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Suzanne Oliver

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The Crossroads
By Suzanne Oliver
Thursday, January 03, 2008

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This one was written for a Halloween competition for a local paper. I was one of the winners. As the writer, I am taking literary license and updating it a bit.

One of the many legends of the devil is that he stands in the crossroads, giving the unwary traveler his choice between certain doom and what seems to be the way out of the darkness. Another is that he lives in the deep wood, where the dark and the mist gather; a place of perpetual twilight.
Both these legends date back to the times of European settlers in America. When, having been persecuted and pushed from their homelands and all they knew for their religious beliefs, they found themselves in a new and unknown land. So to keep the colonists in line the governing bodies and religious Elders told them that Satan waited at the crossing of the paths and in the deep woods, waiting to trick them and betray them and keep them from the safety and piety of the new colony.
And so begins our tale.

Clarissa peered through her blonde hair at the mist that was rising as quickly as rising as the path she was on was dissappearing. She should have found the house she was searching for hours ago. Matt had given her very simple directions and even drawn her a map to follow. A violent shudder racked her body at the thought of being lost in King's Cross Forrest at night. She'd heard far too many tales of the Crossroads. And they all ended the same way; with someone dead.
'Rissa had been told her first Crossroads story within a week of moving to King's Cross.

Mathias King had been a well liked young man who had lived on a prosperous plantation just outside of the small township in the colony of Virginia. His family's money as well as the wealthy Cross family of England had provided the funds for the colonists of King's Cross Town to settle in the rich, fertile valley in lower Virginia and in gratitude, they named their town for the two families. Despite his prominant position and the good future ahead of him, Mathias was not a happy man. He always wanted more. Little did he understand how much more he was really in for. 
One day, much like any other, Mathias was out walking on his father's lands. On this particular afternoon, he happened to be on the hunting paths that led into the woods outside of town. He was lost in the ennui that seems indiginous to the young and well to do and was paying no particular to his surroundings. Suddenly he stopped and a deep chill stole over him as he realized he stood in the deep wood far from any place he knew. Far worse, before him was a man, who though appearing to be handsome and young, Mathias knew had to be Beelzebub himself, for the fellow stood on cracked stone in the middle of two crossed paths.
"Mathias King," the devil said, in a booming voice, "do not fear me, for I do not seek your death this day. Why it is not even your soul I want."
Now Mathias was not a stupid person but he was young and therefore he was curious and these are never a good combination. "What, then, could you want with one such as me, I wonder? I am no one out side of this small hamlet. I have no money of my own and my family name will garner no powerful connections in the old countries."
Satan looked at him with a calm expression. "I have no interest in the past, Mathias. It is the future I look toward. And today it is your future I wish to discuss. You say you are no one outside of this town. I tell you that if you take my bargain, one day all people for a week's ride will know your name. You argue that you have no money. My work requires no coin. You speak of family names and old country connections. I tell you, this, my bargain shall give you power beyond reckoning, even that of your king."
Mathias was young but he was also shrewd having been raised to take over a prosperous business and plantation with the education and expectations that he should not let it fail. "You keep speaking of a bargain, but you have said you do not desire my soul. What, then, do you want of me? What pound of flesh will be required from me in exchange for such goodwill in your nefarious works?"
"Simply this, my young man. I shall give you wealth, power, and charm that none can resist. Yours shall be an existance that none will equal in this land for a thousand years. In return, for such longevity and greatness, you shall garner the souls of innocents and bring them here to me, to this crossroads to offer as sacrifice."
Now, as a young Anglican man, MAthias had been raised to be humble and pious, but these lessons had little stuck with him and little as the thought of sacrificing a human appealed to him, the lure of living a thousand years with youth and wealth was too strong a temptation. If he could dress a stag, surely he could do so to a person.
So our misfortunant Mathias agreed to his deal with the Devil, forgetting of course the simple fact that though Satan did not take his soul that day, when his thousand year life ended, his soul would join those of all the sacrificial lambs he sent before.

When Clarissa shook herself out of her macabre daze, she found that full dark had caught up with her. She couldn't see her hand in front of her face, let alone find her way home through the dense fog and forest.
"'Ryssa, you're so very late. I thought you weren't coming." The voice was her salvation, cutting through the haze with an eerie certainty. Suddenly she could see Matt clearly.
He was standing in the Crossroads.

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