre. A butterfly flaps its wings and on the other side of the world a mountain crumbles.
He emptied his glass and turned back to his desk. It wasn’t complicated, it was just pyramid selling with time. And once this contract kicked in, the moon was in for a shock. Everyone was. He flicked his eyes over the parchment. He’d been in marketing for years and this was pretty standard stuff. Hyper realism at its best, the whole industry was built on the damn stuff. Give them what they want in a way they don’t expect, no wonder the world was in such a bloody mess. Even the putrid spewings of politics had been vindicated by that rag-tag line.
The best part of this was that the man had come to him. His pathetic flesh crawling with desire, begging for that one selfish thing that felt like nothing.
He grinned, in a way he’d miss the Human Race, he’d have to go a long way to find another species so wrapped up in perceived reality. But hey, a deal was a deal, there was no going back now. And how did that old saying go?
The Devil is always in the Detail.