Desperate Measure

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A contemporary spin on the story of Faust’s deal with the Devil, inspired by this classic 1925 sketch of Faust and Mephistopheles by Harry Clarke for an illustrated edition of Goethe’s Faust, via Wikimedia.

Max was fed up, desperate. Forty years. He’d come so close so many times. A unified theory of everything. But time was running out on his Nobel Prize. That’s why he was standing in Central Park, at night, in the company of Mephistopheles: wild haired, in a white thread-bare suit and black bow tie; wreathed in infernal-smelling cigar smoke—a Mark Twain devil. “Sign here,” said the Prince of Lies, scattering ash. “Done yet? Good. Now, don’t be coy. Your lust for glory is my command.” “No!” cried Max. “You don’t understand.” “Oh, but I do,” said the Devil.

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