The Bachelor

By S.B. Edwards

SB Edwards

“Hello, Chuck,” said the man.“Nice to see you.”

Chuck Wing sat behind the oversized oak desk in his Los Angeles office, flanked by his legions of awards and accolades. His three platinum and seven gold records all hung on the wall, surrounding a shelf where he displayed his Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys. He was one of only a handful of people to have ever won all four.

Chuck was one of the most influential people in showbiz, having just had back-to-back meetings with a handful of a-list celebrities, as well as the winner of the latest season of American Idol, whose name Chuck forgot as soon as she left his office.

“Who the hell let you in here?” Chuck shouted without looking up. “Get out of my office! Cyan, did you let this guy in?” Chuck had been explicit in telling his secretary that under no circumstances was he to be disturbed. Chuck didn’t care if it was the Pope or the president or his dying mother.

“No sir, Mr. Wing” replied Cyan as she appeared in Chuck’s door. “I didn’t see him come in. Come, right this way sir,” she said to the man. “You need to leave.”

“Is that any way to talk to your best friend?” the man asked.

Chuck looked up at the bundle of tattered rags that stood before him, his sweatshirt stained with a who’s who of the cheapest restaurants in LA. His scraggly white beard hung halfway down his chest, doubling as a storage space in which he’d saved part of his lunch for later.

Chuck met the man’s eyes. “Oh, I didn’t realize it was you. Please, sit down. As you were, Cyan. Close the door behind you.”

The man disappeared briefly, leaving behind a few wisps of black smoke which filled the room with the stench of rotten eggs. In his place, a young Japanese woman popped into existence, draped cross-legged across the plush chair Chuck had positioned across from his desk. She wore a ruby-red dress which matched her lips, nails, and pumps, and which hugged and accentuated her body, curvaceous in all the right places. Chuck was used to seeing gorgeous women in his line of work. They threw themselves at him at least a few times a month, so desperate were they for a taste of stardom. But this was different. This was about as close to the perfect woman as Chuck had ever seen. She pushed all the right buttons in his mind and elsewhere, positioning herself to give Chuck just the right views. He couldn’t decide whether she’d taken this form deliberately, or just on a whim.

“What are you doing here,” Chuck asked.

The woman said nothing at first. In the slender, graceful fingers of her left hand she held a cigar, which she raised to her lips and gently pulled on. She parted her lips, allowing it to drift out of her mouth like a weightless floe of lava.

“I’m here to collect on your debt,” she finally said.

* * *

Chuck had moved to Los Angeles ten years ago with dreams of producing hit TV shows and movies, creating hit records, and working with the biggest stars in show business. On the day he arrived, he hit a bar on the Sunset Strip and bought a round of drinks for everyone, hoping to make some fast friends who could introduce him to the right people.

A $400 bar tab bought him some accolades from the local barflies, but none was interested in helping Chuck. So he tried again the next night, at another bar, with the same results. This pattern repeated itself for the next week until Chuck burned through the few thousand dollars he’d saved up to bring with him. He spent the next few years living a life of poverty to rival even the poorest places on Earth.

The only thing that carried Chuck through this time was his dream. It reminded him of how much better life would be, and how much more he’d appreciate it after the stress and anxiety of these years. How much more comfortable would his king-size bed in his penthouse suite feel after sleeping on a bedroll in the corner of a dingy apartment he shared with three other people? How much more delicious would nightly filet mignon taste after he’d subsisted almost solely on sandwiches made from saltine crackers and ketchup packets he stole from various fast food joints in the neighbourhood? How much better would sex feel after having been surrounded by an unending stream of stunningly gorgeous women, each of them more out of reach than the last?

Chuck could deal with this himself. But one morning, as Chuck sat at one of the grimy computers at the public library, he’d gotten an email from his father.

“Your sister has cancer, Gene” his father wrote. He always used Chuck’s birth name, a name he’d tried to leave behind. He was Chuck Wing, the successful entertainment figure, not Eugene Warwick, the awkward pathetic nerd who’d been bullied for most of his adolescence. “It’s treatable, but it will cost half a million dollars.”

If Chuck was successful, he could easily pay for his sister’s treatment. He needed to become successful, and fast. 

After browsing around the internet, Chuck came upon the idea of summoning a demon to make a deal. He filled Google with enough searches to put himself on The Vatican’s anti-Antichrist watchlist. He dug deep into the bowels of the web, unearthing some old forums and websites which looked older than he was.

On each of these sites, one book was suggested over and over – “Lord Of This World” by Willem LaCroix. It was supposed to be the best guide on summoning demons ever written, so he borrowed it from the library. Chuck recognized he was hardly the first person in showbiz to have this idea—several layers of scotch tape had long since replaced its bindings. But he’d give it a shot anyway.

“So soon?” he asked. “You said I could enjoy this life for at least thirty years! I mean, with all due respect, my lord.”

“Oh, shut up,” the woman said to Chuck, with all the arrogance of a philosophy professor speaking to a country yokel. “Don’t you ever take that disrespectful tone with me!” The woman’s cheek twitched, and Chuck’s office burst into flames.

Demons are exceptionally prideful, LaCroix wrote in the book, and are easily offended. Before you summon one, you must acknowledge in your own heart the superiority of their race in every way over our own. You must understand that the greatest, noblest human being who ever lived, who exemplifies all the finest virtues of humanity at the highest level, is but an insect when compared with even the weakest, most low-borne demon. Accept this as truth, and, make sure the demon knows you have done so.

The Devil just told me to shut up, thought Chuck. Did I just screw everything up? Am I going to die in this fire and end up in hell, tormented for all eternity? Oh god…

“I’m sorry, my lord,” Chuck screamed as his shirt began to singe. “I meant no disrespect.” He ran over to The Devil, leaving a footprint of melted sole on the carpet after each step. “I beg your forgiveness,” he said in between screams as the flesh on his arms began to bubble.

“Of course you do,” she said after a moment. The fire disappeared, taking all evidence of its existence with it. Chuck looked down at himself, relieved that the damage to his body and his shirt was temporary. He’d paid $1000 for that shirt.

“Thank you, my lord,” Chuck said, throwing himself at her feet in supplication.

The Devil placed her foot under his chin, raising his head to meet her gaze. “You’re a good human, Chuck. Like all humans you’re pathetic and weak, but there’s something about you I’ve always liked.” Chuck caressed The Devil’s body with his eyes. His pulse, having just begun to settle, quickened once again as Chuck became intoxicated with every breath he took of the unholy air.

The woman disappeared. Behind the chair appeared a tall, powerful looking man in the most exquisitely tailored black suit Chuck had ever seen.

“In all the millennia I’ve been doing this, I’m about to offer you the best deal I’ve ever offered anyone,” he said. “Get up.”

“Umm, yes, of course my lord. What can I do for you?” Chuck said as he stumbled to his feet.

“Sit,” The Devil commanded.Chuck did as he was told, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

“No, you fool! Why would I ask you to stand up and then sit back down in the same place? Go sit in your chair!” Chuck scrambled to his seat in a flurry of apologies.

* * *

It took two weeks of waiting and prying into his roommate’s personal lives until Chuck found a time he knew none of them would be home. He laid out a bedsheet he’d found in a back alley and drew the shape of a pentagram on it using the same ketchup packets that nourished him in his poverty. It wasn’t blood, but it would have to do.

“You need silence,” said the book. “Demons dislike the sounds of this world, preferring the sounds of horror, decay, and suffering that are the soundtrack of their regular lives.”

Chuck wasn’t going to find silence in the middle of LA, so instead he opted for some music. But what music would be The Devil’s music? Heavy metal, naturally. But it wouldn’t do to find just any heavy metal. Poison or Metallica was louder and noisier than Chuck’s taste, but you could hardly call them evil.

After some more searching on the internet, Chuck discovered a band called Shitfuckass. Their music, if you could call it that, was as offensive as their name. Most of their songs consisted of blasting drums, noisy guitars playing no notes in particular, and what seemed like random incoherent screaming. Whereas most of the metal he’d heard in his life was complex and seemed to require real musical talent, Shitfuckass was what every suburban soccer mom thought heavy metal sounded like.

One piece stood out to him in particular though – Shitfuckass, Inc. The band was said to have recorded thousands of songs and layered them on top of each other, creating the most intense collection of sounds ever crammed into a five minute space. At any given moment, you’d hear dozens of voices screaming their lungs out so forcefully you’d swear they were being tortured overtop of an intense cacophony one could only recreate by throwing a music store’s entire inventory of drums, cymbals, guitars, and amps down an enormous flight of stairs.

If anything mimicked the sounds of Hell, it would be this.

Lighting his five stolen candles, he placed one at each of the points of the ketchup pentagram on the bed sheet. Then he removed his clothes, sat in the middle of the pattern, and laid the book in front of him. The book’s spine split naturally onto the right page, a sign to him that either The Devil approved of what he was doing or he was just one of many who’d tried this before. Either way, he’d have his answer soon, he thought as he began the incantations.

In the back of his mind, the absurdity of his current situation caught up with him. He wondered how he’d explain why he was sitting naked in the middle of a ketchup-splattered bed sheet to his roommates if they came home unexpectedly.

“You have worked in television before.” The Devil said to Chuck. Chuck’s head trembled in agreement, though he knew this was rhetorical.

“You will help me become a television star.”

Chuck stared at The Devil for a moment, confused. Had he heard correctly?

“Umm, whatever you ask, my lord. But I, umm, what?”

The Devil chuckled, granting Chuck the patience one would give to a beloved family dog who just vomited at the back door. “Let me explain this in a way that even you will understand.” The man disappeared. In his place appeared a middle-aged white woman in a pantsuit. She sat in the chair across from Chuck’s desk, resting her elbows on her spread knees as she leaned forward.

A classic power pose, thought Chuck.

“God and I always had a strained relationship. After all, He created me in His divine image, and I was just His companion. But since he’s such a control freak, that’s what I was as well. He couldn’t let me be who I wanted to be, so I left.”

Chuck was confused by this unusual moment of vulnerability. He wondered why The Devil would bare his feelings to an inferior being, and this gave him a sudden swell of pride until he remembered people often do the same thing with a pet hamster.

She disappeared again, reappearing as a young boy wearing only a cloth wrapped around his waist in an ancient Egyptian style.

“At first, the single life was great. I set up a nice bachelor pad in the centre of the Earth where God sent all the souls who failed to live up to His standards. Torturing them was fun, for a while. There’s nothing like completely and utterly destroying the bodies and minds of billions of humans to keep you busy. But it’s growing tedious. Even my pet projects–Hitler, Napoleon, Phelps, Bush—have become a bore.

“I have my fellow demons to keep me company,” the boy said. “But you can only spend time with the same group of 72 demons for so many millennia before you get bored of them too. I’m bored, Chuck.

“Why am I telling you this?” The Devil asked as though he read Chuck’s mind. “I would never lower myself to fill my mind with your pathetic human television shows. But I’ve been told humans have begun to use them to find mates for each other.”

The Egyptian boy disappeared. In his place, an elderly man in a pinstripe suit appeared. He stood tall and proud, holding an ornately decorated cane in his right hand and a contract in his left.

“You will ensure I become a contestant on the most popular of these television shows, which I’m told is called The Bachelor” he said as he walked toward Chuck. “In exchange, I will release you from all further obligations to me.”

Chuck sat for a moment, mouth agape. How could this possibly work for The Devil? He clearly had no love or respect for humans. Why would he possibly want to take one as his mate?

At the same time, would this contract really free him from The Devil’s grip? Would he own his soul once again, the soul he so hastily sold ten years ago from within his star of ketchup?

“Umm, yes, of course, my lord,” Chuck stumbled. “Thank you, my lord.”

“Just shut up and sign it,” The Devil said. Chuck did as he was told.

“Umm, so, umm, your majesty, my lord, umm…” Chuck had so many questions, and no idea how to ask them. Chief among them was why he needed Chuck’s help to do this in the first place. Surely he had enough clout to just make it happen. But Chuck remembered the cost of questioning The Devil.

“You may speak freely, fool,” said The Devil.

“It’s just, how are we going to do this, my lord?”

“You will get me on The Bachelor,” said The Devil. “I care not for the details.”

“Okay, yes, of course, your majesty. Umm, if I may ask, what sort of mate are you looking for?”

“I need someone who can make life exciting again,” The Devil said. “Someone with the same life philosophy I have, the same complete and utter disdain for all forms of sentient life. Someone who can challenge me and help me to be the best tormentor of the damned I can be.”

“And you think a human can do that for you?”

“Doubtful. But there are 896,942 similar shows across the Universe, each of which will feature me as a contestant. I’m sure I’ll find somebody.”

The fact that The Devil had just confirmed the presence of intelligent life in the Universe other than Earth was entirely lost on Chuck, who continued with his line of questioning. He began to enjoy the confidence that was trickling back to him, which The Devil allowed only because it furthered his aims.

“How will you appear on the show?”

“Like this,” The Devil said. The elderly man disappeared, and the woman in the red dress returned. “I’ve carefully crafted this body to appeal to the type of mate I’m looking for.”

“So, do you want to attract men, or…”

“Do you really think your mortal concept of gender matters to me?”

“No, of course not my lord. When do you want this to happen?”

“Yesterday.”

“Will do, my lord,” said Chuck. “How can I contact you once we’re ready?”

“I’ll know,” The Devil said.

“Yes, but the studio execs will want to talk to you. Do you have a cell phone?”

“Of course I don’t have a cell phone!” The Devil shouted. She grabbed his computer off his desk, throwing it at the wall. It left an iBook-sized hole that sliced clean through one of his platinum record—William Hung’s comeback album, which he’d produced and co-written most of the songs.

“I’m sorry my lord, please forgive me,” Chuck cried, throwing himself at her feet and kissing them.

The Devil wrapped her left hand around his throat and lifted him in the air. “Just make it happen you idiot,” she shouted at his writhing body, “or you and I will be spending a lot of time together.”

The Devil disappeared altogether and Chuck collapsed in a pile on the floor, gasping for oxygen and filling his lungs with the putrid sulfuric smell.

***

Quick fade in from black. A woman stands in a dark room, lit from behind in a way that leaves only her silhouette visible. A distorted guitar note rings out.

Narrator: Coming up this season on The Bachelorette

Annie: It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been hurt in the past, and it’s stopped me from finding love. But I think I’m ready to open my heart again

Back light disappears, and Annie herself is illuminated in dim light.

Annie: I’m Annie Christie, and I’m not like most people.

Cut to Annie in another dark room, surrounded by occult imagery. She’s seated cross-legged in the middle of a pentagram drawn in fake blood on the floor.

Fade to black, and fade back in to a wide boom shot of a dark stage with three stepped rows of ten chairs each, in which the show’s contestants, people of diverse genders, sit. They all face a desk behind which Annie sits along with two other judges. A crunching guitar riff plays muted in a heartbeat-like pattern.
Hard cuts to close ups of various contestants against a dark smoky grey background.

Hard cut to bust shot of Annie, sitting behind her desk, wearing a form-fitting, low-cut red dress. Various shots of contestants being blindfolded, tied up, walking through fire, being whipped, strangled, slapped, locked in cages, held underwater, locked in dark rooms full of snakes and spiders, blinded with light, and other forms of torture.

Full shot of Annie standing in the doorway to a cavern, holding a torch and wearing a black hood. She looks up as the camera zooms in on her face.

Narrator: Coming up this season on The Bachelorette

Annie: It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been hurt in the past, and it’s stopped me from finding love. But I think I’m ready to open my heart again

Annie: I’m Annie Christie, and I’m not like most people. 

Annie: Actually, I scare most people.

Blaine: I know how Annie feels. People don’t understand me either.
Raven: Annie is like, so sexy, and she seems like the same as me. I bet she’ll pick me.
Sierra: God, she’s gorgeous.
Annie: This is my love story. 

Annie: And to prove their love for me, these contestants are going to have to go to some extreme measures.

Alucard: I had no idea it would be like this.
Conrad: Annie, I knew you were dark, but not this dark.

Raynne: Annie, I knew I *UGH!* loved you from the moment I laid my *UGH!* eyes on you. I’ll take as many *UGH!* whippings as I need to prove that *UGH!* to you.
Clay: This is absolute insanity. What the hell is wrong with you people?

Narrator: Can the contestants handle Annie Christie? Will she find true love? Find out on next season of The Bachelorette

* * *

“I’m going to be fired,” Chuck thought to himself as he walked through the door into his meeting with the ABC execs.

About S.B. Edwards

S.B. Edwards is a transgender woman who works as a career ghostwriter and internet marketer. She spends her time trying not to consider that her writing process is essentially just the adult version of talking to her imaginary friends while dreaming of a brighter future. She lives in Toronto. Visit www.sbedwards.co for more information or follow her on Instagram!

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