Henry smiled for the camera, showing off his Olympic gold medal for what felt like the millionth time. It had been nearly a year since the games, but the hype had yet to die down. It was quite the inspiring tale: Henry Morris, an underdog who had barely made the Olympic team due to an injured teammate, ended up winning the all-around gold medal. To most people, Henry's victory looked like a product of talent, hard work and a bit of luck. But Henry knew the truth. He would still be a nobody if it hadn't been for his deal with Violetta.
"Thanks, that's all the pictures we need." The cameraman said. "Good luck this weekend at you next competition."
"Thank you, I'll do my best." Henry said, placing his precious gold medal back in its protective case. Now that he was done with the Olympics, Henry had made the decision to do college gymnastics. He had hundreds of adoring fans and was ranked number one in the nation. Again, this was all due to the deal he made with Violetta. As he left the photo studio, he couldn't help but think back to that fateful day....
Henry stepped off the podium after a disastrous pommel horse routine. His Olympic dream was fading from his reach. Just when Henry thought things couldn't get any worse, his least favorite person in the whole world approached him: Faine.
"Don't worry about it, we all make mistakes from time to time." Faine said with a smile.
For as long as Henry could remember, he'd always been behind Faine. Henry put in more hours in the gym, yet Faine always ended up on top. It just wasn't fair.
Henry scowled. "Easy for you to say, you're going to make the team."
That's when Henry witnessed Violetta's power for the first time. Everyone in the stadium froze like a statue except for Henry. A gorgeous young woman dressed in a long, purple cloak clapped slowly as she made her way through the frozen crowd. Her black hair was tied up in a tight bun, and her skin was paler than freshly fallen snow. "Poor Henry. You tried so hard, didn't you?"
"What are you?" Henry asked. "What did you do?"
"I am one of the demon goddesses." Violetta said like it was no big deal. "Your soul is of great importance to me."
Henry didn't know what to say. "--Then why don't you take it?"
"I can't take souls, I can only ask for them." Violetta explained. "Do they really not teach demonology in schools anymore? What a shame."
"You can't have my soul and that's final."
"If you give me your soul, I can ensure that you'll make the Olympic tea and win a gold medal." Violetta said. "All for the low low price of doing me a couple favors once you give me your soul."
"Why do you want my soul so badly?" Henry asked.
"You humans have a saying--keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Violetta began, approaching the frozen body of Faine. "Us demons say keep your souls close and your enemies far, far away."
"Does Faine have something to do with this?"
"Rule number one: You don't get to ask questions." Violetta snapped. "But since I'm trying to make a bargain, I'll tell you that Faine Uladu is in fact an important piece in my master plan."
Henry had no idea what to make of that. "If I make this deal with you, will Faine make the team too?"
"Do you want him to make the team?"
"Than I can ensure his Olympic dream never comes true."
Henry grinned. "I like the sound of that."
Violetta held out her wiry hand. "Then let's shake on it."
After a moment of hesitation, Henry shook the demoness's hand. Henry expected to feel some sort of pain, but nothing happened. "Did it work?"
"Yes." Violetta said, smiling. "Now sit back and watch the show."
Violetta took on her true form and flew to the top of the stadium with her imposing, feathery wings. She snapped her fingers, unfreezing everyone. To Henry's surprise, no one seemed to remember the fact that they'd just been turned into glorified statues. It was as if Violetta stopped time itself.
Then it happened, Violetta destroyed the stadium. Henry watched in horror as Faine was buried beneath a pile of rubble. Violetta winked before flying away.
A week later, Henry was sitting in the gym, lifting weights, when he got a call from the Olympic organizers. He had made it through the stadium attack uninjured.
"Hello Henry, I wanted to call to tell you that you made the team because Faine is going to be unable to compete."
"Is Faine Okay? I haven't heard anything since--"
"He lost his right arm."
A lump formed in Henry's throat. "Oh."
After a long silence, the organizer cleared his throat. "Anyways, I wanted to let you know the last training camp before the games begins Monday. I'll see you then."
The man hung up.
As if on cue, Violetta appeared out of thin air. Henry clenched his fist. "When I told you to make sure Faine didn't make the team, I didn't mean that I wanted you to maim him!"
"You should've been more specific."
"No. I'm done with this." Henry said. "You can't have my soul. The deal is off."
At that moment, Henry felt a pain unlike anything he'd every experienced. It was as if every one of his organs and nerves was being squeezed as tightly as possible. Violetta's beautiful face morphed into that of a hideous beast. "The deal has already been made." She bellowed. She released her hold on Henry, allowing him to breathe once again. "Enjoy the Olympics, because after that, your soul is mine."
Henry placed his gold medal on the passenger's seat and started his car. It had been nearly a week since his last talk with Violetta, and he was expecting her to show up at any moment.
Sure enough, Violetta appeared in a plume of smoke before Henry could leave the parking lot. She glared at Henry. "I need you to begin phase one of my plan."
"Anything. Just please, don't hurt me again!"
"I won't hurt you unless I have to."
"Then what do you need me to do?"
"Call Faine and say you want to have lunch with him one day when you visit home next month."
"Do you doubt me?"
"Of course not my queen!"
"Then see it done."
Violetta disappeared. With a shaky hand, Henry grabbed his cell phone and dialed Faine's number. To his surprise, Faine's mother answered.
"Henry? Is that you?"
"Yes, I just wanted to know if Faine wanted to have lunch one day when I visited home next month."
"He's been in a bad mood since, well, you know...." Her voice trailed off. "I think having lunch with an old friend might lift his spirits!"
Henry felt a pang of guilt. If only Miss Gina knew that Henry was partially responsible for her son's misfortune. "Can you let him know I called?"
"Of course. Thanks for being such a good friend."
Gina hung up. Henry sat in the parking lot for what felt like hours, racking his brain, trying to figure out what Violetta was scheming.
If only he knew what was to come.
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