The Devil You Know
Heidi Wessman Kneale
“May I join you for breakfast?” the Devil asked with a flourished bow. Then he eyed her young figure up and down.
Mrs Timmor, sitting on her verandah, tea cup halfway to her lips, stared at the handsomely dressed figure before her. Why couldn’t he wear the traditional horns and tail? If Mr Timmor saw him as he was…
The Devil didn’t wait for an answer but settled in Mr Timmor’s chair. Mrs Timmor’s eyes darted nervously from side to side. She wasn’t supposed to have guests, especially of the male persuasion.
“How about some tea?” he asked her as he poured himself some. “Two sugar? Don’t mind if I do.” Plop, plop.
“My husband will be here any minute!” she whispered.
The Devil didn’t care. “He won’t show up as long as I’m here,” he assured her.
That didn’t stop her from listening for the slightest footstep, the sharp intake of breath that presaged another beating.
“You know, those muffins look delicious.”
For once, she looked at him directly, eyebrow raised. “You really think so? I baked them fresh this morning.” Carefully she lifted the platter and offered it to him.
He took two and shoved them in his mouth. “Fankth,” and blew crumbs across the table.
He washed them down with tea and crammed more in. Mrs Timmor lifted a hand to protest, but it was too late. He had scoffed the lot, leaving none for her husband. Oh, she worried to herself, he will be so angry when he finds out… Oh well. She would have to bake some more special muffins tomorrow; she could endure one more beating until then.
The Devil grew still, the last muffin half–chewed in his mouth. He coughed, spitting chewed muffin all over the table, spluttered as his eyes grew wide and his skin turned a mottled purple. Clawing at his own throat, he fell face–forward into the cream jug, the cream spreading across the table to fall onto the floor drip by drip.
Mrs Timmor didn’t move. She stared at the body lying across her table, her ears pricked the whole time for those dreaded footsteps.
They never came. The birds twittered and the sun moved across the sky. Afternoon came and with it the afternoon breeze. But no Mr Timmor. The Devil had said that as long as he was there Mr Timmor would not show up.
His body had started to bloat in the heat. Oh dear. He would smell soon. If she buried him under the verandah, would his promise still hold?
Heidi Wessman Kneale is an Australian writer of moderate repute. She has been published in Alien Skin and Planet Relish and is a regular contributer to the Internet Review of Science Fiction. By day she works computer miracles for the local library. The wrest of the time she writes books and wraises babies.
Story © 2007 Heidi Wessman Kneale. All other content copyright © 2007 ByrenLee Press
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish